By Kyle Roberts
Coming off of a bye week in the first round of the 2023 Non-Select, Division I playoffs, No. 1 overall seed Ruston will be hosting the Westgate Tigers tonight at “The Hoss” in efforts to keep its unbeaten season alive and continue its march to the Super Dome.
And the Tigers will come north from New Iberia, loaded with talent and expecting their superstar quarterback to be back from injury, making their No. 16 seed a likely misnomer.
“They are a really good football team,” Ruston head coach Jerrod Baugh said. “That’s just how it shook out. They’ve played some really good competition.”
The Tigers sit 6-4 on the season after playing very stiff competition from undefeated Calvary Baptist to St. Thomas More to Teurlings Catholic.
Westgate’s junior quarterback Jaboree Antoine is expected to line up as the signal caller tonight and is listed by multiple recruiting websites as a five-star cornerback.. In Week 5, Antoine was injured in a 32-22 loss to Calvary Baptist and has not seen action since. The Tigers would lose four of the six games in the regular season with Antoine absent.
Ruston has a pretty talented junior quarterback, as well, in Josh Brantley, who racked up 450 yards rushing in the regular season with seven touchdowns and 892 passing years with seven touchdowns through the air.
Antoine will be joined junior tailback Tavias Gordon who Baugh said was an explosive playmaker in an interview after practice Wednesday.
“I think we’re going to have to find some ways to get him on the ground and make them make him line back up and do everything over again,” Baugh said. “We’re going to need to tackle really well, because he’s one if you don’t get him tackled, he can take it to the house. And so teams like that that have those really fast guys that can get out and score the ball, you’ve just got to be able to either get them close to the sideline, get them knocked out of bounds or get them tackled, and make them do it over and over.”
Having the bye week will also mean a healthy Dylone Brooks, who will rejoin the backfield for the first time in a few weeks alongside junior Jordan Hayes.
“Dylone got good news from the doctor last Tuesday,” Baugh said. “He practiced a little bit last week and then he’s looked fine in practice this week.
Baugh added that the rest of the team has also benefited the rest of the squad as well when it comes to being fresh and healthy for tonight.
“Other than the normal just bumps and bruises, I think it was pretty well clean,” Baugh said.
“Sometimes you go in there and there’s guys just piled up in there getting ice on this or that and really hadn’t seen much of that. So I think last week was good in a way of getting getting guys kind of healed up going into the playoff run.”
Ruston and Westgate will kickoff at 7 p.m. tonight. The game will be streamed live on BearcatNationNetwork.com and can be heard on Z107.5 FM.