It happened 24 years ago.

But the emotion resonating through Zachary football coach David Brewerton’s voice makes it seem like it was yesterday.

“I’ve told my guys it was the worst feeling in the world,” Brewerton said. “And I’ve told them it’s a road you don’t want to go down. To this day, I can’t tell you exactly what happened.”

Brewerton was part of Catholic High’s 1990 team that finished as the Class 4A state runner-up. Going into his senior season, the Bears were ranked No. 1 in the very first Class 5A poll, but they did not win a state title or advance to the title game.

That story is now a cautionary tale for the Broncos, who advanced to the 5A semifinals last season and are favored to repeat as the District 4-5A champion.

A top-five state ranking is likely. But Brewerton’s message is simple: The Broncos still have to perform, especially in 4-5A, after the district has gone from underrated to making waves on a state level.

Two years ago, Central defeated traditional power West Monroe en route to the quarterfinals. Last season, Scotlandville made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Zachary. Denham Springs also experienced playoff success.

“Zachary returns everybody, and they got a ton of experience in the playoffs,” Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said. “And their quarterback is a great high school player. I’d say, until you knock off the one at the top, they have to be the favorite. Scotlandville also is very talented, and they’ve got a new coach with a reputation for winning. Central will be looking to rebound. I see it as a dogfight for five weeks.”

Zachary quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. is the top returning player. The senior passed for 2,231 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 965 yards and another 15 TDs. Scott was the Class 5A all-state and All-Metro 5A-4A MVP on offense.

Scott leads a talented group of returning players in this district. ZHS offensive lineman Kellton Hollins is a TCU commitment. Denham Springs defensive lineman Caleb Roddy is committed to LSU. DSHS also gets a boost from the return of offensive lineman Justin Henderson, who played for Florida’s IMG Academy last season.

The foursome lead an impressive group of returning players who are known commodities. Zachary returns 16 starters, while Denham Springs has 14 regulars back.

Three first-year head coaches bring some intriguing unknowns. The list starts with Scotlandville’s Robert Valdez, who was coach at McKinley for one season before taking Class 1A power West St. John to the title game in 2011. That Valdez didn’t join the Hornets until late July is viewed as a negative by the other coaches.

“I feel like this is one of the best 5A districts in the state,” Valdez said. “You can’t help but be impressed with what Zachary did last year. Central has always been good, and I’ve heard about what Denham Springs has coming back.”

Live Oak’s Brett Beard rebuilt Woodlawn High in two seasons, leading the Panthers to the Class 5A playoffs twice. Walker picked assistant Brandon Lawley to resurrect a program that was 0-10 last season.

“We have to approach it one day at a time and one game at a time,” Zachary’s Scott said. “Last year was nice … a great memory. This is here and now, and no one is going to give us anything.”

Added Brewerton: “People are saying Scotlandville might be a year away with Valdez. They said the same thing about us last year. Central had a down year, but they’ve won seven of the last eight district titles, and I never count (Central coach) Sid Edwards out.”

Central had its first losing record (4-6) under Edwards and did not make the playoffs but nearly beat Zachary.

TEAM CAPSULES

Central Wildcats

Coach: Sid Edwards (55-17 at Central, 134-48 overall)

2014: 4-6, 2-4

Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost to Covington in quarterfinals)

Looking back: The Wildcats saw a string of seven district titles end during a season that featured injuries and frustration.

Moving forward: Central has plenty to prove and limited experience at some positions, but Edwards’ teams typically do well in the underdog’s role.

Ask The Advocate: If an experienced defense gives the offense led by new QB Gabe Brown a chance to mature, the Wildcats will surprise some people.

Projected starters on offense (spread): TE Brock Davis (5-9, 180, Sr.), SE Josh Brown (5-11, 180, Sr.), T Tristen Beardan (6-3, 310, Sr.), G Austin Frazier (5-8, 200, Sr.), C Josh Tankley (6-0, 280, Sr.), G Dylan Fury (6-0, 230, Jr.), T Anthony Averette (6-0, 220, Sr.), QB Gabe Brown (5-10, 190, Jr.), RB Xavier Lewis (5-10, 185, Jr.), WR Mason Evans (5-10, 180, Sr.), WR Trenton Guay (6-1, 180, Sr.).

Projected starters on defense (4-2-5): DE Chris Dowden (6-0, 230, Jr.), *Caleb Moore (6-0, 210, Jr.) or Triston Monte (6-0, 210, Jr.), *DT Dekelvin Smith (6-0, 245, Sr.), *DT Taft Kirby (6-0, 260, Sr.), *LB Andre Harris (6-0, 215, Jr.), *LB Caleb Moore (6-0, 230, Sr.), S Keenan Leechman (5-8, 170, So.), DB Jamille Jones (5-8, 175, Sr.), *DB Jeremiah Ward (5-10, 180, Jr.), *DB Josh Herbert (5-10, 170, Jr.), *DB Chance Atkins (6-0, 180, Jr.).

Schedule

Sept. 3 Mentorship Academy

Sept. 11 Dutchtown

Sept. 18 Tara

Sept. 25 at St. Charles

Oct. 2 at McKinley

Oct. 9 at Walker#

Oct. 16 at Scotlandville#

Oct. 23 Denham Springs#

Oct. 30 at Zachary#

Nov. 6 Live Oak#

Denham Springs Yellow Jackets

Coach: Dru Nettles (53-53 at Denham Springs, 73-65 overall)

2014: 7-5, 5-1

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Zachary in second round)

Looking back: The Yellow Jackets surged into a second-place finish and won their first playoff game since 1989.

Moving forward: Nettles’ team has the talent and experience to challenge for the 4-5A title and make a deep playoff run.

Ask The Advocate: Expect the Yellow Jackets to be a diverse offensive threat and a major challenger to Zachary in the 4-5A title chase.

Projected starters on offense (spread): SE Eddie Johnson (6-4, 175, Sr.), *SE De’Juante Edwards (5-10, 160, Sr.), T Kyle Hyde (6-4, 275, Sr.), *G Bailey Spiers (5-11, 250, Sr.), *G Kyle Dear (5-11, 260, Sr.), T Justin Henderson (6-6, 320, Jr.), *G Reece Rae (6-1, 235, Sr.), *QB Torez Kinchen (6-2, 215, Sr.), *TE Landon Fontenot (6-1, 225, Sr.), *RB Tyre Golmond (5-9, 160, So.), *RB Robert Thomas (5-11, 180, Sr.).

Projected starters on defense (4-2-5): DB Jaques Jones (5-9, 170, Sr.), *DB Daniel Ayers (6-0, 185, Sr.), *DB Hunter Scott (5-11, 165, So.), *DB Nick Berthelot (6-3, 200, Sr.), *LB Josh Haynes (5-11, 220, Sr.), LB John Ross (6-0, 215, Sr.), *LB Brenan Wall (6-3, 220, Sr.), LB Kaleb Pipes (6-0, 225, So.), *DE Caleb Roddy (6-5, 250, Sr.), DT Bailey Gill (5-11, 230, Sr.), DT Caleb Broussard (6-0, 275, Sr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 East Ascension

Sept. 11 Tara

Sept. 18 at St. Paul’s

Sept. 25 at McKinley

Oct. 2 St. Michael

Oct. 8 Live Oak#

Oct. 16 at Zachary#

Oct. 23 at Central#

Oct. 30 Walker#

Nov. 6 at Scotlandville#

Live Oak Eagles

Coach: Brett Beard (first year at Live Oak)

2014: 4-6, 2-4

Last playoff appearance: 2012 (lost in first round)

Looking back: The Eagles took some lumps and didn’t have a lot of wins but just missed pulling off some upsets.

Moving forward: Beard already turned around one program at Woodlawn and looks to do the same at LOHS. The reviews so far have been good.

Ask The Advocate: The Eagles could really use some early-season success, but a tough predistrict schedule will make that a challenge.

Projected starters on offense (spread): QB Ryan Morris (Jr.), RB Will Higginbotham (Sr.), FB Khalil Smith (So.) TE Hayes Legendre (Sr.), WR Mark Rudison (Sr.), WR Nick Cacioppo (Jr.), OL Jacobey Lee (So.), OL Travis Simmons (Sr.), OL Andrew Shelton (Sr.), OL Shane Rushing (Sr.), Jacob Barbier (Jr.).

Projected starters on defense (3-4): DE Ben Johnson (Sr.), NT Michael Crowson (Sr.), DE Rhett Summar (Sr.), LB Brett Frazier (Sr.), LB Kyle Knapps (Sr.), LB Brock Williamson (Sr.), LB Preston Faulkner (Jr.), DB Devin Ricard (Sr.), DB Ray’Shion Brumfield (So.), DB Cade Guillory (Sr.), DB Junior Edwards (Jr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 St. Amant

Sept. 11 KIPP Renaissance

Sept. 18 at West Feliciana

Sept. 25 St. Michael

Oct. 1 at Broadmoor

Oct. 8 at Denham Springs#

Oct. 16 Walker#

Oct. 23 Zachary#

Oct. 30 Scotlandville#

Nov. 6 at Central#

Scotlandville Hornets

Coach: Robert Valdez (first year at Scotlandville, 60-29 overall)

2014: 9-4, 4-2

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Zachary in quarterfinals)

Looking back: The Hornets made 5A school history by advancing to the state quarterfinals.

Moving forward: Valdez took over in July and brings an impressive résumé to a program with lots of talent. After last year’s finish, the Hornets won’t sneak up on anyone.

Ask The Advocate: The Hornets have the potential to again do great things and should team with Denham Springs to become the top 4-5A challengers for Zachary.

Projected starters on offense (multiple): *QB Levi Lewis, *RB Reggie Cleveland, TE Brandon Davis, *SE Chris Johnson, *SE Donald Augustus, SE Tyson Hives, *C Travellis Harris, *G Manzie Williams, *G DeQuano Lewis, *T Roderick Thomas, *T Brian Thomas.

Projected starters on defense: (multiple): *DE DeAndre Williams, *DT Maleek Grant, DE Triston Brown, *LB Derossic Allen, *LB Darrel Moses, *LB Caleb Carter, *LB DeQuincy Jones, *DB Kelvin Joseph, DB Bryce Beekman, DB Marquis Britten, *DB Dwayne Williams.

Schedule

Sept. 4 at McKinley

Sept. 11 at St. Augustine

Sept. 18 at Wilkinson County (Miss.)

Sept. 25 at East Ascension

Oct. 2 at Ouachita Parish

Oct. 9 Zachary#

Oct. 16 Central#

Oct. 23 at Walker#

Oct. 30 at Live Oak#

Nov. 6 Denham Springs#

Walker Wildcats

Coach: Brandon Lawley (first year)

2014: 0-10, 0-6

Last playoff appearance: 2001 (lost in second round)

Looking back: The offense, led by Terry Bozeman’s 3,282 passing yards, was one of the few bright spots for the Wildcats.

Moving forward: Lawley takes on one of the area’s toughest rebuilding jobs. He’s already doubled the roster size and can count a revamped stadium as a positive.

Ask The Advocate: There’s strength in numbers, at least rosterwise. Whether the numbers will translate into victories remains to be seen.

Projected starters on offense: *QB Terry Bozeman (6-2, 200, Sr.), *RB Jalen Hills (5-8, 165, Jr.), *RB Tristan Taylor (6-0, 210, So.), *TE Jeffery Bell (5-11, 215, Jr.), *SE Jacob Kennedy (6-0, 160, Jr.), *T Martin Brooks (6-5, 300, Jr.), *G Jason Lockhart (6-1, 279, So.), *Peyton Kilcrease (6-2, 265, Jr.), *G John Paul St. Pierre (6-1, 280, Sr.), *T Kane Burkhalter (6-4, 287, Jr.).

Projected starters on defense: *DT Jeremy Hills (5-11, 245, Jr.), *DT Kaden Terrance (6-0, 280, Jr.), *DE Mac Patterson (6-3, 230, Sr.), *DE Noah Cox (6-0, 207, Jr.), *LB Kyle Nevels (6-3, 234, Sr.), *LB Henry Monley (5-11, 220, Sr.), *DB Mason Dwyer (5-10, 160, Jr.), *DB Trey Keller (5-10, 176, Sr.), DB Josh Cooks (5-11, 181, So.), *DB Jaleel Hill (5-8, 157, Sr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 Northeast

Sept. 11 Franklin

Sept. 18 Capitol

Sept. 25 Broadmoor

Oct. 2 Assumption

Oct. 9 at Central#

Oct. 16 at Live Oak#

Oct. 23 Scotlandville#

Oct. 30 at Denham Springs#

Nov. 6 Zachary#

Zachary Broncos

Coach: David Brewerton (12-2 at Zachary, 68-29 overall)

2014: 12-2, 6-0

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost in semifinals to Acadiana)

Looking back: The Broncos, who were supposed to be a year away in 2014, arrived early and won a district title.

Moving forward: There’s lots of returning talent and an ESPNU game to look forward to. The challenge is to avoid complacency while continuing to improve.

Ask The Advocate: Zachary surprised plenty last season and is the area’s top returning 5A team. Can the Broncos excel under the microscope that top programs live under? That’s the question.

Projected starters on offense: *SE Shyron White (6-1, 175, Jr.), *SE Doug Coleman (6-1, 170, Sr.), *T Trevor Jackson (5-11, 240, Sr.), G Blake Anderson (6-3, 310, So.), *C Kellton Hollins (6-3, 295, Sr.), G Terrell Turner (6-0, 280, Sr.), *T Dominique Holden (6-0, 270, Jr.), *QB Lindsey Scott (5-11, 205, Sr.), *RB Terry Sullivan (6-0, 218, Sr.), *RB Braylon Jones (5-7, 150, Jr.), SE R.J. Newton (5-10, 170, Sr.).

Projected starters on defense: *DE Brad Jones (6-1, 240, Jr.), *DE Aaron Celestine (6-1, 230, Sr.), *DT Darryl Brown (5-10, 250, Sr.), *DT Michael James (6-1, 230, Sr.), *Ty’wan Beardon (6-1, 190, Sr.), *LB Donovan Perkins (6-0, 225, Jr.), *LB Herbert Cummings (6-1, 220, Jr.), LB Kennan Tate (5-9, 200, Sr.), *DB P.J. Cannon (5-9, 165, Sr.), DB Tyren Shelton (5-9, 175, Sr.), DB Jarred Hopkins (6-3, 175, Jr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 Wilkinson County (Miss.)

Sept. 11 Catholic

Sept. 18 at East Ascension

Sept. 25 at Calvary Baptist (on ESPNU)

Oct. 2 at Dutchtown

Oct. 9 at Scotlandville#

Oct. 16 Denham Springs#

Oct. 23 at Live Oak#

Oct. 30 Central#

Nov. 6 at Walker#

* — returning starter; # — district game