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Sterlington LB and our defending 2A LAFM Defensive Player of the Year Dawson Snell is looking to lead the Panthers to back to back state championships after defending Baker 63-30. (Property of LAFM)

Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 3A 1st Round Recap

Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 3A 1st Round Recap

by Jace LeJeune

This week starts arguably the best time of the year for Louisiana High School Football as even though the regular season has ended, a new season has arrived and that is the playoffs. The playoffs are always unique in the sense that is unlike the regular season as you lose, there is another week to play. In the playoffs, there is no tomorrow because if you lose, you go home. Through all the classifications and all of the teams in the playoffs, there is one goal and mind and that is to be one of nine teams in the end holding a state championship trophy in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with the Queen smash hit “We Are the Champions” playing in the background. For Louisiana football fans, this is the most wonderful time of the year. This year, we got you covered as for the next couple of weeks, we will go through all of the matchups from 1A all the way to 5A each and every week leading up to the All-State Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic from December 7th-9th. We weren’t able to get in our 3A playoff preview before the games start, but we will give you a quick recap of the games and what actually went on before we give out our second round previews for next week.

Class 3A: (Note: All higher seeds hosts home playoff games this week)

#1 Sterlington Panthers (11-0) defeats #32 Baker Buffaloes (3-8) 63-30.

Game Recap: The Sterlington Panthers, under Lee Doty, had their early bumps early in the game against the Baker Buffaloes, led by Eric Randall. The Buffaloes were moving the ball early in the football game scoring 22 points in the first half, but the Buffaloes hurt themselves in the foot turning the ball over twice to help give Sterlington the lead at 28-22, but the defense continued to making plays forcing seven Baker turnovers and scoring 42 points off those turnovers. The Sterlington team ran away with the game in the end surviving a scare from Baker by outscoring the Buffaloes 35-8 in the second half. For the Baker Buffaloes, they end their season at 3-8 and for the Sterlington Panthers, they will advance to play Donaldsonville.

#2 Iowa Yellow Jackets (10-0) defeats #31  Wossman Wildcats (2-9) 39-8.

Game Recap: The Iowa Yellow Jackets, under first year head coach Tommy Johns, continue their incredible undefeated season with a dominant victory over the Wossman Wildcats. The biggest strength of this Yellow Jacket team is its secondary that is led by an All-State caliber defensive back in Darius Daniels and another talented player in the secondary in Cole Fleming. Both players showed up as they helped to force four first half Wossman turnovers which helped put the game out of reach early. Fleming started the trend when he intercepted the first pass. Then, on back to back possessions, Daniels did what he does best and that is force turnovers after the Jackets grabbed a 7-0 early lead. The Wildcats also fumbled the football, which resulted in another turnover. While the defense was getting it done, the offense was doing the same and they did it with their star player Darius Daniels, who scored a touchdown on offense. Also, the offensive unit got a big upgrade when their quarterback Dyami Huntsberry returned from an injury that has plagued the quarterback all season long. Huntsberry threw for a couple of touchdowns to help put the game out of reach at halftime at 31-0. Iowa would eventually win with the score of 39-8. For the Wossman Wildcats, under Dean Smith, they end their season with a 2-9 overall record. For the Yellow Jackets, they would play a team in which they defeated earlier in the regular season in the Crowley Gents.

#30 Westlake Rams (5-6) defeats #3 Jena Giants (10-1) 27-20.

Game Recap: It comes to show you that seeds do not mean a thing when it comes to actually playing the game on the field as the biggest upset of the first round in any of the brackets occurred in the 3A bracket when the #30 seed Westlake Rams, under Phil Fontenot, upsetted the #4 Jena Giants, led by Jay Roark. The game didn’t start as if it there was going to be an upset as the Giants went right down the football field and scored a touchdown on a RB Trelon Jones touchdown run as well as a two point conversion to put Jena up 8-0, but the Rams did not back down as they scored a touchdown on a RB Brevan Ned touchdown run and the two point conversion to tie the game at 8. The Rams would get a stop and their offense scored a touchdown to gain the lead at 15-8. It seemed like Westlake was going to run away from Jena early on, but the Rams fumbled the football and as good teams do, they took advantage of the turnover with a RB Chico Savage touchdown run to tie the ballgame again to put the Giants within one point due to the missed two point conversion. Ned would score for the third time in the second half after a Jena turnover  to put the Rams up at halftime with a 21-14 lead. After a scoreless third quarter, the score remained at 21-14. Both defenses played hard in the second half, but it was the Giants defense that faltered giving up another touchdown, which was another touchdown by Ned. The two point conversion was no good to make it a 27-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The Giants would be able to score again, but after that, the Westlake Rams did not give anything else up as the Rams move on to the next round with a 27-20 win. You could tell the loss of Jena WR and LSU commit JaRay Jenkins really hurt the team in the end not only on offense but on defense as well as he is a two way player. For the Jena Giants, their dream season ends way too early in the first round while the Westlake Rams continue their Cinderella run against the Northwest Raiders next week.

#4 St. James Wildcats (8-3) defeats #29 Marksville Tigers (5-6) 39-0.

Game Recap: Just like St. James’ banner said before the game, it sure looks like that Marksville’s players “will tell their girlfriends that they are free next Friday” as the Wildcats, led by Robert Valdez, roll in a big time team performance with a 39-0 win against J.T. Dunbar and the Marksville Tigers. Fortunately for the Wildcats, their quarterback Demarcus Williams has returned after dealing with knee and ankle injuries for most of the season. He got the scoring started with a 20 yard touchdown pass to ironically Shamar Smith, who was playing quarterback while Williams was hurt, to give St. James an early 7-0 lead. The defense was dominant against the Tigers also as DB Glen Brown returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 13-0 lead. Once again, Williams threw another touchdown to Smith to extend the lead at 20. Before anybody knew it, the score was 33-0 at halftime pretty much sealing the game before the second half even started. The Wildcats did most of their damage in the first half as they went on to defeat the Tigers 39-0. Shamar Smith was definitely the dynamic factor in this game as he scored a touchdown in any way imaginable besides scoring on special teams or on defense as he had two passing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. For the Marksville Tigers, they end their season with a 5-6 overall record and for the St. James Wildcats, they move on to the next round to face Madison Prep.

#5 Kaplan Pirates (9-2) defeats #28 KIPP Renaissance Bobcats (4-6) 35-7.

Game Recap:  The Kaplan Pirates, under Stephen Lotief, made sure that the #28 KIPP Renaissance Bobcats, under Corey McCloud, would not get any momentum in this game to start and they did that easily by doing what the Pirates know best, which is run the football and play good defense. In the game, the Pirates dominated on the stat sheet running for almost 400 yards and only giving up 120 total yards to the Bobcats with only six of those yards coming on the ground. The Pirates had a three headed monster at running back with tailback Mac Thibeaux, who ran for 159 yards and a touchdown, FB Braylon Romero, who ran for three touchdowns, and RB Matt Roden, who ran for over 60 yards and a touchdown. The three running backs scored all of the team’s touchdowns. The Pirates not only dominated in yards, but in time of possession as well as the Bobcats only had the ball for eight plays in the entire second half as the Pirates made sure the Bobcats would not get into this football game with a 35-7 win to move on to the second round where they will face #12 Iota next week.

#6 West Feliciana Saints (10-1) defeats #27 North Webster Knights (3-8) 42-13.

Game Recap: The West Feliciana Saints, under Robb Odom, start their postseason run as the team is hungry for a state championship after falling so close in the last couple of seasons. The dynamic trio of Derek Turner, Davon Harris, and Derius Davis came to play with Derek Turner setting the tone early in the football game as he scored using his legs for a touchdown to put the Saints up top 7-0 and then on the following North Webster possession after the touchdown, Turner scored this time on the defensive side of the football as he had a pick six. Davon Harris would score a touchdown on the next West Feliciana possession and before you even know it, the Saints had a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Turner was the impact player in tonight’s game as he had over 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns while throwing for 88 yards and a touchdown. If you add the pick-six, Turner had an incredible night with five touchdowns. Harris and Davis combined for over 100 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense dominated holding the Knights to only 13 points and making sure that the dynamic ATH TJ Hawthorne was not going to make any plays. With all those factors in mind, the West Feliciana Saints won in very big fashion with a 42-13 victory over North Webster, which is led by John Ware. Next week, the West Feliciana Saints will face the #11 seed Berwick Panthers.

#7 Church Point Bears (10-1) defeats #26 Carroll Bulldogs (4-7) 61-24.

Game Recap: What an offensive performance for the Church Point Bears as the offense ran all over the Carroll Bulldogs with almost 700 yards rushing and a season high 61 points. Yep, you heard that right. Church Point’s leading rusher throughout the season Rodney Dupois, who entered the game with over 1,000 yards rushing, ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Church Point’s second running back Tyrin McDade ran for 159 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Their third running back even had almost 100 yards, but it was the fantastic rushing night of QB Breelyn Jones, who only ran eight times, but ran for 215 yards and five touchdowns on those carries. For Carroll, Sirtimothy Hollins and Fantoryian Pendleton ran for a combined 235 yards and all of the Bulldog touchdowns. With the incredible offensive night, the Bears cruised by the Bulldogs with a 61-24 score. For Jackie Hamilton and the Bulldogs, they end their season with a 4-7 record. For the Bears, they will advance to play the Jennings Bulldogs in the next round of the playoffs.

#8 Richwood Rams (8-3) defeats #25 North Vermilion Patriots (6-5) 20-17.

Game Recap: This was a very close matchup as the seeds indicated when both Richwood led by Robert Arvie and North Vermilion led by Richard Puryear faced off. Both defenses gave everything that they had as the Rams held only a 14-9 lead with one of their touchdowns coming on a pick six by Basheen Hutcherson. A key play in the third quarter occurred on special teams when the Patriots pinned the Ram offense backed in their own endzone with a beautiful punt. The Patriots took advantage with the good field position as Richwood quarterback Joseph Smith tried to exploit the one on one matchup with WR and TCU commit Hidari Ceaser, but the pass was defended perfectly. The Rams went three and out and punted the football to North Vermilion, but the Patriots drive faltered as well giving the Rams the ball back. The Rams drove down the field, but were faced with a fourth down situation. Coach Arvie decided to go for it on fourth down and it turned out to be the right decision as Smith was able to use his legs to pick up not only the first down, but the touchdown to put the Rams up 20-9. Just when it seemed that the Rams had the game in hand by the way the defense was playing, the Patriots scored a touchdown of their own as well as the two point conversion to make the game at 20-17, but in the end, the Rams held on to their lead to win 20-17. For the North Vermilion Patriots, they end their season with a 6-5 record and for the Rams, they move on to play against the #9 seed Loranger Wolves.

#9 Loranger Wolves (7-4) defeats #24 Washington-Marion Chargin’ Indians (5-6) 

Game Recap: In the game that I went to see play this week, I saw a very entertaining one for that matter. The Loranger Wolves were looking to get on the board early in their second drive, but as sophomore running back Shawn Toefield fumbled the football as he was trying to score a touchdown. The Chargin’ Indians recovered the football in the endzone for a touchback. However, Washington-Marion threw an interception to give the ball right back to Loranger. What followed was a Loranger touchdown when senior QB D.J. Hookfin threw a touchdown to WR Luke Colona, who also happens to be an All-State caliber punter to put the Wolves up 7-0. However, Washington-Marion did not go away as the offense constructed a 11 play drive with the Wolves jumping offsides twice to actually put the Chargin’ Indians up 8-7 with the two point conversion. That was the score at the end of the first half. In the second half, Colona had his second receiving touchdown when he took a screen 70 yards for the touchdown to give the Wolves back the lead at 14-8. Besides the touchdown, there was no more scoring in the third as the score remained at 14-8 heading into the fourth quarter. Washington-Marion junior RB Carrington McClinton, who is an exceptional runner ran the ball an incredible 46 times for over 228 yards, ran for his first touchdown of the night to tie the game at 14 as the Chargin’ Indians missed the two point conversion. The Chargin’ Indians gained momentum after the Wolves turned the ball right over to the Indians with a fumble. McClinton made the Wolves pay for their mistake as three plays later, he ran for a 20 yard touchdown to put the Chargin’ Indians up top at 20-14. On the following possession, the Chargin’ Indians had a chance to really take over the game with a fourth down stop, but the Wolves offense stepped up with a D.J. Hookfin touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Cyntonio McClain, who made the play of the year for the Loranger team stealing the ball away from Washington Marion’s Ahman Lee for the football. With the extra point, the Wolves took a 21-20 lead late in the game. The Chargin’ Indians had a chance to win it with an incredible third and 18 conversion, but a play later, Hookfin sealed the game with an interception. The Loranger Wolves, led by Sam Messina, survive with a 21-20 win over Carrington McClinton and Washington Marion. Freddie Harrison and the Chargin’ Indians will end their season with a 5-6 overall record while the Wolves continue their winning streak against Richwood next week.

#10 Jennings Bulldogs (9-2) defeats #23 Bogalusa Lumberjacks (4-7) 33-12.

Game Recap: The Jennings Bulldogs faced off against the Bogalusa Lumberjacks in this 3A first round matchup. Jennings may not have Travis Etienne (Clemson) running the football for the Bulldogs, but the offense was really clicking against the Lumberjacks. After both teams turned the ball over on their first possessions, the Bulldogs started to put the points on the scoreboard with a Darrian Achane touchdown run to put Jennings up 7-0. It started an offensive onslaught with two straight 40 yard touchdown passes by Jennings QB Kole Mayers to help give the Bulldogs a 20-0 lead. That really helped put the game out of reach. Mayers had himself a field day even though he only completed five passes, but four of those passes went for touchdowns. Jennings WR Davian Madden was on the receiving end of two of Mayers’ touchdown passes. Bogalusa’s QB Diante Lenoir had a good game with over 200 total yards of offense and two touchdowns, but the big pass plays given up by the Bogalusa defense was the difference in this game as the Jennings Bulldogs led by Rusty Phelps advance to the next round against #7 seed Church Point. For the Bogalusa Lumberjacks, led by Dave Roberts, they end their season with a 4-7 overall record.

#11 Berwick Panthers (8-3) defeats #22 Eunice Bobcats (5-6) 34-14

Game Recap: The Berwick Panthers, under Eric Holden, cruise by the #22 seed Eunice Bobcats 34-14. The Panthers’ passing attack with the likes of LSU commit Kenan Jones, Josh Jones, and Travis Whitehead with Mitchell Sanford were too much for the Eunice Bobcats to handle as they advance to the next round with a 34-14 victory. The Eunice Bobcats, led by Paul Trosclair, end their season with a 5-6 overall record. This is Berwick’s best season in a long time as before last year, the Panthers did not make the playoffs since 1996. Coach Holden has done a great job of turning around this program which has a passing attack that is one of the best in the state. They hope to keep the momentum forward next week against the #6 West Feliciana Saints.

#12 Iota Bulldogs (9-2) defeats #21 Patterson Lumberjacks (6-5) 42-28.

Game Recap: The game featured two offensive performances in this game as the #12 seed Iota Bulldogs took on the #21 seed Patterson Lumberjacks. The Iota Bulldogs continue their impressive turnaround scoring 42 points with the help of RB Kaleb Guillory, who came in the game with over 1,000 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns. The Iota defense played well throughout the season, but the Patterson offense has their share of big time plays as the team scored 28 points, but it was too much Iota as the Bulldogs advance with a 42-28 victory. The Patterson Lumberjacks, led by Ryan Stewart, end their season with a winning 6-5 record. For the Iota Bulldogs, led by Josh Andrus, they will face off against the #5 seed Kaplan Pirates.

#20 Madison Prep Academy Chargers (5-6) defeats #13 Caldwell Parish Spartans (8-3) 28-8.

Game Recap: In another low seed upset, the #12 seed Madison Prep Academy Chargers were able to get the upset over the #5 seed Caldwell Parish Spartans 28-8. What Madison Prep had going for them was that this was a team that is very experienced when it comes to making playoff runs as the team made the Class 2A state championship game last season. The move up to Class 3A  was a tough one for the Chargers and having an interim coach in Landry Williams. Coach Williams has done an excellent job with the program after the Chargers had an 0-4 start as the team went 5-1 in the last six games. The Caldwell Parish Spartans, under Buster Duplissey, had themselves a great regular season winning eight games, but this was a team that has not as much playoff experience and it hurt here as Madison Prep was able to get the upset. Heading into this season, Madison Prep running back Tyrese Walker was one of the best players in the Baton Rouge area and even though it was a struggle most of the time throughout the year, Walker stepped up when it mattered most as he ran for an incredible 235 rushing yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. The Charger defense also did a great job of containing J.D. Abrams and the Caldwell offense only holding them to eight points. For the Caldwell Parish Spartans, they end their season with an 8-3 overall record. For the Madison Prep Chargers, they will advance to play against the St. James Wildcats.

#14 Northwest Raiders (9-3) defeats #19 Avoyelles Mustangs (6-5) 40-28.

Game Recap: The #14 seed Northwest Raiders, under Chris Edwards, avoid an upset against the #19 Avoyelles Mustangs led by Andy Boone as the Raiders move on to the second round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year, which is pretty tough to do. However, it did not come easily as the Raiders trailed the Mustangs 22-20 at the half. The Mustangs had a field day rushing the football with over 300 rushing yards, but most of that came in the first half with Avoyelles only scoring six points in the second half. Luckily for the Raiders, their offense came to play as well running for over 220 yards and converting all of their fourth down conversions. The Raiders were led by two of their two way players in RB/LB Kelvin Shorter, who had 18 tackles, and RB/DL Keshawn Jackson, who ran for over 80 yards and two touchdown. To top it all off, Raiders QB Montaze Sam threw for two touchdowns while running for 100 yards. With a group effort, the Raiders were able to prevail against the Mustangs 40-28. The Mustangs will finish their season with a 6-5 overall record while the Northwest Raiders will play against the upset minded #30 Westlake Rams.

#18 Crowley Gents (7-4) defeats #15 Albany Hornets (8-3) 36-26.

Game Recap: The Crowley Gents, led by Jephta Hall, were able to get a hard fought victory over a very good Albany football team under the direction of Blane Westmoreland, but it did not look like it was going to be so early. The Gents faced an early 12-0 deficit, but to Crowley’s credit, they did not let the early 12-0 get to them as they never backed down even though it could have been a lot worse with Crowley fumbling the football after a long drive, but luckily the Gents recovered their own fumble and scored a couple of plays later to make it 12-6. Ever since the touchdown, the Gent offense got going on the ground and through the air with running backs Keith Wilson and Donald Francis combining for 150 yards and three touchdowns. They also made some plays in the air when they needed to. Crowley TE Rapheus Joseph had four receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Crowley had a tough time trying to stop the running game of Albany, which is highlighted by their star running backs Brad Lewis and Kamryn Mayers, who both ran for a combined 400 yards. Still, it was not enough as the Crowley Gents held on to win 36-26 over the Albany Hornets. The Hornets end their season with an 8-3 record while the Crowley Gents will advance to the next round to play the #2 seed Iowa Yellow Jackets.

#16 Donaldsonville Tigers (8-3) defeats #17 Union Parish Farmers (6-5) 35-29.

Game Recap: The #16 Donaldsonville Tigers, under Brian Richardson, faced off against the #17 Union Parish Farmers, under Joe Spatafora, which was one of the best games that you will see throughout all of the first round matchups. The Tigers jumped up to a two possession lead after they took a 21-14 lead at halftime when Christian Bell returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown to extend the lead at 27-14, but the Farmers rallied to take the lead late in the fourth quarter when Trent Ginn ran for a long touchdown to give the Farmers a 29-27 lead, but there was still enough time for the Tigers to orchestrate a last minute touchdown drive in which they did. QB Jaylin Williams threw the game winning touchdown to Ladarius Jackson to put the Tigers up top 35-29. For the Union Parish Farmers, it was a good effort, but they fell just short ending their season with a 6-5 overall record. The Donaldsonville Tigers will move on to face the #1 seed Sterlington Panthers.

 

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About Jace LeJeune

Jace is from Addis, LA and is attending Southeastern Louisiana University and majoring in Journalism. He is also a graduate from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge where he was the editor of the school newspaper the “Bearly Published.” While at CHS, Jace also announced their football, basketball, and baseball games for the Bruin Broadcast Network which is the Catholic High’s streaming website for their events. On weekends, Jace is the PA announcer for his middle school football games. At home, Jace enjoys time with his family and friends. Jace is also an avid football and drag racing fan.