To be the hunter or the hunted? That is major question for all the local teams set to play select semifinal football playoff games Friday night.
And that is notable for the two games being played in town. Second-seeded Catholic High (11-0) hosts No. 3 John Curtis (10-1) in a Division I semifinal at Olympia Stadium at 7:05 p.m.
“It’s almost like district game," Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. "This is the third year in a row that we’ve played them. They know us very well. And we know them very well.
“Everybody knows it’s a physical game when you play them. The thing you have got to be able to do is tackle. If you do not stop No. 14 (Curtis quarterback Collin Guggenheim), you can’t stop them. He is the first guy who can get down hill on you — it is the point of attack.”
Curtis and Catholic have met in the Division I title game the past two years, with each team winning once. There are different title game related scenarios for the other four remaining select teams. Meeting at that point of attack is crucial for all four seeking to be the hunter in their games.
Guggenheim has 1,168 yards rushing and 19 TDs for Curtis, along with 782 yards passing. Curtis RB Corey Wren is a Georgia commitment who has 1,146 yards rushing and 17 TDs. Catholic is led by quarterback Jackson Thomas (1,926 yards passing, 22 TDs) and running back Josh Parker (1,018 yards rushing, 12 TDs).
Sixth-seeded Southern Lab (8-3) hosts No. 7 Catholic-Pointe Coupee (10-2) at 7 p.m. for a Division IV semifinal at Southern University’s A.W. Mumford Stadium. It is CHSPC's first semifinal appearance since 1985.
Catholic-PC garnered a forfeit win over the Kittens from 2016. SLHS forfeited all its games over a three-year span including two Division IV titles and one runner-up finish because LHSAA sanctions in 2017. The Kittens seek their first title-game appearance since then.
Catholic-PC coach David Simoneaux remembers that the Hornets lost 60-6 on the field in 2016 before the forfeits.
“That was my first year here. They beat us pretty bad,” Simoneaux said. “They have graduated some guys who have gone to LSU and other places, but they are still big and talented. Their quarterback keeps getting better, their running backs run angry and their defense real good.”
The Hornets want to play keep away, using their option running game led by junior Matthew Langlois to limit with SLHS’ time with the ball. Angelo Izzard passed for 1,679 yards in the regular season for Southern Lab. Langlois had 1,005 yards rushing in the regular season.
Two other teams travel. Third-seeded University High (9-3) meets No. 2 De La Salle (8-2) for a Division II semifinal at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium. The teams meet for the third straight year. Last year UHS beat the Cavaliers in the semifinals. The year before U-High won in the title game.
“I think (De Le Salle) is a better team than last year,” first-year U-High coach Andy Martin said. “It’s no secret that they like to run the ball, and they are very good at it. But I also like where we are now as a team. We’re finally healthy, and we played well on the road last week. We’ll need to do that again.”
Fifth-seeded Dunham (10-1) travels to No. 1 Lafayette Christian (10-1) for its first semifinal since 2004. LCA was the Division IV champion last season.
Multi-purpose player Sage Ryan helps lead the Knights, while running back Kalante Wilson has over 1,000 rushing yards for Dunham.
“We don’t have a group of guys who are highly recruited like Lafayette Christian does,” Dunham coach Neil Weiner said. “But we do have a group of guys who play for each other. They have found ways to win."