Tigers hope to get back in the win column against Pearl River
By: SCOTT JOINER
Morgan City’s football team makes its longest trip of the season tonight against fellow Class 4A opponent Pearl River.
The injury bug has hit the Tigers earlier than expected this season, but they had several chances to win last week against Jeanerette with backups filling in well.
Several trips to the red zone ended in failed fourth downs or turnovers, which negated a successful onside kick and other promising plays.
Pearl River (1-3) has faced smaller schools for the most part, so the first game against a 4A school is a welcome gauge of where they are at this point.
“We think it’s going to be a good test for us,” Pearl River coach Chris Johnson said. “From what we’ve seen on film they’ve got some good size kids, some good athletes on their team. They play hard, so it’s going to be a good measuring stick for us.”
The Rebels work out of a shotgun wing-T, which should be a nice change of pace for the Tigers after facing two options teams the past few weeks in Sarah Reed and Jeanerette.
“Over the last couple weeks I think we’ve played a little more athletic, from top to bottom, opponents,” Nowlin said. “But these guys seem to be tough kids, they play hard, they fly around on both sides of the ball and they force you to execute, which is, at times, one of the things we struggle with on both sides of the ball.”
Morgan City’s top runner is sophomore Eric Walker with 382 yards on 79 carries for seven touchdowns and he passed for a touchdown last week against Jeanerette finding Demarcus Coleman on a short pass.
Hoang Ngyuen has been efficient at quarterback in his first year as the starter, he’s completed 26-of-51 passes for 297 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
His ability to stand in the pocket under pressure has allowed for the extra second or two it takes to find open receivers. Ngyuen’s favorite target has been Austin Stroud who has 16 catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Stroud is second in District 8-4A in receptions trailing Ellender’s Ralph Singleton who has 18 catches. The MCHS senior is second in receiving yards with 221, trailing Ellender’s Houston Chatman with 242 yards.
Outside of the skill positions, the Tigers size has given teams fits with the turtle formation in particular leading to big gains on the ground.
Blocking on the line and down field against the secondary will be key for Walker’s chances of a second straight 100-yard rushing performance. The Rebels employ a 3-5 defense led by senior Luke Cummings and junior RJ Delaune that will try to keep Walker from racking up too many yards.
“They’re a well coached group, they play good fundamental football on both sides of the ball,” Nowlin said. “They’re pretty scrappy on defense. They aren’t a very big football team, but they run to the football well on defense and play good team defense. Offensively, they have a good scheme.”
In the most recent unofficial power rankings, the Tigers sit at No. 29 out of a 32-team playoff field. Some might think it’s too early to start looking ahead to the playoffs, but Nowlin said it’s a definite goal for the program.
“Obviously, as a coach, I’m thinking about (the playoffs),” Nowlin said. “I told our guys, the goals for this football team are to compete in every game we play, win every game we play, have a winning record and get this program to the playoffs. It hasn’t been done for a while. Our guys know the score when it comes to that, it was talked about last year. … In my opinion we gave one away last week, which makes it that much tougher to reach our goal.”