Tough schedule helps Lutcher to No. 3 in Class 3A poll _lowres

Advocate photo by BRIAN ROBERTS -- Lutcher QB Jontre Kirklin

Given the level of competition they faced during the nondistrict portion of their schedule, coupled with a return to its Class 3A roots, Lutcher finds itself prepared for the long haul.

“When we went back to 3A, the kids and community felt that’s where we belonged,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “I could see they were confident, not cocky, when we got back to 3A. That helped the expectations. We wanted to be in 3A, and all the expectations shot up through the roof.”

Lutcher, which began the season ranked No. 9, reached a new high with the release of Tuesday’s Louisiana Sportswriters Association’s statewide rankings, getting 87 votes that placed the Bulldogs (6-1) at No. 3 in Class 3A.

University High (6-1) continues to lead the 3A pack with seven first-place votes and 105 points, followed by No. 2 De La Salle (7-0), which hosts Lutcher in the regular season finale — a game that could decide the District 9-3A title.

Parkview Baptist (4-3) dropped three spots to No. 6 after its 29-21 loss to U-High.

“I think we’ve gotten better every week,” said Detillier, 258-111 in his coaching career. “We work hard in practice, but I believe the predistrict schedule prepared us.”

Zachary (6-1) held firm at No. 7 in Class 5A, with Scotlandville and Catholic High each receiving votes.

Madison Prep (7-0) moved up a spot to No. 8 in Class 2A, while Southern Lab (5-2) did the same in Class 1A and is ranked No. 3.

Detillier said his team continues to reap the benefits from a predistrict schedule that began with Destrehan in the jamboree, followed by road games with Dutchtown and St. Amant, mixed in with a home game against West Jefferson.

The Bulldogs built a 26-7 lead before holding on for a 26-21 jamboree win over the Wildcats, a team currently 7-0 and ranked third in Class 5A.

Lutcher split the difference in game-deciding, two-point conversions — winning 20-19 at Dutchtown before falling 21-20 at St. Amant.

“We had to go to Destrehan that had everybody back from a team that went to the Dome,” Detillier said. “That was a tall order. As long as I’ve coached, I’ve always done that. You can’t simulate everything on the practice field.”

Lutcher went 2-1 against a trio of Class 5A teams that are a combined 14-7.

That schedule, along with a demanding offseason program, are also contributing factors in Lutcher’s impressive 43-point margin of victory during its 4-0 run through the league, including last week’s 32-0 win over St. James.

Junior quarterback Jontre Kirklin accounted for 236 total yards and two touchdowns on Friday.

“When you’ve got that kind of schedule, when you get to district you are as prepared as you can be,” Detillier said. “The one concern I had was injuries. I want to be competitive, but I want to get through it healthy. We’re extremely healthy for this time of year, and that’s been a key.”