By Kenneth Swanner
Leading up to the 2009 season, the West Monroe Rebels had tasted three consecutive years of bitter disappointment. In 2006, the defending state champion Rebels lost to Sulphur in the second round of the playoffs. Led by future SEC players, Will Blackwell and Luther Davis, Rebel Nation had high hopes for the 2006 team. West Monroe followed that up with a loss once again in the second round to Acadiana. With a national audience watching “Varsity Inc.” on ESPN, the Rebels went down to Acadiana in a game where turnovers once again killed the team.
The following year, West Monroe, having avoided another second round exit from the playoff, found themselves vying for their 7th state championship. Standing in their way was Destrehan, the defending state champs. A big and physical team, much like West Monroe, Desty proved too much for West Monroe. Riding two VERY CONTROVERSIAL NO-CALLS by the referees, Destrehan beat the Rebels 14-3 to deny West Monroe another trophy.
With the disappointment of a championship opportunity missed, West Monroe entered the 2009 season with high hopes but with some questions. Gone from the 2008 team were team leaders, QB DJ Banks who went on to start at Tulane and TB Ladarious Abrams, both All State performers. But the Rebels did have a nucleus of returning players that would give Rebel Nation a reason to believe “this could be the year.”
Returning was LSU signee Defensive End Jordan Allen, along with Tyler Burdeaux, Chuck Hunter, and Chase Gonzales anchoring the D-Line. Samer Mahgoub, Ty Noel, and Robert Lay were also back. WR’s Adrian Manning and Deon Fowler were back as well as a veteran O-Line led by Dillon Day. Joining him would be Garrett Wilkerson, Andrew Bryan, Wayne Hendricks and Dylan Stevens. They would be blocking for Tailbacks, Senior Teshadi Talton and Tyler Cain. The biggest shoes to fill would be DJ Banks and Junior Paul Turner would have no problem establishing himself as one of the greatest QB’s to play at West Monroe.
Another fresh face to surface was the promotion of Glen Hunt from Offensive Line coach to Offensive Coordinator.
The new season, full of great expectations, began with the Bayou Jam where the Rebels took care of a game Rayville squad. The following week, West Monroe’s march to the Superdome began with a road trip to Leesville. The mighty Rebels began the year with a bang, destroying the Wampus Cats, 71-13. A state championship birth seemed like a reality because of the ease with which West Monroe won. But looming ahead the next week was an old rival, the Rebel’s nemesis, the Neville Tigers.
Neville came to town with high expectations of their own. The Tigers had 35 seniors, their biggest senior class in years. Because of their experience they had every intention, and the talent, to beat West Monroe at Rebel Stadium. West Monroe, however, established early that they had no intention of letting Neville beat them. West Monroe dominated early scoring almost at will. But when Paul Turner took a late hit out of bounds he came up limping with a sprained ankle. Paul showed a lot of heart, gutting out every possession with only one good foot. However, with Paul hurt, the offense couldn’t move the ball efficiently enough and Neville was able to get back into the game. With a few minutes left West Monroe watched their lead evaporate and eventually disappear. Neville took the lead and held it for most of the 4th quarter. But with a couple of minutes remaining and West Monroe staring at defeat, Paul Turner and Tyler Cain went to work. Completing passes to Deon Fowler and Tyler Cain, Turner marched the Rebels near midfield. With some penalties facing him, Turner converted a huge 4th and 13, completing a pass to Tyler Cain, to keep the drive a live. With a minute left, Paul Turner hit Cain with a 22 yard TD pass to win the game. Rebel Nation had just witnessed that WM could win big but could also gut out a win like they did against Neville. (A little side note: Neville went the rest of the year undefeated and won the 4A state championship.)
Over the next few weeks, the Rebels beat Richwood (35-0), led by Sophomore QB Connor Osborne who subbed for injured Paul Turner, Captain Shreve (47-14), and Airline (35-6). Next up for West Monroe: Arch rival Ouachita.
Ouachita had not beaten West Monroe since 1994. Their best chance came in 2008 in a regular season game in which they lead 19-0 at halftime only to see the lead evaporate and lose late in the game, 21-19. The Lions came to West Monroe later that same year in the playoffs only to see their season end at Rebel Stadium. This year, the OPHS Lions had high hopes of avenging the loss of the year before, but like every year since 1995, they went away defeated, 43-12! Led by Talton and Cain, who had a total of 167 yards and the passing of Turner who was 5-6 for 110 yards and 2 TD’s, West Monroe took care of business early. Three of the five passes Turner completed went to Adrian Manning for 91 yards and a TD. In the 3rd Quarter, one of the greatest individual plays in West Monroe history occurred when Teshadi Talton returned a punt for what turned out to 120 yards and a TD! What made the punt return so special is he ran backwards for about 25 yards before turning up field. With great blocking he was able to weave himself through and around the Ouachita “would be tacklers.” Only after crossing the goal line did everyone realize the run was for naught because of a yellow flag lying on the field! It was disappointing but it did not negate how awesome the whole play actually was!!!
After dispatching Southwood, 48-12, in a district game, West Monroe took on a Byrd team who on paper looked dangerous. After all, Byrd is the last team to beat the Rebels in a district game. West Monroe approached this game with a business like attitude for more than one reason. Not only did they respect Byrd, this was Don Shows chance at career win 300. Very early, West Monroe left no doubt. During a 10 minute time span, the Rebels scored 23 points, nine of which came by way of way of the defense. Terrence Getret scooped up a fumble and ran 34 yards to pay dirt for the first touchdown. Following a safety by the Rebels, Paul Turner and Bubba Reeves took over. Reeves scored from 3 yards out to push the lead to 16-0. Then Turner scored from 54 yards, threw a TD pass to Cody Stone from 18 yards out, and wrapped up the scoring for the first half by running in a 4 yard td to make the score 37-0 at halftime. Connor Obsorne took over the offense in the final two quarters and orchestrated 2 scores himself. Bubba Reeves scored again from 64 yards and Matt Bourgeois caught a 20 yard TD pass to finish the scoring. Reeves ran the ball 8 times for 121 yards and 2 TD’s. The Rebel’s finished the game with 19 first downs, 278 yards rushing, 156 yards passing for a total of 434 yards of offense. The defense was strong as usual, giving up only 9 points to a Byrd team that had a very dangerous ground game. The final score was 51-9 and secured Coach Shows’ 300th win!!! Congrats to Coach Shows!!!
Natchitoches Central and Pineville closed out the regular season and West Monroe had no problems with them beating the two teams by a combined score of 91-14! West Monroe finished the 2009 season as district champs for the 14th straight year! But now began the real test! The 2009 playoffs were here! Could West Monroe run the table or would their season end again in the second round? We would soon find out!
The 2009 playoffs began with a quiet confidence but Rebel Nation knew anything could happen. The Rebels also found themselves against a very formidable opponent in Bro. Martin from New Orleans. Bro. Martin plays in the Catholic League which is very competitive every year. West Monroe was also without the services of Paul Turner who had tweaked his ankle and was resting during the first round game. He was replaced by a very capable Connor Osborne who had replace Turner earlier in the year against Richwood. With or without Turner, the Rebels knew this would not be easy. And Bro. Martin proved them to be right. West Monroe was able to establish an early lead at 14-0 but after two long touchdown runs by Bro. Martin to tie the score West Monroe knew they were in a dogfight. But once again, Teshadi Talton came through in a big way. On the ensuing kickoff, Talton took the kickoff 94 yards for the touchdown!!! The score was now 21-14 heading into halftime. The 3rd quarter was a defensive struggle and only Bro. Martin could muster any scoring. The Crusaders added a field goal to draw closer, 21-17. West Monroe then went on a long sustained drive scoring on a Tyler Cain 3 yard run that set off a minor fight between the two squads. Bro. Martin began to show their frustration by taking cheap shots at the Rebels. The Rebels responded by taking the ball after a missed field goal and driving down to the 2 yard line of Brother Martin when time ran out. West Monroe had won the game 28-17, in a game that was closer than the score indicated. And the run to the Superdome was about to get tougher!
In the second round of the playoffs, West Monroe faced an opponent Rebel Nation was very familiar with. In 1993, West Monroe knocked the Purple Knights out the semifinal round of the playoffs in a game that is considered the greatest West Monroe has ever played in. They beat St. Aug 34-33 in overtime to go to their first championship game. In 2000, West Monroe once again beat St. Aug in the semi’s to advance to the championship game. This time, St. Aug had revenge in sight! Led by LSU signee and team leader, Tyrann Mathieu, the Purple Knights had every intention of knocking off “the mighty West Monroe Rebels!”
Things got off to a good start for the Rebels! West Monroe received the ball to open the game and took the ball 80 yards in 10 plays to open the scoring. Paul Turner ran up the middle for 10 yards to give the Rebels a 6-0. The extra point failed. St. Aug followed that with a 27 yard interception return for a touchdown by Tyrann Mathieu to make the score 7-6. Barely phased, the Rebels scored twice more, a 23 yard TD by Turner and a 13 yard TD by Talton to make the score 20-7 at halftime. West Monroe had 209 yards in the first half, including nine rushes of 10 yards or more. West Monroe’s Stonewall Defense was playing very well holding St. Aug to 59 total yards with only 24 yards rushing.
Whatever adjustments were made at half, St. Aug made the right ones. To open the second half, the Purple Knights drove 65 yards, scoring on a 3 yard run by Mathieu. This made the score 20-14 and gave St. Aug new life. After getting the ball back on a roughing the kicker penalty, St. Aug drove 72 yards on eight plays and scored on a 29 yard TD pass to knot the score at 20-20. But Jordan Allen broke through and blocked the extra point to keep the score tied. Then with 8:52 remaining, St. Aug blocked a punt by Samer Mahgoub and recovered it in the end zone to take a 26-20 lead. Needless to say, Rebel Nation was stunned! Then the unthinkable happened! Instead of going for the one touchdown lead, the St. Aug decided to go for two instead of the field goal. His thinking was understandable. He had just had an extra point blocked….why not go for two? The two point conversion failed and West Monroe had their chance. Paul Turner then took control of the game driving the Rebels 87 yards for the go ahead and game winning touchdown. The key play was a pass completion to Matt Bourgeois for a huge gain. Turner then finished the drive off on an 8 yard TD run with 5:56 remaining. West Monroe’s defense once again came up big, holding ST. Aug out of the end zone to win the ball game! It was a close call but Rebel Nation knew this would be the toughest test of the playoffs. And West Monroe passed!!!!!
The quarter final round of the playoffs brought another challenge. Thibodaux was led by another SEC signee, Trevon Reed who signed to play for the Auburn Tigers. But West Monroe has had a history of sending teams with big time players back home very disappointed. Players like Rondell Mealy, Travis Minor, Major Applewhite, Shyrone Carey, and Cedric Benson just to name a few. Trevon Reed came into the game with a lot of hype and at times lived up to it. But it simply was not enough. West Monroe completely dominated this game!!! The Rebels put up over 500 yards of offense and led 35-7 at halftime. The only Thibodaux score came on a Reed run that electrified the home standing Rebel fans. But it was short lived. With Tyler Cain rushing for over 200 yards, Paul Turner adding 123, and Doncorious Powell tacking on 70 more, West Monroe was way too much for the Tigers to handle! Thibodaux scored two meaningless TD’s against West Monroe’s JV to make the score closer than the game was and the game ended 45-21. West Monroe was on to the semifinals for the 12 time since 1993! And the foe would be very familiar to Rebel Nation.
If there is one team that hates to see West Monroe on their schedule it is the Baton Rouge Catholic Bears! On three previous occasions the Bears have had to face West Monroe in the semifinals and this year was no exception. Catholic always causes concern to Rebel fans. They are well coached, very disciplined, and had a high powered offense. In the quarter finals they had come back from a big deficit to beat Acadiana which is no easy feat. So West Monroe was very respectful of the Bears. Rebel Nation was put at ease very early! West Monroe put this game to bed early in an awesome display of power and speed. From the very beginning Catholic had no chance! Paul Turner threw 3 TD passes and ran for 2 more! Teshadi Talton, Matt Bourgeious , and Tyler Cain each caught TD passes. West Monroe finished the game with 144 yards rushing and 268 yards passing. Connor Osborne entered the game in the second half and continued the onslaught. He added 41 yards on 6 carries. As for the defense, well what can you say?!!! Once again, they were their usual dominated self! They had two interceptions and Jacob Tyson recovered a fumble for a TD. Zack Oliver, the Bears junior QB, found himself running for his life and could not muster any offense. West Monroe closed out this semifinal round with a 52-6 trouncing of the Bears! And let me add this: Unlike many of the other south LA teams we faced, Baton Rouge Catholic was very classy in defeat! Just like the other times West Monroe faced them they played with poise and discipline. They are truly a classy program.
Rummel had no idea!!! Their coach was talking smack, the players were arrogant, and the fans were a little too cocky. Rummel’s coach had a made comment concerning his defense leading up to the game. In a TV interview he was asked what would be the outcome if his team could score 14 points and his rely was “BONZIA!” In other words game over!!! Well, the Stone Wall defense of West Monroe had something to say about that. It literally ticked them off. As Jordan Allen would say after the game, where had the Rebel’s defense gone, hiding under a rock? Rummel and the rest of the state and nation would soon find out!
Entering the state championship game the whole state had been talking about Rummel’s defense and rightfully so. They had only given up 10 points per game and had played a tough schedule. But they had not met up with an offense like West Monroe’s.
The game started as expected two fighters feeling each other out. The first quarter went scoreless, but the Rebels soon found their rhythm and started to exert themselves. In the second quarter, Tyler Cain started the scoring for West Monroe, taking a handoff from Paul Turner to take a 6-0 lead. The extra point was missed but a Cody Hollis 25 yard field goal extended the lead to 9-0. West Monroe took that 9-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Rebels were set up offensively by a great defensive play. Jordan Allen intercepted at pass and returned the ball 4 yards to Rummel’s 21 yard line. Four plays later, Tyler Cain scored his second TD, running it in from 8 yards out that gave the Rebels a 16-0 lead.
With 11:22 left in the game, Paul Turner showed why he is one of the greatest players to put on a Rebel jersey when he electrified the crowd with an 86 yard touchdown run, weaving himself in and around Rummel defenders. This put the Rebels up 23-0 and Rebel Nation could smell the championship.
West Monroe began to empty its bench, playing Connor Osborne at QB and a few other second string players. Rummel kept their first string in, not relenting on their pass rush, so with 1:59 left in the game, Coach Shows called a play action pass and Osborne connected with Ivan Manning for a 25 yard touchdown pass. This put the Rebels up 30-0 and sealed the deal on the 7th state championship in West Monroe’s history!!
Paul Turner was named Most Outstanding Player of the championship game, finishing with 154 yards on 18 carries and completing 8 of 12 passes for 63 yards. West Monroe finished the game with 318 total yards. So much for that vaunted Rummel defense everyone was talking about!!
Oh yeah, and about that West Monroe defense NO ONE was talking about. They gave up a total of 150 yards, intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble, and held Rummel to 2 of 12 on third down conversions. The Stone Wall defense only gave up 3.1 yard per play. They also forced 5 punts! This was the first SHUTOUT in the highest classification since 1982! Not bad for a defense that no one gave any credit to! BONZAI!!!!
Since Don Shows arrived at West Monroe, the Rebels have played in 12 state championship games: 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009. That’s 12 state championship games in 17 years!!! There are so many programs that would love to have that success!! Rebel Nation is very blessed to have a coach and coaching staff that has brought this much success to West Monroe High School!!! Thank you, coaches!!! We look forward to a return trip to the Dome in 2010 and a chance at championship number 8!!!!
Final Team Stats:
First Downs: 276
Total Offense: 6,103
Total Points: 42.2
Individual Stat Leaders:
Rushing: Paul Turner 1,174 Yards 22 TD
Tyler Cain 1,011 15 TD
Teshadi Talton 746 15 TD
Passing: Paul Turner 90-133 1523 Yards 13 TD
Receiving: Adrian Manning 24 catches 480 yards 3 TD
Deon Fowler 21 catches 271 yards
Defense: Tackles Sacks
Jonathon Tyson 72 5
Chuck Hunter 58 4.5
Ty Noel 57 0.5
Jordan Allen 51 3.0
Adrian Manning---Mississippi College
Dillon Day--Mississippi State
2009 All District:
TE Matt Bourgeois, WR Adrian Manning, Linemen Dillon Day, Dylan Stevens, Wayne
Hendricks, RB Tyler Cain, and QB Paul Turner
Offensive MVP Paul Turner
Defensive Linemen Jordan Allen, Chuck Hunter, Tyler Burdeaux, and Chase Gonzales, Linebackers Jonathan Tyson and Ty Noel, DB Samer Mahgoub and Return Specialist Teshadi Talton
Defensive MVP Jordan Allen
Coach of the Year Don Shows!
Offense: Wayne Hendricks
Defense: Jordan Allen and Jonathan Tyson.
Honorable Mention: Paul Turner, Dillon Day, Bubba Reeves, Teshadi Talton, Tyler Cain,
Chuck Hunter, and Samer Mahgoub.