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From the Sidelines

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 11, 1998

Remember the year that the television series “Dallas” was just a dream? For the next couple of weeks, the same concept applies to the 1998 prep football regular season. Throw out all the records, the statistics and thewho beat who. The second season has begun.Seven River Parishes schools remain alive as the playoffs begin. Three -Destrehan, St. James and Riverside – got there by winning their districtchampionships. Three others – East St. John, West St. John and Lutcher -advanced by placing second in their respective districts. And St. CharlesCatholic kept its season alive by winning its final two games and earning a wildcard berth.

All got to this point by different routes. Some relied on their defense andsome on their offense, whether it be on the ground or through the air. Butall had to overcome obstacles, whether it be injuries (West St. John), newcoaches (East St. John), new schemes (Riverside), high expectations (St.James, Destrehan) or tough schedules (Lutcher, St. Charles Catholic).And as each team’s road to the playoffs has been different, so will their path to the Superdome for the state championship games.

In Class 5A, Destrehan opens against a Lafayette team that gave No. 2-ranked Sulphur a run last week and features one of the top defenders in the state, linebacker Treverance Faulk.

A win there and the Wildcats will face either ninth-ranked Archbishop Rummel or fellow District 6-5A member Central Lafourche in the regionals. Salmen, ranked 10th in the state, could be lurking in thequarterfinals with a possible showdown with Sulphur, No. 3 Airline, No. 4St. Amant, No. 5 Ouachita or No. 7 Carencro awaiting in the semifinals. The road is just as difficult for East St. John in the bottom half of thebracket. The Wildcats open at home against Covington, a former districtfoe. Another former district foe, Bonnabel, or a current one, Terrebonne,would be the Wildcats’ opponent in the regionals.

Then comes the biggie, defending state champion and No. 1-ranked WestMonroe in the quarterfinals. Get by the Rebels and either No. 6 Catholic ofBaton Rouge or No. 8 Archbishop Shaw could be a semifinal opponent.In Class 3A, St. James opens against wildcard Cecilia. A win wouldadvance the Wildcats to the winner of the Kaplan-Belle Chasse game, both of whom have been recent playoff opponents for St. James, in theregionals. No. 3 Breaux Bridge or No. 5 Brusly are possible quarterfinalopponents.

Make it to the semifinals and there waiting in all likelihood will be the Wildcats’ nemeses in recent years, Evangel. In each of the last two years,the Eagles have ended St. James’ season, in the finals in 1996 and in thesemifinals last year. This will be the Wildcats’ last chance to get revengebefore the Eagles, third-ranked in the country, move up to Class 5A next season. And unlike the past two years, this one would be on the Wildcats’home turf.

Lutcher, which had one of the toughest schedules in Class 3A in the regular season, will not get a breather in the playoffs, either. TheBulldogs open at home against sixth-ranked Redem-ptorist and its stable of running backs.

The Bulldogs then get the winner of the Booker T. Washington-E.D. Whitematchup in the regionals. In the quarterfinals could be waiting either No. 8Notre Dame or 17th-ranked Bunkie. And in the semifinals, a matchup withNo. 4 Independence, No. 7 Springhill or No. 9 Abbeville could be pending.In Class 2A, District 9-2A champion Riverside opens at home against Springfield. Next up would be the winner between No. 8 Patterson and PopeJohn Paul. Win those two and a possible showdown with former districtfoe Newman, ranked second, could be waiting to happen in the quarterfinals.

West St. John also opens at home against Christian Life. The winner willface the winner of the Loranger-St. Helena game in the regionals. In thequarterfinals, possible opponents include No. 3 Vinton or No. 4 Port Barre.No. 5 Ouachita Christian would be a likely opponent in the semifinals.For St. Charles Catholic, the road starts at No. 6 Clinton. From there, itleads to either Coushatta or No. 9 Many. If the Comets can win those two, for the second straight season, they will go against the No. 1 team in the state (last year, Port Barre, this year, OakGrove) in the quarterfinals. Pull the upset and possible opponents in thesemifinals include former district foe Newman and, yes, Riverside. Hey, ithappened in the state softball championship game.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. In coach’s speak, let us take themone game at a time. Win and move on. Lose and prepare for basketball. Thejourney to the Dome has begun.

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