Basketball has March Madness. Port Allen High football coach Guy Blanchard isn’t sure what high school football’s version of that is.
Coming up with a title isn’t easy. Blanchard and other Baton Rouge metro area coaches know Louisiana has “it” after the first week of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs even if there isn’t a name for it.
“Our slogan last week was ‘Men on a Mission’ and we played like that,” Central High coach Doug Dotson said. “We played a great first half, took the lead and from there just held on.”
The No. 32 Wildcats (7-4), accomplished what may have been considered the unthinkable, ousting top-seeded St. Paul’s (10-1) 35-28 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday night.
Central’s victory was part of a wild first-round ride that feature roller coaster-like ups and downs. The down side — fourth-seeded Dutchtown (10-1) losing its first game of the year, falling 28-14 to No. 29 Ponchatoula (7-4).
There were plenty of emotions and big plays to go around as a small number of metro teams advanced to the regional round.
Central is the area’s lone remaining Class 5A team and hosts No. 16 Ruston (7-4). A team located outside the metro area, No. 3 Lutcher (10-1), is the only District 6-4A team remaining. The Bulldogs go to Lake Charles to play Washington-Marion (8-3). Almost all regional playoffs are set for Friday.
Intriguing elements make up the Class 3A draw with fifth-seeded Livonia (10-1), No. 11 Parkview Baptist (7-3) and No. 14 Port Allen (9-2) all advancing to face road games this week.
PBS travels to Crowley to take on No. 6 Notre Dame. NDHS is a team the Eagles beat in the semifinals last year en route to the 3A state title. Parkview lost to the Pioneers in the 3A final in 2009.
Both Livonia and Port Allen are looking to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time. PAHS travels to play No. 3 Loranger (10-1) on Friday, while Livonia heads to New Orleans to take on McMain (8-3), a 21st seed. The game is set for Friday at New Orleans’ Pan American Stadium.
“Loranger is a solid, well-coached football team,” Blanchard said, “They have weapons. The (Jeryl) Brazil kid (an LSU commitment) is a lot like Trindon Holliday or Shyrone Carey. The quarterback and receivers are good, too, so you have to pick your poison.”
It will be the second straight District 8-3A foe for PAHS, which beat Independence 35-22 in the first round.
After facing north Louisiana-based North DeSoto, Livonia heads to New Orleans.
“We’re glad to be in it and happy to get the challenge,” LHS coach David Brewerton said. “McMain is a very big, physical team and it will be interesting to see how we respond this week as we get ready.”
The other two teams with home games are No. 6 University (11-0) and No. 7 Episcopal (10-1). The Cubs host No. 11 Riverside Academy (8-3), while Episcopal hosts No. 10 Loreauville (9-2).
“So far so good,” UHS coach Chad Mahaffey said. “There are some things we need to correct and improve on. Riverside is a quality program.”
Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said his team learned from a regional road loss to Winnfield a year ago.
“It was a long bus ride home and we learned some things that prepared us,” Bourgeois said.
“Loreauville is a team that has a lot of talent and scores points. It’s another test.”
The metro area’s two remaining Class 1A teams both play on the road. St. John (8-3) meets District 9-1A rival West St. John (9-2) for the second time in three weeks in Edgard. WSJHS won that first game 36-20.
No. 14 Christian Life (8-3), the Class 1A runner-up to South Plaquemines in 2008, travels to No. 3 Haynesville (9-1).