Parkview Baptist is the defending Class 3A state champion. Second-seeded St. Charles Catholic is the highest seeded team left in the 3A bracket.
The two teams are similar in a number of ways. Both rely on large offensive and defensive lines and are known for being fundamentally sound.
Each team has a veteran head coach who spent time in the college ranks as an assistant.
Could the semifinal matchup between the 11th-seeded PBS (9-3) and St. Charles (13-0) be too close to call?
Parkview coach Kenny Guillot hopes his team can make the right calls. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at LaPlace-based St. Charles.
“They’re a scary team to look at,” Guillot said. “They’re big and well coached. They’re not the kind of team that does things to beat themselves.
“A game like this usually comes down to the old coaching clichés. Whoever has the fewest turnovers, has the fewest penalties and controls the line of scrimmage will have the advantage.”
St. Charles coach Frank Monica, who won a 3A state title at Lutcher in 1978 and was a longtime Tulane assistant, throws similar compliments toward a Parkview squad that has won eight straight.
Parkview, the 3A runner-up in 2009 and the 3A champion in 2007, started 1-3 with all the losses to 5A teams, including semifinalist Mandeville. The Eagles won their first state title in 2001.
“They’re the team coming into this with more experience,” Monica said. “They won the title last year, and they’ve already got skins on the wall. This is something new for us.
“When I look at Parkview, I don’t see any weaknesses. They’re not flashy. They do what they do well.”
What the Eagles do is run the ball on offense. Fullback Conner Hodgeson leads the way with 872 yards on 140 carries with 11 touchdowns. Hezekiah Randolph, the MVP of last year’s title game, has 840 yards and 10 TDs, while quarterback Brennan Bozeman adds 748 yards and eight TDs.
“It has been extremely hard for teams to move the ball on St. Charles,” said Guillot, a former Nicholls State and McNeese assistant. “They’re strong up front. and I’ll bet they’re plus-20 in turnovers.
“The thing we need to do is be able move the chains, hang on to the ball and not give them anything easy.”
Things have been surprising consistent and predictable for a St. Charles team that lost its top two running backs to injury during the season.
Marcus Hall suffered a broken arm against Port Allen and returned to play defense last week with a padded cast on the arm. Tulane commitment Lazedrick Thompson suffered a partial ACL tear, but did practice this week with a brace on the injured knee.
Thompson leads the Comets with 1,322 rushing yards and 26 TDs. Freshman Austin Weber (411 yards, 6 TDs) is expected to get most of the carries.
Donnie Savoie has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,553 yards and 16 TDs for SCHS.
St. Charles, which moved up to Class 3A from 2A this season, seeks its first trip to the title game since 2006. The Comets were the 2A state runner-up to district rival John Curtis in 2005 and 2006.
“You’ve got two good teams with the same goal,” Monica said.