Ever since L.B. Landry and O. Perry Walker combined to form Landry-Walker High School in 2013, winning football games has become less of a desire and more of an expectation.
While Landry-Walker has amassed double-digit wins (including playoffs) and made deep postseason runs in the past three years, there was still one hump they needed to get over in order to become true contenders for a state title: win a road playoff game.
The Charging Bucs had their season end the past two years with losses to Karr (2013) and Franklinton (2014) on the road.
The road struggles changed last Friday when No. 13 Landry-Walker (11-2) took the five-hour bus drive to Shreveport and knocked off No. 4 seed Byrd 47-41 to advance to the quarterfinals for the third year in a row. Now, the Charging Bucs plan on taking the lessons they learned from that win and repeating it Friday on the road against No. 12 Mandeville.
“It was definitely important for us to go on the road and show we can play at the level we expect no matter what the venue is,” Landry-Walker coach Emmanuel Powell said. “I think our guys had great focus and discipline in that game, and we’ll need to carry that over against a very good Mandeville team.”
While the final winning margin was only six points, Landry-Walker put together one of its more impressive performances against Byrd, which has been a top five seed in the playoffs the past three seasons.
Charging Bucs quarterback Keytaon Thompson accounted for 270 yards of total offense with six touchdowns (three passing, three running), and Landry-Walker led 47-27 with a little over six minutes left in the game.
Thompson said it might have been the best he’s seen the team play “in a long time”.
“We just wanted it really bad that night,” he said. “That’s a really long drive out there to Shreveport, and we kept telling ourselves that there’s no way we were coming this far and not leaving with a ‘W.’ ”
The Skippers (9-3) have had their own set of demons to overcome on their way to a second straight trip to the Class 5A quarterfinals as a double-digit seed.
Mandeville combined to score only six points in two disappointing losses to complete regular season. Despite playing so poorly to end the regular season, the Skippers offense came out roaring to start the playoffs.
They’ve dropped more than 40 points in playoff wins over Scotlandville and Thibodaux after only eclipsing that number once during the regular season. A major reason behind the offense’s resurgence is the improved play of senior quarterback Cody Orgeron.
He threw for 223 passing yards and three scores and ran for another in last week’s 42-41 upset win over Scotlandville.
“Their quarterback is playing at a really high level right now, and it’s our job to slow him down,” Landry-Walker safety Mike Lee said. “He’s a really good player, and he can make a lot of good throws. We just have to stay consistent and not make dumb mistakes.”
There could be a District 8-5A rematch in the semifinals if Landry-Walker and No. 9 John Ehret (which plays No. 17 Ponchatoula) win on Friday, but the Charging Bucs know they have a very tough test coming up and won’t be looking past Mandeville.
“We are 100 percent focused on Mandeville, and nothing else matters,” Thompson said. “They are an experienced team with a bunch of good players, and we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them.”