Expect a heavy flow of taillights on La. 16 in Watson on Friday night.
Three years after relocating to its sparkling new campus, Live Oak High will become the place to be when the football team, seeded 25th in Class 5A, plays its first home playoff game in school history.
Live Oak is the only Livingston Parish team still playing football and continues a run under first-year coach Brett Beard that few outside the program could have seen coming.
No. 9 seed John Ehret is the opponent this week after the Eagles pulled off a 33-28 upset of No. 8 Ouachita for the school’s first playoff win.
Beard said Live Oak has considered bringing in extra sets of bleachers for Friday’s game to accommodate what is expected to be a jam-packed crowd.
“We feel like the environment could be something special,” Beard said.
Something special describes a season of firsts for Live Oak in which the Eagles (7-4) recorded their first wins against Denham Springs and Central as part of a 3-2 finish in District 4-5A, then went on the road to shock traditional power Ouachita in a victory they sealed with a late goal-line stand.
The Eagles were making their first playoff appearance since 2012 and only their second since joining the 5A ranks in 2009.
Out of 160 teams to qualify for the playoffs in Louisiana’s five non-select classifications, Live Oak was one of 10 traveling teams to advance in the first round, joining fellow No. 25 seeds Loranger (Class 4A) and Winnfield (3A) as the lowest seeds to earn wins.
But the way Beard sees it, the playoffs for Live Oak started a week before Friday’s landmark breakthrough.
The Eagles entered their Week 10 matchup with Central in do-or-die mode, likely needing a win to keep their season alive.
So they arrived at Ouachita a confident, loose bunch unfazed by the stakes at hand.
“You could tell we had a sense of urgency when we got up there,” Beard said of his team’s mindset for the Ouachita game. “You could see that fire. You could see they were ready.”
Senior Dillon Wang led Live Oak’s offense in the first round with 151 yards on 21 carries and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:08 left.
The Live Oak defense surrendered a fourth-and-long to the Lions in the final minutes, but rebounded to make the game-saving stop on fourth-and-goal from the 2.
A similar effort will be needed if the Eagles hope to reach the quarterfinals.
John Ehret’s only two losses this season came against Landry-Walker and Destrehan, two teams still alive in the 5A playoffs. The Patriots were 6-1 in 8-5A.
Quarterback Dejon Harris and running back Juwan Leonard combined to rush for 334 yards and five touchdowns in a 39-7 home win over East Ascension in the first round. Linebacker Michael Divinity, an LSU commitment, led a defense that held the Spartans to minus-12 rushing yards and intercepted four passes.
Denham’s season ends
No. 30 seed Denham Springs started strong at No. 3 Destrehan in Friday’s first round, taking a 17-14 lead in the second quarter after Robert Thomas scored his second touchdown of the night on a 99-yard kickoff return.
But the Wildcats scored the next 14 points to quickly gain control and pulled away for a 44-23 win.
Junior quarterback Kohen Granier completed 18-of-27 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns as Destrehan, the 5A runner-up last season, remained unbeaten.
Denham sophomore Tyre Goldmond had 17 carries for 143 yards in the losing effort.
The Yellow Jackets (5-6) finished the year with five losses in their final six games following a 4-1 start.
In other playoff action, No. 4 Rayville defeated No. 29 Springfield 42-14.
Springfield (2-9) was making its fifth straight appearance in the 2A playoffs.
Brown signs with Nicholls
Walker senior basketball player Keeona Brown, who committed in June to the Nicholls State women’s basketball program, made it official during a Nov. 11 signing ceremony at the high school.
Brown will follow former Walker teammates Jamie Gibson (Louisiana-Monroe), Baylie Stears (Southeastern Louisiana) and Kacie Fountain (Murray State) to the college ranks after helping the Wildcats to the 5A championship game last year.
Brown averaged 12.3 points and 12.6 rebounds as a junior.
Her coach at Nicholls will be DoBee Plaisance, the mother of former LSU star Theresa Plaisance.
Kelton sixth in Metro
In his final race before competing in the state meet, Denham Springs senior Thomas Kelton finished sixth in the Metro Cross Country Meet on Nov. 9 at Highland Road Park.
Kelton finished with a time of 16 minutes, 9.5 seconds. Denham teammate Christian Mallet, a sophomore, was 14th at 16:27.40.
The state meet was scheduled for Monday (Classes B, C, 1A and 2A) and Wednesday (Classes 3A, 4A and 5A) in Natchitoches.