Yes, I know it’s hard trying to keep up with 206 teams spread over nine brackets for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association football playoffs.
To help, here is your A-Z guide to the players, the coaches and the teams you need to know as we head into postseason play this week.
All eyes on John Curtis. The Patriots have won 26 state titles. With their decision to play up in Division I with the big boys this year, Title No. 27 would perhaps top all the others.
Best running back? Try Shaw junior Trey Ragas has made a strong case this season. His 1,597 yards leads the area.
Count ’em. Fifty… Yes, that’s a five and a zero… Teams in the playoffs with losing records. Another 21 teams have a .500 record. One first-round game pits two 2-7 teams playing against each other.
District 9-4A. Arguably toughest district in the state has three of the top 10 seeded teams in Class 4A. (Easton, Landry-Walker and Karr).
East St. John vs. Ehret. This should be the best game in town Friday.
Five in a row? Remember when this looked like a rebuilding year for Karr? The Cougars’ win over Easton last week showed that a run at a fifth straight trip to the Dome isn’t out the question.
Green Wave. Ponchatoula, led by former Shaw coach Hank Tierney, is undefeated and among the favorites in Class 5A.
Hoops or football? So you thought Riverside was a basketball school. And the Rebels football team is putting up basketball like numbers. They have scored 500 points this season, an average of 50 points per game.
Interception king. Attention quarterbacks facing Rummel. Don’t throw to Kristian Fulton’s side of the field. The junior cornerback has 10 interceptions this season … and he’s played in just seven games.
Jesuit. Yeah, I know that Rummel-Curtis matchup is what everyone is thinking. But don’t count the Blue Jays out.
Killer defenses. Destrehan, Ehret, Mandeville and Riverside have played lights out all year.
Last teams in. McDonogh 35 and Fontainbleau earned No. 32 seeds in Class 4A and 5A. You won’t find a more dangerous two-win team than the Roneagles.
Metairie Magic. Last year, East Jefferson, Rummel and Curtis all won state titles. While an EJ repeat doesn’t look likely, a Rummel-Curtis title game in the Dome sure would be fun.
Newman. Can the Mini-Bus, Greenies RB Kendall Bussey, get Newman past the first round after three consecutive opening-round losses. He has 32 TDs and counting.
Outrageous scores. Much like last season, expect to see plenty of blowouts with this select, nonselect playoff format.
Pride. That was Karr coach Nathaniel Jones’ one-word answer to every question after last week’s huge win over Easton. And it’s been the buzzword at school all week. A few weeks ago, this looked like a rebuilding year for the Cougars. A fifth straight trip to the Dome doesn’t seem quite as far-fetched now.
Quarterback to watch. You have heard all about Easton QB Deshawn Capers-Smith, but St. James QB Lowell Narcisse has put up mind-bogglig numbers as well. The sophomore has thrown for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 as well.
Repeat? These nine teams won it all last year and are looking to do it again: Acadiana (5A); East Jefferson (4A); Union Parish (3A), Kinder (2A), Haynesville (1A), Rummel (Division I), Curtis (Division II); Calvary Baptist (Division III); and Vermilion Catholic (Division IV).
Sweet 16. Catholic League champs Rummel have won 16 consecutive games and seeking a third straight state title.
Try again. Several rematches in the first round, including Slidell at Mandeville, Shaw at Brother Martin, St. Aug and Jesuit and St. Helena at Pine.
Undefeated. Three local teams (Destrehan, Riverside and Rummel) are all undefeated. But they aren’t the only ones. They are joined by Byrd, Catholic-New Iberia, Kinder, Livonia, Mangham, Many, Ponchatoula, and University Lab.
Video game-like numbers. Easton QB Deshawn Capers-Smith has thrown for right at 2,900 yards and 35 touchdowns. His go-to receiver, Tyron Johnson, is considered by some to be the nation’s best at his position.
What a difference a year makes. Hannan was 8-2 after the regular season last year and reached the Division III title game. This year the Hawks take a 1-8 record into the playoffs.
Xavier Lewis. Not only is the East St. John quarterback (and LSU commitment ) one of the state’s most exciting players, but the first letter of his first name bailed me out here.
Young, but talented. Sophomores RB/LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling (Brother Martin), RB Devin Hutton (Rummel), QB Keytaon Thompson (Landry-Walker). Freshmen Covington RB Devin Brumfield and Riverside QB Jordan Loving.
Zero. Number of games playoff teams East Iberville and Pope John Paul II have won on the field this season. (PJPII does have a forfeit win). Zero is also the percent chance either team has of winning their first-round game.
But let the playoffs begin.