While the 23-7 loss to Jewel Sumner was disheartening for Dunham, the Tigers defense did an admirable job against a big, potent offense. But as the game wore on, the Cowboys' decided size advantage in the trenches and depth on the roster proved to be the difference.
The Tigers held Jewel Sumner to just 72 yards rushing on 22 rushes in the first half and the Cowboys led just 7-0 at the break.
"They were better live than they were on film," Dunham head coach Joey Thibodeaux said. "They were very physical up front and I think they had a good scheme for us defensively. They pretty much controlled the game.
"The fact that we could not get anything going offensively put our defense on the field the entire game. I thought our defense actually played pretty well. We were in the game, 7-0 at half. They came with an opening drive the second half, but I think our defense played well all night. We just could not get anything going offensively.
The Cowboys' Donovan Taylor finished with 52 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns. Marcus Brumfield added 104 yards rushing. JSHS finished with 307 total yards, with 140 rushing coming in the second half.
"When you are playing a team with a lot of depth like they have, they looked like they had an army out there during stretching they had so many kids, so depth I think played a major factor in that as well."
Lining up at linebacker
This week marks the return of standout junior linebacker Daniel Megison, who suffered an injury to his hand two weeks ago and missed last week's game against Jewel Sumner.
Last week, in an effort to fill the void left in Megison's absence, sophomore Grayson Domingue moved from defensive end to outside linebacker. It was Domingue's first time to play linebacker and he performed well, along with middle linebacker Jordan Lange.
"I think Jordan Lange and Grayson Domingue had outstanding games for us defensively," Thibodeaux said. "Jordan may have had 12 tackles. Grayson played linebacker for the first time and looked good.
"Grayson is one of the top 5 speed guys just running on the team. From a speed perspective, I think linebacker position suits him well. With Megison coming back from his injury, and Jordan Lange and Harrison Domingue, I think our linebackers are as good as we've had in a while."
So now the Domingue brothers, Grayson and Harrison, will be on the outside - Harrison plays strong safety/bandit - while Megison and Lange will be at inside linebacker.
Jewel Sumner was huge on the offensive and defensive lines, allowing the Cowboys to control the trenches. While little could have been done to change that, Thibodeaux and his staff felt compelled to make some adjustments along the lines in the wake of the loss.
The goal is to create depth and allow standouts Luke Simpson and Ben Stott to excel further on the defensive line.
Thibodeaux is inserting freshman Foster Degeneres in at guard, replacing Simpson. Drew Schoen will move from tackle to guard and Stott from guard to tackle. Nick Ellison will start at tackle and Brandon Stogner is at center.
The guard position is demanding in Dunham's offense so getting more bodies there is important. Now Stott and Simpson don't have to be counted on to play primary roles on both the offensive and defensive lines. The hope is that they can concentrate on being physical forces on defense.
Also, the return of Megison at tight end gives the offense more blocking punch.
Ranking the Tigers
Dunham failed to receive any votes in the latest Louisiana Sports Writers Association polls. Their last opponent, Jewel Sumner, is receiving votes in the 3A poll and will certainly break into the top 10 if they remain unbeaten.
Dunham was ranked No. 25 in the LHSAA's first release of the unofficial power ratings. The top 32 teams will make up the playoff field at the completion of the regular season. While the loss to Jewel Sumner hurts now, it appears JSHS will collect a number of wins and that will end up helping Dunham.
Jewel Sumner was ranked No. 4 in the Class 3A rankings.
The Tigers' potent offense never could get untracked against the Cowboys and was held to just 94 yards of total offense.
The Tigers' lone points came on Nyle Johnson's 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 21-7 with 1:40 left in the third period. Dunham surrendered a safety fourth quarter for the final margin.
Johnson has scored in all three games for Dunham and has a total of four touchdowns, including two TD receptions, a punt return for a score and now the kickoff return.
Dunham travels to Episcopal (3-0) to begin District 7-2A. The Knights have been solid to this point, averaging 40 points per game in easy wins over De La Salle, Ascension Catholic, and Country Day.
That high-powered offense is led by junior quarterback Vincent Dellocono, who burst on the scene last season as a sophomore and is off to another good start.
He has completed 19 of 32 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns.
The running game is led by senior Jared Rogers, a speedster who went over a 1,000 yards last year and 418 yards and five touchdowns to date.
"Episcopal reminds me of us last year," Thibodeaux said. "A lot of veteran guys, an experienced quarterback, although he's not a senior. Dellocono is a good quarterback and Rogers is a good running back. You look at those two kids as two that can play. They are going to garner a lot of our attention.
District 7-2A is one of the state's most potent 2A leagues, along with the New Orleans area's District 10-2A. Right now, 7-2A four undefeated teams in Donaldsonville (3-0), Episcopal (3-0), University Lab (3-0), and East Feliciana (2-0).
You factor in, of course, Dunham at 2-1 and you can not overlook Capitol (1-2), which despite the losing record is a powerful squad that has played only Class 5A and 4A teams so far.
Last year, a very talented Capitol team that many thought could have won state before falling to Evangel in the semifinals, won the league with a 6-0 mark. However, that included an overtime win at Donaldsonville, a five-point win over Clinton and 22-16 win over Dunham.
Donaldsonville and Capitol are probably the favorites in the early stages of the season. But University has some quality wins already and takes on East Feliciana, formerly Clinton. Capitol opens against 0-3 Pointe Coupee Central.
This week, the Dunham is Episcopal's homecoming opponent.
"I thought we had kind of gotten away from being somebody's homecoming," Thibodeaux said, laughing. "But I guess in our district it's what poison you want to taste tonight. It will be everything high school football is about on Friday night."