One of the toughest districts in all of Louisiana came down to the regular season finale between two of the state’s best football programs in the last eight years. Those teams being the Catholic High Bears and the Zachary Broncos, which both come into the game with similar 8-1 overall records and a chance to win the 4-5A District championship crown. Both Baton Rouge powerhouse teams are used to playing in big time games such as this one as the two programs have combined for eight state championship.
Entering his second year as Catholic High School head football coach, David Simoneaux has already made his mark leading the Bears’ football program winning a state championship his first season in 2021 while also continuing to field a strong football team that is among the favorites in the Division I State Championship race.
Meanwhile, Zachary High School head coach David Brewerton has turned the Broncos into a powerhouse winning four state titles since 2015. In Brewerton’s tenure, the Broncos have been as dominant as any program in the state with a 100-17 overall record including an incredible 31-4 record in the playoffs.
Not only the coaching is elite, but there is a lot of elite talent on the football field among both teams. The Catholic High Bears are led by 5 star LSU commit Shelton Sampson Jr. , who is the program’s all-time leading receiver and has 60 catches for 881 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. His quarterback Daniel Beale has already won two state championships as the starter and is gunning for a third this season as he has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 28 touchdown passes.
For the Zachary Broncos, they are led by Alabama quarterback commit Eli Holstein offensively and other Division I commits on the defensive side of the football including LSU safety commit Kylin Jackson and Auburn defensive end commit Ashley Williams.
With all the stars showing up to this big time contest held at Zachary High School, this would turn out to be a game that certainly did live up to its hype.
Check out the game recap by quarter and all the highlights below.
The Zachary Broncos won the opening toss and elected to defer to the second half.
The Catholic High Bears were on a nice opening drive, but it was the Zachary Broncos defense that made the first big play in the game as Ryland Parker fumbles and the ball is scooped up by Zachary safety and LSU commit Kylin Jackson, who returned the fumble 70 yards and setting up the Broncos offense in primary scoring position inside the ten yard line. Shelton Sampson saved a touchdown for the Bears by making the tackle, which would later prove to be a huge play made by another LSU commit.
The reason why Sampson’s play was so important was because Catholic High’s defense got themselves a big stop as well holding the Broncos out of the end zone. On fourth and goal, quarterback Eli Holstein called his own number and was stopped by the Bears’ veteran linebacker Harold Lawson, who made the big play to turn the ball over on downs for the Bears.
Catholic High School junior quarterback Daniel Beale completes a 19 yard pass to senior wide receiver Daniel Harden, but the drive stalls after that and the Bears punt the ball for the first time. Zachary takes over and starts their second drive of the game from their own 27 yard line.
Zachary High School quarterback Eli Holstein makes an impressive play on third down navigating through the pocket, going to outside of the pocket, and finds junior wide receiver Tyson George for a 21 yard pickup on the run.
A play later, Zachary would be the first team to break the scoreless tie as Holstein completes a screen to senior wide receiver Tylon Williams and the speedy Williams takes it the rest of the way 52 yards for the touchdown to put the Broncos up 7-0.
The Zachary defense forces a second straight punt and the first quarter runs out with Zachary having the 7-0 advantage.
The Broncos start off the second quarter with a big play coming from a 32 yard completion by Holstein to senior wide receiver Jalen Wright. However, the Catholic High defense does get another fourth down stop as once again, the Bears stuff Holstein on the quarterback run on fourth and one. This time, it was Joshua Johnson that led the charge and made the stop.
After the fourth down stop, Catholic takes the momentum and hits a big play in the passing game to tie the game at seven. Beale completes a 64 yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Bradley Wright, who beats the coverage and outruns the Zachary defense for the touchdown.
With the game tied at seven, the Broncos answer the bell and retakes the lead on a seven play, 80 yard drive. The big play that set the momentum for the drive was when Holstein fired a pass across the middle to Wright for a 13 yard pickup, but not before he was blasted by Catholic’s sensational freshman safety Blaine Bradford.
Two plays later, the Broncos hand the football off to the explosive Tylon Williams, who again goes down the sideline and outruns the Bears defense for a 36 yard touchdown run. Williams’ second touchdown gives the Broncos a 14-7 lead.
The Bears try to respond before halftime after going on a six play, 37 yard drive, but Catholic kicker Landon Carter’s field goal attempt was short as the score remained at 14-7.
Zachary runs out the rest of the first half and takes a 14-7 lead to halftime.
The Zachary Broncos starts the third quarter with an impressive 10 play, 80-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock. The touchdown drive was capped off when senior running back Camren Stewart punched the ball across the goal line from five yards out to give the Broncos their biggest lead at 21-7.
After the long touchdown drive, Catholic tightens up on offense as Beale throws the football up for grabs as it is intercepted by Cody Smith to give the Broncos the ball back. This was the second turnover forced by the Broncos defense.
Down 21-7 with the Broncos starting to grasp control of the game, the Bears defense needed to get a stop and they did get one when Holstein gets sacked in the backfield by senior defensive end Judd Rouyea and senior defensive tackle Ryder Kerth. After forcing an incompletion on third down, Catholic would get the ball back.
The Bears go back to what was working for them early in the football game and that is rely on their physical running game. To start the next drive off, Catholic High had ten straight running plays led by the running back trio of Ryland Parker, Barry Remo, and Jeremy Fisher.
The Bears were marching to score as the third quarter clock runs out. Zachary leads Catholic 21-7 entering the final quarter of play.
Starting the fourth quarter, the Bears had a third and goal from the five yard line. For the most part, Catholic’s five star receiver and LSU commit Shelton Sampson Jr. was held mostly in check, but it was only a matter of time before the highly talented recruit would make a play. Beale gave his top target a chance as Sampson beats the Zachary defender one on one and get the touchdown catch towards the back of the end zone right in front of LSU wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton. It was Beale’s 30th touchdown pass of the season and it was Sampson’s 13th touchdown reception of the year. It came at a crucial point of the game as Catholic trims Zachary’s lead to seven at 21-14 with 8:21 left to play in the game. The Bears had the most impressive drive of the game taking 14 plays that took over 10 minutes off the clock.
Now, it was Catholic seizing the momentum of the game as Bears Nation showed up to make a lot of noise on the opposing sideline. Catholic’s defense forces another three and out and gets the football back after going on a long, methodical drive against a tired Zachary defense.
For the Bears, they went right back to the running game as the Bears marched down the field 11 plays for 51 yards and all 11 plays came on the ground. Parker led the way rushing for 37 yards during the drive including the five yard touchdown run in order to tie the game at 21 a piece with 3:29 left to play in the game.
The game was certainly living to the hype between both of these powerhouse Baton Rouge schools as the district championship would come down to the next three minutes of play.
After the opening drive of the third quarter, Catholic’s defense has dominated Zachary’s offense and the trend continued. On third down, junior defensive lineman Blair Rousseau gets the sack on third down forcing the Broncos to punt with two minutes and 30 seconds left to play.
It gets even worse for the Broncos as Zachary only has a 29 yard punt to give the Bears excellent field goal range as well as a chance to take the late lead.
Catholic proceeds to run three plays and sets up their field goal kicker Landon Carter, who missed a kick earlier to give the Bears their first lead of the game with 15 seconds left to play. Carter bounced back and drilled a 40 yard field goal to give the Bears their first lead at 24-21. After being down 21-7, the Bears have clawed all the way back and scored 17 unanswered points to grab the late lead.
With 15 seconds left, Holstein completed a 16 yard pass to George in order to set up one final play. With six seconds left to play, Holstein hits a chunk play to Wright for 30 yards, but the Bears defenders rally and make the tackle at the Bears’ 25 yard line. The clock runs out and Catholic High comes back to win 24-21.
Final Score: Catholic High 24 Zachary 21
This win for the Catholic High Bears clinches not only the 4-5A District Championship, but a potential number one seed in the Division I Select Bracket. The Bears end the regular season at 9-1 while the Broncos end the regular season at 8-2. Both teams will find out their playoff path this Sunday when the brackets come out. Click below to check out all of our photos from the Catholic Zachary thriller taken by Billy Metcalf!
The Catholic High Bears’ rushing attack and aggressive defense proved to be the difference in the second half. Head Coach David Simoneaux really credits the running game and how they were able to run the football with Barry Remo being hampered.
“Barry Remo went down and he tried to play, but hats off to the offensive line. They put thegame on their backs and they got it done.”Catholic High School head coach David Simoneaux
To win the district championship, Simoneaux knew it was going to be a tough challenge and even tougher to do so against the Zachary Broncos.
“We have so much respect for Zachary and that staff. We knew it was going to be a hostile environment. Things were not going well in the first half. We were inside the ten-yard line. The ball got stripped out and we thought he was down. All of a sudden. Kylin Jackson was going the other way. Hats off to Shelton Sampson for running him down.”
“I just thought our kids play with tremendous effort. I’ve told them all year long that if you play like one impenetrable unit, nobody is going to beat you. I thought we did a great job in all three phases tonight.”Catholic High School Head Coach David Simoneaux
With this win, it also gives the Bears a first-round bye in the playoffs and a great chance at the number one seed.
“I think this gives us a good chance at the number one seed and obviously, we get the bye. Getting Barry Remo is big and continuing that momentum will help us in the future.”Catholic High School Head Coach David Simoneaux
Catholic High School:
Daniel Beale: 8/15 for 117 yards and 2 TDs with 1 INT
Ryland Parker: 15 carries for 89 yards and 1 TD
Bary Remo: 14 carries for 55 yards
Jeremy Fisher: 5 carries for 23 yards
Daniel Beale: 3 carries for 23 yards
Bradley Wright: 3 catches for 75 yards and 1 TD
Shelton Sampson: 3 catches for 18 yards and 1 TD
Daniel Harden: 1 catch for 19 yards
Cohen LeBlanc: 1 catch for 5 yards
Zachary High School:
Eli Holstein: 12/18 for 194 yards and 1 TD
Camren Stewart: 12 carries for 41 yards and 1 TD
Eli Holstein: 10 carries for 41 yards (Not Including Sack Yardage)
Kameron Thomas: 3 carries for 1 yard
Tylon Williams: 1 carry for 36 yards and 1 TD
Tyson George: 3 catches for 64 yards
Tylon Williams: 3 catches for 53 yards and 1 TD
Jalen Wright: 3 catches for 75 yards
Jarien Brown: 1 catch for 6 yards
Kameron Thomas: 1 catch for -1 yards
Camren Stewart: 1 catch for -3 yards