Road to the Dome: LHSAA Division II 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 and 4A private division playoff bracket, which is Division II.
#1 University Lab (10-0)-Bye
Jace’s Team Preview: Who is going to stop Head Coach Chad Mahaffey and the University Lab Cubs? The answer is most likely nobody and so far after the last two years, nobody has come close. The Cubs are riding in as the number one seed and the defending Division II state champions. The Cubs are also riding in a 23 game winning streak. The Cubs seem to have no weakness. Senior QB John Gordon McKernan is the general of one of the most explosive offenses in the state. McKernan has great intangibles that you want in a quarterback when it comes to leadership, a good arm, and athletic ability. He has thrown for 1,303 yards and 18 touchdowns. McKernan has the luxury of throwing to the best wide receiver combo in the entire state. On one side, there is Texas A&M commit Christian Harris, who is a freak of nature at 6-2, 230 pounds. This season, Harris has had 19 catches for 453 yards and five touchdowns. Harris’ counterpart is Georgia commit Makiya Tongue. At 6-2, 210 pounds with 4.5/40 speed, Tongue is almost unguardable. What makes this offense dangerous is that the defense cannot key on stopping one guy. However, the team is not all about throwing the football. The Cubs will lean on one of the best running backs in the state in Virginia commit Michael Hollins. This season, Hollins once again was a touchdown machine rushing for 1,196 yards and an incredible 26 touchdowns. They are as scary as it gets on the offensive side of the football. Defensively, they are just as scary. They are led by one of the best linebackers in the country in Clemson commit Bryton Constantin and CB Jordan Clark, who is the son of former NFL defensive back Ryan Clark. From top to bottom, almost nobody can match up with the Cubs. They will await the winner of the Loyola Prep/St. Louis game in the second round.
#8 Loyola Prep (6-4) vs. #9 St. Louis Catholic (4-6)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Loyola College Prep Flyers will be inspired to win this football game on Friday for their Head Coach Steven Geter, who is going through open heart surgery. The Flyers have a great passing game, which is led by All-District quarterback Jacob Allen. Allen may not be a big guy at only 5-9, 185 pounds, but what he does possess is grittiness, moxy, and heart. Allen will have a great receiver to throw the football in John Williams, who is a three year starter and has most of the receiving records at Loyola. The offensive line is big led by Cameron Myles and the defensive backfield has a lot of athleticism and speed. The St. Louis Catholic Saints have overcame an early 1-4 start to end the season on a hot streak winning three of their last five games. First year Head Coach Chad Lavergne has done a great job of getting this team together after a tough start to the season. The offense will lean on playmakers QB Jaleel Goodwin and WR Benji Chatters. The Saints have some athletes that can make this game really interesting.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with Loyola College Prep. Both are equal teams talent wise, but I think the duo of QB Jacob Allen and WR John Williams will be the difference in this game.”
#5 De La Salle (6-3) vs. #12 Vandebilt Catholic (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The De La Salle Cavaliers, under Head Coach Ryan Manale, have had a rebuilding season in 2018 after making the Division II state championship last season. The Cavaliers had to replace big time contributors such as QB Julien Gums (Nicholls State), WR Aaron Marquez (Houston Baptist), OL Jeremiah James (Nicholls State), DT Jamiran James (Tulane), LB Royce Richardson (Nicholls State), and safety Lance Robinson (Kansas State). Still, the Cavaliers have not taken a big step back as the team still posted a 6-3 record. Their star player this season is RB Kendall Collins, who is a Southeastern commit. Defensively, the Cavaliers have been really solid. The unit is led by college prospect DE Theodore Tyler. This is a team that knows what it takes to get to the Superdome and could be a sleeper team in this bracket. The Vandebilt Catholic Terriers have had an up and down season, but you know that Head Coach Jeremy Atwell will get his players ready to play. The Terriers are led offensively by converted linebacker Drew Rios, who has been the bell cow in the Terriers’ running attack. OT William Wade returns as a four year starter and will lead the offensive line. When the Terriers do throw the football, they will try and give their playmaker Brennan Patterson the ball. On special teams, Reid Bourg has been very reliable over his career.
Lee’s Pick: “I am going to go with De La Salle. I think they will have too much talent for the Terriers.”
#4 Archbishop Hannan (10-0) vs. #13 Lusher Charter (3-7)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Archbishop Hannan Hawks, led by Head Coach Scott Abernathy, seem to get better and better each year. Posting an undefeated record and winning a district championship is as good as it gets in the regular season and the Hawks have accomplished that. Even though the Hawks replaced many key players including two that went on to play at the collegiate level, there has been no step back. Players such as Dawson Miller, RB Brendan David, WR Daniel Labourdette, CB Cameron O’Brien, DE/LB Carter Georges, and WR/P Jacob Gaude are all really good football players that will make it tough for other teams to beat. The Lusher Charter Lions, led by Head Coach JJ Smith, play in a very tough district, which consists of teams including St. Charles Catholic, St. James, De La Salle, and Donaldsonville so do not take their record too lightly. The Lions have talented players including punter Will Sternbergh, WR Chad Britton, and others. The team has a good mix of youth and experience.
Lee’s Pick: “It’s going to be a close game, but I am actually going to go with the upset and will pick Lusher Charter in this game.”
#3 St. Thomas More (9-1)- Bye
Cameron’s Team Preview: The St. Thomas More Cougars have a bye in the first round. They will face the winner of St. Michael and E.D. White. The Cougars will be a force to recon with during the playoffs because they can outscore just about anybody. They will be a tough opponent for whomever they face in the second round.
#6 E.D. White (7-3) vs. #11 St. Michael (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Coach Chris Bergeron had to replace 17 starters in the 2018 season for E.D. White and he was able to do that and lead the team to a 7-3 record. QB Brandon Legendre will be leaned on if the Cardinals want to make a run deep into the playoffs. St. Michael’s had an up and down season. They started strong with some impressive wins and then they lost some tough district games. Coach Joey Sanchez has done a tremendous job as the first year coach for the Warriors and they should not be taken lightly during the playoffs.
Lee’s Pick: “St. Michael’s is the Cinderella team in the state. I don’t know how they were able to do what they did. A lot of credit goes to Coach Sanchez for what they did this year. I think that they could win this game, but E.D. White’s Brandon Legendre will be too much for them to handle. In the end, I have E.D. White winning this game.”
#7 Parkview Baptist (4-6) vs. #10 Teurlings Catholic (4-6)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Parkview Baptist Eagles started off the season rough but turned things around and won four of their last five games. The RB group with Terry Tolliver, and Darrell Cyprian along with their defense, will be leaned on if they want to make a run in the playoffs. Teurlings Catholic had a brutal schedule and still made the playoffs. The Rebels’ junior quarterback have to have a big postseason if this team wants to make a run in the playoffs. The Rebels are headlined by LSU commit OT Thomas Perry.
Lee’s Pick: “I think Parkview Baptist can pull this game off. I am going to go with the Eagles in this game. No disrespect to the Rebels, but it is tough to beat Parkview in their stadium especially during the playoffs.”
#2 St. Charles (7-3)- Bye
Cameron’s Game Preview: The St. Charles Comets have a bye in the first round and will face the winner between Parkview Baptist and Teurlings Catholic. Veteran Head Coach Frank Monica did a tremendous job this season leading the team to a 7-3 record after losing many players off the 2017 season such as QB Lloyd Nash. This team will need to be able to score some points to keep up with the other teams in the bracket.
Jace’s Final Thoughts: Standing on opposite sides of the bracket, it seems that University Lab and St. Thomas More are on a collision course to meet each other in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Just like last year, when University Lab and De La Salle were the heavy favorites and met in the Dome, this year has got the same feeling. St. Charles Catholic is making there as well, but I feel like both teams are destined to match up with each other.
Cameron’s Final Thoughts: I think that University Lab and St. Thomas More fly through this bracket and face each other in the Dome. I do not see anyone stopping these two offenses. If that happens, this will be a game you do not want to miss in the Dome.
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