At this time of year it’s hard to tell what’s more important when you come across a rivalry game: bragging rights or power points?
Kaplan’s Stephen “Tank” Lotief played it straight down the middle.
“Both of them,” he said with a laugh, “but bragging rights are always good.”
Kaplan (5-3, 3-2) finds itself in the midst of a three-game win streak when it travels to Erath (6-2, 3-1) in a matchup of Vermilion Parish rivals and District 8-3A foes at 7 p.m. Thursday at Robert Segura Stadium.
“It’s all about power ratings,” Erath coach David Comeaux said. “But it’s a friendly rivalry.”
The two teams met nearly two months ago with Kaplan edging Erath 20-15 in the Vermilion Parish Jamboree.
“They’re a whole different team,” Lotief said. “They had some guys out, and they didn’t run it (veer) against us. I think we played basically the same guys.”
Kaplan has redirected the course of its season after consecutive losses to E.D. White and Patterson to start district play.
The Pirates lost quarterback Jade Herpin and wingback Grant Fricke with injuries in the E.D. White game (20-16 loss) but have since regained Herpin’s services.
“We’re a couple of plays from being 7-1 right now,” Lotief said. “The only team we feel that knocked us out was Patterson. We gave games away to Church Point (35-34 loss) and E.D. White. There’s not a lot of difference between 7-1 and 5-3.”
Herpin returned to lead Kaplan to a 45-20 league win over North Vermilion, sparking a stretch of three straight league wins, capped by last week’s 47-0 victory over Franklin.
Fullback Julius Johnson leads the Pirates with 217 carries for 1,287 yards and 10 TDs.
“Our offensive line has been doing an outstanding job,” Lotief said. “They’re the reason why we’re going. They’ve been the most consistent group week in and week out.”
Erath began district play with a 3-0 record, extended that win streak to four games until running into a red-hot Patterson team last week, falling 43-22.
The Bobcats also feature one of the area’s top running backs in Elijah Mitchell, who has rushed 128 times for 1,446 yards (11.7 yards per carry) and 24 TDs.
“It’s always a tough game to play because Kaplan is so good and how they run their Wing-T,” Comeaux said.
“Both teams have gotten a whole lot better since that jamboree. Besides the rivalry, and what goes on in the district, this game means everything to both teams as far as playoff potential.”