Bulldogs give mighty Wolves a battle before wearing down in the final period

Tryve Brackin
HELD STRONG…White Castle’s defense held strong through the first half and midway into the third period against 3-A Redemptorist Friday night. Shown here are Bulldog defenders, from left, Isaac O’Bear (6), Dederick King (70), Henry Jackson (53), Quincy Jones (5), and Tyrie Lang (23).

Neither football team scored as many points as some expected, but 1-A 11th-ranked White Castle High gave the hosting Class 3-A second-ranked Redemptorist High all they could handle for much of their non-district meeting Friday night in Baton Rouge before falling by a 40-14 score.

Coach Ferrante Dominique’s Bulldogs tallied on the opening kickoff of the game, held the mighty Wolves’ offense to a 21-8 lead in the first half, and then came close to upset moments early in the third period before finally being worn down by the larger size and numbers of the 3-A hosts.

Dominique pulled a “Sean Peyton” by doing an onsides kickoff to open the second half and a recovery by Damarious Zachary at midfield gave the visiting under-Dawgs momentum. The Bulldogs drove in to score to cut the RHS lead to only 21-14 and lo and behold the Castlemen were toe-to-toe with one of the top upper classification football teams in the Metro Baton Rouge area in the second half.

Back on defense the Bulldogs fought hard, but ended up losing the battle as the Wolves used the power running of LSU commitment Jeremy Hill and a pair of clutch pass completions by junior quarterback Kyle Cedotal to rally back in the second portion of the third period to regain a two-touchdown lead.

WhiteCastlecontinued to battle, but could not hit key passes needed in the second half to rally back the club. The Redemptorist defense bottled up Bulldog running back Tyree Bracken and quarterback Ronald Martin on key downs to keep the locals from sustaining another big offensive drive in the second half. With the WCHS defense on the field too long the Wolves wore them down and tallied a pair of final period touchdowns to put the game away. And, yet, it was a much closer contest than the score indicated and the Castlemen made a positive impression on their hosts.

RHS Coach Guy Mistretta complimented the Bulldogs for their fight after the game and noted that the RHS staff knew they would in for a battle.

It was a hard-fought contest as two other LSU commitments WCHS’ Martin and RHS lineman La’el Collins both ended up nicked and out of the game for a handful of plays.

WCHS asserted itself from the opening kickoff against the strongest football team they will face in 2010. Junior speedster Bracken fielded the kickoff at the one-yardline dashed up the field, found a hole in the RHS specialty team unit and broke free. His speed did the rest as he went 99 yards for the score. Seconds later, Martin tallied on a QB keeper, darting through a huge hole on a two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead.

Cedotal came out throwing the ball on RHS’ first possession and moved the Wolves near midfield and then started a string of handoffs to the RHS “Meal Ticket” Jeremy Hill. The LSU commitment capped the RHS comeback drive on a 7-yard run to cut the WCHS lead to 8-7.

It looked like the Bulldogs would answer quickly as Bracken broke free on a 30-yard run to inside RHS territory, but a QB sack of Martin set the WCHS offense too far back. Leo Jones punted away and it was Hill again who showed he is the heart and soul of Redemptorist football, along with the Wolves’ offensive line. Hill took in the put and went 81 yards down the sidelines for a quick RHS TD and sent his team ahead for good, 14-8.

WhiteCastlemoved the ball again on offense with Bracken carrying the load and Martin adding a clutch pickup. However, when the Bulldogs needed a pass completion to augment the heroics of their two stellar backs, it never came. Martin was off the mark most of the night as the RHS pass rush pressured him on every passing down.

A Jones punt put the Wolves in a hole, but a questionable pass interference call gave the hosts new life. On the next play Hill made a one-handed catch with Martin covering him closely to get the ball down to inside the WCHS 30. Hill ran the ball in from there on three straight runs, scoring from 11 yards out on the first play of the second quarter.

Redemptorist held their new 21-8 lead for the remainder of the second quarter as the Bulldog defense played some of its best football of the season thus far. WCHS continued to get first downs here or there on runs by either Bracken or Martin, but pass pressure on throwing downs kept back the Bulldog offense. At the same time, the Bulldog defense came up with big stops of Hill to go with a fumble recovery by Zachary to stop a potential drive.

A bad snap on a RHS punting down led to a short kick and good field position for the Bulldogs and Martin took off on a 27-yard run to get WCHS down inside the RHS 40. But the drive ended there as Bracken carried twice for five yards and Martin missed on a pair of passes.

Again the Bulldog defense stopped Hill with Mark Allen, Henry Jackson, and Jared Martin leading the way. WCHS got the ball in good field position, but without enough time to create a scoring drive as the half ended.

The onsides kick recovery led to the final touchdown of the game for White Castle in the early minutes of the second half. Following the big play, Martin connected for his only pass completion of the night, hitting Shaquille Armstead for a 23-yard pickup.

Bracken and Martin pushed the ball closer with runs and a personal foul flag on RHS helped the cause. Martin capped the drive with a 3-yard run through a couple of defenders and the Bulldogs had cut the RHS lead to only 21-14.

But, from that point on the Wolves grounded out the victory with their solid offensive line and Hill’s hard running. Twice on their comeback third-quarter scoring drive, the Wolves overcame penalty flags on but runs by Hill and a key pass completion. Jackson, both Martins, and Isaac O’Bear played hard on defense during the drive, but to no avail as Hill tallied on an 11-yard run.

White Castle’s offense managed only a couple of big positive plays the entire final period, one a combined run and pitch by Martin to Bracken for 24 yards and a 12-yard first-down run by Bracken out of (we guess?) “The Wild Dawg” formation. A facemask flag on RHS helped WCHS keep the ball for a series.

The rest of the game was taken up by failed passing attempts by WCHS and rushing drives led by Hill, who tallied his fifth TD of the game to put the Wolves up by a 33-14 score.

Hill finished with 184 yards rushing and four TDs from scrimmage to go with his punt return score. RHS closed with 227 yards rushing and another 92 yards in the air. Hill had 223 of his team’s 319 yards of offense.

Bracken closed with 80 yards rushing to go with his 99-yard scoring return. Martin had 50 yards rushing and 23 in the air. WCHS had 92 positive rushing yards and 23 in the air for the game. RHS had the edge in penalty yards 35-21 to go with 21 first downs to 9 for WCHS.

In the long run, the game was a positive for White Castle’s future district preparation. Despite a 1-3 start to the season, the Castlemen are still one of the top clubs in state 1-A football and should make a run for their district title after a tough predistrict slate this season. The Bulldogs host fellow 1-A Basile High, which, like WCHS, is ranked in the classification’s top 20 teams. Basile will be good same classification competition tomorrow (Friday) night in White Castle and should be a good lead in for the Bulldogs’ 8-A district opener against parish rival St. John High in two weeks at WCHS. The WCHS-SJHS game should give early positioning to the winner in the local 8-A football race.

BULLDOG DEFENDER…WCHS Bulldog cornerback Terrance Taylor drops back as he eyes a Redemptorist wide receiver during last week’s road game.