Parkview defense rolls Pioneers

NEW ORLEANS — Two possessions into Saturday’s Class 3A state championship game, Parkview Baptist surrendered more than 100 yards of offense to Notre Dame-Crowley and faced a 7-0 deficit.

The Eagles’ defense was never the same thereafter.

With the program’s fourth state championship hanging in the balance. Parkview’s defense came up with another signature performance that enabled the top-seeded Eagles to finish a perfect season and capture a state crown with a 42-7 victory Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“I guess we needed to take a deep breath and remember we’re playing for a state championship,” senior linebacker Ridge Womack said. “We had to play how we play and do what we do. And, as long as we do that, they can’t beat us.”

Notre Dame scored on its second series — a well-crafted 9-play drive that consumed just over four minutes and 73 yards, with fullback Austin Thibodeaux crashing in from 2 yards.

“We both came out swinging pretty hard on the first drive,” Parkview defensive back Hunter Brian said. “We both threw some good punches. We hit them in the mouth and kept pounding and knocked them back a bit. We got a little winded after the first quarter, but then after that we just stuck with it and do what we do.”

Parkview’s defense was at its dominant best in the final 36 minutes. In their final seven defensive series, the Eagles forced four punts, had a turnover and two other possessions ended each half.

Parkview yielded 162 total yards — 42 in the second half — with 109 on the ground. Notre Dame quarterback Brad Stoma didn’t fare much better, completing 2 of 7 passes for 53 yards and an interception and was sacked by Michael Tarwater and Austin Taylor.

“Basically it came down to playing four quarters of Parkview football,” Womack said. “It was just hard-nosed no matter what, and you’re playing for the team and doing your job. It’s not a matter of who we play but how we play. If everybody takes care of their jobs, everybody plays good.”

After the first quarter, Parkview limited Notre Dame to 45 yards on 20 plays and four first downs. It didn’t allow the Pioneers to cross midfield.

Parkview decided to commit an extra defender in the box and took away Notre Dame’s greatest strength — its ground game — rendering an offense accustomed to rushing for 260-plus yards per game ineffective with 55 following the opening quarter.

“We were worried about their running game,” Parkview defensive coordinator Jay Mayet said. “They ran the ball on everybody they played on the film that we broke down. They were big and physical with a big fullback. We kind of mixed it up and played some man coverage to allow an extra man in the box.”

That attention to detail helped Parkview nullify Notre Dame’s top offensive threats — Luke Broussard and Thibodeaux, who finished with 67 and 39 yards.

By that time, Parkview’s offense had found its rhythm with three consecutive scoring drives in the last five-plus minutes of the second quarter to open a 21-7 halftime lead.

Parkview allowed Notre Dame to run eight plays in the third quarter during a 21-0 blitz in which the Eagles made it 35-7 to put the game out of reach. During that stretch, Brian came with up his third interception of the season, dropping back into coverage on first down, picking Stoma off and returning it 19 yards to Notre Dame’s 45-yard line.

Four plays later, quarterback Brennan Bozeman’s keeper from 3 yards yielded a commanding 28-point lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter.

“The interception was fun,” Brian said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that if everyone wouldn’t have been doing their jobs.”