Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 5A State Championship Game Preview
by Jace LeJeune and Lee Brecheen
Well, here we are. We have reached the final destination when it comes to the Road to the Dome. 32 teams had one goal in mind and that goal 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. Now, 30 teams’ seasons are over and there are only now only two teams standing. Both teams had a long journey to get to this point, but now, only one team will get the taste of sweet victory while the other team will suffer the agony of defeat. The Louisiana high school football stage does not get any brighter than this. A weekend filled with great championship matchups kicks off this Thursday and the games will conclude on Saturday. The final game of the weekend will be the Class 5A state championship game, which will feature the two best 5A public football teams in the state. In this game, the Zachary Broncos will face the Hahnville Tigers. Both of these teams have shown that they have what it takes to win the state championship, but which of the two teams will be able to get the win in the end? Well, Louisiana Football Magazine’s expert Lee Brecheen has seen all of these teams play and gives his insight on which team will win the Class 5A state championship. This week, we will get you all covered in what you need to know for the Class 5A state championship game.
Class 5A State Championship:
Matchup: #4 Zachary Broncos (12-2) vs. #10 Hahnville Tigers (12-2)
Game Info: Saturday, December 9th at 7:00 P.M.
Zachary’s Road to the Dome: 38-0 win over Mandeville in first round; 38-0 win over John Ehret in second round; 34-24 win over Airline in quarterfinals; 29-27 win over West Monroe in semi-finals.
Zachary Team Preview: The Zachary Broncos have been one of the most consistent Class 5A programs since David Brewerton has taken over the program. Over the last three seasons, the Broncos have gone to at least the semi-finals and even won a state championship in 2015. The Broncos may have lost a great quarterback after that state championship season in Lindsey Scott (LSU/EMCC), but the offense has not lost a step with QB Keilon Brown when he took over as the starting quarterback as a freshman last season. This season, Brown has thrown for over 2,000 yards, ran for over 1,000 yards, and has accounted for an incredible 43 touchdowns. Brown has one of the best receiving cores in the Baton Rouge area to throw the football to in Trae Shropshire, Chandler Whitfield, and Christian Bell. The offensive line is also a talented group that is led by OG Blake Anderson. Defensively, the Broncos have a very underrated defense. The defensive line is a good one as it is led by KeShawn Jackson and Caleb Jackson. Meanwhile, the back half of the defense has played a major key in this playoff run. They are led by FS River Town, CB Idarius Cummings, SS Rodaren Alexander, and others. When the Broncos need to kick the football, they have one of the best in senior kicker Martell Fontenot. Probably, the most glaring weakness for the Broncos is their inconsistency running the football, but if they have success on the ground with their running back Darweshi Sanders, this is a tough team to beat. Everybody is talking about how hot Hahnville is playing right now, but the Broncos have been playing really good football as of late winning nine straight games. Any time that you can go on the road and beat West Monroe at their own place shows that the Broncos are a tough draw come playoff time. The Broncos have now made their second state championship appearance in four seasons. The Broncos will be looking for a repeat of 2015 just like the Catholic High Bears to win their second state championship in program history.
Hahnville’s Road to the Dome: 42-21 win over Denham Springs in first round; 23-21 win over Ruston in second round; 38-27 win over Covington in quarterfinals; 43-42 OT win over Acadiana in semi-finals
Hahnville Team Preview: The Hahnville Tigers, led by Nick Saltaformaggio, are one of the hottest teams in the playoffs right now with ten straight wins and why shouldn’t they be as they have one of the most exciting players to watch right now in ATH Anthony “Pooka” Williams, who has ran for over 1,174 yards and 13 touchdowns just in the postseason. Overall, the Kansas commit has ran for 2,908 yards and 36 touchdowns in both the regular season and post season. Williams has ran for 300 yards in the team’s first three playoff games. Williams may have not ran for 300 yards in the semi-finals against Acadiana. However, he did run for over 200 yards and three touchdowns and scored on the game winning two point conversion in overtime to send the Tigers to the Superdome. The craziest thing about it is that Williams was able to put these numbers up against tough 5A competition in Denham Springs, Ruston, Covington, and Acadiana. Zachary’s defense will be keying on stopping Pooka, but when they do, that means QB Jhaquan Jackson, who is a great runner himself, can make big plays using his legs. He, himself, has ran for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season. RB Darryle Evans is another talented running back that can also get some carries if “Pooka’ needs a rest. The Tigers can also throw the ball when they need to with receivers such as Mike Gray Jr. and Jamel Byrd. Also, Williams cannot have the success he has had without his offensive line led by OT Larry Dixon and center Torin Borne. Defensively, this is a young, but talented defense led by DE Lyncoy Reynaud, DT Edwin Wells, LB Conor Fenerty, LB Coby Ambler, FS Hunter Leblanc, and others. The Tigers’ special teams unit is one of the best in the state with Thomas Roscoe handling the field goals and kickoffs while Dalton Melancon handles the punts. The Tigers will be looking for the team’s seventh state championship win, but the first since 2003.
Lee’s Pick: “Zachary is going to try and shut down Pooka, which is definitely a good game plan and it is something that I would do. However, Hahnville’s quarterback is a good runner as well. I have seen both of these teams play and Hahnville has the offensive line to win. They have the power to run over you. I thought Acadiana was the best team on the public side of this bracket and Hahnville beat them. The second best team, in my opinion, is Zachary. Hahnville will need to make big plays on Zachary’s defense to win because it is going to be hard to go down the field and go on long drives. I don’t think anybody can stop Pooka, but Zachary can at least slow him down. Watch Hahnville’s quarterback Jhaquan Jackson as he could be the key player in this game. I am going to go with Hahnville to win this football game.”
Jace’s Pick: “Hahnville probably has the best player in the bracket in Anthony “Pooka” Williams while Zachary may have the best team. It should be a great matchup. Championship weekend will conclude with a great game. Just like when Landry Walker had the best player in the bracket last season when the Chargin’ Bucs had Keytaon Thompson. The Tigers may have that same type of X-factor. His teammates have done a great job in playing supporting roles getting there in that position. Zachary is a great football team and it is a credit to what Coach Brewerton has done at Zachary over the last couple of seasons. However, I just have a feeling about this Hahnville team that they are going to pull out a victory in the end and I think Pooka will end his final high school football game with a bang.”
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