The first four victories of the 2021 season were encouraging for the Natchitoches Central Chiefs football team.
Friday night’s milestone 23-10 win set off alarm bells not only around District 1-5A, but all around the state.
NCHS defeated the defending district champions, C.E. Byrd, on the road. The Yellow Jackets were ranked 10th in Class 5A by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, and were basking in the afterglow of a Division I state championship (that will become official once a forfeit by Catholic High is officially awarded at some point this fall) last December.
But it was the Chiefs walking off winners, taking control after halftime and keeping Byrd’s explosive offense bottled up all night.
It’s believed to be the first time since 1984 that the Chiefs have started a season 5-0.
What is certain: NCHS moved up a notch to No. 2 statewide in the LHSAA’s Class 5A power rankings after the win.
FINAL SCORE: NCHS 23, C.E. Byrd 10
GAME SITE: Shreveport (Lee Hedges Stadium)
RECORDS: NCHS Chiefs 5-0 overall, 2-0 in District 1-5A; C.E Byrd 4-1, 1-1
Byrd – Devon Strickland 5 run (Michael Hamaeui kick), 6:46 1st, Byrd 7–.
NCHS – B.J. Young 30 pass to Justin Aaron (Sam Maggio kick), 6:29 2nd, tied 7-7.
Byrd – Hamaeui 42 field goal, 0:00 1st half, Byrd 10-7
NCHS – Young 42 pass to Aaron (Maggio kick), 3:22 3rd, NCHS 14-10
NCHS – Safety, bad punt snap downed in end zone, 5:53 4th, NCHS 16-10
NCHS – Caylin Demars 29 run (Maggio kick), 1:25 4th, NCHS 23-10
KEY STATS: The Chiefs defense restricted Byrd’s potent triple option offense to 97 yards rushing and just 146 total yards. NCHS posted 254 yards of total offense thanks to an explosive passing game and senior tailback Caylin Demars. He followed his offensive line to a fifth straight 100-yard rushing total, recording 132 yards on 28 carries. Junior quarterback Brian “B.J.” Young Jr. had his best passing game, hitting 7 of 10 for 113 yards with no interceptions and the two TD strikes to Justin Aaron (3 catches for 93 yards).
NOTES: Byrd took its opening drive 56 yards on eight plays and scored a touchdown with 6:46 in the first quarter but couldn’t get another TD or much movement. The story was the Chiefs defense and the NCHS offense again finding its gear after halftime. Trailing 16-10, Byrd got the ball with 3:19 remaining, but the Chief defense was immovable. Down to its last chance, Byrd failed deep in its own territory on 4th and 7, and with 1:35 left, NCHS took over. On the ensuing play, Demars broke free and danced in from 29 yards out to ice the game and seal a fifth straight victory for the visitors.
COACH JAMES WILKERSON’S COMMENTS: “An amazing effort by the whole team! Our defense played their hearts out and kept putting us in good positions on offense. B.J. played incredible and Justin Aaron gave us a spark on offense. I told the team before the game, ‘be bigger than the moment’ and that is how they played. I am so proud of them and happy for them and our students, fans and community.”
NEXT UP: The Chiefs will host Southwood (0-5, 0-2) next Friday night at 7 o’clock in Turpin Stadium for the NCHS homecoming game.
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