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Story Archives: Rookie coach takes on veteran
|Rookie coach takes on veteran|
Freddie Harrison was in his first year as a head football coach in Ferriday in 2007.
On October 12, he stood across Melz Field from Sterlington coach Mike Collins, currently the assistant head coach at McNeese State who also served as interim head coath at Louisiana-Monroe and spent a season as linebacker coach on the national championship staff of Nick Saban at LSU and was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Northwestern State. Collins also had a stint as linebacker coach at Kilgore (TX) High School.
"It was an honor to be coaching against Coach Collins," Harrison said. "He was known for his great defenses."
The Trojans were unbeaten going into their game with Sterlington, in its first year in District 2-2A
The Trojans were also unbeaten in 2006 when facing Sterlington in a non-district game. DeShanti Mitchell had touchdown runs of eight and 65 yards as Sterlington defeated Ferriday 41-21.
Sterlington was riding an 11-game streak of advancing to the playoffs.
"That game was well anticipated from my junior year losing to them," said Ferriday quarterback Kendrick Harris. "I remember working hard all week, running up and down Ferriday blocks conditioning myself."
Ferriday entered the game with a 6-0 record, while Sterlington was 3-3 record, with its losses coming to Rayville, Oak Grove and West Ouachita.
Harris will never forget the game -- or the pre-game.
"I remember before the game we watched the LSU highlight film and all of a sudden the lights go off and Coach Harrison enters with an outstanding speech which triggered something within the team," Harris said. I can say that night I knew we were the new Junkyard Dogs."
"It was a film from the year before where different LSU players talked about what it took to be successful," Harrison said. "The guys really bought into it. I came in and turned off the lights and it was pitch black. I told them the time is now and wanted to give them a speech worth remembering. I told them the pressure and hype was on them now and told them to be sure to leave a lasting mark on Ferriday. I told them there were times they would be down in life and in football, but those were the times they had to reach down deep and find out what they were made of at that time."
Following 48 minutes of intense high school football action, there was no denying how big the Trojans' 18-13 win over the Panthers was to Ferriday players and fans.
"We have a motto before each game, and our motto this week was 'Only one chance,'" said senior linebacker Ronald Lawson. "We've been swarming to the ball all season and we knew we had to continue to do that."
"Ferriday is a good team and they are well-coached," said Collins, who took over as head coach this season after serving as an assistant under Dell Ashley, who is now principal at Sterlington. "Kendrick Harris is a fine quarterback who I have been worried about for two years and they have finally got themselves a coach who knows how to use him. Ferriday is blessed to have Coach Harrison. He is a fine young man and I don't think I've met anyone with more class."
Sterlington, scored first after recovering a Trojan fumble as DeShanti Mitchell, who had scoring runs of eight and 65 yards against the Trojans last year, scored on a 30-yard pass from Logan Dopson to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead late in the opening period.
Mitchell finished with only 29 rushing yards.
"We knew we had to stop him," Lawson said. "It took a lot of gang tackling."
"We've preached all year about overcoming adversity, because you have to do that in life, too," Harrison said. "It was big that we were able to answer their score."
Ferriday recovered an onsides kick attempt and Harris and Matthew Smith led a 64-yard drive that culminated as Smith scored on a 4-yard run.
Smith later injured his ankle in the third quarter.
"That caused Nieco Amado to enter the game and we drove the ball at least 94 years down the field to score,"Harris said. "I remember Coach Harrison approached me and told me to take over the game after Matthew went down and I did just that."
"I put it in Kendrick's hands," Harrison said. "The first year is like having a new car, you just don't let anybody drive it. I trusted Kendrick and knew he would do everything he could for us to be successful."
The Trojans took the lead for good in the third period as Harris scored on a 1-yard run.
A 27-yard pass from Harris to Montrell Tennessee keyed the drive.
Amado also had key runs.
Harris finished with 102 yards rushing and 82 passing after rushing for minus-2 yards in the first half.
"When Matthew went down, Kendrick took it upon himself to take over," Harrison said. "When you have a quarterback who can run, it gives you an extra man out there."
Ferriday put the game away in the last two minutes as Harris completed a 17-yard pass to Donrick Washington with 1:56 remaining.
"We controlled the clock that game and that was the key," Harrison said. "We kept their offense off the field."
Sterlington scored late when Chad Pruitt went in from 12 yards out. Ferriday recovered the ensuing onsides kick to run out the clock.
Ferriday went undefeated in the regular season before losing to St. John of Plaquemine in the second round.
"I knew after the Sterlington game we would end up going undefeated," Harrison said.
Pick A Game is a series of articles focusing on one sporting event from the past.
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