If you like Class 5A football in Louisiana, especially the Baton Rouge-area teams, there is good news: The odds of finding a nonselect football playoff game to like this week are in your favor.
Local teams grabbed spots in eight of the 16 first-round 5A nonselect playoff games — the most ever for Baton Rouge in Louisiana’s top class?— when the LHSAA released its playoff pairings on Sunday.
“Just a few years ago, people didn’t think 5A football in Baton Rouge was very good,” Zachary High coach David Brewerton said. “I talked to somebody about that very thing not long ago. And now you have this … it’s incredible. It’s still 5A football, where you have to play a tough opponent every week and there’s no place to hide.”
Brewerton’s fourth-seeded Zachary team tops the list of local teams in 5A. The Broncos (8-2) of District 4-5A host No. 29 Mandeville (4-5) to open the playoffs. Two 5-5A rivals who played Friday night, fifth-seeded St. Amant (9-1) and No. 6 East Ascension (8-2), also host. EAHS and St. Amant tied in the LHSAA's power ratings; the Gators got the higher seed based on Friday’s win.
The 5A story was the major one among select schools. The big picture in 5A was even more impressive. Add in three select playoff teams?— Scotlandville, Catholic and McKinley?— and 11 of the area’s 13 Class 5A teams made the playoffs.
“I think 5A football here is very competitive and has been getting better over the last few years,” St. Amant’s Oliver said.
The other 5A nonselect playoff teams from 4-5A are No. 19 Walker (6-4), No. 22 Live Oak (5-5), No. 23 Denham Springs (6-4) and No. 32 Central (4-6). No. 17 Dutchtown (6-4) is the other 5-5A team.
Fifth-seeded Plaquemine (8-2) tops a much shorter list of 4A teams, while fourth-seeded St. James (7-3) and No. 6 West Feliciana (9-1) lead the list of 3A schools. WFHS has been a 3A semifinalist the last three years.
“The most important thing is that we’re in it and we get to continue to play,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said. “These guys have experience in playoff situations, and I believe they will take it up a notch.”
Two nonselect teams in different classifications are chasing rare firsts. Class 3A Albany (8-2) claimed a No. 15 seed and will host a playoff game for the first time, against No. 18 Crowley (6-4). The Hornets also seek their first playoff win.
It is the same for East Iberville in Class 1A. The 16th-seeded Tigers (5-5) host No. 17 Delhi (3-7). EIHS lost to St. Edmund in the opening round in 1999. Coach Ron LeJeune’s team is a little more than a year removed from a 46-game losing streak.
Woodlawn (6-4) in Class 4A got a playoff rematch that was expected. The Panthers travel to No. 7 Neville-Monroe. A year ago, it was a No. 1 vs. 32 game.
In Class 2A, Northeast hosts No. 21 Port Allen for the only district rematch. Port Allen won 42-34 in the first game between the 7-2A rivals.