The No. 2 West Monroe Rebels looked like one of the top-ranked teams in the state Friday night when they demolished No. 31 Central Lafourche, 47-7.
On the opening night of the playoffs where the Rebels refused to play with their food, West Monroe forced four Central Lafourche turnovers in the first half alone. But those takeaways came after the offense set the tempo from the jump…
“It’s really the type of game I expected it to be,” West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge said.
The Rebels opening drive was absolutely flawless. Lane Little completed a 21-yard pass to Jerry Day on the opening play, scrambled on the following two plays for a combined 19 yards and pitched it to running back Derome Williams for a 25-yard touchdown. Central Lafourche made it known early it was going to key in on H-back Cayden Pierce, so the Rebels gladly used their other offensive weapons with positive plays off-tackle to start the game.
“Lane did a great job of making plays happen with his feet,” West Monroe offensive coordinator Glenn Hunt said. “They blitzed a lot. We knew they were going to blitz a lot going in. And when things broke down, Lane did a great job.”
Central Lafourche’s first offensive drive started with promise. The Trojans crossed midfield before imploding with false starts and a personal foul penalty that led to an ejection for wide receiver Luke Mince. That set up a unique third-and-35 from the Trojans’ own 20-yard line.
The Rebels looked like they were going to quickly go up by two scores on the following possession, as Little continued to use his feet to burn the Trojans defense. Little ripped off two runs for a combined 37 yards. But after getting the ball inside the 10-yard line, Little was tackled from behind and fumbled before Central Lafourche recovered.
That would be the only turbulence West Monroe encountered offensively. The ensuing six-play drive saw the Rebels expand their lead to 14 after Pierce rumbled in on a 4th-and-2 conversion.
The rout was on from there. After the defense forced a three-and-out, AJ Fenceroy fielded a punt at Central Lafourche’s 45-yard line, made a man miss and hit the wall down the left sideline for the score.
The Rebels outgained the Trojans 235 to 69 in total yards in the first half.
Defense Makes Plays
Those in attendance for the West Monroe opening-round blowout got to witness what offensive linemen dream of — a big boy touchdown.
Trailing 20-0, Central Lafourche quarterback Ashtrein Duncan was dropped with a sack fumble, while the loose fumble fell into the arms of West Monroe defensive lineman Aiden Bellot, who returned it for the score.
“Basically, it was a blast,” Bellot said. “I was supposed to run over the center, but Coach (Arledge) wants us to change up our movements every time. I did a little jab step to the right and tried to do a spin move. He caught me, and I’d say he’s one of their better lineman. I ended up getting low enough to go past him. I get under him and hit my teammate (Aidan) Swanner. He was a little bit upset by that one. Tanner Zordan comes behind him and right as he’s moving the ball forward, he slaps it out. When it came out, it was like slow motion. It landed right in my hands. I looked at it for a second and then looked at the end zone, and I swear that was the fastest 20 yards I’ve ever run in my life.”
The very next offensive play for the Trojans resulted in another turnover. West Monroe’s Kade Pittard recovered a fumbled that was forced by Evan Wilhite.
Pierce ran the ball on three consecutive plays for 26 yards, including the eventual two-yard score that put the Rebels up 34-0 midway through the second quarter.
Trailing 34-0, Central Lafourche had its most productive drive since its first possession, but a sack by West Monroe linebacker Peyton Todd set up a 2nd-and-23 before Garrett Darden recorded an interception for the Rebels. That marked three consecutive Trojan drives that ended with a turnover.
Once again, West Monroe cashed in with another Rebel turnover. After Little was pressured, he threw a bubble screen to the right side of the field to Matt McCallister, who reversed field and scored a 31-yard touchdown. That score gave West Monroe a commanding 40-0 lead before the half.
Pittard recorded the Rebels’ fourth straight turnover with an interception on the very next possession. West Monroe mercifully took a knee to end the half.
In the second half, reserve back A.J. Howard scored on a 50-yard dive to make it 47-0 Rebels. Howard led the Rebels with 73 yards on four carries.
Central Lafourche prevented the shutout when Logan Wilcox reeled in a tipped pass from Duncan with seven minutes left in the game.
Much like many other West Monroe streaks, the Rebels have amassed an impressed streak of first-round wins since 1992. West Monroe is 26-3 all-time in the opening round of the playoffs and have never lost a first-round home playoff game.
The Rebels improved to 90-21 in the playoffs and 40-4 at home in the postseason.
The No. 2 seeded Rebels will host No. 15 Captain Shreve Friday.
The (8-2) Gators defeated No. 18 John Ehret Patriots, 34-7, in the opening round. Captain Shreve enters the matchup with a 9-2 record with the Gators only losses this season coming via a one-point loss to Scotlandville and a 21-14 loss to Airline. One common opponent the Rebels and Gators share is Byrd. Captain Shreve defeated Byrd, 22-21, in overtime, while the Rebels beat Byrd, 24-0, in the second game of the season.