Livonia High School coach Guy Mistretta spent the majority of the summer sounding the warning bell.
With the Wildcats coming off a 14-0 run to the Class 3A state championship, Mistretta was well aware of what awaited his team which moved to Class 4A this season.
It took Mistretta exactly one game into the season to gain the undivided attention of his club after Madison Prep, which has gone on a 6-0 start, tripped up Livonia 13-7.
“Part of it definitely is when you have success like we did last year, people are gunning for you and they’re going to give you their best shot,” said Mistretta, who guided Redemptorist to the Class 3A state title in 2005 and was on the Wolves’ staff for two other titles in (2002, ’03). “That’s something I talked to our guys about. Until it happens, that’s what it takes to open their eyes sometimes.”
Livonia found itself in difficult games the next two weeks, emerging with wins over West Feliciana (25-20) and Port Allen (42-25).
That’s helped serve as the catalyst in a five-game win streak that’s enabled the Wildcats (5-1) to return to the Class 4A rankings, up one spot to No. 9 in the Louisiana Sportswriters Association’s rankings.
“It’s been a tough schedule,” said Mistretta, whose team hosts Plaquemine in a key District 6-4A game Friday. “I knew what we were getting into, but I don’t think other folks knew how good (No. 9 in Class 2A) Madison Prep was going to be this year.”
Zachary (5-1) maintained its No. 7 ranking in Class 5A following a dramatic 49-46 District 4-5A victory over Scotlandville (5-1), which received votes along Catholic High (4-2).
This week’s District 7-3A showdown will be a Nos. 1-3 matchup with No. 1 University High (5-1) hosting No. 3 Parkview Baptist (4-2). Fellow league member, West Feliciana, also received votes this week.
Southern Lab (4-2) tumbled two spots to No. 4 in Class 1A after its 42-0 loss at nationally ranked IMG Academy.
Mistretta also pointed to two other key developments in the success of this year’s team.
The Wildcats lost both of their coordinators from a year ago when offensive coordinator Marc Brown became the head coach at Brusly and took defensive coordinator Chuck Guidry with him.
Mistretta reached into the college ranks to find their replacements, hiring both Brandon Nowlin on offense and Freddie Banks on defense after neither were retained on the new staff at Nicholls State.
Quarterback Cee Jay Powell has taken on a greater role in the running game, trying to fill a void left by Malcolm Dedrick, while the defense has gradually adjusted to Guidry’s scheme.
Livonia’s offense has exploded for 44 points per game over the past four games, while the defense, which allowed two early touchdowns to Tara last week, was lights out thereafter in a 50-14 victory.
“Part of it is building an identity,” Mistretta said. “It just takes time.
“Every year is the same in that regard.”