LHSAA Playoff Brackets Released: R.B’s First Round Breakdown
The wait is over. The LHSAA Playoff Brackets are out, and a few Acadiana area teams are poised to make a run straight to the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Others? Not so much.
Season-long juggernauts like the Vermilion Catholic Screamin' Eagles, the Livonia Wildcats and the Catholic-New Iberia Panthers could possibly be living the champagne lifestyle with a number one seed in their brackets, while others like the Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators will have to scratch and claw their entire way through the playoffs. Since the LHSAA playoffs (check link for full printable brackets) are more like a maze, as host of "Louisiana Football Fridays," I'll try to guide you through the labryinth, all for your beloved Acadiana area team.
Who is playing and where? Is your team set up for a run, or are they destined for disappointment? Grab my hand, and let's walk down the road to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Let's start with the heavyweight class, and work our way down to the lean and mean contenders from the 1A districts. Also, you might want to go ahead and print this out and use it as a cheat sheet to impress/annoy your co-workers at the watercooler. Use with care.
Your co-district champs are sitting on opposite sides of the bracket, and both would have to get past a lot of higher seeds to see each other in the finals, but crazier things have occurred in playoff season. Barbe received the #7 seed in the Class 5A bracket and will host Dutchtown, while Carencro gets to bring Covington into the CroDome for a taste of Offensive Coordinator Kevin Faulk's offense. Both teams are seeded ahead of their first round opponents by double-digit discrepancies, and both are battled-tested from an insane season in district play.
Two other District 3-5A teams are set for flatout fist-fights. Sulphur may be in trouble. Despite their #17 seed, their opponent, #16 seed East Ascension, can light up the scoreboard. They average over 30 points a game, and Sulphur only broke the 30 mark three times this season. On the other side of the bracket, the #15 seeded Acadiana Wreckin' Rams take on St. Amant. For Acadiana, it's very simple: if they keep the fumbles down, they win. If not? They lose. Coming off last week's game where they put the ball on the ground ten times, that might be easier said than done.
Sam Houston is probably going to get mauled. They earned the #24 seed and a playoff berth, but their reward is perpetual playoff contender, West Monroe. I love a good Cinderella story, but I just don't see it.
STM & Teurlings
Saint Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic are rolling with the big boys in the Division I bracket, so they get their own category. The STM Cougars earned a #3 seed and a bye, while the Teurlings Rebels got stuck with a #7 seed and an early round matchup with Holy Cross.
Despite losing the head-to-head matchup, a few out of district performances gave the Cougars a game off, which Head Coach Jim Hightower can use to gameplan for the winner of Jesuit-St. Augustine. The Cougars sport one of the most versatile and tricky offenses in the state, and their three-headed monster of Bellamy-Beche-Begue is a nightmare for defensive coordinators.
District 5-4A Champion Teurlings should still be able to take care of business as they are favored in their matchup and look to ride the backs of massive junior QB Cole Kelley and his do-it-all WR, Sage Leblanc. If Teurlings wins, their next major hurdle is #2 seed Archbishop Rummel, who roughed up Acadiana earlier this year, 34-9.
District 4-4A & District 5-4A
Since these two districts cross over in the playoffs, let's evaluate them together. Since the LHSAA can make these crazy brackets, we don't have to follow reason either. Hurray, chaos!
Three local area teams are slotted right in the middle of the pack, and two others are just happy to be there.
District 4-4A champion LaGrange earned the #11 seed in the Class 4A bracket and an easy matchup against Fair Park, but it's key to remember LaGrange didn't register a single win outside district play this season. The #13 seed, Crowley, is favored against East Jefferson by seven seeds, and should roll behind junior RB Ty'Von Griffin, who is simply a stud. There were two games during the season where he combined for over 500 yards and 11 TD's on the ground. The last team caught up in the scuffle is Breaux Bridge, who draws the 15-18 matchup with West Ouachita. The Tigers are favored, and their defense is absolutely intimidating, especially at home.
Northside and Cecilia both snuck into the playoffs, earning the #26 and #27 seeds respectively. Northside's Ethan Rose, a UL Ragin' Cajun verbal commit at DB, is the real deal, and Cecilia's Raymond Calais is as explosive as it gets at the RB position, but let's be honest. Neither team really stands a chance facing teams seeded in the single digits.
District 5-3A & District 6-3A
Another team eating at a separate dinner table from their district mates is the Notre Dame Pios. They rolled to another District 6-3A championship with a decisive 35-6 win over Kaplan, who was tied for the district lead at the time. Suspensions took key players away in the middle of the season, but it only added to the Pios' depth. QB Brad Stoma has the offense clicking, and multiple collegiate recruits keep Notre Dame's defense swarming. A #3 seed and a bye await the Pios in the Division II bracket, and they would most likely face E.D. White in a 4-against-5 quarterfinal matchup. They would have to get past #1 seed University Lab to get to the finals, but now we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Your Class 3A bracket is bookended by #1 seed Livonia and #2 seed Church Point, who are both coming off a bruising head-to-head matchup for the district tiltle that Livonia walked away with after a blocked FG attempt in the final seconds. Based on the way both teams dismantled opponents all year, I'll go out on the limb and say they should see each other again in the championship game, all flukes aside.
Kaplan slides into the #13 slot and draws a matchup against #20 Northwest, who is prone to the blowout. Opposing teams put up over 30 points in five of Northwest's six losses on the season, so Kaplan should be able to jump on them early and keep shoveling dirt on the casket.
I would love to tell the people of North Vermilion that a #27 seed could totally take out a #6 seed, but in high school football the skill gap is much too large for me to confidently pick them as an underdog. At least you made the playoffs though, right?
All eyes will be on the Catholic-New Iberia Panthers, who boast the #1 QB recruit in the state in Ole Miss commit Jason Pellerin. Pellerin runs like a Kentucky Derby winner and can peel the coating off receivers' gloves, and his stable of weapons is almost as scary as their defense. Seth Pierre is a load in the backfield, and Andre Bellafontaine is somewhat of an offensive Swiss army knife and an all-around defensive headache.
The Panthers only surrendered 20 points twice this season, dropped 60 points four times and only failed to break 40 once. Simply put, they're scary. A bye and a #1 seed in Division III bracket awaits them, and the only team with a real shot to knock them off is #2 seeded Calvary Baptist. Keep this in mind too: the Panthers beat Teurlings in a preseason jamboree, despite them playing up (2A beating 4A). Convinced yet?
Dane Charpantier's Opelousas Catholic Vikings turned a lot of heads this year with their 9-1 record and explosive offense and were rewarded with the #4 seed in Division III play with Catholic-NI. To get to the semi-finals and earn a rematch against the Panthers, who beat them down earlier this year, the Vikings would have to handle #13 seeded Westminster Christian and defeat the winner of Isidore Newman-Redemptorist in the next round. After all that? Most likely another chink in Jason Pellerin's beatdown stick.
Loreauville and Delcambre take their talents to the Class 2A bracket, both with wildly differing prospects. Loreauville earned the #8 seed and most likely a gritty second round matchup with the #9 seed, St. James. Delcambre is the underdog in an 11-22 matchup, and would need to pull off a little magic to get past #11 Vinton, only to most likely see #6 Welsh and their demise in the second round.
District 7-1A & District 5-1A
Last but certainly not least, and I say that with all the seriousness of a villain tying a damsel to the train tracks. Mustache and everything.
These two districts combined for 5/16 available spots in the Division IV bracket, so that alone is a victory for the Acadiana area. The Vermilion Catholic Screamin' Eagles sit atop the bracket and take on the bottom seed, Houma Christian, in what should be a bloodbath...hide the women and children.
Vermilion Catholic's junior QB Hunter Frith is blossoming in Offensive Coordinator Roch Charpantier's high-octane offense, and weapons like Tyler Derouen are making VC almost impossible to stop. There are some major roadblocks like Hamilton Christian and St. Mary's separating them from another state championship, but I wouldn't put my money on anybody stopping them.
Central Catholic would love to spoil that storyline with their #3 seed. They should roll easily through their first round matchup against #14 Delhi Charter, and the winner of Ouachita Christian-Covenant Christian might not stand a chance either. Past that? No promises.
After going unchallenged in district play on their way to a District 5-1A crown, St. Edmunds enjoyed a lot of fat scorelines. That's a concerning prospect heading into a 7-10 matchup, which are always pesky prospects for everyone involved. Will St. Ed's be able to muster a fighting spirit in the playoffs? Only time will tell.
Former Ragin' Cajun QB Michael Desormeaux's Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators vastly improved their on-the-field product this year, going 7-3 overall and 4-2 in district play. They might only have the #13 seed, but if #4 Hamilton Christian doesn't know about Ja'Ceiry Linzer, sound the upset alert. The Blue Gators big junior RB can take a beating, and a typical night for him sits around 25+ carries for around 150 yards and two or three scores. He's a workhorse, and the only chance Ascension has for an upset is to feed the beast.
Hanson Memorial slid into the backend with a #15 seed and most likely a first round exit after facing a brutal introduction to the playoffs by #2 seeded St. Mary. In what was a rough year (only 2-4 in district play), a playoff berth should still be enough to please the supporters. Other teams like the LCA Knights have to sit out and watch despite a fine season of improvement.
In all of the insanity that is the LHSAA playoff brackets, at least two Acadiana area teams have a shot to bring home hardware. Catholic High-New Iberia is a dumptruck rolling downhill, and Vermilion Catholic is soaring on nine straight victories after an opening season loss. Others like STM, Teurlings, Carencro and Barbe will have to pull some strings to make the finals, but it wouldn't be the playoffs without a little unpredictability.
To all of the teams who didn't make the playoffs: thank you for the sweat, bruises and tears. It might hurt, but there's always next season. To the teams hoping to reach the end of the long road to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and a whole lot of confetti: the time is finally here.
Let's all soak it in before it's over, and we have to wait until fall for another season to start.
[Note: For more high school football coverage, catch "Louisiana Football Fridays" every week during the prep football season and all throughout the playoffs on News Talk 96.5 KPEL. R.B hosts pregame coverage from 6-6:50, and postgame starts immediately after the game of the week and doesn't end until midnight...with all the coaches interviews, correspondents, stats, scoreboard updates and perspective a human could possibly need.]