Kaplan Pirates win rare district title
Head coach Stephen Lotief talks to his Pirates after the win over Erath on Friday.
KAPLAN — It does not happen too often, so when it does happen, there are plenty reasons to celebrate.
The Kaplan Pirates (9-0) captured an outright district title by beating the Erath Bobcats 39-14 on Friday in front of a large crowd at Ed Douglas Memorial Stadium.
The last time Kaplan won a district title was in 1996, ironically, the last time finished 10-0 in the regular season.
The Pirates pounded the football all night long and finished with 343 yards rushing.
It is also the ninth time in a row the Pirates beat Erath.
It’s Kaplan head coach Steven Lotief’s first district title while at Kaplan High.
“It is an awesome feeling to be district champions,” said Lotief. “Entering the game, one of our goals was to win the line on both sides of the football. I think we did that.”
The next goal for Kaplan is to finish the season 10-0.
Kaplan senior Gage Marceaux is one of 10 seniors who can now boast that this year’s senior class helped win a district title for Kaplan.
“It feels great,” said Marceaux, who had one of his best games of his senior year.
He finished with at least six solo tackles on defense and he also caught a 21-yard touchdown pass with 4:21 to play in the second quarter. His score made it 26-7.
“His number was called and he delivered,” said Lotief.
The Pirates set the tone on their first
possession of the game. After holding Erath and forcing them to punt, the Pirates do what they do best - eat time off the clock.
Kaplan moved the football 74 yards in 16 plays, and it took an amazing 9:02 off the clock.
Mac Thibeaux, who finished with 115 yards, punched it in from the one, and Kaplan made the two-point play.
Things did not go too well for Erath in the first half.
After Kaplan scored, the Pirates kicked it out of bounds twice on the ensuing kickoff, pushing them back for another kick. On the third kick, the ball bounced off an Erath player and Kaplan’s Lane Marceaux jumped on the ball.
The Pirates took advantage of the mistake.
Starting at the EHS 45, the Pirates marched down field and scored again, behind the legs of Thibeaux and Julius Johnson. Thibeaux broke two tackles and ran into the end zone for his second touchdown.
One way to keep the state’s leading rusher, Elijah Mitchell, from hurting you is to keep him on the sideline.
In the first 1 1/2 quarters, Erath had the football for only four plays.
But the Bobcats answered with a 63-yard touchdown run by Mitchell on Erath’s next possession, making it 14-7.
Right back came Kaplan and took its next possession and marched 55-yards in seven plays. Daniel Lotief, who had his best night passing the football (5 of 7 for 65 yards, two TDs), connected with Gage for 21-yard touchdown catch.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half, with Kaplan leading 26-14, at half time.
The Kaplan defense did not allow Erath in the end zone in the second half.
With 5:19 to play in the third period, Erath was facing a fourth and 2 from their own 32 yard line. The Kaplan defense stepped up and stopped Mitchell from gaining two yards.
Mitchell, who has now rushed for 2,000 yards, carried it 15 times and finished with 122 yards. He had a long 63-yard touchdown run in the first half.
Kaplan’s Julius Johnson had 23 carries and finished with 155 yards and scored two touchdowns.
He also played defense and helped keep Mitchell in check.
“I just played defense,” said Johnson. “We knew Mitchell is a great running back, but we did not just worry about him.”
Erath head coach David Comeaux came into the game worried about Kaplan controlling the football on offense. They did exactly that on Friday.
“They controlled the ball so much, that they got us out of our game,” Comeaux said. “We wanted to pound the football, but because we got behind, we were playing from behind. On the offensive side of the ball, we just could not get into rhythm.”