Tonight will pose a new challenge for the Eagles (2-0) as they will need to stay focused against a Berwick (0-2) team that most expect them to beat handily, much like they did in the jamboree.
When they hit the Tiger Stadium field at 7 p.m. tonight, the teams will look much different than they did three weeks ago.
“We know they’re very talented, very athletic,” BHS coach Craig Brodie said. “We have to hit all of our assignments. We’re three weeks, experience-wise, better than we were. Unfortunately, as we need experience and gain experience through junior varsity and varsity games, the season is going to end too soon for us. We just want to keep trying to get better every week.”
Last week the Panthers started off with three fumbles in the first quarter that put them in a hole right away.
Morgan City capitalized on those mistakes and scored on all the drives after turnovers, which is similar to the favorable field position CCHS took advantage of in the jamboree.
“We realize that we gave Morgan City a lot of points, spotted them 19, then we kind of woke up and outscored them 26-25 the rest of the way,” Brodie said. “We’ve done that the last couple games so we’ve been working real hard on securing the ball a little bit better.”
Quarterback Reed Leonard leads the Panthers going 4-for-22 passing with 79 yards so far this season with an interception and two touchdowns along with 14 carries for 45 yards.
Josh Engleton has proven his ability to run the ball and has an imposing physique that can roll over defenders once he gets momentum in his favor. So far, the junior has carried the ball eight times for 76 yards and he’s proven a knack for catching the ball out of the backfield with two receptions for 24 yards.
Matt Skelton is also a player the Eagles will need to keep an eye on. He scored the Panthers’ longest touchdown of the game last week on a 55-yard catch from Leonard.
Central Catholic has the more impressive statistics, but Berwick’s numbers are down in part because of a sloppy season opener against Class 5A Chalmette that made moving the ball much tougher.
Josh Singleton has been efficient in his second season as starting quarterback for David Fuhrer’s team. He’s thrown for 279 yards on 26-for-50 passing with one touchdown and no interceptions. Singleton has also carried the ball 20 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Lloyd Grogan is one of the main cogs in the formidable Eagles machine with 109 yards rushing on 22 carries with a touchdown and he’s caught six passes for 55 yards. Those numbers aren’t as gaudy as some might expect, but Grogan has faced two tough defenses and he plays on defense himself at linebacker and has returned a fumble for a touchdown against White Castle and forced a crucial fumble in the red zone against Loreauville.
If a tackle is made by the CCHS defense, Grogan’s No. 11 is usually involved and he will likely give the Panthers fits tonight.
Tyler Hoffpauir leads the Eagles in receiving with 88 yards on eight catches, Dontrell Brown has caught seven passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, and tight end Conner LeBlanc has two catches for 28 yards.
Brodie and his team are familiar with the talent they will face tonight and expect to fare better than they did in the jamboree.
“Central Catholic is a very good football team,” Brodie said. “They have a lot of experience and some guys that have been together for a while. It’s going to be a challenge, definitely. They kind of embarrassed us the first time and gave us a little wake up call. I thought we had a good scrimmage, but the opponent we had in the scrimmage, physically we could match up better than we could with Central. Special teams was a problem the first time around, gave up a few touchdowns that way and we fumbled the ball to give them good field position. The score didn’t indicate how close it was. We gave away a lot.”