Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 3A 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 3A public bracket!
#1 Iota (10-0) vs. #32 KIPP Renaissance (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: How about the Iota Bulldogs this year? After going 9-3 and making a playoff run, Head Coach Josh Andrus and the Bulldogs have taken the next step by going undefeated, winning their district, and claiming the number one seed in the Class 3A bracket. Now, the Bulldogs have state championship aspirations and will try to make a statement on why they are the number one team in the bracket. Offensively, the Bulldogs go wherever their quarterback Trae Rambin goes. Rambin has been really steady for the Bulldogs as he is a physical player that is smart and is in total control of the offense. What makes the Bulldogs stand out is their balance as they can throw with Rambin and run with their junior running back duo. Defensively, Eunice transfer LB Tayte Langley has been a big addition for the Bulldogs. Up front, they are led by OT Juwan Felix, who is the biggest senior prospect on the team. The KIPP Renaissance Bobcats, led by Corey McCloud, have had their moments this season winning three games this season. The Bobcats have a lot of players that can give the Bulldogs plenty of trouble. Offensively, the team will try to give ATH Talim Watkins the football. Both have great speed and can line at different positions in order to confuse the opposing defense. Also, both offensive and defensive fronts are big as well so they have some size to match up. If the Bulldogs are not careful, the Bobcats could make this an interesting game.
Lee’s Pick: “This is going to be a tough game for Iota. KIPP Renaissance plays a tough schedule in New Orleans. I still think Iota is going to win this game, but barely.”
#16 Marksville (6-4) vs. #17 Baker (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: Head Coach J.T. Dunbar seems to get out the most of his team every single season and this year is no exception as the Marksville Tigers have posted a winning season. The Tigers have some skill weapons in DB Damien Jacobs, and CB Kameron Washington. Trajan Alexander, Leonard Sampson, and Clifford Champ may be undersized linebackers, but they are as fast as they come and are explosive in trying to find the football. The offensive line is quick and big too, which is a deadly combination. The job that Head Coach Eric Randall has done with the Baker Buffaloes has been nothing short of outstanding especially playing against teams like University Lab and Dunham over a course of a season. Last year, the Buffaloes only won one game. This season, they not only improved their win total, but have posted a winning record. A big reason for the team’s improvement has been the improved play of some of their seniors. RB/LB Jaylon King is a load whether it is trying to tackle him or trying to be avoided by him. QB Latroy Lathers may be the best athlete on the field with his 4.5/40 speed, and center/LB John McQuirter is a four year starter and vocal leader of the team. The Buffaloes are definitely not a team to be messed around with.
Lee’s Pick: “I like Baker in this game. They have a good team and Coach Randall has done a really good job. I just don’t think that Marksville has enough to beat them.”
#9 St. James (6-4) vs. #24 Donaldsonville (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: This game happens to be a rematch of an earlier game this season. In the regular season matchup, it was the St. James Wildcats that shut out the Donaldsonville Tigers 22-0. This time around, the Tigers will be looking to try and pull out the upset. The St. James Wildcats may be the biggest sleeper team in this bracket as this is a team that is very capable of winning the state championship. A lot of times, the consistency has not been there, but when they have been on, there were a few teams that can hang with the Wildcats. Case in point, they dominated the defending Class 1A state champion West St. John in Week 1 43-0 and also defeated Lutcher. Still, the Wildcats had trouble winning close games. If they would have won some of their 50/50 games, the Wildcats would have a better draw. The Wildcats’ junior quarterback and RB Dontaz Sterling make a great one two punch. There is no question that the Tigers have talent, but the question has been how can Coach Brian Richardson and the squad keep the team consistent. Even after graduating guys such as DE Tahj Brown (Houston) and DT Davon Wright (Tulane), the team still has a lot of future collegiate players. Some players include WR Christian Bell, WR Jeffery Johnson, and WR Terrell Brown can go all get the ball and make plays.
Lee’s Pick: “It is going to be a great game, but I am going to have to go with St. James.”
#8 North Webster (6-4) vs. #25 Albany (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: It was another good year for John Ware and the North Webster Knights posting six wins. The Knights may have lost their star running back from last year in T.J. Hawthorne (Grambing). However, the Knights seemed to be getting their explosive plays from their quarterback this year in Tyrell Markray. To suit more of his skill set, Coach Ware changed his traditional Wing T offense into a more of a spread offense. On defense, Sam Plants Jr. entered the season with the most attention over the off season by breaking Devin White’s (LSU) bench press record when he was at North Webster. This is a good team that is battle tested and could be hard to slow down. The Albany Hornets, led by first year Head Coach Mike Janis, have some really good football players that are on the rise for years to come. RB Justin Parrish brings a lot of speed to the table. The defense is led by one of the talented defensive tackles in the area in Latrell Alexander, who so happens to be the cousin of Ed Alexander (LSU).
Lee’s Pick: “Albany has always done well, but I think they drew a tough opponent first round. North Webster’s defense has really come along so I got North Webster in this one.”
#5 Union Parish (8-2) vs. #28 Bogalusa (4-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: Head Coach Joe Spatafora has made the Union Parish Farmers one of the most consistent and stable programs in Class 3A since he arrived there 12 years ago. The Farmers are serious contenders for the Class 3A state championship with their only two losses coming against fellow state championship contenders Sterlington and Many. The team’s skill talent is as good as it gets in North Louisiana featuring RB/LB Jared Singleton, who plays majority at linebacker, but runs the ball now and then, WR Jalen Jones, RB Jakias Wallace, DB Rodreguis Williams, DB Keyshawn Brock, and LB/SS Rod Williams. Not only do they have great athletes, but they have big linemen as well with the group averaging at least an incredible 270 pounds across. The Farmers match well athletically as any team in the bracket. The Bogalusa Lumberjacks, led by first year Head Coach Adam Brumfield, have accomplished a lot winning four games. This may not be a team that goes very far, but I can tell you one thing and that is they are an exciting team to watch. The Lumberjacks have a two quarterback system, which features two dual threat players. RB Chaz Smith will be given plenty of opportunities to make plays. The defense is built around LB Dretarius Mark and LB Kelton Harry.
Lee’s Pick: “Bogalusa can pull an upset here. Actually, if the game was at Bogalusa, I would actually pick them. However, with Union Parish at home, I think the running game will be too much for Bogalusa to handle. I got Union Parish winning this game.”
#12 Jena (8-2) vs. #21 South Beauregard (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: Head Coach Jay Roark is building a football powerhouse at Jena High School in front of our eyes. They continue to get better each year. In 2016, they went 9-3. In 2017, they went 10-0 and now this year, they are 8-2 even though the team lost their two best players last year, which were WR Jaray Jenkins (LSU) and QB Lamar Farris (Trinity Valley Community College). While the last couple of year have been offensive oriented, the strength of the team is on the defensive side of the football this season. This season, that side of the football has given up more than 20 points once all season. MLB Troy Dangerfield and DT Devin Delasalle have played a huge part in making it happen, but the team’s X Factor has to be ATH Shaun Todd. Todd is one of the most underrated and versatile players in the entire state. He does everything for his team whether it is playing quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punter, or even his most natural position at safety. Todd is an exciting player to watch. What a difference one year makes for Head Coach Dwight Hudler as the team had no wins last year and five this year. Experienced players such as OL/DL Chandler Rutherford and SS Jake Chisolm as well as some other young players have all stepped up their play in order to make this a breakout season for the Trojans.
Lee’s Pick: “It will be a closer game than what people think. Jena lost Jaray Jenkins to LSU and they are also trying to replace their quarterback Lamar Farris, who did a great job. I will go with Jena in this one though.”
#13 Church Point (7-3) vs. #20 West Feliciana (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Church Point Bears, under the leadership of Head Coach John Arceneaux, have already proven in the regular season that they can compete with the top teams in the bracket. In fact, they have beaten #2 seed Eunice, #7 Kaplan, and only lost to #1 seed Iota by three points. The Bears are another double digit seed that is capable of making a pretty deep run in the playoffs. The offense has a deadly backfield featuring QB Breelyn Jones, who may be the shortest quarterback in the state at only 5-4, but regardless, is fun to watch. Other players such as TE Ian Meche, LB Edwardo Bursino, DT Ben Henry and OG/DT Hayden LeJeune will make sure to keep the team in every game this postseason. The defending Class 3A state champions are the West Feliciana Saints. Last year, the Saints were finally able to knock down that door under Head Coach Robb Odom. The good news for the Saints was that they were able to win the state championship. The bad news is most of those key contributors from last year’s state title game are all playing at the collegiate level. Entering this season, the team only had two returning starters from last season. Courtesy of youth and inexperience, it has been a rough start to the season, but a lot of credit should go to Coach Odom and the rest of the coaching staff getting these guys playing their best at the right time. Two players that will give the Bears a lot of trouble are Louisiana Tech commit Khiry Morrison and Clayton Howard. Both guys are big time playmakers that can make this team dangerous. If these younger players can step up, do not be surprised if the Saints go on another late postseason trip.
Lee’s Pick: “This is going to be one of the best games on Friday night. West Feliciana is really coming along with a young team. Church Point has a lot of speed. It is going to be a great game. I am going with Church Point only because it is at home.”
#4 Sterlington (8-2) vs. #29 Cohen College Prep (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Sterlington Panthers are once again one of the top seeds and favorites entering the Class 3A playoffs. It has been another successful season for Coach Lee Doty in his second year as head coach. The Panthers will be looking to try and win their second state championship in three years. The team did lose the leadership of QB Carson Clowers and All-State LB Dawson Snell, but the team has seemed to find their identity early on and it ran the entire course of the season. The team is solid in all three phases of the game. On offense, they are a very efficient offense that features experienced players such as WR Clay Vaughn, RB C.J. Colvin, WR Justin Fuller, and WR Davis Johnson. The defense is led by DB Trey Eddins. On special teams, long snapper Colby Rivera and kicker Landon Green both do their jobs effectively. This is a well coached football team that is talented and disciplined. That is a bad combination if you are an opposing team. In speaking of the opposing team, the Cohen College Prep football program is just getting better and better. After just going winless a couple of seasons ago, the team has improved its win total each year under Head Coach Ben Powell. This is a program that is taking the right steps and can be dangerous in future years.
Lee’s Pick: “I got Sterlington at home.”
#3 Kaplan (7-3) vs. #30 Jennings (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Coach Stephen Lotief and the Kaplan Pirates were able to make a playoff run in 2017 and are primed to do the same this year. The team has had much success with Coach Lotief at the helm and this could be the year they take the next step and win it all. QB Logan Roy and big time OL/TE Quintlan Cobb will lead the offensive attack for the Pirates. Both of these teams have a strong offense. Jennings and Coach Russell Phelps returned QB Kole Myers who led the team to a state semifinals appearance in 2018. Jennings also has a great defense, which is led by LB Jacob Young and FS Zae’Keveyon Levi who are both big hitters.
Lee’s Pick: “Jennings is not your typical 30 seed and both of these teams know each other really well. I am actually going to take Jennings because I think that they are a young team that is coming on.”
#14 Crowley (7-3) vs. #19 Sophie B. Wright (5-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Both of these teams had a tough schedule during the regular season and they each made it through to the playoffs. Coach Jeptha Wall and the Crowley Gents knew that they would have to score lots of points with a young defense and they were able to do that. The defense can step up even more in the playoffs and help lead the team to some wins along with their potent offense. Coach Dennis Christopher had a tough task as a first year head coach for Sophie B. Wright. They finished with a 2-7 record in 2017 and were able to improve it to a 5-4 record this season. Running backs Timothy Conerly and Armando Bradley will have to play great for this team to make a run in the playoffs.
Lee’s Pick: “Crowley and Sophie B. Wright have some of the best talent that nobody knows about. It will be a great game, but at home, I will take Crowley barely in a close game.”
#11 Northwest (7-3) vs. #22 Berwick (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: These two teams played early in the season and Northwest won in a close game by a score of 34-31. Northwest and Coach Chris Edwards had to do some rebuilding this season after losing 18 seniors, which includes WR/DB August Pitre in 2017, but he did his magic and has the Raiders in the playoffs. The Berwick Panthers looked to continue building the program in 2018 after having back to back winning seasons. First year head coach Mike Walker had a tough task trying to continue to win and replace WR Kenan Jones (LSU). He has been able to do just that with players such as QB Mitchell Sanford, RB Josh Jones, and DT Matthew Legendre.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to take Berwick. They are very underrated as a #22 seed.”
#6 Lake Charles College Prep (9-1) vs. #27 Erath (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Lake Charles College Prep had 18 starters return for the 2018 season and that experience shows with their 9-1 record. Coach Erick Franklin had many big time players returning on both sides of the ball in RB D’marcus Miller, WR Aaron Dugas, DE Tavion Alexander, LB Wesley Lesalle, and DB Shane Bradford among others. This core of players will be hard for Erath to stop in the first round. Erath played an extremely tough non-district schedule and that may help them in the playoffs. First year head coach Eric Leblanc has put the Bobcats in a great position to make a run in the playoffs. They finished 1-9 in 2017, but Coach Leblanc has improved that record and has these kids ready to make a run.
Lee’s Pick: “I thin Lake Charles College Prep is going to win their first playoff game.”
#7 Jewel Sumner (7-3) vs. #26 Madison Prep (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Coach Ross Currier has a tremendously improved Jewel Sumner team in 2018 after finishing 1-9 in 2017. The Cowboys returned 35 lettermen in 2018 and some of those guys are RB Jywan Woolridge, OT Chester Martin, and LB Jake Fontenot. Madison Prep had an extremely tough schedule in 2018 having to play University Lab, Scotlandville, and West Feliciana. This team can put up some points and will be a challenge for the Jewel Sumner defense.
Lee’s Pick: “With Madison Prep, you don’t necessarily know what team is going to show up. Talent wise, they have more than Jewel Sumner, but I think they will be up for the game so I am going to take Madison Prep in an upset here.”
#10 Caldwell Parish (8-2) vs. #23 Avoyelles (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: These two teams played late in the season and Caldwell Parish won by a final of 33-6. Despite losing QB J.D. Abrams and RB Eric London to graduation, the Caldwell Parish Spartans did not miss a beat in 2018. Coach Buster Duplissey was able to build around LB Isaiah Swim and OL Hunter Murphy. This team has a strong defense and it will be a challenge for Avoyelles to score. The Avoyelles Mustangs and Coach Andy Boone will have to put up some points to compete with Caldwell Parish and that can be done with Brody Knott under center. With Knott and their strong running game, Avoyelles will have a shot to win.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with Caldwell Parish.”
#15 Green Oaks (5-5) vs. #18 Wossman (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Both of these teams had tough schedules, but were able to come out with 5-5 records.Coach Terrence Isaac and Green Oaks have a strong offense with RB Khyrie Poole. Wossman and Coach Dean Smith are coming off a rebuilding year and it paid off with a 5-5 record against some tough opponents. The offense will be able to keep up with Green Oaks and if the defense gets a few stops, they could win.
Lee’s Pick: “This is going to be a great game featuring two underrated fast teams, but I am going to go with Green Oaks because I think they can become a Cinderella team in the playoffs this year.”
#2 Eunice (8-2) vs. #31 Brusly (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: These two teams played tough schedules, but Eunice showed their strength by winning 8 games. The Eunice Bobcats and Coach Paul Trosclair have the experience to make a deep run this year. RB Avery Lee and WR Jordan Ledet will be hard to stop. This offensive core along with LB Brodi Walker and SS Alex Hardy on defense will be a challenge for Coach Hoff Schooler and the Brusly Panthers. Brusly had 16 starters return from the 2017 season and that experience could lead them to some wins in the playoffs.
Lee’s Pick: “Brusly has done a good job, but Eunice is hard to beat at home in the playoffs every year it seems since Paul Trosclair has been there. It will be a close game, but I am going to go with Eunice.”
Jace’s Final Thoughts: This is the bracket that a lot of interesting stuff can happen. I would not be surprised if a double digit seed makes a deep run just because this bracket has no clear cut favorite. It should be very competitive and arguably the most interesting bracket we have.
Cameron’s Final Thoughts: I think there are many games in this bracket that could go either way. It will be interesting to see which teams step up during the playoffs and make 1 or 2 more plays than the other teams and goes on a run.
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:
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South Link: http://lafootballmagazine.com/product/la-football-magazine-2018-annual-preview-south-edition/