The road to the District 8-5A title in football passed through Algiers, Chalmette and Marrero a year ago as Landry-Walker, Chalmette and Ehret shared the league crown.
Two of the tri-champions kick off this season’s title chase against each other at 7 p.m. Friday, when Landry-Walker hosts Chalmette at Behrman Stadium in Algiers.
Chalmette (2-1) and Landry-Walker (1-2) played twice last season, with the Owls taking the regular-season meeting 17-12 and the Charging Buccaneers winning 34-13 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
“Let it be noted that they beat us, and that they played an outstanding game,’’ said Landry-Walker Coach Emanuel Powell, who directed the Buccaneers to the quarterfinals and a 10-3 record. “But they beat us without Keytaon (Thompson). He was out hurt (with a high ankle sprain) and so was our backup quarterback. So they beat us while we were playing with our third-string quarterback.
“So this will be a totally different game like it was in the playoffs. That was when you saw the full effect of a Keytaon Thompson.’’
A Mississippi State commitment, Thompson showed his value last Friday when he accounted for six touchdowns and 378 yards in a 42-20 nondistrict victory against St. Augustine. Thompson passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 176 yards and three scores.
Thompson’s effort helped halt a two-game losing streak in which Landry-Walker opened the season with losses to Karr (42-34) and John Curtis (35-22), the area’s top-ranked large schools teams.
Thompson is one of three Landry-Walker players already verbally committed, with the others being slot receiver/running back Tevin Bush (West Virginia) and junior defensive tackle Joshua Smith (Missouri).
Add to that trio two seniors in wide receiver Davonta Jason and cornerback Corione Harris, who reopened their recruiting after having been committed to LSU as sophomores. Jason holds an offer from Alabama.
“They’ve got athletes coming out of the wazoo,’’ Chalmette Coach Jason Tucker said while acknowledging that he still sees his Owls as title contenders along with Landry-Walker, Ehret and West Jefferson.
Chalmette is playing its first road game after a 31-22 loss to Holy Cross last Friday at Bobby Nuss Stadium, following opening victories against two winless teams in St. Thomas Aquinas (37-3) and Grace King (60-6).
The Owls eagerly look forward to their return to Behrman, despite last year’s game when Landry-Walker entered as a No. 13 seed and Chalmette was No. 20. Thompson passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns while the Buccaneers defense twice stopped the Owls on downs inside the 2- yard line.
“Playing them twice last year, our kids are familiar with them,’’ Tucker said. “(Chalmette’s players) liked playing there (at Behrman). They liked the band and the excitement in the stadium. To some people it can be an intimidating environment. Their band is loud. The stadium is kind of set back and secluded. But our kids enjoyed it. They were excited.’’
Like last season, the Owls boast a solid running game featuring new backs in junior Michaund Blaise and sophomore Brendan Hoorman, along with a stout defenss.
In addition to Thompson, Bush and Jason, the Buccaneers get offensive production from running back Jakobe Walker and slot receiver Lamont Barzant. Defensively, tackle Shamond Sullivan and strong safety Elvia Payton assist Harris and Smith with play-making duties.
“I think they’re the best team in the district besides us,’’ Tucker said. “I think as long as we can limit their big-play ability we’ll be fine. Our keys are time of possession, getting off the field on third down and being good on special teams. If we do those three things, we’ve got a shot against anyone.’’
“The key for us always has been to minimize our turnovers and our penalties and just be able to execute,’’ Powell said. “If we do those, we win the game.’’