What a football coach says in the heat of a moment after a game is often rephrased days later.
Dutchtown coach Benny Saia still stands by “Let’s finish the deal” nearly a week after the Griffins notched a key victory over Catholic High.
It’s a sentiment Zachary and Plaquemine share. All three teams can clinch outright district titles with wins to close out their regular seasons Friday.
“We need to finish it,” Saia said. “There’s a lot riding on this game for both of us. A win gives us the outright district title, and it should guarantee us a playoff game at home next week, which is just as big. They need a win for a home playoff game too.
“St. Amant is a very good football team. People talk about how they like to throw the ball. They’re solid in every phase of the game. With the chance to host a playoff game, they’ve got a lot riding on this too.”
The Griffins (7-4, 4-0) host Ascension Parish rival St. Amant (7-2, 2-2) in 5-5A action. That is one of three games involving teams looking to clinch outright titles Friday night. All games start at 7 p.m. Zachary (8-1, 4-0) travels to Walker in District 4-5A, while Plaquemine (6-3, 4-0) hosts Belaire (5-4, 1-3) in 6-4A.
Dutchtown is No. 13 and St. Amant is 14th in the LHSAA’s latest recent power ratings for Class 5A. The top 16 teams host playoff games when the playoffs begin next week. The LHSAA is set to announce the playoff pairings in all classes and divisions at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on Fox Sports New Orleans.
A home playoff game won’t be a problem for sixth-ranked Zachary (8-1, 4-0). The Broncos are No. 2 in the 5A power ratings. ZHS travels to Walker (5-4, 0-4) with a “finishing” goal of their own.
“To go 10-0 in this district over the last two years means something,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “The whole year has been different, especially with this veteran team. We’ve been focused on Zachary and locked in on the things that will make us better all year.
“With that said, this Walker team is much improved. You could see they always had good athletes, but now they’re playing with confidence, which is big. They’ve been in every district game, so there’s no way we can overlook them.”
Plaquemine seeks its third straight 6-4A crown and also faces an opponent that is much-improved, said PHS coach Paul Distefano.
“This is the best Belaire team I’ve seen since I got back in coaching and this is my fourth year,” Distefano said. “They’re doing things the right way … you can see a lot of promise.
“I know there are people worried about what the weather will do after so many games were moved to (Thursday night). The way we both like to run the ball we might be done by 8:15 a.m.
“For us, winning the district title is big, but playoff seeding goes hand in hand with that.”
Distefano is right. The Green Devils sit at No. 15 in the 4A power ratings and need a win for the crown and the playoff berth. The scenario also comes into play for Walker, which sits at No. 32 in 5A going into its game with Zachary.
Ditto that for Belaire, which is 36th and would need a win and help from others to get into playoffs. Playoff ramifications also are crucial for another game — Woodlawn (5-4, 3-1) at Livonia (7-2, 3-1) also in 6-4A. Livonia sits at No. 13 and Woodlawn is 20th.