Northwest High School Football

Raiders Overcome Adversity To Reach Semifinals

(Photo by Freddie Herpin: Davon Thibodeaux of Northwest)
BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

Things weren’t going particularly well for the Northwest High football team during the third quarter Friday night.

The Raiders had lost a couple of fumbles, momentum was disappearing, penalties were accumulating and the team was eight points down without the starting quarterback during a Division II non-select semifinal round football game at Assumption High.

With that in mind, Northwest head football coach Chris Edwards summoned his players around him for a brief talk and the rest is history — school program history.

Northwest, a No. 22 seed, moved into the semifinal round for the first time ever with a 46-44 comeback, overtime victory over third-seeded Assumption.

The win enables the Raiders to play Cecilia at home this Friday night for a chance to play for a state championship.

Edwards said his brief on-the-field talk with his players was short and straightforward.

“I reminded our guys that they know what it takes to win and lose and that now was the time for them to start playing football. Our guys are a close group. This team is different in that they work together and now we are peaking at the right time,” said Edwards.

The Raiders, the lowest seed remaining among the Division II non-select Final Four, have also beaten three higher seeded teams to reach the semifinals.

“Our plan is still the same. We take it week by week. We were given this deck of cards and we don’t plan to let that affect us,” said Edwards.

Northwest rushed for 268 yards, as Raiders’ senior running back Javian Reese gained 176 and scored five touchdowns. Overall Northwest outgained Assumption 356-252.

Reese also scored the final overtime TD on a six-yard run and then added the important two-point conversion. The Mustangs opened overtime with a five-yard run by Reece Turner, but Assumption failed to convert the two-point run.

The contest was tied in regulation on four occasions, the last time in the late fourth quarter when Turner scored on a 10-yard run to tie things at 38.

Craig Malveaux, who has played wide receiver and running back, took over at quarterback for injured starter Jayden Chavis and guided the Raiders’ offense the remainder of the way.

Malveaux scored on a 39-yard run and Devontae Brown added the two-point run conversion to tie the game at 30 at the start of the fourth.

“We put (Malveaux) in at quarterback when things started to come loose in the second quarter and that gave us a chance. We made some other adjustments and just fought through it to get the win in the end,” said Edwards.

Northwest led 22-7 early in the second period after three Reese touchdown runs of 51, 16 and 11 yards and a pair of kicked extra points by Gavon Fontenot.

Turner, who gained 110 on 22 carries, matched the effort from Reese, scoring on runs of 9, 16 and 11 yards.

In the third quarter Assumption took the eight-point lead (38-30) on a 60-yard fumble return.

The Raiders lost another fumble and were penalized 14 times for 119 yards.

Edwards also praised the effort by linemen and linebackers, especially Davon Thibodeaux and McKenzie Ardoin.

“Once again both of those guys came up big for us. I’ll put both of them against anyone,” Edwards added.