The Haughton Bucs went into Friday’s game against the East Ascension Spartans at Harold E. Harlan Stadium with something to prove.
East Ascension came into the game off a 40-31 season-opening victory over two-time defending Class 5A state champion Zachary.
The Spartans were ranked No. 5 in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 5A poll. The Bucs were ranked No. 10.
Haughton emphatically made its point, defeating the Spartans 41-23. It wasn’t really even that close with the Bucs building a 41-10 lead.
Haughton improved to 2-0. East Ascension dropped to 1-1.
The win might not have been quite as big as Haughton’s victory over Byrd in 2017 in Brotherton’s second year as head coach, but it ranks high.
“That’s a huge win,” he said. “That’s a win that allowed us to prove to a lot of people that we deserve to be in the conversation in the upper echelon of the 5A teams.
“Our kids thought that, but it’s good to prove it to yourself, also. So that was a good win. It gives you that confidence boost that, ‘OK, we can play with the big boys.’ ”
Haughton junior Peyton Stovall made his first start of the season after sitting out last week’s win over Red River with an injury.
He came through. According to Haughton stats, he completed 15 of 26 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. He also scored on runs of 9 and 6 yards.
All of Haughton’s playmakers did what Brotherton expects them to do every week.
CJ McWilliams caught a 33-yard touchdown pass and completed a 38-yard TD pass to Matthew Whitten after taking a short flip from Stovall in the backfield.
Keyshawn Davis rushed for 104 yards on 18 carries and scored on a 43-yard run. He also had three catches for 36 yards.
Tristan Sweeney caught six passes for 64 yards. Whitten caught four for 65.
“Keyshawn Davis got some tough yards and had a good game,” Brotherton said. “Stovall has some good runs. CJ made one CJ play. They were hitting on all cylinders.”
Jonathan Stephens made a big play on special teams, returning a punt 51 yards to give the Bucs the 41-10 lead. Carter Jensen kicked five PATs.
The Bucs didn’t get off to a particularly great start, though. They went three-and-out on their first two possessions. East Ascension scored the game’s first TD on a 21-yard pass.
But Haughton answered with three straight touchdowns with the first coming on a long drive. The Spartans got within 21-10 with a field goal on the final play of the first half.
“That stretch through the middle part of the second quarter and midway through the third quarter we just kind of kept our foot on the gas and really wore them down,” Brotherton said.
The Bucs scored all three of their second-half touchdowns in the third quarter.
East Ascension got within 41-23 with 7:02 left, but the Bucs didn’t let them get any closer.
Brotherton said one of the keys to the victory was putting pressure on the Spartans two quarterbacks.
“Our defense just got after them,” he said. “I’m not sure how many times we sacked him but it was a pretty good bit. We just stayed after them the whole night.”
Brotherton said the defense wore down some late, but he gave the Spartans credit for continuing to battle.
“Those guys are really good and have some good playmakers,” he said. “They got some people loose in the second half.”
Haughton faces Woodlawn next Saturday afternoon at 2 at Lee Hedges Stadium. The Knights (0-1) were scheduled play Captain Shreve in the Battle on the Border Saturday evening at Independence Stadium.