When they needed an extra boost in the hot summer months during weightlifting or conditioning, Port Allen football coach Guy Blanchard reminded his team of the possibilities that were ahead.
Fast-forward seven weeks into the season, and all the hard work seems to have paid off.
Port Allen (5-1, 2-0) finds itself in an enviable position, carrying a three-game win streak into Friday’s 7 p.m. home game with No. 1 University High (6-0, 2-0) where the lead in the District 7-3A race will be up for grabs.
“All you can ask for is an opportunity,” Blanchard said. “We’re hosting, and we’ll see what happens. We just have to play like we’re capable of and see what happens. That’s what we’re excited about.”
Southern Lab, which has notable losses to Plaquemine and U-High, takes its deceiving 1-5 record into the start of District 6-1A play against fast-rising Madison Prep (5-1) in a game that will be played at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium.
“This year, things were a lot different,” said Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell, whose team went 0-6 last year before reaching the Division IV semifinals. “The guys were a year into the system and prepared mentally to be able to play those games.”
Three weeks into the season, Capitol Charter (2-4, 1-0) elevated defensive coordinator Johnny Duncan to its head coach and the result was two straight wins, including a 19-14 victory over Redemptorist.
The Lions pushed No. 7 Northlake Christian to the limit a week later in a 19-7 defeat, keeping the momentum afloat for a key District 6-2A game with Northeast (5-0, 1-0) at Memorial Stadium.
“We’ve thrown a lot at them and are still fighting through it,” said Duncan, who finished last season as head coach at Istrouma. “We’re not going to make any excuses. We’ll go out and play as hard as we can.”
Port Allen’s current win streak has been bolstered by consecutive late-game dramas with a 22-21 win at Baker and last week’s 25-22 road victory over archrival Brusly.
The Pelicans are led offensively by Demarcus Franklin (57-505, three TDs) and Casper Williams (69 tackles, two sacks) on defense. The latter has the task of slowing down U-High’s Nicholas Brossette (96-843, 10 TDs).
“If we can go out and play a penalty-free game and not turn the ball over, then you feel good about giving yourself a chance to win,” Blanchard said.
Regardless of its difficult schedule, Southern Lab realizes the challenge posed by Madison Prep, which has recorded four shutouts and allowed a total of 50 points.
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge for us,” Mitchell said. “Our goal is to be 1-0 (in district). With the experience we’ve had and us being able to put it together and finish a game the right way, I like our chances.”
Lab counts on junior quarterback Bladrick Veal (39 of 72, 607 yards and seven TDs) with linebacker Dorian Welch (78 tackles, three sacks) leading the defense that will focus on MPA’s top threat — running back Quincy Banks (60-651, five TDs).
Senior running back Kelvin Robinson Jr. has delivered 140-yard efforts in Capitol’s two wins with help from backfield mate Chris Duhon, who scored the game-winning TD in the win over Redemptorist.
“Since I’ve taken over, we’ve coached them to feel as long as we can keep the game close we always have a chance to win,” Duncan said. “That’s the mindset the kids have right now.”