After ASH blows out Chiefs, Curtis remains optimistic

A LONG ONE, LATE: CHS senior Cam Davis hands the football to an official after scoring on an 86-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ blowout loss in Alexandria on Friday. (Journal photo by BRET H. MCCORMICK)

By BRET H. MCCORMICK, Journal Sports

ALEXANDRIA – Jess Curtis came to Natchitoches Central to build the Chiefs’ football program into a state title contender.

He certainly didn’t expect what he saw Friday night, as the Chiefs were overwhelmed in a 56-14 loss to Alexandria Senior High, but he’s not worried about his team just yet.

ASH overpowered the Chiefs on both sides of the ball, racing to a 49-0 halftime lead and cruising to an easy victory.

The loss was the second-most lopsided in Curtis’ distinguished coaching career in terms of point spread. His first Many team lost to John Curtis 54-6 in the first round of the playoffs in 2010. The Tigers also lost the Class 2A championship game to Ferriday, 56-17, in 2019.

“I’ve been here before. People forget that,” Curtis said. “We’ve been here at Many. We were fourth in district when I got there. We’re trying to build something. That’s why we were playing hard in the second half.”

The Trojans, enjoying playing on the new turf field at Butch Stoker Stadium for the first time, immediately jumped on top of NCHS. Ty Feaster connected with Darius Washington for 53 yards on the first play from scrimmage.

Two snaps later, ASH coach Thomas Bachman went into his bag of tricks and found the end zone. Feaster tossed a touch pass to Amyrion Mingo, who was coming across the formation in motion. Mingo caught the ball and lateraled it to Washington on a reverse for an 18-yard score.

Mingo’s 2-point conversion gave the Trojans an 8-0 lead. That was just the beginning of an ASH offensive explosion.

The Trojans recovered an onside kick, and two plays later junior J.T. Lindsey raced 47 yards untouched to give the Trojans a 15-0 lead just 76 seconds into the game.

“They jumped on us,” Curtis said. “They’ve got a history of beating Natchitoches Central. I think that was their M.O., jumping on us early, getting the onside kick. The wheels came off for us. We’re still trying to find the right guys in the right places.”

NCHS (1-2) moved the ball on its first drive, but after the Chiefs advanced into ASH territory they lost a fumble that set up another Trojan touchdown. Lindsey found the end zone for the second time, plowing in for a 2-yard TD for a 22-0 lead just over six minutes into the game.

The offensive onslaught was just beginning, though, as ASH added four more TDs in the second quarter. The Trojans took a 49-0 lead into the break after Lindsey’s fourth touchdown on the final play of the first half.

E.J. Scott caught a slant pass and raced for a 60-yard touchdown, while Mingo took a screen pass 62 yards for a score in the second quarter. Lindsey, who rushed for a game-high 126 yards, added 1- and 3-yard TDs to cap the first-half scoring.

The Chiefs finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Zion Thompson capped a nice drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 10:52 remaining, and after an 80-yard ASH score by Kirkland Bates from Max Gassiott, Cam Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for the game’s final score.

The NCHS offense that entered the game averaging more than 350 yards per game could muster only 168 yards against the Trojans. Thompson led the Chiefs with 48 rushing yards and a touchdown, while sophomore Owen Smith completed 9 of 24 passes for 93 yards.

Davis, who led the state in receiving yards through two games, was limited to four catches for 43 yards.

ASH, meanwhile, compiled more than 500 yards of offense. Lindsey finished with 126 yards and four TDs on 15 carries, while Feaster finished 9-of-15 passing for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

“We’re learning, learning how to fight here. We’re learning how to change that mindset,” Curtis said. “That’s what’s on our board in our fieldhouse. These kids have worked hard. They’ve done all the right things. Now we’ve got to learn that when the adversity strikes, it shows you who you are. We’ve got to look at ourselves, and we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better quick. We’re much better than we played tonight.”

Curtis said the Chiefs obviously have mistakes to correct and improvements to make as they begin District 1-5A play at Turpin Stadium next week against Southwood. He lamented his team’s struggles with tackling the Trojans, who broke several short passes into long touchdowns.

“There’s just things we’ve got to work on, and we knew that when we came here,” Curtis said. “Nobody thought we were going to come in here and walk on water. Maybe some people did, but we came here to try to build something, something lasting, and we’re gonna do that.”