LEADING THE FLOCK- Senior quarterback Ricky Travis rushes around the edge for a gain in SHCCA’s Semifinal win over Ferriday 12-6. Photo by Jesse Brooks.
By Jesse Brooks
As if it were scripted in classic sports cinema, the sixth seeded St. Helena Hawks, lined up inside the 5-yard line, were granted one final play with no time left on the clock for a chance to defeat No. 2 Ferriday in the Semifinal round of the LHSAA 2A postseason. Senior quarterback Ricky Travis had to make a split decision to as he was hit and going down on the final snap. Ferriday’s defense, committed to a possible keeper by Travis, and left a wide open Frednando Muse as the ball dropped into his hands for the 12-6 win that will allow the Hawks to compete for the Class 2A Championship.
“Ferriday has two great defensive players that are LSU commits,” St. Helena head coach Brandon Brown said. “But really it was up to our kids. They were checking at the line of scrimmage. We have a four-year starter in Ricky Travis. We got up to the line. Saw where they were at, and made the adjustments.”
Those kind of instincts gave the Hawks an offensive edge against a Ferriday team led by defensive linemen Dantrieze Scott and Dare Rosenthal.
The Hawks were the first team to score in the game after senior running back Aaron Hurst ripped a long run that would set up a pitch out of a power formation to senior running back Jeremy Griffin who scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run.
On the next Ferriday possession, Aaron Hurst suffered a broken bone in his neck making a tackle as a linebacker. Hurst was airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center where he had surgery Saturday morning. According to Brown, Hurst, a senior with recent interest from LSU, has feeling in his extremities and is expected to make a full recovery.
Despite the absence of one of their best weapons on both sides of the ball, the Hawks displayed incredible pursuit on defense for the majority of the remaining three quarters. The Hawks were able to maintain a 6-0 edge all the way until the 7:14 mark in the third quarter when a runner punched in a score for Ferriday to tie the game at 6-6.
The Hawks defense caused and earned two turnovers in the fourth quarter, the second one would set up the final and game winning drive. With about a minute and a half left in regulation, the Hawks took a gamble by going for a fourth-and-6 around midfield. After the snap, Travis scrambled out of a pass formation and threaded the needle between two defenders to hit Michael Martin between the numbers for the first down.
Though the Hawks would go for three straight incomplete passes as time rolled off the clock, Ferriday was hit with a pass inference call on the last play of the game that would set up the Hawks’ last play inside the five for the game winner.
“This was the challenge for our kids,” said Brown. “Last year, we were in the semifinals. The only way to be better than we were last year is to go to the dome and that’s exactly what we did.”
In the last three out of the five years Brown has served as head coach, the Hawks have made the playoffs and advanced a step further in progress each time. Now they will face a top-seeded Welsh team led by gunslinger quarterback Zach Haynes.
The Hawks will look to slowdown the Greyhounds on Friday, December 8 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for the LHSAA 2 State Championship at noon.