Road to the Dome: LHSAA Division II Quartefinals 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 3A/4A private division, which is Division II.
#1 De La Salle Cavaliers (9-0) vs. #8 Archbishop Hannan Hawks (8-2)
Team Preview: Regardless of classification, the De La Salle Cavaliers, led by Ryan Manale, are considered as one of the best teams in all of Louisiana, and who would argue against that by the way they have been playing. With wins against Edna Karr, St. Charles Catholic, St. James, Riverside Academy, St. Augustine, Donaldsonville, and plenty more, it is safe to say that the De La Salle Cavaliers deserve the number one seed in the Division II playoffs. Their star quarterback is Julien Gums, who is really a bruising running back at 5-11, 225 as the offense does like to run the quarterback power play with Gums in the offense. When they do throw it, they have excellent receivers in BJ Randle, Aaron Marquez, and Ahmad Munoz. In the trenches, they are really strong with DT Jamiran James, who is a Tulane commit, his brother OT/DT Jeremiah James, OT Donte Lewis, OG Walter Johnson, and center Nick Guthrie. There is also DE Accord Green, who is 6-2, 230, and the nephew of former LSU DE Jarvis Green. SS Lance Robinson makes up a great secondary. There is not a glaring weakness on this football team and as long as they play their style of play, nobody is going to beat this team. Now, they are even healthier as they had a week off. The Archbishop Hannan Hawks, led by Scott Wattigny, have had a special season winning eight games in the regular season. The Hawks were on their way to an undefeated season and a district championship at a 7-0 record, but finished the final three games at 1-2, which cost them a district championship. However, this is still a very confident football team that can win football games in the trenches as this is the best offensive line in school history led by Arkansas State commit Christian Hoz and TE Seth Caillouet, who is an Texas State commit that also plays on the defensive line. They showed their dominance on the line of scrimmage as the Hawks ran for over 300 yards and only held the Terriers’ star quarterback Andrew Robison to only 91 yards passing and running back Brennan Rogers to only 59 rushing yards. Caillouet impacted the game on all three phrases as he ran for two touchdowns, caught the only pass in the game for the Hawks, and kicked two field goals as well as three extra points. Hoz, Caillouet, and company have a tall task as they will face a De La Salle football team that has been dominant all season long. The biggest key, for the Hawks, is to maintain long drives against a very good De La Salle defense. If this team can maintain long drives and keep Julien Gums and company on the bench, then this team may have a chance. However, if the Cavaliers can run their normal game plan and control the time of possession, this game won’t be close.
Lee’s Take: “I think Archbishop Hannan had a really good year, but unfortunately, they are playing a 5A type of football team. This is a mismatch and it is really unfair. I don’t know if this game will be decided in the first quarter or the second quarter, but De La Salle will get a big win.”
#2 University Lab High School Cubs (10-0) vs. #7 Teurlings Catholic Rebels (6-4).
Team Preview: It looks like De La Salle and University Lab will be on a collision course to the Superdome, but they still have to go through a couple of tough football teams. However, the way that the Cubs, led by Chad Mahaffey, are playing, nobody wants to play the U-High Cubs. The Cubs have one of the top offenses in the entire state regardless of classification. John Gordon McKernan has done everything that the coaches have asked him to do and is doing a great job of efficiently running the offense. The Cubs have one of the best running backs in the Baton Rouge area in Mike Rollins, who is a powerful runner and a touchdown machine. The junior running back had an incredible 26 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. In the passing game, McKernan will look for wideouts such as Christian Harris and Grant Bonnette, who is the son of LSU SID Michael Bonnette. Up front on the offensive line, the Cubs are strong with guys such as Dylann Rathcke, Ethan Macloud, and Zach Gremillion. The defense has also been very good and will be led by a great front seven that features MLB Bryton Constantin, who is almost 230 pounds, OLB Dallas Wright, DT Donald Berniard, LB Leland Jones, and so much more. Also, don’t forget the Special Teams unit that features Bonnette at punter and Aidan Gale at kicker. Like De La Salle, this is a team that does not have a glaring weakness. The last time, the Cubs had an undefeated regular season, they went on to win the state championship. The Rebels are going to make sure that it won’t happen again for the Cubs. Dane Charpentier has done a great job of filling his father’s shoes, who accomplished many great things when he was head coach at Teurlings. The Rebels keep on producing great quarterbacks as they have another special player in Wesley Blazek. With talented wideouts Connor Talbot and Cole Champagne, The Rebels can get it done in the passing game, but also in the running game as two different running backs get majority of the carriers in Jakyre Journet and Zander Garber. The offensive line may also be one of the best in school history with Thomas Perry, who is a DI player, and Justin Matthews, who also has the chance to be at that caliber. The defense has a great linebacking core led by Cole Newland, who can disrupt an entire offensive game plan because of his quickness off the football, Beau Leblanc, and Jake McGuire, who are all vocal leaders for this team. The Rebels are coming off a 42-21 victory over Loyola College Prep. Blazek showed why he is one of the most underrated senior quarterbacks in the state as he took over the game completing 13 for 18 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns while running for 77 yards and another touchdown. With a quarterback like Blazek, the Rebels will always have a chance to win. They are playing against another team like De La Salle that has been very dominant all season in University Lab. Even though the Cubs did not go through adversity in the regular season, this Teurlings Catholic team is a team that has some great players and could sneak up on University High. It should be very interesting to see how University Lab plays once they trail in a game, but the team has been so dominant that they haven’t had to come from behind. The question is if Teurlings Catholic can be that team that can put some pressure on the Cubs and I believe they can.
Lee’s Take: “I think that this is going to be a really close game. U-High fans should not buy their Superdome tickets just yet. This will be a closer game. I think the quarterback at Teurlings is the best one year starter in the state and the team has the talent to beat U-High. However, I think U-High will pull out a victory, but it’s going to be very close.”
#3 St. Charles Catholic Comets (8-2) vs. #11 St. Louis Catholic Saints (4-7)
Team Preview: What we all know is that to never count out Frank Monica in any game. The legendary head coach seems to beat teams that are much more talented and deep than the Comets, but it is going to be really hard to prepare more than this team. The Comets have had a lot of injury problems including missing their versatile quarterback Lloyd Nash and OLB Dellary Oubre, but the good news is that the Comets just got back their quarterback last week in a win against St. James. When Nash is at the quarterback position, this team is a much different team. The Nicholls State commit is one of the best athletes Coach Monica has ever coaches and that is saying a lot. The offense has two tough runners in Phillip Tran and Narquez Jones. The offensive line is also a very experienced unit. Even though the Comet defense lost their best player in Oubre, the unit still has some great leadership on that side of the football with guys such as LB Gavin St. Pierre, DT Mason Narcisse, DT DeAndre Keller, and CB Trey Joseph. The Comets made it to the Division III state championship last year by beating an overmatched Notre Dame team in the semi-finals. The question is if they can do it again against most likely U-High. If you give Coach Monica any time to prepare, then, you better watch out. The St. Louis Catholic Saints, led by Charlie Cryer, are a solid football team that does not have a lot of depth for a 3A team, but plays really hard. The Saints also can run the football with Jaleel Goodwin, who has the talent to be as good as he wants to be, but they can throw the football with a veteran quarterback in Bailey Hardy, who happens to be the school’s all time leading passer. LB Kade Koury will lead the defensive side of the football while kicker Adam Ieyoub will try to give the Saints an advantage on special teams. The Saints pulled off the upset of the Division II bracket by upsetting an E.D. White football team that only had one loss in the regular season. The Saints went on the road and not only did they get a one point victory, but they did it by scoring 16 unanswered points as the Saints trailed the Cardinals 21-6. Hardy was exceptional in the game throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns including the game winning 35 yard touchdown to Griffin Gibson to put St. Louis up top at 22-21 with just over two minutes remaining and the Saints defense sealed the victory by stopping the Cardinals on fourth and one. The Saints will have to pull off another upset against a St. Charles Catholic team that was in the Division III state championship last season. The Saints will play them hard, but it’s just so tough to beat a Frank Monica coached team and now they got their playmaking quarterback at full health again, which could be trouble for St. Louis Catholic.
Lee’s Take: “I think Coach Monica is smiling right now knowing that he does not have to play E.D. White. This is a mismatch on talent. I think St. Louis Catholic has done a great job of getting to this point. They are a young football team that is not super talented, but plays really hard. I just don’t see St. Louis Catholic beating St. Charles Catholic. This could be a lopsided win for the Comets.”
#4 St. Thomas More Cougars (9-1) vs. #5 Parkview Baptist Eagles (8-3)
Game Preview: Both St. Thomas More and Parkview Baptist are used to play in very big games. For the last two seasons, this was the state championship game. In 2015, the Eagles defeated the Cougars for the state championship with a final score of 24-21. Last season, the Cougars got their revenge against the Eagles winning their first state championship with a final score of 54-29. Now, both state championship contending teams will play in a playoff game once again. The St. Thomas More Cougars, led by legendary head coach Jim Hightower, are trying to defend a state championship for the first time in school history after their Division II state championship victory in 2016. Offensively, the Cougars rotate two good quarterbacks in Peyton Landry and Scott Holstein. The short quick passing attack has always been very efficient at St. Thomas More, but the Cougars now have the ability to run the football with RB Chris Primeaux, who is one of the most underrated running backs in the entire state, and with a big offensive line that is led by OT Grant Young and OG Jonathan Harding. Even though the Cougars are known for their offense, it has been the defense that has been most impressive this season posting three shutouts most notably against Plaquemine High School and not giving up more than 20 points this season. The Cougars have a great defensive line led by the tandem of DE Brandon Gannon and DT Sam Greenwood. The Cougars are also great against the pass as FS Cade Broussard and CB Jude Joseph have been great in the secondary. The Parkview Baptist Eagles, led by Jay Mayet, had a great season winning a tough 6-4A district with the likes of Plaquemine and Lutcher in the state district. What was more impressive is that they accomplished that feat without a lot of their star players such as senior RB Connor Joffrion, who is one of the best in the state and was injured early in the season, and plenty of others. Even though the Eagles may be a little banged up, they still have some depth at a lot of key positions. Although the Eagles lose their best offensive player in Joffrion, the Eagles still can run the football with Parker Kirby, Cole Mayet, who is the coach’s son, and Terry Tolliver. QB Colton Jumonville has done a great job as a passer and is one of the best pure passers in this Parkview offense in a long time. The defense is stingy with the likes of two way starters such as Mayet, Kirby, and WR/DB Kyle Washington. Both teams are coming off dominant wins in the first round with the Cougars defeating the St. Michael Warriors 48-9 and the Eagles defeating the Lusher Charter Lions 55-14. It should be a very entertaining game as it is between two powerhouse football programs, but the injuries that Parkview has suffered throughout the year may be too much as they will face a much healthier St. Thomas More team.
Lee’s Take: “I think Jay Mayet is doing more with less this year and he has done the best coaching job in the history of the program because they got a lot of guys hurt. Not having Connor Joffrion really hurts them a lot and they got a lot of other starters out as well. Parkview Baptist will compete with St. Thomas More for four quarters, but I don’t think they have enough in the tank to beat St. Thomas More.”
Jace’s Final Thoughts: “It is most likely going to be a #1 vs. #2 seed state championship game with De La Salle against University Lab, but don’t pencil the state championship game in stone yet as many teams can contend with the Cavaliers and the Cubs in St. Charles Catholic, St. Thomas More, Parkview Baptist, and even Teurlings Catholic. With that being said, I think both De La Salle and University Lab will both move on and I also have St. Thomas More defeating the Eagles in a close game and the St. Charles Catholic Comets moving on. It should be two very interesting semi-final matchups between University Lab-St. Charles Catholic as well as St. Thomas More-De La Salle. We will see if the matchups we promised for comes true as the Road to the Dome continues.
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