The Many High football team ventures south Friday, traveling 220 miles to meet Episcopal in a showdown of unbeaten Class 2A squads from different parts of the state.
From making the long bus ride to facing an unfamiliar opponent, the scenario is one coach Jess Curtis hopes the Tigers will repeat when playoff time arrives.
“We plan on being in the playoffs for a couple of rounds,” Curtis said. “We’re going to use this as a prep.”
Episcopal, ranked seventh in the 2A state poll, enters Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at 4-0 with a quartet of double-digit victories. Many has yet to crack the 2A rankings, but the Tigers have been tested only once (a 28-24 victory over Loyola) through their 4-0 start.
Both teams have the look of a playoff qualifier.
They realize they could cross paths yet again.
“North Louisiana vs. south Louisiana,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “That usually happens once you get into the playoffs.”
Many hails from Sabine Parish near Toledo Bend, a long ways from the Capitol City. But the Tigers have more in common with Episcopal than their unblemished record.
Many has a senior quarterback in Tripp Davis, a returning starter who triggers a fast-paced spread offense. The Knights have a senior quarterback in Vincent Dellocono, a dual-threat lefty who helped lead Episcopal to a 9-1 regular season last year.
Both have big senior classes, Many with 21 and Episcopal with 13. Both come from stout districts.
Many combines with second-ranked Winnfield and No. 4 Menard to give 3-2A a trio of 4-0 teams. Episcopal and third-ranked University lead a 7-2A district that has sent one team (Capitol in 2009, East Feliciana in 2010) to the 2A semis the past two seasons.
“They have a strong district,” Bourgeois said, “and they have a lot of pride in their district up there. We’re going to try to represent our district down here as well.”
Each team plays its final non-district game against likely its toughest competition to date, but Episcopal and Many have headliner games next week to begin district play. Episcopal starts 7-2A action against
U-High at home; Many travels to face Menard in its 3-2A opener. Not to worry. No one’s looking ahead.
“Everybody wants a district banner, but we’re in the age of power ratings,” Curtis said. “So this game is just as important as a Menard or Winnfield week for us.”
“This week is just as important as next week in the grand scheme of things because all 10 games have the same value,” Bourgeois said.
The midseason matchup should serve both well as they build their résumés for the postseason. Who knows, it could even be a playoff precursor.
“We know it’s going to be a good game,” Curtis said. “It’s going to be good for both schools.”