If you want to go shopping for a state championship ring, you first have first be playing on Black Friday.
Ask any high school football coach or player, and it’ll probably be somewhere high on their list of things they want to be doing.
Practicing during Thanksgiving week and playing the day after the holiday ranks pretty high on everyone’s list, falling right under winning a state title and playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Fifteen local teams are getting their chance to do that this week, still alive in the hunt for a state title.
It’ll make Black Friday just as special for high school football fans as the day is for early Christmas shoppers.
Before we look ahead to the top five games on Friday’s slate, let’s take a quick look back at the second round of the playoffs that gave us everything from major upsets to last-second wins.
Without some of those upsets, there would be just a dozen teams from the area still playing.
The biggest upset of them all was West St. John, a No. 17 seed, stunning top seed and defending state champion Many in the Class 2A playoffs. I guarantee you not “many” people predicted that one.
The second big upset was St. James, a No. 15 seed, knocking off No. 2 Eunice. Perhaps “upset” is too strong of a word for that, especially since St. James junior quarterback Lowell Narcisse has returned for the playoffs. Narcisse threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in a 30-19 win over Eunice.
The Wildcats all of a sudden become the most dangerous No. 15 seed in the state.
The upsets weren’t just for the smaller schools, though.
Landry-Walker, a No. 13 seed, went on the road and upset No. 4 Byrd in the Class 5A playoffs.
While the upsets raised eyebrows, the fantastic finishes dropped jaws.
Curtis scored in the last minute to escape St. Paul’s, Catholic stopped Brother Martin’s two-point conversion in the final minute, and Country Day took undefeated St. Thomas Aquinas to double overtime Saturday to bring us to what looks like a terrific Friday schedule.
Here are the top five games.
5. St. Charles at Riverside: Winner of this Division III semifinal goes to the Dome. This game would have been higher on the list if Riverside hadn’t thumped St. Charles 35-3 earlier in the season. But you all know how hard it is to beat a team twice, which is a common theme in this top -five list. Riverside, the No. 1 seed, is riding a 10-game winning streak.
4. Ponchatoula at John Ehret: This time last week, many assumed Ehret would be taking its stingy defense to north Louisiana to play West Monroe this week. But Ponchatoula crashed that party, startling No. 1 seed West Monroe. Now instead of Ehret going to West Monroe, it’ll be Hank Tierney returning to the West Bank to take on Ehret at Hoss Memtsas. The winner of this one gets the winner of …..
3. Landry-Walker at Mandeville: The Charging Buccaneers, a No. 13 seed, head to the northshore in this 5A quarterfinal game against the No. 12 Skippers. While Landry-Walker ousted a No. 4 seed last week mentioned earlier, Mandeville eliminated fifth-seeded Scotlandville to create an all-New Orleans quarterfinal matchup.
2. Warren Easton vs. McDonogh 35: Another rematch from the regular season.
Warren Easton won the first-round matchup 31-7 and has been on a tear all season long. If the Eagles can get past the Roneagles, they could get a chance in the 4A semifinals to avenge their championship game loss last season to Neville.
McDonogh 35 would like nothing more than to prevent that from happening.
Tad Gormley Stadium will be buzzing for this one.
1. Rummel vs. John Curtis: Everyone knew these teams would probably see each other again this year. It was just a matter of waiting for the brackets to come out two weeks ago to see just when the matchup would take place. The Superdome would’ve been the perfect scenario, but we’ll have to settle for the next best thing: Friday at Joe Yenni Stadium.
The winner goes to the Dome.
Rummel squeaked out a win in the regular season Catholic League game between the two teams 21-14.
That was on Halloween.
This one is more important.
This one is on Black Friday.