Skeptics contend that the LHSAA’s power ratings-based playoff system has devalued district football championships.

Don’t tell that to the coaches who are bracing for key district showdowns this week.

“To me, this is what high school football in south Louisiana is all about,” Northeast coach David Masterson said. “You’ll have a 5-0 team going against a 4-1 team, and we’re both unbeaten in district.”

Northeast (4-1, 2-0) hosts 10th-ranked Madison Prep (5-0, 2-0) in a District 6-2A showdown at 7 p.m. Thursday. It is one of four Thursday games. Denham Springs (4-1) hosts Livingston Parish rival Live Oak (3-2) for a District 4-5A opener also set for Thursday.

The Week 6 Friday schedule is loaded with games that should jump-start play in Districts 4-5A, 5-5A and 6-4A.

There is one notable nondistrict game.

Second-ranked Southern Lab of Class 1A travels to Bradenton, Florida, to take on nationally ranked IMG Academy on Friday.

All eyes will be watching as eighth-ranked Zachary (4-1) hosts unbeaten Scotlandville (5-0) in a blockbuster 4-5A opener. The Broncos powered their way past Dutchtown 44-34 in Week 5, while Scotlandville beat north Louisiana power Ouachita-Monroe 39-20 on the road.

“In some ways, the win last night was one of the biggest I’ve ever been a part of,” ZHS coach David Brewerton said. “We were without a starting linebacker and a offensive lineman (Kelton Hollins), who is committed to TCU. You could just sense Dutchtown felt like they were going to take it.

“I’m proud of how we played. But I’m also impressed with Scotlandville. Again, you have everything you need to get a great high school football game.”

The Scotlandville-Zachary game isn’t the only intriguing match-up in 4-5A. Walker (5-0) is off to its best start since moving to 5A in 2003. WHS hosts Central (3-2), looking to clinch its first winning season in 5A.

“We played very well (in a 38-14 win over Assumption) and now in district it’s going to be a challenge every week,” Walker coach Brandon Lawley said. “I think all six teams are pretty good. The worst record right now is a 3-2.

“Central is a team that is well-coached. They’re solid on defense and have playmakers on offense. This is a big week for both of us.”

Ditto that for District 5-5A. Catholic High (3-2) has won three straight and hosts East Ascension (2-3) at Olympia Stadium, while unbeaten St. Amant (5-0) hosts McKinley (2-3) and Dutchtown (3-2) travels to Broadmoor (0-5).

In District 6-4A, Livonia (4-1) plays Tara (0-5) at Woodlawn High, while Plaquemine (2-3) hosts St. Michael (1-4) and Belaire (4-1) hosts Woodlawn (2-3).

LHS coach Guy Mistretta said he and Tara coach Cooter Mansur thought about playing the game at Redemptorist. Both are former Redemptorist players. Mansur was on Mistretta’s staff when Redemptorist won the Class 3A state title in 2005.

Top-ranked University High (4-1, 2-0) plays at Baker (3-2, 1-1) in District 6-3A play. Fifth-ranked Parkview Baptist (3-2, 2-0) hosts Glen Oaks (1-4, 0-2) also in 6-3A.