Ask any football coach and he’ll tell you any win is a good win.
But truth be told, some wins are a little more satisfying than others. That certainly was the case with the Haughton Buccaneers on Friday night.
Playing without starting quarterback Peyton Stovall and do-everything star CJ McWilliams, both out with injuries, the Bucs pulled out a 17-10 District 1-5A victory over Natchitoches Central Chiefs at Harold E. Harlan Stadium.
McWilliams is a starting wide receiver, backup quarterback, punter and kick returner.
Haughton improved to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in District 1-5A. Natchitoches Central dropped to 3-6 and 2-4.
The Chiefs’ record is a bit deceptive, though. Natchitoches Central was coming off a victory over Parkway and played both Captain Shreve and Byrd close.
“That was a good team win,” Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton said. “We talk about winning an old-school football game — muddy, didn’t throw it a whole lot, defensive struggle. And heck, we don’t play in many of those here at Haughton. Little out of character for what we’re used to having to do so good to see our kids play in a tough game like that and come out ahead.”
Sophomore Coleman Stafford started at quarterback. Freshman Collin Rains also saw significant action.
Brotherton said they both handled the situation well.
“They both did a good job,” he said. “They got us to the line and ran a little bit. We talked a little all week about that we didn’t need them to do anything special, just don’t make big mistakes. They did a good job keeping our offense moving.”
The Bucs got off to a good start. One their first offensive play, Stafford threw a short pass to Tristan Sweeney at the line of scrimmage and he turned it into a 62-yard touchdown.
“That was huge,” Brotherton said. “We go into the game knowing we’re going to have a hard time scoring and you get a touchdown from one of your good players right off the bat. I think that probably settled those quarterbacks down a little bit.”
After having a touchdown erased by a penalty, Carter Jensen booted a 23-yard field to give Haughton a 10-0 lead with 7:12 left in the second quarter.
The Bucs went up 17-0 on Keyshawn Davis’ 32-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left in the half.
Natchitoches Central rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to 17-10 with 4:58 left in the game.
Brotherton said the defense more than did its part.
“Defensively, we just played great the whole night,” he said.
In the first half, the Chiefs had a first-and-goal at the Bucs 5. A penalty pushed them back and the Bucs kept them out of the end zone.
Natchitoches Central’s touchdown drive was aided by a pass interference penalty and back-to-back personal fouls.
Haughton had some chances to put more points on the board in the second half. Brotherton credited the Natchitoches Central defense with keeping the Chiefs in the game.
“We had good field position all through the second half with chances to put the game away and we just couldn’t,” Brotherton said. “They made stop after stop and we just couldn’t quite get into the end zone.”
Haughton closes the regular season Friday against Parkway at Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium. The Panthers (4-5, 2-4) fell to Southwood 18-16 Friday night.
According to louisianasportsline.com, Haughton was No. 14 in the Class 5A power rankings through Friday’s games. The Bucs need to finish in the top 16 to host a first-round playoff game.