Road To The Dome: LHSAA Class 2A First Round Playoff Preview
by Jace LeJeune and Lee Brecheen
It is the most wonderful time of the year, and I am not talking about the holidays. I am talking about the LHSAA Playoffs, which start this week. 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 end. For the third 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 13th-14th. Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting expert Lee Brecheen and editor Jace LeJeune give their insight on which teams will survive and continue their march to the Super Dome. Today, we preview the Class 2A public division playoff bracket.
#1 Ferriday Trojans (9-1) vs. #32 Vinton Lions (4-5)
Game Preview: As the number one seed in the Class 2A playoffs, the Ferriday Trojans are trying to accomplish something that has not been done in the program since 1956 and that is win a state championship. Under head coach Stanley Smith, the Trojans have a great chance of ending the championship drought this season thanks to their dominant play this season. After losing to Alexandria in the first game of the season, the Trojans have outscored their opponents an amazing 544 to 54 points. In that span, the offense has scored more than 44 points in every game. The explosive offense is led by dynamic quarterback Kobe Dillon, who could be the MVP of this whole bracket when it is all said and done. Even though the Trojans are not too high in numbers, they make it up for the quality of players that they have. Skill players such as Justin Burns, Da’minya Milligan, Jyron Milligan, Byron Milligan, Tevyn Byrd, and Sebastian Turner all have great speed. Also, big defensive tackle Roosevelt Davis, who is 6-6, 285 pounds, will provide Ferriday some size as well. Once again, the Trojans will begin their playoff run against the Vinton Lions after these two teams faced off last year when Ferriday defeated Vinton 54-0. The Lions, under coach Tarius Davis, enter as the number 32 seed with a 4-5 record. Do not let the number 32 seed fool you as the Lions have an impressive win over Oakdale along with two close defeats to DeQuincy and Rosepine. In order for the Lions to have a chance to pull the upset on Friday, their offense led by QB Drew Heinen, RB Jordan Janice, WR Jaiden Carrier, ATH Hezekiah Holts, and others must put some points on the board.
Jace’s Pick: Ferriday
Lee’s Pick: Ferriday
#16 Port Allen Pelicans (4-6) vs. #17 Rayville Hornets (4-5)
Game Preview: The Port Allen Pelicans will host its first playoff game since 2014 against the Rayville Hornets. The Pelicans, under head coach Don Gibson, have been much improved from the start of the season to the end. After starting the season at 0-3, the Pelicans won four of its next seven matchups. Their most impressive win came against East Feliciana earlier this year when the Pelicans controlled the game from start to finish with a 32-14 victory. The Pelicans have a dynamic player at quarterback in Jacoby Howard, who helped the team with the turnaround after being named the starting quarterback in the fourth game of the season. The Pelicans also have great skill talent with players such as Mekyle Franklin and Edward Wilson that can score on any given play. New head coach Joseph Purvis has carried on what former coach Lent Bursey left off leading the Hornets to four victories this season with three of those victories coming in the last three games. The Hornets are just hitting their stride and they are more than capable of making a run in the playoffs with talented players such as Mangham transfer Tyler Haynes, Jacobey Grace, and Derrick Dawson to name a few.
Jace’s Pick: Port Allen
Lee’s Pick: Rayville
#9 Red River Bulldogs (5-5) vs. #24 Oakdale Warriors (5-4)
Game Preview: Under former Calvary Baptist Academy head coach John Bachman, the Red River Bulldogs are looking to make a late run at the postseason after losing in the first round of the playoffs last season as the higher seed. Even though this year team posted only a 5-5 record, the Bulldogs might be even better this season considering that they have come out on top of some of these wins this season. In fact, three of the Bulldogs’ wins against Winnfield, Mansfield, and Holy Savior Menard came at a combined score of 15 points. The Bulldogs’ biggest strength is their speed with Kenneth Bradley, Markell Washington, Jaylen McDonald, Cameron Keith, and Qylil Mosley all running a 4.6/40 or faster. The Oakdale Warriors, under new head coach Destin Dietrich, have dominated in its last two games winning by a combined score of 39-7. While the Bulldogs will rely on speed, the Warriors will rely on size as their front seven consisting of linebacker Marquis Melbert and defensive end Cornell Brown is one of the best in District 5-2A.
Jace’s Pick: Red River
Lee’s Pick: Red River
#8 Kinder Yellow Jackets (6-4) vs. #25 Rosepine Eagles (5-5)
Game Preview: A team that is not as talked as much as far as a team making a run at the state championship is the Kinder Yellow Jackets. It was only a few years ago that this team made three consecutive trips to the Superdome under coach Bret Fuselier. Fortunately, for the Yellow Jackets, Coach Fuselier is still at the controls as one of the best coaches in high school football. The Yellow Jackets dominated in a tough 5-2A district, which features four other playoff teams, by going undefeated and winning the district title. The Yellow Jackets have the formula for playing in November by playing ball control football. Their option running attack is led by quarterback Hayes Fawcett, who does a great job of making decisions in the offense. The running back rotation is loaded with Skyler Leckett, Ty Fuselier, Gavin Johnson, and Chandler Lacour all getting equal opportunities running the football. Also, their special teams is equally strong with one of the best kickers in Class 2A in Zack Lafargue. The Rosepine Eagles are a year removed from having one of their best seasons when the team went 11-2 last season. Under second year head coach Brad Ducote, there are a lot of great pieces for Rosepine to not only make it a great game against Kinder, but also to potentially to pull off the upset. The Eagles have a great senior core, which features former District Defensive MVP Scott Wisby, offensive lineman Wesley Willis, and TE/DE Hunter Herriman to name a few. Also, the Eagles are playing great football in their own right winning three of their last four games.
Jace’s Pick: Kinder
Lee’s Pick: Kinder
#5 Amite Warriors (7-4) vs. #28 Winnfield Tigers (4-6)
Game Preview: The Amite Warriors will enter the playoffs trying to defend its Class 2A state championship crown from last year. It will be tougher for the Warriors this year as the team has lost plenty of DI talent including Ishmael Sopsher (Alabama), Devonta Lee (LSU), and Amani Gilmore (Kentucky) to just name a couple. Despite losing all that talent, there is still plenty of DI talent on this year’s football team including Miami defensive back commit Daran Branch and safety Kevin Bickham, who has received offers from Kentucky, ULM, and others. It has been a great coaching job by Zephaniah Powell getting these guys ready to play despite the mass exodus of DI signees. The Warriors took its lumps this season including losing to Kentwood 35-12 in the rival game between two Tangi powerhouses, but this is a team that has the overall talent to win its second state championship in a row. However, the Warriors will not get an easy draw in the first round matching up against the Winnfield Tigers. Led by head coach Lyn Bankston, this is a team that is thought highly by Lee Brecheen despite the team’s 4-6 record. The Tigers have one of the most underrated athletes in this bracket in Jake Lashley along with a huge offensive and defensive front led by Trashaun Lewis, who is almost unblockable at 6-5, 280 pounds.
Jace’s Pick: Amite
Lee’s Pick: Winnfield
#12 Franklin Hornets (5-4) vs. #21 Welsh Greyhounds (2-8)
Game Preview: Last season, the Franklin Hornets made one of the most impressive Cinderella runs in any playoff bracket last season by advancing to the quarterfinals as only a 23 seed. This year, Coach Tremayne Johnson and the Hornets built on last season’s momentum by posting a 5-4 record and capturing a home playoff game. The Hornets’ most impressive win came earlier this season against the Loreauville Tigers. Even though this team only dresses about 25 players, their starters are really talented led by talented players in OT/DE Royal Jackson, RB/FS Malik King, and RB Jordan McCoy. Meanwhile, the Welsh Greyhounds are coming off its best two year run in program history advancing to the Class 2A state championship in both years including winning the state championship in 2017. Even though a lot of key players and Coach John Richardson are gone from that two year run, the Greyhounds look to enter a new era with new head coach Cody Gueringer leading the way. It has not been easy for the Greyhounds this season as the team has only won two games this season, but ending the regular season on a winning note against Port Barre gives this team positive momentum to put an exclamation point on the season in the playoffs.
Jace’s Pick: Franklin
Lee’s Pick: Welsh
#13 Lake Arthur Tigers (4-6) vs. #20 Loreauville Tigers (6-3)
Game Preview: The Lake Arthur Tigers have been challenged all season facing one of the toughest schedules in the state. The Tigers, led by head coach Mark Deshotel, had to face playoff teams like Basile, DeQuincy, Iota, Lafayette Christian Academy, Notre Dame, and Kaplan. Despite its 4-6 record, the Tigers have the pieces to make a long postseason run. The Tigers also have one of the best players in the Lake Charles area on their team in Torrell Levias, who has ran for over 1,000 yards this season. In fact, not only our own recruiting guru Lee Brecheen is high on Levias, but he also believes that he is the best running back to come from the area since Travis Etienne (Jennings/Clemson) with his 6-2, 210 pound frame and 4.5/40 speed to boot. If he gets going, this is a tough team to stop. On the other hand, the Loreauville Tigers have to feel disrespected after only being granted a 20 seed even after winning six games this season, but only one of those wins came against a playoff bound team in Central Catholic. Still, it is a great bounce back season for former Breaux Bridge coach Terry Martin in his second year at the helm after winning one game last season. The Loreauville Tigers have a great offensive player in their own in Zy Alexander, who has had a great senior season after missing all of last season with a torn ACL injury. At 6-3, 190 pounds, Alexander’s ability to both run and pass can give the Tigers what they need in order to make a Cinderella run.
Jace’s Pick: Lake Arthur
Lee’s Pick: Loreauville
#4 Mangham Dragons (8-2) vs. #29 Jonesboro Hodge Tigers (3-7)
Game Preview: The Mangham Dragons have become one of the biggest surprises this season. After replacing longtime head coach Tommy Tharp, new head coach Scott Wilcher has made an immediate impact leading the team to an impressive eight wins after the team won three games the year before. In their wins, the Dragons have looked dominant winning by more than 15 points in each victory this season. However, the Dragons have also been on the other side of the equation losing in two blowout games against North Caddo and Ferriday. Still, it has been a great accomplishment for what Coach Wilcher and this team have done especially considering that the team now runs a spread offense, which is different from their famous Dragon-Wing offense Coach Tharp made famous. Now, seniors Chandler Carnicle, Adam Eley, and others look to end their high school careers on a strong note, and that would be trying to capture the program’s first state championship since 1956. The Jonesboro Hodge Tigers, under head coach Terrance Blankenship, moved up from Class 1A to Class 2A at the start of the season, and it showed as the team was trying to find its footing early on in the season. In fact, late in the season, the Tigers were actually on the outside looking in when it came to the playoffs, but however, the Tigers were able to win two of its final three games to sneak in the playoffs. In order for the Tigers to pull the upset, the team must rely on its defense led by defensive end Logan Webb to slow down the Dragons’ offensive attack.
Jace’s Pick: Mangham
Lee’s Pick: Jonesboro Hodge
#3 North Caddo Rebels (7-2) vs. #30 Lakeside Warriors (2-7)
Game Preview: After winning four games last season, the North Caddo Rebels, under head coach John Kavanaugh, have had a special season going 7-2 in the regular season and also winning the 2-1A district championship. The Rebels are also one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs as the team is on a five game winning streak entering their first round playoff game. The running game is the bread and butter for the Rebels as the team will rely on athletic quarterback Jaiden Carter and running back Charzay Morris, who both combined for over 1,400 yards rushing this season. The Rebels will face off against a familiar district foe in the Lakeside Warriors. The Warriors, under first year head coach Mike Santelices, are arguably one of the best two win teams in the state this season. This is a team that has the capability of putting a lot of points as their offense has both the all time leading passer in program history in Jordan Preuett as well as its all time leading rusher in Jocquez Lott carrying the football. The last time these two teams met, it was the Rebels that prevailed over the Warriors 34-14.
Jace’s Pick: North Caddo
Lee’s Pick: North Caddo
#14 DeQuincy Tigers (5-5) vs. #19 Capitol Lions (4-5)
Game Preview: The DeQuincy Tigers surprised a lot of people last year going all the way to the Class 2A quarterfinals as a number 20 seed. Coach Charlie Smith is looking for that type of playoff run from his team this time as a number 14 seed team. The Tigers have a great passing attack led by quarterback Gunnar Gearen, who has thrown for 2,426 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Gearen has arguably the best wide receiver duo to throw the football to. The duo of Cooper Hext and Braylon Snell have combined for 102 catches, 1,631 yards, and 15 touchdowns. When it comes to close games, the Tigers are already prepared as the team has been battle tested all season with four of their victories coming by a total score of an incredible ten points. The Capitol Lions, under the leadership of former LSU fullback Dorsett Buckels, started the season off strong winning three of its first four games, but the team ended the season losing four of its next five games to end the season. The Lions will try to find their early season mojo in their first round playoff game. The Lions do have plenty of talent to compete with the Tigers. A player to watch out for is wide receiver Jacoby Bellazar, who is a player that always has a nose for the end zone with 11 touchdown grabs on only 29 catches.
Jace’s Pick: DeQuincy
Lee’s Pick: DeQuincy
#11 South Plaquemines Hurricanes (4-6) vs. #22 Lakeview Gators (6-4)
Game Preview: Despite South Plaquemines’ 4-6 record, the Hurricanes are ranked high because of their tough schedule. Former Louisiana Tech running back and current head coach Lyle Fitte scheduled tough non-district opponents in Belle Chasse, Lakeshore, Scotlandville, Amite, and also add-in the fact that the Hurricanes face district opponents in St. Charles Catholic and Newman, you can make a great argument that the Hurricanes had the toughest schedule in the state this season. Coach Fitte made sure that the Hurricanes were battle tested headed to this game, and they sure are after the schedule they have faced. The Hurricanes will rely on its skill players in QB Taighan Jones, do everything player Dontavious Johnson, and WR Armani Williams in their playoff run. The Lakeview Gators, under former Natchitoches Central head coach Brandon Helms, had quietly a great regular season winning six games after winning only one game last season. The Gators’ offense has been up and down this season in terms of points, but when the team is up, they have shown to score over 60 points if everything is clicking on all cylinders.
Jace’s Pick: South Plaquemines
Lee’s Pick: South Plaquemines
#6 Kentwood Kangaroos (6-4) vs. #27 Bunkie Panthers (4-6)
Game Preview: It is an unique situation when there are two playoff teams in one bracket that are trying to defend a state championship, but that is what Kentwood is trying to do. The Kangaroos, under head coach Jonathan Foster, won the Class 1A state championship last season and have moved up to Class 2A. Like the Amite Warriors, which is the other team in this bracket trying to defend a state championship, the Kangaroos have to replace a lot of DI talent most notably Trey Palmer (LSU) and Kendall Wilkerson (ULL), but like the Warriors, the Kangaroos still return a lot of talent. In fact, there is currently a DI commit on the team in Tulane commit Cornelius Dyson. Besides Dyson, Kentwood still has a lot of fast skill players including Radarrian Robbins, Keandre Fultz, Shaquile Woolridge, and Ja’kevis Callahan, who can all run a 4.5/40 or faster. Also, add in the fact that another great athlete in Otis Ezly is at quarterback, there are few teams as fast and athletic as the Kangaroos. On defense, the heart and soul of this unit is linebacker Bryce Cooper, who is an All-State tackling machine. Like Amite, Kentwood had suffered its bumps and bruises, but it is hard to ever count this team out. The Bunkie Panthers, led by head coach Nick Pujol, have won four games this season with an extremely young team. Win or loss, knowing that the Panthers only lose three senior starters, the future is bright for the Bunkie football program.
Jace’s Pick: Kentwood
Lee’s Pick: Kentwood
#7 Pine Raiders (7-3) vs. #26 Port Barre Red Devils (4-6)
Game Preview: Under head coach Bradley Seal, the Pine Raiders are coming in with a lot of confidence especially after defeating Kentwood 31-26 just a couple of weeks ago. After winning seven games including a playoff win last season, this was expected to be even a stronger year for the Raiders knowing the team returns a lot of experience. As expected, the experience has become a key factor. QB Logan Temples and DE Larry Williams have become key catalysts for a team that tied for the 9-2A district title with Amite and Kentwood. The Port Barre Red Devils head coach Craig Stevens has led the team to four victories after winning only two games in 2018. QB Kyeron Malveaux is a great athlete and can make a lot of plays because of his athletic ability.
Jace’s Pick: Pine
Lee’s Pick: Pine
#10 Avoyelles Mustangs (6-4) vs. #23 St. Helena Collegiate & Career Academy Hawks (4-6)
Game Preview: The Avoyelles Mustangs have always liked to score points. This season, the Mustangs have scored over 30 points in six different occasions under head coach Andy Boone. The strength of this offense is its running attack led by fullback Domingo Cooper, running back Donnell Carter, and running back Carlos Bezart. The Mustangs’ best wins this season have come against Winnfield, Lakeview, Bunkie, and Red River. The St. Helena Hawks are just two years removed from making the Class 2A state championship game. Led by head coach Johnny Felder, the Hawks still have a lot of skill talent from last year’s 10-3 team despite only posting a 4-6 record this year. The Hawks have a veteran quarterback in Deshon Singleton along with one of the best athletes in 2A in Matthew Claiborne, who can play many positions on the field whether it is on offense, defense, or even kicking field goals on special teams. He is a jack of all trades that can be the main X factor in this first round matchup.
Jace’s Pick: St. Helena
Lee’s Pick: St. Helena
#15 East Feliciana Tigers (5-4) vs. #18 General Trass Panthers (6-4)
Game Preview: The East Feliciana Tigers, under head coach Cedric Anderson Sr., have finished with an overall record of 5-4. The Tigers always have had their best athlete at quarterback and the same can be said this season as Coach Anderson’s son Caleb Anderson is the signal caller for this offense. Anderson, who is a UL commit, has not only great talent around him in Rodney White, Frankie Dunn, Rodriquez London, and others, but also a big offensive line blocking for him that averages over 240 pounds across the board. The General Trass Panthers have done well in recent history under head coach Toriano Wells and the same can also be said this year as the team finished with a 6-4 overall record. The Panthers will rely on its experienced defense that has seven veteran starters on that side of the football to try and slow down East Feliciana’s talented offensive attack.
Jace’s Pick: East Feliciana
Lee’s Pick: East Feliciana
#2 Many Tigers (7-3) vs. #31 Vidalia Vikings (3-7)
Game Preview: Ever since Many won its first state championship in 2014, the Tigers have been knocking on the door each and every season since then to put another trophy on their shelf under head coach Jess Curtis. Like Kentwood and Amite, the Many Tigers had to replace plenty of DI signees including Shacori Williams (Army), Ni’Kendrick Carter (FIU), and Myron Warren (Texas). Still, the Tigers have what it takes to once again become a favorite to win the Class 2A state championship. It seems that the Tigers do not rebuild, but simply reload at the running back position, and yet again, they have two great ones in 6-0, 225 pound junior runner Terrence Williams and Shamorian Wiseman at 6-0, 220 pounds becoming the two bell cows in this offense. However, the Tigers can be effective throwing the football as well with quarterback Cadillac Rhone and his two top receivers in Drake Dye and C.J. Woods. After starting the season at 0-3 and then winning their last seven games, this could finally be the year that the Tigers get back to the Dome and win the state championship. The Vidalia Vikings will have something to say about that as the team has won two of its last three games under first year head coach Rob Faircloth. Like Many, Vidalia has a great one two punch at running back as well with Cam’Ron Randall and Devin Green, who has ran for 1,211 yards and ten touchdowns this season.
Jace’s Pick: Many
Lee’s Pick: Many
Jace’s Bracket Breakdown: “The Many Tigers have been trying to knock down the door in trying to get back to the Super Dome after so many years falling in the semifinals. I think they do get there, but Ferriday has been dominant all season long, and I love their quarterback Kobe Dillon along with the speed and playmakers the team has. I think it is going to be one of those special runs for them this year, and I believe that they could end their championship drought. Meanwhile, watch out for teams like Amite, Kinder, and Kentwood to make things interesting.”
Lee’s Bracket Breakdown: “I think Many is going to win it all. There is no team that can compete with them in my opinion. On the other side of the bracket, I am going with the shocker and put Winnfield in the state championship game. They might not be ranked as high because of the tough schedule they have played, but I think that this team has the size to make it tough for a lot of teams.”
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