Some high school football teams use their season opener as a stepping stone to get to high-profile showdowns later in the year.
Catholic High, Parkview Baptist, Zachary, Dutchtown, St. Amant, Lutcher and Southern Lab top the list of Baton Rouge area teams who are skipping that step this week.
Dale Weiner’s Class 5A Bears travel to play 3A Parkview in a meeting of traditional powers Friday at PBS. It is one of several high-profile season openers.
“What you’ve got is two programs who are comfortable in what they do,” Weiner said. “I think we both know exactly what we’re getting and it should be a heck of a game.
“This is a great game for a season opener, and I think it’s a game a lot of people enjoy. We’re playing at their place and the stands will be packed. It’s a great atmosphere for a high school football game.”
Week 1 action begins Thursday with two games: Brusly vs. St. John at Plaquemine’s CoPac Stadium and Jewel Sumner vs. Mentorship Academy at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium. All games start at 7 p.m.
Ascension Parish-based 5A rivals Dutchtown and St. Amant also face intriguing challenges.
SAHS hosts 4A Warren Easton, a highly regarded New Orleans team. Dutchtown hosts Lutcher, another 4A team and a rival.
“We played (the Eagles) last year, it went right down to the wire and we lost by two points,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “We really haven’t talked about that or about who they have.
“Warren Easton has a lot of talent. What we’re telling them (St. Amant) players is that it’s not who we play, it’s how we play.”
Zachary, a 5A quarterfinalist a year ago, hosts Shreveport’s C.E. Byrd in another notable matchup.
Byrd rolled past the Broncos last season in Shreveport and then went on to finish as the Division I select runner-up to Archbishop Rummel.
“The first thing our guys have to do is put last year’s game out of their minds,” first-year ZHS coach David Brewerton said after a 38-7 jamboree win over West Feliciana on Friday night. “This is a different year. And we have to forget about this one too.
“We fell behind in this one, and were able to come back. We can’t wait next week. We need to execute the game plan from the start. There won’t be a margin for error.”
Southern Lab continues its theme of playing large school opponents. The 1A Kittens, who lost 42-12 to 5A Hahnville in a jamboree, host 3A St. Charles Catholic at McKinley High. The difference between the games will be more than 5A vs. 3A.
SLHS coach Nick Mitchell said his team played without nine starters in the jamboree, including six on defense, and expect to have most of those players in the lineup this week.
“Discipline is going to be big for us this week,” Mitchell said. “St. Charles is an extremely disciplined team. They don’t beat themselves. We’re going to have to match that and still be keep up our aggressiveness and intensity.”
One other notable showdown will be played in Lafayette. Class 3A University High, last year’s Division II select runner-up, travels to play 4A Teurlings Catholic.
Three more all-local contests also should attract attention. Scotlandville squares off against McKinley at Memorial Stadium, providing an important early gauge for the two 5A teams looking to make their mark in different 5A districts.
Plaquemine also hosts East Ascension at its Canova Stadium. The 4A Green Devils and 5A EAHS have retooled their lineups after graduation losses from a year ago. Former district rivals meet when 3A West Feliciana hosts 2A East Feliciana.
Stars and sites
Warren Easton is led by receiver Tyron Johnson, considered to be the state’s top senior player by several recruiting services. Catholic running back Derrius Guice, also one of the state’s top seniors, ran for 138 yards and two TDs in the Bears’ win over Parkview last season.
Belaire is set to host its first game ever. The school built in the 1970s is putting the finishing touches on its on-campus facility.
The Bengals host Glen Oaks on Friday. With GOHS playing on the road, Tara hosts Baker at Glen Oaks.