Balanced Catholic overpowers St. Amant 51-21 in District 5-5A debut
How much difference can a year make? Try 37 points.
A year after losing a seven-point game to St. Amant, fifth-ranked Catholic High left nothing to chance. The Bears scored early and often in a 51-21 victory over the Gators in a District 5-5A opener played Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for … a three-phase game,” said Braelen Morgan, who returned two first-quarter punts for touchdowns. “Tonight we put it together. I just try to do my part. Coach says I hold the other guys’ hard work in my hands on special teams, and tonight I caught the ball and did my job.”
The speedy Morgan scored on returns of 51 and 83 yards to help the Bears (5-1, 1-0) race out to a 24-0 first-quarter lead and a 38-0 halftime advantage in a game that was quite different than last year’s 21-14 loss.
Joshua Parker had a team-high 76 yards on four carries and two TDs, including a 56-yard scoring play for the Bears, who had 382 yards of offense with four players who rushed for at least 50 yards.
Cameron Dartez completed 8 of 12 passes for 103 yards and two TDs for Catholic. Elijah Reames (fumble recovery) and Patrick Delatte (interception) led Catholic’s first-unit defense that did not allow a TD.
“We did play well in all three phases of the game,” Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. “I think this gives us a glimpse of what this group can do. By the same token, I don’t think this was indicative of St. Amant. Things snowballed on them early, and that made it tough to come back.”
KJ Franklin ran for a game-high 113 yards on 19 carries to pace St. Amant (4-2, 0-1). Franklin also caught three passes for 29 yards.
“A lot of what hurt us was self-inflicted,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “The returns and turnovers hurt early. That’s a good football team, and they took advantage of those things.”
Thanks to a turnover and the first of Morgan’s electrifying punt returns, Catholic scored twice before fans settled into their seats.
Reames recovered a fumble in the Gators backfield on St. Amant’s second scrimmage play. Catholic took over at the SAHS 15 and scored two plays later on a 5-yard run by Parker. Just over a minute later, St. Amant was forced to punt and Morgan raced 51 yards to the end zone, giving the Bears a 14-0 lead with just 1:40 off the clock.
Catholic went on to score 10 more points in the opening quarter. Cole Cazenave booted a 33-yard field goal and then Morgan did it again. He hauled in another Gator punt and zig-zagged across the field, collecting a wall on blockers on an 83-yard return that put the Bears ahead 24-0 at the 3:57 mark.
Dartez’s 18-yard TD pass to Gregory Martin and Parker’s 56-yard TD run capped the first-half scoring. The Gators did not get on the board until quarterback Lathan Bourgeois scored on a 4-yard run with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
“People look at us and see the physicality,” Reames said. “That comes together after we prepare in practice. We were well prepared.”
Photo & Article Credit: The Advocate, Robin Fambrough