Football Forecast: Notre Dame vs Catholic High, AES vs Central Catholic, VC vs LCA
The end of the regular season is already here. It happened so fast, but the playoffs are right around the corner.
Week Ten features some of the best matchups from the entire season. Several district titles are on the line, teams are trying to make history, and others are trying to position themselves for a better playoff seed. The LHSAA brackets come out on Sunday, but we still have one more week of the regular season here on the Football Forecast.
One of our games features two undefeated teams with two of the most brilliant coaches in the state, another undefeated team is trying to collect their first win over an in-district foe and lock down a #1 seed in the playoffs, and our third game is all about power points. It feels like the postseason started one week early in Louisiana.
Before we get into our games of the week (with TWO bonus games), it's time to shine the spotlight on a few young men who carried their teams to victory.
Players of the Week: Jansen Lormand, Brontre Griffin, Leo Franques, Devin Briscoe...and Catholic High's Defensive Backs
I know, I'm only supposed to pick three players, but I can't help myself. With so much talent in the Acadiana area, I have no choice but to spread the love around.
The winner of our Twitter poll this week was Teurlings Catholic Running Back Jansen Lormand. He got it done with two touchdowns on the ground, but that's not all he did.
In a thrilling win over Carencro, Jansen started things off with a 96-yard kick return to set the Rebels, and their fans, on fire. Then, he finished what he started by scoring the game-winning two-point conversion. Down one, Head Coach Sonny Charpentier trusted him to get in the endzone, and he iced the game and made his coach proud. It was a gutsy move by his coach but an even bigger play by Jansen.
Without a doubt though, the most impressive stat line came from Highland Baptist Running Back Brontre Griffin, who put up video game numbers...
Brontre unleashed the beast for 316 yards and six TD's last week against Hanson Memorial, as Highland Baptist dropped 54 points on the scoreboard. He's one of the best backs in the state, and when Highland feeds him the ball, he tends to put up silly numbers. More than 300 yards and six touchdowns? That's not even fair, Brontre.
Franques came into the season buried deep on the depth chart, but he's earned the respect of his coaches with hustle, persistence and performances like the one he had against LCA. Leo rushed for 175 yards and found the endzone five times. He's living proof of the phrase "hard work pays off," and he was an absolute star in a huge game for his team. The Blue Gators staid undefeated, and Leo had a lot to do with it.
There was no bigger game in the area last week than the "Civil War," and Cecilia Running Back Devin Briscoe busted out the big guns to bring home a rivalry win for the Bulldogs.
Briscoe ran for over 120 yards and found the endzone twice, helping out his defense in a dominant, 31-7, win over their bitter rivals in Breaux Bridge. He finished off a couple drives with bruising runs, and he set the tone on offense with his physical style of running. Ever since he came back from injury, he's been a reliable option for the Bulldogs' potent offensive attack.
The last nomination came directly from Catholic High's Quarterback, Diallo Landry. He wanted to make sure his defense got some credit, and their stats back it up.
In another blowout win, the Panthers picked off five passes, proving they do a lot more than throw up points on the scoreboard. Creating five turnovers on defense is impressive, no matter the opponent, but they're going to have their hands full in Week Ten...
GAME ONE: Catholic High-Iberia vs Notre Dame
This might be the best game of the entire regular season. The undefeated Notre Dame Pioneers take on the undefeated Catholic High Panthers. Somebody has to lose, but neither team shows many weaknesses.
Catholic High's Head Coach Brent Indest called this game a "final exam," except he mentioned if they fail, they get to try again. What he means is this game is a playoff preview. Neither team has much to lose, when it comes to playoff seeding, but there's a lot of pride on the line.
Indest is one of the most tenacious human beings in South Louisiana. His attention to detail and intensity bring the best out of the Panthers, and he's a huge reason the Panthers are 9-0. He gets his players in the best position to win, and his practices are a sight to see. There are a few tricks up his sleeve this week, and he has the personnel to pull anything off.
Diallo Landry is the most improved player in the Acadiana area from last season. As a sophomore, he was part of a three win team that made some mistakes. He learned lessons and put the work in to improve, and this year, he's making defenses pay.
A strong arm allows him to toss the ball all around the field, and he throws a gorgeous deep ball. In the running game, he gives Indest the option of calling multiple read plays, and he's studied the game hard to make the right choice almost every time. Ben Landry and Jadan Stokes provide some thunder and lightning in the backfield next to him, creating the perfect storm for a ton of points.
Indest is a dynamic coach, but Louie Cook is a legend for the Notre Dame Pios.
Coach Cook collected a fistful of rings with Notre Dame, including a state championship last year. The scary thing is, his Pios might be even better than they were last season...
Last year, Notre Dame relied on their running game to do all the heavy lifting on offense. In 2016, the Pios are throwing up crazy point totals, thanks to the impressive arm of Bryant Thevis.
This is Thevis' first year leading the Pios, but he's playing like a seasoned veteran. His accuracy is deadly, and he throws one of the prettiest deep balls in the state. He allows Notre Dame to stretch the field, which opens up major holes for their running backs to exploit. The Pios were already scary, but Thevis adds another dimension that makes them explosive.
Everybody knows about Shelvin. The LSU commit can't be missed on the field, and he uses his size to his advantage. He abuses offensive linemen on a regular basis, and most of the time he cuts through double-teams like a carving knife on Thanksgiving Day. Most people think he's just a brute, but his knowledge of the game and technical ability make him the devastating player he is. Shelvin is a force of nature, and he can't be stopped.
Hill might not have the size of Shelvin, but he has tons of college offers too. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in strength. He's been terrorizing quarterbacks since his freshman year, and he gets better every game. Whoever signs him to a scholarship is in for a treat, but he hasn't really thought about it yet. He's too busy trying to take his team to a state championship, and he knows in order to get there they will have to get past Notre Dame first.
Both of these teams have the talent, and coaching, to be in the Superdome at the end of the season. It's only fitting they get a dress rehearsal in New Iberia one week before they take the big stage in the postseason.
Our second game of the week features another team trying to reach the Dome, and they're trying to exercise some demons before the playoffs start.
GAME TWO: Ascension Episcopal vs Central Catholic-Morgan City
Ascension Episcopal is trying to finish off an undefeated season and collect the District 7-1A title outright. In order to do so, they have to beat a team they never defeated before.
Central Catholic-Morgan City has had Ascension Episcopal's number since the day the Blue Gators started playing football. Last season, the Eagles tripped them up. This time, the Blue Gators want payback.
Last week, Ascension Episcopal sent a loud message to the rest of the state with a 66-43 win over LCA, at Knight Field. They went on the road, handled their business in impressive fashion, and drove back to Youngsville with their undefeated record intact. They're rolling like a boulder down a mountain, and they want to carry that momentum all the way through the playoffs.
A win over CCMC would likely ensure them the #1 overall seed in the Division IV bracket, which means they could potentially punch their ticket to the Superdome with a semifinal game at home. I know I'm getting way ahead of myself, but with the way they're playing, can you blame me?
The Blue Gators are playing complete football. All three phases of the game are airtight for Ascension Episcopal, but when you play Central Catholic, it's more like a wrestling match.
Central Catholic is a big, mean team with a fighting mentality. They punch teams in the mouth and keep attacking with a physical offensive line. I'm not sure what they feed those boys down in Morgan City, but they're almost like a different breed on the football field.
The Blue Gators might have more talent on paper, but the Eagles have been a thorn in their side for years. A win over CCMC would help them clear a major hurdle, and it would give them the outright district title.
Ascension Episcopal's Head Coach Matt Desormeaux said he wants his players to be selfish. Last year, they had to share the district title. He wants them to keep it all for themselves in 2016.
Our third game also features two teams from District 7-1A, but this one is all about the power points.
GAME THREE: LCA Knights vs Vermilion Catholic Screamin' Eagles
Both of these teams are jockeying for better seeds in the playoffs. Even though a district title is out of reach, they want to be in the best position to succeed in the playoffs.
The Knights come in at #6 in the LHSAA power rankings, and the Screamin' Eagles check it at #9 heading into the last game of the season. A win for VC would help them possibly avoid one of the juggernauts in the Division IV bracket, and LCA is looking to slightly increase their seed or lock down a home game in the first round. There's a lot at stake, and of course, there's revenge.
Vermilion Catholic took it to LCA last season in a 48-14 blowout. VC lost a lot of talent from last year's loaded squad, and the Knights are playing at another level, thanks to the play of their incredible quarterback, Zach Clement.
Clement is over 2,000 total yards and he's right around 30 touchdowns this season. Every week, the Knights ask him to lead the charge, and he never disappoints. Even in the loss to Ascension Episcopal, LCA still put up over 40 points. He's a handful, and it's VC's job to try and slow him down.
The Screamin' Eagles are a different story altogether. A very young team took their lumps to start the season, but they started catching their stride in district play. They're a proud program, with a lot of skins on the wall, and they're hungry to prove they're still good enough to make noise in the playoffs.
Buckle up. This one could get wild. I'm getting in the playoff spirit already though, which is why I decided to throw in TWO bonus games this week. I know, I'm crazy, but I love it.
BONUS GAMES: Cecilia vs St. Martinville, Jennings vs Iowa
Both of these bonus games are for a district title. They tell a different story, but both will end with somebody earning a crown.
After defeating Breaux Bridge in the "Civil War," the Cecilia Bulldogs shifted their focus to another rival. A win against St. Martinville in the "Battle on the Bayou" would ensure the Bulldogs a district title, but more importantly, it would give them more power points and help them solidify a better seed in the playoffs.
Cecilia is improving every week. Their offense is blossoming under the leadership of senior quarterback Corey Williams. They have weapons all over the field (Noah Livings, Kaleb Carter, Devin Briscoe, Ryan Malbrough), and Offensive Coordinator Dane Charpentier is having a ball making defenses pick their poision. They're going to be a dangerous matchups in the playoffs, and they're my leading candidate for an "upset alert" if they have to go on the road in the first round.
St. Martinville is only one spot behind Cecilia in the power rankings, which means they're fighting for their life too. Vincent Derouen's teams are always physical and confident, and with a firecracker like Deantre James, a.k.a. "Potata," anything is possible. James can take it to the house from anywhere on the field, and he's going to be Cecilia's #1 priority on defense.
If James is a firecracker, Jennings' star running back Travis Etienne Jr. is a nuclear bomb.
Etienne has offers from almost every big school in the country, and his highlight reel is full of jaw-dropping plays. He can make an entire defense look silly in one play, and his juke moves are devastating. College coaches are climbing over each other to get to him, and Jennings is taking full advantage of their super senior's final year on campus.
Jennings is 9-0 and sitting at #2 in the Class 3A power rankings. Their district mates, Iowa, are also sitting at #7, and the Yellow Jackets would love to sting the top dogs in District 4-3A.
Iowa and Jennings come into Week Ten with a combined record of 17-1, and they're cracking teams in the jaw in district play.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 14-0 shutout against a talented South Beauregard squad and have only allowed 21 total points in district play, and Jennings has possibly the best player in the state. It's going to be strength versus strength, with a title on the line.
The playoffs are so close, you can feel the pressure rising...
Are you ready for the fireworks to start? Sometimes, Week Ten is simply an appetizer for the main entree. That's not the case this year.
Before we all launch ourselves into the postseason, where every game is win-or-go-home, take some time to absorb the magnitude of the final game of the regular season. For some teams, this is it. There is no more football, no more Friday Night Lights and no more glory after Week Ten. For some schools, the regular season is just the first chapter, but never lose perspective on what it means to earn a spot in the playoffs.
After this, every game could be your last. A few lucky squads will get to hoist a trophy in New Orleans, but all the other teams will end their season on a loss. Does your team have what it takes to make it all the way to the end of the road and come back with a hero's story to tell?