Instead of saying “May the game begin,” it will be appropriate to say “Let the games begin” when Episcopal plays host to Christian Life Academy Thursday night.
The first home game of the year for eighth-ranked Episcopal (3-0), of Class 2A, and 1A CLA (2-1) is the lone high school football game set for the Baton Rouge area at 6:30 Thursday.
However, the individual matchups should provide plenty of intrigue, the two coaches said.
“When you get to play a quality opponent like Episcopal on a Thursday; when you’ll probably get more attention than you normally do, what’s not to like?” Christian Life coach Keith Dooley asked. “In some ways we’re still trying to find an identity with the new spread offense we’re running.
“Episcopal is very talented 2A team, and they’re going to test us. That’s for sure.”
The game will test the two teams that used to be in the same 2A district. Dooley, in the first year of his second stint at CLA, and Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois are paying attention to the matchups, or games, within the game.
“We’ll need to disguise some of the things we do, especially on defense,” Bourgeois said. “Christian Life is the most athletic team we’ve played so far this year, and we need to do whatever we can to keep them from getting an advantage to make big plays.
“What they do is a lot like what we’ll see from teams in our district, so this is a good challenge for us.”
Dooley and the Crusaders, who have won two straight, have the opposite scenario in mind.
“Episcopal is going to have the advantage in size and numbers,” Dooley said. “They’ve got one of the area’s top players in the (Tylor) Harris kid.
“We can’t just go right at them. We’ll need to do some things with our formations and the plays to create some opportunities for our guys to make plays in space.”
Receiver-linebacker Frank Bartley, quarterback Trevon Fisher and running back Jerrell Richardson help lead the CLA offense.
Fisher, a first-year starter, has passed for 437 yards and 10 TDs to date. Bartley has nine catches for 228 yards and six TDs. Richardson, who ran for 255 yards and four TDs in last week’s win over Northlake Christian, has 370 rushing yards.
Episcopal has been efficient in their wins. Michael Henry has 252 rushing yards on 33 carries with five TDs. Vincent Dellocono has completed 20 of 29 passes for 420 yards and five TDs.
All five of Dellocono’s TD passes were to the Knights’ not-so-secret weapon, basketball standout Brian Bridgewater. A first-year football player, the 6-foot-5 Bridgewater has 10 catches for 235 yards.
There’s a chance the 6-4 Harris could factor more into the EHS offense. Bourgeois said he plans to move Harris back to tight end from an offensive line spot this week.
“We may have the advantage in size and numbers,” Bourgeois said. “But the guys Christian Life has are going to play hard for 48 minutes.
“We have to do is make the game as physical as possible and make them earn every yard they get. We can’t give them anything easy.”