Dynamic duo of Howard Bech, Walker Howard were difference for St. Thomas More
NATCHITOCHES - It took just 23 seconds for Walker Howard and Jack Bech to give St. Thomas More the lead in the Division II Championship game.
Later, when they needed their dynamic duo to come up big on a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, Howard and Bech did it again. This time, the drive took less than two minutes.
It's the type of chemistry that comes from years of friendship and playing together. The pair have led St. Thomas More all season, and they did it again Monday night at Harry Turpin Stadium.
Howard finished with 381 yards and four touchdown and Bech had two touchdowns and 232 receiving yards, a Division II championship record, to power the second-seeded Cougars (10-0) past top-seeded De La Salle 35-28 for their second straight title.
"It's a kids dream," Howard said. "When you are younger you always picture fourth quarter, big moments. It was a great game."
As De La Salle ate up the clock, operating drives that took over seven minutes each, the Cougars relied on their hurry-up offense to get the job done. It was a rematch of last years state championship, when St. Thomas More defeated De La Salle 58-10. It was much closer this time, but De La Salle (9-1) was still not able to stop the Cougars' offense.
"I'm not surprised how quick they scored," De La Salle coach Ryan Manale said. "It's happened to multiple teams this year. With the weapons they have, I'm not surprised how quick. It's disappointing, you want to slow them down."
For Bech, this game marked the end of his high school career.
"I think we are going to see a lot of things from Jack in the future," Hightower, who has known Bech since he was seven, said. "I don't think this is the end for him."
Howard, who plays like a seasoned veteran, is only in his first season as a starter. He threw for over 3,000 passing yards and just five interceptions this season, one of which came on Monday.
"It started week one," Hightower said. "The sky is the limit for Walker. We've been gifted with a lot of great quarterbacks at St. Thomas More. The ball leaves Walker's hand different than all the rest."
When Bech was announced as the most valuable player, he dragged Howard out with him. They'll be reuniting soon at LSU, but on Monday they got to win one last high school football game together.
"Since we were younger we used to work all day, everyday dreaming of this moment when we would get to play together and win a state championship and go to the next level together," Howard said. "I'm super excited."