High school football predistrict games can mirror the time-honored tradition of rent-a-wins on the college level.
The recipe is simple. Take on a smaller, outmanned opponent and pulverize them.
There’s nothing like the home cooking that goes with a predistrict game that also happens to be a rivalry game.
Port Allen gets that experience this week. So does Denham Springs and Dutchtown.
“Games like this are the reason you could and coach and play,” Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said. “We know (Livonia is) a legitimate top-10 team and we’re not going to back away from the challenge. We want to go there and let it all hang out.
“Rivalries do run in cycles. My first year here our kids would have said Brusly was our biggest rival. With this group it’s Livonia. They know those guys and want to play them.”
Port Allen (2-0) travels to Livonia (1-0) for a Class 3A showdown Friday night. Meanwhile, sixth-seeded Dutchtown (1-1) heads to third-ranked Destrehan (2-0) and Denham Springs (1-1) hosts sixth-ranked Catholic High (2-0). All game start at 7 p.m. There are no Thursday games in the Baton Rouge area for the second straight week.
“We’ve played them five years in a row now,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said of Destrehan. “The thing that always impresses me is the talent level. Every year it seems like their defensive line looks like a college line.
“I thought we played well (Friday) night and cut down on some mistakes (a 43-0 win over Donaldsonville). We’ll need to be better than that this week.”
The two former district rivals met twice last year, including a 5A quarterfinal won by Destrehan 23-7.
Catholic and Denham Springs have played each other regularly through the years and have been in the same district a few times.
“When I got the job at Denham, I decided Catholic High was a team I wanted on our schedule because I think they’re the benchmark in the Baton Rouge area,” DSHS coach Dru Nettles said. “Year in and year out they’re one of the best programs and if you want to get ready for your district and compete with the best teams around the state you need to be able to compete with them.”
The list of intriguing matchups isn’t limited to rivalries. For example, ninth-ranked Plaquemine (2-0) of 4A travels to 5A Woodlawn (2-0) for an all-local battle of unbeatens.
An intriguing small schools matchup has eighth-ranked Amite (1-1) of 3A traveling to No. 7 Southern Lab (0-2) of 1A. Also, 2A Episcopal (2-0) hosts 1A Country Day (2-0) for another battle of unbeatens.
Between the lines
Central (2-0) of 4-5A faces its toughest test to date, traveling to New Orleans to take on Jesuit. Central coach Sid Edwards spent one season as the Blue Jays head coach before moving to Central.
Live Oak (1-1) hosts St. Michael (2-0). LOHS coach Tut Musemeche’s first head football coaching job was at Bishop Sullivan/St. Michael.
Ditto that for Northeast (2-0) vs. Tara (1-1) at Glen Oaks. David Masterson served as Tara’s head coach before more to Northeast in the 1990s.
They said it
“If we lose Louis, we lose a lot of players,” Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said, referencing a shoulder injury to versatile Louis Conerly, who plays quarterback, running back, tight end, linebacker and punts.
“We found the end zone, which was definitely better,” Nettles said of his team’s 35-14 win over Salmen that followed a 28-0 Week 1 loss to Woodlawn.