Avoyelles Mustangs trample Beau Chene, 36-28, in season opener

Usually a Class AA school going against a Class AAAA opponent would be considered a “David and Goliath” match-up. This past Friday’s game in Arnaudville between the Beau Chene Gators and the Avoyelles Mustangs wasn’t the mismatch most observers would have expected.

The smaller Mustangs easily defeated their larger host, 36-28, in the season opener for both teams.

“It was a good game,” Mustangs Coach Andy Boone said. “We overcame some problems -- we fumbled the opening kickoff and Beau Chene took an early lead -- and we had 10 players go out during the game with leg cramps.”

Gators Coach Sal Diesi said his team “couldn’t stop them at all. They moved the ball on us all night.” If not for Avoyelles’ own miscues, the score would have been a lot more lopsided, he noted.

The Mustangs played their brand of football, running 64 times for 430 yards and passing three times with one completion for a 25-yard touchdown.

The Gators were more balanced in their attack -- 18 rushes for 171yards and 11 receptions on 26 throws for 100 yards.

PRE-GAME COMMENTS

Prior to the game, Boone said he was impressed with the size of Beau Chene -- both in the number of team members and the physical size of several of their athletes.

“They’re big and they have some good-looking athletes,” Boone said. “I expect they will score on us, but we should get the win. I don’t think we will pitch a shut out.”

There were about twice as many Gators on the sideline as there were Mustangs. But, as they say, both teams can only put 11 on the field at any one time.

Boone said the Mustangs were “mad about the Jamboree.” The team lost to Marksville and to Bunkie.

“People treat the Jamboree like it’s the Super Bowl, but it’s only a scrimmage,” Boone said. “I am kind of glad they played badly because it let me know what we need to fix before the season starts.”

Diesi said other coaches told him about Avoyelles’ unorthodox style of play.

“They said it can be 4th and 90 and the Mustangs will go for the first down,” Diesi said with a laugh.

“I told the team that we have to stop these guys,” he continued. “They have a strong rushing game and they will be hitting us in the mouth all night. They will be coming downhill full force. Bring your lunch because it may be a long night.”

He had watched video of a scrimmage game and the Jamboree to get some idea of what to expect.

Diesi said the size of the team and the size of the players can be deceiving.

“I told my guys that many of the Mustangs play both ways,” Diesi said. “They’re tough. They bust their butt at practice and play the whole game. Do you think they are going to feel sorry for you and take it easy on you?

“As far as a player’s physical appearance, all I can say is it is possible to look like Tarzan and play like Jane,” he added.

THE GAME

As noted earlier, Beau Chene recovered a Mustang fumble deep in Avoyelles’ territory. It capitalized a few minutes later with a 4-yard touchdown pass and PAT kick to take a 7-0 lead with 9:50 left in the 1st quarter.

Avoyelles came back to cap a six-minute drive with a 22-yard scoring scamper by Donnell Carter and two-point plunge by Carlos Bazert.

The Mustangs straddled the 1st and 2nd quarters by drilling a dry well.

After recovering a Gator punt on the 1 yard line, Avoyelles marched about 80 yards on a 17-play drive that ate 11 minutes off the clock before a fumble ended the scoring threat.

The Mustangs got the ball back with about a minute left in the half and went into a hurry-up offense.

With the final second of the half ticking off, QB Jayreon Atkins hit Jermaine Pierre for a 25-yard touchdown. Carter added the two points to give the visitors a 16-7 lead at halftime.

Beau Chene scored early in the third quarter on a 76-yard run with 11:25 left in the period. The PAT failed.

Avoyelles answered with a 3-yard TD run by Carter with 5:49 left in the quarter. The two-point attempt failed.

The Gators scored quickly on their next possession with a 25-yard run and PAT to close the gap to two points.

Despite the toll from the heat and the more numerous players on the other sideline, the Mustangs controlled the 4th Quarter.

Bazert carried the pigskin six yards for a touchdown with 9:57 left in the game. The two-point attempt failed.

With 2:02 remaining, Carter added the insurance score with a 1-yard run. Bazert added the two points.

Beau Chen refused to concede, mounting a drive that ended with a pass interference call after time had expired and followed by a 1-yard TD pass and a two-point conversion.

Diesi said he would have preferred to be going into Week 2 1-0, but he was encouraged by his team’s attitude late in the game when victory was not possible.

“They made the decision with a minute left to go on that long drive to try to score,” he said. “That would not have happened last year.”

BEAU CHENE PROBLEMS

Beau Chene has more significant issues to worry about than the score of a football game. There are financial concerns.

The St. Landry School Board cut the band and color guard from the Gators’ extracurricular programs last fall.

Since then, parents, alumni, faculty and students have formed the “Save Beau Chene” committee to find solutions to the school’s growing list of problems.

The most recent issue led to Diesi becoming head coach. He had been a Gators’ assistant coach for six years.

Last season’s coach/athletic director Richard Morales resigned in July to become an assistant coach at Central High in the Baton Rouge area.

Morales was coach for only a year as the Gators struggled through a winless 0-10 season that saw its offense score only four touchdowns. The principal that hired Morales, Barbara Roberson, was replaced in early August after concerned citizens sought her removal.

That’s three football head coaches and three principals in 14 months.

Beau Chene and Avoyelles are both consolidated high schools created close to the same time -- Avoyelles in 1988 and Beau Chene in 1991.

Beau Chene combined Arnaudville, Leonville and Sunset high schools into one school. Avoyelles gathered Bordelonville, Mansura, Moreauville, Plaucheville and Simmesport high school grades under one roof in the former Moreauville High.

One big difference is that Avoyelles High’s biggest concern right now IS winning the next game. It lacks any of the drama Beau Chene is facing.

“We are just going to keep trying to improve every week,” Boone said before the game. “On Saturday morning we hope to be 1-0 and will start getting ready for Marksville.”

After the game he added, “We will have to play 100 times better than this to beat Marksville.”

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