St. Paul's reached the quarterfinals in 2010 before falling to eventual champ Acadiana, and now the Wolves feel like their time has come. St. Paul's avenged last season's loss to Acadiana by defeating the Rams in a 15-14 thriller in the Superdome in week two. Head coach Ken Sears utilizes a balanced offense that is powered on the ground by FB Dylan Long and RBs Markell Powell and Kris Brumfield. Sophomore WR Marcus Gaines is an exciting playmaker. QB Patrick Duncan has thrown for 1,262 yards with 13 TDs and only three picks. Junior safety Jay Washington spearheads the St. Paul's defense. Washington has 42 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass break-ups. Junior LB Ed Duplessis (52 stops) has great speed. Senior K/P Trent Domingue has nine field goals; he makes every trip to the red zone good for an automatic three points. Central closed out the year with four consecutive wins, including impressive victories over a couple of tough district opponents (Denham Springs and Scotlandville). DE/LB Zach Hetrick and safety Logan Metcalfe are players to watch. QB Brett Courville tossed an 82-yard TD pass to Hunter Cazes vs. Scotlandville, while Zach Evans rambled for 124 yards. St. Paul's and Central met in 2010 with the Wolves prevailing, 19-15. St. Paul's is 33-3 over the past three years.
St. Paul's, 31-13
Denham Springs has won four of its last five, including a hard-earned decision over a solid Zachary squad in week ten. At the beginning of the year, junior RB Kaleb Blanchard was the marquee name on offense, but Blanchard has been hampered by injuries. Anthony Bracy has stepped up and ran well, while QB Kyle Cedotal has kept defenses honest with the passing game. Cedotal threw three TD passes vs. Zachary. In week nine, Denham's defense did an excellent job of containing Walker RB Carlton Perkins. OL Tevin Lawson is another junior standout. Ruston's strength lies in its secondary tandem of Cyril Noland and Kentrell Brice, both of whom are Louisiana Tech commits. UL (Lafayette) commit Joseph Brunson anchors the offensive line. Ruston's four losses are to teams with a combined record of 34-4.
Oops! Westgate did it again! No, it's not a spin-off of a pop song, it's the usual course of action for head coach Brian Fine's team. Westgate began the year 0-3 but has caught fire - as always seems to happen - down the stretch, winning six of its last seven games. Last year, Westgate lost four regular season contests but still managed to reach the semis. The Tigers are banged up but still have ample ammunition on offense with QB D'Nerious Antoine calling signals in their I-option offense. Tailback Jamal Sam, a sophomore, ran for five TDs in one game. Antoine (6-1, 200) is a big-time safety who is in ideal physical condition. He takes almost every snap. Mandeville will put pressure on Westgate's secondary with a wide-open offense guided by senior QB Matt Bergeron, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards. RB Charles Jones gained 175 yards and scored three times in a week one win over Parkview Baptist. Mandeville is coming off a narrow (17-14) loss to Covington in a grueling, physically-punishing game. The Skippers will need a big night from Preston Winget to halt Westgate's offense. Winget collected 19 tackles vs. Fontainebleau.
First-year head coach David Feaster, widely known as an offensive mastermind, has Parkway rocking and rolling in its initial season back in 5A (the Panthers were 4A in 2010). With Feaster calling the shots, Parkway's offense is hanging plenty of points on the scoreboard (averaging more than 42 ppg). QB Kolby Copeland and RB Malcolm Rogers have each had tremendous seasons for Parkway, which has lost to only Byrd (9-0) and old 4A nemesis Haughton (8-2). Fontainebleau has dropped three of its last four, including an inexplicable loss to a 2-8 Holy Cross team in week seven.
West Monroe, the 2010 runner-up to Acadiana, is on a tear. The Rebels, after a 1-2 start, have cruised to seven straight victories. It all starts on defense for head coach Don Shows' squad. He boasts two of the state's finest defensive linemen in ends James McFarland and Terrell Lathan. LB Deano Casola cleans up any remnants left over from the carnage created by the McFarland/Lathan machine. Michael Mims and Conner Osborne are both capable QBs. Jacob Tyson is brutally effective running the football at a chiseled 220-to-230 pounds. Casola and FB Bubba Reeves were both held out of West Monroe's week ten whipping of Natchitoches-Central due to injuries. Hahnville has a heckuva secondary with Jerquinick Sandolph (LSU commit), Tyren Hills (Minnesota commit) and Johnell Celistan. The latter sometimes lines up in the box at LB. Coached by Lou Valdin, Hahnville is yet another program that started the year poorly (0-3, to be precise) but has gotten red-hot. RB Earnest Thompson scored three touchdowns in Hahnville's recent win over Higgins. Juniors to watch for Hahnville include Anthony Mott, Juvon Gales and Sergio Medina.
West Monroe, 35-21
East Ascension knows how to win a close game. The Spartans have won their past three by a total of 13 points, including a 10-7 nailbiter vs. heated rival St. Amant last week. The Spartans have also been hot and cold. They lost to 3-7 McKinley in week six. The following Friday, East Ascension had undefeated Dutchtown down at the half before Landon Collins put it in overdrive in the third quarter. Mason Decoteau booted the game-winning field goal in overtime vs. St. Amant. QB Adam Miller (two TD passes vs. Woodlawn-BR) and RB Jamarcus Jarvis are pivotal players for the Spartans. Haughton, one year removed from Class 4A, is thriving despite the loss of star QB Dak Prescott (now at Mississippi State). WR Damon Gladney is a stud. The senior caught seven passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns vs. Benton. QB James Almond has played extremely well for a first-year starter. RB Jarred Craft crashed Southwood's line for 104 yards in last week's 37-8 Haughton victory. P.J. Douglas is another good option at receiver.
Barbe features WR Trey Quinn, who can single-handedly take over a game. The sophomore hauled in 16 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns vs. a St. Thomas More team that is currently 9-1. Quinn added two more rushing TDs in that contest. Both Quinn and junior TE Desean Smith have missed time with injuries, and the Buccaneers need both in the lineup to make a deep run. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Smith creates instant mismatches. Scotlandville, which may be the surprise team of the year in 5A, has its own splendid receiver in junior Larry Clark. Last week, Clark produced five catches for 98 yards with two TDs. LB Henry Taylor is an outstanding sleeper prospect. OL Blaine Poydras is a senior who will play college football. Scotlandville went 3-7 in 2010.
Dutchtown, which hasn't lost a regular season tilt since 2009, was the top seed last year and reached the quarterfinals before getting upset by Westgate. With Effrem Reed gone to the college ranks, the Griffins have turned to five-star safety Landon Collins at running back and he has lived up to all his press clippings. QB Mason Nickens is a junior dual-threat who does a fantastic job at the helm of head coach Benny Saia's offense. WR Shelby Christy is a deep threat with 6-foot-3 size. Defensive linemen David Elias, Darrien Batiste and Aaron Davis are a formidable force up front. TE Alec Osborne can make the catch or open holes for Collins (pictured below). Ponchatoula's option offense is led by RBs Dana Hendrix and Mark Holland. The Green Wave has scored a total of 99 points in its last two games (both wins).