LHSAA Playoffs Bracket Breakdown: Class 5A
Class 5A is the heavyweight division for high school football in Louisiana. There are some heavy hitters from the Acadiana area trying to collect a championship belt.
Four teams from District 3-5A made it into the LHSAA playoffs this year, and all of them face a different journey. None of the teams are seeded in the top ten, but that doesn't mean they're not dangerous.
Whenever it comes to seeding, Acadiana High School's Head Coach Ted Davidson couldn't care less about what the numbers say. As long as the Wreckin' Rams are in the dance, they can two-step their way to another state championship.
If it weren't for an unfortunate LHSAA ruling, the Rams would be a top ten seed in the playoffs. Even though they had a win stripped away from them, Acadiana ended up hosting a home game in the first round. They host the #19 seed, Alexandria, at Bill Dotson Stadium with a chance to survive and advance. Every year, the Wreckin' Rams have a chance to go deep into the playoffs, so don't even try calling them a "sleeper."
Acadiana is playing Acadiana football, which seems simplistic, but it's true. Their veer offense is rolling, with multiple backs (Ziggy Francis, Jaylen James, Dillan Monette) getting the job done behind a mauling offensive line. Their senior leadership is powerful, spearheaded by the do-it-all man, Safety/Running Back/Returner Bralen Trahan.
It's almost impossible to prepare for Acadiana's offense if you don't see it regularly, and the Rams come out and punch people in the face with their physicality. Everyone in the Class 5A bracket should beware the Wreckin' Rams, and the players have a chip on their shoulders, thanks to the LHSAA.
The Rams haven't lost a game (forfeitures aside) since Week Three, and if they win in the first round, they have a chance to avenge one of those losses against Ponchatoula...if they survive a battle with the Comeaux Spartans.
Comeaux started the season on fire with a 4-1 record, but three straight losses to end the season hurt the Spartans, badly. They ended up with the #30 seed and a steep slope to climb in the playoffs, but it's not because of a lack of talent.
Brett Dotson, Head Coach Doug Dotson's son, leads the Spartans into the playoffs as a solid playmaking quarterback. His favorite target, receiver Tanarious Achan, has the ability to beat double-teams and take it to the house from anywhere on the field, and senior offensive lineman Shane Vallot anchors a front that dominated opponents at times to open up holes for running back Tiki Pascual.
The Spartans scored over 30 points in all but one game in the regular season, so if Ponchatoula lets it become a shootout, Comeaux could trigger a huge upset alert. Don't let the numbers fool you. This game is a lot closer than the seeds would lead you to believe.
If Comeaux bites as an underdog, they could get a shot at avenging their loss against Acadiana, which would be a treat for everybody. The last time they met up, it was a 42-38 thriller. Please, football gods, make the rematch happen.
The other two teams from District 3-5A represent the Lake Charles area, but I'm not going to lie, I will be pulling for them during the playoffs. There's a lot to like about the Barbe Bucs and the Sulphur Tors.
Objectively, Barbe has one of the most gifted offenses in the state. Their running back, Kirkland Banks, is a one-man wrecking crew on offense and special teams, and quarterback Gavin Nettles makes defenses pay when they get caught up trying to stop Banks. The Bucs average just under 40 points per game, and their only loss was by one point to Acadiana. The only way Barbe could get payback for the last-second loss would be if both teams make it all the way to the semifinals...but don't rule that out. It's possible.
As the #10 seed, Barbe is matched up with the #23 seed, East St. John. The Wildcats suffered five losses on the season, but all of them came against powerhouses (John Ehret, Madison Prep, Thibodaux, Destrehan, Hahnville). The Bucs will be pretty heavily favored in the first round, but that's only the beginning of their journey.
The main thing going against Barbe is the remaining talent in the bracket. In order to get to the semifinals, they would have to possibly get through St. Amant and West Monroe, who are both busting at the seams with talent. It's not an easy path, but the postseason isn't supposed to be a cakewalk.
Barbe is on the same side of the bracket as Acadiana and Comeaux, but the final District 3-5A team is all alone on the other side.
The Sulphur Golden Tors start the playoffs off at home, in their gorgeous new stadium, against the #21 seed, Airline. The Vikings lost three games to big time opponents (Ruston, Evangel, Byrd), but they're offensively fit to keep up with the Tors. Airline better look out though, or they might get ran over by a train.
It's a deep rushing attack for the Tors. Not only do they have J'Cobi Skinner, who rushed for 1,629 yards in the regular season, they have Glenn Willis, who added on over 700 yards as the second option. Their quarterback, Byron Walker, can take off too, and he has the arm to beat defenses through the air if they clog the box with bodies.
A lot of people picked the Tors to win the district with their experience, size and strength on the offensive line, and they took out some big time opponents (STM, Iowa, Comeaux) this season. They won't be scared of anybody, which could help them against teams like Landry-Walker, Parkway or Destrehan in the next rounds.
The power rankings determine the seeding, but they don't tell the whole story. All four District 3-5A teams are equipped for playoff victories. Comeaux played Sulphur and Acadiana down to the wire, so who says they can't beat Ponchatoula? Ted Davidson won state titles before with the Wreckin' Rams, regardless of whether they received a top seed. Sulphur and Barbe can break the scoreboard, and not everyone has their offensive arsenals. Once the teams take the field, the seeds don't matter anymore.
Some people around the state would call Acadiana, Barbe, Sulphur and Comeaux "sleepers," so there's only one option left: wake them all up.