Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 4A Second Round Preview
by Jace LeJeune and Lee Brecheen
16 teams are down and there are 16 more teams left to go. All 16 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 second round playoff matchups.
#1 Edna Karr Cougars (11-0) vs. #16 George Washington Carver Rams (7-3) .
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. The George Washington Carver Rams, led by Byron Addison, faced off against the Bastrop Rams led by Adrian Burnette. This was a rematch of the Week One matchup between both schools in which the Carver Rams defeated the Bastrop Rams 20-12. The Bastrop Rams looked to spoil Carver’s playoff run with a revenge win, but the Carver Rams did not let that happen thanks to their quarterback Izea Hurst, who accounted for five touchdowns with three touchdowns through the air and two on the ground. The chemistry between Hurst and senior WR Gary Young clicked as Young caught all of the senior quarterback’s touchdown passes in the game. The Bastrop Rams were in this game early on, but it was too much of the Carver offensive attack as the Carver Rams swept the Bastrop Rams this season in both matchups with a 50-24 victory. Both Edna Carr and Carver have a lot of skill talent on both football teams, but the difference is that Edna Karr has the interior players that will help them win against the Rams. Players like Ronnell Burbank, Austin Kent, Jamier Jackson, and Terrance Casey Charles make up a very strong front seven and I think that could be the difference as both teams do have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the football.
Lee’s Take: “I think Carver will put up some points, but I don’t think they can physically match with Karr on the offensive and defensive lines. I think Ronnell Burbank is one of the biggest sleepers in the state. What makes Edna Karr so good is their defensive line. Edna Karr is a lot better than people really think. Everybody talks about Skyler Perry and the three running backs, but I think Edna Karr has a complete team. They could go to the Dome for a third straight season.”
#2 Lakeshore Titans (11-0) vs, #18 Tioga Indians (7-4)
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. The Titans will have to face a team very similar in a lot of ways with Lakeshore in Tioga. The Tioga Indians, under Kevin Cook, had their breakout season last year when the team went 9-1 and advanced to the second round of the 4A playoffs. Now, Tioga is looking to go a step further this year after breaking out last season. Tioga did what good teams do in their first playoff game against South Lafourche, which is try to take advantage of plays not only on offense and defense, but on special teams as well. The Indians took advantage of two Tarpon special teams blunders including a muffed punt and a blocked field goal to set the tone early on. The Indians were able to ride a 24-2 lead and kept it as Tioga won with a final score of 31-16. The matchup, to watch for, is how the Lakeshore offense deals with trying to block one of the best defensive players in North Louisiana in Tioga LB Detavius Eldridge, who also can play tight end. If the Lakeshore offense can find a way to protect their senior QB Chris Penton, then there is a great chance that the Titans can continue their best season in program history.
Lee’s Take: “Lakeshore is going to win again because they are a senior team. Tioga is kind of a surprise right now because they are rebuilding last year’s playoff team. It is really shocking because Tioga is a really young football team. They have a young quarterback as well as some other young players. I am going to go with Lakeshore here, and it probably won’t be close because Lakeshore is really talented.”
#3 Benton Tigers (11-0) vs. #14 Cecilia Bulldogs (7-4)
Game Preview: The Benton Tigers, led by Reynolds Moore, enter the 4A playoffs with another strong regular season effort with a 10-0 record and a district championship, but the question was going into the game if the Tigers could carry that regular season success in the playoffs against a respectable opponent in the Breaux Bridge Tigers led by Terry Martin. The game was close in the beginning with the score being at 14 a piece, but that is when the Benton offense broke this game open. Benton senior QB Garrett Hable proved why he is one of the best quarterbacks in this 4A bracket having his best performance when it mattered most. Hable threw for 292 yards and five touchdowns while running for 77 yards on the ground. Hable did a great job of distributing the ball to his playmakers as top receiving targets Doyle Adams, Legend Denier, and Bubba Osby combined for 12 receptions for over 200 yards and four touchdowns. RB Jermaine Newton had a great second half for Benton rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns. When the offense clicked for Benton, the defense stiffened forcing two interceptions and making sure that their star receiver Terry Steward was not going to beat them. Benton’s strong second half was the key factor as the Benton Tigers defeated the Breaux Bridge Tigers 56-28. The Cecilia Bulldogs, led by Dennis Skains, were clicking on all cylinders offensively against a solid DeRidder team led by Brad Parmley. 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 Alexander, Devin 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. This should be a pretty good game as both teams have two great offensive attacks. Benton may be the better passing team while Cecilia may have the better running team, but both offenses can do both and be balanced when they need to. For the Benton Tigers, they know that this could be the year where they actually make a deep run in the postseason and when this team is motivated to play, they are one of the best teams in 4A. However, the Cecilia Bulldogs are a well coached football team and if the team wins the turnover battle and keeps Garrett Hable, Doyle Adams, and the explosive Tiger offensive attack off the football fiend, then, the team does have a strong chance.
Lee’s Take: “I watched Cecilia play earlier this year, and I don’t think that they can beat Benton not because they are not good. It is just that Cecilia is really young this year. I think Benton is the more experienced team, and they are playing with a chip on their shoulder as nobody thinks Benton could go to the Dome. This might be the only team in all of the playoffs to shock everybody and get to the Dome so I take Benton in this game. However, Cecilia will be a better team next season.”
#4 Warren Easton Eagles (9-2) vs. #13 North DeSoto Griffins (8-3).
Game Preview: The Warren Easton Eagles, led by Jerry Phillips, came into their first round playoff game against the Carencro Golden Bears, led by first year head coach Tony Courville, 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. The North DeSoto Griffins had a great game in their first round matchup against Assumption running the football and playing good defense. Heading into the season, the Griffin running game was the big question mark as the program lost one of their best players in school history in Delmonte Hall (Southeastern), but North DeSoto Head Football Coach Scott Abernathy has done a great coaching job with a young team winning eight games this season. The rushing attack has been strong all year with new runners Aubrey Scott and Rykendrick Simpson both running for touchdowns. QB Jaden Procell’s connection with WR Maguire Parker has also been a strong QB-WR combo all this season. The defense did a great job containing the Assumption running game only allowing 13 points. Even though Warren Easton does have more talent at the skill positions with the likes of Legendre, Tyler, and Jones, the North DeSoto Griffins are a team not to sleep on as they have a balanced offensive attack as well as a well coached and disciplined defense. The Eagles better not overlook the Griffins as North DeSoto is more than capable of pulling off an upset.
Lee’s Take: “This could be the upset this week in 4A bracket. Warren Easton is not the team they had when they had Tyron Johnson (Oklahoma State) and last year, they were not far off from that as well as the year before. This is a talented Easton team, but I think they are very young and inconsistent. I am actually going to take North DeSoto in an upset.”
#12 Woodlawn Shreveport Knights (8-3) vs. #28 Belle Chasse Cardinals (7-4)
Game Preview: The Woodlawn Shreveport Knights, led by Jerwin Wilson, 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 will avoid a Plaquemine team that defeated them last year in the playoffs, but they will go up against the biggest Cinderella team in this bracket in the Belle Chasse Cardinals, who upsetted the Plaquemine Green Devils in the first round 21-19. The Cardinals were able to pull off the victory by simply not making too many mistakes and being able to score points quickly. Usually, a team that is favored may not wake up until the second quarter or the second half and that is what happened with Plaquemine. The Cardinals had a strong start offensively with QB Jordan Mariana, who accounted for all of the team’s touchdowns, and the defense was able to contain Wayne Toussant (Louisiana Tech commit) and the Plaquemine Green Devils until late in the game as the Green Devils were trying to come back. It was a well coached game by Stephen Meyers and being able to make the plays when needed gives them another shot to pull off another upset against Woodlawn-Shreveport. Like Plaquemine, the Knights have an explosive offense with big time playmakers. However, the difference is that Woodlawn is much healthier than Plaquemine and that they are playing their best football right now with guys such as Trivenskey Mosley, Larry Moton, and Jordan Hester. The Cardinals will have to rely on another similar game as the Plaquemine game if they want to pull out the upset two weeks in a row.
Lee’s Take: “This is actually a coin flip between who wins this game, but I am going to have to go with Woodlawn in this game to advance. The Knights have had some bad misfortune in the playoffs as they lost to Plaquemine in the playoffs last year. This year, they don’t have to play Plaquemine so because of that, I am going to go with Woodlawn in a very, very close game.”
#6 Leesville Wampus Cats (10-1) vs. #11 Rayne Wolves (8-2)
Game Preview: The Leesville Wampus Cats, under Robert Causey, who are coming off one of their best seasons in a long time, were looking to have a good showing in the playoffs, but they would have to do it against the Franklinton Demons that feature QB and Louisiana Tech commit Tahj Magee, who happens to be the brother of former LSU RB Terrence Magee. The Wampus Cats and the Demons were pretty close as both teams went back and forth in the first half. The Wampus Cats had a narrow 18-13 lead at the half, but in the second half, the Wampus Cats’ offense started to pull away from the game after six lead changes. Leesville senior RB Andrew Coker broke an 81 yard touchdown run to give Leesville the lead at 24-20 in the third quarter and that started 21 unanswered points for Leesville. The Leesville defense stepped up as it did a great job of containing Magee, who had over 100 yards rushing, but only 37 yards passing through the air. Coker had a huge game running for 212 yards and four touchdowns while the other two running backs Dante Gallashaw and Tyreke Walker combined for over 190 yards and two touchdowns. The Wampus Cats were able to pull away from the Demons in the end with a final score of 38-20. With the victory, the Leesville Wampus Cats secure their first ten win season since 2008 when Michael Ford (LSU) was running the football for the Wampus Cats. 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. This could be a fast game as both teams run option offenses that feature some pretty good defensive backs. This could be the game that whatever team does a better job against the run is going to win the football game. It is going to be a game that is decided on who is better in the trenches.
Lee’s Take: “I am going to go with Rayne here in this football game. Trent Winbush is one of the best players that I have seen in the state and I think Rayne’s defense is pretty tough. Both teams are pretty even in terms of the amount of players on each team. There is not a lot of depth on both teams, but Rayne’s defense is so underrated as well as Winbush. That’s why I think Rayne will win the football game. It should still be a close game because Leesville QB McKenzie Jackson is a pretty good football player that is going to make some plays, but at the end of the day, I think Rayne will win this one.”
#7 Neville Tigers (8-3) vs. #10 McDonogh 35 Roneagles (8-3)
Game Preview: 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. 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. Like the Neville Tigers, the McDonogh 35 defense was key in their 21-6 first round victory over Minden. The Roneagles were able to hit a couple of plays in the passing game with LeJohn Howard throwing for two touchdowns one to Eddie Tillman and the other to Caleb Hizadore to build a 13-0 lead going into the half. It was pretty much of the same in the second half as both defenses were playing great, but the difference was a fourth down conversion in which the Crimson Tide tried to convert. However, it turned out to be a turnover on downs giving McDonogh 35 good field position. That good field position resulted in a Eddie Tillman touchdown run to put the Roneagles up at 21-0 putting the game away. The Minden offense was able to score a touchdown late in the football game, but that would be it. Even though both offenses struggled in their first round victories, both are capable of putting up a lot of points as there are some great athletes for both teams. This is the most intriguing matchup in this bracket as this is a matchup that you could have seen at the Superdome in the beginning of the year, but this has to be McDonogh 35’s year so expect them to play their best game of the season. After this year, the Roneagles will lose big time players such as WR Lawrence Keys and SS Joe Foucha, who are both national recruits.
Lee’s Take: “I think McDonogh 35 has a chip on their shoulder too because they keep on losing to some of these big time programs like Neville and Edna Karr. I don’t think this is a Neville team like the teams in the past that has Rashard Lawrence (LSU), Kavontae Turpin (TCU), Phidarian Mathis (Alabama), John Diarse (TCU), and others. I would say Neville will lose a close game to McDonogh 35. The Roneagles have a lot of senior talent on their team, which could be the difference.”
#8 Northwood-Shreveport Falcons (9-2) vs. #9 Salmen Spartans (9-2)
Game Preview: The Northwood-Shreveport Falcons, under James Gatlin, continue their fantastic season with a 34-20 victory over the St. Martinville Tigers under Vincent DeRouen. It was a back and forth game, but it was the Falcons that pulled away with the game late to secure the victory. The Salmen Spartans, led by Jerry Leonard, played against the Lutcher Bulldogs in one of the best first round matchups in any classification. The Lutcher Bulldogs looked like that they were going to continue their postseason run for a third consecutive state championship with a 24-7 lead, but QB LJ Leonard, WR/CB Eddie Smith, and company were able to pull off a dramatic comeback in a back and forth battle in the fourth quarter. It was one of those games that would decide on who will get the football last and that was exactly the case when Leonard hit Anthony Mosley for the game winning touchdown with 13 seconds left to go in the football game to put the Spartans up top over the Bulldogs 34-30. Now, the Spartans are looking to defeat a veteran Northwood team that is having their best season yet. It should be a good game as the Falcons are pretty good at every area, but the question is if the Falcons can prevent TCU commit Eddie Smith from taking over the game. Smith is a special football player and if Northwood wants to continue on their tremendous season, they need to find a way to prevent Smith from making too many plays.
Lee’s Take: “I think Northwood is going to win this football game. Their quarterback Luke Bogan is a special player. This could be one of those high scoring back and forth games again, but I am going to go with Northwood to advance to the next round.”
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. With that being said, my picks for this week are Edna Karr, Lakeshore, Benton, Warren Easton, Woodlawn, Rayne, McDonogh 35, and Salmen. We will see how well we do as the Road to the Dome continues tonight!
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