Zachary High School football coach David Brewerton refers to the semifinals as the “money round,” with the payoff being a berth in next weekend’s Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic.
Brewerton said he thinks the Broncos’ rematch at West Monroe will be played in an atmosphere that's second to none. Finishing second to none is the ultimate goal as top-seeded West Monroe (13-0) and No. 4 ZHS (11-2) meet in a Class 5A semifinal set for 7 p.m. Friday at West Monroe High School.
“What I love most about the place is that the town completely shuts down for a game,” Brewerton said. “It really doesn’t get any better than that, just seeing how that town supports their football program. It is more of an event than a football game.”
As Zachary makes its fourth straight semifinal appearance, the parameters are somewhat the same as a year ago when West Monroe scored 21 fourth-quarter points to notch a 35-14 semifinal win. The fact that 16 of the Broncos 22 starters played in that 2016 game makes this matchup the “money round” Brewerton refers to. Some intriguing individual matchups don’t hurt either.
“We have a great deal of respect for Zachary and what they do,” WMHS coach Jerry Arledge said. “They are the best team we’ve played so far and we’ve played some good ones. We go out and play the schedule we do in order to prepare for this and so we can have this game at home. I think that is very important.”
Arledge said the Rebels’ two out-of-state opponents, Booker T. Washington of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Noxubee County, Mississippi, will play for state titles in their respective states this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Rebels and Zachary will match their powerful offenses that are framed by large offensive lines. Quarterback Slade Bolden, an Alabama commitment, played more running back and receiver for West Monroe a year ago. This time around Bolden has 1,533 yards rushing and 1,190 yards passing with 43 total touchdowns, part of a school-record total of 111 TDs. Linebacker JB Gullatt again has over 100 tackles for the WMHS defense.
Arledge likes the maturity he sees in Zachary quarterback Keilon Brown, who leads the Broncos with 1,971 passing yards, 872 rushing yards and 40 total TDs. Darweshi Sanders adds 857 rushing yards, while Chandler Whitfield and Trea Shropshire have combined for 1,522 receiving yards. Linebacker Wes Brady helps lead the defense.
Brewerton said the Broncos’ defensive line must “hold up” to allow the linebackers to make plays, just one match-up fans may not see.
“You usually get your best football in the semifinal games because everybody is letting it all hang out and doing whatever they need to do to win,” Brewerton said. “I think Keilon is going to have to have a nice night throwing the ball. We have to keep those guys off balance as much as we can.”