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LHS Bulldogs host Avoyelles team that features ‘no-hurry’ offense

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 09, 2016 - 10:13pm

File photosJontre Kirklin and the Lutcher offense will have to be very patient against an Avoyelles team on Friday that will limit the Bulldogs to very few possessions.

“They are not in a hurry to snap it. They are not in a hurry to get to the line of scrimmage. The only thing they are in a hurry is to get on the bus because the games don’t last very long,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said in summing up the Avoyelles Mustangs’ style of offense.

The Mustangs will bring one of the most unique offenses to Lutcher on Friday when they take on the Bulldogs in the opening round the Class 3A playoffs.

“There are a whole lot of teams you would rather play in the playoffs than Avoyelles. They are 4-6 and that’s what everybody sees but you start looking at games that they played and the style they play, you have to be efficient,” said Jenkins.

The Mustangs feature an offense that rarely throws the football and never punts. If Avoyelles scores a touchdown, the Mustangs always go for a two-point conversion. They also always attempt on onside kick.

“Offensively, they are a double-wing, double tight end and their philosophy is they will run it four times and try to average two-and-a-half yards a carry and get a first down and run the clock. If they get one first down, they are looking to run eight plays and five-and-a-half minutes off the clock,” Jenkins said.

Facing Avoyelles is a new experience for Jenkins, the first-year coach at Lutcher. Bulldog players and assistant coaches are familiar with Avoyelles since Lutcher faced the Mustangs in the opening round of the playoffs a year ago.

So, the Bulldogs, who are 8-2 and the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, have direct knowledge of what the Avoyelles offense is all about. Lutcher defeated Avoyelles 34-8 on the way to a state championship.

Despite the victory a year ago, the Bulldogs saw the Mustangs hold onto the ball for the first 13 minutes of the game – all of the first quarter and a minute into the second. Lutcher led 12-0 at halftime, scoring on two of its three first-half possessions.

“You see them against Marksville, which is the No. 5 seed, Marksville scored on their first four possessions, make a couple of two-point conversions but the score was 30-20 and that was it. You see you can get out to the lead but it doesn’t matter because those possessions get so limited, they can score, they get back an onside kick, and all of a sudden, it’s a football game and you make one mistake and it can go the other way real quick,” said Jenkins.

Running the Mustangs’ unique brand of offensive football is quarterback Brody Knott. Despite being a sophomore, Knott is a returning starter.

“When you have a quarterback that also plays outside linebacker you understand that he’s probably a pretty tough kid, which is important for them. A lot of times when they run the toss sweep, he’s the lead blocker,” Jenkins explained.

Along with Knott, the Mustangs feature a number of runners, including Javien Jackson, Chandler Greenhouse, Ryheim Dupuy and Donnell Carter.

“Their best skilled guy is Javien Jackson. He’s had some big plays. He’s been able to get out of that mold of just a 3- or 4-yard carry. He’s broken some for 40 or 50 yards and had long touchdown runs,” said Jenkins.

The runners work behind a hefty offensive line.

“You put that into the scheme they are running and they have 6-2, 270-pound tight end and you start getting all those guys in tight quarters just looking to get just a little bit of a push and get 3 yards here and 4 yards here, their style matches their personnel,” Jenkins said. “They run the counter, they run the toss, they run the double-handoff and they will just dive with the fullback and wedge block and get behind those 300 pounders and see if he can fall forward.”

Because the Avoyelles offense holds onto the ball for so long, the Mustang defenders generally play no more than 25 snaps a game. That allows some defenders to remain fresh, although many of the same guys who help the offense stay on the field, also play on the defensive side of the ball as well.

“A lot of those play both ways, especially up front. They are limited in the number of linemen they have. They ones they have are really big,” said Jenkins.

The Mustangs employ a 4-2-5 defensive alignment, a change from the odd-man front of a year ago.

At 4-6, the Mustangs do have some vulnerabilities.

“The one thing that seems like to have been an Achilles heel for them is they have been susceptible to big plays,” Jenkins said. “It seems like every game somebody is going to get one or two big plays in there but in a game like this where there will be limited possessions, it’s a scary thought to be able to rely on making only one or two big plays to win a game and knowing you don’t have a whole lot of opportunities.”

A key member of the Avoyelles defense is end Kendrick Williams, according to Jenkins.

“He’s one of their tight ends but he also plays on the defensive line. He’s a guy that’s a force in the middle that you just have to be able to block,” Jenkins said.

Other top defenders include Knott and Kelvon Kyle at linebacker and defensive back Brandon Levy.

The Bulldogs head into the playoffs coming off a 27-3 loss to De La Salle. The defeat cost Lutcher the District 9-3A title and was one of the few times that the Bulldogs were held without a touchdown.

Coming off that performance and knowing that the Bulldogs must make the most of every offensive possession against Avoyelles, Jenkins said he has concern that Lutcher’s offense may be a bit too anxious to make plays.

“The fear for us, because of the performance we had last week in that type of situation, that you get kids that start to press and try to do too much and that’s when mistakes happen,” the Lutcher coach said.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.