Correction: A story in Tuesday’s Advocate incorrectly said a Livonia High School victory this week would make the Wildcats 6-0 for the first time in school history. Livonia started the 2001 season 6-0 and finished with a 10-2 record. The Advocate regrets the error.

Sept. 27 story

To reach a new milestone, the Livonia football team must go through an old rival.

The Wildcats, ranked ninth in the Class 3A poll and fourth in the class power rankings, are one win away from their first 5-0 start in school history.

But before they open league play in the newly organized District 5-3A, the Wildcats must travel to Brusly on Friday to face the rival Panthers from District 7-3A.

“You always look forward to this game because you know it’s going to be a test for your program,” Livonia coach David Brewerton said. “We know what we’re going to get. It’s just a matter of going out there and being prepared.”

The teams have competed in the same district the past two seasons, with Brusly earning a single-digit win in both games.

Brewerton has an abundance of praise for Brusly coach Erik Willis and the 3-1 Panthers, but he also has plenty of reasons to believe Livonia can reverse the recent trend in the series.

“You learn a lot more from losing than you do winning,” Brewerton said of Livonia’s 2-8 season in 2010. “I think the guys learned they never want that taste in their mouth anymore.”

The Wildcats have already doubled their total wins from last year in impressive fashion: Their four wins this season have come by an average margin of just more than 35 points per game.

The Wildcats defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in two consecutive games, thanks to a talented senior class thriving in the aggressive scheme of first-year defensive coordinator Steve Thomas.

“Our defense was so young last year, and we were giving up so many points that our offense was under pressure to score every series,” Brewerton said.

“We can take more chances now because we don’t have to worry about giving the ball away and never getting it back. There’s a lot less pressure on our offense right now because our defense has played so well.”

But if the first four games are any indication, the Wildcats offense may not need a lot of help. The Livonia offense averages 45 points per game, including 50-point outings against St. John (52-28) and Catholic-Pointe Coupee (53-0).

Senior running back Mark Lewis has spearheaded the Wildcats’ running game after returning from an ankle injury that lingered throughout the 2010 season. Lewis has racked up 652 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns through four games.

An integral part of the offense, the decision to insert Lewis in the offensive lineup began as a last-minute experiment.

“Coming into the season, we thought he was going to be a full-time defensive player and we would rest him on offense,” Brewerton said. “But my coordinators came to me after a scrimmage and said, ?Look, this guy is tearing it up. We need to look into playing him all the time on offense.’

“So far, it’s worked out extremely well.”