The past couple weeks, Vandebilt Catholic has battled Goliaths with favorable results — an overtime loss against Assumption and a 7-point playoff win against Hannan.
But on Friday night, they’ll have arguably their biggest challenge yet — a home playoff date with a defending state champion.
The Terriers will take on No. 3 University Lab — the defending Division II State Champion.
University beat Lusher 49-0 in the opening round on Friday night.
They enter the game with an 8-3 record and several key wins.
Terriers coach Lance Ledet said the game will be a big challenge, but his team is ready to fight.
“We’re going to have to play our best,” Ledet said. “This is going to be a big challenge, but we’re looking forward to it. It’s that time of the year where you know there are all the top teams playing. We’re happy to be able to be in this position and we’re hopeful to play our best.”
The Terriers are playing their best ball at the right time, and it all starts with defense.
Vandebilt’s defense is dominant — one of the top units in the entire Houma-Thibodaux area.
In the Terriers’ final six games of the regular season, they allowed just 51 combined points. On Friday night, they were great again in a 21-14 win against Hannan.
Hannah had chances in the game, but just about every time they got close, Vandebilt pushed back.
On one drive, Hannan threw an interception in the red zone.
On the last drive of the game, the Terriers got a game-winning sack on fourth down to seal the win.
Ledet said what he likes the most about his defense is their ability to gang tackle and fly to the football.
Senior linebacker Chandler Rhodes makes a lot of the Terriers’ tackles, but several other players have emerged and have become forces in the back-end of the season.
“So many guys have stepped up for us. The defense has been just lights out all year,” Ledet said. “They have been a group we’ve counted on throughout the season to do good things for us. They’ve never backed down. They always show up to play and that’s been huge for us.”
Their biggest challenge of the season will come on Friday night against University.
Lab enters the game with a championship pedigree and college-level players all over the field.
Quarterback Tanner Lawson is smooth and has been making plays up and down the field to assist lab.
Offensive lineman Rashad Green is a three-star player and a Tulane commitment.
Lab runs a spread offense that looks to give their playmakers the ability to make plays in space.
In the opening-round win against Lusher, Lab scored 49 points and dominated in all phases, coasting to an easy win.
Lab is actually a younger team this year than they were last year when they were arguably one of the top teams in the history of the state of Louisiana.
Their 2019 squad sent more than 10 guys to the next level — including to some of the top schools in the country.
“We’re making strides,” coach Andrew Martin said earlier this season. “We have some inexperience in some spots, and it’s taken some time. But the kids have been coachable and they’ve been willing to do everything we’ve asked them to do.”
To secure the win, Vandebilt’s offense will have to play clean football.
The Terriers have some question marks entering the game.
Quarterback Gavin Daigle was injured early in the game with Hannan and missed the entire second half.
In the second half, the Terriers alternated between a couple of players with Hunter Porche doing a lot of the heavy lifting under center.
But against University, the Terriers would love to have Daigle back in the lineup, because he’s been one of the team’s best players all season.
To have any success, Vandebilt is going to have to block a mammoth of a man.
University defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy is a four-star player and one of the best players in the country — a dominant interior lineman that causes chaos for opponents.
An LSU commitment, Roy is going to be a challenge for Vandebilt — a guy the Terriers will have to account for on every snap.
Ledet said he knows the game will be a challenge, but added that he’s eager to see how his team stacks up — especially from the comforts of home.