They say you always remember your first — like a first love or first car.

A first berth in the high school football quarterfinals is  special too, and it is something Brusly High will experience for the first time this week.

“There were people who thought I was crazy for scheduling (5A) Alexandria, but I wanted us to play a quality team on the road,” Brusly coach Hoff Schooler said. “And there were times this season when some people gave up on us, but this school and community never did.

“Getting the chance to play Thanksgiving week … to me there is nothing better. When I was an assistant at Ruston, I got to do it a few times. I am so happy that this team and this community get to do it. They have earned it.”

The 24th-seeded Panthers (7-5) travel to top-seeded St. James (12-0) on Friday night. The game is part of a busy schedule of nonselect quarterfinal games and select semifinals.

Three of the four Class 3A quarterfinals have a local team. Fourth-seeded Madison Prep (11-1), winner of 11 straight also is a quarterfinalist and so is No. 30 Baker (7-4), after back-to-back upsets. Throw in University High (9-3), the two-time defending Division II champion, and District 7-3A still has four teams alive. Third-seeded U-High meets No. 2 De La Salle (8-2), a rematch of the 2017 title game.

Brusly making the quarterfinals for the first time is not the only milestone. The Dunham School (10-1) of Division III is in the semifinals for the first time since winning a Class 1A title in 2004 and travels to top-seeded Lafayette Christian (10-1).

Baker makes its first quarterfinal appearance since losing to eventual champion Lutcher in 2006. And Capitol of 2A makes its first quarterfinal appearance since 2009. The Lions (6-4) host Kentwood (8-4) at Memorial Stadium.

Baton Rouge’s Class 5A/Division I contingent is down to two teams. Two-time defending 5A champion Zachary (9-2) travels to Ruston (7-5) for its quarterfinal. It will be the third straight week that No. 20 seed Ruston has played a local team. The Bearcats beat Dutchtown and East Ascension in the first two rounds.

Catholic (11-0) is seeded second in Division I select and also faces a familiar foe. The Bears face No. 3 John Curtis (10-1) Friday at Olympia Stadium. The teams played in the past two Division I title games, with each claiming one title.

In St. James, Brusly meets one of Louisiana’s most consistent teams and a traditional power that finished as a Class 3A runner-up in 2015. The Wildcats are the second District 9-3A playoff opponent for Brusly. The Panthers beat Donaldsonville in the first round.

“We know St. James is a great team and very well coached,”  Schooler said. “But it’s a great opportunity for us.”

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