Area teams look forward to district play _lowres

Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- U-High quarterback DJ White looks for a receiver against Southern Lab on Sept. 12.

Got the midseason blues already? Tired of nondistrict football games after Week 3 of the regular season?

Three Baton Rouge-area districts have just the thing for you. Districts 6-3A, 6-2A and 6-1A are all set to begin league play to help highlight Week 4 action.

And once again, the reputation of District 6-3A precedes its list of talented teams. Second-ranked University High (2-1) is the defending Division II select state champion, and No. 3 Parkview Baptist (1-2) was the runner-up.

PBS has dropped two straight to ranked teams, including a loss to John Curtis. The Eagles are better than their record indicates. And so is West Feliciana (1-2), a 3A semifinalist last year. U-High is coming off a solid win over 5A Mandeville.

Third-ranked Southern Lab (2-1) tops the list of 6-1A teams and travels to a Ascension Catholic for a league opener Thursday.

No team 6-2A team is currently ranked in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Top 10. The 2A district just might end up being one the area’s most competitive.

Consider these Week 4 matchups: Dunham (3-0) at Northeast (2-1), Episcopal (2-1) at East Feliciana (2-1) and Madison Prep (3-0) at Friendship Capitol (0-3). Christian Life (2-1) plays league newcomer Mentorship Academy (0-3) Thursday night at Memorial Stadium.

“Our players are playing with confidence, which is different than last year going into district play,” Dunham coach Neil Weiner said. “We start with a big, explosive Northeast team that will be our biggest challenge thus far. Our district has been bolstered by the addition of Madison Prep and Christian Life.”

Madison Prep may be the area’s most impressive team in any classification. The Chargers are a third-year varsity program and moved up from Class 1A this season. MPA has defeated 4A Livonia, last year’s 3A state champion, and 5A East St. John. Northeast has won two straight and was a 2A semifinalist last season.

The fact that MPA coach Michael Roach is a former Capitol player and ex-Capitol player and head coach Keith Woods is also part of the Chargers coaching staff adds a touch of significance to the game at Memorial Stadium, just a stone’s throw from where both schools are located.

“Being in 2A is something new for us,” Roach said. “I think it’s a really good district. The thing I’ve stressed all year is taking games one at a time. That’s what you have to do.”

East Feliciana coach Cedric Anderson and Roach share the same game plan for 6-2A.

“We’ve got Episcopal this week, and that’s really our only concern,” Anderson said. “They’ve been one of the top teams in the district the last few years, and that’s the game we’re focusing on.”

A nondistrict look

Fourth-ranked Zachary of 5A becomes the second local team to appear on national TV this week. The Broncos (3-0) travel to Shreveport to take on 2A power Calvary Baptist in a game that will be televised on ESPNU. Redemptorist played Patterson on ESPNU in 2010.

East Ascension plays in District 5-5A and expects plenty of competition there. But for the second straight week, the Spartans (1-2) take on an unbeaten 4-5A foe. EAHS travels to Scotlandville (3-0).

The end game for skeptics is a possible comparison between the Hornets of first-year coach Robert Valdez and Zachary, a 38-25 winner over EAHS on Friday night.

“We’ve exceeded my expectations in several areas,” Valdez said. “The way the players and coaches have come together and accepted a new (offensive) system impresses me. We’ve come together as coaches and are on the same page. We’re executing the offense better than I thought we would at this point.”

A measuring stick is also what 3A followers seek when West Feliciana (1-2) travels to U-High on Friday. Are the Cubs head and shoulders above the rest like the past two years? That’s a key question.

Third-ranked St. Thomas More (3-0) comes from Lafayette to take on Catholic High (1-2). Catholic coach Dale Weiner seeks his 299th career victory and faces Jim Hightower (379 wins). Weiner started his career as an assistant to Hightower at Catholic-Pointe Coupee.