West St. John coach Robert Valdez has a running joke about his Rams making the long trek from Edgard to Haynesville.
The No. 3 Rams (10-2) will be making their third trip to No. 2 Haynesville (11-1) in the last four years, and Friday will be the second time in this series that the winner advances to the Class 1A championship game in New Orleans.
“(Valdez) called to check on his timeshare up here,” Haynesville coach David Franklin joked. “It’s certainly a benefit to not have to travel to Edgard. And we have so much support up here with our home crowd and atmosphere.”
But the Rams have tasted victory in Haynesville, something not many programs can claim. West St. John won 15-8 in the 2011 quarterfinals en route to a Class 1A runner up to Ouachita Christian.
The Tors avenged that loss with a 36-35 win in the 2012 semifinals, clearing the way for a Dome trip that also resulted in a loss to Ouachita Christian.
Haynesville has made a home of sorts in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as well, and the Tors sprinted past Mangham for the 2013 Class 1A championship (42-21).
Only a handful of starters returned from one of the better teams in Haynesville history, and Franklin knows the challenge that an athletic West St. John team presents.
“They’re like Plain Dealing in a lot of ways but with a few more athletes,” Franklin said. “They’ve got a really tall receiver, and then they’ve got two or three guys like an (Isaac Jacobs).
“We’d rather play somebody else, but we’re very familiar with them, and they have a feisty program.”
Containing those athletes will be a key for a Haynesville defense led by linebacker Kendrick Jackson that’s allowed just 18 points in the playoffs.
Haynesville has a solid track record in Red Franklin Memorial Stadium, posting a 31-5 mark since 2010 and 84-17 since 2000.
All seven of the Tors’ home wins this season have been by double digits, including a 14-0 win against No. 7 East Beauregard.
West St. John upended No. 6 Plain Dealing 35-20 in the quarterfinals.