Ascension Episcopal opens District 7-1A against Hanson _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Ascension Episcopal quarterback Jake Arceneaux looks for an open receiver against Hanson Memorial in a jamboree last month. The two teams open District 7-1A against each other Friday night.

The result may not have mattered but Ascension Episcopal’s dominating performance over Hanson Memorial in the Kiwanis Jamboree sent a clear message where the Blue Gators were headed this season.

Five weeks later Ascension Episcopal’s (3-0) off to the best start in its short history and ranked No. 5 in the Class 1A rankings heading into Friday’s District 7-1A opener against Hanson (1-2) in Youngsville.

“What we did in the jamboree was fun and a good night, but we told them no one’s ever won a jamboree in the history of the game,” AES coach Mike Desormeaux said of his team’s 28-0 verdict over Hanson. “We respect Hanson, and it’s been a good game when we’ve played.”

Several other Acadiana area districts get underway Friday with traditional heavyweights Acadiana (1-2) and Barbe (1-2) each bringing rare two-game losing streaks into their 3-5A encounter in Lake Charles.

The area’s lone game matching ranked and undefeated teams takes place in Eunice where the Bobcats (3-0) – Class 3A’s No. 10 team — face longtime rival Crowley (3-0), Class 4A’s No. 8 team, at 7 p.m.

Kaplan (2-1) has the challenge of pushing aside the disappointment of last week’s 35-34 overtime loss to Church Point and opens District 8-3A at home against one of the league’s favorites in E.D. White (1-2).

No. 2 Notre Dame of Crowley (3-0) hosts Opelousas Catholic (2-1) to start District 5-2A.

“E.D. White’s a good team; probably better than anybody we’ve played so far and they’re probably the biggest team,” Kaplan coach Stephen Lotief said. “We’re going to have to play well. They’ve put up a lot of points. We’ve got to stop the big play. That’s been our downfall.”

HANSON-ASCENSION EPISCOPAL: While his team’s averaged 37.3 points, Desormeaux’s particularly pleased with the play of his defense that’s allowed 14 points per game.

“We’re playing really physical, which was a concern from the time I got here,” he said. “We’re finally starting to get to that point. Hopefully that will carry over even though it’s going to be a different style (passing offense) we’re going to see.”

Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback commitment Jake Arceneaux has triggered AES’ potent offense, completing 36 of 61 passes for 565 yards with five five TDs against one interception.

The Blue Gators also feature a balanced running attack led by Josh Hebert (29-134, two TDs), Arceneaux (13-108, one TD), Ja’Ciery Linzer (18-122, three TDs) and Andre Roth (10-80, three TDs).

“Being 3-0, the focus is on staying grounded and sticking to the things that have gotten us here and have worked for us,” Desormeaux said. “Let’s not worry about things that happened in the past.”

E.D. WHITE-KAPLAN: The Pirates, led by fullback Julius Johnson’s 85 yards and touchdown, built a 14-0 lead at halftime a week ago before finding themselves in a back-and-forth tussle.

Kaplan regained a 28-20 lead with 5:24 remaining in regulation only to surrender an 80-yard return on the ensuing kickoff.

E.D. White, which began the season ranked eighth and won its opener, has suffered consecutive defeats to Lakeshore and St. James by a combined four points.

“We’re trying to correct the mistakes we made and don’t worry about the things we can’t control,” Lotief said. “We’re trying to clean up our mistakes. I don’t think we practiced very good last week, and it showed on Friday. It really did.”