Teams in Districts 4-5A and 5-5A begin league play Friday night, beginning what coaches call the second season in high school football.
Regardless of what happened over the past five weeks, teams get a second chance to make a big first impression.
Two unbeaten teams, Dutchtown High and Scotlandville High, are targets for opponents eager to make their mark.
“I’ve said all year that the other 5A schools in Ascension have made significant improvements,” Dutchtown High coach Benny Saia said. “We’ll get to see it up close this week with St. Amant and then next week with East Ascension.
“St. Amant is playing well right now. They present challenges because their offense is not one you see every week. Because it’s a rival game, we know they’ll be ready.”
Dutchtown (5-0), ranked second in Class 5A, opens its 5-5A season by traveling to The Pit at St. Amant Middle School to take on St. Amant (4-1), winner of four straight.
In 4-5A, Scotlandville (5-0) is off to its best start since joining Class 5A. The Hornets host Denham Springs (3-2) at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium. DSHS looks to stop a two-game losing streak.
“We have to cut down on our mistakes and keep them from taking over the game by running the ball,” Scotlandville coach Ken Hilton said about Denham Springs. “We can’t have penalties and turnovers that put us in bad situations. Denham Springs will make you pay for that.”
The games highlight Friday’s 5A-4A schedule. Zachary (4-1) vs. Central (2-3) at Central Middle School is the other 4-5A game.
In 5-5A, Woodlawn (2-3) meets Catholic (0-5) at Memorial Stadium and McKinley (2-3) plays at East Ascension (4-1).
In 6-4A, fourth-ranked Lutcher (4-1, 2-0) hosts Istrouma (0-5, 0-2) and Broadmoor (3-2, 1-1) travels to Plaquemine (2-3, 1-0). Tara (1-4) hosts Sarah Reed (0-5) for a nondistrict game at Olympia Stadium. Games start at 7 p.m.
Each game has some special matchups. For St. Amant and Dutchtown, the key will be how the defense handles the opposing offense.
St. Amant’s option-oriented flexbone attack is a rarity in the day of spread offenses. The Gators’ Tyler Guillory has become a threat throwing and running the ball. Last week he tallied more than 100 yards in each category.
St. Amant’s stable of running backs is led by Trey Washington but also includes three other impact players. A 240-pound fullback, Cameron Morris, returns from a knee injury this week.
On the flip side, the Gators must figure out how to stop a multi-faceted offense led by running back-linebacker Landon Collins. Collins averages 18.2 yards per carry. Quarterback Mason Nickens and receiver Shelby Christy are among the other threats.
“I think we probably match up with them better than we have in past years,” SAHS coach David Oliver said. “They have so many weapons. Collins is a great player, but they have other guys who can hurt you.”
DSHS coach Dru Nettles calls Scotlandville’s nondistrict schedule, which included several sub-5A teams, a non-factor.
“When people say, ?Scotlandville hasn’t played anybody,’ my answer is they’ve played who they were supposed to play and dominated,” Nettles said. “You can’t do any more than that. What we have to do is get back to running the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage.”
DSHS running back Kaleb Blanchard may be a game-time decision because of a back injury. Quarterback Kyle Cedotal leads the Yellow Jackets with 859 yards passing. Dron Singleton and Sterling Suggs are the top receivers.
Scotlandville counters with quarterback Kimani Smith (682 passing yards) and a corps of receivers led by Cevon Cage.