The Homer Pelicans finished as the Division IV Nonselect state runner-up on Thursday afternoon at the Ochsner's LHSAA State Prep Classic at the Caesar's Superdome in New Orleans. The Pelicans ran into a stout Oak Grove defense that shut down the ground game. Also, the Pelicans' costly errors and penalties didn't help the situation. The Homer defense kept Oak Grove from running away with the state championship title. Key dual-sided offense and defensive players like Jamarquese Hampton, Gregory Williams, Walteze Champ, Andrevious Buggs kept the Pelicans in the game. Walteze Champ was announced as the Most Valuable Player for Homer.
Oak Grove's defense paid off early in the first quarter as Homer failed to convert back-to-back fourth down conversions. Oak Grove struck first in the state championship game as Corey Jones broke free on a 30-yard touchdown run. Homer ended the quarter starting at their own 13 but marching into Tiger territory. Oak Grove maintained the 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Oak Grove was stingy in the second quarter as they held possession of the ball for 10 minutes and 15 seconds. The Tigers completed two fourth-down conversions including a fake punt completed by James Harris. The Pels penalties also aided in pushing the ball downfield as the facemask call put Oak Grove into the red zone at the Homer 11. Homer's defense stood tall as the Tigers had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Thomas Clack to give the Tigers the 10-0 lead. The following kickoff seemed to extend a nightmare for the Pelicans as the ball was recovered by Oak Grove on the Homer 19. Instant Replay saved Homer. Yes, instant replay. The only time in the season that instant replay is allowed in an LHSAA game is the state championship game. The instant replay showed that Maddox Hurley's right foot scraped out of bounds before recovering the ball; therefore, the Pelican got the ball on their 20. They had little time to make it down the field. Andrevious Buggs connected with Marquese Hampton on a 33-yard reception. Elyjay Curry barrelled down the field on back-to-back runs. Oak Grove's defense stepped up as Kamryn Franklin made the interception and returned the ball in Pelican territory. A pass interference call on the Pelicans gave Oak Grove the ball on the Homer 26. Homer's defense once again did their job as they pushed Oak Grove to kick a 38-yard field goal which went wide right. Oak Grove went to the locker room with a 10-0 lead at halftime.
The Tigers opened the quarter with the kickoff and the Pelicans' defense came through again as they stopped the drive on a knocked down the pass on 4th and 13. Homer looked to finally get some momentum. Buggs's pass was picked off by Gunner Hale, but a late hit on Buggs gave Homer the ball back. A bad snap pushed the Pelicans back on a 16-yard loss. Homer punts the ball. Corey Jones went on a 20-plus-yard run. Oak Grove suffered a fumble with Walteze Champ recovering for Homer. Buggs connected with Katrevick Banks on a 39-yard reception. The third quarter ended with Oak Grove up 10-0.
Homer looked to make another fourth quarter comeback. Bugg completed a 20-yard pass to Katrevick Banks. Curry follows it up with an 11-yard run to reach the red zone for the Pelican. A bad snap and Oak Grove's Cameron Franklin recovered the fumble on the Oak Grove 13. Pels defense forced the punt again and Homer started again on their own 12. Another bad snap fell in the Pelicans' favor as Gregory picked it up and gained the first down. Buggs was sacked forcing the fourth down. On a 4th and 13, Buggs went to the air but the pass was knocked down giving the ball to the Tigers in good field position. Oak Grove looked to close the game out. Jackson Bradley bolted on a 15-yard run to the Homer 7. Cameron Jones got to the 2. Bradley finished the drive on a 2-yard touchdown run and a 17-0 lead as Oak Grove held on to take the Division IV Nonselect State Champions.
The Homer Pelicans finished their stellar season at 10-4. The Pelicans may be losing some key players like Walteze Champ, LaMichael Greer, Brendon Harris, and Elyjay Curry. Coach Richie Casey and Homer should make another significant run again next year.