District 7-1A is one of the roughest districts in the state. If you survive district play, there's a good chance you will find yourself in the playoff bracket.

When the brackets were released on Sunday, it created mixed emotions. The good news is five teams from the district made it into the playoffs. The bad news is at least two teams are guaranteed to get knocked out in the first round.

There are basically two District 7-1A games in the first round. Ascension Episcopal plays Highland Baptist, and Lafayette Christian Academy is paired up with Central Catholic. All four of those teams are talented enough to make serious noise in the Division IV bracket, but unfortunately, only two can advance. Then, factor in that Vermilion Catholic has to go on the road to Cedar Creek. It's a tough break, but you can only play with the hand you are dealt.

The playoffs aren't supposed to be easy. To win a state championship, you have to defeat the best opponents. For District 7-1A, the matchups made sure they got their first taste of adversity in the first round.

LCA and Central Catholic might be playing the best first round game in all nine playoff brackets. Both teams are playing at an extremely high level, and it's a rematch of one of the most entertaining games of the regular season.

(photo by Benjamin Massey)
(photo by Benjamin Massey)

The Knights got the better of the Eagles back in Week Four, but only by a hair. LCA collected the 46-42 win, but Central Catholic is playing its best football of the season right now.

The players from Central Catholic are out to avenge two separate issues: the regular season loss to LCA, and Week Ten's crazy finish against Ascension Episcopal. The Eagles feel like they got robbed by the officials on a highly questionable fair catch call on an onside kick attempt that gave the Blue Gators the win, and they're carrying that anger into the first round.

LCA's story is fascinating and historic. They registered the highest win total in program history this year, and they're incredibly young. Star Quarterback Zack Clement is only a sophomore, and there are freshman and other underclassmen all over the field. They even have an eighth grader starting at receiver. I describe the Knights as puppies with big paws, but beware, they're biting like full grown rottweilers.

It will be a physical game between two hungry teams. As the #5 seed, LCA gets to host their first playoff game ever at Knight Field. Central Catholic might be the most dangerous #12 seed of all time, and their bruising style of play will bring the fight right to the Knights.

The winner of this game will face off with either Westminster or False River, with a chance to advance to the semifinals, where they might face another District 7-1A opponent.

Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators

Ascension Episcopal finished off their first undefeated regular season in program history, and the Blue Gators brought an outright District 7-1A title to Youngsville. Their first round matchup is against a team they're very familiar with, Highland Baptist.

The Blue Gators dominated Highland Baptist in Week Eight for a 48-14 victory, but the Bears are red hot right now. It's Ascension Episcopal's job to stop one of the best running backs in the state, Brontre Griffin.

Over the last two weeks, Griffin collected over 700 total yards and 12 TD's. He's an absolute machine with the ball in his hands, and he's been carrying Highland Baptist on his broad shoulders ever since they decided to abandon their spread offense and feed him the rock. It will take a team effort to contain Brontre The Beast, but Ascension Episcopal is playing like a platoon.

Some people thought there would be a dropoff for the Blue Gators, after losing Head Coach Michael Desormeaux and Quarterback Jake Arceneaux to the Ragin' Cajuns. Instead, Michael's brother Matt Desormeaux took the team to new heights, rallying his troops for a historic regular season.

There's a simple scouting report for Ascension Episcopal: they don't make mistakes. If you want to beat the Blue Gators, they make you play perfect football. Discipline and execution are their strengths, which are hard to prepare for.

Highland Baptist has the ability to win as an underdog, but unfortunately, they're paired up with the top team in the bracket and the favorite to win the state title. People have been gunning for Ascension Episcopal all season, and they dodged every bullet. They have a chance to host a semifinal game at home to punch their ticket to the Dome, creating more history and some memories to last a lifetime.

Our last representative from District 7-1A is used to the postseason, but they're rarely underdogs.

(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)
(photo by Ryan Baniewicz)

This is foreign territory for Vermilion Catholic. The Screamin' Eagles are typically one of the top teams in the playoff bracket, but this year they find themselves as the #10 seed in Division IV.

Head Coach Ossie Blaze predicted his team would have some growing pains in 2016, and he was right. They lost three straight games, against quality opponents, to start the season, but then they started to right the ship. They finished with a 4-3 record in district play, and they took Ascension Episcopal and Central Catholic down to the wire. Blaze's young team grew every week, and they're going to have to stand tall if they want to advance out of the first round.

The Screamin' Eagles travel to Ruston to take on a talented Cedar Creek squad, who played some serious heavyweights on their way to a 6-4 schedule. Their four losses came to teams with a combined record of 36-4, so it's hard to count those games against them. The Cougars averaged 44 points per game in their six wins, which means they have the ability to blow the top off the game at any point. All four times VC allowed an opponent to score over 40, they lost, so the Screamin' Eagles need to avoid a shootout at all costs.

It's not an impossible task for VC, but Cedar Creek is far better than their #7 seed would indicate. If the Screamin' Eagles pull this one off, they will most likely face the #2 seed Covenant Christian. It's an uphill battle for VC, but playing in District 7-1A prepared them for the climb.

(photo by Benjamin Massey)
(photo by Benjamin Massey)

It's been a fantastic football season for District 7-1A. Ascension Episcopal and LCA both set program records for wins in the regular season, Central Catholic was one possession away from a share of the district title, and Highland Baptist's Brontre Griffin set some team records that might not ever get broken. The best part is, the district isn't done yet.

Chances are, one of the five district teams will be in the Superdome this year. Ascension Episcopal is on the brink of greatness, LCA has nothing to lose and everything to gain as one of the fastest growing teams in the state, Central Catholic could carry the chip on their shoulder deep into the playoffs, and you can never rule VC out in the postseason. I only wish the brackets spread the five teams out, but it will all be worth it if we get a semifinal game with two local teams fighting for a chance to dance in the Dome.

Bring the Division IV state championship back to Acadiana, District 7-1A. Whoever wins, we will be waiting to throw a parade and celebrate in historic fashion. May the best team win...

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