Lutcher and Amite have been driven by different sources of motivation in reaching Saturday’s noon Class 3A nonselect state championship.
The Bulldogs have the opportunity to accomplish something that’s never been done in the 91-year history of the school — repeating as state champions.
For the Warriors, the wounds of being removed from the playoffs a year ago because of an on-field brawl after what would have been a quarterfinal victory, have taken time to heal.
The two teams with similar offensive styles, featuring dynamic playmakers, find themselves trying to complete their successful narratives when No. 2 Lutcher (12-2) faces No. 7 Amite (11-3) in the All State Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic the at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“That’s something this team hasn’t avoided and that’s the pressure and expectations that come with knowing that basically anything short of winning another state championship in many eyes would be seen as a failure,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “That’s the weight this team has had to carry all year long.”
Lutcher won the first of its seven state championships in 1975, adding No. 7 last year with a 41-14 victory over St. James, where Jenkins coached last year.
Jenkins, a former Lutcher quarterback and offensive coordinator, returned to replace Tim Detillier, clearly defining the team’s mission to become the school’s first back-to-back state champion.
Not only did Amite endure the disappointment of being unable to advance in last year’s playoffs, the Warriors also had to forfeit this season's opening game.
The Warriors recovered, though, going undefeated in District 7-3A and reached their first state championship game since 2014 with a 20-12 semifinal road win over No. 3 Kaplan.
“There are certain things we have to do,” said Amite coach Zephaniah Powell, whose program last won a state title in 2004. “We can’t have turnovers, and we have to play penalty free. We also have to control the tempo and play at whatever speed we choose to play.”
Amite, which averages 35 points per game, is led by Louisiana Tech quarterback commitment Elijah Walker (4,087 total yards, 62 total TDs), senior receiver Devonta Smith (72 catches, 1,112 yards and 23 TDs) and running back Milton Sanders (782 yards, 11 TDs).
Lutcher counters with an offense generating 36 points with senior quarterback Jontre Kirklin serving as the catalyst. The LSU defensive back commitment has accounted for 3,244 yards and 42 touchdowns. Al’Dontre Davis (66-964, 11 TDs) leading a talented wide receiver corps.
“It’s hasn’t always been pretty, but a championship team finds a way to win even when you don’t play your best,” said Jenkins, whose team has won its past four games since a 27-3 loss to De La Salle in Week 10. “That’s something we’ve kind of hung our hat on. Play each week, earn 48 more minutes and it just so happened to put us 48 minutes away from the goal we set at the beginning of the year.”