It’s down to the final four for the Baton Rouge metro area.
But plenty of opportunities remain as teams head to the quarterfinals of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs.
“This has been such a humbling situation,” Port Allen High coach Guy Blanchard said. “We’re doing something no other team from Port Allen has done before. It’s an exciting time for the community and for these kids.”
The 14th-seeded Pelicans (10-2) became the first team in the 64-year history of PAHS to advance to the quarterfinals when they edged No. 3 Loranger, 14-13, Friday night.
Waiting in the wings is a familiar foe — 11th-seeded Parkview Baptist (8-3). The Eagles host Port Allen in a Class 3A quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Friday. It is the only all-local quarterfinal and will be the only prep football game played in Baton Rouge this week.
Meanwhile, the two remaining Class 2A teams, sixth-seeded University (12-0) and No. 7 Episcopal (11-1) travel to north Louisiana for the quarterfinals.
Episcopal, making its first quarterfinal appearance since 2002, travels to No. 2 Winnfield (12-0). UHS travels to Shreveport to take on No. 3 Calvary Baptist. The Cubs are in the quarterfinals for the first time in more than decade.
Both teams will also play at 7 p.m. The Episcopal-Winnfield game is a rematch of a regional game from a year ago won by Winnfield, 33-22.
“We had a good week of practice, and I thought our guys showed up ready to play,” University coach Chad Mahaffey said. “Riverside came in with a good game plan and did some things well.
“It wasn’t a perfect game for us. We kept on fighting, and I believe that is going to translate to this week. This is a big step for our program.”
The Cubs have the lone opponent that is an unknown, reputation aside. Calvary (10-2) is a traditional Shreveport power. Head coach Ronnie Alexander was the longtime defensive coordinator at Evangel, a team Calvary defeated this year.
There will be few secrets between Port Allen and Parkview. The teams played each other the previous two years and PAHS’ Blanchard started his coaching career as an assistant on Kenny Guillot’s PBS staff,
“We’ve been impressed with the things Guy has done at Port Allen,” Guillot said. “I haven’t had a chance to look at them on film yet, but I know they’re well coached and they’re playing well. They’re another quality team to prepare for, and we’ve already started that process.”
Of the remaining Baton Rouge teams, defending Class 3A state champion Parkview is the most experienced with late season playoff runs. The Eagles were the 3A runner-up in 2009 and also won a 3A title in 2007.
Episcopal travels to north Louisiana for a playoff game for the third time in recent years. Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois cautions those who want to draw a correlation between last year’s regional loss to Winnfield.
“I think both teams are different than last year,” Bourgeois said. “They’re using their offensive personnel differently, and I think we are, too.
“Last year, I remember they (the Tigers) started eight sophomores. They’ve gotten better. Besides scoring a lot of points, you see they don’t give up many. Their defense is solid, too.”
Still standing, too
Third-seeded Lutcher (11-1) advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals and will host Lafayette’s Teurlings Catholic. Coach Tim Detillier’s Bulldogs are the lone District 6-4A team remaining.
Amite (10-1), seeded fourth in 3A, is the only Tangipahoa Parish team still in the hunt for a state title. Coach Alden Foster’s Warriors host No. 21 McMain-New Orleans, the team that ousted No. 5 Livonia in the regional round.
There’s also another playoff tie to note — Port Allen beat McMain, 13-6, in Week 4. McMain has scored 50 or more points for five straight weeks, including a 57-50 win over Livonia. The top-seeded team in 3A, St. Charles Catholic (12-0) of District 7-3A like PAHS, travels to Rayne (7-5).
Class 5A Carencro (11-1), seeded seventh, and 4A St. Thomas More (11-1), a No. 2 seed, help lead the Acadiana area contingent along with 4A No. 4 Breaux Bridge (11-1).
Carencro travels to Jesuit-New Orleans (12-0), while STM hosts a New Orleans team in Karr (9-3) that was last year’s 4A runner-up. Breaux Bridge travels to Alexandria (8-4).
In 2A, Catholic-New Iberia (11-1), seeded fourth, travels to Shreveport to take on No. 5 Evangel (7-5), the defending 5A champion. CHSNI is coached by former Central coach Keith Menard.
Class 1A features Opelousas-based Westminster Christian (10-2, 10th seed), Abbeville’s second-seeded Vermilion Catholic (12-0) and No. 6 West St. John (10-2), of District 9-1A.
Westminster hosts a VCHS team coached by former LSU player Trev Faulk. West St. John, led by defensive lineman and LSU commitment Ronnie Feist, travels to No. 3 Haynesville (10-1).