Tough schedule has Lab on cusp of district title _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell: 'We’ve played against almost every classification. It’s given us an opportunity to see bigger, faster opponents and more complex schemes and has prepared us for this very moment where we have to be our very best. I think we’re going to do that.'

There was always a method to Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell’s scheduling madness.

In an effort to prime his Kittens for a run at the District 6-1A championship and beyond, Mitchell put together arguably one of the state’s most challenging schedule — regardless of classification.

Southern Lab went 1-5 against a collection of teams with combined records of 37-8 with four of the five winning their respective district titles.

The payoff for Southern Lab (4-5, 3-0) has been a three-game win streak and increasing amount of confidence going into Friday’s District 6-1A title game against No. 4 Kentwood (7-1, 3-0) at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium.

“We’ve played against almost every classification,” Mitchell said. “It’s given us an opportunity to see bigger, faster opponents and more complex schemes and has prepared us for this very moment where we have to be our very best. I think we’re going to do that.”

Top-ranked University High (9-0, 5-0) looks to win the District 7-3A championship outright with a home game against Baker (4-5, 1-4), while Northeast (7-1, 3-1) hosts Redemptorist with a chance to share the District 6-2A title with East Feliciana (5-3, 4-1).

Springfield (7-1, 4-1) can gain a share of the District 7-2A title with a victory over No. 6 St. Thomas Aquinas (8-1, 5-0) at SLU’s Strawberry Stadium, while White Castle (7-2, 3-1) can achieve a share of the District 8-1A crown by defeating No. 5 West St. John (7-2, 4-0).

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us,” Springfield coach Ryan Serpas said. “We’re definitely going to have to play a good game to come out with a win.”

White Castle, which dropped a 34-20 decision to Ascension Catholic, is looking to break through with a signature win against the league’s standard bearer.

The Bulldogs are led by the state’s No. 18 rusher in Dontrell Taylor with 1,350 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“Our kids are pretty resilient, and we talked about not letting this put a damper on our season,” White Castle coach Lamar Thomas said. “We’ve played some pretty good football, and we’re proud of that. We want to finish strong and try to finish what we started.”

Southern Lab has handled the district portion of its schedule with relative ease, outscoring the opposition 138-12, including last week’s 40-0 shutout of Varnado.

Kentwood has been equally impressive since an Oct. 3 loss to West Feliciana (23-6) with three consecutive league wins by a combined 91-35 score.

Lab’s junior quarterback Bladerick Veal has completed 34 of 56 passes for 543 yards and nine touchdowns during district play. Darbbeon Profit has rushed 53 times for 391 yards and five TDs.

“The process has taken us to this point yet again,” Mitchell said. “I think with the maturing and experience of the guys we’ll end up prevailing this year.”

Springfield has rebounded since a 26-21 league loss to Northlake Christian with four straight victories to remain within striking distance of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The Bulldogs, who are led by Josh Taylor’s 1,420 yards and 15 TDs, triumphed 49-20 over Pope John Paul last week.

“Our kids have continually gotten better since the loss to Northlake and put us in a position to win the district title,” Serpas said. “I’m proud of our kids. Either way it goes our kids have worked hard and will be in the playoffs and hope we’ve still got a lot of football to play.”