Lights. Cameras. Is fourth-ranked Zachary High ready for action in a nationally televised football game Friday night in Shreveport?
ZHS coach David Brewerton thinks so. And so does the Bronco secondary, led by senior P.J. Cannon.
“It’s a balancing act,” Brewerton said. “Our goal this week is make this week as normal and as much like any other week as possible.
“At the same time, we’re looking at it more like a playoff game. The chance to get this kind of exposure means a lot for our program.”
The Class 5A Broncos (3-0) travel to Shreveport to take on Calvary Baptist (1-2), ranked seventh in 2A at 7 p.m. Friday for a game that will be televised on ESPNU.
Getting the chance to play in ESPNU’s Friday night showcase was several months in the making. The decision of former Calvary quarterback Shea Patterson to move to Florida’s IMG Academy left the game in limbo for a while.
But a week after top-ranked Archbishop Rummel of Class 5A beat Mississippi’s Wayne County 27-16, the Broncos become only the second Baton Rouge team to play in the ESPN showcase.
In 2010, now-defunct Redemptorist played Patterson in a game at Nicholls State. Future LSU standouts Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and La’el Collins were showcased in that game.
Patterson’s departure to Florida may have robbed the game of its brightest star, but the potential to play a game with a playoff-like atmosphere likely to see seen by college recruiters offers a huge allure.
“It’s huge for our program and these guys to get the chance to play on this kind of stage,” Brewerton said. “We’ve heard from several college coaches who have told us they’ll be watching.”
The game will be a showcase for the other quarterback, Zachary’s Lindsey Scott Jr., who ran for 106 yards and passed for 155 in last week’s 38-25 win over East Ascension. Scott is the reigning All-Metro and Class 5A MVP for a team that advanced to the semifinals last fall.
It’s important to note that Jake Bartley has thrown for 583 yards since taking over for Patterson at Calvary. How the Zachary secondary handles Bartley and the Cavaliers’ pass-oriented offense also will be a focal point.
Skeptics will note that the Broncos gave up more than 400 passing yards to Wilkinson County, Miss., in Week 1 and yielded some notable passing yards in last week’s win.
“Before last year, Zachary had a reputation for being soft, especially on defense,” Cannon said. “We’ve worked hard to change that. There are some new starters on defense, and it took some time for those guys to gain confidence.
“Calvary is a team that is known for passing the ball. We’re working to prepare for that. This chance … to play on TV … it means a lot to us.”