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Mustangs, Patriots hoping for good district start


Ellender receiver Jarred Turner will look to help lead the Patriots to a victory in the District 8-4A opening game against Assumption on Friday night in Napoleonville. (Photo by File)


 

Around one calendar year ago, the Ellender junior varsity football team posted a victory over Assumption's junior varsity squad.

The win came while the Patriots were suffering from a long varsity losing streak, and while it may have not carried much meaning to some, it got things going for Ellender and its coach Terry Washington, who was in his first year with the program last season.

That junior-varsity win, and the remainder of last year's varsity season, acted as the catalysts for Ellender to win its opening game of the 2012 season in varsity action and helped snap its 32-game losing streak that dated back to 2008.

After five weeks of the 2012 season, Ellender is now 3-2 overall and opens District 8-4A play against Assumption in Napoleonville at 7 p.m. Friday.

"I think playing that JV game last year gave those guys a sense of pride and let them know that they could win," Washington said. "We had a little success, and that was the start of something."

Assumption is also 3-2 overall and 0-0 in district. The Mustangs won District 8-4A last season and topped Ellender 47-0 on their way to the district crown.

But first-year Assumption coach Anthony Paine is expecting a different Ellender team this season.

Quarterback Dustin Creppel leads Ellender and is one of the top passers in the state with 1,590 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"It will take some sound fundamental football to slow them down," Paine said of the Patriots. "The quarterback is one of the leading passers in the state, if not the leading passer in the state. They have some skill players, and Coach Washington has done a heck of a job in turning that program around. You can see it in how they play. They fly to the football, and block down field for each other. They are a totally different ball club than you have seen. They do all the little things correctly, and that starts up top. Terry has done a heck of a job."

Assumption is coming off 34-0 victory over St. James, and Paine said starting district with a win would be big.

"Everything we have done up until now has some value to it because of the power-points system, but everyone sets goals for themselves as a team in the preseason, and what should be on every team's list is to compete for a district championship, and that starts this week," Paine said. "Nothing is more important. The real season starts now."

Washington said a victory would help further the confidence already gained by the Patriots this season.

"This is a new season. We are 0-0 now," Washington said. "If we could pull one out it would be great for the morale of the football program, and get us closer to the playoffs. This is a big one for us. This is their homecoming, so they will have some extra incentive. They are a tough team. They are the defending district champions, so we know they are not going to give that up easily. We have to play four quarters and bring our ‘A' game."

Assumption is led by quarterback Cameron Blame (six TD passes, 749 yards passing, 107 rushing yards, five rushing TDs), receiver DeJuawn Oliver (324 yards receiving, 5 TDs) and running back Acquindas Brown (325 rushing yards).

"This is the fourth week in a row we have gone up against a really athletic quarterback, and it's going to be tough," Washington said of Blame. "The quarterback and (Oliver) are guys we are going to have to try and contain as much as we can. If we can do that, we have a shot at having some success on Friday."

Ellender has lost its two games this season by a combined six points, including a 36-32 loss at Northlake Christian last week.

"The difference in being 5-0 is six points," Washington said. "I told these guys that we have to find a way to win those close ball games. That's the difference between a great team and a team that's on the cusp. We have to find a way to win close ball games. We still have not played four quarters (on offense). We have been sporadic on offense. We need to go back to the basics and put together a complete game."

Along with Creppel, Ellender features skill players Jarred Turner (434 receiving yards, 3 TDs), Dan Mitchell (382 receiving yards, 7 TDs), Ralph Singleton (328 receiving yards, 271 rushing yards, 9 total TDs) and Kevin Lucien (245 receiving yards, 4 TDs).

"Their skill set guys are a handful," Paine said. "Hopefully we can do the things we need to do to keep the ball out of their hands. We need to play sound, fundamental football. Turnovers, penalties, special teams are all going to be key factors in this game."

Paine said playing at home and in front of a homecoming crowd should benefit Assumption.

"For whatever reason we have not played well on the road this year, and fortunately we are at home this week," Paine said. "We are just looking to be more efficient and execute better, and do the things that we are coached to do."