Both teams may still have district games after Thursday night’s matchups, but both Franklinton coach Shane Smith and Lakeshore coach Craig Jones said the winner of their game has the inside track on the 8-4A crown.

Lakeshore (6-1, 1-0) travels to Washington Parish to take on Franklinton (5-2, 2-0) Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“This game is very important,” Smith said. “This one is basically for the district championship. We have one 8-4A game left after this against Pearl River, but we are treating this one against Lakeshore like this is for all the marbles.

“This is the big one. We just have to be prepared to perform at our best, and I think it is going to be one heck of a ballgame.”

The Demons are led by sophomore quarterback Tahj Magee. The younger brother of former LSU standout and current Baltimore Ravens running back Terrence Magee, Tahj Magee has thrown for 739 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also rushed for 564 yards and seven more touchdowns.

“The biggest thing for Tahj between the season opener against Covington and now is the six weeks of experience,” Smith said. “Early on, he was much more inconsistent. I think in the West Monroe game (FHS lost 23-6 on Sept. 25), he really grew up a lot. That was the start of his transformation. He performed well and since then he has improved every week and the overall passing game has improved. Experience helps for sure.”

Lakeshore, meanwhile, enters the game with a 6-1 record with their lone loss coming on the road in overtime to Assumption 24-23 on Sept. 25.

Jones said the excitement around the Mandeville campus was felt at the start of the week.

“It’s exciting no doubt,” he said. “It is fun when you have put in the work during the summer and you are at this point. You are at Week 8 and your games are meaningful. It makes practice fun, it makes preparation fun. Games like Thursday are why you are in this job and in this sport.”

Much like Franklinton, Lakeshore is led under center by a dual-threat quarterback. Senior Nathan Faciane has thrown for 1,254 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed for 737 yards on 106 carries and six touchdowns.

“I’m confident in the team we are bringing into the game on both sides of the football,” Jones said. “Franklinton is probably the best opponent we have faced thus far. You can see it on film. This game is important and we feel it will have significant district ramifications.

“Everybody around campus and around the area is excited. You can definitely feel it is a big game week. Kids in the hallway are talking about it and teachers are asking the coaching staff their thoughts on it. The biggest thing for us is to still remain focus and don’t let the change of routine of having a Thursday game have a negative impact for us.”

The game was moved to Thursday because of the Washington Parish Fair.