5A 1rst Round Playoff Predictions, Part II

No. 7 Ouachita and linebacker/safety Terron Bell are 9-1 entering the first round of the Class 5A playoffs, where they'll face No. 26 Byrd. Will the Lions advance? Who will win the much-ballyhooed East St. John/Acadiana game? We have the answers here.

NO. 30 NATCHITOCHES-CENTRAL (5-4) AT NO. 3 ST. PAUL'S (10-0) -- The Chiefs are on a roll, having won four of their last five, including a 33-31 road victory over Byrd last week.

Jermaine Sams
The pass-and-catch tandem of Chris Mitchell to Kendrick Aaron has proven productive for NCHS, which actually opened a lead over West Monroe in Week 9 (although the Rebels quickly recovered to prevail, 59-14).

St. Paul's has terrorized opponents with its defense. The Wolves, who are only giving up 7.3 points per game, have a human wrecking ball stationed in the middle in the form of four-star defensive tackle Mickey Johnson.

Senior LB Tyler Tourelle and opportunistic sophomore safety Jay Washington are other stars on the St. Paul's D, which has kept its foes in single digits over the past five games.

On offense, the Wolves have three viable running options in speedsters Mikhail Washington (675 yards, 13 TDs) and Markell Powell (305 yards, 6 TDs) and bruising fullback Dylan Long (759 yards, 15 TDs.

You can't load the box against St. Paul's or WR Jermaine Sams (530 yards, 18.28 ypc, 5 TDs) will burn you. Quarterback Alec Duncan has thrown for over 1,000 yards with 13 TDs and only 3 interceptions.

St. Paul's 47, Natchitoches-Central 6

NO. 19 CENTRAL (7-3) AT NO. 14 NEW IBERIA (8-2) -- Central, to the surprise of many, completely overhauled its offense and didn't miss too many beats in the process. In 2009, the Wildcats were known for throwing the football, but they switched to an option attack this year.

James Richardson
Central has a platoon of running backs, although Trevor Sansone and James Richardson pose the most threat. Sansone scored two touchdowns last week vs. Live Oak. Richardson, who consistently runs in the 4.35 range, is the fastest player in the state (along with South Plaquemines WR Bradley Sylve and Cecilia RB Montrel Carter).

A senior with offers from Colorado, Arkansas State, and McNeese State, Richardson is at his best when he's locking down the field at cornerback.

After a 7-0 start, NISH has dropped two of its last three. Last week, the Yellow Jackets held a halftime lead at home vs. unbeaten St. Thomas More before the visiting Cougars scored 30 unanswered points after intermission to win going away, 37-9.

Quarterback Jordy Joseph (2,200-plus yards passing) makes the NISH offense go. Alas, when Joseph struggles (17-for-39, 3 picks vs. STM), so do the Yellow Jackets. Tevin Archon, Delario Austin, and Kyle LaMothe, who has an offer from Tulane, are three of Joseph's favorite targets.

Central 29, New Iberia 25

NO. 22 ASSUMPTION (7-3) AT NO. 11 ZACHARY (8-2) -- This is a feel-good first-rounder featuring two programs that have quietly put together successful seasons.

After losing consecutive district games to Terrbonne and Thibodaux, Assumption has reeled off three wins to close out the regular-season.

QB Hunter Gauthreaux has been efficient with the football for the Mustangs. He has 15 TD passes with only a couple of picks. The trio of Chris Johnson, Leonard Buggage, and Chris Skidmore ensures that Assumption has a fresh pair of legs for the running game.

Zachary, as well, has won three in a row. The Broncos have some momentum after a 41-27 win last week over Catholic-BR. Dillon Beard sealed the deal in that game, intercepting a Zack Oliver pass late in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Neil Weiner has a reputation for getting maximum effort from his players, and two of his leading ballcarriers are Ron Pennington (107 yards, 4 TDs vs. Catholic) and Ladarrius Vessell. Mason Pace and Darol Dewey can both make the throws at QB.

Zachary 35, Assumption 16

NO. 27 ACADIANA (5-5) AT NO. 6 EAST ST. JOHN (9-1) -- This is the primetime game this week across all classes. Acadiana won nine games on the field before being forced to forfeit four of those wins because of an ineligible transfer backup that only saw mop-up duty.

The Rams are hungry and plan on using this adversity as motivation. Micah Eugene and Bakari Hollier, both of whom play multiple positions (RB and CB, primarily) are two of the top athletes in the state.

QB Ryan Bergeron is masterful at the controls of Acadiana's split-back veer. Offensive linemen Cade Dawes and Nick Smith are both strong as an ox, and they'll butt heads with a trouble-making East St. John defensive front that includes top junior DT Gerron Borne. Three-star defensive back Floyd Raven has been known to line up at corner, safety, and even linebacker.

D'haquille Williams
Another junior, Darion Monroe, is the signal-caller for the Wildcats. Monroe loves to get the ball into the hands of talented WR D'haquille Williams, who has hovered near a 30-yard per catch average throughout the season.

East St. John's only loss came in a double overtime slugfest vs. No. 1 Dutchtown. Acadiana's sole on-the-field loss was to No. 2 St. Thomas More.

East St. John hasn't faced a veer offense and that gives the Rams an advantage. While ESJ was very impressive vs. the run early in the season vs. Patterson and four-star LSU commit Kenny Hilliard, Acadiana has a much better offensive line than Patterson.

Acadiana 38, East St. John 35

NO. 26 BYRD (6-4) AT NO. 7 OUACHITA (9-1) -- Looking for a darkhorse to win the state title?

How about Ouachita, a team no one seems to be discussing, even though the Lions' only setback came vs. West Monroe?

Junior QB Quentin Wheeler is a dual-threat who has a combined 2,000 yards through the air and on the ground. RB Ricky McCarthy has 726 yards rushing and is averaging 5.72 yards per carry.

Receivers Justin Ginyard (ULM commit), Taijuan Thomas, and Xavier Wilson have a collective 76 receptions for close to 1,200 yards with 17 touchdowns.

Linebacker Terron Bell, who has heavy interest from Louisiana Tech and ULM, is averaging just under double digit tackles with 9.6 stops per game. Rashaun Davis does a splendid job at cornerback.

Last month, Ouachita trumped Byrd in Shreveport to the tune of 34-7, and the Yellow Jackets have lost three of their last four, including a surprising defeat at the hands of Natchitoches-Central last week.

Byrd QB Richard Carthon has been hobbled at times by a foot injury and is reportedly 100% healthy now. RB Christian Willis doesn't have great size at 145 pounds, but the junior was the catalyst (140 yards rushing) in Byrd's Week 9 win over Pineville. Matt Sharp had a TD reception in that game.

Ouachita 27, Byrd 14

NO. 23 CATHOLIC-BR (6-4) AT NO. 10 ST. AUGUSTINE (7-2) -- After an appearance in the semifinals last year, Catholic was pegged by most analysts as a team that would make a run at the state championship this year.

The Bears, however, have endured some headaches on defense, despite the stellar play of Stanford commit Lance Callihan, DE/LB Grant Venable, and flashy junior LB Chris Morgan. Catholic has given up close to 26 points per game, and the Bears were throttled early in the season by St. Thomas More's running game (in a 56-23 loss).

Jonah Austin
RB Scott Salinas tallied 116 yards rushing last week in Catholic's loss to Zachary. QB Zack Oliver is a Northwestern commit who has a strong arm. The Bears began the year with an inexperienced receiving corps and no one has emerged as a steady big-play threat.

St. Augustine, meanwhile, has more than its share of stars on both sides of the football, beginning with 300-plus pounders Trai Turner (LSU commit) and Jonah Austin (Houston commit) on the offensive line. Freshman dynamo RB Leonard Fournette already has a verbal offer from LSU. QB Terry Lucas was first-team All-Catholic League as a junior and he's been even better this time around.

St. Augustine 39, Catholic 30

WEST JEFFERSON (6-4) AT HAHNVILLE (6-3) -- There should be some fireworks when these two teams collide. West Jefferson QB Shawn Hoye can beat you with his arm or his feet and he did exactly that in the Buccaneers' season-opening win over St. Augustine.

In that game, Hoye threw for 351 yards and four TDs. He added 378 and 345-yard efforts in narrow losses to Dutchtown and Jesuit. Safety Kenneth Proctor is a headhunter in the secondary.

Hahnville QB Brian Ensminger, a Stephen F. Austin commit, is motivated after tossing two pick-sixes in a 41-16 loss to East St. John last week. RB Ahmad White has approximately 1,500 yards on the ground and 6-foot-3 WR Derek Howard is committed to Memphis.

Multi-tasker (DE/LB/S) Lindzell Rhodes has come up with several sacks and interceptions for the Tigers. DE/LB JonTrell Lockett is a force.

Hahnville 36, West Jefferson 34

NO. 31 AIRLINE (5-5) AT NO. 2 ST. THOMAS MORE (10-0) -- No program has been hotter from start to finish than St. Thomas More. The Cougars have several impressive wins on their resume, including an easy 42-17 win over Acadiana and a road victory at Evangel Christian.

The Cougars use two quarterbacks: Brandon Bergeron and Matt Flores, with Bergeron the better passer and Flores the better runner. Tight ends Jordan Murray and Evan Tatford have delivered crushing blocks to clear the way for Flores and RB Joe Oliver LaPrairie.

Safety Sam Scofield is a Tulane commit.

Airline has won two in a row behind the running of Myles Moss, who racked up 88 yards on 15 carries in a 31-0 shutout of Southwood last Friday. Michael Nunnery (71 yards on 7 carries last week) is another option at running back for the Vikings.

St. Thomas More 30, Airline 0

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