Eagles in rare role as underdogs against No. 1 Ouachita Christian
By: SCOTT JOINER
Central Catholic’s football team is in the Class 1A quarterfinals for the second straight year with arguably the toughest match up in the quarterfinal round against No. 1 seed Ouachita Christian.
The trip isn’t short by any means at approximately 257 miles from No. 9 seed Central Catholic’s campus to OCS just north of Monroe.
The Eagles have been underdogs twice this season, first against White Castle and in the last game of the regular season against Vermilion Catholic. The Eagles split those two games.
Without school in session this week the Eagles have been able to fully focus on their opponent, which could pay off on Friday.
“We’ve had some good, spirited practices,” CCHS coach David Fuhrer said. “They like not having school and just practicing football. It’s been a good week.”
Size and depth look to be in favor of Ouachita Christian, but CCHS athletes like Lloyd Grogan, Josh Singleton, Dontrell Brown, Jovon Johnson and Tyler Hoffpauir are just as dangerous as the top seeds main threats.
Even with the Eagles talent, few expect them to move on the semifinals and the players understand that.
“I guess so, we can go up there and surprise some people,” Hoffpauir said. “Show them how we play football. We’re just looking to go up there, play football and execute our plays right and go get the win.”
On film, the thing that stood out most to the coaching staff was size and the use of misdirection in the offense.
“They’re big, they do a lot of things very well,” Fuhrer said. “I call it a lot of smoke and mirrors. But, they execute the offense very well. Defensively, they get to the football.”
Ouachita Christian last won a state championship in 2000 and has made the playoffs every year since 1995. Steven Fitzugh has been head coach since 1998 with a 119-55 record.
“Coach Fitzugh has been there for a while and does a great job with his staff,” Fuhrer said. “I don’t know how many he has on his staff, but they have a stat person — that’s all the guy does. He’s been doing it for years. It’s an amazing organization. I’ve been following them for years even before we played them two years ago. They have the same coaching staff year in and year out, no turnover with that. I hear the facilities are very nice. I haven’t been there but have seen it on film.”
Last week, the Eagles played sound defense and kept a potent Elton running game from doing any damage. Ouachita Christian is a much more diverse and talented offense, but Fuhrer said he’s preparing the team like he would for any other game.
“We’ve been preaching to the kids all year long that it’s just the next game on the schedule, they do realize it’s a do or die situation in the playoffs,” Fuhrer said. “If you want to continue on you’ve got to win. We know they’re a very good football team, we respect what they do. We’re just going to go in and play our game and do what we do. Limit our mistakes and take care of the football and not have costly penalties.”
Win or lose, the Eagles playing a football game during Thanksgiving means they’ve had a successful season.
“It’s a great feeling (to be coaching this late),” Fuhrer said. “I was fortunate enough to a few times in high school and as a student coach at Nicholls we made the playoffs and played Appalachian State during Thanksgiving week and a few times since I’ve been here we were able to go to the quarterfinals.”