Shortly after being promoted to head coach, Lee Doty made a coaching move that has continued to pay off handsomely for the Sterlington Panthers.
“Jordan Townsend did not play his freshman year,” Doty recalled. “When I became head coach, he was one of the first guys I went to. I’m glad he decided to play.”
Townsend was only part of Doty’s “recruiting haul” from the baseball team.
“I was just going to focus on baseball because I didn’t want to play two sports,” Townsend said. “My freshman year, coach Doty was always talking to me about coming out, and I kept thinking about it. Just as we were getting into the summer, I decided to play. Reece (Brooks) and Hixson (Street) from the baseball team decided to play, too.”
Doty has never been happier the 5-8, 170-pound senior fullback accepted his invitation than last Thursday night. With the District 2-3A championship on the line, Townsend scored all four touchdowns in the first half of a 28-0 victory over Carroll.
Refusing to bask in the glory, Townsend was quick to share the credit with his coaches and offensive linemen Braden Bruscato, Brock Risinger, Cameron Rivera, Joby Guthrie, Matthew Husser and tight ends Street and Zach Jones.
“Coach (Larry) Foster and coach (Bobby) Breen game planned really well,” Townsend said. “The boys on the line got after it. It was all them. I just ran through the lanes.”
There were plenty of lanes to run through as Townsend ran for 90 yards on 17 carries. While three of his touchdowns came on short yardage carries, his second touchdown was a signature moment. On first-and-10 from the 26, Townsend cut to his right, ran through a tackler at the 17 and was off to the races.
All in all, it was a fun Senior Night for Townsend.
“No doubt that was one of my best performances. Since it was for the district championship made it that much better,” Townsend said. “It was a good atmosphere and it was nasty weather. It was a great time for some hard-nosed football.”
Sterlington went into the game planning to attack the edge, but Townsend quickly became involved with a 12-yard burst on the second play from scrimmage.
“I spent some time in the Hog Trough with coach Foster and the offensive linemen,” Townsend said, referring to the o-line’s film room, located beside the fieldhouse. “We were going to run to the edge a lot, but we got some good looks (in the interior) and hit the veer.”
Townsend has a special appreciation for what the offensive linemen do game in and game out. As the lead blocker in the veer, he is essentially a lineman who gets to run the football.
“I love blocking just as much as running the ball,” Townsend said. “I just love to contribute.”
Townsend had plenty of opportunities to contribute Thursday night as he also drew his first start of the season at linebacker. He was in on two stops, including one for negative yardage as the Panthers shutout their second opponent in three weeks.
“We wanted to show them how we do things at Sterlington, and that we are not going to be intimidated by anybody,” Townsend said.
Townsend will likely see more double duty in the playoffs, which is fine with him.
“I enjoy playing linebacker,” Townsend said. “It gives me a chance to hit somebody instead of being hit.”
Townsend’s season numbers stand at 111 carries, 649 yards, and a team-high 16 touchdowns. He rushed for a career high 159 yards and three TDs against North Webster in Week 4. Also a capable receiver, Townsend caught his first touchdown pass of the season against Franklin Parish in Week 9.
“Jordan’s a complete football player, a great student and a fine young man,” Doty said. “He’s going to be a big loss.”
Against Carroll, Townsend played like he’s planning on sticking around for another five weeks.
“This gives us a big boost of confidence going into the playoffs,” Townsend said. “Carroll came it here with a lot of momentum and a lot of hype. Ending the regular season with a big win put us exactly where we want to be going into the playoffs.”
Townsend missed out on Sterlington’s state championship run as a freshman before helping the Panthers to a state runner-up finish last season.
“Last week, we talked about treating every game like it’s a playoff game,” Townsend said. “The playoffs are here now so we have to go out there and give everything we have.”
A 4.0 student, Townsend plans to enroll in ULM next fall.
“If the opportunity to play football presents itself, I would consider playing, but for right now my sights are set on academics,” Townsend said.
Townsend plans to pursue a career in pharmacy.
“My brother (Ashton Townsend) is in nursing,” Jordan said. “He kind of steered me toward pharmacy.”
For now, Townsend is on a football mission.
“We just have one thing on our mind, and that’s going back to the ’Dome,” Townsend said.
Running, blocking, receiving or tackling — you name it — Townsend is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Panthers return to New Orleans.