Football Forecast: The Civil War, LCA vs Ascension, Barbe vs Sulphur [VIDEO]
Tons of people have been waiting for Week Nine of the high school football season for months. It's so packed, I couldn't even fit all the blockbuster games in this week.
Typically, for the Football Forecast, it's easy to pick the three games of the week. This time around, I pulled my hair out deciding which three games qualified as the "best." It's Civil War week in St. Martin Parish, there's another rivalry brewing on the north and south sides of Acadiana, and a game in the Lake Charles area could turn District 3-5A on its head.
With two weeks left in the regular season, teams are fighting for district titles and positioning themselves for the playoffs. The high school football season saved the best for last.
For Players of the Week, I wanted to spread the love. I gave the honor to three players I haven't named so far this year, but they probably deserve recognition for the heavy lifting they've been doing all season long.
Players of the Week: Eric Tolivour, Paul Laborde, Diallo Landry
Our Twitter poll was so close this week, I had to give double credit to the people's champs, Carencro Wide Receiver Eric Tolivour and St. Thomas More Linebacker Paul Laborde. Their fans voted over 1,000 times to get them recognition, and they earned the shine with their play on the field.
We'll start with Tolivour. His nickname is "Juice," and based on our poll results, you can see why.
In a game against Northside, Tolivour took a punt return to the house and also scored on a 29-yard reception. I decided to give Eric the nod too because of his body of work this season. He's been Carl Randall's go-to guy all year long, and he's a master of mossing defenders, as you can see by the picture of him to start this segment.
The Defensive Player of the Week was STM Cougars' Linebacker Paul Laborde. Not only is he in the top ten in the state in tackles, he made possibly the biggest play in STM's win over Teurlings.
Laborde picked off Teurlings QB Hayden Cantrelle and returned it for a touchdown, swinging the momentum drastically. He also forced a fumble in the game, and he spearheaded a defensive effort from STM that didn't allow the Rebels to score a single point in the second half. Thanks to Paul and the rest of the defense, STM is in the driver's seat for another district title...also, Nate Cox threw four more touchdowns. On the season, that brings Cox's numbers to 28 TD's and 2 INT's...
Those two players topped our Twitter poll, but I nominated the third player of the week because it was about time I said his name in this segment: Diallo Landry.
Landry is leading Catholic High-New Iberia to a perfect season, and eight games into the action, his growth is incredible. Last year as a sophomore, he learned a lot of lessons, but he's dominating the field now, along with his brother, running back Ben Landry. On top of the silly numbers Diallo is putting up, he's becoming a true leader on the field.
When the Panthers found themselves in a battle against Opelousas Catholic, Diallo called his own shot. He went to Head Coach Brent Indest and told him the play he wanted to run. Indest trusted him, and the play turned into a touchdown. It ended up being the game-winner, and it paints a perfect picture of the type of player he's turning into.
Santana Moss once said, "Big time players make big time plays in big time games." That's basically Diallo Landry's game, captured in a single quote.
Speaking of big time games, the Civil War is the most heated rivalry on the bayou...
GAME ONE: "The Civil War," Breaux Bridge vs Cecilia
Whenever you hear "The Civil War," you imagine a battlefield, with brothers from the same turf going at each other. Some might think the title is too much for a football game, but those people probably never went to Breaux Bridge or Cecilia.
For these two fan bases, "The Civil War" is the one game they live and die for. If Momma went to Cecilia and Daddy went to Breaux Bridge, they might not speak all week, and you can bet they won't be sitting on the same sideline come Friday night. The rivalry completely consumes both cities, but the teams are preparing in the eye of the storm.
I visited both practices, and the preparation was almost shockingly calm. Nobody was talking about ripping somebody's head off or putting them to shame. Instead, I found two teams trying to clean up small issues and working to continue their improvement. There won't be a lack of passion on Friday night, but there's a difference between playing emotionally and playing with passion. Emotions can lead to mistakes, and neither team wants any of those.
Cecilia almost looks like a completely different team from who they were to start the season. Senior Quarterback Corey Williams is flourishing under the tutelage and leadership of Offensive Coordinator Dane Charpentier, one of the brightest young coaching minds in the state of Louisiana.
Williams has two legitimate threats at wideout in Noah Livings and Kaleb Carter. Opposing defenses tried to take Livings away with double-teams, but Carter makes them pay. They have shifty slot receivers too, which makes defending them a nightmare. When you factor in Ryan Malbrough and Devin Briscoe in the backfield, it starts to shape into a deadly offensive attack.
Breaux Bridge is pretty loaded too. Quarterback Julian Leon has been a different player since coming off the bench to lead the Tigers to a win over St. Martinville, and his chemistry with receivers Tyrick Davis and Dartravian Girod is evident. Girod is second in the district in receiving yardage as a freshman, and Davis is a skycraper that uses his basketball skills to go up and get the ball over defenders. Logan Bossier is an accomplished running back too, and he's getting better as the season progresses.
Defensively, both teams have anchors at linebacker (Andrew Chung for Cecilia, Tylar Wiltz for Breaux Bridge) and talent on the defensive lines. It's going to be a battle on both sides of the ball.
If Breaux Bridge wins, they clinch the District 5-4A title. Cecilia needs wins to help their cause trying to get a better seed in the playoffs, and two straight wins would give the Bulldogs the district title. I shouldn't have to sell you on "The Civil War," and there's a lot at stake this time around.
Breaux Bridge and Cecilia have an established, historic rivalry, but there's another fresh one brewing in the Acadiana area...
GAME TWO: Lafayette Christian Academy vs Ascension Episcopal
The Knights and Blue Gators haven't been playing football for a long time, but both programs are already reaching high levels of excellence. Already, there's a rivalry between Lafayette Christian Academy and Ascension Episcopal.
Ascension Episcopal comes into this week undefeated, but if they want a district title and a perfect record in the regular season, they have to finish strong with some heavy lifting. They face LCA, at Knight Field, this week, and they close out the season against Central Catholic-Morgan City. It's a tough task, but they're equipped for anything.
The Blue Gators are a complete team in all phases of the game. Jake Vascocu leads a talented offensive group from his quarterback position, and he's surrounded by big targets like Ronald Leblanc and Zach Ronquillo. They have a bruising offensive line, but if you're looking for one guy to latch onto, look no further than Seth Kerstetter.
Kerstetter is basically a microcosm of the Blue Gators roster: he might not be big, but he's making plays in every aspect of the game. He runs the ball like a guy twice his size, hits like a monster on defense and continues to make game-changing plays on special teams. His team feeds off his energy, and he hasn't been disappointing them one bit.
Ascension Episcopal isn't making mistakes, so it will be LCA's job to keep up and create some magic of their own. With Zach Clement at quarterback, anything is possible.
Week in and week out, Clement posts absurd stat lines. It's an average day at the office for him to collect four or more scores and over 250 total yards through the air and on the ground. He's shouldering the offensive load like a true leader, and he's making it hard for college scouts to count him out in Class 1A.
LCA Head Coach Trev Faulk is bringing the program to new heights. They reached the top-five in the LHSAA power rankings for the first time in LCA's history, but they're not satisfied yet. A run through the playoffs would be something real to build off of, and a win over Ascension Episcopal would provide valuable power points heading into the postseason.
With an 8-0 record, Ascension Episcopal has a target placed squarely on their back. Everyone wants to knock them off the throne, and LCA poses the most serious threat they've faced all season long.
It's going to be a packed house at Knight Field. Prepare yourself for some fireworks.
LCA might break some attendance records, but our next two teams might break the scoreboard.
GAME THREE: Sulphur Tors vs Barbe Bucs
I know what you're thinking, "What does a game in Lake Charles have to do with Acadiana?" Let me explain.
Not only is this an AMAZING game between two teams with tons of talent, it also directly affects the Acadiana Wreckin' Rams and the rest of District 3-5A.
Thanks to an LHSAA ruling that stripped the Rams of a win, they need a little help from their heated rivals, the Barbe Bucs, to get a piece of the district title. While the Rams suffered from the LHSAA's ruling, the win they forfeited helped out Sulphur, big time.
The Tors are now undefeated in district play, and a win over Barbe would all but clinch the title for them. That's easier said than done though, but I'll get to that in a second. If Sulphur wins, the district is their's to lose, but if Barbe wins, it creates a three-way tie at the top of District 3-5A. There's a chance for pure chaos, but I'm not going to blow it out of proportion. All three of these teams are playoff-bound anyway, but a district title is still a district title.
Now, let's get to the details of this game, because boy are they juicy.
Sulphur is averaging 44 points per game, and Barbe is no slouch on offense either, putting up 39.5 points per game. They could break the scoreboard with both of their potent rushing attacks.
The Bucs have Kirkland Banks, who is a one man wrecking crew. He can carve up a defense from the backfield, and he consistently makes plays on special teams as an incredible punt and kick returner. If you load up the box to stop Banks, QB Gavin Nettles can hurt you too. It's an impossible puzzle to figure out for defensive coordinators.
Sulphur relies on J'Cobi Skinner, who is in the top five in the state with 1,403 rushing yards. When you add in Glenn Willis' 729 yards on the ground, it tips their rushing yardage over 2,000 yards on the insanity scale. Their QB Byron Walker can use his legs too, and he'll be playing football on Saturdays. I forgot to mention the Tors' offensive line, which is as mean as it is big. They have some full grown men up front, and they're not scared to do all the dirty work.
There will be college scouts in the stands for this one, and it's basically a playoff preview.
Did I say playoffs? That brings me to my final point...
With only two games left before the playoffs start, the intensity is rising. The water in the pot is starting to boil, and the true contenders for a state title are beginning to show their true colors.
For the seniors, this marks the beginning of the end. Every snap, every drive and every game means more, as players try to leave their mark for future generations of ballers to remember. Banners will be hung, district titles collected, and for some lucky few, shiny state titles added to the trophy case. The season isn't over yet though, and there's still a lot of work to do.
The sand is running out of the hourglass, high school football fans. I wish I had a way to slow down the time, but I can't. All I can tell you to do is get out to the stadium on Friday night, and yell until your vocal chords give out. You'll have a whole offseason to recover.