Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 4A 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 4A public bracket!
#1 Edna Karr (10-0) vs. #32 Minden (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: Over the last decade, the Edna Karr Cougars have been arguably the most dominant football program in the state and now under the leadership of Brice Brown, the team has a chance to win their third consecutive Class 4A state championship. The Cougars have great athletes all over the football field along with really good coaching. This team seems to have no weakness. Offensively, the Cougars will rely on one of the best running back duos in the state. UTSA commit Ronnie Jackson and Ahmad Antoine can start for any other team in the state as both players run with power along with 4.5/40 speed. At quarterback, the Cougars have a really good athlete in Caleb Lee, who has a good arm along with electrifying 4.49/40 speed. Lee has plenty of receiver weapons at his disposal including Khalfani Simmons, Jahil Howard, Dalyn Hill, Michael Corner, and Lonte Nettles. As just as good the offense has been, the defense once again has been dominant. The headliner of the group plays in the secondary and his name is Devin Bush. Bush is a national recruit that is being looked at plenty of DI colleges such as Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, etc. Bush is not the only strong defender in the back half as teammates CB Tyrik Mulmore, CB Chaz Bates, SS Balah Muhammad, and FS Destin Refuge make it really hard for anybody to throw the ball on them. Also, the front seven is very experienced featuring guys such as LB Ellsworth Seymour and DT Austin Kent. Like the previous Edna Karr teams, they are strong on all three phases of the ball and are almost impossible to beat. The Minden Crimson Tide, led by Spencer Heard, have got their hands full, but if the team plays the best of their ability, they can give Edna Karr all they can handle. The running game is deep and experienced led by FB Timothy Arrington. The Crimson Tide will use a two quarterback system featuring their sophomore quarterback, who is a pocket passer, and Jakobe Greenard. The strength of this team comes on the offensive line as well as on the defensive side. Senior OG Noah Peters is the captain of the offensive line and defensively, this is a very underrated unit featuring DT Braxton Jackson, who also sees some goal line carries at fullback, OLB/DE Stefan Wheeler, CB JeCareon Lathan, SS AJ Lister, CB Zy Crawford, and FS Alonzo Combs.
Lee’s Pick: “Minden is the best 32 seed out of all the brackets. They are talented. I know that Edna Karr is the second most talented team in the state behind U-High and you can make an argument as the most talented team. Poor Minden had a bad draw against Edna Karr. They will put up a fight, but too much Edna Karr in the end.”
#16 Benton (7-3) vs. #17 Tioga (7-3)
Jace’s Game Preview: This game is a rematch of a regular season matchup between these two teams. In the first game, it was the Benton Tigers that prevailed 27-17. In speaking of the Tigers, it was another successful regular season for Head Coach Reynolds Moore winning seven games. The problem is that the Tigers have not made that deep postseason run yet, but it could happen this season. The Tigers may had to replace four year starter Garrett Hable with a young sophomore quarterback in Clint Lasiter, who has grown and matured as the season went on. What has helped his development is the luxury of having explosive, senior receivers such as Legend Denler, Bubba Osby, and Malik Antoine. The offensive line and total defense has been in a work in progress, but the skill players can put points up plenty. The Tioga Indians are looking for revenge after the first game. Under Head Coach Kevin Cook, the team lost a playmaker defender last year in LB Detavius Eldridge (Arkansas Monticello), but returns another one in FS Tydarian Quinney. Quinney is a do-it-all player lining up at wide receiver, safety, kick return, and punt return specialist. He is a jack of all trades. The offense is led by their junior quarterback, who has a good arm and feet in the pocket. When the team needs to rely on special teams, senior kicker David Martinez can give them an edge.
Lee’s Pick: “I think Tioga is going to upset Benton. Benton is not quite as good as they were last year with a new quarterback and new players. Tioga is a really underrated team.”
#9 Bastrop (7-2) vs. #24 McDonogh 35 (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Bastrop Rams, under Head Coach Adrian Burnette, are a sleeper team in this Class 4A bracket. A major reason why is that they have one of the best senior dual threat quarterbacks in the state in Quaterius Hawkins. Hawkins is a human highlight reel as he has a strong arm as well as an ability to make plays when things break down. Hawkins has a great connection with WR Sirquan Hawkins. The duo is really tough to defend. Defensively, this has been a relentless group starring LB TJ Branch, who is going to be a great player with his combination of speed and power, CB Charles Mullens, and CB Phillip Jackson. The Rams have the talent to sneak up on a lot of teams on this bracket. The McDonogh 35 Roneagles, led by legendary Head Coach Wayne Reese, have had a bit of a rebuilding season after replacing guys that are playing at the DI level such as Joe Foucha (Arkansas) and Lawrence Keys (Notre Dame). Still, the Roneagles were able to win five games in a tough district. Like always, the strength of this team will come in the secondary. ULL commit Jaden Henderson, SS Jessie Lawrence, and CB Austin Jones makes up a really good secondary. If this group can find a way to force turnovers, it will make it easier for everybody else in trying to pull off a playoff upset on the road.
Lee’s Pick: “Both these teams are super underrated. Bastrop’s dual threat quarterback Quaterius Hawkins is going to be the difference so I am going to go with Bastrop in this game.”
#8 Plaquemine (8-2) vs. #25 Westgate (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: Once again, the Plaquemine Green Devils, led by Head Coach Paul Distefano, have once again won the District 6-4A championship, which is pretty tough to accomplish since schools like Parkview Baptist and Lutcher are in the district. The Green Devils may be missing some talent most notably Nelson Jenkins (LSU) and Wayne Toussant (Louisiana Tech), but there is still a lot of talent especially at the skill positions. One of the most incredible stories in the state this season is their senior QB Herb Thomas. Thomas was having himself a great season in 2017 until he had a rare broken hip injury against Tara. His doctors even told him that he may never walk much less play ever again. Now a year later, he is sharing reps as the number one quarterback. Incredible! His teammate Dontayvion Wicks, who is being recruited by Houston and some others teams, has made a lot of big plays whether it is catching jumpballs or taking snaps for the Green Devils. He is a great player. Defensively, the Green Devils’ top players are senior LB Herman Christophe (6-0, 230), who is very underrated at his position in the Baton Rouge area, and CB J’Vonte Powers, who just recently committed to Southeastern. The Green Devils will have their hands full with the athletes Westgate has under Head Coach Ryan Antoine. Senior RB/LB Tyreese Jackson is built like a SEC players and runs with that bruising, powerful style. The Tigers also have a lot of speed as well. In fact, LSU commit Kayshon Boutte, who is ranked by some as the number one player in Louisiana for the 2020 class, and converted QB Markeyrick Eddie both possess 4.5/40 speed or better.
Lee’s Pick: “Westgate is not a 25 seed talent wise and Plaquemine is really good. This is a tough game to call, but I am going to go with Westgate pulling the upset.”
#5 Lakeshore (10-0) vs. #28 DeRidder (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Lakeshore Titans proved last year that their number two seed and undefeated regular season record was no fluke as the team made it all the way to the Superdome for the Class 4A state championship game in 2017. The Titans seem to play with an added chip on their shoulder and it clearly shows. On the team, everybody looks up to senior ATH Jacob Bernard. Bernard is already regarded as the best player in program history. This year, he is considered as one of the most dynamic players in the state as he can play running back, wide receiver, and has proved to take any kickoff return or punt return for a touchdown. Besides Bernard, the team has a lot of solid players that just do their necessary jobs in order for the team to have success. A lot of success should be given to Head Coach Craig Jones for building the Titan to legitimate contenders. The DeRidder Dragons, led by Head Coach Brad Parmley, have their hands full with Bernard and company, but they are a tough team that will give their all. The team is really young only returning nine starters from the season before. Luckily, one of their returning starters is their signal caller Lane Armer. Armer is a talented quarterback that has a big time weapon in WR Greg Woodard. If both players get going, they can make the game interesting.
Lee’s Pick: “DeRidder is better than 28, but Lakeshore knows how to win playoff games so I am going to go with Lakeshore.”
#12 Livonia (8-2) vs. #21 Cecilia (4-6)
Jace’s Game Preview: This is another regular season rematch. The Livonia Wildcats got it done in the first meeting with an 18-7 victory over the Cecilia Bulldogs. The Livonia Wildcats, under Head Coach Marc Brown, have had a pretty good season after only winning three games last year. A big reason is the constant improvement of four year starter QB Kerri Wells, who is as most valuable to a team as can be with his leadership and ability to make special things happen. Add in playmakers such as WR Romano Butler, and RB Charles Harris, then you have yourself an offense that can put points up. The defensive front for the Wildcats are pretty tough to block with guys such as DT Jermaine Leonard and OLB/DE Myles Guidry. The Cecilia Bulldogs, led by Head Coach Dennis Skains, had their moments winning four games this year. They will be looking to avenge their loss earlier in the year. Players such as CB Wallace Davis, DE Dellison Allen, and RB Markel Williams will have an impact and will be ready to go.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with Cecilia. They do great in the playoffs, and even though Livonia has had a good year, I am going to go with Cecilia.”
#13 Pearl River (7-2) vs. #20 Franklin Parish (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: First year Head Coach Joe Harris has done an outstanding job with the Pearl River Rebels winning seven games. The Rebels love to run the football with their outstanding junior running back, who has ran for over 1,200 yards this season. Even though the offensive line is physical and they have a talented running back, this team is not one dimensional as they can also throw the football with QB Justin Dean. This is a very underrated offense that can give a lot of teams trouble. As for the Franklin Parish Patriots led by fellow first year Head Coach Whitney McCartney, they may be the best 5-5 team in the state considering the tough schedule they played. The Patriots’ five losses this year all came against playoff contenders. They were Kentwood, Haughton, Bastrop, Neville, and Union Parish. The team is bouncing back this season after a tough 1-9 finish. Veteran QB L.T. Major returns to lead the offense. At 6-3, 205 pounds, Major looks like a DI player and plays like it as well. RB Stephan Harden can run a 4.6/40 or better and gives the team some speed. Defensively, the team is led by tough linebackers Samonte Bryant and Henry Jackson.
Lee’s Pick: “This could go either way and should be a great game. It is going to be a long trip for Franklin Parish, but I am going to go with the Patriots in this game.”
#4 Neville (7-2) vs. #29 Opelousas (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Neville Tigers, led by Head Coach Mickey McCarthy, are starting to get back to their dominating ways after a little bit of a down year for the Tiger faithful in 2017. This season, the Tigers are a state championship contender once again as the number four seed. The Tigers have a really good dual threat quarterback in Jordan Thomas. Jordan Thomas is a gifted athlete that can make plays with his 4.45/40 speed. With his athletic ability, he could also been seen playing different positions at different times in the game. The Tigers also have one of the best offensive lines in the entire state featuring OT Logan Newell, OT Tyler Kirk, and center Neil Mott. Skill position players such as RB Andrew Greely and WR Tavis Butler can all make plays. Defensively, it is an athletic group up front with players such as DT Martevious Johnson and DE LaKamion Franklin. The Opelousas Tigers, led by Head Coach Doug Guillory, has one of the fastest playmakers you will see in this bracket in ATH Kenny Frazier. Frazier can play multiple positions because of his incredible 4.3/40 speed and quickly can change the game. Also, offensively, QB Devin Nicholas and WR/CB Braylon Roberts can all help carry the load.
Lee’s Pick: “Opelousas is a really good team that has improved a lot this year, but Neville is going to be too much for them to handle.”
#3 St. Martinville (10-0) vs. #30 Franklinton (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The St. Martinville Tigers rolled through their regular season schedule finishing 10-0. Both sides of the ball had playmakers return from the 2017 team. Coach Vincent DeRouen will have to count on RB Travien Benjamin, QB Markavon Williams, and Jamel Fontenette on the offensive side of the ball. The Tigers’ defense will be led by LB Markel Chambers, DE Marcus Cormier, and SS Javone Wiltz. These players will have to play at a high level to get past Franklinton. Coach Jonathan Barber and the Demons made it through a tough regular season schedule and into the playoffs. They had to replace their QB from 2017 in Tahj Magee (Louisiana Tech), but wide receivers Duke Bell and Kian Conerly have stepped up. They will be leaned on by the Demons to keep up with St. Martinville’s potent offense.
Lee’s Pick: “St. Martinville drew a tough 30 seed in Franklinton and they are better than what their seed indicates, but I am going to go with St. Martinville because they are just on a role right now with an undefeated season.”
#14 Belle Chasse (8-2) vs. #19 George Washington Carver (7-3)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Both of these teams had tough schedules and they both ended the season with good records. The Belle Chasse Cardinals and their high potent offense helped get them to an 8-2 record. Players like ATH Ralph Jones and WR Shawn Thompson will be a challenge to stop for George Washington Carver. The Rams and Coach Byron Addison will have their hands full, but the veterans on defense will be key to winning some games. CB Justin London and SS Ronnie Gray will need to play well for the Rams in order to make a run in the playoffs.
Lee’s Pick: “It is going to be a phenomenal game featuring a lot of speed. I think Belle Chasse has a better overall team. Carver got some big time weapons, but I am going to pick Belle Chasse to win in a close game.”
#11 Assumption (8-2) vs. #22 Carencro (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Coach Anthony Paine and the Assumption Mustangs had to replace much of their offense after the 2017 season, but they have been able to do that and win eight games. The defense had nine returning starters and those guys have been a reason the Mustangs have had a successful season. Some of those players are DB Shawn Hall, LB Desmond Smith, and DE Josh Ratcliff. Carencro’s offense will have to have a great game to score against this defense. Coach Tony Courville and the Bears have the ability to do it. QB Austen Breaux will lead the offense along with RB Trejun Jones, WR Chukwuma Utomi, and WR Desmond Johnnie. These players will have to have a great game for the Bears to come out on top.
Lee’s Pick: “These are two really even teams. Assumption has great running backs and a good defense. Carencro has a good quarterback, running backs, and defense as well. I am going to go with Carencro in a close game.”
#6 Leesville (10-0) vs. #27 Woodlawn-Shreveport (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Leesville Wampus Cats flew through their regular season schedule. Coach Robert Causey has had lots of success in his three years as head coach after winning ten games this season and last season. The offense has been able to put up some points with their big offensive line returning with Nebraska commit Matthew Anderson, Montae Lynch, and Brett Pope. This group will be a great challenge for Woodlawn and Coach Jerwin Wilson. The Knights had an up and down season, but are ready to make a run in the playoffs. It will start with linebackers Damon Wilson, Armon Harris, and Jeffrey Ledet stopping the Wampus Cats’ run game.
Lee’s Pick: “Woodlawn is another team that is better than their speed and right now, Leesville has a really good football program. I just think that Leesville’s running game is going to be too much for Woodlawn in this game.”
#7 Northwood-Shreveport (10-0) vs. #26 South Terrebonne (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Coach James Gatlin and Northwood rolled through their schedule. They are another team in this bracket that has a high potent offense. They can score on anybody and it starts with their junior quarterback. It helps him to have a playmaker like WR Traylon Jones. Coach Richard Curlin and the South Terrebonne Gators defense is experienced and will try to slow down the Falcons’ offense. The defense will be led by DT/DE Donald Dardar and LB Gage Price.
Lee’s Pick: “South Terrebonne drew the wrong team. I don’t think they can stop Northwood’s offense. I got Northwood in this one.”
#10 North DeSoto (8-2) vs. #23 Helen Cox (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: North DeSoto enters the playoffs having won five of their last six games. Their bread and butter, during the playoffs, will be their run game with the big and experienced offensive line that they have. Tyrien Taylor will anchor down the offensive line. The Helen Cox Cougars will have to give it their all to stop the Griffins rushing attack and it will start with their front seven. The Cougars’ defense will be led by DT Khalil Huntley, DE Larenz Pendleton, and DE Gerald Henderson. They will have to give it their all in order to move on to the next round.
Lee’s Pick: “Helen Cox has some athletes, but North DeSoto’s offense is now a passing offense. It’s tough to defend so I have North DeSoto in this game.”
#15 Breaux Bridge (7-3) vs. #18 Lutcher (6-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Breaux Bridge Tigers have relied on their defense to win seven games during the regular season. Their offense has come along throughout the season, and it will be a challenge for Lutcher to stop them. The Tigers had many experienced players in DT Jontrell Steward, and DT Trevone Sylvester. The Lutcher Bulldogs will have to rely on their depth when trying to beat Breaux Bridge. QB Kolby Bourgeois will be looking for WR Jacoby Williams to get the offense going. The Bulldogs defensive back Zane McCrary will be tested and need to step up to give Lutcher a chance.
Lee’s Pick: “These are two evenly matched teams. The only difference is that it is at Breaux Bridge. Lutcher is the king of the playoffs and they do great in the playoffs. I think Lutcher is going to win even though Breaux Bridge is a good team.”
#2 Warren Easton (7-2) vs. #31 Rayne (3-7)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Warren Easton has made a deep run in the playoffs every year since 2014 and they look to do the same this year. The Fighting Eagles are led by extremely talent QB Lance Legendre. He has a great core around to help in a great junior running back and WR Dewitt Johnson. The defense also has experience and should show out during the postseason. The Rayne Wolves had a tough season going 3-7. Coach Curt Ware is an experienced coach and will have this team ready to give Warren Easton a great game.
Lee’s Pick: “Rayne is a good 31 seed team. I watched them on film. They have a great running game. Their running back Darian Richard is phenomenal. However, I just don’t think that Rayne can beat Warren Easton.”
Jace’s Final Thoughts: After a great regular season finale between Edna Karr and Warren Easton, I would love to see that matchup again in the Dome. I believe it can happen, but teams such as Lakeshore, Neville, Northwood, St. Martinville, Leesville, etc. have a good chance of preventing that from happening.
Cameron’s Final Thoughts: I think this bracket comes down to Edna Karr and Warren Easton. The top half of the bracket should have some great games in the early rounds that could go either way. It will be interesting to see if anyone challenges Edna Karr or Warren Easton on their sides of the bracket.
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/