When Chalmette travels to Hoss Memtsas Stadium to play Higgins on Thursday night, it will kick off three games featuring teams who could win the District 8-5A championship.
Chalmette, Ehret and Landry-Walker enter the final week of district play in a three-way tie for first place.
Chalmette (6-3, 5-1) last won a district title in 2004, when it was in Class 3A, and coach Jason Tucker said he’d like to see his senior-laden team, which includes offensive tackle Jason Tucker Jr., go out as a league champion.
Higgins (3-6, 3-3), however, is wrapping up a season in which it has won three district games for the first time since 2011. The Hurricanes are looking to win four district games for the first time since 2010, when they won the title with a 5-0 league mark, said coach Wayne Meyers, who coached Higgins for 16 seasons before Craig Laborde took over in 2014.
Higgins is 39th in the Class 5A nonselect power ratings, still hoping to land a spot in the 32-team playoff field.
“It would be a huge win for us,” Laborde said. “It would get us to 4-3, a winning record in the district. It would double our win total from last year, send us out on a winning note, give us something to build on for the offseason.
“I think we match up with Chalmette, and if we can control that Wing-T offense, I think we can beat them.”
Higgins has not beaten a district team with a winning record. However, Laborde likes the Hurricanes’ chances because of their defensive line, headed by Rashad Nicholls, 6-foot-4, 275 pounds and athletic.
“Their defensive line is pretty physical up front,” Tucker said. “(Nicholls) is a big old kid, and they play him (at defensive tackle), at defensive end and they play him at running back.
“We have to make sure we play well on special teams and not turn the ball over.”
Landry-Walker coach Emmanuel Powell said winning a share of the title “would mean a lot because this is our first year in 8-5A, and it would mean we’ve come all the way back after losing at Chalmette” in the district opener.
Against West Jefferson (5-4, 4-2) on Friday night at Behrman Stadium, Landry-Walker (7-2, 5-1) will face a team in a position similar to that of Higgins. West Jeff, which held off Higgins in the last five seconds last week, is No. 34 in the power rankings.
Landry-Walker coach Emmanuel Powell says, “We’ll rise to the occasion,” against West Jeff. Landry-Walker has been inconsistent partially because starting quarterback Keytaon Thompson has missed some games with a high-ankle sprain. He played his first full game last week against East Jefferson since Week 3.
“He was a little rusty, and we still have some things to work on such as penalties,” Powell said.
West Jefferson coach Cyril Crutchfield said ball control will be key against a talented Landry-Walker team.
“Offensively, we’ll have to find ways to keep the ball,” Crutchfield said.
What may give West Jeff a chance is that power runners — such as Chalmette’s Masen Mitchell and Ehret’s Dejon Harris and Juwan Leonard — have been Landry-Walker’s Achilles’ heel. West Jeff’s David Carter is one such runner.
However, defense is West Jeff’s sore spot, too. It gave up 56 points and 39 in losses to Ehret and West Jeff.
“We can’t stop (Landry-Walker), but we’ll have to slow them down,” said Crutchfield. “I’m impressed with about four of their young men on offense, especially No. 4 (running back Tevin Bush).”
Ehret coach Corey Lambert has made sure to motivate his team, which plays Helen Cox (3-6, 1-5) on Friday at Memtsas.
“It would be our third straight district championship, something that hasn’t been done at Ehret,” said Lambert, whose team went unbeaten in district the previous two years. “Our kids won’t take Cox lightly. They are another West Bank team, and the kids want to beat each other.”
All of the coaches say the chance to finish in a three-way tie says a lot about how competitive the district is this season.
“People thought it would be interesting with Landry-Walker coming into the district (from 9-4A),” Lambert said. “The district got stronger — Higgins, West Jeff coming back, Chalmette. We were the only 8-5A team to make the playoffs last year. If we finish in a three-way tie for the championship, we’ll have three.”