Woodlawn Seniors Shine in 49-13 Rout of Tara

Woodlawn Seniors Shine in 49-13 Rout of Tara

Jerit Roser, www.datboot.com

Woodlawn was dominant from the onset Thursday en route to a sixth straight victory.

Xavier Lodge prepares for the snap versus Tara.

The Panthers’ defense immediately set the tone, and the offense exploded for its highest point total in more than a year in the 49-13 rout of visiting Tara (3-4, 0-2).

“That’s why we always defer,” coach Daniel Luquet said. “We want to get our defense on the field, because they’re the best part of our team right now. Not taking anything away from our offense. But when you’ve got the players we’ve got on our defense, you want to get them on the field and give an offense a sense of what they’re gonna be up against the rest of the night.

“We’ve really stressed turnovers because that’s the one thing this defense hasn’t really had a lot of is turnovers. Now the last two weeks we’ve gotten a couple here and there. And I’m telling you, when you’re playing that good of defense and you can turn the football over and give your offense a short field like we did tonight, we can be really good.”

Senior linebacker Anthony Arinze intercepted the Trojans’ second play from scrimmage and returned the ball 25 yards to the 6-yard line.

An offsides penalty brought Woodlawn to the 3-yard line, and senior running back Chris Middleton Jr. scored on first down.

“We knew it was gonna be pass all the way, so I dropped back in coverage and I don’t think the quarterback saw me,” Arinze smiled. “They had a lineman between me and the quarterback. All I saw was the ball come out, and I just went for it and tried to run around the corner and get an edge.”

Brian Byrd fires a pass against Tara.

The Panthers (6-1, 2-0) forced a three-and-out on Tara’s next possession, and senior quarterback Brian Byrd and the offense got quickly back to work again.

Woodlawn marched back down the field for a 12-yard touchdown from Byrd to senior Evin Puckett.

“Me and Brian’s relationship is very good,” Puckett said. “We’ve got good chemistry on and off the practice field. We just hook up and do good things and make big plays on the football field … We’re doing good.”

The defense continued to stifle Tara, other than occasional long runs by standout running back Chris Avery.

And Byrd and company used their opportunities to further extend the lead with second-quarter strikes to Puckett and junior Bryson Reaser.

“I feel good back there,” Byrd said. “From Week 1, things were kind of shaky and we didn’t have as much chemistry. But now, Week 7, I feel comfortable back there. We’ve got some playmakers on the outside. And my job is to just get them the ball.”

The Panthers pinned Tara deep in its own territory in the final minutes of the half and sacked the punter at the 2-yard line to regain possession and set up an immediate touchdown run by Xavier Lodge for the 35-0 halftime margin.

“It feels good,” said Lodge of his opportunities to help the team on both sides of the ball. “My mindset is to score. That’s how I feel. It feels good when I play both sides.”

Avery broke free for a long third-quarter touchdown to break the shutout.

But Woodlawn answered twice to further seal the contest.

A second short run by Lodge capped a 90-yard drive late in the third, and sophomore running back Ray Sierra burst 36 yards into the end zone to push the lead to 49-6.

And Jadarius Givens rushed for a late Tara score, but only after the contest was well out of reach.

“To me, the defense, we did excellent,” said senior defensive back Jonathan Scott, who intercepted a pass in the end zone and broke up multiple other attempts. “We’ve got little stuff to pick up and patches to fill. But other than that, we’re ready.”

Chris Middleton sheds a Tara defender.

Byrd completed 12 of 22 attempts for 166 yards — led by 53 on two passes to Puckett and 48 on three to Reaser — and ran four times for 18 yards.

Lodge and Middleton led the rushing attack with 87 and 77 yards, respectively, and Joshua London and Sierra added 37 and 36.

Woodlawn finished with 280 rushing yards and 195 passing yards, and the 49 points marked the team’s most since Sept. 16, 2016, at Lafayette.

The Panthers’ six-game win streak marks the program’s longest since claiming eight straight victories in 2010.

“We knew it was going to happen,” Lodge said. “We just had to build. Last year we had a lot of young players, but most of them are seniors this year, so we’re ready to rock and roll now.”

Panthers Roll in Homecoming Victory

Panthers Roll in Homecoming Victory

The Woodlawn Panther football team was able to put aside all distractions from Homecoming Week festivities that led up to Thursday night’s game and come away with a victory over district foe St. Michael. The Panthers (5-1) were able to score 38 points and kept the Warriors out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was out reach and the Panthers were already guaranteed the victory.

Josh London and the Panther offense come off the field after his touchdown versus St. Michael on October 5, 2017.

The Panthers scoring started early in the first half, following an interception by senior defensive back Xavier Lodge. On third and eleven, the Warriors quarterback attempted to float a pass over the middle, and Lodge came down with the ball on the Warrior 38-yard line. Lodge returned the ball to the 6-yard line, setting up classmate Josh London for the touchdown run two plays later. Junior Jacob Barnes added the extra point attempt, and the Panthers led 7-0.

After forcing a punt, the Panther offense stalled, but Barnes was able to add to the lead with a 43-yard field goal, putting the Panthers up by the score of 10-0 with 4:24 to play in the first quarter. Woodlawn added its second touchdown of the quarter on senior quarterback Brian Byrd’s 40-yard scamper. After Barnes’ extra point attempt was true, the scoreboard read 17-0.

Woodlawn’s offense continued to click on all cylinders. The Panthers went back to the ground and scored on the second play of the second quarter from 36-yards out. This time senior Chris Middleton found the end zone, and Barnes PAT put the Panthers up by a commanding 24-0 lead. Woodlawn would reach pay dirt on one more occasion in the first half, when Byrd found junior wide receiver Bryant Jacob alone in the end zone for the score. The point after by Barnes made the score 31-0.

The Homecoming Court watches the Homecoming Game.

After receiving the second half kickoff, Woodlawn used eleven plays to score for the final time of the night. Lodge took the hand off from 35-yards out, racing untouched for the touchdown. Barnes once again added the extra point for the 38-0 Panther lead.

The Woodlawn offense totaled 281 yards in the Homecoming victory, with 187 yards coming on the ground. In total, five Panthers found the end zone during the night. The defense was once again dominant, shutting the visiting team out until under two minutes to play in the game. The defense also held the Warrior offense to 198 total yards.

Byrd led the Panther offense with 159 total yards, with 94 of those yards coming through the air. Byrd was responsible for a touchdown on the ground and through the air. Lodge added 47 yards on three carries, Middleton carried twice for 39 yards, and London had nine carries for 31 yards. Each added a touchdown on the ground.

Bryson Reaser had 61 yards receiving on one catch. Jacob caught the one pass for 14 yards and a touchdown, while Tyrell Smith had one reception for 11 yards. London added one catch for eight yards.

Cheerleaders show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Senior linebacker Talbot Daniels was extremely disruptive to the Warrior offense, totaling 11 tackles with a sack, tackle for loss, and sack.

The Panthers will be the visiting team despite playing at home versus Tara on Thursday, October 12.

Panthers Offense Heats Up to Lead Woodlawn to 4-1 Record

Panthers Offense Heats Up to Lead Woodlawn to 4-1 Record

Through the first two games of the 2017 football season, Woodlawn’s offense struggled to find it’s rhythm. The Panther defense continued its solid play, but Woodlawn’s offense turned a corner and found its scoring groove over the last three weeks, averaging 40.6 points per game in the final three weeks of the pre-district schedule.

Xavier Lodge returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown versus Lake Area New Tech on September 22, 2017.

In week three, the Panthers used a dominating rushing attack to outscore the Buccaneers 45-0 to move to 2-1 on the season. Woodlawn took the opening kickoff and marched the ball 59 yards in 8 plays, capping the touchdown drive with a four yard touchdown run by senior running back Chris Middleton for a 7-0 lead.

After the two teams traded punts, the Panther defense forced a safety when senior outside linebacker Deon’tre Phillip and senior defensive back Jonathan Scott combined to bring the Buccaneer quarterback down in the end zone for a 9-0 Woodlawn lead.

The Woodlawn lead was quickly extended when senior quarterback Brian Byrd scored on a four yard run five plays after the safety. Senior Xavier Lodge’s two point conversion made the score 17-0 with 11 minutes to play in the first half.

After the Panther defense forced another punt, senior Josh London added to the Woodlawn lead with a 23 yard touchdown run, making the score 24-0. Byrd and Middleton would each add their second touchdown runs of the half to send the Panthers to a 38-0 halftime lead.

The final score on the night came with just over ten minutes to play in the game, as Middleton found the end zone for the third time of the night, and the 45-0 margin of victory.

Middleton finished the night with 13 carries for 78 yards and three touchdowns, while Byrd added 68 yards and two scores on 10 carries. London added 133 yards on 13 carries with the one touchdown.

Earlington Smith congratulates Jacob Barnes after a successful field goal attempt versus Lake Area New Tech on September 22, 2017.

The defense held Broadmoor to 103 total yards on the night, highlighted by negative five rushing yards on 14 attempts.

Week four saw much of the same, as the Panthers defense held opponent Lake Area New Tech to 86 total yards, and negative 22 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Woodlawn’s offense was able to capitalize on great field position throughout the night, leading to the 46-6 victory.

The scoring started quickly for the Panthers, as Lodge took the opening kickoff and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown. The extra point attempt by junior Jacob Barnes was true for a 7-0 lead.

After the defense forced a punt, Byrd found junior wide receiver Bryson Reaser streaking down the right hash behind the defense for a 40 yard touchdown. Barnes added the extra point for a 14-0 lead. Lodge was able to find the end zone again in the second quarter on a six yard run, and the Panthers were up 21-0 after Barnes’ extra point. Barnes added two field goals in the second quarter and Woodlawn took a 27-0 lead into halftime.

That lead was extended on the Panthers’ first offensive play of the second half. Lodge took the handoff and raced 36 yards untouched down the left sideline for a 34-0 lead. Barnes added another field goal, making the score 37-0. Later in the third quarter, Lodge found the end zone once again for a 44-6 lead.

Lodge added a tackle in the end zone for a safety for the final 46-6 score. He ended the night with 79 yards rushing on 8 carries and three touchdowns, along with the kickoff return for a touchdown. Barnes ended the night by going 3 for 3 on field goals, hitting from 49, 47, and 39 yards.

The final game of Woodlawn’s pre-district came versus the St. Martinville Tigers.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Panther offense was able to find the end zone twice in the second quarter. Lodge scored on a one yard run, and Barnes’ extra point made the score 7-0. After a stop by the defense, Byrd found senior wide receiver Evan Puckett on a 64 yard pass for the 14-0 lead.

Braylyn Jones looks to pick up yards on a punt return versus St. Martinville on September 29, 2017.

The Panthers came out to start the half and found the end zone on the first drive once again. The 45-yard drive was capped by a five yard carry by Lodge, and the extra point made the score 21-7.

Barnes added a 43 yard field goal for a 24-14 victory on the first play of the fourth quarter. After St. Martinville added another score to cut the lead to 24-21, the Panther offense answered the bell again. A ten play, 68-yard drive that ended on Middleton’s five-yard touchdown run gave the Panthers their final score of the night and ended the scoring at 31-21.

Woodlawn was led again by Middleton’s 75 yards on 16 carries. Lodge added 71 yards on nine carries.

The Panthers will host St. Michael Thursday, October 5 for Homecoming. All parents, students, faculty, and alumni are invited to attend the tailgate starting at 5:30 pm, followed by the game at 7:00 pm.

Defense Stands Tall in 14-7 Overtime Victory

Defense Stands Tall in 14-7 Overtime Victory

The Woodlawn Panther football team notched their first win of the season behind an outstanding defensive effort and two touchdowns by Louisiana Tech commitment Xavier Lodge.

Lodge took the first snap of the overtime period from the ten yard line, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, then carried multiple Hammond defenders into the end zone to give the Panthers their first lead of the game.

Senior linebacker Kerrington Hill tackles a Hammond ball carrier for a loss.

Woodlawn’s defense had to take the field for one final possession in order to preserve that lead. On second and goal from the two-yard line, Hammond’s quarterback fumbled the snap, and junior defensive lineman Kenneth Augustus pounced on the loose ball to send the visitors’ sidelines into celebration.

The Panthers used a ball control offense, often featuring Lodge or senior running back Chris Middleton at quarterback in wildcat packages, to dominate both the time of possession and the total number of plays. Woodlawn used 42 rushing attempts to gain 139 yards and keep Hammond’s offense off of the field. The Tornados finished the game with only 36 total plays, compared to the Panthers’ 61 plays.

As is often the case, special teams also played a huge role in Friday night’s contest. Each team fumbled a punt return and lost it to their opponent, and Hammond’s only points of the night came via a punt return with 4:30 to play in the first quarter.

Junior punter Jacob Barnes’ punt was picked up by a Hammond returner, who was quickly met by junior long snapper Evan Larson. A host of Panthers converged on the ball carrier, led by senior linebacker Kerrington Hill, who poked the ball from the grasp of the Hammond player.

However, luck leaned in the Tornadoes favor, as a Hammond player picked up the loose ball and raced 75 yards down the visitors’ sideline for Hammond’s first and only points of the night.

Two series later, Woodlawn took over on their own 36 yard line following a ten yard return by senior defensive back Braylyn Jones. On second down, senior quarterback Brian Byrd found junior receiver Bryson Reaser for a 14 yard gain. The Panthers were aided by a 15 yard penalty for a late hit on Reaser after he was knocked out of bounds. The Panthers controlled the ball for eleven more plays, with Lodge finally reaching the end zone on a four yard carry, knotting the score at seven.

Neither offense was able to cross the goal line again in regulation.

The Panthers (1-1) held the Tornadoes (0-2) to 21 total yards. Eleven of those yards came on the ground on 29 carries, while Hammond completed 4 of 7 passes for ten yards. Much of that yardage came on the final drive of regulation, when the Panther defense sat in a prevent defense to keep the game tied.

“The defense continues to keep us in games. We must do a better job in the other two phases of the game to be successful going forward,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said.

Senior receive Joshua London takes the hand-off from senior quarterback Brian Byrd.

Byrd, in only his second start since returning from a knee injury which ended his junior season, improved from the season opener. The quarterback completed 6 of 19 passes for 67 yards, but also threw two interceptions. He added 24 yards on 6 carries.

Each interception came in Hammond territory, with the second occurring after the Panther offense took over at the Tornado 29-yard line.

“You can’t lose the turnover battle and win many games,” Luquet said. “And when you’re given a short field by your defense, you have to capitalize. We will continue to work on the little things that will help with the overall process.”

Reaser led Panther receivers with 4 catches for 44 yards. Sophomore Tyrell Smith added one reception for seven yards.

Lodge and Middleton paced the running game with 16 carries a piece. Lodge tallied 65 yards and two touchdowns. Middleton had 45 yards on the ground, and added one reception for 16 yards.

The Panthers defense placed constant pressure on Hammond’s quarterbacks throughout the night. Hill led Woodlawn with three sacks, keeping the Tornado passing game from gaining any traction.

Woodlawn will be on the road again in week three, as the Panthers travel to Broadmoor to take on the Buccaneers. Game time is set for 7 pm on Friday, September 15.

Panthers Fall to Eagles in Season Opener

Panthers Fall to Eagles in Season Opener

Jerit Roser, originally written for Livingston Parish News

Photos by Hunter Kirkland of HK Photo

A few big plays by Live Oak and miscues by Woodlawn proved the difference Friday in former Panthers coach Brett Beard’s return to his previous school.

The visiting Eagles (1-0) used those opportunities to climb to a 21-0 victory in an otherwise back-and-forth defensive battle on a muddy field in the season opener.

Xavier Lodge brings down a Live Oak ball carrier Friday night.

“It’s hard,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said. “Because when you know your opponent as well as we knew Live Oak and you put six months of preparation into it, and you come out and you put a 0, and the defense sees that, it’s frustrating. But we have a very big senior class with a bunch of guys who are leaders, and a bunch of guys who are gonna play at the next level, who have to understand that emotions are gonna take over. This is an emotional sport.

“But we have to be able to check our emotions when the game’s over, come back tomorrow morning and watch film and just continue to get better. Last year was hard, but last year we lost a lot of guys. This year, we stayed healthy for the most part, and I just think that if they continue to take care of the little things, then the bigger process will take care of itself.”

Both defenses lived up to strong billing in a first half that saw just a combined 96 yards and seven first downs — much of which came in its final few minutes.

But a dropped snap and pair of penalties forced Woodlawn (0-1) to punt out of its own end zone midway through the second quarter to give Live Oak starting field position just 35 yards from the end zone.

And the Eagles needed just four plays for Hagen Long to put his team on the scoreboard, 7-0, with the Nathan Holliday extra point.

“I know there was 13 punts in the first half combined,” Luquet said. “But even then, they may have done six plays instead of three. And three plays against an offense like that is gonna hurt your defense because you’re gonna leave ‘em on the field a lot longer than they need to be. We’ve gotta get better at not always just scoring, but being able to move the sticks, flip the field and keep our defense off the field sometimes.”

Cameron Dickerson busted back-to-back runs of 19 and 40 yards in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 13-0.
And Live Oak added a third score, a 1-yard Kee Hawkins run, in the fourth quarter on another short field after a blocked punt provided Beard and company possession at the 34-yard line.

“I love this place,” Beard said. “I wanted to come back to this place … Ideally we’d love to play on the turf, because we’re spoiled with it. But I love this place. I love these kids. I love the atmosphere here. I wanted to come back and be on the other side of it and look at it and see my friends that have done great things and become great coaches across from me.

“I’m excited to be able to go against those guys. They do a phenomenal job, and they’ve got a great team. I tell you what: If people are sleeping on Woodlawn, those cats right there, once they get in game shape and play a little bit, they’ve got a chance to be really good.”

Senior running back Chris Middleton Jr. led the Panthers with 41 yards rushing and a 16-yard reception.

Brian Byrd looks to scramble versus Live Oak.

Senior standout Xavier Lodge added 17 yards on two carries, while also leading the defense with 10 tackles, and senior quarterback Brian Byrd and junior wide receiver Bryson Reaser added 9 and 4 yards on the ground, respectively.

Senior wide receiver Joshua London led Woodlawn with 26 of the team’s 42 receiving yards on a tough night for the passing game.

“You’ve gotta be balanced,” Luquet said. “You’ve gotta be balanced. We’ve got to get better at that. Look, (Byrd) was gonna be our guy last year and tore his ACL, so now this is really his first look, first game playing a team that’s had six months to prepare for him. But you’ve gotta make the easy throws. They have to be catchable balls. They can’t be hard to catch. Because with the field and those defenders doing what they do, he has to make them easier catches. And it’s gonna come.

“Look, it’s Week 1. I think our run game is gonna be solid. I think our pass protection got a little bit better in the second half, but we have to be able to throw the football, or teams are gonna load the box, and for our two running backs, it’s gonna be a long year. But we’ll keep working on it, keep doing it — repetition, repetition — and the farther along he gets, the more experience, by the time we get to district, which is when it matters, hopefully we’ll be cruising.”

View Roser’s original story by clicking here.