The phrase “Go West, young man” was attributed to newspaper editor Horace Greely in the 1800s and was designed to encourage American settlers to explore and move to Western states.
Instead of heading west, four local football teams head north looking to solidify their roles among Louisiana’s elite. The road games for Catholic, East Ascension, Zachary and University High highlight a Week 2 schedule packed with possibilities.
Catholic and Zachary become Baton Rouge’s first teams to participate in the Battle on the Border showcase at Shreveport’s Independence Stadium. East Ascension (1-0), fresh off its scintillating 40-31 come-from-behind win over Zachary in Week 1, travels to just beyond Shreveport to play Haughton (1-0).
University High made one key statement with its 20-6 road win over John Ehret, a 5A semifinalist a year ago, in Week 1. Now the Class 3A Cubs look to make another when they travel to Monroe to take on traditional Class 4A power Neville (1-0).
Catholic (1-0) plays North Little Rock (0-1) at 8 p.m. Friday to cap the first day of Battle on the Border action. Zachary (0-1) faces Deerfield Beach, Florida, in Saturday’s first game at 11 a.m. Deerfield is 0-2.
Teams are picked for the Battle on the Border based on their 2018 accomplishments. Though the Bears and Broncos have plenty of big-game experience with five LHSAA titles between then since 2015, the Shreveport event is the chance to meet teams that also are comfortable playing on a big stage.
East Ascension has the most to gain of this group. If the Spartans to notch a road win to follow up its victory over Zachary, their stature statewide will grow.
One of the best things about watching Zachary and East Ascension on Friday was seeing the teams grow and mature in the span of 48 minutes. New personnel and strategy were put to the test and both fared well though only one team came out the game as a winner.
It is hard to imagine U-High fly under the radar, but the Cubs have until now. They were supposed to struggle a bit with so many new starters and a new coach in Andy Martin, right? Looks like that assessment was wrong.
Of course, there will be challenges closer to home. And they start Thursday night with two games. Southern Lab (1-0) hosts Madison Prep (0-1) in the Michael Roach Classic at SU’s A.W. Mumford Stadium. Roach coached at both schools, so this one is a natural.
Mentorship Academy (0-1) hosts Istrouma (0-1) at Memorial Stadium in the other Thursday game. Could this be the first win for Istrouma in its LHSAA debut season? The Indians played two years of junior varsity football to get to this point. A win would also be huge for Mentorship, a school whose wins have been few and far between.
Will it be a bounce-back week for teams like Parkview Baptist? The 3A Eagles, who lost 62-7 to 5A Catholic in Week 1, host 1A Slaughter Community Charter.
Seeking a few other special pairings? Walker (1-0) gave former U-High coach Chad Mahaffey a win over Madison Prep in his WHS debut in Week 1. Now the Wildcats host another set of Wildcats, traditional 5A power Destrehan.
Fresh off a road win over Covenant Christian in its LHSAA debut, Central Private (1-0) hosts 2A Independence (0-1). And there are others, depending on the classification of teams or location of the game.
Is there ever a bad night to go watch a good high school football game? I haven’t found many.