Taking that next step toward a district football title doesn’t hold the same meaning for every team.

Just ask Central High coach Doug Dotson and Scotlandville High coach Ken Hilton. Dutchtown High coach Benny Saia also has a decidedly different take on the process going into Friday’s Week 9 games.

“We’ve got to find the way to stop big plays ? that’s the bottom line,” Dotson said. “They’ll line up in an I formation and run it on you. But they’ll spread you out on third down and the quarterback does a good job of getting it to the guys who make plays.”

Central (4-4, 2-1) faces Scotlandville (7-1, 2-1) in a pivotal District 4-5A game at Louisiana Leadership Institute’s Doug Williams Stadium. The two teams are part of a four-team dogfight for the lead title with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Denham Springs (5-3, 2-1) travels to Walker (3-5, 1-2), while Zachary (6-2, 2-1) hosts Live Oak (2-6, 0-3) in other 4-5A games.

Second-ranked Dutchtown (8-0, 3-0) remains the Baton Rouge metro area’s only unbeaten team in Class 5A-4A. The Griffins travel to McKinley (3-5, 1-2) for their next District 5-5A game.

Should Dutchtown win and Catholic High lose, the Griffins would clinch the 5-5A title. The Bears (2-6, 2-1) host St. Amant (5-3, 1-2) at Olympia Stadium. That scenario is not part of Saia’s mind-set. Games start at 7 p.m.

“We’re not thinking about that (district title) or talking about it,” Saia said. “I know it sounds strange to say when you’re 8-0, but we need to concentrate on becoming a better football team.

“I don’t want to take anything away from the teams we’ve played, because they did some good things. On our end, there have been too many mistakes. And it’s not just one thing. We’ve had turnovers and penalties and other negative plays. We’re not playing up to our capabilities. At this point, we’re not a team that’s ready to make a deep playoff run, and our guys know that.”

Only one District 6-4A game is Friday. Broadmoor (4-4, 2-2) travels to Istrouma (0-8, 0-5) looking to improve its playoff chances.

In Week 9, it’s about who makes the right moves in the 4-5A and 5-5A races. The other 5-5A game is East Ascension (5-3, 1-2) at Woodlawn (3-5, 1-2).

Central and Scotlandville run similar versions of the spread offense and both quarterbacks have been impressive.

Scotlandville’s Kimani Smith has had back-to-back 300-yard games and has 1,610 yards for the season. Cevon Cage and Larry Clark have combined for more than 1,000 receiving yards for the Hornets. Central’s Brett Courville has passed for 981 yards and run for 442 yards.

Dotson is looking to take a page out of the Denham Springs playbook. The Yellow Jackets successfully ran the ball and mixed in big plays in a 41-13 win over Scotlandville. Denham Springs kept the ball away from the Hornets. A few well-placed onside kicks helped, too.

Scotlandville coach Ken Hilton said his team has to be ready for whatever Central throws at them.

“I’d like to think we learned from the Denham Springs game,” Hilton said. “They had a great game plan and executed. We helped them with penalties and not covering assignments. It’s all about making plays at the right time.”