The Zachary Broncos are prepared to take their act on the road to Ruston for a Class 5A quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Friday.

As odd as it may seem, ZHS coach David Brewerton planned for this scenario. To get his squad acclimated to leaving the friendly confines of home, he scheduled a Week 2 excursion to Shreveport’s Battle on the Border where his team took on national power Deerfield Beach, Fla.

The two-time defending Class 5A champion Broncos lost 53-0, but Brewerton said the players learned a valuable lesson about focusing on the task at hand when traveling to enemy territory after losing that game and a Week 1 game at East Ascension.

When the Broncos did play at home, they beat a Mississippi power, Brandon, and now have nine straight wins.

“We set it up that way, to prepare for the playoffs and to give our guys some experience,” Brewerton said.

No. 5 Zachary (9-2) advanced with a second-round 21-19 win over No. 12 Hahnville.

In the first round, Ruston visited Dutchtown. The No. 20 Bearcats slipped past the Griffins 29-27 and then beat East Ascension 21-13 at home last week.

Brewerton said the key to handling the change in routine brought by the playoffs and the holiday season is to stay loose and go with the flow.

“Our guys tend to be loose all the time, sometimes to a fault,” Brewerton said with a chuckle. “They drive me crazy when it seems the coaching staff is more fired up than they are. But when it’s game time they always give it everything they’ve got for 48 minutes.”

Memphis commitment Keilon Brown enters with 1,854 yards passing and 928 yards rushing. Brown leads the Broncos against a Bearcats defense that Brewerton describes as difficult to move off the line.

“Their front seven is stout,” he said. “We’re smaller than usual and haven’t scored as many points this year. But we’re going to have to find a way to grind it out and hopefully come back with a win.”

In Class 3A, No. 4 Madison Prep (11-1) will travel to Farmerville to play No. 12 Union Parish (8-4). It is one of three 3A notable games. Baker (7-4), a No. 30 seed, hosts No. 6 McDonogh 35 (9-3). The Buffaloes are the first team seeded No. 30 or above to advance to the quarterfinals since 2003. Also, No. 24 Brusly (7-5) makes its quarterfinal debut at top-seeded St. James (12-0).

Coach Landry Williams said the Chargers are navigating their way through the holiday week after a 38-20 come-from-behind win over Booker T. Washington.

“We came out a little flat, but we started playing with more fire and enthusiasm and pulled through,” Williams said.

The Chargers fell to eventual state champion Eunice in last year’s quarterfinals, but Williams said his players are putting aside the holiday disruptions and keeping their eyes trained on reaching the Superdome.

“Nobody wants to go home,” he said.

In Class 2A, two old friends meet again when Dorsett Buckels’ No. 19 Capitol Lions (6-5) take on Jonathan Foster’s No. 6 Kentwood Kangaroos (8-4) at Olympia Stadium.

Capitol is led in scoring by receiver Colby Bellazar with 24 all-purpose TDs. He also has seven interceptions playing free safety. Quarterback Colby Tucker has 1,653 yards passing and another 530 yards rushing.

“Our motto is ‘Team over Me,’ and we started living by the motto and believing in ourselves and that has led to our success in the playoffs,” Buckels said.

In Class 1A, No. 6 East Iberville (9-2) visits No. 3 White Castle (8-3) for a District 7-1A rematch.

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