Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 1A First Round Preview
by Jace LeJeune, Cameron Cerniglia, and Lee Brecheen
Finally, the best time of the Louisiana High School Football season is here and that is playoff time! 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 in 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. For the second year in a row, we got you covered as for the next couple of weeks, we will go through all of the private and public 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 6th-8th. Louisiana Football Magazine’s expert Lee Brecheen has seen all of these teams play and gives his insight on which teams will survive and continue their march to the Superdome. Today, we preview the Class 1A public division playoff bracket.
#1 Oak Grove (10-0)- Bye
Jace’s Team Preview: The Oak Grove Tigers have a bye this week and will face the winner of the Slaughter Community Charter/LaSalle game. The Tigers are led by fourth year Head Coach Ryan Gregory. The last couple of years have been great for the Tigers as the team made the Class 1A semifinals the last three years. Even though three years were great, both times, the Tigers came up just short of making the Superdome. However, this year could be the year as the team returns the combo of dual threat QB Kam Holloway and RB Otis Moore on offense and a strong defensive front seven that is led by All-State LB Wyatt Rawls, DT Kendall Brown, who is 6-3, 309 pounds, and DT Kenean Caldwell, who is 6-3, 295 pounds.
#16 Slaughter Community Charter (5-5) vs. #17 LaSalle (4-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Slaughter Community Charter football program is certainly on the rise led by Head Coach Devyn Baker. After winning two games in 2017, the Knights improved on that record posting five wins. The strength of this team has to come at their skill positions. Both WR/DB DaMarco Goss and RB/SS DaMiquin Minor are playmakers with the ball in their hands. The quarterback that is distributing the football is senior Shane Duncan. With his 6-0, 225 pound frame, he is a tough player to bring down in the pocket and can extend plays. The offensive and defensive front is led by sophomore OT/DE Bryce Turner. Turner is the team’s most talented prospect as he has received interest from Texas A&M, Kentucky, Nicholls State, Army, Mississippi State, and Nebraska. The LaSalle Tigers, led by Head Coach Derek White, have a really talented senior quarterback in Blade Beaubouef. Beauboeuf can keep the Tigers in games because of his ability to throw and run the football. This could be a high scoring game with two explosive offenses.
Lee’s Pick: “I think Slaughter Charter is going to win their first playoff game. I think LaSalle is a good team, but if you look at the competition Slaughter went against compared to LaSalle, they have played the tougher teams. It is going to be a great game, but the Knights are going to win their first playoff game in program history.”
#9 Jonesboro Hodge (6-4) vs #24 Delta Charter (2-8)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Jonesboro Hodge Tigers, led by Head Coach Terrance Blankenship, are a sleeper team outside the top five that can make a deep run at the playoffs. The offense has a dual threat quarterback in Reggie Shallowhorn that also plays in the secondary. Besides Shallowhorn, the Tigers have a very talented backfield, which features running backs Deiondre Hall and Kameron Booker. The defense will lean on the front four, which features DE Logan Webb, DE Jamell Hasen, and DE Zach Culver. The Delta Charter Storm, led by Head Coach Blake Wheeler, will lean on their talented senior RB Freddie Mango. Mango is a 1st Team All-District player and 1,000 yard rusher that does a whole lot for the team. Mango will get some help from QB/WR Trey Poole, QB Kavarius Whitehead, and RB Tre Griffin.
Lee’s Pick: “Delta Charter has a really good running back in Freddie Mango. I think it is going to be tough for Jonesboro Hodge to stop Mango and they have a really good team around him. I am going with the upset here as Mango will be too much for the Tigers to handle.”
#8 Oberlin (8-2) vs. #25 Northwood Lena (3-6)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Oberlin Tigers have had a really good year under Durell Peloquin posting eight wins. The team will be strong up front led by OL/DL McKenzie Carrier, who is an All-State caliber player at 6-3, 340 pounds, and DE/TE Marcel Frilot, who is 6-4, 190 pounds. Peloquin’s son Levi Peloquin is a good athlete at the quarterback position. This may be a young team, but it is a really deep team for 1A as there are 40 lettermen on the team. The Northwood Lena Gators, led by Head Coach Justin Webb, may not be as deep, but there are some experienced players on both sides of the football. TE/LB Cameron Kerik, WR/DB Emanuel Scott, OL/DL Rodney Price, and OT/DT Anthony Wright are two way players that will be relied on in order for the Gators to pull the upset.
Lee’s Pick: “This is a game that you can flip a coin. Either team could win this game. I am going with the home team Oberlin to win a very close game.”
# 5 West St. John (8-2)- Bye
Jace’s Team Preview: The West St. John Rams, led by Head Coach Brandon Walters, are your defending Class 1A state champions and what is even scarier is that they return majority of all the team’s top players from last year. On offense, the Rams will rely on one of the best 1-2 running back punches in the state. Speedster Kylan Duhe has ran for 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns while the bruiser Niko Roy has over 500 yards and six touchdowns in 2018. The duo is hard to stop on the ground, but they are capable of throwing the football as well. QB D’Andre Gaudia has thrown for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. Gaudia has also proven to lead the team in big games. He also has great athletes to throw the football to as well as a great offensive line to boot. WR/FS Aaron Moll, and WR D’Kyri Jackson are all capable of making big plays. Up front, the Rams are led by OG/DT Hauron Robinson, OG Savon Bridges, and DE Jonathan Porter, who makes it tough for any offensive tackle to block them. The Rams have the experience and the talent to win it all once again. This week, the Rams will be on a bye and will wait the winner of the Oberlin/Northwood Lena game in the next round.
#12 Homer (6-4) vs. #21 Elton (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Homer Pelicans, led by Head Coach Glen Kyle, return some talented players and made some strides posting a winning record after finishing 4-8 in 2017. RB Courtney Lovett makes it tough for any defense. What else makes it tougher is that the offensive line averages 260 pounds across the board. The defense will be led by All-State caliber DE/LB Kameria Alford. The Elton Indians, led by Head Coach Donald Bruchhaus, had to replace their three year starting QB Keshawn Lyons due to graduation, but the coaching staff has done a good job of rebounding and the team still has really good athletes. The team is led by RB Darnell Robinson, RB Jalen Chretien, and TE Kervondrick Scott.
Lee’s Pick: “This is another pretty even matchup. I think Elton is a very underrated team. They got some good skill players and are a little bit more talented than Homer. I am going to go with Elton winning this game.”
#13 Gueydan (6-3) vs. #20 Centerville (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Gueydan Bears, led by Head Coach Roderick Moy, have a large senior class and will try to make the most of the team’s game experience. The Bears are led by QB Blaire Broussard, WR Griffin Guidry and WR Bailey Istre on offense. Defensively, the team is led by DTs Ethan Gaspard and Matthew Broussard. Considering the team just recently has had 1-9 and 0-10 seasons, hosting a playoff game and having a chance to make a playoff run is pretty amazing to see. The Centerville Bulldogs, led by Head Coach Mark Millet, seems to take a step forward each year and this year is just another example. The Bulldogs have grown in depth and has talent. Key players include LB Jaylon Cooks, OT Payton Dinger, FS Xavier Armstrong, and RB Andrew Cuvillier. The Bulldogs are hoping to get revenge on the Bears as they will try to overcome a 45-6 loss earlier in the season.
Lee’s Pick: “Centerville team is a team on the rise, but I got Gueydan winning this game. Now, the game will be a lot closer than the regular season game, but the Bears find a way to pull one out.”
#4 Logansport (9-0)-Bye
Jace’s Team Preview: The Logansport Tigers, led by Kevin Magee, have established themselves as a Class 1A power. Over the last two years, the Tigers have won the Class 1A state championship in 2016 and made the semis-finals last season. This season, the expectations are still the same for this team. This time, the Tigers have a new quarterback in Landon Moon. Moon is a transfer from Grandview High School (Texas) and is a proven player when it comes to playing in big games. The Tigers have a lot of skill talent featuring 1,000 yard RB Tresmin Brown, WR/CB Madrid Johnson, who is one of the best skill players in the state, WR/DB Dayton West, and All-District DB Austin Edgar, who is one of the vocal leaders on the team. Defensively, not a lot of offensive players get past LB Devin Gabriel, who at 6-1, 245 pounds, is a manchild as he runs like a linebacker, but is built like a defensive end.
#3 Kentwood (8-2)- Bye
Cameron’s Team Preview: The Kentwood Kangaroos will face the winner of the White Castle/Merryville game. Kentwood has an explosive offense and that can help them make a run back to the dome. The key returner on offense for the Kangaroos is WR and LSU commit Trey Palmer. Besides Palmer, there is a whole lot of firepower offensively including RB Larry Carter, WR Edward Magee, and QB Trevion Hookfin. Defensively, the team will be led by DE Kendall Wilkerson. With Wilkerson’s 6-4, 280 frame and athleticism, he can take over games.
#14 White Castle (3-7) vs. #19 Merryville (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The White Castle Bulldogs finished the 2018 regular season with a 3-7 record under 2nd year coach Aaron Meyer. The Bulldogs’ bread and butter in the past has been their passing game and that is no different this year with speed at the skill positions. Merryville’s defense will have to try to keep up with Keith Landry and Onique Young who can run a 4.5/40. Similarly, Merryville has a potent offense so this could be a high scoring first round matchup. Merryville’s QB Connor Pruitt can really sling the ball and has talented receivers in Stefon Williams and J.T. Gargis. This game may come down to turnovers or whose defense can make one stop.
Lee’s Pick: “Even though White Castle may be short on numbers, they got a lot of speed. Merryville can put up some points too. I think it is going to be a track meet, but I am going to go with White Castle in this one.”
#11 Montgomery (6-3) vs. #22 Plain Dealing (3-7)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Montgomery is making the playoffs for the seventh straight season under veteran head coach Brian Williams. Coach Williams has a strong offense that is led by QB Logan Graves and RB Kason Lashley. This duo will be hard to stop and could help them make a deep run in the playoffs. Plain Dealing had a tough season after losing five of their last six games. Even with a losing record, they should not be taken lightly as they will be competitive with WR Trey O’Neal and CB Desmond Player.
Lee’s Pick: “Both teams have a lot of skill players. It is going to be a close game, but I am going to go with Montgomery in this one.”
#6 Basile (8-2) vs. #27 Tensas (1-9)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Basile Bearcats have a tradition of making it to the playoffs more years than not and this year is no different. Head Coach Kevin Bertrand faces one of the challenges that other Class 1A schools have to face and that is guys having to play on both sides of the ball. This year, Coach Bertrand has All State LB/FB Andre Reed, QB/DB Dawson Ashford, WR/DB Jaylen Thomas, and RB/SS Logan David. Tensas is a young team with very little depth but they will give it their all against Basile and leave everything on the field.
Lee’s Pick: “Basile will win this football game, but Tensas will make it close.”
#7 Delhi (7-3) vs. #26 North Central (1-9)
Cameron’s Game Preview: This is the best season Delhi has had under Head Coach Toriano Williams. The team’s offense is led by QB Brandon Williams who is a gifted athlete. Their defensive was a concern heading into the season and could be an issue in the postseason but with Williams at QB, the Bears will be able to keep up with almost anyone. North Central has had a rough season only winning one game. Head Coach Jacobi Thierry has little depth to work with, but the Hurricanes will leave everything on the field.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with Delhi. North Central has a good team, but Delhi’s skill talent will be too much for them to handle.”
#10 East Iberville (6-4) vs. #23 Arcadia (4-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The East Iberville Tigers have improved each season under Head Coach Ron LeJeune. The 2018 team does not have much depth, but they make up for it in talent. There are eight returning starters with postseason experience and that will come in handy for Coach LeJeune. The Tigers have playmakers in QB Mike Triplett, RB Rondell Daniels, OG Darren Lacour and LB Lester Joseph Jr. Coach Dimitri Carr and the Arcadia Hornets have star RB Corey Russell returning along with 10 more starters during the regular season. Russell is one of the leading rushers in the state this season with over 2,762 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns. Their offense has been able to put up some points during the regular season.
Lee’s Pick: “The key here is that Corey Russell can’t go off for 300 yards. I am going to go with East Iberville in this game because I think they can prevent him from rushing for that much.”
#15 Sicily Island (5-5) vs. #18 Varnado (2-8)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Sicily Island Tigers and Coach Donald Money have shown improvement in 2018 by winning two more games than in 2018. Coach Money had his star QB return in Tyrik Toliver, and he has been a major part of the team during the season. The Varnado Wildcats have struggled under first year head coach Anthony Hicks. Adrian Bickham has been doing it all for Varnado during the 2018 season. They do not have much depth, but will show heart and put up a good fight against Sicily Island.
Lee’s Pick: “For Sicily Island, this is their chance to make a run. Although Varnado does have some players, playing on the road is going to be tough. I am going to go with Sicily Island to win the game.”
#2 Haynesville (10-0)- Bye
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Haynesville Golden Tornadoes will face the winner of the Sicily Island/Varnado game. Haynesville has many returning starters for the 2018 season and can make a run if the young talent can step up. One of the returning starters is QB Lance Grider. The Golden Tornadoes also return LSU commit in DT Joseph Evans. Veteran head coach David Franklin should be able to keep the tradition going and make a run in the playoffs.
Jace’s Final Thoughts: “The top five teams in this bracket all have a great chance to win the Class 1A state championship. Even though they are the favorites, do not be surprised if there are a couple of sleeper Class 1A programs that make a run.”
Cameron’s Final Thoughts: “This is an extremely tough bracket. There are many teams in this bracket that could make a run and end up in the Dome.”
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