Photos: St. Thomas More no match for Catholic, Notre Dame run strong against Opelousas _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Catholic High's Clyde Edwards-Helaire attempts to spin out of an attempted tackle by St. Thomas More's Peyton Broussard last month at Olympia Stadium.

Swapping strategies, celebrating wins and commiserating over losses can take bonding to a new level when there’s more than one coach in a family.

Catholic High football coach Dale Weiner and his son, Neil, of The Dunham School face a slightly different twist. The coaches are preparing for key district games in different classifications this week.

The list of Week 8 games to note starts Thursday when Dunham (6-1, 3-1) travels to Memorial Stadium to take on ninth-ranked Madison Prep (7-0, 4-0) in District 6-2A action.

Catholic (5-2, 2-0) puts its five-game winning streak on the line Friday. The Bears travel to play St. Amant (6-1, 1-1) in District 5-5A.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to take on that challenge and to play on a Thursday night. It’ll be one of the few games in town, so I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” Neil Weiner said. “Mike Roach does a nice job. He did when he was at Southern Lab, and he does it now at Madison Prep and that program. To see how far they’ve come in three years is super impressive. They’ve got great football players and a great coaching staff. They work hard.”

Dunham-Madison Prep is one of three games set for Thursday. Ascension Catholic (3-4, 1-2) hosts St. John (3-4, 1-2) in a District 6-1A game set for Thursday at Donaldsonville’s Floyd Boutte Memorial Stadium. Episcopal (6-1) of 6-2A travels to New Orleans to face Class 4A Lake Area New Tech (2-5) also on Thursday.

“I’m so proud of these kids for everything they’ve done so far and for being in position to play a big game like this one,” Madison Prep’s Roach said. “Dunham is playing very well right now, and you can see their team speed is better than last year. The quarterback (Mike Williams, former Redemptorist player) can make plays with his arm and his feet, which is big.”

The teams have never met, but Roach and Neil Weiner have. Roach’s Southern Lab team led by future LSU star Chad Jones defeated Weiner’s Catholic-Pointe Coupee team in the 1A quarterfinals in 2006.

Skeptics may downgrade the importance of Catholic’s trip to The Pit to play St. Amant after the Gators’ 31-10 loss to rival East Ascension last week. Don’t tell that to Dale Weiner.

“We’ve been playing St. Amant and East Ascension a long time and know that’s one of the top rivalries in this area and the state,” Dale Weiner said. “East Ascension is better than their record indicates. Because of the loss, you can bet St. Amant will be out to make amends. This is a important week of preparation and a very big game for us. It’s important for us to do what we need to do to be ready.”

St. Amant coach David Oliver concedes that the Week 7 loss to EAHS heightens the importance of this Week 8 showdown.

“You could argue that Catholic is maybe the hottest team in the state right now,” Oliver said. “They started a little slow, but if you look at them now you see they’re playing well in every phase of the game. “We have to be ready for that. Of course, after last week we’ve got a lot of things we need to go in and fix in order to be ready.”

New week, next challenge

Plaquemine (4-3, 2-0) doesn’t have long to relish its win over ninth-ranked Livonia (5-2, 1-1). The Green Devils host Woodlawn (4-3, 2-0), winner of three straight, for a key 6-4A.

“We’ve got to go back and get ready for Woodlawn,” PHS coach Paul Distefano said. “The district race is not over by any means.”

Top-ranked University (6-1, 4-0) travels to Glen Oaks (1-6, 0-4) in District 6-3A action. Third-ranked Parkview Baptist (4-3, 3-1) hosts surging Donaldsonville (3-4, 3-1) also in 6-4A.

Fourth-ranked Southern Lab (5-2, 3-0) has an open date in 6-1A. Third-ranked Kentwood (6-1, 2-0) travels to White Castle (4-3, 2-1) to highlight 6-1A action.