Central made history last week as the first No. 32 seed to win a playoff game in Class 5A. The Wildcats raced to a 27-7 lead over No. 1 St. Paul's, although the Wolves rallied and briefly held a 28-27 advantage before Zach Evans scored the go-ahead TD. Gary Triplet sealed the deal with an interception that squelched St. Paul's final drive. Brett Courville threw for 347 yards and a trio of touchdowns with 202 yards (and all three TDs) going to the speedy Triplet. Ruston downed Denham Springs, 33-14. Alexo Williams-Hargrove gained 236 yards on the ground with a TD. QB Pierce Spangler tossed a couple of TD passes.
BOTTOM LINE: Central was able to sling the ball around the field vs. St. Paul's, but the Wildcats will have difficulty repeating that feat against Ruston. The Bearcats' strength is their secondary, which features Louisiana Tech commits Cyril Noland and Kentrell Brice.
In 2009, Westgate went on the road and upset Mandeville in the first round of the 5A playoffs. On Friday, the Skippers ensured that there wouldn't be a repeat, but it wasn't easy. Drew Graham's 32-yard field goal as time expired propelled Mandeville to a 24-21 victory, according to Joseph Ardillo of the Times-Picayune. On the game-winning drive, the Skippers converted on a fake punt when Sean Zemke - who doubles as a starting tight end - found WR Xavier Marcus for a first down. Senior QB Matt Bergeron threw for 182 yards and three TDs. RB Charles Jones gained 76 yards on the ground and 64 receiving, including a TD. Parkway pounded Fontainebleau, 47-17. QB Kolby Copeland sprayed the ball around the field for head coach David Feaster. WR Cole Crook caught four passes for 145 yards and three TDs, and RB Malcom Rogers accounted for three rushing TDs.
BOTTOM LINE: Both clubs feature balanced offenses with creative play-calling. Mandeville faced a more grueling schedule than Parkway, and the Skippers seem to have their minds right after getting upset by Covington in week ten. Look for Preston Winget to have a big night on defense for Mandeville.
It's doubtful that anyone outside of the "Strawberry Capital of the World" (also known as Ponchatoula) saw it coming: No. 29 Ponchatoula's first round upset of No. 4 Dutchtown and five-star S/RB Landon Collins. The Green Wave forced three turnovers in the second quarter en route to a 28-14 shocker over Dutchtown, according to Rich Loup of the Advocate. Ponchatoula piled up 339 yards rushing and only threw the ball four times. Nathan Callais and Dana Hendrix did much of the damage on the ground for veteran head coach Hank Tierney, whose team has now won three straight since getting blown out (52-24) by St. Paul's.
BOTTOM LINE: Barbe knows how to stop the option, which is Ponchatoula's bread and butter. The Buccaneers, led by DB Steven Benjamin, confounded veer machine Acadiana during the regular season (Barbe beat the Rams, 44-14).
Rumors of West Monroe's demise were greatly exaggerated following a 1-2 start. It took the Rebels a few weeks to adjust to life without QB Paul Turner (now at LSU) and RB Tyler Cain (ULM), not to mention DT Chuck Hunter (TCU). At any rate, head coach Don Shows' squad has won eight straight after early losses to Byrd (which is still undefeated) and Madison Central (MS). Junior DB Xavier Woods ignited the Rebels on Friday with three touchdowns in a 49-14 whipping of No. 28 Hahnville.
BOTTOM LINE: West Monroe continues to improve each week with a total team effort. A different face seems to step up each week and spark the team to victory. Jacob Tyson, a transplanted defender, has been a catalyst at fullback, where he's spelled Reeves occasionally. QBs Michael Mims and Conner Osborne have both been productive. West Monroe simply has more depth than Haughton, which is a year removed from 4A.
West Monroe, 44-33