The road to New Orleans is the one every high school football team in Louisiana wants to end up on. The Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic is set for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome from Dec. 7-9.
However, routes between Baton Rouge and the metro New Orleans area will be some of the busiest as the LHSAA continues its football playoffs Friday night. Seven crossover games in Class 5A/4A that match teams from the two areas against each other help highlight nonselect first-round action.
Perhaps the most compelling stories are No. 17 Dutchtown (6-4) at No. 16 Slidell (7-3) and No. 23 Denham Springs (6-4) at No. 10 Hahnville (8-2) in Class 5A. Dutchtown returns to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
“You can see the enthusiasm in practice. You can tell these guys are excited to be back in the playoffs,” Dutchtown coach Guy Mistretta said. “I think the fact that we get to go on the road and play a team we haven’t seen adds to it. Not only is this the playoffs, but it is also a new challenge.”
The Denham Springs-Hahnville game is a rematch of a 1972 Class 3A title game won by Hahnville based on total first downs. Soon after, the LHSAA adopted overtime play for games that end in a tie.
Dutchtown and Denham Springs are two local 5A teams that must travel. The area’s highest seeded teams in 5A host teams from the metro New Orleans area. Fourth-seeded Zachary hosts Mandeville, No. 5 St. Amant hosts Northshore and No. 6 East Ascension hosts East Jefferson. In 4A, fifth-seeded Plaquemine hosts Belle Chasse, while No. 24 Lutcher travels to Salmen.
DUTCHTOWN AT SLIDELL: Slidell seeks its first playoff win since 2005 in a game that may be determined by quarterback play.
Slidell’s Jacob Guidry has passed for 1,350 yards. A season-ending knee injury to Ben Mays in Week 9 prompted Mistretta to use a two-quarterback system. Back-up Drelon Monroe and slot receiver Noah Grey split time last week.
Gray is more of a wildcat-style running quarterback, but actually was a subvarsity quarterback at East Ascension before transferring to Dutchtown.
DENHAM SPRINGS AT HAHNVILLE: Two running backs figure to be at the heart of this matchup. Kansas commitment Anthony “Pooka” Williams has 1,734 rushing yards. At 5-foot-8, Williams is a small speedy back. So is Tyre Golmond (5-7) of DSHS, who enters the game with 1,211 yards.
QUOTABLE: Northshore High is St. Amant’s third straight I-12 based foe in the first playoff round. The Gators beat Covington in 2015 and Slidell in 2016.
“We expect a close game, just like the last two,” SAHS coach David Oliver said. “There is desperation in preparation this week. It will be the last game for somebody.”