Oh, the possibilities.
It’s a common refrain recounted at the start of each high school football season. Perhaps never has it been so true, thanks to a trio of Week 1 nondistrict games involving ranked teams.
The list starts with top-ranked University High of Class 3A hosting No. 2 Rummel of 5A. Sixth-ranked Brother Martin of 5A plays at Plaquemine High, a team ranked ninth in the preseason 4A poll.
Prefer a matchup/rivalry that involves all-Baton Rouge teams? How about third-ranked Parkview Baptist of 3A vs. Class 5A No. 8 Catholic High at Olympia Stadium? The three games help highlight a busy schedule of 7 p.m. games.
U-High coach Chad Mahaffey compares the challenge of playing Rummel to that of playing John Curtis, the team the Cubs lost to in the Division II select title game in 2013.
“There are some differences in what the teams do, but there are similarities when you look at the programs and how they operate,” Mahaffey said. “It’s hard to point to any one area and say Rummel has a weakness because you don’t see any. One thing about playing a team like this, you’ll know where you stand afterwards.”
There will be star power for both teams. Reigning Division II champion U-High has a group of NCAA Division I prospects and is led by linebacker/running back Dylan Moses, considered the nation’s top recruit for 2017.
MaxPreps ranks Rummel No. 21 nationally. Quarterback Chase Fourcade, defensive back Kristian Fulton, defensive lineman Briston Guidry help lead the Raiders. Rummel coach Jay Roth seeks his 196th career win.
Nine months removed from a berth in the 4A semifinals, a retooling Plaquemine team is happy to embrace an underdog’s role, coach Paul Distefano said.
“Everywhere you look they have weapons on offense,” Distefano said of Brother Martin. “They’ve got the two tight ends (Division I prospects Peyton Aucoin and Irv Smith), but there’s more to it than that.
“We’ve moved some people around to different spots, especially on the offensive line. This is a huge test — one of the biggest we’ve had.”
Austin Mitchell takes over at quarterback for the Green Devils. Putting 260-pound fullback Steve Conerly on the offensive line is one key preseason move for PHS.
There will be few secrets between Catholic and Parkview, two teams playing for the fifth time.
“They’re a good football team with so much experience. … I think they have 18 starters back,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “We’ll need to play intense and make plays on special teams.”
PBS coach Jay Mayet also said the importance of special teams in the series.
“All but two of these games have been close,” Mayet said. “That makes things like special teams so important. Catholic graduated (LSU’s Derrius) Guice, but they have (Clyde) Edwards-Helaire, who’s another quality back.”
Edwards-Helaire takes on the lead running back role for the Bears. PBS’ returning starters include 1,000-yard rusher Kayin White and quarterback Reggie Hayes. Catholic’s Weiner seeks his 298th career win.