University High coach Andy Martin knew the scope of the challenge. In his 23-year career of preparing defenses, he believed Newman five-star quarterback Arch Manning, the nation’s No. 1 prospect and Texas commitment, was among the best he’s seen.
To combat Manning, though, University delivered one of its best defensive performances of the season led by Notre Dame linebacker commitment Jaiden Ausberry in last Friday’s 49-13 Division III select quarterfinal playoff victory.
Ausberry contributed a team-high 10 tackles, including 2 ½ tackles for loss, and added a rushing touchdown on offense to earn this week’s Tiger Rag Magazine Shining Star of the Week.
“We knew it would be a challenge because he’s so good,” Martin said of Manning, who was limited to 8 of 21 passing for 96 yards and was intercepted twice and fumbled once. “Jaiden was all over the field, giving constant pressure. Even on some plays where he may not have gotten the tackle, he got a pressure. He’s constantly been a leader for us this year.”
U-High, last year’s Division II state champion, jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the third quarter, including Ausberry’s 1-yard TD run. The Cubs’ two interceptions, the first two of the season for Manning, produced a score on Marcus Dawson’s 100-yard return in the third quarter.
Ausberry also became the school’s leader in career tackles with 384, surpassing former all-state selection Dylan Moses, who finished with 381.5.
“He just made solid tackles,” Martin said. “He was around the ball a lot, ran Arch down a couple of times when he tried to scramble. He just gave a great effort. He’s so versatile. He can spy the quarterback or drop back into coverage. You can do different things with him. He does a great job for us.”
TYLAN JOHNSON, Madison Prep (Accounted for 405 yards, 3 TDs; Completed 20 of 30 passes for 335 yards, TD; Rushed for 70 yards, 2 TDs), JACKSON HOUSE, Dunham (Accounted for 367 total yards, 5 TDs; Rushed 30 times for 177 yards, 4 TDs; Completed 14 of 22 passes for 190 yards, TD), BRYCE LEONARD, Ascension Catholic (Accounted for 293 yards, 3 TDs; Passed for 174 yards, TD; Rushed for 119 yards, 2 TDs), D’WANYE WHITFIELD, Lutcher (Accounted for 282 yards, 5 TDs: Rushed 15 times for 132 yards, 3 TDs; Completed 8 of 14 passes for 132 yards, 2 TDs), KADEN WILLIAMS, St. James (Rushed 16 times for 270 yards, 4 TDs), REESE MOONEY, Denham Springs (Completed 21 of 41 passes for 261 yards, 2 TDs), RAY MCNEELEY, Denham Springs (Accounted for 234 all-purpose yards, 3 TDs; Rushed 11 times for 71 yards, TD; Caught 6 passes for 91 yards, TD), ELI HOLSTEIN, Zachary (Completed 16 of 19 passes for 228 yards, 2 TDs), DANIEL BEALE, Catholic-BR (Completed 9 of 27 passes for 197 yards, 2 TDs), BLAKE ABNEY, University (Completed 9 of 17 passes for 179 yards, TD), HEZEKIAH DANTZLER, Madison Prep (Caught 8 passes for 169 yards, TD), JOEL ROGERS, West Feliciana (Accounted for 167 total yards, 4 TDs; Rushed 12 times for 97 yards, 3 TDs; Completed 7 of 12 passes for 70 passes, TD), CAMREN STEWART, Zachary (Rushed 21 times for 154 yards, 3 TDs), TYLON WILLIAMS, Zachary (Caught 8 passes for 143 yards, TD), TYREK BROWN, Lutcher (Rushed 13 times for 125 yards, TD), RYLAND PARKER, Catholic-BR (Rushed 24 times for 98 yards, TD), SETH GALE, University (Caught three passes for 91 yards, TD), BRADLEY WRIGHT, Catholic-BR (Caught three passes for 87 yards, TD), KEYLAN MOSES, University (Rushed 12 times for 68 yards, 2 TDs)
HAROLD LAWSON, Catholic-BR (12 tackles, 2 ½ TFLs), MARCUS DAWSON, University (6 tackles, TFL, interception for TD), HOLDEN FOX, University (6 tackles, sack, two forced fumbles), JAYLON WOOD, Catholic-BR (4 tackles), JAMARI TAYLOR, Lutcher (interception), CRAYDON LONG, Lutcher (interception), JOEL ROGERS, West Feliciana (interception)
TRACYE MILLET, Lutcher (6 of 6 extra points, 1 of 1 field goals, 1 punt, 39 yards)