Not long only after top-seeded Catholic High defeated second-seeded Jesuit 14-10 to win the Division I state championship on Saturday, defensive coordinator Devin Ducote delivered a message to senior defensive end Jermaine Vessell on the impact of his performance.
“You will be the standard when it comes to relentless style of play and effort for our defense for years to come,” Ducote said.
What Vessell, a 210-pound defensive end, did was spearhead a dominating defensive effort that paved the way for the Bears to finish 12-1 and raise the Division I state title trophy at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
Vessell totaled eight tackles, three sacks, three tackles behind the line of scrimmage that included a pair of sacks. He also had with three quarterback pressures.
For his efforts Vessell was selected the Tiger Rag Magazine/Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Shining Star of the Week.
“The defense stole the show,” Simoneaux said of his unit which allowed 197 total yards and limited Jesuit to a season-low total in points scored. “He’s (Vessell) been so awesome all year and it was no different the other night. It’s unbelievable what he’s done for this defense this year.”
Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 lead and went on to lead 14-10 at halftime.
Neither team would score again and with Vessell’s performance serving as a catalyst, the Bears defense made the four-point lead stand.
Against Jesuit’s unbalanced alignments on offense, Vessell regularly frustrated the Blue Jays’ attempts to try and set the edge. He was also a disruptive force against double team blocks where his sacrifice resulted in plays being made by the Bears linebacker corps.
“He was the constant in making sure that ball was going to side to side instead of downhill in the interior gaps,” said Simoneaux, whose defense held Jesuit QB Jack Larriviere to 33 yards on 19 carries. “The double teams he blew up were huge in our run-stopping defense. Without question, he was our most consistent and most physical defensive lineman. In the playoffs, he was incredible.”
ELI HOLSTEIN, Zachary (Completed of 19 of 23 passes, 322 yards, 2 TD), TAE NICHOLAS, Catholic (Rushed 27 times, 106 yards) CONNOR WISHAM, Zachary (Rushed 14 times, 79 yards, 2 TDs).
RILEY HOWARD, Zachary (8 tackles, interception), JACK MASSEY, Catholic (6 tackles), KAMERON HAMILTON, Zachary (6 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 sacks), EMAURI SIBLEY, Zachary (5 tackles, 2 QB Hurries), HAROLD LAWSON, Zachary (5 tackles), WESLEY WOODWARD, Catholic (5 tackles), TAI’SHON NELSON, Zachary (4 tackles, 3 TFLs, 5 QB Hurries).