The pregame excitement for Friday’s season-opener between East Ascension and Zachary just might reach midseason levels.
The Broncos, who won their second consecutive Class 5A title last season, and the Spartans, who reached the 5A second round, were tied for second in this week’s coaches poll. It all adds up to a Week 1 contest that could possibly replay itself later on in the playoffs.
“There’s definitely a buzz around town,” EA coach Darnell Lee said. “People are excited about some of the guys we have coming back, and then we’ve got (Zachary) that’s won three of the last four state championships coming in. That’s a game people want to see.”
Another notable first week matchup features Live Oak of District 4-5A hosting Ponchatoula of 6-5A in a game that will showcase a pair of LSU commitments; 6-foot-3, 294-pound Live Oak defensive tackle Jalen Lee and 6-6, 250-pound Ponchatoula quarterback T.J. Finley.
“Finley’s a big-time player, and that’s what high school football is all about,” Live Oak coach Brett Beard said. “He’s been recruited by people all over the country, and that’s what you like. You want to play the best.”
Other top games include Walker of 4-5A playing its first game under coach Chad Mahaffey by hosting 7-3A’s Madison Prep; Istrouma of 7-4A playing its first football game since 2013 when it hosts Bogalusa of 8-3A; Carver of 11-4A playing at 5-5A’s St. Amant; and McKinley (4-5A) and Scotlandville (5-5A) squaring off at Memorial Stadium.
All games will kick off at 7 p.m.
East Ascension scored points in every facet in its 49-16 jamboree win over East Jefferson. The Spartans got early scores on touchdown passes from Cameron Jones to Steven McBride, and an 80-yard run by Kendall Washington
In the second half, the Spartans added scores on a kick return, a fumble return and an interception return.
Zachary, which returns top skill players like quarterback Keilon Brown and wide receiver Chris Hilton, showed many new faces in its 28-6 jamboree win over West Feliciana.
“We graduated a lot of guys who had started since their sophomore year,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “This year there’s a lot to look forward to, especially for our home fans, because you don’t recognize a whole lot of names. We’ve got a young crew out there, but they’re excited about the opportunity they have, and we’re excited about the future with them.”
Live Oak put together three consecutive touchdown drives on its way to a 28-19 jamboree win over West Jefferson. Army commitment Kee Hawkins scored on runs of 10 and 5 yards, and quarterback Rhett Rosevear threw for another score.
“They have a very good back, a physical kid. They like to give it to him and let him run, and they have a very athletic quarterback,” said Ponchatoula coach Hank Tierney, whose team defeated De La Salle 22-14 last week.
“And, of course, they have the defensive tackle (Lee) who is committed to LSU so they’ll have everything we want when we roll into Live Oak Friday night. It should be a great game.”