East Ascension and Ascension Catholic football teams advance in playoffs

Ascension Parish has two teams still in the running for football playoff glory: the East Ascension Spartans and the Ascension Catholic Bulldogs. Let’s take a look at each team’s matchup on Friday night.

The East Ascension Spartans and Coach Darnell Lee used a stout defense and the leg of Logan Kern to beat Terrebonne 20-6, and will go on the road to face the Ruston Bearcats, a 29-27 winner over Dutchtown. Kern made field goals of 34 and 17 yards plus two extra points, accounting for eight of the 20 points for the Spartans.

The Spartans are the 4 seed and will travel due to Ruston winning as a lower seed. Ruston is 6-5 and has a really solid defense along with a strong running game. The Bearcats' five losses came to top-seeded teams in Class 5A and Division 1. The top runner for Ruston is running back Ketravion Hargrove, who rushed for 310 yards against the Griffins.

East Ascension continues to rely on quarterback Cameron Jones' ability to find receivers Jyrin Johnson, Steven McBride and Hobart Grayson IV. The Spartan defense has been solid all season, led by Javon Carter and Jyren Ester. East Ascension will need continued strong performances from its defense and special teams, and a balanced offense, to advance to the quarterfinals. The matchup against Ruston should be a good one, decided in the fourth quarter.

Once district partners, the Southern Lab Kittens and Ascension Catholic Bulldogs will get to know each other again in a Division 4 quarterfinal matchup in Donaldsonville on Friday night.

Both teams won convincingly last week; the key to Friday's game will be taking care of the ball. The Bulldogs have capitalized on turnovers all season long, forcing four in their 55-20 rout of Riverside last week. Southern Lab breezed through its district, just as the Bulldogs did, and played a tough nondistrict schedule.

The Kittens, a 6 seed, are led by quarterback Angelo Izzard, a sophomore with a rifle arm and accuracy. His top target is Reginald “Tonka” Johnson (Houston commit), who has 20 touchdown catches this season. Running backs Daelon Hardy and Latrell Pruitt are really good and have speed. The Kitten defense is led by defensive back Ken Andrews, defensive end Christopher Bess and linebacker Jabar Triplett (Arizona commit).

The Bulldogs are 10-0 and will continue to get the ball in the hands of Jai Williams. Williams is the all-time Ascension Catholic touchdown leader and continues to inch closer to the rushing record held by his dad, Germaine. Quarterback Bryce Leonard, a freshmen, has improved throughout the season and will be tested against the Kitten defense. Eric Simon and Khai Prean are two more weapons that teams must be aware of. The Bulldog defense has given up fewer than 8 points a game and is led by defensive end J’Mond Tapp, defensive tackle Nick Hilliard and defensive end Owen Smith upfront. The linebackers are veteran-led with Williams, Sam Mire and Dorian Barber all being seniors.

The battle-tested secondary of Brock Acosta, Demontray Harry, Matt Lafleur and Eric Simon will face further challenges from the Kittens. Other key players are LaShawn Bell, a defensive tackle and offensive lineman; Grant Richard, an offensive lineman and defensive end; and defensive backs Jacob Dunn and Gage Breaux.

This will be the Bulldogs' toughest opponent to date, and I fully expect the game to be close. The home-field advantage, and the Bulldogs kicking game led by Dunn, could be deciding factors.

Ascension Catholic and East Ascension look to move to the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively. Winning these playoff games in late November is never easy, but both teams stand ready to execute their plans. 

Ascension Parish football playoff roundup

East Ascension 20 (4)

Terrebonne 6 (29)

East Ascension travels to 20th Ruston on Friday.

Dutchtown 27 (13)

Ruston 29 (20)

Donaldsonville 22 (8)

Brusly 35 (24)

Ascension Christian 7 (16)

Vermillion Catholic 50 (1)

Ascension Catholic 55 (3) 

Riverside 20 (14) 

Ascension Catholic hosts 6 seed Southern Lab on Friday.

Ascension Catholic cross-country

Haley Dupre, of Ascension Catholic, has signed with Southeastern Louisiana University for cross-country and track. 

Troy LeBoeuf covers sports for the Ascension Advocate. He can be reached at troyleboeuf@hotmail.com or ascension@theadvocate.com or on Twitter @Troyleboeuf.