Football Forecast: Carencro vs STM, VC vs CCMC, Acadiana vs LHS [VIDEO]
We're rapidly approaching the playoffs, football fans. Teams are already trying to lock up their district, and the rivalries are starting to roll in. Buckle up. We're in for a fun ride.
Even the undefeated teams are still trying to rack up power points, which means every game matters, especially when they're in district play. What did we learn from Week Six? Vermilion Catholic reminded Ascension Episcopal that nobody is safe in District 7-1A, Notre Dame and Catholic High continue to rise to the top of Class 2A, the Wreckin' Rams put themselves in position to run the table in 3-5A, and the other districts are still set for some serious matchups that could determine the champion.
This week, the undefeated Carencro Bears square off with a quality opponent in district play, one of the oldest rivalries in the state heats up again, another district could be determined, and we have a solid sleeper game that could come down to the wire.
I know you're salivating to take a bite out of your full plate of games, but before we dig in, we have to recognize some of the local ballers who shined in Week Six.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Jaylen James, Ronald Leblanc, Julian Leon
When you rush for over 300 yards, you get a reserved spot in the VIP section of Players of the Week. Move the velvet rope to the side, and take your seat on the throne, Jaylen James.
James racked up 304 yards on only 15 carries, which was the third highest total in the history of the Acadiana Wreckin' Rams. Let that sink in. Serious studs suited up for Acadiana over the last few decades, and Jaylen's performance ranked in the top three. Of course, some major credit goes to his beastly offensive line, but Jaylen was a weapon of mass destruction.
It's not like James went off against a cream puff team either. His two touchdowns, including an 82 yarder, propelled the Wreckin' Rams to a win over Comeaux. It was a back and forth game, full of insanity, but James' kept ripping off major chunks of yards every time he touched the ball. Thanks to his incredible game, Acadiana sits at 3-0 in District 3-5A, with a chance to run the table.
It's going to be hard to top Jaylen James, but our next two players tell a different story.
Ascension Episcopal found themselves in a salty situation against Vermilion Catholic. The Blue Gators were trying to remain undefeated, but the Screamin' Eagles weren't going to go quietly. Late in the game, Ascension Episcopal was clinging to a one score lead, but VC was threatening to steal the win right out from under them. That's when Ronald Leblanc swooped in and saved the day.
Not only did Leblanc moss defensive backs all night long with eight catches for 178 yards on offense, when his coach asked him to go play defense, he made the play of the game.
Ronald doesn't usually play on defense. He's too valuable as a receiver to get hurt on the opposite side of the ball...but big players make big plays in big games. Leblanc checked in at DB in the final minutes of the game, and he used his receiver skills to pick off a pass and ice the game. He terrorized VC all night long on offense, and he sealed the deal on defense. Welcome to Players of the Week, Ronald. You earned it.
Our last player is a reminder to always stay ready. You might think it's a cliche to say, "Be ready when your number is called," but Julian Leon proved it last Friday.
Leon started the game on the sidelines for Breaux Bridge, and St. Martinville jumped out to a two score lead in an important battle in District 5-4A. In a heated rivalry match, Leon could have pouted on the sideline and questioned his coach, but he stayed focused and prepared. Eventually, Head Coach Terry Martin called his name and sent him into the game, then Leon did the rest.
In last week's 62-6 thrashing of Sacred Heart of Ville Platte, the Pioneers scored nine touchdowns with nine different players. Coach Cook understands that if his team wants to make it all the way to the Dome, developing depth is key to keep the star players fresh. It must be fun to play for the Pios, especially when they're giving the ball to different players every time they cross the goal line.
Now that we're done with Week Six, it's time to shift our focus on Week Seven. Carencro is undefeated, but St. Thomas More would love to hand them their first loss.
GAME ONE: Carencro Bears at St. Thomas More Cougars
When I visited Carencro's practice this week, I started to understand why the Bears are undefeated. They prepare like a team trying to earn respect with every rep.
Teams all across the state are paying attention to Carencro, especially the bullies in Class 4A, Neville. The Bears want a rematch with Neville, and they want a ring to show for their season this year. It's been a fun year out at the Open Air CroDome, but they want to finish their season in the Superdome. Before they can focus on the playoffs, they have to deal with the rest of District 4-4A.
This week, St. Thomas More has a chance to crash Carencro's party. The Cougars were in the Dome last year, and with Jim Hightower's coaching staff, you can never count STM out early in the fight.
STM's Quarterback Nate Cox leads the state in passing yards (1,600), but the Cougars are sitting at 3-3 after three tough losses to Sulphur, Catholic High and Hahnville. Losing to playoff teams of that caliber isn't anything to be ashamed of, but programs like STM don't really believe in moral victories when there are power points in play.
Cox leads a potent offense, and he's been doing it without his top target, Griffin Hebert. Hebert has in-state offers from Louisiana Tech and McNeese State, and national programs like Navy, Cornell and Columbia (Ivy League...nice, right?) are interested too. He's been hampered with a hamstring injury all season, but this would be the perfect time to break out the big gun for the Cougars. They're going to need all the weaponry at their disposal if they want to survive a shootout with Carencro.
Offensively, fans are in for a treat. Cox's air-raid is impressive, but the Bears have one of most dangerous, diverse attacks in the entire state.
Pick you poison when you play Carencro. Carl Randall is the total package at QB, and he can choose between Eric Tolivour and Deion Senegal on the outside, Kendarius and Mondarius Poullard underneath, or Treylon Barnaba in the backfield. To make things even tougher on the defense, Randall doesn't make many mistakes. If the throw isn't there, he takes off and picks up yards with his legs.
With all the talent on offense and Kevin Faulk as coordinator, the Bears are averaging 42 points per game and they scored over 30 in every outing so far this season'}63
They're consistent, versatile, and straight up terrifying to anybody with holes in their defense to exploit. Speaking of defense, that's where the Bears get the advantage in this matchup.
To go along with behemoth linemen on both sides of the ball, including Kenneth Mouton (6'7"-391 lbs), Carencro sports some hard-hitting, heat-seeking missiles on defense.
Rashaad Harding is a full grown man at middle linebacker for the Bears, and the ULM Warhawks commit is a leader too, along. He's not scared to bark at his brothers when they're out of position, and he's the centering force on the inside, along with fellow linebacker Jalen Angelle. Over the top, Kordell Williams is a vicious presence at safety. When you come across the middle against Carencro, you better expect to get popped.
Harding, Angelle, Williams are some head hunters, and they carry a chip on their shoulder too. The entire defense feels like people don't pay enough attention to them, and they're hungry to remind everyone games are won on both sides of the ball.
The Cougars better show up on defense and in the trenches, or the Bears could roll to their seventh straight win. Anything can happen in district play though, and the Bears certainly won't hibernate on this matchup.
The term "sleeper" is almost played out at this point, but our second game fits the bill.
GAME TWO: Vermilion Catholic vs Central Catholic-Morgan City
Vermilion Catholic played Ascension Episcopal all the way down to the wire last week, and Central Catholic-Morgan City won't be any easier to deal with. District 7-1A is an insane place to play, and this season might be the most chaotic in years.
It seems like every week, there's a game determined in the final seconds in 7-1A. Will this be the potential heart attack this week?
After starting the season with three straight losses, the Screamin' Eagles bounced back for two straight wins in district play before dropping one to Ascension Episcopal. Even though they're 2-4, their 2-1 mark in district play is the real record that matters. VC is a young team, but they're growing rapidly with every game.
On the opposite side, Central Catholic-Morgan City is 3-3, but they're also 2-1 in district play. The Eagles feel like nobody is paying attention to them, and it took all the way until this week for the LSWA Polls to show them some love. Central Catholic plays a bruising brand of football, and they have one of the most physical offensive lines in all of Class 1A.
Both of these teams are determined to prove the doubters wrong, but for different reasons.
For the longest time, District 7-1A belonged to Vermilion Catholic, and now that Ascension Episcopal is pushing them off their throne, the Screamin' Eagles are eager to prove to everyone that they're still the true rulers of the realm. Somewhat in the same vein, Central Catholic did big things last year with Stefano Guarisco (who is already making plays on special teams for Nichols State on Saturdays), yet there aren't many papers writing about them or television camera clambering to get to their practices. They feel like they're getting slept on, and they want to wake people up.
There's a lot at stake here. VC can't afford to lose many more games if they want to make the playoffs, and Central Catholic plays every game like you're trying to steal their lunch money. Without many top tier games in the area, do you really have an excuse NOT to watch this one?
Our last matchup might look ugly on paper, but it's one of the oldest, richest rivalries in the state of Louisiana.
GAME THREE: Acadiana Wreckin' Rams vs Lafayette High Mighty Lions
This magnitude of this rivalry requires no explanation, but I'll give one anyway, in case you lived your entire life under a rock.
Acadiana and Lafayette High have been going at each other for decades. There are literally generations of players that took part in this rivalry. Some of these players probably heard about games between the Wreckin' Rams and Mighty Lions from their parents, grandparents and other relatives. There is no love lost between these two programs, which is why you can throw the records out the window when they meet up.
This year, the Wreckin' Rams are heavily favored, and that's an understatement. Acadiana is 3-0 in District 3-5A play, and Lafayette High only has one win on the season. That being said, the Mighty Lions have nothing to lose, which could make them dangerous.
In Rob Pool's first year as head coach at Lafayette High, he received a brutal baptism. His offense is struggling mightily to move the ball, and they continue to turn the ball over and make crucial mistakes. It's been a painful football season for everyone involved, but one win over Acadiana could cure a lot of ills for a program looking for silver linings.
That being said, the Wreckin' Rams are coming off a game where Jaylen James ran for over 300 yards, and their depth is frightening. James, Ziggy Francis, Bralen Trahan, and even a freshman (Dillan Monette) have taken turns partying in the endzone in 2016. Acadiana's offensive line is ripping massive holes in opposing defenses for their backs to run with, and the Rams have been keeping the ball off the ground. When Acadiana doesn't fumble, they're almost impossible to stop.
To make matters worse for LHS, this year's game will be played at Bill Dotson Stadium in Scott...but anybody familiar with this rivalry knows things get wild when these two teams meet. Over the last few years, we've seen hook-and-ladders, fake punts, and all sorts of crazy plays. If there's one game on the schedule to dig deep into the bag of tricks, this is it for Rob Pool.
Welcome to District 3-5A, Coach Pool. Now you have to play Acadiana...good luck.
This week's matchups are the size of Kenneth Mouton. Carencro's offensive lineman is pushing 400 lbs, so that should give you an idea how much much these games weigh on the scale of the season.
When you throw in a game like Northwest vs Eunice, which could determine District 5-3A, you get a jam-packed slate of games to digest. Who will continue to solidify their position at the top of their district and rack up power points for playoff seeding? Who will jump up and take a bite out of somebody in a big upset? What player will put his team on his back and carry them to win? So many questions, so many games...and all of it will be answered on the field.