St. James was unable to contain Kaplan’s Wing-T offense as the Pirates rushed for 270 yards in eliminating the Wildcats from the playoffs 39-22 in the Class 3A quarterfinals Friday night in Vacherie.
“It’s not something you see every day and it’s hard to simulate that type of offense in practice,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said of Kaplan’s Wing-T offense. “We don’t see that offense around here other than E.D. White.”
Kaplan running back Mac Thibeaux paced the Pirates’ attack with 177 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
“We didn’t make the stops we needed to make. They were able to sustain some drives and chip away and chip away. With that scheme, one person out of place can really, really cause some damage,” said Valdez.
St. James, which entered the game as the No. 4 seed, ended its season 9-4. Kaplan improved to 10-3 in advancing to the semifinals.
Kaplan scored twice in the first quarter to build a 16-0 lead – ending a string of eight shutout quarters by the Wildcats’ defense to open the playoffs.
A 51-yard run by Thibeaux down to the Wildcats’ 23 eventually set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trae Case to Mathew Roden for an 8-0 lead.
A tipped pass by Kaplan’s 6-foot-5 defensive end Quintlan Cobb led to an interception of a Shamar Smith pass, eventually setting up a 34-yard run by Thibeaux to make it 16-0 with 1:13 remaining in the opening quarter.
Smith raced 61 yards for a touchdown to make it 16-6 in the middle of the third quarter.
An interception by Drake Abshire near midfield of a Smith pass helped to set up a 9-yard run by Roden to make it 24-6 with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
St. James had a chance put cut into the 18-point deficit right before halftime but missed a field goal.
A 42-yard run by Dontaz Sterling and a two-point conversion pass from Smith to Shawn Preston only moments in the second half made it 24-14 and it appeared another patented Wildcats comeback might be in the making.
“We made some halftime adjustments offensively that gave us an opportunity to score quickly,” Valdez said.
The comeback was not meant to be as Kaplan added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 2-yard run by Thibeaux and a 1-yard run by Rhett Menard to make it 39-14.
A 10-yard touchdown pass from Damarcus Williams to Dash Harry and a two-point conversion toss from Williams to Smith made the final 39-22.
Despite the season-ended loss, Valdez said the Wildcats made strides in 2017.
“We were able to win a lot of games; a lot of big rivalry games. We did a lot of good things and made it to the state quarterfinals and all that but we fell a little bit short. I’m really proud of the effort that my kids gave us as we continue to build this program back to the level it used to be,” the St. James coach said.