Six local teams entered Thanksgiving week as state quarterfinalists. How many will survive Friday night and stake their claim as semifinalists? Here’s the breakdown for each game that could produce a local semifinalist.
1 NEVILLE (5-0 District 2, 11-0) at 9 NORTH DESOTO (5-2 District 1, 10-2)
How Neville Got Here: Neville has won its two playoff games by a combined 95-12, beating Beau Chene in the first round 57-0 and Carencro in the second round 38-12.
How North DeSoto Got Here: The Griffins beat St. Martinville 43-14 in the first round then travelled to Loranger in the second round and won 42-35.
What to Watch For: Neville has its hands full with the North DeSoto offense that has scored over 40 points in each of its last five games. Now, Neville is no stranger to excellent defensive play, but few teams do offense the way North DeSoto does.
What’s Next: If the Tigers win, they’ll host in the semifinals against either 5 Easton or 13 McDonogh 35.
14 EDNA KARR (5-1 District 9, 7-4) at 11 BASTROP (4-1 District 2, 10-2)
How Karr Got Here: A 56-20 win over DeRidder got Karr to the second round and into a big upset over Ceceilia, 47-28. Consider that a statement win.
How Bastrop Got Here: Bastrop beat South Lafourche 38-0 in the first round then travelled to Assumption for the second round and won 28-13.
What to Watch For: Karr is tough to get a grasp on this year: it’s played well in high-scoring games, like its two playoff games, but also beat fellow quarterfinalist McDonogh 35 27-20 in the regular season. Karr’s also scored seven, 14 and 35 points in losses this season, so it’s not fair to say one type of game favors Karr over another. Bastrop simply has to be better than Karr tonight; I don’t think there’s any other way to go at it.
What’s Next: With a win, Bastrop will play either 2 Crowley or 10 Franklinton in the semifinals.
5 PICKERING (4-1 District 3, 9-3) at 4 RAYVILLE (4-1 District 2, 8-4)
How Pickering Got Here: Pickering beat Capitol 46-0 and St. Helena 29-18.
How Rayville Got Here: The Hornets beat Springfield 42-14 in the first round and Red River 50-22 in the second round, both games at home.
What to Watch For: It’s taken good teams to do it, but Pickering has been held to under 30 points this season – 29 by St. Helena, 21 by Many, 29 by Menard, 0 by DeRidder, 6 by Mangham, etc. The way Rayville is playing right now, I feel pretty confident that scoring less than 30 points will not be enough to win this game. Can the Rayville defense join that company of holding Pickering to less than 30?
What’s Next: The winner of this quarterfinal is matched up with the winner of the 8 Mangham at 17 West St. John quarterfinal.
6 STERLINGTON (2-3 District 2, 9-3) at 3 WELSH (4-1 District 4, 11-1)
How Sterlington Got Here: The Panthers beat Sophie B. Wright 36-6 in the first round and Northeast 55-8 in the second round, that second one being Sterlington’s most impressive final score of the season by no small margin in my opinion.
How Welsh Got Here: Welsh beat General Trass 49-8 and beat Oakdale 35-7 to get to this point.
What to Watch For: Welsh is an old-school manhood test: they don’t have gadget plays or anything fancy in its offensive scheme, it simply runs the ball right at you and plans on doing it better than you’ve ever seen it done before. Let’s be honest with each other: no game goes perfect. There are going to be times where a pulling guard or a trap blocker gets a good hold of somebody and a run goes for 15+ yards. How does the Sterlington defense react?
What’s Next: If Sterlington wins, it will play either play 2 Kinder or 7 East Feliciana in the semifinals.
8 MANGHAM (2-3 District 2, 8-4) at 17 WEST ST. JOHN (1-4 District 12, 5-7)
How Mangham Got Here: The Dragons beat Delcambre 44-7 in the first round and South Plaquesmines, a team that has a recent history of beating Mangham, 33-8 in the second round.
How West St. John Got Here: West St. John squeaked by Ferriday in the first round, 21-20, before pulling one of the upsets of the season in the state, beating 1 Many 34-30 in the second round.
What to Watch For: West St. John is no easy cover for an opposing secondary: there’s a lot of moving pieces and nice schematic elements, not to mention the talent itself. There’s no denying Mangham’s own talent in the secondary, so now that matchup breaks down to the mental game. I’m sure the Mangham coaching staff has been preaching it all week, but can the Dragon defense’s back half be in the right place on every snap?
What’s Next: It’ll be either 5 Pickering or 4 Rayville in the semifinals for the winner of this game.
5 EAST BEAUREGARD (6-1 District 4, 9-2) at 4 OAK GROVE (7-0 District 2, 8-3)
How East Beauregard Got Here: After a first-round bye, East Beauregard beat LaSalle 35-8 in the second round.
How Oak Grove Got Here: The Tigers got a first round bye before beating Block 27-6 to get to the quarterfinals.
What to Watch For: Man, would I love to know how Hamilton Christian did it. Look at East Beauregard’s last four games: 32-8 over Oberlin (playoff team), 52-0 over Lake Charles College Prep, 35-8 over LaSalle in the second round…..and then there’s the 21-8 loss to Hamilton Christian. What happened? I don’t know. Can Oak Grove replicate it? Why not?
What’s Next: If Oak Grove wins, it will play either 8 Logansport or 1 Kentwood in the semifinals.