Hosting Dragons stop Bulldogs’ advancement in state grid playoffs

Tryve Brackin
Bulldog starters, from left, Ronald Martin (1), Chris Wesley (72), Reynaldo Bazaldua (53), Jonathan Roberts (2), and Jyruss Edwards (7) were all instrumental in getting the White Castle High football team into the state playoffs for the second consecutive season.

White Castle High’s Bulldogs could go no further after a decisive 31-6 defeat Friday night in the first round of the state Class A football playoffs. The Castlemen lost their bid to advance into the regional round when the hosting veteran Dragons of Mangham High breathed fire on the Iberville Parish canines.

“They beat us. That is the whole story. Perhaps, had we scored early in the game, it might have been a different story, but we let them take a halftime lead and we never could get the momentum,” explained Coach Ferrante Dominique, who led the WCHS gridiron program to its second consecutive state playoff appearance after several seasons of lackluster football play.

Dominique, whose Dawgs posted a 5-3 regular season mark after going 8-2 the year prior, fell short of matching their state playoff victory of 2007. Last year the Bulldogs won their playoff opener before losing in the regionals to hosting Cedar Creek.

“We were a more experienced team overall last year. This year we had only three senior starters. This is a team of the future and we will be back in the playoffs next year. Mangham was a more experienced team and they did not make the mistakes,” noted the WCHS mentor.

Dominique said the hosting Dragons have 14 seniors as the backbone of their team this year. “I see them going further than what could be expected. Their only losses were to high-ranked teams Ouachita Christian and Delta Charter,” explained the WCHS coach.

The Bulldogs had their chances to score early as they managed to drive the ball, however, a break down here or there kept them out of the end zone. Mangham kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead and then went ahead 10-0 on a 65-yard interception return by Montel Hardin with only 45 seconds left to halftime.

“That interception return hurt us. Early in the second half we had a fumbled center snap stop a drive. We also had a long touchdown pass to Ronald Martin called back because of an illegal shift flag. And, to top it off, we had a punt go only twelve yards with us deep in a hole. That gave them an easy, short scoring drive. We sort of self-destructed in the second half and that was it. We got beat,” noted Dominique.

The Bulldogs scored their only points of the game in the second half. Senior running back Jyruss Edwards capped a long drive with a one-yard run. Edwards led the WCHS offense with a little over 100 yards rushing. The Bulldogs also had an 80-yard pass catch and run by Martin.

“Defensively, we stopped their quarterback (Josh Wilson) from doing his usual three-hundred-yard passing game. We managed to hold him under a hundred yards passing, but they made up for it with their running game. They hurt us with their rushing attack. We could not stop it at times in the second half,” said Dominique.

The WCHS mentor said the Bulldog secondary did a good job of stopping Wilson, especially in the first half. Edwards and Tyree Bracken led the way on defense in the Bulldog secondary, while senior middle linebacker Brian Singleton and senior tackle Chris Wesley as well as Jonathan Roberts played well on defense. Dominique said the only WCHS player to block well up front was tight end Leo Jones, Jr.

“Ending the season on a losing note in the playoffs is never a fun thing, but I am very proud of how our young team worked all season long to have a winning season and to reach the state playoffs. The younger players on the team want to make going to the playoffs a regular thing around here. So do I,” explained the Bulldog coach.

Despite losing by 25 points, the Bulldogs led the offensive statistics. WCHS had 9 first downs to go with 129 yards rushing and another 95 yards in the air. Mangham finished with an edge in first downs with 11, but had only 92 yards rushing and 73 yards in the air. Both teams had two turnovers, but WCHS’ miscues were more costly and provided the Dragons good field position. MHS had four penalties flags, while WCHS had three. Each had less that 30 yards in penalties, but the Bulldogs had a possible touchdown called back on one of their flags.

White Castle finished as the runner-up in the District 9-A. Their only district loss was to champion West St. John for the second season in a row. WCHS lost non-district games to 3-A Brusly and Berwick.