Much on the line for local teams in final week
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the final week of prep football’s regular season, but we are.
The hurricane delayed start didn’t help in that regard, of course. But it has contributed to a final weekend where many River Parish teams are playing for something fairly significant.
Hahnville, St. James, and Lutcher are playoff shoo ins, but must win to secure the best playoff seed possible. Of the three, only Hahnville finishes with a district game. Wins for St. James and Lutcher would likely secure very high seeds, perhaps in the top five of their respective classifications.
East St. John and Riverside are both fighting for their playoff lives — win in they’re almost assuredly in. Lose and they’re out. In that way, the playoffs have already started for the Wildcats and Rebels.
Finally, Destrehan, St. Charles, and West St. John each control their own district destiny. All have clinched a partial district crown, but a win would give each school an outright crown. Destrehan, of course is also playing to finish its second straight undefeated regular season.
The Rams (4-3, 3-0), meanwhile, can win their second straight district crown. WSJ Coach Robert Valdez often speaks of the school’s great football tradition, and a win this weekend would entrench him firmly within that Ram legacy — it would be Valdez’s first district crown with the school, after taking over for the retired Laury Dupont this season.
Ascension Catholic (4-4, 2-1) stands in the Rams way, and the Bulldogs have ample motivation — they aren’t exactly spoilers. A win for Ascension Catholic would mean a three-way shared district crown with the Rams and White Castle.
West St. John’s defense, though, has been completely unforgiving for most of the year, even in non-district play against much bigger schools. Last week, the Rams allowed no offensive points against North Iberville. Against White Castle, WSJ allowed a touchdown on the opposition’s opening drive — and no more points on the night.
The Bulldogs offense started the year off on a good note, and peaked with 40-plus point efforts against East Iberville and North Iberville. But it has only mustered three touchdowns in the last two weeks. That won’t cut it this Friday in Edgard against a hot West St. John team that’s primed for another postseason run.
The Pick: West St. John 35, Ascension Catholic 6.
Riverside (3-5, 0-3) at Fisher (4-4, 0-3) — More than district 10-2A pride is on the line here. Each team is on the edge of the playoff hunt — Fisher is 27th in power points, Riverside is 33rd, and only the top 32 teams make it. It’s win or go home for the Rebels, and it may well be the same for Fisher.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Riverside. The early season Rebels were a hard-nosed defensive team that won games by cobbling together a couple of touchdowns and holding teams down. The current Rebels have advanced greatly offensively, but the defense has suffered over the past month. Games against St. James, Curtis, Newman and Christian Life — all ranked — tend to do that to teams.
But Fisher is not in that class. It isn’t a gimmie, but expect a Rebel win.
The Pick: Riverside 27, Fisher 14.
Plaquemine (0-7, 0-3) at St. Charles (7-1, 3-0) — After defeating Port Allen Friday, SCC Coach Frank Monica warned his team of the Green Devils’ powerful offense, one disguised by the team’s record. Indeed, Plaquemine ran up and down the field with Lutcher for a half Friday, and have consistently scored in each game.
Teams have also consistently scored on Plaquemine, though — teams have scored 40 or more on the Devils three times in eight games — hence the 0-7 record. St. Charles can’t sleep here, but Courtland Taylor and the Comet running game should have another big day, lifting the Comets to a district title.
The Pick: St. Charles 35, Plaquemine 22.
East St. John (3-4, 2-2) at East Ascension (2-6, 1-3) — Imagine you’re a coach on the day playoff seedings are announced, and your team is one of the very top seeds in 5A. And your phone rings.
“Hi Coach. Just calling to congratulate you on a job well done. You’re the third overall seed in Class 5A this season.”
“Yep…your reward is you get to host East St. John. Good luck with tackling Singleton and Muse.”
ESJ currently sits right at the power ranking cutoff in 5A. Something tells me East Ascension won’t stop this scenario from happening.
The Pick: East St. John 55, East Ascension 18.
Dutchtown (7-1, 3-1) at Destrehan (8-0, 4-0) — Destrehan’s 23-game winning streak is all the more amazing considering it encompasses two years in one of the state’s toughest districts. Dutchtown’s Eddie Lacy runs like a man possessed, and he’s run roughshod over ESJ and Hahnville already. But after watching how Destrehan’s defensive line held down the Wildcats running game two weeks ago, I’m a believer. The streak continues into the playoffs and to another district crown.
The Pick: Destrehan 27, Dutchtown 20.
Hahnville (5-3, 2-2) at St. Amant (0-8, 0-4) — The Tigers are coming off a loss and looking to enter the postseason on a high note. It isn’t the ideal opponent to try to get your first — and only — win against.
The Pick: Hahnville 38, St. Amant 0.
Karr (5-3) at Lutcher (6-2) — Lutcher’s scored over 170 points over their last three games. Karr’s defense has allowed 20 points or more only twice this season. This should be a solid battle for each team before the real bullets fly in the playoffs.
The Pick: Lutcher 30, Karr 20.
Kentwood (5-3) at. St. James (5-3, 3-1) — Kentwood’s won four of their last five games. But St. James comes off a tough loss to Curtis and like Hahnville, are looking to round back into playoff mode.
The Pick: St. James 35, Kentwood 19.