By Travis Chapman
The second round of the Select Division 4 playoffs found its way to Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches, La. as the War Party Glenbrook Apaches took on the perennial powerhouse, St Mary’s Tigers. The Apaches fell in a close battle that went to the last possession, 30-27.
The Apaches received the opening kick and opened the game with Landry Powell running up the middle 45-yards. Chase Sentell picked up another 20, and the big man and unsung hero of the first-round playoff win, Cade Vining scored the first TD of the night! The 2-point conversion failed, but the Apaches led early scoring on the first drive, 6-0!
The Apaches’ defense came out looking to hold the Tigers at bay. Vining, donning the number 34 jersey for the night at middle linebacker, made 2 huge tackles, followed up by a holding penalty that had the Tigers behind the chains on 36 yard line for a 3rd and a cab ride, and the Streak Sentell cut the pass off by the Tiger QB and intercepted the football on a great play. The Apaches took over on the 20-yard line.
On the first play of the new possession, QB Easton Sanders executed a beautiful flee flicker and uncorked a bomb to find Sentell down the right sideline. Runs for Powell and Jackson Waller put the Apaches offense starting at a new set of downs from the Tiger 17-yard line. Sanders handed off to Sentell who ran through a hole big enough Moses could’ve led the Israelites through and Sentell found paydirt for the second Apache TD of the night from 17 yards out! The 2-point conversion failed, but the lead stretched 12-0 Apaches with 5:46 left in first quarter.
Apaches attempted the onside kick but came up short. The Tigers took over on their own 46. Waller made a great tackle in the open field, but the Tigers moved the sticks to the Apache 40. Powell and Vining swallowed up the Tiger back for no gain as the Apaches defense stiffened up. Vining made a great solo tackle to prevent the first down and brought up a 3rd and long. The Tiger QB called his own number on a bootleg and picked up the first down to the Apache 19. On the ensuing play, Mason Farnell blew through the line and completely disrupted the Tigers’ play and backed them up 6 yards. The Apaches held strong on 3rd down. The Apache defense forced a 4th and 5. The All-State kicker of the Tigers, who was making 52 yarders in warm ups, pushed it through the uprights for 3 points. The Apaches led the Tigers, 12-3 with 2:18 left in the first.
The Tigers’ kick went through the back of the end zone for a touchback. The Apaches’ offense took over on the 20. The first play, the Apaches fumbled the snap and the Tigers fell on it for a new set of downs and momentum at the Apache 13. The Tigers’ back made the defender miss and boiled his way to the 1-yard line. The following play, the stellar middle linebacker, Cade Vining blew up the play and forced a fumble that the Apaches fell on!!!
Sentell out of his own end zone, moved the ball 9 yards that gave the offense some breathing room. The Apaches faced a 3rd and short from their own 9-yard line. The Apaches’ fans reached their feet as Sentell moved the ball 5 yards to pick up another Apache first down to end the first quarter, 12-3 in favor of the Apaches.
After flip flopping the field to start the 2nd quarter, a roughing-the-passer after Sanders uncorked it 50-yards JUST off the finger of Sentell, gave the Apaches a new set of downs 15-yards closer to the end zone. Powell took a pitch straight ahead for a gain of 6-yards. The big full back Vining picked up another 3 for a 3rd down, but a miscue brought up 4th down that Thunderfoot Mangrum booted to the Tiger 48-yard line.
The Apaches’ defense looked to stall the Tigers’ offensive possession. Jonathon Bryant made a great tackle to force a third and long. Powell made the stop to bring up 4th and short from 45, and the Apaches stuffed the Tiger sneak attempt, and the big Defensive End, Garrett Brown demolished the second effort to force the turnover on downs.
The Apaches offense took over at the 47 and went to work from the shotgun behind Sentell. The Apaches faced a fourth and VERY short. But the pass over the middle fell incomplete to give St Mary’s another possession on their own 46.
The Tigers found a hole on the left side to move the chains to the Apache 40. Vining continued his great game and made a great stop for a gain of 1. The Apaches forced another 3rd and long from the Tigers. The Tigers executed a great swing pass to move them down to the Apache 16, but a swarm of Apaches sacked the Tiger QB for a huge loss that put the Tigers well behind the chains. And a broken play showed success as the Tigers got in the end zone for the first time, closing the lead 12-10 still in favor of the Apaches with 2:49 left in the first half.
The Colorado State commit for the Tigers kicked the cover off the ball and the Apaches started on the 22-yard line. Powell picked up 3 yards with the clock dwindling down for the first half, Sentell had a huge hole but a shoestring tackle by the Tigers stopped them for a short gain. The Apaches QB Sanders found Waller for a gain of 17 to move the chains. Sentell made a Sportscenter top ten catch in double coverage for a gain of 48 yards and the Apaches threatened with 1:03 left in the half. The Apaches needed to score from 21 yards out. Sanders executed the back shoulder throw to find Landry for a gain of 13. First and goal from the 4-yard line. With 16 seconds left, Sanders found Brown in the flat for an Apache touchdown! That capped off a 78-yard drive. Sanders kicked the extra point over the Donald G Kelly Athletic Complex to widen the Apache lead, 19-10 to close the first half!
At the half, the Apache cheer squad and Sundancers dazzled both Apache and Tigers fan alike with their mile high kicks!
The Apaches kicked off to the Tigers to start the second half. The Apaches’ defense trotted out looking to capitalize on the great first half. After a horrible horse collar penalty, Big D and I Don’t Mean Dallas made a great tackle for a loss but on the ensuing play, St Mary’s found the end zone from a quick swing pass with great downfield blocking. The score tightened 19-17 in favor of the Apaches with 10:06 left in the third.
The Apaches took over, looking to continue the offensive performance of the first half from the 20 yard line and right off the bat, the senior Powell took it 9-yards. A tough penalty took away a first down run and made it 2nd and long. But Sentell took the handoff from the right side and picked up 13 yards for an Apache first down! The Apaches continue the ground assault and picked up another 12 yards. The Apaches quickly faced a third and 6 from the 50. The Tigers’ defender made a great tackle for a short gain and the Apaches had a miscommunication on the route on the 4th down play and turned the ball over on downs.
The Apaches’ defense needed to stop the offense of St Mary’s to retain the lead. But The Tigers moved the chains into Apache territory. The Tigers methodically moved the football down the field with the QB moving the chains on his own. The Apaches forced a 3rd and short and the QB kept it all the way and walked into the end zone untouched. The Tigers took their first lead of the night, 23-19 with 2:51 left in the third.
Sentell made a great return of 30-yards to give the Apaches the ball on the 30. Powell fought hard for 3 yards against this stuff Tigers defense. The Apaches faced another quick third down and short, and Powell picked up 7 yards and a new set of downs. But Sanders forced the ball into double coverage and threw an interception to give the Tigers great field position at the Apache 28.
The Apaches’ defense found themselves in a war to start the 4th quarter trailing the Tigers 23-19. The Tigers continued to move the ball running the QB like Mike Vick. The Apaches swarmed the Tiger RB for a loss. The Apaches forced another 3rd down, and Jonathon Bryant stuffed the QB run and forced a 4th down. The kick attempt rang off the left upright to retain the close score. The Apaches took over on their own 20-yard line needing a score but after a series of very questionable calls, the Apaches punted for the second time tonight.
The Tigers took over on their own 48 with 8:50 left in the game. Big G Brown stuffed the Tiger RB. Big D, Daivari Jackson forced a fumble and tackle for a loss to force a long third down. On the third down play, the Apaches defense forced an errant toss from the Tigers QB that the Apaches fell on to give them great field position. The side officials signaled first down Apaches, the fans roared across Turpin Stadium, but hold it, the white hat official ran in from 40 yards away and reversed the call saying the QB was down before the fumble that everyone in attendance knew did not happen. After the horrible call took a forced fumble away from the Apaches, the stellar Tigers’ punter flipped the field 50 yards; 3 more consecutive, let’s just say HIGHLY questionable calls from the white hat forced the Apaches punt late in the game.
St Mary’s took over and began to run the football and eating clock with 4:49 left on the Apache 11. And fitting, number 11, Brown made a huge stop. The Tigers QB called his own number and scored making the score 30-19 with 3:39 left.
The Apaches took over on the 20 and Powell took the ball 40 yards on a pass play, followed by a screen to Sentell, then quick pass to Waller. The Apaches moved the ball quickly and forced a timeout from the Tigers at the Tiger 25 with 2:20 left. Sanders called his own number and brought up a 4th and 5. The Apaches needed to convert this to save hope for the season, but the pass fell short and turned the ball over on downs with 1:57 left in the game. On the ensuing possession, the Apaches forced a fumble and recovered it with 1:25 left. The Apache faithful in attendance rose to their feet as Sanders called his own number, moved the chains then added a screen pass to Sentell that moved the ball down to the 5 with 54 seconds left. The next play Easton Sanders ran like his hair was on fire and his tail was catching for an Apache touchdown. The Birthday boy, Sanders, found Sentell in the end zone for the 2-point conversion. The score tightened to 30-27 in favor of the Tigers with 44 seconds left.
The onside kick attempt failed, and the Tigers went into victory formation to seal the game.
You never want to say the officials changed the outcome of the game. There were some plays we could’ve executed better. For instance, if we had converted the first two 2-point conversions we would’ve won the football game. But there were 4 consecutive calls that the white hat made on his own on big turnovers and pass completions of over 40 yards that he waived off after the other officials already made the call, that absolutely contributed to the outcome of the game. I hate it for our Apaches as every one of the Apache faithful felt this hard loss in their gut from this special group of young men. They had an outstanding game and season! They played their hearts out all year. We learned a lot about the heart, tenacity, guts and will of this group of young men. As the tears soaked the field of Turpin Stadium, love was felt from every soul for the senior cheerleaders, Sundancers, and boys of fall.
The Apaches finish the 2023 season ranked #11 in the state with a record of 8-3 and tally another playoff win.
Next August, the Apaches will look to put in the hard work and expand on the stellar seasons they have had in our first years on the LHSAA. To the coaches, faculty, staff, Dr. Coyle and the Apaches Family Tribe, THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity keep up with, step out of my comfort zone, write and share in the huge moments, heart break, triumphs and accomplishments of these incredible young men. I am already looking forward to sharing coffee with all of you on Saturday mornings in the fall of 2024. Travis Chapman signing off from the 2023 season- SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS….
ITS ALWAYS A GREAT DAY TO BE AN APACHE!!