Road to the Dome: LHSAA Class 5A 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 5A public bracket.
#1 West Monroe (10-0) vs. #32 Pineville (4-6)
Jace’s Game Preview: The West Monroe Rebels are trying to get back to winning state championships. This is a team that has had dominant regular seasons, but has fallen short late in the playoffs over the last seven years. Still, this is West Monroe and you cannot pick against them. Even with program star Slade Bolden (Alabama) graduating, the offense has still been very sharp with a talented junior QB and a great athlete that can play multiple positions in Carson Jones. Offensively, the Rebels are deep at the skill positions as there are plenty of players that can touch the football. The Rebels also have one of the best defensive lines in the state led by seniors DE Andrew Gleason, ULL commit DT Dalvin Hutchinson, DT Ethan Swanner, DE Preston Crain, DE Malcolm Moore, and DE/LB/FB Chandler Moncrief, who is a transfer from Sterlington and has been an X factor. Finally, the secondary featuring seniors Jones, Brooks Miller, Zach Martin, and Zak Knox is pretty tough to throw on as well. It will be tough for the Pineville Rebels to keep up, but they will put up a fight with veteran Head Coach Dennis Dunn. At 4-6, this is a team that is better than their record may indicate. Offensively, they have one of the best senior receivers in the area in Jacob Sylvia as well as a lot of other talented skill position players and a talented kicker in Ridha Alkaabi. The Pineville Rebels will look to make this game more competitive than the last regular season matchup when West Monroe defeated Pineville 60-14 earlier in the season.
Lee’s Pick: “Pineville is a good football team that has improved, but West Monroe is just a better team.”
#16 Captain Shreve (7-3) vs. #17 St. Amant (7-3)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Captain Shreve Gators, led by Head Coach Bryant Sepulvado, have had a really good season considering this is a pretty young team overall. The offensive line, led by seniors Eric Harper, Cade Davis, Dalton Clark, and Evangel Christian transfer Cameron Davis, has been one of the best in the Shreveport area. At the skill positions, the team will rely on the Wilson twins in Brin and Nial as well as WR Jaquez Jones. This is a talented team with a lot of young players. If the young talented players can step up, who knows what will happen. The other Gators, which are the St. Amant Gators, have had another successful year. Head Coach David Oliver gets the most out of his players every week. His most talented skill player is ATH KJ Franklin. Franklin has done it all whether it is passing or rushing. This season, Franklin has ran for 1, 188 yards and 17 touchdowns while throwing for 504 yards and five touchdowns. He will be a major key for St. Amant to advance. Also, this team will be big up front featuring OG Beau Gremillion, DT Brandon Bell, and DE Johnny Johnson, who has the ability to take over games.
Lee’s Pick: “This is a very evenly matched game. It can go either way. I am flipping a coin and picking Captain Shreve at home.”
#9 Alexandria (7-3) vs. #24 Central B.R. (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: Head Coach Thomas Bachman and the Alexandria Trojans play in one of the toughest districts in Louisiana. In fact, their three losses came against district opponents West Monroe, Ruston, and Ouachita Parish. This is a very talented team. On the offensive side of the football, QB Ben Hesni has been a very good football player and signal caller during his career. Hesni will rely on senior playmakers RB Juan Stafford and WR Brandon Quinney. What is even more encouraging is that some of the team’s best players are only juniors. After starting the season strong and ending the season on a little bit of a down note losing three of their last four games, the Trojans will try and get their early season mojo back against Central. The Wildcats, under Sid Edwards, are not your normal 5-5 team. They, too, play in a very tough Class 5A district. The Wildcats had a chance to win plenty of games including a 36-34 loss to Dunham and a 16-13 three overtime loss to Dutchtown. This is a team that always plays tough and there are some very talented players as well. The offense features H-back Parker Evans, who is Swiss army knife that can play many different positions, RB Jacoby Putman, WR Le’Derrick Thomas, WR Jalyn Murphy, etc. The defense is led by All-State caliber linebacker Drew Lasseigne. This is a team that plays against some of the top talent in Baton Rouge and will not be afraid of what the Trojans bring to the table.
Lee’s Pick: “I know it is tough to win on the road, but I think Central has a little bit more talent and that they are going to pull off the upset.”
#8 Ruston (7-3) vs. #25 Comeaux (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The Ruston Bearcats, under Head Coach Jerrod Baugh, are a sleeper team that can make some noise in the playoffs. The team is headlined by LSU commit OT/TE Ray Parker, who is athletic enough to play either position at the next level. On defense, they are led by one of the most underrated senior linebackers in Dylan Skinner, who is a 100 tackle linebacker. At quarterback, Eric Outley calls the signals and brings a dual threat ability to the offense. The team also has a good offensive line and the secondary is very talented as well. Going up against familiar teams in their side of the bracket, the Bearcats may have what it takes to make a deep postseason run. However, Comeaux has been known to pull a couple of upsets here and there. Case in point, earlier this season when they upset an undefeated Acadiana team at the time on a last second field goal in one of the biggest upsets of the year. Under Head Coach Doug Dotson, the Comeaux Spartans are led by RB Donovan Batiste, SS/FS Christian Archangel, Lafayette High School transfer Knorrowkoa Jones, and DT Landon Rabeaux. If the Bearcats want to get where they want to go, they must not overlook the Spartans.
Lee’s Pick: “I think Comeaux has a good year, but I think Ruston has the better team so I am going to go with Ruston.”
#5 East Ascension Spartans (9-1) vs. #28 East St. John (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: The East Ascension Spartans have one of their best teams in quite a while led by Head Coach Darnell Lee. The Spartans are explosive offensively with WR Shaivonn Robinson and WR Markquell Stewart being as exciting as a duo in the Baton Rouge area. QB Jason Wakefield does a great job of distributing those guys the football. Wakefield has thrown for 1,596 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Up front, the Spartans have always had great linemen and this year is no exception. The offensive line averages over 300 pounds across the board with OG Isaac Redditt, OT Cooper Ducote, and OG FalePule Alo anchoring the front five while the defensive line featuring DT Stanford Knockum and Louisiana Tech commit Deshon Hall makes it hard for any opposing offensive lineman to block. The Spartans have a scary mix of both size and speed. Meanwhile, the East St. John Wildcats show they have a lot of talent as well. First year Head Coach Brandon Brown has shown what it takes to get to the Superdome before as he led the St. Helena Hawks to the Class 2A state championship game last year. QB Duke Crosby is now back after missing the last couple of games due to injury and he brings a whole new element when he is in the game. TE Hoxie Brown and DB Jarius Monroe are two of the best at their position in this year’s class. Also, there are a lot of talented underclassmen that can make plays. The question is which East St. John team shows up tonight as they have been inconsistent through the season. If the Wildcats show up ready to go, then, they have a great chance of pulling off the upset.
Lee’s Pick: “This can go either way because East St. John is better than a 28 seed. East St. Ascension is going to win this game, but East St. John can make it very close.”
#12 Slidell Tigers (8-2) vs. #21 Central Lafourche (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: This is the team that Slidell Head Coach Larry Favre has been waiting for in quite some time. This team finally broke through as district champions ending the St. Paul’s Wolves’ dominance in the district over the last decade. The Tigers have some serious skill talent. Offensively, the Tigers have a three headed monster in RB Tito Simmons, who is an All-State caliber player, QB Jacob Guidry, and a talented junior running back. Defensively, the group is headlined by one of the best defensive backs in the state in Missouri commit Ishmael Burdine. On special teams, the unit is nearly flawless with long snapper Cameron Ryals and kicker Josh Willis. This team has a lot of speed and skill talent to compete with anybody. The Central Lafourche Trojans, led by Keith Menard, are coming off a 6-4 regular season finish. This is a really balanced team with a tough offensive line led by seniors Reece Guidrey and Peyton Chiasson, a strong defensive unit, and a good kicker in Gavin Lasseigne. Like the Tigers, the Trojans are a really good team that can play all three phases well.
Lee’s Pick: “Central Lafourche has a really good running game, but I don’t think that the Trojans can stop Slidell’s offense so I am going to go with Slidell.”
#13 Haughton (8-2) vs. #20 Fontainebleau (6-4)
Jace’s Game Preview: Haughton Head Coach Jason Brotherton has done an excellent job this season leading this team to eight wins considering they only returned nine starters heading into the season. Seniors LB Gavin Roe, DE/LB/K Matthew White, and OT Brandon Roten have stepped up their game as well as plenty of talented underclassmen in order for the Buccaneers to have a chance at a playoff run. The team standing in their way is the Fontainebleau Bulldogs led by Head Coach Chris Blocker. The offensive line is one of the best in the St. Tammany area as the group is led by OT Douglas Schuler, OT Griffen Clements, OG Brayden Goodreau, and OG Isaac Gray. At the skill positions, the Bulldogs are young, but very talented. On special teams, Christopher Mastio is one of the best kickers/punters in the state and finally, the defense led by safety Marvin Lange makes it tough for anybody to throw against them. The Bulldogs are more than capable of pulling an upset.
Lee’s Pick: “Haughton has really overachieved this year. They have good gutsy players and play tough, but I don’t think they can stop Fontainebleau’s running back Irvin Celestine and they have played a tougher schedule so I am going to go with Fontainebleau.”
#4 John Ehret (9-1) vs. #29 Dutchtown (5-5)
Jace’s Game Preview: Walking off the bus, the John Ehret Patriots may be the most intimidating team in the state. They have a mix of both power and speed under Head Coach Marcus Scott. Over the years, the Patriots have been known for their defense and once again, they have one of the best in the entire state. This program has been known for their linebacker play and this year, that position might be as deep as it has ever been with LSU commit Donte Starks, and Jacoby Windmon, who also plays on offense at tight end. The entire defensive starting unit has a chance to play at the next levels. Up front, defensive ends Earl Barquet and Eldridge Walker cause havoc. In the secondary, the group is very talented led by CB Jerrae Williams, CB Kunta Hester, SS Lucien Babino, and FS Jonah Mitchell. The defense is dominant and what complements it is their quarterback Travis Mumphrey and their talented offensive line that is over 300 pounds across the board. If this team can find a running game in the playoffs, this could be a very dangerous team. The Dutchtown Griffins, led by Guy Mistretta, have had a tough season with injuries, but the team still managed a 5-5 record. QB Drelon Monroe has suffered some injuries, but fortunately, he is back in time for the playoffs. At 6-2, 210 pounds, Monroe brings a lot of physicality at the position. The Griffins also have a very explosive playmaker in Terry Matthews, who brings an added element on special teams in the return game as well as at wide receiver. Defensively, the Griffins are a tough group featuring DE Hayden Willis, CB Jordan Jackson, CB Tavian Bishop, FS Lamarcus Jones, and LB Johmel Jolla.
Lee’s Pick: “Dutchtown is a scary team to be only the 29 seed, but John Ehret has a scary defense so I am going to take John Ehret in this one.”
#3 Acadiana (9-1) vs. #30 Live Oak (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Acadiana had a great regular season only losing one game to a last second field goal. Coach Matt McCullough has done a great job in his first season as the Wreckin’ Rams’ head coach. The offense has been tough to stop and that is because of a RB corp led by Larryl Greene. The offensive line was young to start the year. but that shows the coaching job Coach McCullough has done to get this young team to nine wins. Live Oak has some big boys up front and they will need to play hard to stop the Wreckin’ Rams rushing attack. LB Blake Robinson will need to have a big game for the Eagles to pull the upset in the first round.
Lee’s Pick: “Live Oak is one of the most well coached teams in the state, but at Acadiana, the Wreckin’ Rams don’t lose so I am taking Acadiana.”
#14 Sam Houston (8-2) vs. #19 Denham Springs (6-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Sam Houston Broncos come into the playoffs with their offense firing on all cylinders. Coach Chad Paulk had some experience returning on offense heading into this season and that shows with their 8-2 and by the points that they put up. The offense is led by a junior quarterback and he will have lots of young talent around him. It will be tough for other teams to be able to keep up with the pace that the Broncos score at but Denham Springs just might be able to do that. Like Sam Houston, the Yellow Jackets have a great junior quarterback along with talented WRs DJ Williams and Kaleb Drummer. This offense will have to put up some points to keep up with the Broncos and Coach Bill Conides will have them ready to do that.
Lee’s Pick: “Denham Springs is coming like Ed Orgeron says. This game could go either way as there will be probably around 1,000 passing yards in this game between the two quarterbacks. I am going to go with Denham Springs. It should be a good game.”
#11 Walker (8-2) vs. #22 Hahnville (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Walker Wildcats have been constantly improving over recent years. The team returned a junior QB along with a great receiving corp led by Trent Montgomery. They also have a strong run game running behind Isaiah Zachery. The defense is also stacked with DB BJ Lockhart, FS Calvin Watson, and LB Cade Seymour among others. This group will have to step up to combat the new passing attack that Hahnville brings into the playoffs. Hahnville finished 5-5 at the end of their tough schedule without their starting quarterback Andrew Robison. Now, with Robison back, the Tigers will look to make a playoff run starting against Walker.
Lee’s Pick: “I am picking Hahnville in an upset because Andrew Robison is back and he could be the difference maker in this ball game.”
#6 Zachary (8-2) vs. #27 Sulphur (5-5)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Zachary lost many players from their 2017 state championship team, but Coach David Brewerton was able to coach them up and lead this young team to eight wins in the regular season. The Broncos offense will be led by a veteran QB who has speed around him with WR Chandler Whitfield, WR Khris Simmons, and WR Buddy Davis. The defense has some big guys in the front seven along with DT Caleb Jackson, LB Taylor Milton, and LB Wes Brady. The Sulphur Golden Tornadoes were extremely competitive with their tough schedule and finished with a 5-5 record. Coach Jeff Wainwright will have his team led by QB Morgan Clark, WR Branden Walker, LB Jake LaFleur, and CB Nick Valette ready to play against the Broncos.
Lee’s Pick: “This is a tough draw for Zachary. Sulphur is better than 27. It is going to be a closer game than what people think, but I am taking Zachary at home.”
#7 Terrebonne (9-1) vs. #26 Chalmette (6-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Terrebonne Tigers and Coach Gary Hill have a high potent offense that is clicking on all cylinders and it will be hard for anyone to stop. The Tiger offense will be led by veteran ATH Keshawn James, RB Chaz Ward, and some young wide receivers. The defense is also led by some veteran guys and will be force to recon with. The linebackers are all seniors in Cullen Butler, Colby Clement, and Dillion Babin. They will be tough to gain yards on for Chalmette. The Owls finished with six wins after having to replace their quarterback from 2017 who graduated in Jason Roper. They have a great running back duo with Brendan Hoorman and Ralph Griffin. These two guys will be leaned on to gain some yards against the tough Tigers defense.
Lee’s Pick: “Chalmette is a good team and well coached, but I don’t think they are going to win this game so I have Terrebonne winning.”
#10 Ouachita Parish (7-3) vs. #23 Parkway (5-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Ouachita Parish Tigers lost lots of talent after the 2017 season but were able to finish the regular season with 7 despite their tough schedule. Coach Jeff Fitzgerald has a ton of star power on offense and they will look to show out in the playoffs. This group will led by WR CJ Brown, ATH LaMark McFee, RB Dylan Roberts, and many others. The Parkway Panthers have to play great defensively to stop those guys but they have the front seven to do so. The Panther defense will be led by veteran LB Rayshion Cook, LB Codie Bickel, and DT Logan Wright. Coach Neil May will have his team ready to play and they will give Ouachita Parish a run for their money.
Lee’s Pick: “It is going to be a great game between evenly matched teams. I think Ouachita has a little bit more talent. I am going with Ouachita.”
#15 Barbe (8-2) vs. #18 Landry-Walker (6-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: Barbe heads into the playoffs having won four straight to end the season and they look to keep that success going in the playoffs. Coach Mike Cutrera has QB Luke Richard in the position to lead the team in a playoff run and that starts against Landry-Walker. Like Barbe, Landry-Walker will rely on their offense and it starts with ATH Chad Alexander. These two players for each team will have to have big games if their team wants to come away with a win in the first round.
Lee’s Pick: “This is a dangerous game for Barbe. Landry Walker still has a lot of skill talent and Chad Alexander is going to be tough to stop. Barbe needs to put up their normal 35-40 points to win, but I think they will so I am going to take Barbe in this game.”
#2 Destrehan (9-1) vs. #31 Hammond (6-4)
Cameron’s Game Preview: The Destrehan Wildcats have one of the best players in the state in John Emery and he will be a nightmare for defenses throughout the playoffs. To go along side of Emory, the Wildcats have QB Harold Blood Jr. and WR Quinton Torbor. These players will have to do great things against the Hammond secondary to win the game. The Tornadoes defense is led by senior SS Tyrone Lewis who will be counted on to help stop the Wildcats potent offense.
Lee’s Pick: “Hammond is a good ball club and a good 31 seed, but they can’t stop Destrehan’s offense.”
Jace’s Final Thoughts: Get your popcorn ready because there seems to be no guarantees in the first round no matter what seed. There could be a couple of teams in this bracket that could make a run to the Dome. I really want to see Destrehan and John Ehret play again. It would be a great matchup if somehow, they can meet each other in the Superdome.
Cameron’s Final Thoughts: The 5A bracket looks like it will have many high scoring games in the first round. I think there are some lower seeds that could make a run in this bracket. In the end, I see West Monroe and Zachary in the dome.
Hey football fans. Like our recruiting interviews, stories, and other content on our website? Click on our website daily to view articles on recruits, coaches, and so much more at our website: http://www.lafootballmagazine.com/. Also, we have exciting news that for the second straight year, we will have our North and South LA issues and both are now out! Both issues will continue to cover all the Louisiana colleges as well as all the high schools in state, but there will be 16 pages that will focus on North Louisiana as well as South Louisiana. For more information, please check the following link to where you can find the magazine in a store near you. Also, below are the two covers as well as where you can order both magazines on our website.
North Cover: South Cover:
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South Link: http://www.lafootballmagazine.com/product/la-football-magazine-2018-annual-preview-south-edition/