Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 2A First Round Preview
by Jace LeJeune and Lee Brecheen
This week starts arguably the best time of the year for Louisiana High School Football as even though the regular season has ended, a new season has arrived and that is the playoffs. 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 and 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. 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 2A public division playoff bracket.
Class 2A: (Note: All higher seeds hosts home playoff games this week)
#1 Welsh Greyhounds (8-1) vs. #32 Springfield Bulldogs (2-8)
Game Preview: The Welsh Greyhounds, under John Richardson, are coming off another impressive regular season this time finishing with an 8-1 season, but the problem has been making playoff runs as the Greyhounds won only one playoff game a season ago. However, even though the team was very talented, they were very young as well. This year, the team is a lot more experienced as they are led by arguably the best quarterback in the Lake Charles area in Zach Hayes and one of the best fullbacks in the entire state in Pearse Migl. The team also has plenty of other talented players that have all made a huge difference in this team and they are playing with a lot of confidence heading into this game. The Springfield Bulldogs, under Ryan Serpas, had improved over last season and have won two games this year. The Bulldogs have a quarterback, who is big, physical, and also doubles as a defensive end in Bishop Gehagen as well as many other solid players such as OG/DT Isaiah Palmer and LB Sawyer Blankenship.
Lee’s Take: “Welsh will be too much for Springfield to handle.”
#2 Ferriday Trojans (8-2) vs. #31 Oakdale Warriors (3-7)
Game Preview: The Ferriday Trojans, under first year head coach Stanley Smith, are one of the most talented teams in the state and feature some of the state’s biggest recruits in OT/DT Dare Rosenthal, who is a giant at 6-7, 315, and DE Dantrieze Scott, who is a great looking player at 6-5, 220 and can run a 4.6/40. Both of these highly recruited athletes are currently committed to play for the LSU Tigers. The Trojans also return a 100+tackler in LB Lewis Matthews on the defensive side of the football. However, all of Ferriday’s star players play on both sides of the football as there is not a lot of depth on the Trojans squad even though they are really talented. The Oakdale Warriors, under Randall Gordon, have a talented offense that can move the football with an experienced quarterback in Slate Jordan and a power running back in Miliak Hayward. They also have a very experienced offensive line blocking for them. Like Ferriday, these guys will be playing on both sides of the football.
Lee’s Take: “This game will be much closer than what people think. Oakdale has themselves a good team. Ferriday may have the big recruit image, but it’s going to be a close game with Ferriday winning at the end.”
#3 Amite Warriors (9-1) vs. #30 Bunkie Panthers (3-7)
Game Preview: One of the favorites in this whole bracket is the Amite Warriors led by Zephaniah Powell and why not as this is a team that made the Class 3A state championship game last season and should have made another state championship appearance the season before. Even though the team lost major recruits in WR Devonta Smith (Alabama) and QB Elijah Walker (Louisiana Tech), there has been no lost step as the Warriors continue to dominate winning the 8-2A district championship over fellow Class 2A power St. Helena. The Warriors have two big time junior recruits in DT Ishmael Sopsher, who is one of the best defensive tackles that Lee Brecheen has ever seen over the past 30 years, and another big time receiver named Devonta in Devonta Lee, who could be a star at the next level. The Bunkie Panthers, led by Nick Pujol, won three regular season games this season. They may not matchup physically or athletically with Amite, but they do have some great football players such as Haydn Williber, who does a little bit of everything for the Panthers.
Lee’s Take: “Amite will win easily against Bunkie in the first round.”
#4 Many Tigers (8-2) vs. #29 Ville Platte Bulldogs (3-7)
Game Preview: The Many Tigers, under Jess Curtis, are always in the state championship hunt. This team has always been talented and it will be a team that is more motivated than ever to get back to the Superdome as they lost a heartbreaking three overtime game to the eventual 2A state champion Sterlington Panthers. Offensively, the Tigers are led by one of the best running backs in the entire state in UCLA commit AJ Carter. Carter is a big running back at 6-0, 220 and can run a 4.5/40, which is really impressive. He will carry the offense, but they will get productive plays from QB Demarious Coleman, who has great speed as well. The defense is also very experienced on the front seven and in the back end of the defense making this team one of the most balanced in this whole bracket. The Ville Platte Bulldogs, under Jorie Randle, have a better team than their record indicates as they play in one of the toughest districts in 2A with teams such as Welsh, Notre Dame, and Kinder in that same division. The Bulldogs have great skill players in RB Ja’Shaun Doucet and WR Kaybrien Ardoin. The offensive line has some size as the whole line averages over 250 pounds and the defense has a special football player in Jalen Edwards, who can lineup anywhere on the field.
Lee’s Take: “Many is going to beat Ville Platte. It is going to be too much talent for Ville Platte to handle.”
#5 Vidalia Vikings (8-2) vs. #28 DeQuincy Tigers (5-5)
Game Preview: The Vidalia Vikings return a very familiar face as legendary headman George “Dee” Faircloth returns after coaching the Vikings from 1968-2009 and leading the Vikings to 249 victories. The Vikings had themselves a great year winning eight games in Faircloth’s first year in his second term as head coach. The offense is led by quarterback Tristan Weatherly, who has a good arm and great feet in the pocket, as well as many skill positions to spread the football around and a big offensive line led by OG Zach Nelson, who is 6-4, 285, and OT Trent Jordan, who is 6-3, 310. The Vikings have the size on both fronts to win the line of scrimmage battle. The DeQuincy Tigers, led by Charlie Smith, had an up and down season, but the team has played some competition. The team will be led by QB Jake Cooper, who is a really good athlete and has played everything from wide receiver to quarterback. He has given the Tigers the spark that they needed. The team also has a great football player in Xavier Guillory, who is a strong runner and is also a 100+ tackler as a linebacker on defense. LSU Baseball commit Cullen Pharris is one of Cooper’s main receiving targets and the defense is led by three year starter LB Jake Goodman. This is a team that will give Vidalia everything that it has.
Lee’s Take: “I am going to pick DeQuincy in an upset over Vidalia. I think this is the best Vidalia team that I have seen in a long time, but DeQuincy has played a tougher schedule. I am going to take DeQuincy in a close upset.”
#6 St. Helena College and Career Academy Hawks (8-2) vs. #27 Loreauville Tigers (3-7)
Game Preview: The St. Helena Hawks, led by Brandon Brown, have been one of the hottest teams over the last couple of seasons. It just seems that the Hawks continue to get better and better after every year. The Hawks came up short in the district championship against Amite, but this is a team that has what it takes to play in the Superdome. After all, they came up only one game short in the semi-finals against Madison Prep. The Hawks have plenty of athletes including QB Ricky Travis, who is a special player that can do it all with his 4.5/40 speed, RB/LB Aaron Hurst, who also has 4.5/40 speed and has great toughness, and there is also Aaron’s brother Troy Hurst, who is a special player that can play almost any position and is a Memphis commit. The offensive line is also massive as the whole line averages way over 300 pounds. The Loreauville Tigers, led by first year head coach Rhett Peltier, have one of the best young quarterbacks in the entire state in Zy Alexander, who really broke out as a dual threat quarterback in his freshman year in 2016 and has continued his progress this season. Surrounding Alexander are plenty of good football players who all have a great understanding of how the game is played.
Lee’s Take: “Loreauville will play St. Helena close because they have a really good quarterback, but St. Helena has too much depth. However, this game is going to end up being a close win for St. Helena.”
#7 Rosepine Eagles (9-1) vs. #26 Jeanerette Tigers (4-6)
Game Preview: In one of the best turnarounds you will ever see, the Rosepine Eagles, led by Johnny Cryer, had a winless season in 2016 and turned that into a nine win season as well as a district championship this year. Nobody saw this coming and Eagles fans have to be extremely pleased with what the team has done already. Three players that played a key part in the turnaround are QB Seth Ducote, RB Seth Shirley, and OT/DT Wesley Willis. They now have a chance to win their first round playoff game in front of their home crowd on Friday. The Jeanerette Tigers, under Ananais Johnson, only had four wins in the regular season, but don’t let the seed or record fool you as Jeanerette has a good football team. They played one of the toughest districts in all of 2A against teams such as Ascension Episcopal and Catholic New Iberia. The Tigers have some good athletes including QB Malika Maxie, RB Ahmad Mitchell, WR Jacalik Lundy, and a much improved defense led by DE Toddrick Paul, LB Dallas Walters, DE/LB Christian Alexander, and DT Wendell Marks. This is a team that could spoil Rosepine’s dream season early.
Lee’s Take: “I am taking another upset here with Jeanerette beating Rosepine. Rosepine has had themselves a great season, but Jeanerette has themselves great skill players, which will be the key in this game.”
#8 Kinder Yellow Jackets (5-5) vs. #25 General Trass Panthers (4-6)
Game Preview: “The Kinder Yellow Jackets, led by Bret Fuselier, have been quietly a 2A powerhouse with two state championship wins and three state championship appearances over the last four years. The defense has one of the best tandems in the state in DT Joey McNeely, who is almost impossible to block on the defensive front, and SS Jordan Cordova, who is arguably the best defensive player regardless of position in the Lake Charles area because of his versatility of what he can do against the run and the pass. The defense is this team’s strength, but the offense can move the ball with Trent Johnson at the helm. Even though the Yellow Jackets lose one of their best players in school history in RB Taylor Johnson, they still have multiple running backs that can run the football. The General Trass Panthers, led by Toriano Wells, also have a very good defense that has been allowing over 20 points only twice all season. That group is led by LB Johnson Combs, who has a lot of speed, and DT Roosevelt Turner, who is a good looking player at 6-3, 274. RB Malik Richardson is the team’s difference maker on the offensive side of the football. This has the makings of a defensive struggle between both squads.
Lee’s Take: “It’s a game that will be closer than a lot of people think. General Trass is a very good team from Monroe. They have some good athletes so this could be an upset. I am actually going to pick the Panthers in the upset because this is a good team that has played very tough competition in Monroe.
#9 Rayville Hornets (6-4) vs. #24 Delhi Charter Gators (4-6)
Game Preview: The Rayville Hornets, led by Lent Bursey, had a great season finishing second in their district behind Ferriday. The Hornets did struggle outside their district, but that was only because of the tough matchups that they had to face, which will help them later on in the playoffs. The Hornets have a great athlete in Rashad Naylor, who could be a difference maker in the playoffs. He can do it all and has really been the Hornets’ number one option in the passing attack with over 600 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving. He will be the main offensive weapon that the Hornets will utilize, but there will be others that step up their game as well. They also have a tough defensive unit, which is led by Xavier and Zachary Griffin, who are both the opposite defensive ends, DT Sherman Watkins, MLB Darnyon Wilson, and CB Frederick Lee in the secondary. The Delhi Charter Gators, under Brett Raley, are very familiar with the Hornets as they played against each other earlier in the regular season. That game resulted in a 50-28 win for the Hornets. The Gators are looking for revenge as they will rely on guys such as QB Mason Hale, RB Joshua Poland, and WR Desmond Longino.
Lee’s Take: “I see Rayville moving on to the next round in a win against Delhi Charter.”
#10 Red River Bulldogs (7-3) vs. #23 North Caddo Rebels (3-7)
Game Preview: The Red River Bulldogs received news that former Calvary Baptist state championship winning head coach John Bachman was going to take over as the head coach and that move helped the Bulldogs take the next step this season. The Bulldogs have one of the best defensive lines in the state with DT Raphael Lemons, who is a All-State returning defensive end that can move for somebody that is 6-2, 250, DT Quinton Honsley, who is 6-0, 350, and Willie Wilson, who is 5-10, 275. The offense will be led by Demontae Calhoun, who is the team’s best playmaker and a tree stump at only 5-9, but over 200 pounds. The North Caddo Rebels, under Chuck Dupree, have a playmaking quarterback in Tymon Sanders. Sanders is only 5-8, 175, but he plays a lot bigger than what he is. The Rebels have a lot of short players on the offensive line, but they are stocky and very strong. It will be hard to get any penetration with those guys as the low man always wins.
Lee’s Take: “John Bachman has done a great job at Red River and they have themselves a great team. They should get past North Caddo in the first round.”
#11 South Plaquemines Hurricanes (4-5) vs. #22 Vinton Lions (4-6)
Game Preview: The South Plaquemines Hurricanes are led by Lyle Fitte, who happens to be one of the greatest players in South Plaquemines’ history and was a part of two state championship title teams as a running back in 2008 and 2009. This is probably South Plaquemine’s most balanced team in over a decade with great speed in QB Daron Powell, ATH Eli Bourgeois, who can run a 4.40/40, WR Ulysses Barnes, and RB Trashaun Polius. The team also has a great defensive line led by DE Xavier Powell and DE Brandon Turner. The Vinton Lions, under Tarius Davis, are playing their best football right now after starting the season at 1-7. The team has won three straight games to close the regular season. No matter who the Lions play, they always will have a chance as long as Tony St. Julien is in the game. Julien has had back to back 1,000 rushing yard seasons. He always has had the speed and now, he has gotten bigger at 6-0, 190. He is a type of guy that can carry the Lions deep into the playoffs when he is on a roll.
Lee’s Take: “South Plaquemines is a sleeper team in the bracket and I think they will move on against Vinton.”
#12 Northeast Vikings (6-3) vs. #21 Port Allen Pelicans (3-7)
Game Preview: The Northeast Vikings, under longtime head coach David Masterson, have been under the radar in the district behind the likes of Dunham and Episcopal, but this is a solid football team that always has the potential to score. The Vikings have a quarterback that has been performing at a high level in Ryshaun Steele as well as two star receivers in the making in Johnny Selders and Jascent Scott, who are both juniors and at least 6-2, 200 pounds. They also have another big receiver in Kendall Titus, who is also 6-3, but a little leaner at 170. The only aspect of the Vikings’ offense that is holding them back for this week is that they will be without the services of FB Curtis Keaton, who has been the team’s top rusher this season. The Port Allen Pelicans, under firs year head coach Don Gibson, defeated Northeast 28-14 earlier in the regular season. The Pelicans have a good running back in Norris Cummings and will lean on the run throughout their games. The strength of their team is their defense as they have one of the best linebacking duos in the Baton Rouge area in Brenton Brown and Clyde Robertson as well as one of the best defensive secondaries in the Baton Rouge are with SS Rashawn West, CB Jonte Smith, and SS De’Ante Woods at the helm. This game could come down to which unit is more productive between the Northeast offense vs. the Port Allen defense.
Lee’s Take: “Northeast gets some revenge against Port Allen and will win this game.”
#13 Pine Raiders (6-4) vs. #20 West St. Mary Wolfpack (4-6)
Game Preview: The Pine Raiders, led by Bradley Seal, have leaned on two position groups and that is the offensive line as well as its linebacking core. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in 2A led by OG Brendon Kelley (6-4, 330), OT Raquan Handy (6-4, 350), OT Jakari Hart (6-0, 300), and Center Jarred Berry (5-11, 260). This unit blocks for a hard runner in Jakyran Handy, who is a 1,000 yard rusher. The defense relies on four talented linebackers in Hunter Temples, Dakota Brooks, Drew Knight, and Xavier Elsey. The West St. Mary Wolfpack, led by Clifton Armelin, have a big physical quarterback in Dondre Johnson, who could also line up at tight end. The offense relies on three great athletes in Desmon Washington, who is very dangerous in open space, Trevion Biggles, who is more of a power running back, and WR Daylon Richard, who is the team’s leading receiver.
Lee’s Take: “This could also be an upset. I am going to predict that West St. Mary’s wins this football game.”
#14 Mangham Dragons (7-3) vs. #19 Lake Arthur Tigers (5-5)
Game Preview: Like the Kinder Yellow Jackets, the Mangham Dragons, under Tommy Tharp, have made a couple of state championship appearances over the years and even won a couple of those games. At 7-3, it seems that the Dragons are way too low to be 14th, but they have a chance to prove that to the LHSAA with a good showing in the playoffs. Once again, the Dragons will rely heavily on the run game offensively with Donovan Haynes running the football and FB/DT Madison Woodard leading the way for him at almost 250 pounds. The defense is senior heavy and built for a long run as guys like Woodard, DT Randy Gayden, LB Austin Payne, DE Andrew Sevier, and CB Brandon Haynes will be some of those leaders on that side of the football. The Lake Arthur Tigers, led by Mark Deshotel had another 5-5 season. The Tigers will rely heavily in the trenches as most of the linemen on both sides of the football came back this season. As far as skill players go, the Tigers will rely on WR Tavaris Achane, who also plays free safety.
Lee’s Take: “I think that this is going to be a Mangham blowout even though the seeds are close.”
#15 Mansfield Wolverines (7-3) vs. #18 East Feliciana Tigers (5-5)
Game Preview: As expected, the Mansfield Wolverines, led by Mike Green, adjusted quite nicely after moving down from 3A to 2A. As a result, the Wolverines won seven games and finishing second in their district. The Wolverines will be led by their offensive attack, which has QB Lakendrick Ross, WR Travis Dewitt, WR Malik Pegues, RB Jordan Walker, and RB Robert Turner. The defense will be led by Javarius Miles, who is a big time sleeper recruit at 6-1, 220 that could also play on the offensive side of the football as a tight end. The East Feliciana Tigers, led by Cedric Anderson, had their ups and downs, but this is a very talented team in the end. Coach Anderson’s sons have played major parts this season as his younger son Caleb Anderson is the starting quarterback and his older son Cedric Anderson Jr. is the wide receiver. The Tigers have a lot of talented athletes at the running back and receiver positions including RB Ge’montae Franklin, RB Kirkland Hills, ATH Marvell Jackson, and RB Macarthur Brown.
Lee’s Take: “This is the best game in the bracket. It could go either way as this might be one of those 38-35 type of games. Both of these teams have a lot of speed, but I am going to go with East Feliciana in this one.”
#16 Lakeside Warriors (7-3) vs. #17 Independence Tigers (5-5)
Game Preview: The Lakeside Warriors, led by Jason Martin, are another team that has had an incredible turnaround. In only two years, Coach Martin has turned a winless team in 2016 into a seven win team this year. It was an incredible turnaround and it is still going on right now as the Warriors will host a home playoff game on Friday. Players such as LB Jayke Stewart, QB Jordan Pruett, WR Chase Mitchell, RB/LB Brian Mitchell, OL/DL Dillon Gray, and OL/DL Brian Jackson have all been instrumental in the huge turnaround. The Independence Tigers, led by Keith Carona, are a talented team that uses two quarterbacks. Both are different from the other as Deangelo Gaines is more of the traditional quarterback while Marquell Jackson is more of the athlete that can line up at multiple positions. Michael Otkins is the number one receiver in the passing attack, but this is a running offense that features a couple of different runners featuring Stephen Jackson and Anthony McClain along with fullbacks Jermaine Singleton and Donald Drake, who are both tanks that can run the ball and pave the way for either Jackson or McClain.
Lee’s Take: “Independence will win this football game. Throw the seeds out the window. I think they have the more talented team than Lakeside.”
Lee’s Final Thoughts: “I think Many will meet Amite in the Superdome at the end, but keep an eye on Red River as this could be the sleeper team that can make a run.”
Jace’s Final Thoughts: “Many is the most complete team in my opinion. They can throw, run, and play good defense. The team also has experience playing in these games and are motivated after falling short of their goals a year before. I believe they will come out of one side while Amite will be in the Superdome for the second year in a row. Teams like Welsh, Mangham, Rayville, Kinder, St. Helena, and Ferriday are teams that I also think can make a run and I won’t be shocked if any of these teams can get in the Dome at the end. We will see as the Road to the Dome begins this week.”
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