New Iberia defeated Central Lafourche and Ellender to reach the finals of the Thanksgiving tournament versus Thibodaux. The Yellow Jackets defeated the defending 5A state champions 36-32 to improve to 3-0 on the season.
The Tigers defeated Morgan City & Southside to reach the finals their tournament. The Yellow Jackets started the game off up 13-3 behind some stellar play from senior point guard Stiles Jolivet & would go into the half up 23-13.
You had to know the Tigers would eventually make their run & they did just that going on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 23-22 to start the third quarter. The Todd Russ coached team would sustain the Tiger’s run to go into the fourth quarter up 27-22.
The Yellow Jackets would close the door on the Tigers late creating a crucial turnover down the stretch with under 30 seconds left in the game. Junior guard Jatterius Fusiler would knock down two free throws with 11 seconds left to make it a two possession game & give the Yellow Jackets the win.
Jatterius Fusiler led all scorers with 18 points & Stiles Jolivet chipped in 11 points for New Iberia. J’Mari Carter led Thibodaux with 16 points.
Class 5A Quarterfinals Preview
Written by Kyle Valdez
In the Class 5A playoffs, things were shaken up in the second round with #3 Alexandria and #4 East Ascension dropping tight games. Instead of EA and Alexandria, now #20 Ruston and #19 Mandeville get to continue their season in hopes of playing in mid-December. As for the rest of the bracket, the top teams handled their business, highlighted by #1 Acadiana’s 49-0 win over #16 Walker. Some teams barely slipped past their opponent like #5 Zachary’s 21-19 over #12 Hahnville, and #11 Haughton’s 23-21 win over #27 Comeaux. However, at this point in the season, a win is a win and every team can beat each other. With the quarterfinals approaching during Thanksgiving week, here are the previews for 5A:
#1 Acadiana vs #8 Airline
Acadiana may be one of the most dominant Louisiana high school teams that we’ve seen in recent years. The Wreckin’ Rams’ offense is putting points on the scoreboard at a crazy alarming rate - averaging almost 52 points per game. Army commit RB Dillan Monette ran for 253 yards against Walker and their offense moves the ball down field almost too easily. Not just their offense, but the defense shut out a solid Walker team that scored 63 points on Thibodaux the week prior.
Airline has a 10-2 record and may be Acadiana’s hardest opponent yet. This will be Airline’s second trip to the quarterfinals in the past three years. Although finishing 3-7 last year and missing the playoffs, Airline is 7 wins improved and gets to host a quarterfinal game. Even with Acadiana having to travel 3.5 hours north to Shreveport, the Rams are still the favorites and will continue to be the favorites until they either lose or win the State Championship.
Final: 52-21 Acadiana
#2 West Monroe vs #7 Destrehan
A week ago, West Monroe topped Captain Shreve 38-21 and Destrehan beat Covington 17-7. Since 2012, West Monroe has been to two state championships and three semifinals. Destrehan has been to two state semifinals in the past three years. Both teams in this highlighted matchup have plenty of playoff experience and pedigree. West Monroe is currently 11-1 with their lone loss coming to the hands of out-of-state Longview, TX. The two teams both look very solid on paper, but West Monroe is clearly the more battle-tested team with games against Ruston, Neville, Longview, Ouachita Parish, and Alexandria. Nineteen of West Monroe’s starters are seniors; led by offensive linemen Daniel Hawthorne (Offered by Baylor) and Ethan Boyer. Destrehan has dynamic playmakers in Kyle Edwards (Alabama commit) and Quincy Brown (Former Miss St. Commit), but West Monroe’s defense is elite, allowing just 7.8 points per contest. Even though Destrehan is the host and has more power-five talent, West Monroe seems more equipped for a return to the semifinals.
Final: 34-13 West Monroe
#5 Zachary vs #20 Ruston
After completing the regular season at 5-5 and getting seeded at #20, it was obvious that Ruston was the most underrated seed in 5A. After facing two additional serious opponents in the past two weeks, Ruston officially has the hardest schedule in Louisiana with games against Rummel, Acadiana, West Monroe, East Ascension, Dutchtown, Alexandria, Neville, and Airline. Although Ruston finished the regular season with five losses, they stayed competitive with every team besides Rummel. After achieving their two biggest wins of the year, Ruston has no time to ease up for their next opponent.
Zachary, the 5-seed, holds a 10-2 record and is the two-time defending 5A state champions. Led by QB Keilon Brown (Memphis commit) and receiver Christopher Hilton (Top offers include Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame), the Broncos have tremendous playoff experience. Dating back to 2014, Zachary is 23-2 in the playoffs. However, this year’s Zachary isn’t the same dominant team that we’ve seen in past years. There have been many close calls during Zachary’s current 10-game win streak. When predicting the outcome, you must factor in that the only mutual opponent that the two teams share is East Ascension; Ruston defeated EA by 8, while Zachary lost by 9. Out of the four quarterfinal matchups, this game has the highest upset alert - even for the two-time defending champs.
Final: 22-21 Ruston
#19 Mandeville vs #11 Haughton
After completing a crazy 13-12 upset over #3 Alexandria, Mandeville’s road to the Dome gets a little harder this week. Alexandria was a tough matchup, but this game will take place at Haughton High in Shreveport. Haughton carries a 10-2 record into the matchup and has shown glimpses of crazy high upside. Haughton beat East Ascension by 18 points and hasn’t lost a game by more than 7 points all season long. Regardless of how the teams played in the regular season, it’s hard to predict the outcome of the game based on how well both teams have played so far in the playoffs.
While some teams struggle on the road, others feed off the atmosphere, and fewer off-field distractions allow the players to keep their heads clear. Haughton is a perfect 6-0 at home, and Mandeville has a 5-1 record on the road. Mandeville has recorded four wins of less than three points, with three of those games coming on the road. With the long bus ride during Thanksgiving break, there should be no distractions for the visiting Mandeville. The Skippers have a better resume at this point in the time and great late-game experience: I expect them to be the hungrier team come Friday night.
Final: 28-24 Mandeville
Written by Kyle Valdez
The #10 Westgate Tigers traveled to Napoleanville to face the #7 Assumption Mustangs. Westgate looked polished and sharp all night, resulting in a 27-6 win. After taking an early 13-6 lead in the first quarter, the Tigers never looked back and put the game away in the third quarter. Star receiver and LSU commit Kayshon Boutte (Ranked the #1 recruit in Louisiana per ESPN) was presented with his Under Armor All-American jersey in the morning. Boutte finished off the day by catching seven passes for 224 yards and two TD receptions.
Boutte’s teammate and quarterback Brennan Landry also had a huge night, throwing 16-26 for 319 yards and 2 TDs. For the Mustangs, junior receiver Jaden Tyler caught five passes for 73 yards. Assumption QB Sage Rivere threw for 161 yards, but struggled at times, throwing 11-36. RB Tyran Cassie rushed for 75 yards.
After forcing Assumption into a three-and-out to begin the game, Westgate’s offense got going on their third offensive play. Despite solid double coverage, Landry connected with Boutte for a 59-yard reception to take a 7-0 lead with 8:40 left in the first quarter. Assumption responded with a strong drive that resulted in a Tyran Cassie 1-yard TD run.
Westgate offense moved the ball down at their own will. Landry ran the ball 7 yards to score a TD. The Tigers completed the 80-yard, 2:20 drive to take a 13-6 lead with 1:29 left in the first quarter. Before the conclusion of the first quarter, the Mustangs threatened to score. With the ball inside the Tiger 10-yard line, Rivere’s pass was intercepted by Westgate CB Damarion Davis on the 1-yard line. Westgate lengthened their lead to 20-6 later in the second quarter after an Amaaz Eugene 10-yard TD reception.
Before the close of the half, Assumption threatened to put the ball in the endzone again after Rivere connected with Ra’Shaun Jarvis for a 40-yard completion. With the Mustang offense inside Westgate’s 30-yard line, Tyran Cassie fumbled on a run up the middle. In the second half, both offenses lacked execution with just one score for the 24-minute interval. Assumption failed on multiple fourth downs, and Rivere threw an interception via Westgate freshman Derrick Williams. The lone score was a 17-yard TD pass from Landry to Boutte in the back of the endzone. The TD brought the lead to 27-6 with 3:55 left in the third.
QB Brennon Landry discussed the big win, “We knew it was going to be a big game. We knew their D-line has some of the best players. Their secondary was lacking. If you’re not going to double the number one player in the state, we’re going to take the shots... One on one, we have the best receiving core in the state. If you double one of them, we have another [receiver].”
Westgate looks forward to their quarterfinal matchup against #2 Neville. This will be Neville’s 11th straight trip to the quarterfinals. Neville, who has a 9-2 record, seems to be the more battle-tested team; however, I don’t want to make the mistake of underrating Westgate for the second week in a row. Westgate is peaking at the perfect time: their offense looked rejuvenated, and their defense shut out Assumption for the final 39 minutes of the contest. Putting 450 yards of offense on Assumption is no easy task. Along with the offensive execution, they didn’t commit any turnovers and played a complete game.
To read the full prediction, a Class 4A Quarterfinal Preview for all the matchups will be released
Class 4A Round 2 Predictions
Written by Kyle Valdez
A week ago, the LHSAA playoffs began with a full slate of games for Round 1. In Class 4A, there weren’t many upsets in the bracket; #20 Warren Easton blew past #11 Peabody 44-6, but I wouldn’t consider that an upset for the ages. The top 12 seeds took care of business, but #17 Leesville, #18 DeRidder, and #19 G.W. Carver all spoiled the fun by upsetting the higher seed. With multiple exciting matchups set for Round 2, the 4A bracket looks destined for multiple upsets - the madness is coming in the second round:
1 Lakeshore vs. 17 Leesville
Lakeshore, winners of 11 straight, haven’t been seriously challenged since their Week 1 28-21 over Fontainebleau. Since then, no team has come within 20 points of the Titans. Leesville, who just beat Pearl River 47-21 on the road last week, gets to host their first playoff game since a 2nd Round matchup last year. The home field advantage will be more of an upper hand than most recognize, as Lakeshore must travel four hours west to the Texas border. No matter how far they travel, if Lakeshore plays their brand of football, the Titans should be on their way to the quarterfinals. Their defense is elite, giving up just 14 points combined in their last four contests. And with Christian Westcott under center, the offense should be moving the ball down field effectively.
Final: 42-7 Lakeshore
2 Neville vs. 18 DeRidder
Neville will travel three hours on the road to DeRidder. This will be DeRidder’s first home playoff game since 2014, so you know the stands will be packed and ready to go. However, Neville is also prepared. The Tigers have won five straight games, including their 41-14 first round win over South Lafourche. Furthermore, Neville’s non-district schedule has prepared for them for deep playoff games: opponents such as West Monroe, St. Thomas More, University, Ruston, and Ouachita Parish. DeRidder, on the flip side, just slipped past #15 Minden by a score of 14-13 last week. This pick feels like a no-brainer.
Final: 35-7 Neville
3 Edna Karr vs. 19 George Washington Carver
This may be the most-anticipated matchup of the second round. Edna Karr is one of the best programs in the state, and G.W. Carver is one of the most slept-on teams in the state. Karr is still the favorite in this game but shouldn’t underestimate their opponent. Carver has shown the potential to keep up with top-notch opponents in their close losses to Brother Martin, John Ehret, and Warren Easton. Although unable to win those games, that still gives a team much confidence. If Karr plays to their potential, they should breeze their way into the quarterfinals, but you never know what can happen in the playoffs.
Final: 35-23 Karr
4 Tioga vs. 20 Warren Easton
This may be the most even matched #4 vs. #20 matchups that I’ve ever seen. Tioga comes into the contest at 10-1, and Easton enters at 6-4. However, I feel like Easton is the far better team. Tioga hasn’t played any serious contenders all year, while Easton has faced Karr, De La Salle, East Ascension, Landry-Walker, Holy Cross, and G.W. Carver in the regular season. Considering that Easton is the home team and Tioga will travel 3.5 hours to Pan American Stadium in New Orleans, there’s no reason why Easton doesn’t dominate the #4 seed.
Final: 40-21 Easton
5 Carencro vs. 12 Northwood-Shreveport
Carencro breezed past #28 Salmen 41-7, while Northwood squeaked past #21 Rayne 7-6. After surviving a first round test, Northwood needs to turn things around if they want to stay competitive with Carencro. Northwood reached the quarterfinals as the 7-seed a year ago, but don’t seem to be prepared this year. Carencro is battle-tested and has multiple wins against quality 4A opponents such as Westgate, Teurlings, and Sam Houston. Factoring in a long drive for the visiting Northwood, Carencro should get it done at home.
Final: 35-17 Carencro
6 Breaux Bridge vs. 11 Belle Chasse
Both teams come into this game after a convincing first round win. Breaux Bridge defeating #27 South Terrebonne 35-12, and Belle Chasse defeating #22 Huntington 28-14. Looking at both team’s resumes, it’s difficult to judge who the better team is due to the two teams sharing no mutual opponents. Breaux Bridge seems to be the more accomplished team, finishing with an 8-2 record and only losing those games by 7 and 6 to Thibodaux and Teurlings Catholic. Belle Chasse seems to play down their competition often, with very few big wins. Along with a 2.5-hour drive for Belle Chasse to Lafayette area, the Cardinals are looking at an unfavorable matchup.
Final: 28-16 Breaux Bridge
7 Assumption vs. 10 Westgate
A very intriguing second round matchup, this game feels like a coin flip when attempting to predict the outcome. Assumption has a 10-1 record with their lone loss coming from St. James. Westgate has an 8-3 record with their losses coming understandably to LCA, Carencro, and Lakeshore. Outside of Westgate’s 24-21 over STM, the Tigers haven’t won a close ball game. The team struggles to keep their composure and fails to remain disciplined when things aren’t going their way. Although Westgate looks better on paper, I get the feeling that Assumption will be advancing to the quarterfinals.
Final: 34-31 Assumption
8 Eunice vs. 9 Bastrop
A year ago, Eunice was tearing up 3A en route to a 59-47 state championship in the Superdome. However, things are different in 4A. When Eunice hits the road for a 3.5-hour trip to Bastrop, they should expect nothing easy. Bastrop is an underrated #9 seed who has shown the ability to compete with any team in 4A, and just destroyed North Vermillion 56-14 a week ago; beating Evangel Christian 32-25, losing to Neville 19-14, and losing to Ouachita Parish 35-26 also shows high upset potential. Eunice has a quality win over Tioga, but have multiple questionable performances (20-16 L vs. Rayne, 35-27 W vs. Plaquemine) that increases the upset alert on this matchup.
Final: 32-30 Bastrop
East Ascension Holds Off Terrebonne
Written by Kyle Valdez
In the first round of the Class 5A playoffs, East Ascension’s defense locked down Terrebonne all night en route to a 20-6 victory. East Ascension’s D-line got to Terrebonne’s quarterback all night, giving Ja’khi Douglas (FSU commit) and Ryan Williams no time in the pocket. Although EA won convincingly, Terrebonne put up a good fight all night, keeping the game within one score until 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. QB Cameron Jones led EA’s offense by throwing for 75 yards on 8-19 passing. Receiver Hobert Grayson IV caught two passes for 30 yards and 1 TD reception
For Terrebonne, dynamic ATH Ja’khi Douglas only finished with 46 passing yards on 6-15 passing. Douglas and RB Jaylin Lucas only combined for 68 yards on 24 carries for the night. Receiver AJ Walter caught 2 passes for 30 yards. Despite having multiple chances to reach the end zone, the Tigers couldn’t capitalize at the right times. The two scores were via kicker Wyatt Guidry converting on FG’s from 42 and 46 yards in the first half.
A defensive bout, EA’s front seven was too much too handle. Nearly every snap, Douglas was forced to scramble; leading to multiple intentional grounding penalties. He had no time in the pocket to work with and was sacked too many times. EA may have the fastest and physical lines in Louisiana.
In the first half, neither of the offenses were clicking. After a back-and-forth defensive display for the first 12 minutes, the score was tied 3-3 via a field goal by each team. EA’s Evan Kern hit from 34 yards out, and Terrebonne’s Wyatt Guidry connected from 46 yards out with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. After holding EA to begin the second, Terrebonne marched inside the Spartan 20-yard line but couldn’t find the endzone. Wyatt Guidry connected on a 42-yard attempt to give Terrebonne a 6-3 lead with 8:13 left in the half.
After stopping EA again, Terrebonne’s AJ Walter fumbled deep inside his own territory to give EA a prime opportunity to score the game’s first touchdown. Terrebonne’s defense held strong, causing EA to use kicker Evan Kern for a 17-yard FG. Before ending the half, Cameron Jones found receiver Hobert Grayson for a 19-yard TD pass to give EA a 13-6.
The second half was very similar to the first half. The defensive bout continued all third quarter, resulting in neither team scoring. Both teams’ defenses looked dominant all night. EA had a chance at the beginning of the fourth quarter to bring the lead to 10 when they got the ball to the opposing 15-yard line. The score remained still after missing a 32-yard FG wide right. With 7:56 left in the game, QB Cameron Jones found the endzone on a 2-yard keeper to bring the lead to 20-6. Terrebonne’s offense would be shut out the rest of the way.
Defensive end Jerrel Boykins (Offered by Kansas and McNeese St.) talked about the Spartan defense, “It wasn’t anything we haven’t seen all week at practice. We knew he [Douglas] could run around, we knew that he could scramble, we knew he was fast, speed, everything. We knew they weren’t going to lay down for us, all we had to do was stick to our assignments and do our job.” In a game that was won by defense, the Spartans looked extremely impressive. If Terrebonne didn’t have as solid of a kicker, the score could have easily been 20-0, considering that few high school kickers can consistently convert from 40+ yards.
EA continues their road to the dome with a second-round matchup in Ruston. Ruston comes in as the 20-seed but may be a top-five team in the state. A team that loses to Acadiana, West Monroe, Rummel, Neville, and Alexandria by one score should not be feared. Although Terrebonne's defense was very solid, there should be some concern for the Spartan offense as they struggled all night to find an offensive rhythm. EA is still the favorite to win but will have to hit on all cylinders for a road victory.
Colorado Lands Four-Star Ashaad Clayton
The Warren Easton product took an official visit to Colorado on last weekend & left very impressed to say the least. The charge was led by offensive graduate assistant Cordae Hankton (New Orleans native) helping head coach Mel Tucker land one of their biggest recruits for the 2020 class.
On Monday, Clayton made it official via Twitter that he was committing to the Colorado Buffaloes. “It was so beautiful out there on my visit & it felt like home,” Clayton said. “One of the things that really stuck out to me was the love from the coaching staff. It was obvious that they really care about their players on & off the field. They preach academics hard because they want the best for you for life after football.”
Clayton is ranked the number one running back in Louisiana for the 2020 class & holds offers from some prominent programs like Georgia, Alabama, LSU Tennessee, Texas, & a host of others. Many believed he would end up at Georgia with his teammate Sedrick Van Pran who is currently committed to the Bulldogs. “Seeing how coach Tucker is man of his word & how he keeps it real with you meant a lot to me,” Clayton said. “I got a chance to talk to a lot of the players that’s up there already & all of em had nothing but good things to say about him. You can tell when a head coach really cares about his players & I seen it with my own eyes.”
The four-star running is not signing until February so the job is still not done to make sure he signs on the dotted line. Clayton has an official visit to Kansas next month, where former Warren Easton head football coach Tony Hull is currently the running backs coach at Kansas. I’m sure Hull & Les Miles will try to do everything in their power to flip Clayton before signing day.
Clayton is a very talented back that can take over a game in a heart beat. He has some of the best vision you’ll see from a running back at this level. His ability to be able to take it 80 yards at any given moment at 200 plus pounds separates him from a lot of backs. The PAC-12 conference & Colorado is a perfect fit for Clayton in my mind because of his mentality alone.
The recruiting process can take a toll on some kids because of a number of reasons. Clayton was plagued by a knee injury that caused some concern for some schools. But the talented running back looks a 100% healthy & he rushed for over a 100 yards in the two games I covered this season. “I thank God that I’m blessed with the talent to be able to go to somewhere I feel most comfortable,” Clayton said. “This process has been stressful but in a good way. I didn’t think about how other people would feel about my decision. I wanted to go where I was most wanted & needed.”
After dropping their first three games of the season to St. Augustine, Edna Karr, & Thibodaux. The Roneagles look to be hitting their stride at the right time going into the playoffs.
The Roneagles took care of business last Friday versus Booker T. Washington 29-19 behind a big performance from running back Steveland Williams. The senior back finished the game with 152 yards rushing, 77 yards receiving, & 3 touchdowns. Defensive end Tariq Jones made his presence felt all night by finishing the game with 3 sacks & 4 TFLs. The Lions came into the game scoring 30 points or more the last four games, but the Roneagles defense was stout all night long.
Landing a number 6 seed in the playoffs & getting to host Mentorship Academy in a first round game has the Roneagles confident that they can make a run in 3A. “We feel like we battle tested already,” Steveland Williams said. “As long as we play our brand of football I’m confident we can beat anybody.”
5A Playoff Round 1 Predictions
Written by Kyle Valdez
With the Class 5A playoff bracket release at noon on Sunday, all the speculation of potential matchups has finally been hushed, with the real matchups on deck. While some teams were just hoping to see their name on a bracket, the real contenders have been waiting all year for this week. From here on out, every game is either win or go home. The road to the Dome starts now!
Top 4 Seeds: Playoff Mode Activated
1 Acadiana vs. 32 Benton
Acadiana, the #3 seed a year ago, comes in as the top seed after a perfect 10-0 regular season with quality wins over Carencro, LCA, Sam Houston, and Barbe. Much deserving, the Rams have been the best 5A team in the state all year long. Benton comes into the game at 5-5 on the year and faces a huge uphill battle against a team like Acadiana. Factoring in a 4-hour drive from Shreveport, I can’t imagine Benton keeping the game close. Especially, the way Acadiana never plays down to competition winning games by an average of 32.4 per game.
Final: 54-7 Acadiana
2 West Monroe vs. 31 Central Lafourche
West Monroe comes in as a huge favorite. Central Lafourche has a 5-5 record but hasn’t won a game since Week 6. A 4.5-hour drive for Mathews to Monroe, Central Lafourche will have to be fully zoned in and must play an error-free game just to stand a chance. West Monroe is battle-tested, with 8 of their regular season opponents having records of .500 or better. The only reason for concern is West Monroe sometimes plays down to competition (Ex. 21-14 W Ruston, 20-0 W Ouachita).
Final: 49-14 West Monroe
3 Alexandria vs. 30 West Ouachita
This northern school bout is unique due to the teams playing against each other in Week 10. Alexandria easily handled West Ouachita 35-13 in Week 10, but both teams get double the time to study each other. I fully expect Alexandria to handle the job simply because they proved who the better team was a week ago. However, 9-1 Alexandria have had many close calls with teams that aren’t even close to their level. A 21-17 win against a 3A Brusly team? 17-13 over Ruston? 13-7 vs. Ouachita Parish? Things might get a little closer than expected in Alexandria.
Final: 21-13 Alexandria
4 East Ascension vs. 29 Terrebonne
East Ascension should be the easy pick for this game, but Terrebonne is no joke. Terrebonne has underperformed this season but will be firing on all cylinders with their season on the line. Don’t forget that Terrebonne was 11-2 and reached the quarterfinals just a year ago. Terrebonne’s losses have been by a margin of just 7.8 points. Although they are currently 5-5, that number could easily be 9-1 if they pulled out a few close district games. With the game at Spartan Stadium and East Ascension riding momentum after a convincing 34-7 win over St. Amant, it’s just too difficult to see East Ascension losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Final: 34-24 East Ascension
Seeds 12-21: The Nail-Biters
16 Walker vs. 17 Thibodaux
The Thibodaux-Walker matchup may be the most exciting matchups of Round 1. Both teams hold a 7-3 record and are evenly matched. Even though the game will be in Walker, I predict Thibodaux will pull out the victory. Walker, winners of 6 of their last 7, are playing their best ball of the season with their only loss during that stretch to Zachary by 2 points. However, Thibodaux always competes with who they play, and are proven experts at winning close games.
Final: 30-28 Thibodaux
15 Captain Shreve vs. 18 John Ehret
John Ehret and Captain Shreve should be another entertaining matchup between close seeds. A year ago, John Ehret made the state semifinals en route to a 28-0 loss to West Monroe. Their deep playoff experience might come in handy as they travel 5 hours on the road. Both teams are playing the best ball of the season as Ehret is riding a 7-game win streak and Shreve has won 6 of their last 7. Although both teams are winning games, the two teams have a combined 2 wins against +.500 teams. I will go with Shreve pulling this one out simply due to the home-field advantage.
Final: 42-38 Captain Shreve
14 Barbe vs. 19 Mandeville
Although Barbe is the higher seed, I expect Mandeville to go on the road and hand the 14 seed an L. Mandeville holds a 7-3 record, with quality wins over Slidell, Ponchatoula, and St. Paul’s. They have late-game experience as four of their games have been decided by one score. Barbe also has a 7-3 record, but they are open to getting blown out with losses of 49 to Acadiana and 39 to STM. Not to hold the two losses against them, but the Week 8 scare against Sulphur gives me a hesitant feeling for Barbe. Although Barbe had a tougher district schedule, I get the feeling of Mandeville pulling it out.
Final: 38-31 Mandeville
13 Dutchtown vs. 20 Ruston
This might be one of the most quality matchups throughout the whole state. Although Dutchtown is 8-2 and has one of the hardest schedules in the state, Ruston is no joke and has had an even harder schedule. Ruston is the most battle-tested team in the state with games against Neville, Acadiana, Airline, Rummel, Alexandria, and West Monroe. Excluding their 41-0 loss to composite #1 Rummel, Ruston only lost their games by an average of 5 points. If they can get past Dutchtown, they have the potential to go way deeper than most expect. Keeping the focus on Round 1, I think the game will go down to the wire with Ruston upsetting the higher seed.
Final: 28-25 Ruston
12 Hahnville vs. 21 Chalmette
This seems to be one of the few playoff matchups with two teams that are close in proximity with the two schools just 35 miles apart. Both teams enter the game at 8-2 but it feels like Hahnville is a bigger favorite than the seeding indicates. Although Hahnville has lost two straight to end their regular season, they are competitive with everyone they play and have much playoff experience. Chalmette has won five straight but hasn’t played a team above .500 since John Ehret in Week 5. Considering Hahnville’s only two losses were to Destrehan and Jesuit and the game will be in Hahnville, I think the more prepared team will be Hahnville.
Final: 31-14 Hahnville
Seeds 5-11 vs. 22-28: Be Careful or You’re Going Home Early
5 Zachary vs. 28 Live Oak
A year ago, Zachary won the 5A state championship after finishing the regular season as the #6 seed. In Week 5, these district foes faced off with Zachary prevailing 21-16 on the road. Although it was a close matchup 5 weeks ago, Zachary still has an upper-hand due to their home-field advantage and their deep playoff experience. Zachary hasn’t lost a game since Week 2, and Live Oak has lost 4 of their past 5. I think both teams will be flipping the switch for the playoffs, but Zachary’s late-game playoff experience will come in handy down the stretch: I don’t expect Zachary to struggle at all.
Final: 31-14 Zachary
6 Slidell vs. 27 Comeaux
Slidell, who finished 8-2, improved upon their 12th seed finish last year. Their only two losses were understandably a blowout against Rummel and a 3-point loss to #19 Mandeville. Comeaux feels like the underdog in this game, but if they can hang around until the second half, you never know what can happen. When it comes down to it, I feel like Slidell will pull away in the second half and advance to the second round.
Final: 28-14 Slidell
7 Destrehan vs. 26 Ponchatoula
Destrehan is coming off a season where they finished 7-3 but had no losses of over 1 score. Ponchatoula is riding a 3-game win streak but is very well the underdog. I understand that John Emery isn’t in high school, but Destrehan still has power-five talent at multiple positions such as RB Kyle Edwards (Alabama commit), WR Quincy Brown (Offers include Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida), and DE Noah Taliancich (Tulane commit). Factoring in the strong turnout and support at Destrehan’s home games, Ponchatoula is going to struggle to find any rhythm on the road.
Final: 49-17 Destrehan
8 Airline vs. 25 Southside
Southside will travel 3.5 hours to Bossier City for the school’s first-ever playoff game. Airline drastically improved from their 3-7 season a year ago and found themselves as the #8 seed. Looking at each team’s resume, I feel neither team has what it takes to make a dome run. Focusing on just Round 1, the easy favorite is Airline due to their much higher ceiling. Southside has been dominated multiple times this year with blowout losses to Acadiana and Comeaux. Including the blowout losses, Southside has barely slipped past too many lesser opponents for me to view them as a legit contender.
Final: 30-7 Airline
9 Central vs. 24 East St. John
To begin this preview, I would like to acknowledge that East St. John might be one of the toughest 20s seeds that you could have gotten paired with. Clearly much better than the average #24 seed, ESJ had their first two wins of the season forfeited due to an eligible player. Both schools are in strong districts with Central from 4-5A and ESJ in 7-5A, resulting in solid resumes from both teams. Central has wins over Scotlandville and Live Oak, while ESJ has beaten Thibodaux and Destrehan. Considering that I haven’t watched Central play yet this season, I get the sense that ESJ will hang around and eventually steal the game in the end.
Final: 17-10 ESJ
10 Sam Houston vs. 23 Covington Sam Houston has played well for every game except their Week 8 loss to Acadiana, in which they gave up 82 points. Last year the #13 seed, Sam Houston is trying to improve on their first round exit to #19 Denham Springs. Covington had a reasonably strong schedule, but nothing that indicates a big upset. Not just their wins and losses, but I don’t think they have a high enough powered offense to keep up with Sam Houston. Over the past three weeks, Covington is only producing 15.3 points compared to Sam Houston’s 42 points. Regardless of the past three weeks, it’s apparent that Sam Houston is the more playoff-ready team in this matchup.
Final: 48-17 Sam Houston
11 Haughton vs. 22 Ouachita Parish In last year’s playoff, Haughton was eliminated in the second round to a far superior John Ehret team. With a gritty #22 seed Ouachita Parish coming into town, it feels like Haughton will have to play to their potential to advance. Ouachita Parish’s record is only 5-5, but they can compete with anyone. Losses to Neville by 3, Alexandria by 6, and Airline by 8 highlights their potential upside. With their season on the line, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ouachita Parish can steal a game on the road.
Final: 42-39 Ouachita Parish
Written by Kyle Valdez
In arguably the best rivalry in the state, the East Ascension Spartans took care of business and handed St. Amant a 34-7 loss. Spartan Stadium in Gonzales reached its capacity, with crowds of people standing along the fencing around the stadium. Multiple college coaches were in attendance, including Kansas and former LSU head coach, Les Miles. Although the halftime score was just 10-7 in EA’s favor, the Spartans scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to secure their 8th win of the year.
East Ascension, now ranked 4th in 5A, used strong plays from their defense to force turnovers and get extra possessions. None were bigger than Jyren Ester’s pick-6 to end the first half to give EA a 10-7 lead. Along with the stout defense all night, receivers Jyrin Johnson and Hobert Grayson IV came up with big TD receptions. QB Cameron Jones only threw 8-23 for 156 yards but rushed for 76 yards on 14 carries.
After a defensive battle in the first quarter, East Ascension was the first to get on the scoreboard when Alex Phelps hit a 30-yard FG with 5:58 left in the half. St. Amant responded with a 75-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard TD run for Reggie Sims with 2:28 left. After forcing EA into a three-and-out, St. Amant had a shot to stretch the lead with 1:18 left in the half. With their offense taking control from the 50, on the first play of the drive, QB Cole Poirrier went deep and had his pass intercepted and returned 85 yards by Jyren Ester to lose the lead going into the half.
The Ester interception changed the whole momentum of the game, as the second half was all East Ascension. Cameron Jones found a wide-open Hobert Grayson for an easy 70-yard TD. The next possession, St. Amant QB Cole Poirrier was sacked, and fumbled the ball deep inside his own territory. A few plays later, Jyrin Johnson caught a 4-yard pass to take a commanding 24-7 lead. After the short burst offense, EA would control the rest of the second half: adding 10 more points via an Alex Phelps FG and a Jyrin Johnson TD with 4 minutes left in the game.
Entering the contest, EA head coach Darnell Lee discussed the rivalry, “It’s hard to just treat it like any other game when you have two communities that come together as one this week... Honestly a playoff-type atmosphere. I told my guys that won’t play college football, ‘this is as close as you will get to it. Just soak it all up.’”
East Ascension looked like the real deal all night. A real threat to make it the dome and possibly win a state championship, the Spartans have won 4 straight contests and appear to be peaking at the perfect time. They have one of the more talented rosters in the state, and now have a solidified home field advantage for the playoffs. Looking forward to their Round 1 matchup against Terrebonne, EA is obviously the favorite, but still needs to play a good game if they want to advance. Terrebonne has one of the best rosters in the state behind FSU commit Ja’khi Douglas and five-star DT Maason Smith. If EA plays like they did against St. Amant, they should have no problems until the state quarterfinals.
Head Coach Brandon Brown has been preaching since he got the job at East St. John last year that he wanted to change the culture. Well, the culture looks like it is slowly changing in his second year as head coach at his alma mater. Senior kicker Alexis Reyes connected from 27 yards out as time expired to give the Wildcats a 15-13 win over the Tigers.
The Wildcats struck first with a 3 yard touchdown run by running back C.J Gardner to give his team a 6-0 lead with 2:24 left in second quarter. Their next score would come when quarterback Sean Shelby hit Dontae Fleming *UL commit* for a 12 yard touchdown pass to give them a 12-0 lead with 9:02 left in the 3rd quarter.
Terrebonne’s dynamic athlete Ja’Khi Douglas *Florida St commit* would finally get his team on the board with a 5 yard touchdown run that would cut the lead to 12-6 with 6:00 minutes left in the third quarter. Douglas lead his team down the field once again on 75-yard drive, which ended in him connecting with A.J Walter for a 6 yard touchdown pass. The Tigers would take a 13-12 lead with 3:17 left in the the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats would start the next drive on their own 30 yard line. Quarterback Sean Shelby would connect with Rydell Jackson for a 35 yard pass between three defenders to get them down to the Tigers’ 35 yard line. Two questionable pass interference calls on the Tigers would put the Wildcats in the 10 yard line, which led to the game-winning field goal by Reyes.
Terrebonne ATH Ja’Khi Douglas finished the game with 97 yards rushing & 2 touchdowns (running & throwing). Terrebonne defensive back Kwan Allen had a big interception in the fourth quarter that led to the Tigers’ scoring on their next possession.
East St. John quarterback Sean Shelby finished the game with 192 yards passing & 1 touchdown. Receiver Markel August made his presence felt all night finishing with 9 catches for 90 yards. East St. John defensive backs Kevon Breaux came up with 1 interception & Shawn Sterling finished with 2 interceptions on the night. Defensive lineman Welland Williams caused havoc all night finishing the game with 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, & 5 tackles.
East St. John improves to 7-2 overall & 4-1 in district play. They will take on Thibodaux Friday night at home with a shot to share the district title.
Terrebonne falls to 4-5 overall & 2-3 in district. They will take on Central Lafourche Friday night at home.
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