While three select teams waited, having punched their LHSAA-title game tickets a week earlier, reservations for the Baton Rouge area officially became a party of five for this week’s Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic.
The guest list already included Catholic High, University and Ascension Catholic and grew Friday to include nonselect members Zachary and West Feliciana.
Sixth-seeded West Feliciana (13-1) will make its first appearance in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, opposing eighth-seeded Richwood (10-3) for the Class 3A championship at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Everybody’s got a part in this,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said after Friday’s 45-26 win over Jennings. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, and we can’t wait.”
Fourth-seeded Zachary (12-2) is vying for its second state title in three years, returning after a dramatic 29-27 semifinal road victory over top-seeded West Monroe.
“I think some people would call it an upset,” Zachary coach David Brewerton said. “Our kids in no way, shape or form carried themselves as underdogs. They fully, 100 percent believed we were going in to win.”
The Broncos watched a 20-7 lead turn into a 21-20 fourth-quarter deficit before driving to take a 26-21 lead on Keilon Brown’s 35-yard TD pass to Kris Simmons. The Broncos added a 40-yard field goal from Martell Fontenot following Wes Brady’s fumble recovery.
West Monroe, which stopped Zachary in last year’s semifinal, scored with 28 seconds left but had a 2-point pass attempt knocked away by defensive back Rodaren Alexander.
The Broncos — winners of nine straight — face No. 10 Hahnville (12-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday for the Class 5A championship.
“For the game to conclude with West Monroe on the 3-yard line, going for a 2-point conversion, and our defense has to make a play to win and we do,” Brewerton said, "that is a microcosm of our season right there. I couldn’t be any prouder of our team.”
Sixth-seeded Ascension Catholic (11-2), which appeared in back-to-back Class 1A title games in 1991 and ’92 — winning the latter — returns for the first time in 25 years, when the Bulldogs meet fourth-seeded Lafayette Christian (12-1) at 3:30 p.m. in Thursday’s Division IV title game.
“It’s been a tremendous experience and has been a blessing and in my third year going to the Superdome with a chance to win a state title,” ACHS coach Drey Trosclair said. “It’s a surreal experience. I imagine when we step foot in the Dome is when it’s going to become real.”
Fourth-seeded Catholic (9-3) is back in the Dome for the third time overall and looks to add a second Division I state title in three years against 25-time state champion and second-seeded John Curtis (11-1) at noon Saturday.
District 6-3A will be on display Friday where U-High (12-0) is bidding for its fourth state championship — first since 2014 — when the Cubs meet top-seeded De La Salle (11-0) at 3:30 p.m. for the Division II crown followed by West Feliciana-Richwood at 7 p.m.
U-High’s undefeated journey includes impressive, double-digits wins over Catholic, Zachary and West Feliciana.
“I’m not sure if that’s ever happened to have two teams from the same district to play back to back,” Odom said. “We’re pulling for them.”
West Feliciana finally tasted semifinal success after three straight bitter defeats, losing each time to the eventual state champion by a combined 18 points. They also fell to Patterson 22-21 in a 2010 semifinal setback.
Quarterback Derek Turner provided the Saints with a spark against Jennings, accounting for 260 total yards (204 rushing) and three touchdowns. Davon Harris’ 90-yard kickoff return and Taylor Casteel’s 25-yard fumble return within a minute of each other in the third quarter suggested the Saints were destined to march into the Superdome for the first time.
“The last three years of not winning this game has been rough,” Odom said. “They deserve it. I’m so happy for the community and the kids. We’ve knocked at the door and finally broke it down.”