Being the leader of the pack in a high school football district is a little like being designated the flavor of the week at an ice cream shop.
You may be on top, but the chances of staying there can be tenuous because others are so close to success they can taste it.
Even for a ranked team, like No. 2 Dutchtown High (7-0, 2-0), there are potential pitfalls along the way. Coach Benny Saia is aware of that fact as the Griffins prepare to host Woodlawn (3-4, 1-1) for a District 5-5A game this week.
The Panthers are perhaps the area’s most dynamic offensive team, averaging better than 35 points per game. Some key defensive plays helped Woodlawn snap a four-game losing streak Friday night with a win over St. Amant.
“They’re a big-play team and they’re very dangerous,” Saia said. “The thing we have to do is try to slow them down some and make them earn whatever they get.
“We can’t afford to give them big plays. By the same token, when we get the ball, we have to score.”
The Griffins and Catholic High (2-5, 2-0) are the lone unbeatens in 5-5A. The Bears travel to Gonzales to take on East Ascension (4-3, 0-2), while McKinley (3-4, 1-1) travels to St. Amant (4-3, 0-2).
There’s a similar scenario in 4-5A. Denham Springs (5-2, 2-0) leads the league and hosts Central (3-4, 1-1). Scotlandville (6-1, 1-1) made the race interesting by rebounding from a Week 6 loss to DSHS to notch a 41-36 road win over preseason favorite Zachary (5-2, 1-1). ZHS travels to Walker (3-4, 1-1), while Scotlandville travels to Live Oak (2-5, 0-2).
“Central is a rival game for us, and we know they’re going to come out and play us tough,” DSHS coach Dru Nettles said. “Their record is deceptive because they’ve played a tough schedule. They have a lot of speed. You can see them getting better every week.”
Two teams, fifth-ranked Lutcher (6-1, 4-0) and Plaquemine (4-3, 3-0), are unbeaten in 6-4A. LHS hosts Belaire (1-5, 1-2), while No. 10 St. Michael (6-1, 2-1) travels to Plaquemine for another showdown a week after losing to Lutcher.
In 6-3A, ninth-ranked Parkview Baptist (4-3, 2-0) meets Glen Oaks (3-3, 1-0) for a key game at Louisiana Leadership Institute’s Doug Williams Stadium.
GOHS upended West Feliciana to notch its first 3A league win in Week 7. Baker (1-5, 0-2) hosts East Feliciana (2-4, 0-1) also in 6-3A.
In 7-3A, top-ranked St. Charles Catholic (7-0, 2-0) plays a West Baton Rouge Parish team for the second straight week, hosting Brusly (5-2, 2-0). Port Allen (6-1, 1-1) travels to Donaldsonville (3-4, 1-1), while E.D. White (3-4, 0-2) travels to St. James (0-7, 0-2).
“We’ll use this game as a measuring stick,” Brusly coach Erik Willis said. “St. Charles is the No. 1 team and we get a chance to see how we stack up.
“We’re treating it like you would a playoff game on the road. The good thing is this is not do or die. It’s something we can learn from.”
Third-ranked University (7-0, 2-0) and No. 7 Episcopal (6-1, 1-1) continue their 7-2A quests. UHS travels to Dunham (4-3, 2-0), while Episcopal travels to Northeast (2-5, 0-2).
There area key showdowns in Class 1A, too. Southern Lab (5-2, 2-0) travels to Christian Life (5-2, 2-0) in 7-1A. In 9-1A, White Castle (2-5, 1-1) hosts West St, John (5-2, 2-0). The lone Thursday game has St. John (5-2, 2-0), of 9-1A, hosting East Iberville (6-1, 1-1).