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Terrebonne, South Terrebonne meet up for 50th time


South Terrebonne's Max Landry (36) and Terrebonne's Justin Theriot (4) will square off in a nondistrict game on Friday. (Photo by File photos)


After serving the last 30-plus years as a player, student and coach at South Terrebonne, Richard Curlin has been on all sides of the Gators rivalry with Terrebonne High.

Terrebonne and South Terrebonne are the two oldest public high schools in Terrebonne Parish, and Curlin said he remembers how intense the annual showdowns used to be between the Tigers and Gators.

"That was one of the two games in town back then," Curlin said. "That used to be ‘The' rivalry. I can remember when the principals would have to call the radio station and tell them to make an announcement to anybody going to the South Terrebonne versus Terrebonne game to turn around because they were locking the gates because the stands were already too full."

As the years passed, Curlin said times have changed, and the Gators have created a bigger rivalry with Ellender and Terrebonne with H.L. Bourgeois.

But Curlin said the rivalry between the Tigers and Gators, which is entering its 50th year this season, is still as intense and competitive as ever. The teams will face off at 7 p.m. Friday at Tom B. Smith Stadium. The game will be on radio at 106.3-FM.

"I would probably take the rivalry more seriously than the kids today do, but any time you step on the field, you want to compete," said Curlin, who has a 9-13 record as a coach against Terrebonne. "We told the kids the other day that this was a big game. We've got a lot of respect for (Terrebonne coach Gary) Hill and his program. I know his kids are going to be ready to play."

Entering Friday's game, Terrebonne has a 26-23 all-time series advantage over South Terrebonne, but the rivalry has been close in recent years. Since 2007, there hasn't been a consecutive winner in annual game, with both the Tigers and Gators each splitting the last six games 3-3.

Terrebonne won last year's game 34-19, but Hill is expecting another dogfight with the Gators.

"We think it's going to be a big game," said Hill, who is 3-3 vs. South Terrebonne. "It's always been a big rivalry. It's always been a good competitive game that usually comes down to who makes the mistakes in the end. We expect to see a well-coached, real hungry South Terrebonne team again."

Terrebonne defeated Redemptorist, 60-21, last week, while South Terrebonne held off H.L. Bourgeois, 24-20.

Both coaches said improving to 2-0 overall would do wonders for their teams.

"It's still early in the year, but we want to keep that momentum and get as much confidence as we can early so it carries into later into the season," Hill said. "The time is now to see where we are, and hopefully you can keep moving forward and not have to step back and work on some other things."

"Confidence is something we could use, especially coming off last week," Curlin said. "We're happy with how our kids performed. Of course I wasn't happy with everything they did last Friday night against Bourgeois. We did some good things. We just made several bad mistakes and penalties that kept their drives going. We can't do that. We can't help them. We've got to make them earn it."

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Here are three things to watch for during Friday's game:

TIGERS BIG PLAYS

Terrebonne's offense exploded for nine touchdowns and 443 total yards against Redemptorist. The Tigers had 361 rushing yards and scored eight times on run plays, getting a pair of 100-yard games from running back Justin Theriot (10 carries, 138 yards, TD) and quarterback Colby Stewart (10 carries, 124 yards, two scores).

"Getting the running game going early jump started us," Hill said. "It gave us a little momentum and got everybody going into the flow of the game. It got a little confidence going and got us working in the right direction."

After allowing several big plays last week, Curlin said the Gators defense must be on their toes against Terrebonne.

"We've got to try to slow down that offense a little bit," Curlin said. "We can't give up big plays. Most of Bourgeois' yardage came on two big plays. We've got to stop doing that. I think if we tackle and make them earn whatever they get, it's going to keep us in the game."

 

JERMAINE'S BIG DAY

South Terrebonne senior Jermaine Washington has done a lot of moving in the past year.

Washington transferred from Terrebonne to South Terrebonne after last season, and prior to the H.L. Bourgeois game last week, he switched from playing defensive line to middle linebacker. The moves have benefitted Washington, who finished with two interceptions against H.L. Bourgeois.

"We moved some guys around after the jamboree, and we put Jermaine there in the middle," Curlin said. "Jermaine is a good athlete. He stepped up to the task and played well. We were hoping to get better run support right there, but he ended up intercepting two passes. We pretty much won the game right there. He did a good job."

SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR

Both Hill and Curlin mentioned how important special teams could be on Friday.

Hill said things like blocked punts, kickoff returns and onside kicks have determined recent games in this series.

"Special teams definitely plays a big role in this game," Hill said. "The team that makes the least amount of mistakes on offense and defense has a great chance to win, but when you make a mistake on special teams, it could be that extra possession that makes a difference."

Curlin said their leader on offense and special teams is senior Matt Benoit, who handles the starting quarterback, kicker and punter duties. Benoit had eight rushes for 37 yards, completed 2-of-7 passes for 13 yards with an interception and made a 32-yard field goal against the Braves.

"I thought starting at quarterback might take away from his kicking game, but so far, he's punted and kicked the ball better than he has when he wasn't at quarterback," Curlin said. "He's got a ways to go. He's getting his feet wet and make sure he makes better decisions in the passing game. Matt is the kind of kid that has been under fire as the kicker and punter, so he understands that aspect of it. He's only going to get better."