NO. 5 PARKVIEW BAPTIST (12-2) VS. NO. 7 PATTERSON (12-2) -- Last year, Parkview Baptist ousted Patterson (33-21) from the playoffs in the quarterfinals, setting up tonight's rematch on a bigger stage.
After losing two straight games (to East St. John and Redemptorist) to open the season, Patterson hasn't lost again, although their winning streak looked to be in doubt last week at home vs. West Feliciana.
Trailing 21-14 with no timeouts left and less than two minutes remaining, things appeared grim for Patterson. West Feliciana, however, ran the option instead of kneeling on the ball and Patterson RB/LB Kenny Hilliard knocked the pigskin loose from the Saints.
The Jacks pounced on the football and QB Justice Jones promptly found junior WR Jaydrick Declouet alone in one-on-one coverage along the right sideline for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage.
An LSU commit, Hilliard has rushed for 1,931 yards and 22 touchdowns. The big back won't likely outrun anyone in a footrace, but he's a certainly a load to bring down (at 230-245 pounds) in the open field.
Jones, a junior quarterback, has thrown for more than 2,200 yards with 21 TDs. More than a third of his completions have gone to Declouet (52 receptions, 901 yards, 10 TDs).
On defense, Patterson boasts a pair of excellent DBs in senior corner Dexter Aucoin (Tulsa commit) and junior safety Tre'Von Stewart. LB/DE Lorenzo Phillips and LB Tremaine Lightfoot are additional standouts.
Parkview Baptist, which has only lost to 5A programs Acadiana and Dutchtown, blanked then-undefeated defending state champion Notre Dame last week, 17-0, in a rematch of last year's state title game.
The Eagles rely on a suffocating defense that is led by defensive tackle Tom Bove and linebacker Paxton Cook. Bove, a junior, has been extremely effective on the other side of the ball as a FB in short-yardage situations.
Fullback Brandon Johnson has rushed for just under 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns for PBS. Running back Garrett Banta (709 yards, nine TDs) and QB Brennan Bozeman (almost 1,000 yards combined rushing and passing) are other players to watch for the Eagles.
BOTTOM LINE: Parkview Baptist boasts a smothering defense that completely shut down Notre Dame last week, holding the Pioneers to 45 yards rushing on 26 attempts. The Eagles are equally proficient against the passing game, having picked off five passes in the semis.
Patterson was careless with the football last week, turning the ball over five times, and the Lumberjacks won't be as fortunate tonight if they make as many mistakes.
PBS' awesome effort last week against nemesis Notre Dame cannot be ignored here. If the Eagles play as well tonight as they did in the semifinals, then they'll be headed back to Baton Rouge with a state championship in tow.
Parkview Baptist, 20-16