Semifinals: West Monroe vs. Westgate

West Monroe and defensive tackle Chuck Hunter are the defending Class 5A state champions and the Rebels haven't lost a game since 2008. Will that lengthy winning streak come to an end this week when West Monroe visits Westgate in the semifinals?

(Class 5A picks through three rounds: 18-10; Overall, 107-32)

NO. 4 WEST MONROE (13-0) AT NO. 24 WESTGATE (8-4) -- This is the prep football version of David vs. Goliath.

West Monroe, AKA "Goliath," rides south into the semifinals with a 28-game winning streak in tow. Last week, the Rebels outgained Jesuit 234-55 in the first half of a 28-11 victory.

Paul Turner
Quarterback Paul Turner, who is committed to LSU, heads up an offense that presents defenses with a variety of looks ranging from the Rebels' traditional option-I formation to the spread.

Turner and fellow senior Tyler Cain (RB) can both fly and are constant threats to take it to the house.

Although Turner will play another position in college, he's an excellent passer (13 TDs, 0 INT) on the prep football level. West Monroe missed some easy scoring opportunities last week when receivers dropped perfectly-placed passes from Turner.

Cain has rushed for 1,450 yards on the year with 23 touchdowns and is averaging almost 10 yards per carry. Last week, he gained 82 yards on 14 attempts (and scored a TD). He eclipsed the 200-yard barrier twice this fall (241 yards vs. Barbe and 267 vs. Captain Shreve).

The Rebels are formidable, as usual, on defense. Three-star defensive tackle Chuck Hunter does a nice job of clogging up the middle. He has 62 tackles. ILB Jonathan Tyson (46 tackles) has great size (6-2, 230).

Tyler Cain
Junior defensive linemen Terrell Lathan and James McFarland are receiving a lot of attention from college recruiters.

Westgate may be "David" in this situation, but the Tigers have certainly been here before. Head coach Brian Fine has brought the New Iberia school to the semifinals in three of the last four years.

Last week, the Tigers upset then-unbeaten No. 1 Dutchtown on the road. RB D'Nerius Antoine scored on two touchdown runs as Westgate triumphed, 29-14.

Antoine, freshman RB Jamal Sam, and FB Allan Stansbury are all viable options in the Tigers' Wing-T offense. LB Bryson Broussard picked off a late pass vs. Dutchtown to help clinch the win.

"Westgate and Karr are the two best defensive teams that we played," said Northside DT Tyler Porter, whose team dropped a 17-6 decision to Westgate back in October. "They play some really good ball, especially on defense, but we basically stopped them.

"I'm not taking anything away from them, but their longest drives against us were only 40-50 yards. We threw five interceptions and lost two fumbles that night and our defense was on the field the whole game."

Porter hit the nail on the head with those comments.

Westgate is an ultra-conservative team -- especially on the 5A level -- that doesn't take unnecessary chances. The Tigers are going to run the football and they dare you to stop it. On defense, Westgate is quick and athletic and they'll pounce on turnovers.

Jamal Sam
When you examine the Tigers' schedule, their playoff run is somewhat perplexing. After all, this is the same team that scraped by 3A St. James, 6-0.

The same team that was handled by heated crosstown rival New Iberia, 29-10; the same team that was blown out by St. Thomas More, 42-0.

Doesn't matter.

The Tigers, once again, are here in the semifinals and it's a testament to Coach Fine's ability to get his team to perform at a high level in the postseason.

Can Westgate - at home - get past the semifinal hump, once and for all?

West Monroe, 24-0.

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