(Photo of Opelousas High Quarter Back Zach Malveaux taken by Freddie Herpin)
Bobby Ardoin Editor/Consulting Writer
They’re road-tested, gaining maturity and flaunting their offensive identity.
The Opelousas High football team is also anxious to move past the second round in the state playoffs, something the program has been unable to do since, well, no one really remembers.
Opelousas is also preparing for an eighth road game of the season after eliminating Rayne High 57-6 last Friday night during a wet, chilly playoff contest at Donald Gardner Stadium.
The Tigers (8-3) are scheduled to meet No. 5 West Feliciana who defeated 28th-seeded Minden 42-8 in St. Francisville.
Opelousas could also face the possibility of playing at least one other postseason road game providing the Tigers move past West Feliciana (9-2) which has lost to Central and Plaquemine this year.
The Saints have limited teams to 46 points over the past five games.
Opelousas head coach Jimmy Zachery Jr., thinks his players won’t necessarily be intimidated during the playoffs after playing seven road games this year.
“I think we have shown we can win even in some of the hardest places to play. That’s an obstacle I think that we have shown we can overcome and our players have the mindset we can win, no matter where we have to play,” Zachery said following the win over Rayne.
Opelousas has reached the playoffs twice during the last three years under Zachery, but the Tigers have failed to move past the second round.
“I think we have grown up a lot as a team and as a program since then and learned from it. I feel right now we are playing at a high level and we are running the ball well. That’s our identity. Our guys up front are doing their jobs and so are out backs,” Zachery said.
Opelousas 57, Rayne 6
The Tigers shredded Rayne for 412 rushing yards, as junior D’Shaun Ford gained 218 and scored three touchdowns on runs of 67, 60 and 18 yards.
Ford was complemented by running back Zay Amos (11 carries, 69 yards) and quarterback Zach Malveaux (eight carries, 60 yards). In the second half Corey Major obtained 45 on five attempts.
Amos also scored three rushing TD’s of four, one and 15 yards, while Malveaux ran for a seven-yard score. Major scored from two yards out.
Malveaux, in his third season, has become an important team leader, Zachery added.
The Wolves were limited to 121 passing yards and another 58 rushing. In the first half Rayne netted only 15 yards on the ground.
The Opelousas secondary also intercepted three passes. Defensive back Kryan Moore stepped in front of a Dylan Judice pass to halt a Wolves’ drive at the Tigers’ 16 with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
Zachery thought the interception played a crucial part in the outcome. After the Tigers’ took possession, they drove 10 plays and 79 yards to take a 22-6 lead on the first play of the second period.
Opelousas also picked off a pair of passes during the second half. The Tigers also recovered two fumbles.
“I think our guys on defense have been coming around and right now we are showing a better understanding of what we want to do with our defense,” Zachery said.
Rayne scored after trailing 16-0 when running back Lon Paul Moody tossed a halfback pass to Kylin Wheeler on a 60-yard scoring play.