Until just a couple of years ago, a high school football playoff game between Amite and Lutcher was something fans for both teams grew to expect.
That changed when Lutcher moved up to the Class 4A ranks. So on Friday, the mission for the two schools located not far from Baton Rouge is simple - divide and conquer.
Third-seeded Lutcher (12-1) travels to New Orleans to take on No. 7 Edna Karr (10-3) at Behrman Stadium in a 4A semifinal game. Amite (11-1), seeded fourth, heads north to No. 16 Marksville (10-3) for a 3A semifinal. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
“This is going to be a real challenge for us,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “Because we play a tough schedule, we’ve been in situations before where the other team has had an advantage physically. But Karr is special. I think some people forget they were in the title game last year and it went to overtime. They’ve said all year long they’re on a mission. In our own way, we’re on mission, too.”
In Marksville, Amite faces a team that is in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Coach Alden Foster’s Warriors are in the semifinals for the first time since winning the 3A title in 2004.
“Marksville is a solid team that’s having a great year,” Foster said. “They’re big up front, and they’ve got a couple of scatbacks behind them who can make plays.
“What they do isn’t complicated. They come right at you, and they’re playing their best football at the right time. I’d like to think we’re playing our best, too.”
Lutcher won 3A titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008. Running back Daniel Taylor cracked the 2,000-yard barrier in last week’s quarterfinal win over Teurlings Catholic.
Taylor now has 2,020 rushing yards and 22 TDs and is averaging 155.4 yards per game. Quarterback Ruston Matherne has 1,653 passing yards with 26 TDs and also has 834 rushing yards and another 11 TDs.
Karr will counter with an offense led by Devante Noil, who has passed for 491 yards and three TDs in three playoff games. Tight end Standish Dobard caught 10 passes for 94 yards in last week’s quarterfinal win over St. Thomas More.
Amite is led by quarterback Reginald Porter, who has more than 1,800 yards passing and 1,200 yards rushing.
Peyton Dunbar (1,592 yards, 17 TDs) and quarterback Jake Dunbar (1,163 yards, 20 TDs) lead the ground-oriented attack of Marksville.
“The defensive front Karr has is so impressive,” Detillier said. “We’re going to have to play extremely well to give ourselves the best chance.”
Amite’s Foster also expects the best out of his players, saying, “This is where you go out and give it all you’ve got for 48 minutes, and you expect the other team to do the same.”