The old cliches are true about every game mattering and taking it one week at a time. But it’s hard to sneak a peek at the football schedules for this season and not get extra excited about a few dates in particular.
Here are a handful of games involving Livingston Parish teams that, coachspeak be darned, warrant looking ahead.
Northeast at Walker, Sept. 4: Trying to bounce back from a winless 2014, Walker opens the Brandon Lawley era with the first of its four nondistrict home games against opponents from smaller classifications.
Northeast plays in Class 2A but is coming off an appearance in the state semifinals last year.
Lawley made his impact at Walker as the offensive coordinator last season, but has turned his focus this year to rectifying a defense that allowed 40 or more points in eight of its 10 losses.
There’s nowhere for the Wildcats to go but up.
Denham Springs at St. Paul’s, Sept. 18: The momentum swung for the Yellow Jackets last year when they traveled to Slidell in Week 2 and scored a surprising bounce-back win over traditional power Salmen. Yet another key trip to St. Tammany Parish awaits, this time to Covington.
Senior quarterback Kenny Sears, a Northwestern State commitment, leads the St. Paul’s offense.
Springfield at Albany, Sept. 18: One of Livingston Parish’s most intense rivalries annually pits schools located just six miles apart.
Springfield coach Ryan Serpas has won five of the seven meetings against his alma mater, and the Bulldogs have won three straight in the series since back-to-back losses in 2010 and 2011.
Springfield won 28-6 last year en route to its fourth straight playoff appearance.
Albany has won only five games the past two years, but coach Blane Westmoreland hopes the opening of a brand-new field house this year will help get the program on track. The visit by Springfield in Week 3 is one of eight straight home games for the Hornets to start the season.
Walker at Live Oak, Oct. 16: Live Oak’s most impressive win last season came in a 44-10 thrashing of Walker, the third straight victory for the Eagles in the series.
But this year marks the start of a new chapter for both programs.
New Live Oak coach Brett Beard, fresh off leading Woodlawn to back-to-back playoff appearances in his two seasons as the coach there, faces off with Lawley for the first time as both coaches look to improve programs that have enjoyed little success in the 5A ranks.
Live Oak will be coming off a game at Denham Springs, and the Eagles welcome Zachary to Watson a week later. So the timing could work in Walker’s favor.
Denham Springs at Zachary, Oct. 16: Get your tickets now.
Denham Springs heads to Zachary for a rematch of two defining games last season, the first a heartbreaking, last-minute loss in district play and the second a lopsided setback in the second round of the playoffs.
Zachary returns many of the key pieces from a team that advanced all the way to the state semifinals, and Denham Springs has all kinds of veterans who can take the lessons they learned against the Broncos last year and apply them in their third matchup with them in two seasons.
The winner of this game will no doubt be the favorite in the race for the District 4-5A championship.
Of course, the teams could always see each other again in November or December.