Plaquemine High coach Bob Howell and Dutchtown High coach Benny Saia have each seen a number of regular-season-ending story lines during their respective careers.
The ones the Green Devils and Griffins face on Friday night are personal favorites.
“I’ve ended seasons a lot of ways, and this is one way I definitely like,” Howell said. “You line up and play for 48 minutes against a very good football team to see who’s the best. The winner gets the district title.”
Plaquemine (6-3, 5-0) hosts third-ranked Lutcher (8-1, 5-0) for a game that will decide the District 6-4A title.
The scenario is similar for second-ranked Dutchtown (9-0, 4-0) in District 5-5A. Saia’s Griffins meet Catholic High (3-6, 3-1) at Olympia. Three teams are vying for a share of the District 4-5A title also highlighting Friday’s schedule for Class 5A-4A. Games start at 7 p.m..
“It could have turned out a couple of ways, and I’m glad it worked out this way,” Dutchtown’s Saia said. “It’s exciting, and its fun to prepare when you have a district title to play for the last week of the season.
“Their record may not show it, but Catholic is playing well. They lost some games early, and now they’ve got things figured out. We’ll need to play a solid game.”
In District 4-5A, preseason favorites Zachary (7-2, 3-1) and Denham Springs (6-3, 3-1) meet at DSHS. Central (5-4, 3-1) can also wrap up a share of the title with a road win over Live Oak (2-7, 0-4).
“This is definitely what you want to be playing for,” Zachary coach Neil Weiner said.
“Denham Springs is known for running the ball. With (Kyle) Cedotal at quarterback and the targets he has, they’re tough to defend. You want to stop the run, but you don’t want to get burned by the pass either.”
Each game features its own set of possibilities. Though Lutcher has had success throwing the ball, the players on center stage will be running backs Daniel Taylor, of Lutcher, and the Plaquemine duo of Julius Maracalin and Hakeem Deggs. Taylor has 1,440 yards, while Maracalin has 892 yards and Deggs 759 yards.
When describing Plaquemine’s penchant for running the ball, Lutcher coach Tim Detillire noted, “I told our fans if they want to see Plaquemine throw the ball they’d better get there for pregame warmups.”
Lutcher has won eight straight since losing to Dutchtown to open the season, while Plaquemine has a five-game winning streak. Both teams rank high enough in the power rating to earn a playoff spot.
Catholic coach Dale Weiner knows his team faces a must-win situation after an 0-5 start, along with a talented DHS team led by running back-safety Landon Collins (1,080 rushing yards, 19 TDs).
“We don’t have any false illusions about what we’re facing,” Weiner said. “We have to win to make the playoffs. We’re excited about the opportunity we do have.”
The Zachary-DSHS game features some contrasts. Denham Springs runs out of the I-formation, while Zachary prefers the spread. DSHS’ Cedotal (1,466 yards) and ZHS’ Mason Pace (1,866 yards) are among the area’s most efficient quarterbacks.
“He (Neil Weiner) mentions we’re diversified. Well, they’ve got multiple weapons and can run it or throw it,” DSHS coach Dru Nettles said. “And they’ve got a quarterback who’s in his third year as a starter. They were picked to win the district, and they’re right where they want to be.”
Central’s Brett Courville has 1,120 yards passing.
Central coach Doug Dotson notes, “A district title to play for is never a bad thing.”