by Hunter Bower // GeauxPreps.com Owner

NEW ORLEANS – For the first time ever, Opelousas High can call itself a state champion.

The 12th-seeded Tigers (12-3) completed an historic season after defeating Cecilia, 26-13, in a district rematch from earlier in the year and take home its first ever state championship. It was the program’s first appearance in a title game since 1956.

Friday’s win gave Tiger head coach Jimmy Zachary his first state title as a head in just his fourth season at the helm. According to Lenny Vangilder of Crescent City Sports, the Tigers are just the sixth double-digit seed to claim a state title under the LHSAA Power Rating system.

“I am just blessed to be in this position,” said Zachary. “I want to thank the players and the community for all of the support along the way. They have been with us every step of this journey and to be able to celebrate this win with them is special.”

Opelousas was in full control of the first half limiting Cecilia (12-2) to only 61 total yards and three first downs while the Tiger offense put on a running clinic with 184 yards on the ground.

Zack Malveaux scored Opelousas’ first touchdown ever inside the Caesars Superdome to put Opelousas up by six following a failed two-point conversion. He added a second touchdown just before the break after breaking loose on a 66-yard scamper.

The junior quarterback was chosen as the team’s Most Outstanding Player with 204 yards of total offense including 114 through the air and two passing touchdowns.

Cecilia charged back in the second half using a quick 48-yard touchdown pass from Diesel Solari to pull to within five points of the lead. Solari was chosen as the Bulldogs’ Most Outstanding Player totaling 136 yards through the air and 37 more on the ground, accounting for both team touchdowns.

However, it was Opelousas tailback D’Shaun Ford who sealed the game away on a pair of touchdown runs in the final 24 minutes including the game-sealing drive with just under two minutes left.

The Tigers finished the game with 381 total yards compared to Cecilia 221 yards of offense while Opelousas controlled the game with over 28 minutes of possession.

HOW IT HAPPENED

FIRST QUARTER

• 6:58 – OPELOUSAS | The Tigers struck first as quarterback Zackeus Malveaux sped into the endzone untouched on a 32-yard rush. Two-point conversion failed handing the No. 12 seed a 6-0 lead.

SECOND QUARTER

• :40 – OPELOUSAS | Maleveaux broke loose for 66-yards to account for his second touchdown on the day on the first and only play of the Tigers’ fourth drive.

THIRD QUARTER

• 7:44 – CECILIA | The Bulldogs offense lit up the scoreboard following a 48-yard touchdown reception from Diesel Solari who connected with Ellis Stewart to pull within five points of the lead.

• 3:34 – OPELOUSAS | The Tigers chewed up four minutes of the third period and capped an eight-play drive with a D’Shaun Ford touchdown from a yard out.

FOURTH QUARTER

• 5:02 – CECILIA | Diesel Solari accounted for his second touchdown of the game as he capped an 11-play, 86-yard drive on a rush for paydirt from 6 yards out to cut the lead to an 18-13 score.

• 1:33 – OPELOUSAS | The Tigers cemented an historic season as Ford charged 14-yards for the solidifying touchdown that brough the school its first state title.