The LHSAA’s split football playoffs is a polarizing topic. Some love it and others think it’s a real turkey.
A day after Thanksgiving when turkey is the main course, fans get to feast on a notable rivalry made more intense by the format.
Just say Parkview Baptist and University High and people know what you’re talking about.
“The motivations and the emotions are going to be there,” Parkview coach Jay Mayet said. “As familiar as we are with each other the thing you look at is what can we do that’s new, and then what they might do new. You guess and try to figure things out.”
The teams meet for the sixth time since the select format came into play on Friday night. Top-seeded University (10-1) hosts No. 4 Parkview (8-3) in a Division II semifinal set for 7 p.m.
“I think the trenches are one place where it will be decided,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “I think they’ve done a better job than us over the last couple of years when it comes to creating big plays.
“With the offense they have ,you certainly want to make them earn it instead of boom — there goes a big play. Their defense has done a good job limiting our big plays. We need to find a way to create some explosiveness.”
It’s become a regular season/playoffs thing for the past three seasons, and U-High has a 5-0 advantage. The teams played before then but were hardly regular rivals.
It started two years ago with a district game and a Division II semifinal. Last year the teams met in district. Parkview held the upper hand early, but U-High claimed a 46-32 victory in the Division II final.
U-High won 29-21 in District 6-3A action last month. PBS fumbled the ball seven times in that game, providing some of the motivation Mayet likes to talk about.
“I think we match up with them better than we have in the past on both sides of the ball,” Mayet said. “Now that doesn’t mean we’re better than them, but I like the matchup man for man. I just want one game where we’re not putting it on the ground to see how well we play them.”
Mayet’s assessment is an accurate one. U-High trailed in the 2014 title game before current LSU freshman Nick Brossette rolled up 272 rushing yards. Another playmaker, quarterback Manny Miles, graduated and moved on to North Carolina. Another key threat, receiver Tre’ Jackson, suffered a season-ending knee injury early this season.
But freshman Mike Hollins has rushed for 1,056 yards and 18 TDs for the Cubs. DJ White, a basketball standout, has passed for 1,635 yards, 21 TDs and just four interceptions in his first football season in three years. Linebacker Dylan Moses, the nation’s top recruit in 2017, leads the defense.
Quarterback Reggie Hayes Jr. leads the PBS option offense with 1,151 rushing yards and 19 TDs. He is averaging 9.3 yards per carry. Kayin White (897 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and Nelson Smith (568 yards) are other top rushing threats.
Linebacker Matthew Murla has 97.5 tackles to lead the Parkview defense. Xavier Davis is a close second with 96.
“I think defensively it does come down to focusing,” Mahaffey said. “Offensively we need to control the line of scrimmage.
For me what it comes down to is when they make a big play can you isolate, focus and do your job. That’s a big mental challenge.”