Berwick High School's Josh Carver eyes a pass to him during the Panthers' loss to Patterson during the regular season. Berwick will begin postseason play Friday when it hosts Eunice in a 7 p.m. contest. Berwick is seeded No. 11 in the Class 3A playoffs, while Eunice is the No. 22 seed. (The Daily Review/Mico Aloisio)
Berwick will host Eunice Friday
Berwick High School advanced to the Class 3A playoffs for the first time since 1996 a year ago.
This year, the No. 11 seed Panthers hope to win their first playoff game in at least as many years when they host No. 22 seed Eunice Friday at 7 p.m.
After a season in which the Panthers have endured a tough schedule in which they finished 7-3 and third in District 8-3A with a 3-2 mark, Berwick Head Coach Eric Holden said he has seen a difference in his squad in their approach to preparation for the playoffs.
“This week, when our kids came to work, they understood we belong here,” Holden said. “Last year, I think we were just happy to be winning games. There weren’t a whole lot of lessons learned last year. … Now, everyone’s focused. We have a job in front of us and a mission, and that mission is to get to Poydras (Street in New Orleans).
As for his thoughts on the season, Holden said he thinks the Panthers are better this year than last year.
“I think those harder games actually did do exactly what I needed it to do,” he said. “It drew us closer together. There’s a process to creating a champion, and there’s certain lessons you have to learn and you can’t microwave the process and you can’t skip those lessons. You have to learn them.”
Those lessons were learned in the three losses this season to Newman, Kaplan and Patterson, Holden said.
As for this week’s opponent, Eunice enters the matchup with a 5-5 mark. However, before last week’s loss to Iota, the squad had won four straight.
Holden said it would be a “smash-mouth football game” Friday in Berwick.
“They are Wing T, so they’re going to come right at you,” he said. “It’ll be some misdirection. We just got to be patient. … We got to fly to the ball. Can’t stay blocked.”
On defense, Holden said he thinks Eunice will run a 3-4 and likely some 4-2-5.
The Berwick coach expects to see the same things Berwick saw in their losses to Patterson and Kaplan.
“The two teams we’ve played after Patterson, I think they kind of thought that was the silver bullet, so to speak, but just like the players went back to the lab, the coaches went back to the lab,” he said.
While Berwick still is dominated, stat wise, by its passing game, in the last two weeks, the Panthers have run the ball more.
This season, Josh Jones leads Berwick with 138 carries for 1,107 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Mitchell Sanford has 67 carries for 582 yards and five scores.
Through the air, Sanford has completed 142 of 278 passes for 2,560 yards with 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Josh Carver is his leading receiver with 64 catches for 1,196 yards and 18 touchdowns. Kenan Jones, an LSU commit, has 40 catches for 795 yards and nine touchdowns. Other top receivers are Josh Jones with 21 catches for 279 yards and two touchdowns and Travis Whitehead with 14 receptions for 267 yards and two scores.