Avoyelles football running wild to first semifinal trip with bevy of running backs

LaMar Gafford
Alexandria Town Talk

VIVIAN – Without top running back Carlos Bazert and with Dacareyn Sampson limited, Avoyelles did what it does best on Friday night.

Run, run and run some more.

The Mustangs reached another milestone in their best season in history with a 46-28 victory over North Caddo in the Class 2A quarterfinals. Avoyelles (11-2) will play Many (12-1) in the semifinals next Friday.

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“We’re down to our fifth option and he looks like the first option,” Avoyelles coach Andy Boone said. “They’ve bought in to what we do – smash-mouth football. That’s all I can say, we’re going to run over people.”

Avoyelles' Josh Williams (4) breaks one loose for a touchdown against Bunkie in Week 4.

Avoyelles lost Bazert to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 7 and Sampson has been hobbled with a sprained ankle since the season finale. The three-pronged attack of Josh Williams, Jervez Wright and Travon Prator has filled in nicely throughout the playoffs.

Against the Titans, Williams scored three touchdowns, Prator had two and Wright had one.

“We’re just stepping up,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to get it done. We’re filling in the spot and we’re running hard. We’re doing the best that we can.”

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“They wore us down,” North Caddo coach John Kavanaugh said. “That was their plan and we knew that coming in. I thought we had a good plan to stop it, but it didn’t happen for us. They were just a little bit too big and physical for us. They make it real difficult for us with misdirection and a difficult offense to diagnose.”

All five running backs bring something different to the table thanks to their build and running style.

Bazert and Wright are the power backs at taller than 6 feet and weighing 225 pounds. Prator and Sampson rely on their quickness at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. Then there’s Williams, who at 5-4 and 155 pounds is the smallest of the bunch but is deceptive and speedy.

Avoyelles' Decareyn Sampson (16) runs for a first down against the Bunkie defense in Week 4.

As a result, all five running backs have rushed for over 750 yards this season, with Sampson and Wright exceeding 1,000 yards.

“I’m so proud of them,” Bazert said. “I’m proud of the whole team. They’ve been doing their thing. We have Many and we can do this and then we’re going to the Dome. I have so much faith in my team.”

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Avoyelles is enjoying the fruits of its first 10-win season and advancement this far into the playoffs. It knows it has a tough challenge ahead against Many.

“It’s going to be a tough game, but we all are going to play hard,” Williams said. “We’re going to get to state.”