A year may have passed, but the agonizing reminder of state semifinal setbacks to the eventual state champions in their classifications have fueled Zachary and West Feliciana for another opportunity to reach the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“Our kids have waited 370 days for this,” said Zachary coach David Brewerton of his team’s 9-3 loss to Acadiana. “The hurt they saw in each other’s eyes; the hurt they saw in the eyes of the seniors that graduated; it took our program a long time to recuperate from it.”
No. 2 Zachary (12-1) looks to make amends in a home game at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 6 Parkway (12-1) in a Class 5A nonselect semifinal.
West Feliciana’s been driven by a similar incentive after falling to Livonia 23-15 in last year’s Class 3A semifinal.
The No. 13 Saints (9-4) are back in the same position, having to travel to No. 1 Lutcher (12-1) for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff.
“After the Christmas holidays, we had workout shirts that had ‘Unfinished Business’ on them,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said. “That’s what we’ve been striving for all year, to finish our business. The kids have done a great job of setting us up to have a chance to be back to where we were and have a chance to finish it this time.”
PARKWAY AT ZACHARY: Equally disappointing in Zachary’s semifinal loss was the output of a high-powered offense that was held without a touchdown for the first time all season.
“Our offense is playing with a chip on its shoulder,” Brewerton said. “They wanted to get back to this stage and have the opportunity to show up on the biggest stage.”
Led by the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, quarterback Lindsey Scott, the Broncos have been a prolific unit once again this year.
Scott has accounted for more than 4,000 yards and 52 touchdowns, passing for 2,674 yards and 29 scores and running for an additional 1,607 yards and 23 TDs.
Running back Terry Sullivan gives Zachary another solid ground option with 191 carries for 1,238 yards and 14 TDs, while the Broncos have a capable 1-2 receiving punch in Doug Coleman (57-1,356, 13 TDs) and Shyron White (43-635, 5 TDs).
Parkway, which defeated Acadiana and Destrehan in consecutive weeks and has won nine straight, isn’t a stranger to Zachary with the Brandon Harris-led Panthers pulling out a 49-34 quarterfinal win over the Broncos two years ago.
Parkway averages 42 points and 425 yards and is led by another standout quarterback, 6-foot-4 Louisiana Tech commitment Keondre Wudtee, who has completed 174 of 284 yards for 3,170 yards and 31 TDs and 11 interceptions.
Mississippi State defensive back commitment C.J. Morgan-Walker, a senior receiver, has combined for 1,200 yards of offense and 18 TDs.
“At this point, you’re going to get everybody’s best shot, and that’s what you have to look forward to,” Brewerton said.
WEST FELICIANA AT LUTCHER: For the third time since 2010, West Feliciana finds itself with a road semifinal date in order to reach the Superdome for the first time.
The Saints extended their win streak to four games, holding off a late charge in which quarterback/safety Derrick Turner forced a fumble at his own 1-yard line with eight seconds left in a 20-14 victory over Iowa.
“Our kids were real disappointed and hurt after last year, which you should be,” Odom said. “We knew we had a good chance to get back this year if we took care of our business.”
Turner has rushed for nearly 700 yards and eight TDs. Ronald Sims and Josh Morrison combined for 137 of the Saints’ 268 rushing yards last week.
Lutcher, which won its last state title in 2008, endured its own close encounter, escaping No. 9 Kaplan with a 13-8 quarterfinal road victory.
The Bulldogs of coach Tim Detillier dropped down to 3A after spending a long stint in a Baton Rouge 4A district. LHS spent this fall in a New Orleans-based 3A league.
Quarterback Jontre Kirklin tops the Bulldogs, having completed 146 of 245 passes for 1,997 yards and 32 TDs. Al’Dontre Davis has 57 catches for 806 yards and 13 TDs.
“We’ve been fortunate to be in the semis for the third time since 2000,” Odom said. “You’ve got to be able to be doing something right. I would just like to get over the hump one time.”