In order to make its second straight appearance in the Division IV state championship game Southern Lab’s defense will have to switch gears.
A week after stopping one of the state’s most prolific running backs from Central Catholic of Morgan City, the Kittens have done a 180-degree turn to brace for one of the state’s most productive quarterbacks.
That’s the challenge standing between No. 6 Southern Lab (8-3) and another trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when the Kittens travel Friday to Abbeville to face No. 2 Vermilion Catholic (10-2) in a Division IV state select semifinal at 7 p.m.
“They’re doing some great things, mixing things up with screens as well as going down the field and running the ball,” Southern Lab first-year coach Marcus Randall said. “They do a good job of keeping you off balance.”
For the second straight year West Feliciana finds itself hosting a Class 3A nonselect state quarterfinal when the No. 13 Saints (8-4) take on No. 21 Iowa (7-5) at 7 p.m.
“We set goals at the beginning of every year and one of them is to be practicing on Thanksgiving,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom, whose program is making its third quarterfinal appearance since 2010. “It’s something special.”
SOUTHERN LAB AT VERMILION CATHOLIC: Southern Lab’s defense, which kept Central Catholic’s Stefano Guarisco in check with 68 yards on 24 carries in a 30-16 victory, has focused its efforts on slowing down Vermilion Catholic’s high-powered passing game.
Senior quarterback Hunter Frith has completed 172 of 290 passes for 3,436 yards with 42 touchdowns and eight interceptions, leading an Eagles offense that averages 45 points.
“They like to throw the ball around, but they will run it,” Randall said. “The quarterback’s pretty good and goes through his progressions well and gets the ball out pretty quick.”
One way Southern Lab plans to counter VC’s quick-strike offense is with running back Darbbeon Profit, who has carried 117 times for 906 yards and 12 TDs.
Quarterback Bladerick Veal has passed for 1,646 yards with 11 TDs. Curtlan Williams (36 catches for 499 yards and four TDs) serves as his top target.
IOWA AT WEST FELICIANA: West Feliciana is riding the crest of a seven-game win streak since a 28-12 loss to Parkview Baptist in District 6-3A play.
Iowa, led by quarterback Zack Jongbloed, represents the lowest overall seeded team remaining in the playoffs. The Yellow Jackets, who began the season 0-3, have scored 91 points in their two playoff wins.
Sophomore quarterback Derrick Turner sparked West Feliciana’s 44-19 road upset win of No. 4 Patterson with 206 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Ronald Sims added 104 yards and a pair of scores.
Turner has rushed for more than 600 yards with 12 TDs, while versatile Davon Harris has accumulated 1,400 all-purpose yards.
“That’s the one thing about playing in our district,” Odom said. “It’s such a competitive, strong district that when you get to the playoffs you know you can compete and beat anybody.”