5A 1rst Round Playoff Predictions, Part I

In 2009, West Monroe capped off a perfect season with a resounding 30-0 win over Archbishop Rummel in the Class 5A state championship game. This year, the Rebels are 10-0 and seeded No. 4 entering their first round playoff matchup vs. No. 29 Chalmette. West Monroe DT Chuck Hunter, who is being recruited by Louisiana Tech, hopes to lead his team to victory. Get your predictions here.

Effrem Reed
No. 32 Covington (5-5) at No. 1 Dutchtown (10-0) -- Covington has dropped two in a row, including a 49-7 spanking at the hands of Mandeville last week.

The top-seeded Griffins, on the other hand, are cruising along, averaging 34 points per game behind the dual-headed monster of QB Leon Blouin (Tulane commit) and exciting RB Effrem Reed.

Reed, who could surpass the 2,000-yard rushing mark in the playoffs, scored six TDs (and added a crucial two-point conversion) a couple of weeks ago vs. East St. John. LB Cole Harp is another another unsung Dutchtown senior prospect. Four-star junior safety Landon Collins will have offers from all of the big-name programs around the nation.


No. 17 Brother Martin (7-3) at No. 16 Carencro (5-4) -- Have a relish for the running game? Then, by all means, head to north Lafayette Parish for a battle that should be won on the ground.

The Crusaders, out of the rugged New Orleans Catholic League, began the year 6-1. However, they dropped back-to-back district games to St. Augustine and Archbishop Shaw before rallying for a 28-27 win over Jesuit last week.

Dante' Buter, the No. 114 running back in the nation, has seven scholarship offers. He's run for more than 2,000 yards behind a hard-nosed offensive line.

Carencro actually won six games on the field, but their game against charter school Miller-McCoy didn't count for power rating purposes. The Bears are hot right now, having won four of their last five (including the Miller-McCoy game).

Last week, Carencro's Wing-T produced 431 yards rushing in a 41-7 win over Comeaux. Junior Alex Johnson had 199 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Damian Rubin added 118 with 2 TDs. Jalen Nixon and Jordan Arnaud both have seen action at QB.

Brother Martin has been more solid than Carencro on defense this fall. For example, the Crusaders limited the high-octane St. Augustine offense to 21 points a few weeks ago. It's difficult to overlook the fact that Carencro yielded 53 points to East St. John last month.


No. 24 Westgate (5-4) at No. 9 Ponchatoua (8-2) -- Let's give credit where it's due. Under head coach Mike Baiamonte, Ponchatoula's football program has officially been resurrected. After years of mediocrity, the Green Wave has the Florida Parish town giddy with this season's success.

Kaleb Muse
Ponchatoula, which has only lost to St. Paul's and Jesuit, likes to run the football with Dana Hendrix (120 yards vs. Mandeville).

Westgate reached the semifinals in 2009, but the Tigers have missed the services of QB Diontae Spencer, who is now at McNeese State. Similar to the aforementioned Brother Martin/Carencro tilt, this game is one for the old-school fans, as both teams prefer to keep it conservative on offense.

The visiting Tigers have had some trouble adjusting to their new Wing-T offense and Ponchatoula -- with 220-pound LB Kaleb Muse inside -- specializes in stuffing the run.


No. 25 Denham Springs (7-3) at No. 8 Higgins (9-1) -- Denham Springs has captured five straight wins; most notably, a 13-9 nailbiter over Central last month. Last week, the Yellow Jackets blanked Scotlandville, 28-0; amassing 300 yards on the ground in the process. Sophomore running back Kaleb Blanchard has 1,640 yards rushing this season.

Higgins, which prides itself on a stingy defense, could be the most underrated program in the state. The only loss for the Hurricanes came in Week Two against Class 4A No. 1 seeded Karr.

Junior QB Cedric Jackson is elusive when running the option and he's aided by Jarrion Walker, who rushed for 135 yards in a 13-10 win over Chalmette two weeks ago. Linebackers Jamal Wilson and Trey Davis have been instrumental in Higgins holding opponents to 12.2 points per game.

The Hurricanes, owners of wins over Archbishop Shaw and South Plaquemines, has played the tougher schedule and that should pay dividends.


No. 28 Sulphur (5-5) at No. 5 Jesuit (8-2) -- Sulphur has stumbled through the past three weeks, although the Golden Tors received a fortunate break when their 75-14 loss to Acadiana in Week Eight was wiped out due to forfeit. Last week, rival Barbe hung 58 points on Sulphur.

During the middle of the season, though, the Tors thrived, winning four in a row (five, if you include the Acadiana game). Kendal Daigle and Keith Jasmine are both effective runners. QB Brice Gardiner was intercepted five times last week.

Jesuit has been one of the biggest surprises in 5A. Many experts expected the Blue Jays to finish last in the Catholic League, but they had other plans in Mid-City New Orleans. In fact, Jesuit would have gone undefeated in district play, if not for the one-point loss to Brother Martin last week.

Diminutive (5-foot-6, 160) senior Dylan Richard leads Jesuit in rushing. The Jays don't throw often, but when they do, Justin Poole is the man to watch (averaging nearly 20 yards per catch).

Linebackers Grant Leger and Deion Jones call the shots for Jesuit's defense.


Justin Williams
No. 21 Mandeville (6-4) at No. 12 Terrebonne (9-1) -- Don't let the Skippers' record deceive you. They can play with anybody.

Mandeville had an inauspicious start to the season, losing three of its first four. Among those losses were heartbreaking one-point thrillers vs. John Curtis Christian and Archbishop Rummel.

The Skippers are on a four-game winning streak and haven't scored less than 31 points over that span. Offensive linemen Greg Siener (UL commit) and Christian Dragna provide protection for QB Matt Bergeron, who has thrown for 2,000-plus yards.

Terrebonne, like Jesuit, has opened plenty of eyes across the state with its gaudy record. The Tigers' lone loss came two weeks ago vs. New Iberia. Dual-threat quarterback Mike Williams calls the signals for Terrebonne's offense. His leading receiver is younger brother Justin Williams.

Terrebonne has the edge in speed here, but Mandeville - thanks to its schedule - should be up to the task.


No. 20 Slidell (6-4) at No. 13 Barbe (8-2) -- Slidell's "Tiger Nation" had higher aspirations than a 6-4 regular-season mark and they're eager to pull off an upset in Lake Charles.

RB Jonathan Miles has been hard to catch, buoying Slidell to several victories. For instance, Miles had 218 yards rushing (and caught a 65-yard touchdown pass) in a 25-21 win over Holy Cross back in early September. He's spelled by RB/WR Stephon Smith, who has a handful of scholarship offers. Smith's twin brother, Stephen Smith, should get plenty of work against Barbe's spread offense.

Last week, the Bucs shredded Sulphur's defense for 413 yards passing. QB Jared Foster has his pick of sure-handed receivers, including underclassmen Trey Quinn and Desean Smith. All-purpose player Jarrett Rougeau ran for 103 yards vs. Sulphur.


Tyler Cain
No. 29 Chalmette (7-3) at No. 4 West Monroe (10-0) -- The underdog Owls have the residents of St. Bernard Parish filled with excitement, but West Monroe hasn't lost since 2008.

Chalmette has lost its last two, including a 47-13 drubbing at the hands of West Jefferson last week. Tailback James Banks (5-8, 185) is the primary cog in the Owls' offense, shouldering the load with 200-plus carries and approximately 1,500 yards rushing.

West Monroe, while seeded No. 4, is the overwhelming favorite to win a second straight state title. The Rebels, formerly a strict I-option team, now utilize a variety of offensive looks. QB Paul Turner, an LSU commit, can score at any time with his dazzling speed. RB Tyler Cain is equally dangerous.

Defensive tackle Chuck Hunter, a three-star prospect, clogs the middle and his cousin, CB Michael Hunter, gets it done in the secondary.


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