The Ville Platte High Bulldog offense gets ready to run a play against Mamou in their 13-7 win over the Demons in the Evangeline Parish Jamboree last Friday night. Ville Platte will face Sacred Heart in the Tee-Cotton Bowl tomorrow night at Ville Platte High Stadium. (Gazette photo by Justin Johnson)
VILLE PLATTE -- Not since Hurricane Lily strode through the City of Ville Platte in 2002 has there been so much talk about how the weather will affect the most anticipated high school football game of 2017, the Tee-Cotton Bowl.
With Hurricane Harvey still lingering around, albeit in its ramped down tropical storm version, the topic of the “Game” has turned to rain, rain and more rain.
Just how much water will fall on the epicenter of the highly coveted gridiron classic scheduled for tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Ville Platte High stadium is yet to be seen. However, there is no doubt that the more rain that is funneled down onto the field, the more it will affect how the game plan develops.
“We really did not want a sloppy game,” said Sacred Heart head coach Josh Harper. “For a game like this, it really puts a damper on the atmosphere and it can alter a game plan. It may come down to good old-fashioned grind it out football if neither team is able to throw the ball with any success because of the field conditions.”
“I know that if we do not get some sun between now and the game, the field will be extremely wet,” stated Ville Platte High head coach Jorie Randle. “Right now the field is in great shape, but the more rain we catch, the worse it will get as the game goes. If that happens, running the ball effectively and playing great defense will go along way in who comes out on top.”
According to Tee-Cotton bowl co-founder Tim Fontenot, there are contingency plans in case of bad weather, but those plans are not the most important thing.
“The festivities are just one part of the Tee-Cotton Bowl,” stated Fontenot. “Those things can be cancelled if necessary. The worst case scenario is if the game could not be played and that the players do not play the game with sportsmanship. A pig is still a pig even if you put lipstick on it, but a natural beauty, like the game, can just roll out of bed and toss her hair back and she is ready to go.”
One area that the weather will have a huge impact on is preparation. Both teams were out of school by 12 noon on Monday and did not have school on Tuesday. Because of that, getting ready for a huge game will take some ingenuity.
“We were able to get some film work in on Monday and practice in the gym a little,” commented Randle. “But, we may not be able to practice if we stay out of school. Depending on the weather, we do not want to put any student in harm’s way. Still, we need to be able to prepare for a really good team.”
“With us being out of school, it will be difficult to get the players here to get any work in at all,” stated Harper. “Ville Platte High is a very talented team. Not being able to get on the field and go through the game plan it going to be tough. We are just going to have to improvise and do what is necessary to get ready for this big game. I will tell us this, I do not mind practicing in the rain. You are going to have to play in wet conditions anyway.”
Coming off the jamboree, both coaches were pleased with the performance of their teams and were also mindful of the work still left to be done to make sure that they are ready for the upcoming season. Sacred Heart defeated St. Ed’s 28-6 last Thursday night, while Ville Platte took a 13-6 win over Mamou in the Evangeline Parish Jamboree on Friday night.
“Offensively, I thought we were pretty sharp,” said Harper. “We did have a couple of turnovers, but overall we moved the ball well. We were able to work on our spread game base running game. The biggest surprise for me was the play of our offensive line. Having four new starters up front, I thought it would take them some time to gel. But, they picked up their reads and the blitzes. They truly exceeded my expectations.”
“Defensively, we got better as the game progressed,” he continued. “There are some areas that we are going to have to sure up. But, for the most part, I thought our defensive play was what I expected it to be.”
“I was very proud of our defensive effort,” commented Randle. “We gave up some big plays, but we buckled down when it counted, especially when Mamou had the ball deep inside our territory. Our defense could have easily folded, but they showed their resilience and stopped them at a crucial time. That was a big confidence builder.”
“Offensively we moved the ball well,” he continued. “I was definitely impressed with our quarterback, Brandon Veazie. He took control of the huddle and made sure that everyone was on the same page. He threw the ball well and put it in the right spots. The only thing that I was not pleased with was the penalties. We cannot continue to take ourselves out of good situations with flags.”
Both Harper and Randle know that it will take an almost perfect game to get the win, as each has much respect and admiration for each other’s club.
“They are really good at getting their athletes in space,” said Randle. “They are a scrappy team with a number of play makers and you can see that they play hard every play. We are going to have to be our best defensively if we hope to have a chance to win.”
“Coach Randle and his staff does a tremendous job of getting their team ready to play,” commented Harper. “They can move the ball through the air and on the ground. Defensively, they are sound and fly to the ball. It will be a tough game because I now they will come ready to play.”
Regardless of who wins the next edition of the Tee-Cotton Bowl, with each team fielding the talent they have, it is looking more and more like on of those classic battles that have been played in a classic game.