The Alexandria Bayou Bengals look to close their 2017 Mid-South Elite Football League season the same way they opened it – with another win over the Central Mississippi Owls, this time for the MEFL trophy.
Alexandria shut out Central Mississippi in Week 1 of the season, 20-0, but both teams have rolled since.
“They never led us in any stat category,” Bayou Bengals owner James Crockett told Developmental Football USA. “The game film tells the story.”
Now, the Bayou Bengals come in on a 21-game winning streak and the Owls come in having won 10 straight.
“The last game against them shouldn’t have been as close as it was,” Bengals owner James Crockett told Developmental Football USA. “Our quarterback threw three interceptions, but the defense held tight. The defense still kept them out of the end zone.”
The Owls are led offensively by quarterback Adrian Moore, who will have 11 men from one of the top defenses in the land chasing him around the turf field at Bellhaven College for four quarters on Saturday.
“The Owls have a quarterback, a dual-threat quarterback that has a big arm and hot feet,” Crockett said. “He likes to scramble a lot and once he gets in the open field, he can make plays. Their quarterback makes their team go. They’ve got playmakers, but their quarterback makes their team go. If you disrupt their quarterback, then they’ll have a tough time.
“The first time we played them, we picked him three times. He’s about 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, runs real well. That’s what I expect from the Owls. They’re a confident, first-year team.”
To win 21 games in a row, it takes more than just a few players showing out, especially for a defense that has only allowed one touchdown in at least 17 games. Lately, two players that go both ways have impressed for the Bengals, one of which is offensive and defensive tackle Jonathan Gaston.
“He’s a veteran guy,” Crockett said. “After our last interview, I had to apologize to the guys up front, because they make everything. The quarterback, the receivers, those are the glory guys, but the line makes everything work and Jonathan Gaston has been the most consistent. He plays defensive tackle, he’s strong as a bull, and he’s been really consistent on offense too. He’s about 6-foot-1, 295 pounds.”
Mertice Pennington has also produced for the Bengals on both sides of the ball, playing both safety and running back.
“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Crockett said. “My starting running back went down, got hurt and this kid stepped up big time for us. The previous game, he had two interceptions returned for touchdowns and played running back. He’s just a tough competitor.”
On defense, 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end “Crazy” Terrence Stewart has stepped up big for the Bengals.
“He’s crazy, crazy, crazy,” Crockett said.
“On defense, there’s a lot of young guys. Another kid, by the name of Stephen Duncan. He’s about 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and I put him at middle linebacker. He’s just ready. He stepped right in because my other linebacker hadn’t returned. This kid, he’s not as fast as Travis, but he makes a lot of great open field tackles. I took him from defensive end and put him at middle linebacker. At 6-4, 240, I don’t care what level you play at, that’s a big kid. He’s stepped in as a young kid and he’s done well.”
Saturday’s game should have no shortage of excitement as developmental teams typically have some form of organized work outs for about 10 months out of the year. Both teams have invested a lot to make it this far, so walking away with the trophy won’t come easy.
“It’ll take very sound defense and discipline,” Crockett said. “Giving up no big plays and playing disciplined and sound defense and playing smart with no turnovers on offense. Cause turnovers on defense, fly to the ball, play physical and bring it back to the hometown back home in Louisiana. Then we’ll try this thing all over again.”
With neither team having experienced a loss in months, they both carry a lot of momentum into Saturday’s match-up.
“They’ve been on Facebook live talking trash, but they’re a good team,” Bengals owner James Crockett told Developmental Football USA. “I’m not going to take anything away from them. They’re a young team. Savvy, confident, which is cool – it makes for a good game.”
Last weekend in the conference championship, the Bengals defense allowed their first touchdown in well over a year as a pass interference call put the Mississippi Titans to the one-yard line where they punched it in.
“They were confident, but they only got four first downs on us the entire game – an unsportsmanlike conduct call, a fake punt, a pass interference and one on a draw play,” Crockett said. “That was the only touchdown that’s been scored on our defense all year long, so they were really happy.”
The Titans other score came on a pick-six, but Alexandria coasted to a 26-12 win to make it to the MEFL Championship.
“The division we played in this season, we call it in our league, the SEC,” Crockett said. “The other division is the Pac-12. The Pac-12 can beat the SEC in one game, but they can’t beat them for a season. We have some big boys in our division. We played everybody in our division twice and everybody in their division once.”
If Alexandria can pull off the perfect season and win their second consecutive championship, they would be the second league champion from Louisiana, as the Louisiana Bayou Hurricanes took home the Gulf States Football League Championship last month.
“Most of the teams that’s in that other league, the GSFL, that’s who we played against last year,” Crockett said. “Keep in mind, we were undefeated last year. The only team we didn’t get a hold of last year was the Trojans.”
This was the Hurricanes first year, as general manager Derek Leger helped bring a team back from several years ago. The Hurricanes of old and the Bayou Bengals used to be very familiar with each other.
“The Hurricanes of the past was a very, very well-coached program, who had been to the championship six years in a row,” Crockett said. “The Hurricanes of old was a very good team, a very tough team. I haven’t had a chance to see this Hurricanes team play in person. I’ve heard they got about 25 guys on their team, but they come to play football. They won their league. They had 25 guys and played a team of 52 guys and they won. I don’t know much other than that about the new Hurricanes, but I would sure like to see that game happen.”
Many states around the country who are represented by champions from multiple leagues, go on to play a state championship game or tournament to name a single state champion.
“That would be interesting to kind of peak everybody’s curiosity,” Crockett said. “I read different things, people say we’re going to go to this league or that league, and we watch other people’s progress in other leagues. I think it would be interesting to see us take on the Hurricanes. We’ve got a lot of history with the Hurricanes. About nine years ago we played the Hurricanes for a championship in Texas, so we’ve got a lot of history with them.”
There’s also a team from Texas wanting to play the Bayou Bengals, so stay tuned to see what may develop following the MEFL Championship.