Questionable call triggers close playoff loss for EIHS

Staff Report

A slim margin in a first-round playoff loss frustrated East Iberville, but the call that ultimately ended the Tigers’ 2021 season brought head coach Justin Joseph far more disappointment.

An official’s call that nullified a touchdown late in the game led to a 26-24 EIHS loss at Arcadia in the opening round of Class 1A playoff action last Friday.   

East Iberville went on a defensive stand, stopped Arcadia on a fourth-and-7 and regained the ball with two minutes left in the game.

Troy Lodge took a pass from quarterback Darian Thomas and ran down the field for a 40-yard touchdown, but officials called it back on “an inadvertent whistle.”

“I got no explanation from any of the referees. They put the ball back at the spot and said we had to play it from there,” Joseph said. “I tried to ask the referee, but he shrugged his shoulder, threw his arms in the air and went on with his business.”

East Iberville may bring its grievances to Louisiana High School Athletic Association officials, although it would likely have no bearing on the outcome of the game.

Complaints over consistency and questionable calls have always been part of the landscape in high school football, but the disputes have increased over the past year.

“With COVID and a ref shortage, you get what you get,” Joseph said. “But I never thought the outcome of the game would come down to that.”

The Tigers entered the 2021 season without the services of 18 seniors who graduated last spring. Those upperclassmen played a major role in East Iberville’s “Cinderella” season that included the school’s first-ever playoff win in football and a post-season run that ended in the Class1A semifinals.

In the game, Darian Thomas scored twice on runs of 5 and 10 yards after long sustained drives, while Treyvion Perkins raced 80 yards to the end zone.

A return to its 2020 glory may not be far off the horizon. The 2021 Tigers will graduate only two seniors – Lance Captain and Dedrick Jackson.

“Lance played since seventh grade and Dedrick, who is predominately a basketball player, came out for the first time this season after his teammates encouraged him to give football a try,” Joseph said. “He was a fast learner, very cerebral … you don’t find linebackers who do as well has he did for just one season.”

After a 1-9 season, Joseph said the Tigers will likely move back to a pre-district schedule against more 1A teams.

“We’ve been fielding calls from 1A teams that didn’t want to play us after the success we had in 2020, but now they’re calling us,” he said. “We probably won’t be playing against 4A and 5A teams in pre-district next season.”