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Warren Easton senior DB and McNeese State commit Damien Tate lines up everywhere for the Eagles and could have a big night against the Knights playing different positions. (Property of LAFM)

Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 4A Quarterfinals Preview

Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 4A Quarterfinals Preview

by Jace LeJeune and Lee Brecheen

24 teams are down and there are 8 more teams left to go. All 8 teams have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they all have one goal in mind. 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. It is our version of “March Madness”. 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. 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 division quarterfinal playoff matchups.

Class 4A: 

#1 Edna Karr Cougars (12-0) vs. #8 Northwood-Shreveport Falcons (10-2) .

Game Preview: The Edna Karr Cougars began their quest for a second straight Class 4A state championship and a third straight championship appearance as the number one seed against the #32 seed Buckeye Panthers. The Edna Karr Cougars may not have Aldon Clark (Arkansas State) at quarterback, but they sure have another good quarterback this season in Skyler Perry, who accounted for five touchdowns with four through the air and one on the ground to score the Cougars’ first five touchdowns. While the Edna Karr passing offense was clicking, the defense was dominant as the Cougars forced four Buckeye turnovers in the first half including a 28 yard interception for a touchdown by defensive lineman Terrance Casey-Charles. It was simply too much for Jonathan Landry and the Buckeye Panthers to handle as Brice Brown and the Edna Karr Cougars roll in the end 54-13. In the Cougars’ second round playoff game against Byron Addison and the Carver Rams, let’s just say the game was a lot closer for the Cougars than they would have liked. It was indeed a wild and crazy game as it looked like Edna Karr was going to run Carver out of the stadium with a 21-0 early lead, but the Rams stormed to score 28 unanswered points to take the lead. Both teams traded touchdowns until late in the fourth quarter when Perry threw a 54 yard touchdown pass to Anthony Spurlock to take the 40-35 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the football game. It was not a great game for the Edna Karr defense, which is usually dominant, but they were able to hold the explosive Carver offense out of the end zone for a game winning score. Perry threw for four touchdowns in the win while Spurlock caught two of Perry’s touchdowns including the game winner. It was a great effort from QB Izea Hurst and WR Gary Young, who both battled through injuries, as Hurst accounted for four touchdowns with two through the air and two through the ground and Young had a receiving touchdown as well as a kick return for a touchdown, but it was too much Cougars offensive firepower as Edna Karr held on to win in a crazy game 40-35. When they are at their best, this is a team that is awfully tough to beat with a great quarterback in Perry, two great running backs in Ahmad Antonie and Ronnie Jackson, a great defensive line led by Ronnell Burbank, Jamier Jackson, Austin Kent, and Terrance Casey Charles, and a great back half of the defense in CB Devin Bush, who will be a very good player, LB Sheldon Celestine, and DB Quindell Johnson. They are looking to make the next step at another Class 4A state championship today against an up and coming team in Northwood-Shreveport. The Northwood-Shreveport Falcons are having one of their best seasons in recent memory with Jim Gatlin at the helm. After winning three games a season ago, the Falcons have won ten games and are still going strong right now after two playoff victories. The Falcons defeated St. Martinville 34-20 in the first round and dominated Salmen 47-6. The Falcons took advantage of Salmen losing TCU commit Eddie Smith defensively and shut down their offense to six points and less than 200 yards. Offensively, the Falcons have one of the best sophomore quarterbacks in the state in Logan Bogan who threw for 227 yards and four touchdowns. Bogan did a great job spreading the ball to a deep receiving group that includes Detraveon Brown, LaCendric Smith, and Traylon Jones Jr. The Falcons will try and continue their dream season against an Edna Karr team that has been here time and time again. It will be interesting how Northwood approaches this game knowing that they are newer to these type of games than Edna Karr.

Lee’s Take: “This is a scary matchup for Edna Karr as the Cougars don’t know much about Northwood. The quarterback at Northwood is the real deal and could be LSU good in two years if he is not that good already. Anytime you have a great quarterback like that, you can move the ball and control the clock not allowing the ball to Skyler Perry and the Edna Karr offense. You cannot let Edna Karr control the time of possession with the two running backs that they have. It is going to be a close game. I am going to go with Edna Karr, but it is going to be a closer game than people think.”

#2 Lakeshore Titans (12-0) vs. #7 Neville Tigers (9-3)

Game Preview: The Lakeshore Titans, under the leadership of Craig Jones, have had a dream season going undefeated in the regular season, winning the District 8-4A district championship, and hosting a playoff game with the number two seed. The Titans also got their first playoff win against Pearl River. The Titans had no trouble in getting the program’s first victory as the whole team was dominant in all three phrases. On offense, the Titans had over 400 yards of total offense. Lakeshore senior QB Chris Penton completed only eight of nine passes, but for 215 yards and three touchdowns. The Titan defense was dominant sacking Pearl River QB Justin Dean for more yards than Dean was able to pass through the air with -40 yards coming on sacks and only 37 passing yards through the air. The special teams also made some big plays including a blocked punt that set up another Lakeshore touchdown. All three factors played a part in Lakeshore’s 42-0 shutout victory over Pearl River. In the Titans’ second round playoff game, they had to face a Tioga team that had a breakout season just like Lakeshore when they went on a playoff run last season. The Titans had a great game from their senior quarterback as Penton threw for over 200 yards, but he made the most impact running the football as he ran for three touchdowns. The Titan defense showed up again this week as they forced five Tioga turnovers to get the 40-19 victory. This is a hot Lakeshore team that is having the best season in the history of the school. Now, they will have to face a team that is used to making these type of runs in the Neville Tigers. The Neville Tigers may have not had a dominant regular season like they have had in years past under the leadership of Mickey McCarty, but nevertheless, this is a team that has dominated the Class 4A rankings over the past couple of seasons with making the last three Class 4A state championship games while winning two of them. The Tigers face a much improved Woodlawn (B.R.) team from a season ago under the leadership of Daniel Luquet that could give the Tigers everything that they got in the first round. The Neville Tiger defense had one of the best team defensive performances shutting down the Panther offense only giving up three points and only 100 total yards of offense. The first half was a defensive struggle with Neville scoring the only touchdown of the first half, which came on a four yard touchdown run by DeMaine Riley. Woodlawn’s defense frustrated Neville QB Jordan Thomas, who threw two first-half interceptions, but Thomas overcame those early mistakes accounting for two touchdowns. Riley also was a difference maker for the Tigers rushing for over 100 yards a touchdown and catching a 80 yard pass from Thomas. Points were hard to come by in the first half,  but it was the Neville offense that did enough offensively to win by four possessions. Woodlawn’s star offensive player and Louisiana Tech commit Xavier Lodge did not play after Woodlawn’s second possession. Thanks to a dominant defensive effort, the Neville Tigers defeat the Woodlawn Panthers 28-3. In Neville’s second round playoff game, they had to face a McDonogh 35 team that has a lot of big time recruits including WR Lawrence Keys and DB Joe Foucha. The Neville defense came through again against the Roneagles in a 14-13 victory. A missed extra point by the Roneagles proved to be the difference in the football game. The Roneagles did move the ball offensively as Keys had nine catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown and Eddie Tillman had an 80 yard touchdown run in the first half to help the Roneagles get the 13-7 halftime lead. However, the Tigers defense held the Roneagles offense out of the end zone in the second half. Neville scored the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter with a four yard touchdown run by QB Jordan Thomas, who struggled most of the game against the McDonogh 35 secondary throwing for negative yards and two interceptions in the first half fought through the whole game to get the Tigers a one point victory. This is not the Neville team that we have seen score many points in the past, but the Tigers still have the formula to go back to the Superdome once more with a strong running game by DeMaine Riley and a very good defense. Just like the Edna Karr-Northwood game, experience in the big games could decide what team moves on to the next round.

Lee’s Take: “I thought McDonogh 35 was going to beat Neville. Neville is young, but they are still Neville. Mickey McCarty has a lot of kids that believe and have played in state championship games before, but they don’t have guys like Rashard Lawrence, Phidarian Mathis, and those players walking around for Neville. I think Lakeshore, who may not be as talented as Neville, but do have a lot of skill guys. I think they will give Neville a lot of fits so I am going to go with Lakeshore to win this football game.”

#4 Warren Easton Eagles (10-2) vs. #12 Woodlawn-Shreveport Knights (9-3).

Game Preview: The Warren Easton Eagles, led by Jerry Phillips, came into their first round playoff game against the Carencro Golden Bears trying to bounce back from a 40-6 blowout loss against the Edna Karr Cougars. Unfortunately, for the Golden Bears, the Eagles took out their frustrations on them. It was a dominating performance by Warren Easton as the offense racked up almost 600 total yards of offense and only gave up an incredible 115 total yards defensively. Warren Easton QB Lance Legendre threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Legendre sure gave his playmakers the football as Yoheinz Tyler had three catches for 129 yards and a touchdown and Sheldon “Stick” Jones had four catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the rushing duo of Dewitt Johnson and and Ashaad Clayton combined for over 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Eagles to make a well balanced attack. The Eagles dominated the Golden Bears from start to finish with the final score of 48-0. Like St. James mentioned earlier in the 3A bracket, this is a Warren Easton team that suffered their lumps this season, but are playing their best football right now. The Eagles shut down the North DeSoto Griffins 54-0 in their second round playoff game.  Legendre threw for four touchdowns while the defense forced six punts to get the dominating victory. With skill players like Legendre, Jones, Tyler, and do everything playmaker Damien Tate (McNeese State commit), this is a team that nobody wants to play right now. A team that can matchup with the Eagles’ skill talent is the Woodlawn Shreveport Knights, led by Jerwin Wilson. They  showed why they are one of the most explosive offenses in the state in their first round game by putting up 61 points in the game and 32 in the first half in a 61-20 victory over Westgate. The onslaught by the Knights occurred quickly as QB Trivenskey Mosley got the game started with a 43 yard touchdown run. Then, the Knights intercepted a pass for a touchdown, and right after that, Mosley scored another touchdown. With a 32-0 lead at the first half, it was completely dominated by the Knights. The Tigers did score 20 points in the second half, but it was no where even close to what the Knights were doing offensively. The Knights’ second round playoff game came against the Belle Chasse Cardinals, who upsetted the Plaquemine Green Devils in the first round of the playoffs. The Cardinals almost posted another upset taking a 13-0 lead in the third quarter, but the Cardinals could not contain Mosley who did his damage running the football 26 times for 246 yards and the team’s two touchdowns of the night to barely escape with a 14-13 victory. Playmakers Jordan Hester and Larry Moten were also key in the victory. This sets up a matchup between the Eagles and the Knights for a chance to go to the Superdome. Even though both teams are playing really good defense, it should be a high scoring game as both teams have their share of explosive playmakers.

Lee’s Take: “Warren Easton is my pick to win the championship next year. If this team can win the state championship this year, it is more than likely that this team can go back to back. Right now, Warren Easton is the team to beat next year along with Edna Karr, but I am going to predict an upset here. Woodlawn had not won a playoff game in 25 years prior to last season. They have already won two playoff games this season. If the team can win their third playoff game this season, it would be the most playoff wins since the Terry Bradshaw (Louisiana Tech/Pittsburgh Steelers) days. Woodlawn can go toe to toe with Warren Easton and they can control the clock. They have Mosley, Moten, and Hester, but they also have a big offensive line. Woodlawn is a very intriguing team and I think they will pull off the upset. I think Warren Easton is not as fired up to play Woodlawn as if they would have played Edna Karr.”

#11 Rayne Wolves (9-2) vs. #14 Cecilia Bulldogs (8-4)

Game Preview:  The Rayne Wolves, led by Curt Ware, are one of the hottest teams in the state right now heading into the playoffs and have one of the best running games in the state led by two of the most underrated recruits in the state in Trent Winbush and Darien Harmon. Both players put on a show against the Helen Cox Cougars in their 57-21 first round victory. The Rayne rushing attack racked up almost 500 rushing yards. When the rushing attack is going, there is no need to pass the ball as Rayne attempted only two passes the entire game. Harmon ran for 226 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries while Winbush ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. In Rayne’s second round game, they had to play against a Leesville team, led by Robert Causey, that is having their best season since 2008 when Michael Ford (LSU) was running the football for the Wampus Cats. However, the Wolves have had their way against the Wampus Cats in the regular season giving Leesville their only loss was against Rayne in a 28-18 game. This time, it was much as the same as Leesville could not stop the Wing-T as well as the rushing duo of Winbush and Harmon, who combined for 252 yards and two touchdowns. This time, the Rayne defense did a better job of containing Leesville’s offense only giving up seven points this time as the Wolves move on to the quarterfinals to take on another low seeded team that is playing like a higher seed team in the Cecilia Bulldogs.  The Cecilia Bulldogs, led by Dennis Skains, were clicking on all cylinders offensively against a solid DeRidder team in the first round It seemed that whatever the Bulldogs were doing offensively, they were going to move the football. In the running game, the Bulldogs may have lost Ryan Malbrough for the season, but not to worry as the Bulldogs have great depth at that position with Kerrick AlexanderDevin Briscoe, and freshman RB Adonis Singleton, who actually led the running backs against the Dragons with 114 yards rushing. Cecilia QB Lance Lalonde had a good game as well accounting for over 200 yards and touchdowns with one touchdown pass and one touchdown run. This balanced Cecilia offensive attack scored 41 points while the defense only gave up eight points in the 41-8 victory over the DeRidder Dragons. However, that was not their most impressive victory. That victory would come the very next week in the team’s second round game against the #3 seed and undefeated Benton Tigers. The Bulldogs took advantage of an unusually sloppy game from Benton senior quarterback Garrett Hable, who completed under 50% of his passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers offense could not convert on third and fourth down thus giving Cecilia good field position. The Bulldogs had a great game from their passing attack as Lalonde threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns with WR Kaleb Carter having nine receptions for over 200 of those yards and a touchdown. The Tigers were trying to take the lead late in the game, but backed up in their own five yard line, Hable threw an interception allowing the Bulldogs to go up by nine points with another field goal attempt by their kicker Tanner Oliver, who had himself a great game going three for three on field goal attempts and making both extra points. This upset victory ended the Tigers’ chance of an undefeated season as well as a state championship. After starting the season at 0-4, the Cecilia Bulldogs have completely turned around their season by winning their eighth straight game. The Rayne Wolves are also playing their best football right now as well. Something has to give tonight in this quarterfinal game. The key factor will be if the Bulldogs can contain the running duo of Winbush and Harmon just like they contained Hable. If they are able to do that, then, the Bulldogs have a great chance of winning this football game.

Lee’s Take: “I have seen Rayne play this year even though a lot of other people outside of Crowley have not seen Rayne play this year either. Kudos to Cecilia for beating Benton. For this team to beat Benton, that is a huge victory. Cecilia is young and I saw them play too. Cecilia is built to make a run next year, which is why it is pretty shocking that they are playing this game this year. Rayne has too much defense for Cecilia to handle. When I see Rayne’s defense, I see Notre Dame’s defense. Cecilia is a tough team and Coach Skains should be up for Coach of the Year, but I don’t see Cecilia scoring enough points or slowing down Winbush and Harmon. I got Rayne as a team that can make the Dome.”

 

Jace’s Final Thoughts: In years’ past, everybody would know who would be going to play in the Superdome. Those teams would be Edna Karr and Neville. This year is different as the 4A playoffs are really wide open compared to the last couple of seasons. I still think Edna Karr will get to the state championship, but I truly believe there will be another team that the Cougars will play in the Superdome. I picked McDonogh 35 to be that other team, but the Roneagles lost in the last round. With that being said, I think that Rayne could be that football team. My picks, for the quarterfinal matchups, are Edna Karr, Lakeshore, Warren Easton, and Rayne. We will see how well we do as the Road to the Dome continues tonight!

 

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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.