Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 2A 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 2A public bracket!
#1 Many (9-1) vs. #32 Ville Platte (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Many Tigers, led by Head Coach Jess Curtis, are once again one of the favorites in the Class 2A bracket. There are few teams in Class 2A that can match up as far as athletes are concerned with in this bracket. Even though the team lost RB AJ Carter (Arizona State) due to graduation, the offense’s bread butter is still running the football. The team has a deadly and very underrated one-two punch in Shacori Williams and Ni’Kendrick Carter. Williams is one of the best running backs in the state as well as an Army commit. Carter is a freak athlete that is seeing some carries at running back. At 6-3, 220 pounds, Carter, who is a SMU commit, has a Derrick Henry type running style and is a freight train once he gets moving. The Tigers also have three star defensive end Myron Warren, who has already been offered by TCU, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Oregon, Texas, etc. This is a team that is also well coached and has a great chance of going all the way. It may be a tough up hill battle this week for Ville Platte, but the Bulldogs, under Head Coach Jorie Randle are not going to give in. The team has always been known for their skill position players and they have a really good one in QB Brandon Veazie, who has 4.5/40 speed. This season, the strength of the team is its defensive line led by DT Travian Ardoin. They are going to need their defensive line against one of the toughest rushing attacks in the state.
Lee’s Pick: “Many will beat Ville Platte. They just have too much talent.”
#16 Rayville (4-6) vs. #17 North Caddo (4-6)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Rayville Hornets, led by Head Coach Lent Bursey, have one of the best dual threat senior quarterbacks in the state. His name is James Powell. Powell may not be talked about as much as others, but he is a big time player that can do it all whether it is passing and rushing. He may be the key for the Hornets not only the move past this round, but to go even further. With exception of a first year head coach in John Kavanaugh, the North Caddo Rebels relatively have an experienced team as eight starters return for this season overall. Like the Hornets, the Rebels have a lot of speed on the field most notably RB James Brown, who is one of the best playmakers in his district. Both players have 4.5/40 speed. The team that makes the more explosive plays will most likely win this football game.
Lee’s Pick: “I think Rayville’s QB James Powell is going to be the X factor in this game. I don’t think North Caddo will stop him so I have Rayville winning.”
#9 Pine (7-3) vs. #24 Independence (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: After replacing a 1,000 yard rusher in Raquan Handy and a collegiate offensive lineman in Brendon Kelley (Southeastern), it is pretty hard to find an identity. However, a lot of credit should be given to Head Coach Bradley Seal and the Pine Raiders for having a really good season. The Raiders have showed that there are a lot of good athletes on this team. Players such as WR Markell Cotton and WR Jordan Anderson can make plays when counted on while the offensive line leans on veteran OL Jakari Hart. The defense relies on LB Drake Westmoreland and DE Larry Williams. The Independence Tigers have only their third head coach in their storied history in former Varnado Head Coach Scott Shaffett. Once a football powerhouse, Shaffett is looking to build the team to what is once was. This year was a good start winning three games and making the playoffs. The Tigers have some good athletes including QB De’Angelo Gaines, who is as talented as they come with 4.5/40 speed, RB Tyrick Harness, and WR Ravorious Hampton.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with Pine just because I don’t think Independence has the depth to match up with the Raiders.”
#8 Vidalia (7-3) vs. #25 Oakdale (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Vidalia Vikings have one of the most underrated legendary coaches in the state in George “Dee” Faircloth. Faircloth is in his second year at his second stint at Vidalia, but has been part of the program as either head coach or assistant coach for over 45 years. The program is returning to where it once was as the Vikings won nine games last season and again are 7-3 in the regular season this year. QB Tristan Weatherly is one of the best quarterbacks in program history. This season, he has thrown for over 2,300 yards and 26 touchdowns. Over his career, he has thrown for over 6,000 yards and 64 touchdown passes. The offense is very explosive with WR Devonte Loyd, and WR Jared Simpson. The Vikings are big on the offensive and defensive lines. Defensively, this is a team that is also very strong in the secondary with players such as CB Tony Tolliver, and CB Jamar Lyons. The Vikings are a sleeper team and will be tough to beat. The Oakdale Warriors, led by Head Coach Randall Gordon, will rely on some really good two way position players such as senior LB/FB Hunter Longino, who is one of the best players in his district, WR/CB Jacob Black, RB/SS Javon Hayward, QB Gabe Rodriguez, who also plays linebacker for the team, OL/DE Garrett Kingan, and fullbacks Bruce Micell.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with an upset here and pick Oakdale. I think they have a really good team and can surprise Vidalia.”
#5 Welsh (8-2) vs. #28 West St. Mary (3-6)
Jace’s Game Preview: A lot of people forget that the Welsh Greyhounds won the Class 2A state championship last year under Head Coach John Richardson. This season, they once again have a great shot of going all the way to the state championship. The only difference is that the team will have to get to the Dome without QB Zach Hayes, who is now playing quarterback at McNeese State. Still, the Greyhounds have the talent to get there. The team is headlined by WR Da’Ren Zeno, who is one of the best wide receivers in the state. Case in point, Zeno has had almost 100 catches for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. With Zeno being heavily featured in the passing game, the Greyhounds are capable of being a balanced offense with the duo of Alec Iguess and Austyn Benoit. Up front, the Greyhounds will rely on their senior OT Ryan McKenzie, who is a DI caliber player, as well as OG/DE John Daigle, who is as strong as it gets and is hard to push back. The West St. Mary Wolfpack, led by Head Coach Clifton Armelin, has a lot of speed. WR Daylon Richard, CB Ray Johnson, LB KyJuan Biggles, LB JacKyric Roberson, and RB/SS Ejay Davis can all run 4.6/40 or better. This is a team that is explosive and does not often beat themselves.
Lee’s Pick: “West St. Mary is going to give Welsh all they can handle, but I take the Greyhounds in a close game.”
#12 Mansfield (7-3) vs. #21 South Plaquemines (2-8)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Mansfield Wolverines are a double digit seed that is capable of making a big playoff run. Led by Head Coach Mike Green, the team has a lot of talent. The offense will rely on its athletic offensive and defensive lines, which are led by DT Nick Howard, DE/DT Davin Adkins, OG/DE Ken Addison, and OG/DE Ty Watt. Offensively, the team’s production goes through senior RB Robert Turner, who has a combination of speed and power when he runs the ball. This season, Turner has ran for 1,555 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging a first down per carry in yards. The Wolverines may rely on Turner majority of the time, but the team has other big time skill players and can make plays when given the opportunity. The South Plaquemines Hurricanes are led by second year Head Coach Lyle Fitte. The Hurricanes have some really good skill players. Guys like QB Isaac Williams, WR Truce Williams, RB Micah Ancar, and WR Cody Everage are an exciting group to watch. The problem is that both offensive and defensive fronts are not as big as other teams in the bracket.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with another upset and pick South Plaquemines to win.”
#13 East Beauregard (7-3) vs. #20 DeQuincy (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: Head Coach Gordy Glaser and the East Beauregard Trojans have taken a big step forward in 2018 improving their record from 3-8 in 2017 to 7-3 and hosting a playoff game. The even better news is that the team has accomplished this with a really young team having to replace 13 starters from last year’s team. The offense will rely on a very underrated running back duo in the quick runner Devin Perkins and the tough runner Kenner Seal to carry the load offensively. As far the DeQuincy Tigers led by Head Coach Charlie Smith are concerned, the team is relatively young, but not as young as the Trojans. There are a quite a few All-District players that Coach Smith has relied on. Players like LB Nick Kelly, OL Lanty Wylie, FS Blaise Leblanc, and DE/DT Ethan Armistead will make an impact in the opening playoff game.
Lee’s Pick: “I think DeQuincy is going to pull this one out and upset East Beauregard.”
#4 Rosepine (10-0) vs. #29 Port Allen (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: What a run has it been for Head Coach Brad Ducote and the Rosepine Eagles after posting 10 wins last season. The Eagles have proved that last year’s success was no fluke and have even built on that season posting an undefeated season to go along with a district championship. For the Eagles’ offense, it is as explosive as it gets with QB Seth Ducote leading the way. Ducote has all the tools that you want in a high school quarterback, which is leadership, a good arm, and the ability to run the football. Ducote’s sidekick is RB Seth Shirley, who is one of the best senior running backs in the Lake Charles area. The Eagles also have two good fronts with OT Wesley Willis returning as a four year starter. The Port Allen Pelicans, led by second year Head Coach Don Gibson, have had an up and down season, but the team has a chance to really end on a high note in their first round playoff game. Overall, the Pelicans are really young and inexperienced, but players such as DE Traveon Scott and OLB Trevonte Shepherd will handle the leadership roles. The Pelicans may be young, but have a lot of skill talent to at least give the Eagles some trouble.
Lee’s Pick: “Rosepine is a very good team. I have them winning this game.”
#3 Ferriday (7-3) vs. #30 Vinton (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Coach Stanley Smith and the rest of the Ferriday program had to replace a lot of talent after the 2017 season when they went 11-3 and made a deep run in the playoffs. Two of the big guys they lost were OT/DT Dare Rosenthal and OLB/DE Dantrieze Scott who are both now at LSU. They have had a successful regular season and will get the postseason started against Vinton. Vinton has had an up and down season, but Head Coach Tarius Davis knows how to get the best out of his players. Last season, they had a similar record and won a playoff game. That coaching experience should not be overlooked by Ferriday.
Lee’s Pick: “Ferriday is not as talented as last year, but still very good. They can beat a lot of 5A teams. I have Ferriday winning this game.”
#14 General Trass (7-3) vs. #19 Lakeside (6-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: General Trass had a down year last year going 4-7 and they have greatly improved that record this year. They have many returning starters in RB Isaiah Lyons, QB Ma’Jayreon Steward, and WR Sir James Peeler among others. They have big men up front in the trenches and will be a challenge for Lakeside. Lakeside has had two straight successful seasons after not winning a game during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Coach Jason McClendon has continued to improve the program in his first season as head coach and he looks to keep that going with a playoff win in the first round.
Lee’s Pick: “General Trass has a bunch of seniors and are very experience. I think that will be the main factor in this game.”
#11 Lake Arthur (6-4) vs. #22 Northeast (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Lake Arthur Head Coach Mark Deshotel has done a tremendous job this season leading a very young team to a 6-4 record in a tough district. There are some veteran players such as QB Dax Duhon, WR Tavaris Achane, and LB Isaac Trahan who will need to play well for the team to make a run and it starts against Northeast. Coach David Masterson has now made the playoffs 18 of his 19 years at the helm. Coach Masterson always gets the best out of his players and he will have do to just that in the first round of the playoffs. Their big time skill guys will have to be relied on in order to beat Lake Arthur.
Lee’s Pick: “Northeast has a lot of really good athletes. I also think that they have played a tougher schedule than Lake Arthur. Lake Arthur is a good team, but I think that the Vikings win this one.”
#6 St. Helena College & Career Academy (8-2) vs. #27 Delhi Charter (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: St. Helena Academy is coming off a season in which they were runner-up in the 2017 state title game. They lost three key players to graduation, but Coach Johnny Felder always does a great job of getting his players ready each Friday night. Delhi Charter knew coming in the 2018 season that it would be a rebuilding year. With that in mind, Coach Brett Raley still put his team in a great position and they are in the playoffs.
Lee’s Pick: “St. Helena is a really good team once again. Now, they don’t have their star quarterback Ricky Travis, who is now at Grambling, but their talent is going to be too much for Delhi Charter to handle.”
#7 Kinder (6-4) vs. #26 Bunkie (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Head Coach Bret Fuselier and the Kinder Yellow Jackets have had tons of success in recent years making it deep into the playoffs every season since 2013. The team had to replace lots of talent heading into the 2018 season, but the young guys have gone through the regular season schedule and will be ready to make another playoff run. The Bunkie Panthers and Coach Nick Pujol had an up and down season in 2018. They were competitive in every game and they will need to continue to play hard to have a chance against Kinder.
Lee’s Pick: “Bunkie has had a great season making the playoffs, but Kinder is going to win this game.”
#10 Red River (6-3) vs. #23 Franklin (4-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Red River Bulldogs had lots of talent returning for the 2018 season and it led them to six wins. QB Gakerreon McDonald leads the high-powered offense and it will be hard to stop for Franklin. Franklin has improved in 2018 after a 1-8 record in 2017. They still have a ways to go, but making the playoffs is a great first step.
Lee’s Pick: “Once again, really good job to Franklin for making the playoffs, but Red River will be too much for them in this game.”
#15 East Feliciana (5-5) vs. #18 Capitol (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: These two teams met earlier in the season and East Feliciana came out on top with a score of 20-6. Coach Cedric Anderson always has what it takes to get his teams in the playoffs. East Feliciana is a young team, but having a veteran coach could help them make a run in the playoffs. Capitol is under first year head coach Dorsett Buckels. The Lions had talent returning in 2018 and Coach Buckels helped them get a 5-5 record and into the playoffs. They may not have the team to make a run in the playoffs this year, but they will be competitive in the first round against East Feliciana.
Lee’s Pick: “This should be a pretty good game. Both teams are even. East Feliciana has a little more depth, a little bit more speed, and add the fact that they are playing at home, I am taking East Feliciana to win in a close game.”
#2 Amite (9-1) vs. #31 Springfield (3-7)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Amite and Springfield met earlier in the season and Amite won the game convincingly with a score or 40-0. Amite has lots of talent in 2018 and they will be hard to stop. The Warriors’ offense is led by QB and Kentucky commit Amani Gilmore, WR Cameron Henderson, four star WR Devonta Lee, and DT Ishmael Sopsher among others. Springfield has struggled this season, but veteran Head Coach Ryan Serpas will have his team ready to play and they will give it their all against Amite.
Lee’s Pick: “Springfield is a pretty good team, but Amite is going to create a whole lot of matchup problems for the Bulldogs and will win this game.”
Jace’s Final Thoughts: Many and Amite may be the overall favorites to meet in the state championship teams, but teams such as St. Helena, Ferriday, Welsh, Kinder, and Rosepine are all teams that can challenge in order to not make that happen.
Cameron’s Final Thoughts: There may be some sleeper teams that make a run in this bracket. The top 4 seeds are all great teams and will be tough to beat.
Hey football fans. Like our recruiting interviews, stories, and other content on our website? Click on our website daily to view articles on recruits, coaches, and so much more at our website: http://lafootballmagazine.com/. Also, we have exciting news that for the second straight year, we will have our North and South LA issues and both are now out! Both issues will continue to cover all the Louisiana colleges as well as all the high schools in state, but there will be 16 pages that will focus on North Louisiana as well as South Louisiana. For more information, please check the following link to where you can find the magazine in a store near you. Also, below are the two covers as well as where you can order both magazines on our website.
North Cover: South Cover:
North Link: http://lafootballmagazine.com/product/la-football-magazine-2018-annual-preview-north-edition/
South Link: http://lafootballmagazine.com/product/la-football-magazine-2018-annual-preview-south-edition/