By Aaron S. Lee
NEW ORLEANS—The 32-seed Minden Crimson Tide were in need of a miracle to pull off an upset against unbeaten No. 1-seed Edna Karr on the road in New Orleans at Behrman Stadium Friday night.
Despite being down only four points (14-10) at the end of the first quarter following a gutsy first 15 minutes of play, the overall team speed — especially at the skill positions — proved too much for Minden to overcome as they fell in the opening round of the 2018 LHSAA football playoffs 34-10.
Arriving just one-hour prior to the start of the game following a six-hour bus ride from Northwest Louisiana, Minden came ready to play and showed no signs of backing down in the early stages.
Trailing 6-0 following a 20-yard touchdown reception to Khalfani Simmons from quarterback Leonard Kelly and a missed extra point kick on the Cougars opening drive, the Tide immediately responded with a 60-yard kickoff return from senior Jacareon Lathan.
After failing to punch it in from the 20, junior kicker Gavin Jackson nailed a 32-yard field goal to put Minden on the board with 4 minutes 3 seconds to play in the first quarter.
However, the Cougars needed only three plays — thanks to a costly personal foul penalty against an aggressive Tide defense — to hand another six points on the board. This time a 26-yard strike to a wide open Larry Junior. Edna Karr up 14-3 after tailback Ronnie Jackson took it in for two.
Still in the first quarter and the Tide not out of it yet. Sophomore quarterback Trent Mclaughlin hit Lieric Robinson on a short screen, and the junior running back rambles 27 yards to set up teammate Seth Johnson’s 39-yard end-around for six. Jackson’s successful point after pulled Minden to within four, 14-10 with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
From there it was all Edna Karr.
Despite being hurried by the Tide defensive front, Kelly hooked up with Junior once again, this time on a 45-yard pitch and catch for the score. Cougars extend its lead, 21-10.
Following possession, Kelly hit Destyn Pazon on an 8-yard slant to with 25 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Tide blocked the point after to trail 27-`10 at the half.
Minden head coach Spencer Heard spoke to the Minden Press-Herald prior to the game and admitted that despite the team’s overall record, the Tide were pleased with its opening round berth, but expected the Cougars to come out firing.
“It was one of the goals to play in the playoffs and we are here,” said Heard. “We kind of had a rough season — a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns — some of it early in the season kind of being young and stuff, but we are excited to be here.
“[Edna Karr] like to throw the ball,” he continued. “And they are going to do that.”
With the loss, Minden drops to 3-8 overall and 3-4 in District 1-4A following an overtime loss to North DeSoto in its regular season finale last week.