Sports Opelousas High School

Opelousas Advances After Strong Second Half

BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

A daring fourth down fake punt conversion and a crucial defensive adjustment resurrected Opelousas High in the second half Friday night, helping send the Tigers to a semifinal playoff berth for the first time in 29 seasons.

Opelousas, a No. 12 Division II non-select seed, will now travel for a third straight playoff week to meet top-seeded North DeSoto for a chance at playing for a state championship after defeating Lutcher High 26-10 in a quarterfinal round game.

The Opelousas High football program played for state championships in 1938 and 1956, but lost to Minden in both contests.

In 1994 the Tigers lost to Salmen in a state semifinal playoff contest.

Opelousas, 10-3, which has played all but three games on the road this year, trailed Lutcher 10-6 at halftime.

Tigers’ head football coach Jimmy Zachery, Jr. said that during the intermission, he and his staff made some calculated decisions about defensive strategy.

“We needed to get our guys on the back end to understand the coverage more and then we emphasized that we needed our front and secondary to work more together. Our guys needed to get more of a pass rush and by doing that, we were going to work harder to get the quarterback off his spot,” Zachery said during a Saturday interview.

Lutcher quarterback Quin Smith passed for 109 first-half yards, but had only 12 yards throwing during the final two periods.

The Bulldogs finished with 64 rushing yards (15 in the second half).

Zachery thought the game turned late in the third period after his team faced a punt situation on the Tigers’ 9-yard-line.

Instead of kicking, punter D’Shaun Ford took the snap and ran the ball eight yards for a first down.

Six plays later Opelousas quarterback Zach Malveaux fumbled while running into the end zone, but the Tigers recovered for the touchdown and a 12-10 with 1:04 left in the period.

Zachery said the fake punt was something that was seriously discussed during weekly preparations.

“We saw that Lutcher liked to send everyone and leave just one guy back on punts. We thought we could get the fake off that and it was something we practiced. Colin Fontenot called it and it was executed like we practiced,” said Zachery.

Opelousas dominated the fourth quarter, scoring twice and allowing Lutcher only six offensive plays.

Ford, who gained 168 yards on 29 carries, bolted for a 48-yard scoring run with 10:27 remaining, while Zay Amos scored with 58 seconds remaining, on a run that ended a drive that consumed nearly eight minutes.

In the first quarter Opelousas scored on an 80-yard, first possession, 16-play drive that took seven minutes, as Ford, Amos and Malveaux moved the Tigers to the 17. From there Ford scored on a 17-yard run.

The Bulldogs responded with a similar 80-yard drive that ended with Brock Louque running 28 yards. Trayce Millet kicked the PAT to give Lutcher a 7-6 lead.

Millet contributed a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter to provide the Bulldogs with the 10-6 halftime advantage.

Malveaux, who completed two passes to wide receiver Cory Fontenot, ran 13 times for 88 yards, while Amos had 11 carries for 49.