BIG YEAR and BIG EXPECTATIONS
By Kenneth Swanner
The 2005 West Monroe Rebels football season opened with some uncertainty. With so many starters lost the previous year, this version of Rebel football had some questions to answer. Questions like: Who will quarterback this team? Will the offensive line be able to replace 4 departed seniors from the previous year? Will the vaunted Rebel defense of a year ago pick up where they left off? These questions and a few others would be answered in a big way.
The first question was answered by the return of Steven Ensminger Jr. Steven had begun his high school career at West Monroe on the freshman team, but his father, Steve Sr., took a coaching job at the University of Auburn. Steven had success at Opelika High School in Alabama, but longed to rejoin his former classmates for his senior year. As a major college recruit this answered the huge question as to who would be QB.
The next answer came in the form of Mark Snyder. Mark, who came from Bro. Martin in New Orleans, found himself without a school following hurricane Katrina. Mark ended up at West Monroe and the Rebels found themselves with a very talented offensive lineman. He would be able to plug one of the huge holes left by Larry Shappley, who had graduated and taken his talents to the University of Louisiana - Monroe.
As for the defense, lets just say, we should have never doubted. The only real question was the secondary, and that was quickly filled by two sophomores. We have learned around West Monroe, never worry about the defense.
The team began practicing in the spring and it gave the Rebel Nation a chance to see the 2005 team for the first time. The Rebel Nation knew this team had all the tools to make a run at another state championship and these Rebels did not disappoint.
Here is a look at some of the bigger games of the year:
Longview: West Monroe opened with a very formidable opponent in the Lobos of Longview. Longview was ranked in just about every publication in America and was ranked in the Top 5 in Texas. The Rebels soon found out just how formidable they were. With a good mix of run and pass, Longview quickly scored and WM found themselves down 7-0. West Monroe could not muster any offense, but the defense played well enough to keep the Rebels close. Finding themselves down 14-0, WM put together a good drive but it was ended when Steven Ensminger threw an interception in the end zone, ending any hope of WM scoring. Final score: Longview 21- West Monroe 0.
Airline: After finding their identity offensively and defensively, West Monroe went on a tear, winning against Carencro (28-14) and St. Amant (46-28). This set up a showdown with district rival Airline. The previous year, WM and Airline waged two huge battles for district supremacy with WM taking both games by a score of 13-10 and 12-10. Airline was out for revenge and there was a lot of hype leading up to it. WM put away any doubt very early in the game to whether they could with stand the revenge minded Vikings. With one of the more dominating performances of the year, WM dominated on both sides of the ball. But the highlight of the night was the defense. Airline did not score a TD and could only muster a field goal and safety. Airline only had 4 first downs the entire night until the 1st string gave way to the subs. 5 more first downs came on the last drive of the night for Airline. The defense themselves accounted for 14 points. Chan Battaglia scored on a fumble recovery and Shamori Clemons recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. The offense was beginning to click as Ensminger was 6-11 for 127 yards and 2 TDs. Carl Turner was on the receiving end of both of the TDs. Final score: West Monroe 50 Airline 5
District play was no match for West Monroe as they went unblemished again. Blowout wins against Airline (50-5), Natchitoches Central (45-6), Byrd (45-14), Southwood (47-6), and Huntington (45-7) led up to the showdown with Ruston for the district championship. The Rebels had outscored their district opponents by an average of 46 to 7 so Ruston was a mere afterthought to many of the West Monroe faithful. Ruston would prove the Rebel Nation wrong.
Ruston was on a roll coming into the West Monroe game. They were playing very well and wanted nothing more than to defeated WM for the district championship. It had been fifteen years and sixteen games since Ruston had beaten West Monroe. The game started just as the past few WM-Ruston match-ups had. Ruston, rolling on adrenaline takes an early lead into halftime, only to see WM come roaring back in the second half and this years game proved no different. Many times Coach Arledge will say statistics are for losers. That may be true, but for the Ruston game, the stat told the tale. WM out-gained Ruston 271 to 111. However, after passing for 75 yards in the first quarter, Ben Alsup, the Ruston QB finished with only 89 yards. As for rushing the ball, Ruston had 22 yards on the ground. The Bearcats had 30 yards rushing in the first quarter and ended with 22. That is total domination!!!!! Ruston was also averaging 50 points per game. Luther Jackson, Will Blackwell, Kyle Ernst, and the rest of the Stonewall defense punished the Bearcats. Offensively, Frank Goodin dominated the second half with 121 yards on 14 carries and 2 TDs. Jason Robinson added 81 yards of his own with a 45 yard TD. Final score: West Monroe 21 Ruston 3.
Entering the playoffs, West Monroe was to face some of the old and some of the new. One of the new teams to enter 5-A was the Dutchtown Griffins. They are a school out of the Baton Rouge area and were making their debut in the 5A playoffs. After WM disposed of Carencro, a team they had already beaten earlier in the year, 28-14, the Rebels entered into the date with the Griffins not knowing what to expect. And with so many starters fighting the flu bug that hit WM, no one knew what the evening held. With Dutchtown being a run oriented team, no one was too concerned with them scoring too many points. But it was the defense of the Griffins that caused WM the most trouble. Dutchtown held WM to its lowest scoring output of the entire playoffs, holding the high scoring Rebels to 22 points. Frank Goodin and Jason Robinson had good nights with both cracking 100 yards for the game. Frank had 154 yards and a TD and Jason had 101 yards and a TD which was from an 80 yard run. Steven Ensminger was 6-9 for 77 yards and a TD before leaving the game with cramps. Matt Gardner was on the receiving end of that TD pass. As for WMs defense, lets just say they took care of business. Will Blackwell, Luther Davis, CC Carpenter and Co. held the Griffins to 7 points which came late in the 4th quarter. They held Dutchtown through almost 3 quarters without a first down. Their initial first down came with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. The Griffins had a total of 126 yards, 49 on the ground and 77 in the air. Scott Love had two interceptions on the night. Needless to say, the defense was awesome.
West Monroe 22 Dutchtown 7
Next up for West Monroe was a tough quarterfinal matchup with Destrehan in Destrehan. The Wildcats brought a 10-1 record into the game with two highly recruited players in Chaz Washington and Jai Eugene. Many WM fans were nervous about this matchup. Any nerves or angst were put away early in this game as West Monroe jumped on the Wildcats early and often. If not for three turnovers for touchdowns for Destrehan, WM would have destroyed them. That was the only thing that kept Destrehan in the game. Before the fans could blink their eyes, WM had a 28-0 lead and looked ready to coast. Even with the turnovers for TDs, WM was really never threatened because of WM defense. They held the Wildcats to under 200 total yards of offense. Jai Eugene was 7-23 for 123 yards and one of those passes went for 70yards. Scott Love added 2 more interceptions. As for the offense, they were clicking. Steven Ensminger was near perfect, going 12-15 for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. Frank Goodin ran for 228 yards on 17 carries and a TD on the ground and in the air. WM finished with almost 600 yards total offense with Carl Turner, Jason Robinson, and Matt Gardner getting in on the scoring action. This game could have easily been 70-7 if you take away the scores by Destrehans defense. WM just had their way with the Wildcats.
West Monroe 49 Destrehan 27
One of the foes West Monroe has grown accustom to playing is the Bears of Catholic High out of Baton Rouge. This year proved no exception. Catholic came into this semifinal game expecting to win. They have a winning tradition, great players and coaching staff so they approach every game like the rest of them: to win. The Bears were averaging 27.4 points per game and giving up 10.1 so they had a very solid team. But just like years past, they knew the championship must come through West Monroe. And this year there was no change.
The game began and the usual rowdy Rebel crowd came ready to make some noise. WMs game plan was easy. Set up good field position and work from a short field and that is exactly what they did. West Monroes defense kept the Bears on their side of the field and the Rebels offense took advantage of it. Frank Goodin had 231 yards and 2 touchdowns while Steven Ensminger had 3 Tds of his own. WM finished with 364 yards and 14 first downs while the Rebel defense held BR Catholic to 210 yards and only 8 first downs, which didnt get their first until the second half. Scott Love had another interception along with Isaiah Wiley. Will Blackwell recovered a fumble and had a couple of tackles of loss for minus 15 yards and two blocked kicks. Shomari Clemons and C.C. Carpenter both had 10 tackles each to lead the Rebels. With this dominating performance, it put WM one step closer to its ultimate goal: The 5A state championship!
West Monroe 27 Baton Rouge Catholic 8.
THE 5A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
The next victim on the list for West Monroe was the Acadiana Rams. West Monroe fans remember Acadiana well. In 2001 and 2002, the Rams and Rebels met up in the semifinals for the right to play for the championship. This time, though, it was for all the marbles. Acadiana came into the championship with a 12-1 record and averaging 29 points and giving up 16. Most of their success came by running the ball which they do well out of the split back veer. You could bet that the Rams would be ready to play with revenge on their minds over the two previous losses in the playoffs to WM.
On a cold night in December at Independence Stadium in Shreveport these two proud teams squared off. It was WM who drew first blood, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, one by a diving, flipping Steven Ensminger. Then after a blocked FG attempt, the momentum swung. Acadiana got on the board, ironically, by throwing a 63 yard TD pass to make the score 14-7. It stayed that way until the 4th quarter. Acadiana had two or three opportunities to score, but the Rebel defense, like they had done all year turned them away. That is when Frank Goodin took over. Frank would score two more times, the first with about 6 minutes left to put the game away and then another after WM tried to kill the clock by kneeling on the ball. Acadiana kept calling timeout so WM ran another play and Frank scored to put the icing on the cake, running over LSU signee and All-State linebacker Jacob Cutrera in the process. Frank scored 3 TDs in all and had 183 yards to be named the games MVP. As for the defense, Wow! What can you say? Absolutely incredible! Other than the one play for a td, the defense kept Acadiana in check. They constantly had their backs against the wall and held Acadiana out of the end zone. Will Blackwell, Kyle Ernst, Scott Love, C.C. Carpenter, Luther Davis, Authur Hardy, Les Aulds, Lee Brown, Terry Carter, Isaiah Wiley, Chan Battaglia and crew were great. Scott Love broke a championship record with 3 interceptions. Scott came into the game 10 interceptions and ended the year with 13. Since 2001, WM kept coming up short in championship opportunities. They were always the bridesmaids but not the bride. What was a long time coming was finally here - The 2005 5A State Championship. The trophy was finally where it belongs!!!!
West Monroe 28 Acadiana 7
Another player that had a special year and career for the Rebels is Jonathan Nugent. He will probably rank as one of the best kickers to ever play for West Monroe. How many times did his kick offs sail into the end zone? How many PATs, only missing late in the year? How many field goals over 35 yards? Thanks to Jonathan for such a great season.
WM 2005 Football Roster:
#1 FB Jason Robinson #2 FL Carl Turner
#3 SS Andrew Arnold #4 QB Shelby Aulds
#5 TB Frank Goodin #6 TB Keldrick Williams
#7 QB Steven Ensminger #8 FS Terry Carter
#9 CB John Gray #10 SS Justin Broadnax
#11 CB Chris Cole #12 QB Jordan Pleasant
#13 CB Emmanuel Amons #14 SE Mario Wiley
#15 SE Brad Bell #16 SS Barron Crawford
#17 CB Isaiah Wiley #18 ILB Shomari Clemmons
#19 SS Caleb Flowers #20 CB Joel Fandall
#21 FL Bunk Coronado #22 OLB Ian Dollins
#23 SE Jacob Armstrong #24 K Jonathan Clingen
#25 SE Clint Beaird #26 OLB Chan Battaglia
#27 FB Tyler Roy #28 SE Colt Calloway
#29 FS Alan Donald #30 TB Josh Warren
#31 SS John-Cody Canal #32 FL TJ Jackson
#33 FB Vincent Talton #34 ILB Jared Williams
#35 ILB Cody Knox #36 MLB Cody Yates
#37 TE Matt Gardner #38 FB LaDarrius Abrams
#39 ILB Daniel Greene #40 MLB CC Carpenter
#41 SE Nick Young #42 ILB Zach Kirksey
#43 SS Les Aulds #44 MLB Tommy Block
#45 ILB John Price #46 MLB Bryan Holman
#47 FL Bryce Rodgers #48 CB Scott Love
#49 OLB Corey Underwood #50 C Derek Casola
#51 OG Chris Crawford #52 C Brett Smalling
#53 OG Matt Brister #54 OG Anthony Walpole
#55 C Josh Bostick #56 OT Clint Lancaster
#57 OT Corey Powell #58 OG Marshall Blanton
#59 OG Jacob Williams #60 DT Cody Ford
#61 OT Faris Mahgoub #62 OT Michael Guice
#63 DE Seth Berry #64 OT Brady Dickerson
#65 OT Mark Snyder #66 DT Drake May
#67 OT Ethan Soignier #68 C Will Norris
#69 OG Todd Furlow #70 DT Mitch Walker
#71 DT Gabe Pizzolato #72 OG Clayton Chambers
#73 DT Kyle Ferchaud #74 OG Anderson Hurd
#75 OT Ryan May #76 DE Rick Dear
#77 C Chris Spraberry #78 OG Andrew Stout
#79 OG JT Thompson #80 DE Red Monfette
#81 TE Michael Torregrosa #82 FL Jonathan Barnes
#83 SE Jonathan Warlick #84 K Jonathan Nugent
#85 TE Kyle Brown #86 DE Josh Nelms
#87 TE Chase Williams #88 OLB Arthur Hardy
#89 FL Casey Carter #90 DT Jay LeBrun
#91 DT Jordan Miller #92 DT Lee Brown
#93 DE Chris Sinclair #94 DE Chris Hoadley
#95 DE Will Blackwell #96 DE Hunter Clark
#97 DE Luther Davis #98 DT Kyle Ernst
#99 DE Ryder Flowers
All District 1st and 2nd teams:
2005 All-District 1-5A team:
First Team, Offense:
#7 Steven Ensminger, QB
#5 Frank Goodin, RB
#2 Carl Turner, WR
#72 Clayton Chambers, OL
#78 Andrew Stout, OL
#65 Mark Snyder, OL
#50 Derek Casola, OL
#14 Mario Wiley, Kick Returner
#48 Scott Love, Punter
District 1-5A Offensive MVP, Steven Ensminger
Second Team, Offense:
#14 Mario Wiley, WR
#28 Colt Calloway, WR
#1 Jason Robinson, FB
#52 Brett Smalling, C
#95 Will Blackwell, DE
#98 Kyle Ernst, DT
#40 CC Carpenter, LB
#88 Arthur Hardy, LB
#8 Terry Carter, FS
Second Team, Defense:
#97 Luther Davis, DE
#48 Scott Love, CB
#84 Jonathan Nugent, K
#26 Chan Battaglia, LB
#92 Lee Brown, DT
#49 Corey Underwood, DB
District 1-5A Defensive MVP-Shomari Clemmons
2005 LHSAA 5A All-State:
#7 Steve Ensminger, Quarterback
#5 Frank Goodin, Running back
#65 Mark Snyder, Offensive lineman
#78 Andrew Stout, Offensive lineman
#95Will Blackwell, Defensive lineman
#18 Shomari Clemons, Linebacker
#40 C.C. Carpenter, Linebacker
Several players from the 2005 West Monroe Rebel Football team signed with colleges:
Steve Ensminger - QB - Auburn University
Shamori Clemons - LB - LSU
Mark Snyder - OL - LSU
Frank Goodin - TB - ULM
Scott Love - P/DB - ULM
Andrew Stout - OL - ULM
Clayton Chambers - OL - La. Tech
Kyle Ernst - DL - La. College