Louisiana 5A Quarterfinal Predictions, Part 2

St. Paul's and WR Jermaine Sams (pictured) are 12-0 and seeded No. 3 in the state, but many football fans feel that the Wolves are an underdog to No. 27 Acadiana, which has dominated its first two playoff opponents by a combined score of 105-13. Will Sams and the Wolves leave the Lafayette area with a road win Friday night?

(Last week's 5A picks: 5-3; Overall, 97-22)

NO. 3 ST. PAUL'S (12-0) AT NO. 27 ACADIANA (7-5) -- In case you've been sleeping under a rock for a few weeks, let's break down the Acadiana situation.

The Rams are actually 11-1 on the field, but were forced to forfeit four wins due to a ineligible backup who transferred to the school and presented officials with a fraudulent birth certificate (which went undiscovered until shortly before the end of the regular-season.)

Micah Eugene
"Acadiana is a team that everyone has kept an eye on after the forfeits," said veteran journalist and prep football expert Brady Aymond of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette. "They've been playing possessed -- fired-up and with a chip on their shoulder -- since the forfeits."

Indeed, the Rams have played with a fury over the past few weeks, including a surprisingly easy first-round 56-6 rout of No. 6 East St. John.

Last week, Acadiana intercepted six passes in a 49-7 romp over Zachary, holding the Broncos' quarterbacks to 19-of-42 passing for 139 yards in the process.

On offense, the Rams' split-back veer has accounted for almost 900 rushing yards in two playoff games, including 145 yards on 16 carries (all in the first half) by Micah Eugene last week.

QB Ryan Bergeron does a masterful job of making his reads and running the Acadiana option attack, and he has an excellent offensive line, led by guard Cade Dawes and tackle Nick Smith.

Jay Washington
Fortunately for St. Paul's, the Wolves - unlike many teams - have already faced not one, but two veer attacks (against Ponchatoula and Central) this year.

Defensive tackle Mickey Johnson, a four-star prospect who is ranked No. 19 in the nation at his position, is probably the strongest player in the state. Linebacker Tyler Tourelle leads the team with 88 tackles (67 solo), and sophomore free safety Jay Washington has put his name on the map this fall (62 stops, 3 INT).

St. Paul's has a triple-headed monster at running back with fullback Dylan Long and speedsters Mikhail Washington and Markell Powell.

Today, Washington was named New Orleans.com Prep Player of the Week for his accomplishments in last week's 31-28 win over New Iberia. In that game, Washington ran for 67 yards on 11 carries with 2 TDs and caught 4 passes for 115 yards and another score.

Jermaine Sams
Jermaine Sams, an SMU commit, is among the best receivers in the state. Sams has caught 36 passes for 659 yards with 6 TDs, including a 99-yarder against Central.

Last week, Sams caught 4 passes for 75 yards and returned 3 kicks for 88 yards. He's averaging just under 30 yards per kick return this year.

Quarterback Alec Duncan has thrown for over 1,000 yards and is making better decisions with the football this season. He has 15 touchdown passes with only 5 interceptions (compared to 13 TDs, 8 INT in 2009).

"We don't really know what to expect from St. Paul's," said Aymond. "When you look at their schedule, they don't have that one win that jumps out at you, and NISH went over there and played them closely.

"A lot of people feel that St. Paul's is the underdog against Acadiana, and I'm sure that they've heard - and are tired of hearing - that they're not one of the best teams in the state, even though they're undefeated."

Markell Powell
After a four-point win (19-15) over Central in Week 2, St. Paul's hadn't been challenged until last week's 31-28 win over New Iberia. Defensive back Dane Stubbs preserved the Wolves' state title chances by picking off a NISH pass in the end zone with under a minute remaining.

While the Wolves didn't perform as well as they expected last week, that close call could actually be a plus heading into a tough environment at Acadiana Friday night.

St. Paul's, 29-28

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