Since the LHSAA adopted its current state playoff format, Catholic High’s received opening-round byes four consecutive years ... with mixed results.
The Bears have gone 1-3 in quarterfinal action with that lone win launching a memorable run to the Division I select state championship in 2015.
Given the youth at certain positions this season, first-year coach Gabe Fertitta relishes Friday’s 7 p.m. first-round assignment when fourth-seeded Catholic (7-3) hosts No. 13 Archbishop Shaw (0-10) at Olympia Stadium.
“I feel it benefits us this year to continue to play and continue to develop our identity in those positions,” Fertitta said. “We’re excited. We’re glad to be playing. We’re healthy, so we might as well play.”
Eight weeks after renewing their decade-long series, eighth-seeded Episcopal (8-2) hosts ninth-seeded Country Day (6-4) in Division III at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Cajuns defeated the Knights 31-23 on Sept. 15 in New Orleans.
“It’s been one of those games where you can evaluate yourself and see where you are,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “It’s a good early-season matchup.”
Other local home games at 7 p.m. Friday include fifth-seeded Parkview Baptist (7-3) hosting No. 11 Lusher Charter (4-6) in Division II action, The Dunham School, the fourth seed, entertaining No. 13 Pope John Paul (2-8) in a Division III encounter and Division IV’s No. 12 Central Catholic (5-5) visiting fifth-seeded Catholic-Pointe Coupee (9-1) at NRG Field.
No. 11 McKinley (4-6) faces Brother Martin (6-4) at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium in a Division I matchup, while No. 13 St. Michael the Archangel (3-7) challenges reigning Division II state champion St. Thomas More (9-1) in Lafayette.
SHAW-CATHOLIC: Fertitta has tried to keep the team’s focus on Shaw, a program that was a four-time state runner-up (2000, '06-07-08), but has since fallen on hard times. The Eagles, who average 6.1 points, did drop a 21-20 decision to Salmen (8-2).
“I think the kids have done a great job of staying focused,” Fertitta said. “I don’t think anyone wants to be the team that lost to the 0-10 team in the playoffs. Everyone’s 0-0 at this point.”
Fertitta said he expects junior quarterback Cameron Dartez (119 of 193, 1,286 yards, 7 TDs), who missed the past 2½ games, to return to the starting lineup.
COUNTRY DAY-EPISCOPAL: Bourgeois credited the play of Country Day’s 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback Justin Ibieta, who accounted for 425 yards and 4 TDs, in their earlier meeting.
Despite Ibieta’s heroics, the Knights had an extra point blocked with 3:59 to play that enabled the Cajuns to keep a 24-23 lead before adding a late score.
Episcopal will try to respond from last week’s 32-15 loss at Dunham in a game that decided the District 7-2A crown. Caden Dickinson (995 rushing yards, 18 TDs) and Austin Jemison (807 rushing yards, 19 TDs) lead the Knights.
“We had a lot of stake and after the loss you’ve got to turn around, it’s Week 11 and the playoffs,” Bourgeois said. “This game becomes more important and we’ve got to get ready for a very good team.”