Ascension Episcopal’s 5-0 record and No. 4 ranking represent high-water marks for the program.
Yet in the eyes of some observers the Blue Gators still lack the validation needed to be considered among District 7-1A’s top programs.
“For a lot of people, if we can beat VC, then we are good,” AES coach Michael Desormeaux. “That’s not just around here but probably around the state.”
The opportunity to show whether the program can be in the league’s high-rent district takes place when Ascension Episcopal (5-0, 2-0) hosts No. 5 Vermilion Catholic (4-1, 2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Until someone knocks off VC, they’re still the team to beat,” Desormeaux said. “They’ve gone five years in a row without losing a district game. We embrace the challenge; we’re excited about it.”
The Acadiana area also features marquee games involving DeRidder (4-1) visiting No. 3 Crowley (5-0) in a District 3-4A opener and Port Barre (4-1) traveling to No. 10 Church Point (4-1) in 5-3A action.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Port Barre coach Mac Mistric said. “We’ll be playing against a very fundamentally sound team. Coach (John Craig) Arceneaux and his staff do a very good job of preparing their kids for every game and it’s going to be a tough task.”
VERMILION CATHOLIC-ASCENSION EPISCOPAL: Ascension Episcopal has been extremely consistent, if not dominant, since a season-opening victory at then No. 9 East Beauregard 29-22.
The Gators’ average margin of victory over the past four weeks has been 40 points, rising to 51 with the start of district play the past two weeks.
“They’re better defensively,” VC coach Russell Kuhns said. “They’ve got (Ja’Ceiry) Linzer and a couple of good linebackers. They just play hard and swarm to the ball. We’re going to have to be ready to play and make plays when we can. We have to have an all-around good offensive game and move it on them.”
AES relies offensively on Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback commitment Jake Arceneaux, who has completed 53 of 87 passes for 839 yards and eight TDs. Linzer (31-336, seven TDs) leads the rushing attack.
Led by the state’s top passer, senior Hunter Frith, VC has averaged 53.3 points during its three-game win streak and averages 42 points overall.
Frith has completed 90 of 151 passes for 1,534 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. Tyler Derouen is No. 10 in the state in receiving with 27 catches for 477 yards and five TDs.
“I know our kids are fired up about it,” Desormeaux said. “They think we’re going win, which is what you’re supposed to.”
PORT BARRE-CHURCH POINT: Port Barre has already exceeded its win total in each of the two previous years, reeling off four straight wins after a season-opening loss to Opelousas Catholic.
The Red Devils began their current win streak with an 18-17 victory over Sacred Heart-Ville Platte and continued that stretch in last week’s 18-7 win over previously undefeated Basile.
“It’s our job to prepare them,” Mistric said. “I try to be honest about the upcoming opponent, have a good week of practice and go out and perform up to our ability on Friday.”
Port Barre features top players: running back J.J. Sylvester (64-587, eight TDs) on offense and free safety Brock Rozas (four interceptions, TD) on defense.
Mistric remarked about the district’s strength in which all six teams have winning records going into league play.
Church Point, which lost to Livonia in last year’s Class 3A state regional, tasted defeat for the first time last week in a 57-12 setback against Class 4A power Franklinton.
“I think it’s going to be a very competitive district,” Mistric said. “Week in and week out you’re going to have to be at your best. We’re looking forward to it. We’ve been playing a little better each week to this point.”