Morgan City will open District 8-4A play Thursday against a resurgent Ellender squad.
The Patriots, who snapped a 32-game losing streak in their season opener against Terrebonne, have won three games this year heading into their matchup with Morgan City at South Terrebonne High School’s “The Swamp” (South Terrebonne and Ellender share the same stadium).
In addition to players buying into his system, Patriots second-year coach Terry Washington credited his junior class as being key in the turnaround as they have gained experience the past two years and have gotten bigger and stronger.
“It’s basically the same players we’ve had,” he said. “Basically the kids have grown up.”
Morgan City coach Brandon Nowlin can appreciate where Washington has come from with building a program as he did the same upon taking over the Morgan City program in 2010.
While Morgan City may have had the upper hand in its matchups recently with Ellender, it didn’t mean Morgan City’s head coach couldn’t relate with Ellender.
“Even though they’ve had a 30-something game losing streak … I don’t think Ellender High and Morgan City were too (far) removed from each other,” he said.
But that’s the past, and this year, both meet with .500 or better records.
Ellender has put up gaudy numbers as the Patriots have outscored their opponents, 236-169 and have put up 60 or more points twice.
The Patriots’ offense is led by quarterback Dustin Creppell, who is among the state’s passing leaders with 1,890 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“He’s grown and improved and developed as a quarterback,” Nowlin said.
Nowlin said the Patriots’ offense is “wide open,” and the Patriots try to utilize Creppell to “attack” the entire field.
While the Patriots are not a deep squad, Nowlin said they do have good ball players on both sides of the ball.
On defense, Ellender has shown multiple looks this year.
“They’ve kind of been across the board depending on who they play,” Nowlin said. “They fly to the football well.”
Washington also sees challenges for his squad in Friday’s matchup, most notably, Morgan City’s size.
He said that on film, Morgan City appears to be bigger overall than Assumption.
“(We) got our work cut out for us,” Washington said. “They’re huge.”
The Ellender coach said the coaching staff would be tweaking the Patriots’ offense to provide Creppell protection from Morgan City’s defense.
On offense, Washington said Morgan City plays power football.
Despite their successful starts to their seasons, both teams enter Thursday’s contest coming off losses. Morgan City dropped its first game of the season, a 26-14 loss to Franklin on the road Friday, while Assumption routed Ellender, 56-32, in Napoleonville, in both teams’ district openers.
Turnovers on offense and drive-extending penalties on defense hurt the Tigers against Franklin.
“I thought Franklin played very well,” Nowlin said. “They definitely took advantage of (our) mistakes.”
Despite the loss, Nowlin said overall, his defense played well. On offense, he said his squad was able to move the ball even though they didn’t have it much. However, he said they couldn’t get in a rhythm.
Washington said against Assumption, his squad played “probably the worst game of the year.”
“But Assumption had a lot to do with it… Anytime you give up 56 points, it’s hard to win,” he said. “(We) got to do a better job on the defensive side of the football.”
As for this week, Washington is predicting a good football game. While Ellender will be fighting to avoid an 0-2 start to district play, Morgan City will be looking for its first district win.
“Morgan City’s a good football team,” he said. “They’re hungry.”
Information from The Houma Courier was used in this article.