People who follow high school football in Louisiana know Central High’s 2011 story. The Wildcats entered the playoffs as a No. 32 seed and ousted No. 1 St. Paul’s.
There’s another 2011 scenario that concerns Central coach Sid Edwards as the fourth-seeded Wildcats (9-1) prepare to host No. 29 Ponchatoula (5-4) when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A playoffs begin Friday night.
“Last year Ponchatoula faced the same situation,” Edwards said. “They were the No. 29 seed, and they upset a very good Dutchtown team. So, I’ve put our guys on high alert and for good reason.
“In 5A, there really aren’t places to hide on the bracket. You better be ready to play every week. If you’re not, you won’t be around long.”
District 4-5A champion Central hosts Ponchatoula in one of several intriguing matchups in Class 5A-4A that involve Baton Rouge teams. District 5-5A champion No. 5 Catholic (7-2) and 6-4A champion Lutcher (9-0) also host 7 p.m. games. Cathlolic plays No. 28 Carencro (5-4) at BREC’s Olympia Stadium; No. 3 Lutcher hosts No. 30 St. Martinville (5-5).
The Central-Ponchatoula game matches opposites. Central, led by quarterback Brett Courville with 1,997 passing yards, can score quickly. Ponchatoula coach Hank Tierney uses a veer offense and wants to control the ball.
Meanwhile, Catholic and Carencro share more than the nickname Bears and a similar logo. Both teams prefer a rushing offense. Khalil Thomas has 1,101 rushing yards to pace Catholic.
“Brent Indest has done a great job rejuvenating the program at Carencro,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “They were the state runner-up last season. They have more playoff experience than we do.
“I think it’s going to be a great matchup. Both teams rely on the run a lot. Being able to maintain possessions and score on them will be crucial.”
Lutcher coach Tim Detillier warned those who think the Bulldogs have a huge advantage. St. Martinville is coached by Gary Adkins, who was a head coach locally at several schools, including Donaldsonville most recently.
“The thing I keep going back to is the district they play in,” Detillier said. “I think 5-4A is the toughest 4A district in the state. And when you play in a league like that you’re battle- tested. That’s why we schedule some of the nondistrict games we do. When you play competition like that, it gets you ready for games like this one. They obviously want to hold on to the ball.”
Quarterback Ruston Matherne has passed for 1,709 yards and run for 594 yards to lead Lutcher.
Rivals, No. 17 St. Amant (7-2) and No. 16 Dutchtown (7-2), collide in another intriging 5A matchup. Dutchtown won 31-17 in the regular season. Running back Trey Washington, of St. Amant, and Dutchtown quarterback Mason Nickens are key players to watch.
Another 16-17 contest is set for Plaquemine High. The Green Devils (6-4) host No. 17 Breaux Bridge (7-3). Hakeem Deggs has nearly 2,000 total yards to lead PHS.
Five other 5A-4A teams travel. Denham Springs (5-5), a No. 30 seed, goes to defending 5A state champion West Monroe (8-2). Zachary (6-4), seeded 19th, plays another traditional 5A power in No. 14 Acadiana (7-2).
No. 21 Scotlandville (6-3) travels to No. 12 New Iberia (8-2) with each team seeking a signature win. Scotlandville has never won a 5A playoff game. Live Oak (5-5) in 5A and St. Michael (7-3) in 4A also seek elusive wins.
LOHS, a 26th seed, travels to Bossier City to play No. 7 Parkway (9-1) in its first 5A playoff game. St. Michael, seeded 20th, travels to the Monroe area to play another traditional power in No. 13 Bastrop (7-3). SMHS seeks the first playoff win in school history.