by Jerit Roser // GeauxPreps.com Contributor
Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins typed up his letter of resignation from his alma mater in 2019.
The Bulldogs were just three years removed from a state championship under his leadership, but disappointment and doubt crept in following a 5-6 season.
“I just knew that this program and what it meant to me, I was questioning whether I was the right guy to be in that seat, despite all the success we had,” a teary-eyed Jenkins said Saturday. “But this guy sitting to my left (quarterback D’Wanye’ Winfield) gave me all the belief I needed that we could turn this thing around. And with his leadership, which is beyond anything that I’ve had in 21 years of doing this, this is a special football team. And these guys deserve it.”
Jenkins saw early leadership characteristics in Winfield as a freshman wide receiver and student on campus to begin building the program’s coming years around him as its face.
That decision and relationship culminated Friday with a 28-25 defeat of North DeSoto in the Division-II nonselect state championship, the program’s ninth title overall and first since 2016.
“We’ve literally been through it all — a hurricane, COVID, the bad year,” Winfield said. “We just knew we were going to turn the program around, and we made sure it happened.”
Winfield capped his prolific playoff run, season and career with Outstanding Player honors for his 299 yards and three touchdowns on 20-for-32 passing and 130 yards and one score on 43 rushes.
But the star performance by “Lunch” came with plenty of additional senior sides critical to the team’s success, including 21 unanswered points to overcome a third-quarter deficit.
Tylin Johnson capped his high school career with nine receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns after having missed his entire junior year and waiting patiently through many games with his primary responsibility coming as a blocker.
“It just feels great,” he said. “This is my only year playing and starting, so it feels great. Everybody just executed and did their job, and now we’re gonna celebrate.”
And just hours after his father was injured in a car accident, cornerback Craydon Long intercepted three passes to highlight the defensive effort.
“He walked into my office this morning with a heavy heart,” Jenkins said. “His dad was involved in a pretty serious car accident last night, and he’s still in the hospital. And this kid came out here and just balled out and bought in because he knew his team needed him. We’re praying for his dad to heal. There’s a lot of heartache. I know there are some other people that are close to him that were involved in the car wreck and might not have been so lucky.
“But the character of this football team is unmatched.”