The first sign of statewide respect for Zachary High came in a season-opening loss.

Since then, the Broncos have gone about earning their first appearance in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s rankings in seven years with five consecutive sizable victories.

Zachary has responded to a 24-21 loss to Division I state runner-up Byrd with a stretch of five straight impressive wins, including last week’s 64-28 triumph over previously unbeaten Plaquemine, forging a No. 9 ranking in the Class 5A poll that was released today.

“It’s a testament to the hard work of our kids and I’m excited for them,” first-year Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “I’ve never been a coach that shies away from the publicity of the polls. It gives the kids something to work for on a weekly basis and kind of honors them for the work they’ve put in. I’m proud for the program and proud of the kids for the way they’re competing right now.”

With losses by the Nos. 8 and 9 teams last week, Zachary piled up 51 points to make its initial appearance in Class 5A, where Byrd (6-0) continued to be ranked third. The Broncos were last ranked No. 8 during the end of the 2007 season when they were in Class 4A.

Catholic High (5-1) is back for the second week at No. 5 following a convincing 44-21 District 5-5A win over St. Amant, garnering 91 points.

Despite its first loss Plaquemine (5-1) dropped two spots to No. 7 with District 6-4A foe St. Michael the Archangel (6-0) picking up a total of 11 points.

The local/area continued to be well represented in Class 3A with No. 1 University (6-0) leading the way, followed by No. 5 Livonia (5-0) and No. 7 Parkview Baptist (4-2).

The Cubs, who defeated Parkview 28-7, received 10 of 12 first-place votes and totaled 142 points, ahead of No. 2 John Curtis (5-1) with two first-place votes and 133 points.

Not only did Livonia defeat Northwest 47-13 in District 5-3A play, but losses by Nos. 4-5-6 from last week enabled the Wildcats to climb three spots this week, while District 7-3A counterparts, Port Allen and West Feliciana, received points.

Episcopal’s initial loss of the season — 30-17 to East Feliciana — dropped the Knights (4-1) one position to No. 8 in Class 2A with the both Tigers and Northeast getting points.

White Castle (5-1) went up one to No. 9 in Class 1A with Madison Prep (5-1) on the verge of breaking through with 30 points.

Zachary, which has a 38.2 average margin of victory, certainly enhanced that statistic last Friday, jumping out to a commanding 36-7 first-quarter lead and 40-14 halftime advantage over Plaquemine.

Quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. completed 12 of 17 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for another score, while Terry Sullivan and Douglas Coleman each scored two TDs during an offensive onslaught that produced 578 yards.

“I think our defense had been carrying us through the first five weeks of the season,” Brewerton said. “We were kind of surprised the offense was playing well, but not clicking on all cylinders and up to the capability we thought it could. This past week, the offense looked sharp and crisp, and of course, the defense played well like they have been.”