When University High joined District 7-3A a year ago, the expectation was for the Cubs to become a rival for Parkview Baptist.
U-High has exceeded expectations. The top-seeded Cubs are 25-1 over the past two seasons, including a 12-0 mark this season. The only blemish is a loss to powerful John Curtis in last year’s Division II title game.
Now coach Chad Mahaffey’s team is one game away from an elusive state title. Standing in the Cubs’ way is that other traditional power — seventh-seeded Parkview Baptist (9-3).
“We weren’t surprised when Parkview won,” Mahaffey said. “They’re solid defensively. You can’t key on one guy in the backfield. It’s a new game, and it’ll be the one everybody remembers until the next one.”
It also will be for a state title. The Cubs and Eagles square off in the Division II title game that helps highlight Friday’s action at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Game time is 5 p.m. for the All-Baton Rouge final that marks the fourth time the teams have played each other over the past two seasons with UHS holding a 3-0 edge. PBS first-year coach Jay Mayet understands the comparisons to this budding rivalry to the one the Eagles had with Redemptorist for more than a decade.
“There were times when we played Redemptorist in district and then again in the playoffs,” Mayet said. “Of course, we haven’t won one yet, so that’s different There are similarities.”
However, the Eagles have won the big one. Parkview’s claimed 3A state titles in 2001, 2007, 2010 and 2012. U-High’s last state title in football came in 1988 in Class 1A.
Both programs have changed dramatically since Parkview beat U-High, then a Class 2A school, in nondistrict games in 1999-2000. Each has evolved differently, making this one a blue chip vs. blue collar match-up.
The U-High roster is punctuated by notable recruits. Running back Nick Brossette is an LSU commitment who enters the game with a chance to surpass current LSU running back Kenny Hilliard’s state record total of 8,603 yards set at Patterson High.
Linebacker Dylan Moses is the nation’s top sophomore and an LSU commitment. Quarterback Manny Miles, the son of LSU coach Les Miles, has completed 70 percent of his passes. Junior receiver Tre’ Jackson is a Florida commitment.
Running back Houston Robert, who is bound for Rice, is Parkview’s lone college commitment. Robert is third in rushing for the Eagles’ balanced option offense.
For PBS, it’s about the system and the linemen who control the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Reggie Hayes Jr., son of the former Broadmoor High star, and running back Kayin White, son of former LSU star Lyman White, each have over 1,000 rushing yards.
The coaches said both teams have improved since U-High beat Parkview 28-7 in a District 7-3A game played Week 6. While the Cubs have cruised through their season, Mayet says a one-point loss to West Feliciana in Week 10 helped refocus the Eagles.
Mahaffey is known as an offensive play-caller, while Mayet was PBS’ longtime defensive coordinator. Their take on the game reflects that.
“I think for us a key is to be balanced on offense and clicking on all cylinders,” Mahaffey said.
“A big key for us defensively is we have to get off the field on third down,” Mayet noted. “Last year and the first game this year they killed us on third down.”