High school football showdowns and the mind games typically associated with them are legendary.
Talk about trick plays and/or the return of injured players can be enough to keep everyone guessing.
Unless you’re taking the approach of eighth-ranked Madison Prep (7-0, 4-0) and The Dunham School (6-1, 3-1). The coaches insist the key to winning this District 6-2A game won’t be mind control — it’s about ball control.
“Our defense has done a great job all year, and Dunham plays good defense too,” Madison Prep coach Michael Roach said. “The thing we have to do is control the football on offense and execute.
“We don’t want to get caught up behind the chains in a lot of third-and-longs. We want to keep those chains moving.”
MPA hosts Dunham at Memorial Stadium for the game that helps highlight Thursday’s four-game schedule. All games start at 7 p.m., with the exception of one. Episcopal (6-1) plays Lake Area New Tech (2-5) in a nondistrict game at 3:30 p.m. at Pan American Stadium in New Orleans.
One of the area’s longest running rivalries will be renewed in Donaldsonville as Ascension Catholic (3-4, 1-2) hosts St. John (3-4, 1-2) in a District 6-1A game at Floyd Boutte Memorial Stadium. The teams are playing for the 56th time and have met all but one year since 1954. Also, 10th-ranked St. James (5-2, 3-1) plays No. 2 De La Salle (7-0, 4-0) in 9-3A action at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us,” Dunham coach Neil Weiner said. “They’re big and athletic. They’ve got several guys who are comparable to the ones I coached and played against when I was coaching at (5A) Zachary.
“Their defense has given up a few big plays, but nobody has had much luck sustaining drives against them. That’s something we need to do. We need to control the ball and score when we can, which will limit the chances they have with their offense.”
Dunham has won three straight since dropping its 6-2A opener to Northeast. Madison Prep has been one of the state’s biggest surprises, going unbeaten in its first season in Class 2A.
“Moving to 2A was a big motivation for us,” Roach said. “The kids worked hard because we didn’t want to move up to 2A and lay an egg. I’m proud of them. We knew this district would be tough. Our goal was to get the chance to play in big games like this one. Our guys like this.”
Quarterbacks Mike Williams of Dunham and Edwin Kleinpeter of Madison Prep have combined for 2,279 passing yards.
Williams, the former Redemptorist quarterback, is seen as a difference-maker by Roach. How Dunham approaches the MPA defense led by Roach’s son, Malcolm, will be pivotal. The younger Roach plays defensive line/linebacker and averages 10 tackles per game.
Ascension Catholic and St. John aren’t at the top of the 6-1A race, but have plenty to play for in this rivalry.
“It’s big because it’s a rivalry, but there’s more to it than that,” St. John coach Cricket Crockett said. “We’re both sitting in a position to get playoff berths, so this one has multiple levels to it.”
The only year the two teams did not play was 1964 when Hurricane Hilda canceled the game. Ascension Catholic has won the past two games in the series, but before that St. John won six in a row.