Will the third time be the charm for Catholic High?

The Class 5A Bears have lost to 3A University High in the battle of Baton Rouge powerhouses the past two years. Between them, the schools have three LHSAA select school titles in that span. 

All things considered, this game set for 7 p.m. Friday at U-High’s Gill Stadium might be the most intriguing. Both teams pride themselves on physicality and line play. Who will be toughest this time?

“I think it’s a great matchup … something that is good for both schools,” first-year U-High coach Andy Martin said. “Catholic takes a lot of pride in their line play and being physical and so do we. The challenge for us is to match that intensity, and I’m anxious to see how we do.”

The game is one of the top matchups the Week 3 games for 5A/4A schools. Catholic (2-0) is ranked third in Class 5A. U-High (1-1) is fourth in 3A and saw its 27-game winning streak snapped last week at Neville.

The ties that bind the teams go beyond proximity of the schools. Martin is a former Catholic assistant who coached with Bears coach Gabe Fertitta and defensive coordinator Deuce Harrison.

“The Neville team they lost two has a strength where U-High also has a strength, which is in the offensive and defensive lines,” Fertitta said. “Neville has two huge offensive tackles. I think that played a lot into it. Now I think Andy is doing an outstanding job. How can you follow up the number of seniors and blue-chip guys they had last year? But to say they have taken a downturn is ridiculous. They do things very well. They have a hard-nosed tailback and one of the best defensive players in the country.”

The Cubs are led by LSU commitment Jaquelin Roy, a defensive lineman rated as Louisiana’s best prospect for 2020. Running back Derrick Graham is a first-year starter with 295 yards on 50 carries with two touchdowns following a line that includes Tulane commitment Rashad Green.

“The atmosphere will be awesome,” Green said. “There’s nothing like looking in the stands and seeing fans that have the same passion you do. We both (teams) will have that. There are people who don’t believe we can stay with them. They are a 5A school with more depth. We have to match their physicality and push to maintain it for 48 minutes. It’s a great challenge for us.”

Catholic's balanced rushing attack is led by Josh Parker, who has 188 yards on 14 carries with two TDs. Quarterback Jackson Thomas is 18 of 28 passing for 277 yards and three TDs. Two-way lineman Connor Finucane and center Brian Hibbard help lead the Catholic lines.

“The last two years, we have fallen short,” Thomas said. “We’re excited to show them what we’ve got this year.”

Other games

Defending 5A champion Zachary (0-2) plays its first home against Brandon, Mississippi (3-1). The Bulldogs are among Mississippi’s elite teams. Quarterback Keilon Brown of 10th-ranked ZHS will be matched against Brandon’s Will Rogers (694 yards passing, four TDs).

No. 9 East Ascension (1-1) hosts Northwest (1-1), a 3A school where EAHS coach Darnell Lee previously served as head coach. EAHS' Cameron Jones has 408 yards passing and five TDs.

Scotlandville (2-0) hosts Captain Shreve (2-0) in a battle of teams ranked just outside the 5A top 10. SHS’ Jesse Craig (468 yards passing, six TDs) and Captain Shreve’s D.J. Fleming (112 yards rushing, one TD) have notable numbers.

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com