To reach a state championship game teams must put their collective bests together. It also doesn’t hurt to have individual superlatives along the way.
For both The Dunham School and Lutcher High, they followed similar paths to reach their respective state championship games this week.
Dunham makes its first appearance in a state title game in 18 years after a 35-28 victory over University High, riding the performance of quarterback Jackson House and an opportunistic defense to a spot in the Division III state select title game opposite St. Charles.
The wait hasn’t been as long for Lutcher, an eight-time state champion, but thanks to the heroics of quarterback D’Wanye “Lunch” Winfield, the Bulldogs advanced past West Feliciana, 35-21, and into the Division II state nonselect finals against North DeSoto.
Together, House and Winfield, share this week’s Tiger Rag Shining Star of the Week honor.
“He’s done that all season long, coming through in the clutch,” Dunham coach Neil Weiner said of House, the son of LSU defensive coordinator Matt House. “It seemed like when there’s more at stake from week to week, he just continues to elevate himself and kind of will his team to win.”
House compiled 431 total yards and four of his team’s five touchdowns, breaking a late 28-28 tie with a 34-yard scoring run with just under four minutes to play. The Eastern Kentucky commitment carried the ball 31 times for 266 yards with four touchdowns, scoring on runs of 4, 48 and 1 yard, respectively. He also completed 6 of 12 passes for 165 yards.
House is going for his second straight state title after leading St. James Academy of Lenexa, Kansas to that state’s Class 4A state crown in 2021.
“You come in and you’ve got a state championship that you led the team to a win,” Weiner said. “It’s not like you were just on a team. That instantly gains credibility and respect from everybody, coaches included. From the moment he walked on our campus everybody kind of elevated their game. He was humble, but had an air about him that everybody said, this guy’s the real deal.”
Two weeks after being severely limited by a high ankle sprain Winfield, who is still uncommitted, regained his big-game form with a staggering 46 carries for 335 yards – both school records – and five touchdowns. He wound up with 366 total yards with 31 yards passing on 3 of 5 attempts.
“In the second round of the playoffs his teammates stepped up and did everything they could to allow him to get back to health and be ready to play,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “You get to the semifinals, and he (Winfield) may not have been 100%, but he was pretty close, and he didn’t want to let his teammates down.”
Winfield, 22-3 as a starter, scored on runs of 5, 1, 21, 57 and 2 yards. But he saved his best work for last, helping the Bulldogs nurse a two-score lead by carrying on 17 consecutive plays, gaining 83 yards and taking nearly seven minutes off the clock to cement the game.
“He’s wanted his teammates to share in his success,” Jenkins said, “and the best way for that is for us to continue to win and get to a state championship game.”
JOEL ROGERS, West Feliciana (Accounted for 221 yards, 2 TDs; Rushed 17 times for 145 yards, 2 TDs; Completed 7 of 12 passes for 76 yards), BRADEN WILLIAMS, St. James (Completed 11 of 23 passes for 199 yards, TD), KEYLAN MOSES, University (Rushed 21 times for 179 yards, 2 TDs), ELI HOLSTEIN, Zachary (Accounted for 161 yards, TD; Completed 9 of 18 passes for 115, TD; Rushed 6 times for 46 yards), DANIEL BEALE, Catholic-BR (Completed 15 of 27 passes for 160 yards, 3 TDs) JAC COMEAUX, Dunham (Caught 4 passes for 146 yards), RYLAND PARKER, Catholic-BR (Rushed 16 times for 86 yards), KADEN WILLIAMS, St. James (Caught 4 passes for 82 yards), JA’TERRIOUS JOHNSON, West Feliciana (Rushed 16 times for 60 yards, TD), KOBE BROWN, St. James (Caught 4 passes for 58 yards), SHELTON SAMPSON JR., Catholic-BR (Caught 4 passes for 56 yards, 2 TDs)
BLAKE ROUSSEAU, Catholic-BR (9 tackles), JOSHUA JOHNSON, Catholic-BR (7 tackles), HAROLD LAWSON, Catholic-BR (7 tackles)