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Metairie Park Country Day quarterback Justin Ibieta passes the ball as his team takes on Ben Franklin High School football in Metairie, La., Friday, Oct.20, 2017.

Advocate photo by Shawn Fink

The road to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome begins this week as teams start their playoff quests to win a state championship.

The LHSAA released the playoff brackets Sunday, so now we know the first leg of the journey for area teams.

Here are a few quick thoughts and observations after seeing the brackets for all nine classifications.

Top 5 first round games

With almost everyone making the playoffs these days, it can sometimes be a challenge finding intriguing matchups in the first round. But I'll give it a shot anyway.

1. Country Day at Episcopal

There was a time a few short years ago when Episcopal was a thorn in Country Day's side. The two schools play in the regular season every year, including Week 3 this season when the Cajuns prevailed 31-23. Now they have to do it again to keep their season alive.

2. Rummel at Byrd

Raiders, once thought to be a serious contender in Division I, have now lost three straight games and an even more surprising four of their past five. As a result, they are a No. 9 seed and have to make the long trip to Shreveport to play No. 8 Byrd.

3. Holy Cross at St. Paul's

The Tigers also stumbled down the stretch, losing three of their past four games. Now they make the trip to the north shore to play the Wolves, who have been sporadic this season as well.

4. Lutcher at Salmen

The Bulldogs won back-to-back state titles in 3A, but have moved up to 4A this season. They will travel to play the Spartans, who had a seven-game winning streak before last week's loss to undefeated Lakeshore.

5. Dutchtown at Slidell

This is a 17 vs. 16 matchup, so those typically turn out pretty well. Slidell quietly put together a 7-3 record this season. The Griffins, meanwhile, are 6-4.

Striving for perfection

Covington, De La Salle, Lakeshore and Newman finished the regular season undefeated. For their seasons to really be memorable, they will have to run the table all the way to the Superdome.

Outside looking in

Fisher, which made the playoffs the past two seasons, just missed out this season. The Gators (2-8) were the No. 33 seed in Class 2A, just .10 power points behind Springfield, which grabbed the final spot.

Looking ahead

While the first-round matchups may not be much to get excited about, Round 2 always gives us some thrilling possibilities.

Here's a look at some games we'd love to see in the next round involving area teams.

1. Ehret and Zachary

These two schools played for the Class 5A championship in 2015. Now they could meet again in the second round. That's if Ehret beats Haughton and Zachary beats Mandeville. Ehret beat Mandeville to make it to the title game two seasons ago.

2. McDonogh 35 vs. Neville

If you are one of the Class 4A powerhouses in New Orleans, at some point you'll have to go through Neville. Edna Karr and Warren Easton can vouch for that. McDonogh 35 may get a shot at the perennial powerhouse if it beats Minden this week.

3. Rummel vs. Evangel

What's rougher than making the long trip to Shreveport? Making the long trip to Shreveport two weeks in a row. That's what Rummel will have to do if it beats Byrd this week.

4. Brother Martin vs. Scotlandville

Scotlandville kept the Crusaders out of the Dome last season, winning 18-16 in the semifinals. Surely Brother Martin hasn't forgot about that and would like to get a little revenge. But they have to beat McKinley on Friday first.

Wishful thinking

In a dream scenario, an all-New Orleans showdown between Karr and Easton in the Dome would have been epic. (Well maybe not as much as it would have been before last week when Karr hammered Easton 40-6.) Easton fell to a No. 4 seed and now would play Karr in the semifinals instead of the title game.

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John Curtis, De La Salle, Newman, St. Charles and West St. John all earned first round byes and will try to stay sharp as they wait to see who the wi'll play next week. All five of those teams also have a legitimate chance to win it all.

Stay tuned

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.