When there are two sets of football playoffs going on there are two scenarios. That explains why the Baton Rouge area has to prepare for a Final Three and a Final Four this week.
“We’re very grateful to be where we are,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “It really is a blessing. We’re playing a program we know very well and respect, and I think that adds something to it.”
Sixth-seeded Catholic (9-3) provides one of the special story lines this week. The Bears play top-seeded Rummel (11-1) in the Division I title game that will close the select schools portion of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic football championships at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The Catholic-Rummel game is part of a four-game schedule at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that begins at 10 a.m. with No. 6 Southern Lab (9-3) taking on fourth-seeded St. Mary’s-Natchitoches (13-0) in the Division IV final.
At 5 p.m., fourth-seeded Parkview Baptist goes for its fifth state title. The Eagles play No. 2 St. Thomas More (10-2) in the Division II final, completing the local contingent. The Division III final at 1:30 p.m. features No. 3 Notre Dame (13-0) taking on No. 1 Riverside Academy (11-1).
Catholic makes its first title-game appearance since 1990. The Bears have scrimmaged or played Rummel every year since 2001, including a preseason scrimmage in August. It is the second straight title-game berth for Southern Lab. Parkview is in a title game for the second straight year and the sixth time since 2007.
Of course, Prep Classic select games are only part of the story. Second-seeded Zachary (12-1) hosts No. 6 Parkway (12-1) in a Class 5A semifinal. West Feliciana (9-4), the 13th-seed, travels to play top-seeded Lutcher (12-1) in Class 3A.
Also, No. 15 St. James (10-3) travels to play 11th-seeded Amite (8-5) in another 3A semifinal. Berths in the nonselect portion of the Prep Classic set for Dec. 11-12 are at stake.
“We started breaking them (St. Thomas More) down at about 7 o’clock this morning,” PBS coach Jay Mayet said. “All we knew about them was that we had a common opponent in Catholic High.
“It’s always great for the kids to get back there. Playing on the big stage. … and you know the ultimate prize is playing in the last game of the season.”
First-year Southern Lab coach Marcus Randall added, “It’s like a dream come true. As a coach, you always want to keep progressing. The whole state lives and dies for football, and anytime you can playing past Thanksgiving it’s a good thing.”
Meanwhile, Zachary prepares to host Parkway for the second time in three years. Parkway beat the Broncos in the quarterfinals with current LSU quarterback Brandon Harris leading the way in 2013. Parkway finished as the 5A runner-up to Acadiana that year.
ZHS quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. was a sophomore starter in that game. Scott, a Syracuse commitment, accounted for 455 yards and seven TDs in a quarterfinal win over Hahnville. His counterpart, Louisiana Tech commitment Keondre Wudtee, was instrumental in PHS’ 49-34 win over Destrehan.
“You want to show a progression in your program, so being in the semifinals for the second straight year and being able to host is huge,” ZHS coach David Brewerton said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. At the same time, we know how good Parkway is and what a challenge this will be.”
West Feliciana and Lutcher will meet for the first time since the mid-1990s, the coaches said. St. James makes its first semifinal appearance since 2007 and plays last year’s 3A runner-up in Amite.
“This is our third time in the semifinals since 2010 and we haven’t had a chance to host one yet and hopefully we’ll get that chance one day soon,” WFHS coach Robb Odom said. “There used to be a time when going to the playoffs was enough. Now people are disappointed if we don’t win playoff games. Those expectations aren’t a bad thing.”
Of course, parish rivals Lutcher and St. James know plenty about expectations.
“We’re both playing really good teams, and there are no guarantees,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “It’ll be hard to keep the people in our parish from talking about a St. James Parish final.”