West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge cut right to the chase following the Rebels’ 37-34 double overtime loss.
“I’m sick of it,” said Arledge on KMLB’s “The Locker Room” show Saturday morning. “I can keep my mouth shut, or I can open it. I don’t think anything is going to be done, but to rob a group of kids that have worked as hard as our guys… Everybody worked hard, but to have officials determine the outcome of the game isn’t right.”
Arledge echoed the sentiments of an entire fan base.
Fans were livid and vocalized it on social media.
West Monroe fans vented about 13 penalties on West Monroe that resulted in 130 yards. They feel that helped No. 1 Zachary survive and advance against the No. 9 Rebels, in a come-from-behind 37-34 double overtime victory on the road. Arledge clearly agreed.
Fans ranted while coaches clipped plays to submit for review. But none of that changed the fact Zachary outscored West Monroe, 30-10, in the second half and in overtime to advance to the Class 5A semifinals.
“Our guys played their hearts out, and it’s a shame that grown adults that have no accountability control a game like they did,” Arledge said.
Arledge got more specific about his issues with the penalties that were called.
"Every time in the second half that Zachary sort of bogged down, (the officials) helped them," Arledge said. "A lot of (the penalties) were pass interference. And no holding on them. They passed it 41 times, and there's not one holding call? I'm sick and tired of the lack of accountability by our officials.
"One of the things that makes me sick is the winning touchdown (that beat West Monroe in the 2018 Class 5A State Championship) had two block in the backs that weren't called. That should have been called. Even the announcers said that play is coming back, and it didn't come back with about two minutes to play in the game. I see how these guys win state championships sometimes. I felt like we outplayed them all over the field. Every time they needed help in the second half, they got it."
The beginning of the contest was all West Monroe. The Rebels led 21-0, as West Monroe meticulously used run plays to set up long play-action passes. Quarterback Hayden Federico turned in his best performance yet, as he completed eight-of-11 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 45 yards on the ground.
Federico scored two of the first three touchdowns for the Rebels. After West Monroe tailback Rayshawn Pleasant scored from nine yards out, Federico completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Nate Green before hooking up with Green again on a six-yard strike.
"We knew they were going to stop our run game, and we felt like we could take some advantages with some shots, take advantage of their switching," West Monroe offensive coordinator Glenn Hunt said.
The Broncos struck back in the second quarter with a two-yard run by 4-star quarterback Eli Holstein. Holstein, the Texas A&M commit, completed 19-of-41 passes for 220 yards and two passing touchdowns with two interceptions. West Monroe’s Jack Debruhl and Paul Manning recorded the picks for the Rebels defense.
Zach Johnson’s 20-yard field goal gave West Monroe a 24-7 lead at halftime.
Holstein's touchdown run in the third quarter made it a 24-13 ballgame.
Leading 24-21, Rebel fans thought time ran out on Zachary, but with one second left, Kellen Conachen drilled a 22-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
"This year's team may be the most improved team I've seen at West Monroe High School," Arledge said. "To play supposedly the best 5A football team in the public system and play them within one second, that mysterious one second, they were able to line up and kick the tying field goal..."
Federico tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to David Moore to tie the game in first overtime on a fourth-and-long conversion. Moore had 133 yards on four catches, including that score, for the Rebels.
Ultimately, after the Rebels settled for a Johnson field goal at the start of the second overtime, Holstein completed a 10-yard pass to Charles Robertson for the game-winner.
The Rebels finished 8-4 on the season, and though Arledge was bitter about the officiating, he was awfully proud in how much his group had grown over the course of the season.
"After the game I told them to go back to that scrimmage against Zachary at Tioga High School and look at how far the kids have come since then," Arledge said. "We dominated the first half and had it taken away in the second half. My heart just goes out to them. It gets to the point where you really love these kids because of their sacrifices and hard work all year. It hurts."