Gators get special test in tonight’s homecoming game

The Avoyelles Mustangs don’t play football like the other teams do.

They don’t punt – at all. After they score, they onside kick every time.

It can be feast or famine. Tonight at 7 outside of Campti, the Lakeview High School Gators are hoping to take advantage at every opportunity, to make their homecoming game extra special.

That is a tough assignment. Avoyelles is 5-0, just a point out of cracking the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s top 10 in Class 2A. Averaging 47 points per game, the Mustangs are No. 2 statewide in the LHSAA power point rankings, two spots ahead of mighty Many.

Lakeview is 1-4, fighting to post its first win in four games as it opens District 3-2A play. The Gators have shown lots of fight, especially in the last two weeks, and they’ve also shown improvement this week in practice, said coach Brandon Helms.

“We’ve had a pretty solid week of practice. We spent the early part trying to open up our offense, working on the passing game, and we’ve seen improvements. I’ve seen the progression in practice and I think we’ll see that show up on Friday nights,” Helms said.

Having some offensive balance is vital, he said. Getting ready for the Mustangs is unique.

“Attacking Avoyelles is a lot different than anybody else, because of their style of play,” said Helms. “It’s because of their double-wing (offense). They just come right at you. Everybody nowadays spreads you out and run read option, and they’re not interested in that. It’s get it in your face football, and as quick as possible.

“In the kicking game, they try to play keepaway. It puts a premium of doing something with the football while you’ve got it, because possessions are very, very important.

“If you play quality defense, and get some fourth and longs, you can get some great field position and have a chance to put points on the board,” said Helms.

Avoyelles features bullish junior running back Carlos Bazert, who has scored more than 20 touchdowns and topped 1,000 yards midway through the regular season.

“We’ve seen him since he was a freshman, and he was a load then, a 6-foot, 200-pound freshman to a 6-3, 240-pound junior,” said Helms. “There aren’t many like him.”

Front and center to slow him down: Gators’ leaders Dillon Pikes (safety and quarterback) and Matthew Howard (linebacker), along with another safety, Alex Perry.

“Alex Perry has done a good job in the secondary. I’ve been real, real pleased with him,” said Helms. “If we can get those three guys to play well defensively, we can be pretty good against Avoyelles.”

The path to pulling one of the biggest upsets of 2021 in Class 2A isn’t complicated.

“We’ve got to get some stops, create some short fields, and we have to create turnovers. If you lose the turnover battle against them, it doesn’t end well. We’ve got to take care of the ball and take advantage of the opportunities,” said Helms. “I like how we’ve prepared.”

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