The parameters are different than last year. But the most important thing — the rivalry — remains the same for St. Amant and East Ascension.
“You game plan and do all the usual stuff,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “There really is not a whole lot of motivation to do. I mean, if you can’t get up for this game what can you get up for?”
Seventh-ranked East Ascension (8-1, 3-1) hosts St. Amant (7-2, 3-1) for a District 5-5A game that helps highlight Friday’s Week 10 action in Class 5A/4A. In District 6-4A, 10th-ranked Plaquemine (7-2, 4-0) travels to Lutcher (6-3, 3-1) with a title on the line.
The game still has the same emotions and ties between families that sit on each side of the Ascension Parish rivalry. The district title possibilities are diminished this time around. In 2017, St. Amant beat EAHS to claim a share of the district title.
Third-ranked Catholic (8-1, 4-0) travels to Broadmoor (1-8, 0-4) for another 5-5A game. The Bears win the title outright with a Friday win. Should they get upset, then they would share the title with one of the Ascension rivals.
Rather than factoring in a game that is beyond his team’s control, EAHS coach Darnell Lee is focused on his team's game. Lee is a former East Ascension player who has seen the rivalry from both sides and knows there is plenty to focus on.
“The thing that makes it special is that you have family on both sides,” Lee said. “It really is a unique situation because so many of these kids grew up playing rec ball together. They know each other. You have one parent who went to St. Amant and the other to EA. It is part of our culture.”
Hard-nosed football also is a part of the rivalry that features an entire week of activities for the schools and communities before the game.
“Their size on the offensive line and the size and speed defensive front has, is something,” St. Amant coach Oliver said. “Can we move their guys enough to generate offense? I’m sure they will key on KJ Franklin. Will that open things up for somebody else? How will we handle their offensive front?”
The Gators enter the game with one of the Baton Rouge area’s most prolific playmakers in Franklin, who has 1,146 yards and 17 touchdowns and another 464 yards receiving with five more TDs. Defensive lineman Deshon Hall helps lead the EAHS defense that got four interceptions from Jaquann Mitchell last week.
“What St. Amant has done this year is the mark of a good program and a good coaching staff,” Lee said. “Early in the year they saw they could not do some of the things they’ve done in the past, so they adjusted. You may have more adjustments this week.”
Containing more than emotion
Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano has told his team that keeping emotions and LHS quarterback Kolby Bourgeois in check will be crucial in their quest for a district title. Bourgeois has 1,982 passing yards and 27 TDs.
“This will be a playoff-like atmosphere, and it is the kind of game you work all year to get to,” Distefano said. “Their quarterback has a way of extending plays with his legs and then finding his favorite receivers. We have to contain him.