Finishing first and being No. 1 are the obsession for most sports teams.
But you can’t understate the importance of the second season — also known as the district season — in high school football.
“The gauntlet is here,” Woodlawn coach Brett Beard said. “You expect a battle every week.”
District 5-5A play begins with some intriguing matchups that help highlight the Week 6 schedule for Baton Rouge teams in Class 5A and 4A. The first week of District 6-4A action and one key nondistrict game also should attract plenty of attention.
“We feel like we’ve played some good football teams to get us ready for this point,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “We’re looking forward to playing Catholic and the challenge that brings. We looking for that next challenge and want to see how we handle it.”
Fifth-ranked Catholic High (4-1) hosts St. Amant (3-2) at Memorial Stadium in one 5-5A contest. East Ascension (3-2) at McKinley (3-2) and Dutchtown (2-3) at Woodlawn (4-1) are the other 5-5A games.
Unbeaten St. Michael the Archangel (5-0) hosts Lutcher (3-2) to open its 6-4A schedule at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium, while Zachary (4-1) of 4-5A hosts fifth-ranked Plaquemine (5-0) of 6-4A in nondistrict action. All games start at 7 p.m.
Of all the Week 6 matchups, St. Amant vs. Catholic features the most history. The teams started playing each other in the 1980s. A win over the Gators was a key victory that helped set the tone for Catholic to advance to the 4A title game in 1990.
St. Amant beat Catholic 41-14 a year ago, but it was the Bears who went on to share the 5-5A title with Dutchtown.
“You look at the film and see both teams can be explosive and score points,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “St. Amant is solid not just on offense and defense, but also on special teams. They’ve got a good kicker like we do.
“I honestly think the difference may be defense. The defense that can impose its will the most should give their team the advantage.”
Both teams have playermakers. St. Amant quarterback Tyler Dixon has passed for 1,255 yards, while Catholic’s Derrius Guice has 966 all-purpose yards.
Ask any of the 5-5A coaches to describe their league in one word and “balanced” will likely be their choice. Woodlawn (4-1) has enjoyed a breakout year so far and could break the balance of power that usually starts with Catholic and Dutchtown.
Beard said the Panthers enter Friday’s game with Dutchtown with a mix of respect and caution.
“Dutchtown is who we want to be,” Beard said. “They’ve had the success and deep playoff runs. Their record doesn’t matter. They’ll be ready to play, and we’ll have to be ready for what they do.”
Ditto that for St. Michael. The Warriors face a Lutcher squad that has lost two straight.
“We’re excited about the possibilities,” SMHS coach Paul Varnado said. “Lutcher is one of the top programs around and beating them under any circumstances isn’t easy. We’ll have to play our best game so far.”
Though his team is 5-0, Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said his Green Devils are the underdog for their game at Zachary.
“When I look at Zachary, I see no weaknesses on offense, defense or special teams,” Distefano said. “This is what it’s all about — a game like this. One of the reasons we put Zachary on our schedule was to get us ready for the 4A playoffs. We’ll be better off for playing this one, regardless of what happens.”