ROSEPINE – Practicing on Thanksgiving Day. Balancing family and football.
It’s something Many will do for the sixth straight season Friday when the No. 1 seed Tigers (10-0) head to No. 9 Rosepine (10-2) in the quarterfinals of the Division III Non-select playoffs.
And for the second straight season, it’s Rosepine who is waiting to try and halt the Tigers in the quarters.
Last year? Many won 50-12 as the Tigers marched to their third straight state championship game.
But that was in the friendly confines of John W. Curtis Stadium. This year, Many heads south to the Vernon Parish town just north of DeRidder – a favorable road trip compared to some northern teams who are headed below Interstate 10.
The Tigers don’t have to worry about scheduling walk-throughs at another stadium on Thanksgiving or loading up busses on the holiday. It’s about an hour south on Hwy 171.
Many has posted a quarterfinals win in each of the last six seasons.
“Practicing on Thanksgiving is a tradition here, and it’s expected,” said Many coach Jess Curtis. “So is walking into the Superdome. To us, it’s the next step on our journey to our goal. Rosepine is very well coached. They have a very good running back in (Grant) Ducote. We will have to be ready.”
Rosepine’s Ducote sailed past 5,000 career rushing yards in the middle of this season and owns the program rushing record.
But Many’s defense has a track record of frustrating star players, including the nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit in Isidore Newman’s Arch Manning as the Tigers won 25-17.
Haughton’ high-powered offense that scored 36 points in a first-round upset of District 1-5A champion Airline? The Bucs didn’t reach the end zone in a Week 3 trip to Many as the Tigers rolled 35-3.
Many bottled up Ducote enough in the 2021 quarterfinals as Rosepine managed just 12 points, and the Tigers defense enters this quarterfinals matchup not having allowed a point since Oct. 14 (four straight games).
Many blanked a Richwood offense 21-0 that had scored 34 points or in six different games.
“The defense has been playing well,” Curtis said. “They haven’t given up a point since Oct. 14. We have very good cover guys and a physical box. A lot of good players have played in some big games.
Rosepine’s offense scored at least 40 points in nine of their 10 regular season games, but in the playoffs, that’s slipped to 27 points per game.
The Eagles gutted out a 20-13 win at No. 25 Westlake after thumping District 3-2A member Red River 34-6 in the first round.
While Rosepine familiarized itself with Thanksgiving football this past season, 2021 is the Eagles only quarterfinals contest in its streak of six playoff appearances.
Many has a winning streak of six straight quarterfinals games (not to mention three straight semifinals games), and the Tigers are coming off a bit of a test this past week against Class 3A Richwood.
The Tigers might have grown accustomed to running clocks in District 3-2A play, but Many led 7-0 at halftime against Richwood and needed two long second-half touchdown plays to break away from a stingy Richwood defense.
Quarterback Tackett Curtis had touchdown runs of 47 and 20 yards to tack on to Jeremiah James’ 52-yard touchdown sprint on the first drive of the game.
“Richwood was very good up front – as good as we’ve seen,” Jess Curtis said. “They held Union Parish and Trey Holley to 21 points as well. Add on top of that, we were very sloppy (two fumbles). We got going and did what we needed to do to win.”
Rosepine’s defense has posted impressive numbers, allowing less than 10 points per game after holding seven regular season opponents to 10 points or fewer.
But the Eagles’ strength factor (5.60) is the second-lowest in Non-Select Division III. Many’s strength factor was a 7.67 by comparison, which ranks in the top half.
Rosepine boasts an impressive win 42-22 against Class 1A power Logansport, but in its biggest test of the season, Avoyelles went wild in a 68-45 victory.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Shannahan/Journal Sports
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