Since Landry-Walker moved into District 8-5A from 9-4A for the 2015 season, the Charging Buccaneers have won largely with a potent spread offense and adequate-to-good defense.
The past two seasons, the Ehret Patriots were built mainly on defense and with enough offense.
Entering the teams' meeting Friday night at Hoss Memtsas Stadium, the Charging Bucs (3-3, 3-0) are depending on defense more while the Patriots (4-2, 3-0) are being carried by their offense.
“Our defensive line has been strong for us, and that goes along with our secondary,” Landry-Walker coach Emanuel Powell said.
First-year Ehret coach Del Lee-Collins said the Patriots' offense has helped their defense go through growing pains.
“It's like the offense is giving us time to figure it out on defense,” he said. “That's where we are as a football team that is evolving.”
For the third consecutive season, the game has strong implications concerning the 8-5A championship. Landry-Walker won 21-15 in 2015 to finish in a three-way tie for the title with Ehret and Chalmette. Ehret reached the Class 5A championship game that season. Last season, the Charging Bucs trounced Ehret 46-18 on their way to the district and 5A titles.
Both teams are unbeaten in 8-5A this season, but Ehret gained a foothold by winning at Chalmette (41-39), the other contender for the 8-5A crown, in Week 2. Landry-Walker won't play Chalmette (4-2, 2-1) until the season's final game.
The Bucs have found their footing by playing district games not as tough as their pre-district schedule and by finding a quarterback. After trying two, Powell settled on Corione Harris after the second game against Karr. Harris, who entered the season as one of the state's best cornerbacks, has responded with 44 carries for 358 yards (8.1 per carry) and six touchdowns as well as 23-of-43 passing for 391 yards and five touchdowns.
“Being able to settle on a quarterback has brought a calmness to the team,” Powell said. “(Harris) has experience — not as a quarterback, but overall. He has played in big games.”
Lee-Collins said Harris' athleticism and elusiveness in the pocket mean Ehret has to account for him or he can turn a well-defensed play into a 50-yard run. Another threat is running back Chad Alexander, who has rushed 73 times for 575 yards (7.9) and five touchdowns. He had 183 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in a season-opening loss to No. 2-ranked John Curtis.
Ehret, meanwhile, averaged 34.3 points per game in pre-district games against No. 1-ranked West Monroe, Hahnville and Destrehan.
Quarterback Travis Mumphrey, a starter last season as a sophomore, has thrown for 864 yards and seven touchdowns on 73-of-103 passing. He also has rushed for 396 yards and three scores on 67 carries, teaming with running back Terrell Brown (496 yards and 11 touchdowns on 71 carries, 6.9 per carry).
Unlike past Ehret teams, this year's Patriots have a Landry-Walker-like fleet of receivers led by Lorinzo Penn (23 receptions, 350 yards, three touchdowns) and Jamaal Houston (20 catches, 310 yards, two scores). The Patriots can go with four very capable wideouts.
Powell said Harris will have spot duty at cornerback in some games, depending on the opponent and what it is trying to accomplish. It will be interesting to see if Harris is pressed into duty when Ehret goes with three or four wideouts and what effect that might have on him and the Bucs offensively.
Landry-Walker's defensive line might be the key to who wins the game.
“We just have to find little holes in their defense to soften them up a bit” and diminish their aggressiveness, Lee-Collins said.