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Stopping diminutive Mingo tall task for defending state champions

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  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • November 23, 2016 - 12:53pm

File photosFirst-year coach Dwain Jenkins and his Lutcher Bulldogs have reached the Thanksgiving Week benchmark of still being alive in the football postseason.

If you are looking for an example of good things coming in small packages, all you have to do is gaze at Marksville.

Despite his small physical stature, Marksville’s Qway Mingo has come up big again and again.

“I’d be hard-pressed to find a player better than him in the state that’s under 5-8 and under 170 pounds. I think pound for pound, he might be the best football player in the state of Louisiana,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said of Mingo.

As a quarterback, Mingo has topped 3,000 yards each in passing and rushing. In leading the fifth-seeded Tigers through an 11-1 season going into Friday night’s Class 3A quarterfinal matchup at fourth-seeded Lutcher, Mingo has passed for almost 1,700 yards while leading the team in rushing yards with 1,124.

“When they played Patterson in the first round of the playoffs, he had a 20-carry, 260-yard rushing performance,” Jenkins recounted. “Earlier in the year when they played Jena, he was 22 of 31 for 250 passing.

“He can do it both ways, but in most games he tries to hit that happy medium right around 120-130 yards rushing and somewhere around 150 to 170 yards passing seems to be a normal night for Mr. Mingo.”

Mingo plays just as big on defense.

“When they played Jena, they have a big-time recruit and they locked him up and play man-to-man coverage and Mingo played on him all night long,” said Jenkins.

Mingo guides a spread offense with a few twists.

“They run a lot of empty sets,” Jenkins explained. “Every once in awhile they do get into some single wing, but for the most part, they put the ball in Qway Mingo’s hands and he will distribute it and be able to make plays.

“The thing that he is able to do is he normally makes the first guy miss and even if you play great defense, he still can make a big play out of it.”

When Mingo isn’t running the ball, he’s generally handing off to Ze Ballard and Kirk Carmouche. Ballard has rushed for 756 yards this season while Carmouche is coming off a 100-yard effort in the Tigers’ 38-22 win last week over Carroll.

A lot of players are in the mix in the passing game, with the main targets being Jeremy Gillam and Juan Jones. Gillam has 701 receiving yards and Jones 370.

The Tigers provide a unique challenge for Lutcher’s defense.

“Not a lot of teams will get in a ‘Bear’ front versus spread teams but they do it. They play five down guys most of the time. They cover the three inside guys and they crawl up front, which makes it tough to pull and do things with the offensive line. They do play a lot of man coverage,” Jenkins explained.

Many of the top players on offense also play on defense for Marksville. Along with Mingo, others in the secondary for the Tigers include Gillam and Jones.

Ballard is a standout linebacker for the Tigers.

Jenkins’ mentor, former Lutcher coach Tim Detillier, was fond of saying that all was right in the world when the Bulldogs were playing football during Thanksgiving Week. With Detillier having left his protégé a state championship team, the Bulldog Nation may want even more.

“I guess with the expectations we’ve had this season, so far, it’s kind of just the next step,” Jenkins said. “You can’t celebrate or really even enjoy the fact that you are in Thanksgiving Week. The team has kind of had to embrace those challenges of going back-to-back and going to another state championship.

“While I find the last couple of weeks our defense is really starting to play top-level, the offense hasn’t. We’ve got to get that straightened out. Offensively, we haven’t played well in awhile and we’ve struggled. We have to get our offense in gear. In the playoffs, you never know which week you are going to need it. Most of the time if you are going to make a successful run in the playoffs, you may not play well on offense and the defense has to step up and vice-versa.”

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.