Photos: Acadiana area prep football _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Northside High School's Taveon Leary, left, keeps away from Acadiana High's Jayrin Wilson Friday in Lafayette.

Acadiana’s football team has finished as the No. 1 team in Class 5A three of the last eight years, including last season’s dazzling 77-41 victory over Parkway.

However, the Wrecking Rams have never started a season perched atop the state’s biggest class until last week, garnering eight first-place votes to wrestle the honor away from Archbishop Rummel.

“I don’t think we’ve started number one,” Acadiana coach Ted Davidson, who has been at the school for 34 years, including 11 as head coach. “It’s an honor, but with it being preseason, it’s more of a reflection on what we’ve done in the past and somewhat of our expectations.”

Acadiana (1-0) held down the top spot once again in this week’s Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s rankings, opening with an impressive 55-6 road victory over Northside. The Rams travel to Shreveport’s Independence Stadium to face Shades Valley (Alabama) in the fourth annual “Battle on the Border” at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Acadiana received eight first-place votes and 118 points ahead of Rummel’s 112, while Destrehan (1-0), Byrd (1-0) and Ponchatoula (1-0) fell in behind.

West Monroe, which lost 33-21 to Madison Central, Mississippi, fell from fourth to eighth.

“For the kids, they get excited and it’s a good thing for us,” Davidson said of the No. 1 ranking. “We can use it in practice and use it in meetings. We can ask them, ‘How do you react as the number one team? How does the number one team practice? How do they do things?’ That’s a positive that comes out of it.”

Acadiana opened a 27-6 first-quarter lead over Northside and never looked back. Tulane commitment Malik Eugene scored three of his team’s four touchdowns, returning a kickoff 76 yards and scoring on runs of 4 and 30 yards.

Eugene rushed seven times for 113 yards and added a fourth score on a 56-yard run in the third quarter. The Rams rushed for 313 yards and finished with 400 overall.

“I was pleased with how we played Friday night,” Davidson said. “We played with a good deal of focus. We executed well and had only one blip on defense, and they made us pay for it with a 90-yard run. We’re not perfect yet and have a ways to go, but for a first game I was pleased with how we played and the things we did.”

Karr’s 26-25 loss to St. Paul’s enabled District 5-4A counterparts St. Thomas More (1-0) and Breaux Bridge (1-0), to move up to Nos. 4 and 7, respectively, while Rayne (1-0) flip-flopped with Plaquemine (1-0) and is No. 9.

With Evangel Christian Academy (0-1) losing 36-30 to Riverside Academy, Notre Dame of Crowley (1-0) moved up No. 5 in Class 3A, while Church Point (1-0) cracked this week’s poll at No. 10.

Catholic-New Iberia (1-0) swapped places with Many (1-0) and dropped from second to third in Class 2A, while Vermilion Catholic (0-1) fell three spots to No. 10 in Class 1A after its 42-12 loss at Catholic-NI.