Denham Springs junior running back Ray McKneely was already off to a promising start in his team’s game last Friday against Franklinton.
McKneely got the ball on eight of his team’s first nine plays and gave the Yellow Jackets a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard scoring run to cap the game’s opening possession.
Then disaster struck.
Denham Springs, on its second offensive series, lost the services of its starting quarterback Reece Mooney for the remainder of the game with a broken ankle.
McKneely then took on a greater role in the success of Denham Springs’ offense which the 5-foot-8, 170-pounder handled by rushing for 206 of his season-high 222 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, enabling the Yellow Jackets to hold on for a 33-23 victory.
“I thought Ray did a phenomenal job of toting the rock almost 30 times,” Denham Springs football coach Brett Beard said. “I thought the kid knew he had to put us on his shoulders, and we needed to ride him.”
McKneely had 21 of his 29 rushing attempts in the first half, overcoming a fumble that was returned for a touchdown with back-to-back gains of 34 yards that led to a 1-yard QB sneak right before halftime for a 33-10 advantage.
McKneely wound up with 355 all-purpose yards, averaging 24 yards on five kickoff returns to go along with one catch for 13 yards.
“He had a great night, he had some phenomenal runs,” Beard said. “Franklinton did a good job of adjusting in the second half and put us in a position to know what we need to do going forward to continue to make Ray a big part of our offense, keep him successful and know we’ve got to ride our guy a lot more.”
McKneely’s play highlighted a weekend of play that also included the following outstanding efforts:
C’ZAVIAN TEASETT, Scotlandville, (Completed 26 of 39 for 349 yards, 4 TDs), COLE POIRRIER, St. Amant (Completed 17 of 25 passes for 302 yards, 5 TDs), NICHOLAS JOHNSON, St. Michael (19 carries for 251 yards, 5 TDs), RYDER RABALAIS, Brusly, (23 carries for 201 yards, TD), LEWIS WARD, Episcopal, (Completed 11 of 12 passes for 191 yards, 3 TDs), CHANCE WILLIAMS, Scotlandville, (Accounted for 164 total yards, TD), T.J. MAGEE, Live Oak (accounted for 159 yards of offense), ELI HOLSTEIN, Zachary, (Completed 9 of 9 passes for 168 yards, 2 TDs), DANIEL BEALE, Catholic, (Completed 11 of 17 passes for 167 yards, 2 TDs), COREY SINGLETON, Catholic (6 carries for 157 yards, 3 TDs), JOHN HUBBARD, Scotlandville, (Caught 10 passes for 143 yards, TD), NOAH LOUQUE, St. Amant (caught 7 passes for 140 yards, TD), W’JUANTAZ PAUL, St. Amant (accounted for 215 yards and 3 TDs of offense: 117 receiving, 98 rushing and three scores), KALANTE WILSON, Dunham (Rushed 19 times for 137 yards, 4 TDs), JASON BARNES, U-High, (5 carries for 124 yards, 2 TDs), MATTHEW WEINER, Dunham (8 catches for 111 yards), GLEN CAGE, Central (115 yards rushing, TD), ETHAN CARMOUCHE, Episcopal, (14 carries for 106 yards, 3 TDs), SHAWN BATES, Southern Lab, (10 carries for 105 yards, 3 TDs), DRYDEN DRUGGINS, Episcopal, (4 receptions for 100 yards, TD), JONATHON SWIFT, Central (accounted for 4 TDs).
DAVID CRESSON, Episcopal, (10 tackles), LUKE YDARRAGA, Live Oak, (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack), WESLEY WOODWARD, Catholic, (8 tackles, 1 TFL), HAROLD LAWSON, Catholic, (7 tackles), CALEB WARD, Central, (7 tackles, 2 pass breakups, forced fumble), DENARIUS ROBINSON, Brusly, (6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 QB hurries), BANKS MOORE, U-High, (5 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack), JUSTIN HILLARD, Central, (4 tackles, 1 sack), DRAKE MASON, St. Michael, (2 interceptions).
ALEC MAHLER, St. James, (Kicked field goals of 46 and 37 yards and was 5-of-5 on extra points), KYLAN DUPRE, Catholic, (Averaged 42.3 yards on three punts with a long of 58 yards).