Teams that make deep runs in the high school playoffs generally grow accustomed to getting on a bus and traveling to various areas of the state.
Episcopal and University look to reach the Class 2A quarterfinals Friday night having yet to leave home.
After sound home victories last week in the first round, the Knights and Cubs get to keep the home-game routine as the playoffs enter their second week.
No. 7 seed Episcopal welcomes No. 10 seed Loreauville to Baton Rouge, while No. 6 seed University hosts No. 11 seed Riverside Academy.
“The more you can stay accustomed to a routine, the more at ease your players are,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “To be able to do that in the second round of the playoffs, it will benefit our players from the standpoint of staying in the normal school routine and doing our normal pregame activities.”
In the 1A bracket, two area teams hit the road looking for signature wins.
No. 14 seed Christian Life looks to continue a storybook turnaround from last year’s 1-9 finish as the Crusaders visit No. 3 seed Haynesville. No. 11 seed St. John gets another crack at No. 6 seed West St. John after losing to the Rams in a Week 9 showdown for the 9-1A title.
Road games in the quarterfinals loom for University and Episcopal should the 7-2A rivals win Friday night.
The Knights would travel to face the Winnfield-St. Thomas Aquinas winner, while the Cubs would head out of town to play the Calvary Baptist-Pope John Paul II winner.
Neither team, however, is looking that far ahead.
“The reason (the Cubs) have been able to come out and play well each week is they’ve prepared each week and have had the right attitude,” University coach Chad Mahaffey said. “We haven’t tried to be anything other than ourselves and haven’t tried to do anything different. It’s a very good sign for our leadership as a team and our senior class that they haven’t been up and down or inconsistent.”
University needed all the will it could muster in a 21-17 victory over Episcopal to start 7-2A play, but the Cubs have won all their other games by double figures. Along the way, they reached the end of the regular season unbeaten for the first time since 1988.
Nick Brossette scored three touchdowns in last week’s blowout of Ferriday.
As he watched film of Riverside this week, Mahaffey said he saw a lot of his own team in U-High’s next opponent.
“Good, hard-working kids that love what they’re doing,” he said. “I don’t think either team is blessed with so much talent that it blows you off the field when you see them.”
Despite the narrow loss to U-High in district play, Episcopal continued to reel off lopsided wins at the end of the season just as it did earlier.
The Knights could get another shot at the Cubs in the 2A semifinals if both continue winning.
Before that, Episcopal could get a rematch against Winnfield, which knocked the Knights from the second round of the playoffs last season.
Not that anyone’s looking ahead.
“If the thought of Winnfield and U-High even crosses your mind, it’s a mistake because of what Loreauville is going to present to us Friday night,” Bourgeois said. “All of your energy has to be on preparing for Loreauville because you’re going to need every ounce of it.”
Episcopal has reached the second round for the third time in four years, but the Knights are looking to break through to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
Thirteen seniors lead the way.
“We’ve talked about how you want to leave your mark - how you want to make your legacy - for years to follow,” Bourgeois said. “We’re in the same position as last year. The big challenge is whether this team wants to go that extra step and be remembered as the team that went that extra mile.”