University High coach Chad Mahaffey seeks balance on offense. A steady defensive effort is what David Masterson of Northeast wants to see.
Their teams play in different classifications but share connections, albeit for one week. Both the Cubs and Vikings are unbeaten and face a key challenge as local teams kick off district play to help highlight the Week 4 football action.
“Our defense is playing real well and has done a good job of giving us turnovers and field position,” Mahaffey said. “Last night we were better in the passing game, which is good because we need to be able to do both, run and pass. We know West Feliciana and what we’re getting. It seems like we play a ‘big one’ every week. This is another one.”
The third-ranked Cubs (3-0) host No. 2 West Feliciana (3-0) on Friday. Both teams were semifinalists a year ago. The District 6-3A opener is one of several district games to note this week.
Preseason District 7-2A favorite The Dunham School (2-1) travels to Port Allen (1-2) for its opener that is one of four Thursday night games. On Friday, Northeast (3-0) travels to Episcopal (2-1) for another 7-2A opener. Another win would give the Vikings the same number of wins they had in 2016.
“Being 3-0 beats being 0-3,” Masterson said. “Our defense needs to continue to get better and make stops. Last night they were able to bend, but not break. The district has some good teams and Episcopal is one of them. Travis (Bourgeois, EHS coach) has turned that program around. They’re consistent every year.”
Both teams are coming off impressive wins. Northeast beat Class 4A Livonia 42-20 with Curtis Keaton running for 135 yards and atwo touchdowns. The Vikings will play on the road for the first time. U-High plays at home for the second straight week and is coming off an impressive 34-6 win over Mahaffey’s alma mater, Catholic High. John Gordon McKernan passed for 232 yards for the Cubs.
As good as the Cubs defense has been, Mahaffey acknowledges the depth of the challenge with West Feliciana. The Saints have won three close games. They’re led by a talented trio — Derius Davis, Davon Harris and Derek Turner — and run an option attack.
“Facing that offense is one thing,” Mahaffey said. “When you put their personnel in there, it’s something else. They’ve got home run hitters at every position and that makes defending them tougher.”
One of the area’s two Class 5A districts, 4-5A, also begins league play. Ninth-ranked Zachary (2-1) travels to Live Oak (2-1) to help lead the list of 4-5A openers.