The opponents don’t get any easier for four Teche Area football teams preparing for second-round playoff games.
St. Martinville gets its first playoff home game, while New Iberia and Loreauville head to Baton Rouge and Catholic High travels to New Orleans for regional playoff games. All four games are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs Friday.
Thirtieth seed SMSH (6-5) plays host to LaGrange (8-3), the No. 14 seed in Class 4A.
In a Class 5A game, No. 12 seed New Iberia (9-2) faces No. 5 Catholic High of Baton Rouge (8-2) at Olympia Stadium.
The area’s two Class 2A playoff squads, No. 7 seed Catholic High (8-2) plays No. 23 G.W. Carver (7-3) at Pan American Stadium in New Orleans and No. 14 seed Loreauville (9-2) travels to the LSU campus to face University Lab (10-1), seeded third.
St. Martinville vs. LaGrange
Veteran coach Gary Adkins couldn’t be happier about his squad advancing to the second round of the playoffs, and earning a home game in the process. He’s getting a similar feel from the community.
“That’s pretty fantastic,” said Adkins. “A playoff game at home, and being in the second round at home. I know our little town is buzzing.”
The Tigers, of course, earned that right by shocking third-seeded Lutcher 30-29 in the first round of the playoffs, on the road.
Adkins said that at this point in the season, teams will do what they do best. That means no big surprises in the gameplan.
“I’ve been coaching 31 years, and I don’t really tell what we’re going to do,” said Adkins. “Those other coaches might read it. But I will say this, we’re just going to do what we do and what we’re comfortable with. At this time of year, it’s not the time to change anything. It’s not time to start ‘coaching’ and get smart.”
Carver likes to line up in a double tight end formation and run the ball, Adkins said, led by tailback Tyler Guillory.
“They run the football really well,” said Adkins. “They’ve got a very athletic group.
“Defensively they run a 3-4. They give you some problems. We’ll have our hands full.”
But it will be at home, and that’s a plus.
“We’re really, really excited about playing the game at home,” Adkins said.
New Iberia vs. Catholic-Baton Rouge
New Iberia is preparing for veteran CHS coach Dale Weiner’s “Spin” offense, which is a combination of the shotgun and wing-T offensive sets, said NISH coach Rick Hutson. The “Spin” offense is so named because the quarterback pivots on every snap, then can hand off to either of two running backs, keep the ball or run a play-action pass.
“They’re very unique in their method,” said Hutson.
Weiner, now in his 26th year at CHS and with 279 wins to his credit, and his staff developed the offense in 2001, according to an article in American Football Monthly. Running backs Khalil Thomas and Derrius Guice lead the rushing attack.
“Both are very fast,” said Hutson. “They’ve got a senior (Thomas) who’s really physical but not as big as the sophomore (Guice), who’s about 6-foot and 200 plus pounds.”
Guice has the makings to develop into an SEC running back, said Hutson. He’d be joining a long line of talented tailbacks at CHS, including Karl Bernard (LSU/UL-Lafayette), Travis Minor (Florida State) and Warrick Dunn (Florida State), who starred for the Bears when Weiner ran a pro-I formation.
Defensively, CHS runs a three-man front, which the Yellow Jackets have faced most of the season, said Hutson.
“They’re very sound. The thing that impresses you is they play really good technique on the defensive line,” said Hutson. “You don’t see them out of position very much. (The linebackers and secondary) are very well coached. Their pursuit angles are very solid.”
Tickets for the game will be sold in advance at NISH today through noon Friday at the school front office. Tickets are $7 in advance or $8 at the gate.
Catholic High vs. G.W. Carver
Catholic High faces a very athletic group of skill players in Carver, including 6-4 receiver Raheem Falkins, quarterback Joey Louis and running back Eugene Brazley.
Brazley, who has committed to play for Ole Miss, has rushed for 1,040 yards and 15 touchdowns. Louis has thrown for 1,749 yards and 22 TDs with six interceptions, and Falkins, an Alabama commitment, is his leading receiver with 31 catches for 591 yards and 10 TDs.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” said CHS coach Keith Menard. “They’ve got weapons pretty much everywhere.”
The Rams haven’t played as well defensively, getting into a number of shootouts (72-68 loss to Newman, 46-43 win over Riverside, 34-36 loss to South Plaquemines), said Menard, but that seems to be because the players enjoy offense so much more than defense. Carver is averaging 44.4 points a game this season and allowing 24.4 per game, despite throwing two shutouts and limiting two other opponents to 6 points apiece.
“They just spend a lot more time on offense,” said Menard. “The kids look like they enjoy playing offense a lot more. We can’t let them make plays and get turnovers.”
The coach expects turnovers, as the Panthers forced last week in a win over Mansfield, and special teams to be key to the game again this week. CHS opens practice every day with a special teams drill. That lets the player know the importance the coaches assign to special teams, Menard said.
“We work real hard at it,” Menard said.
“Coach Matt (Desor-meaux) is in charge of special teams, and he’s got them believing in that phase of the game.”
Loreauville vs. University Lab
Loreauville faces one of the top seeds in the state, a very physical University Lab School squad.
“They’ve been a team that everybody’s talked about along with the typical Evangel and John Curtis (in Class 2A),” said LHS coach Trent Delahoussaye. “They are very good. They lost to Calvary Baptist last year in the quarterfinals by only 3 points.”
Defensive end Tim Williams (6-3, 230), one of the state’s most highly-recruited players, reminds Delahoussaye of Jermauria Rasco, who signed with LSU out of Evangel in 2011.
“He’s a specimen,” said Delahoussaye. “He makes a lot of tackles when you run away from him. He chases you down from behind. But the other defensive end (Matthew Berg, 6-3, 200) is just as good. He’s probably faster. You can’t run away from them.”
Sophomore tailback Nick Brossette also stands out, having rushed for 1,500 yards as a freshman.
“The first thing that stood out when we watched (game film) was how physical they are,” said Delahoussaye. “On defense they’re very physical and fast. Their speed is not something we’ve faced all year. Sometimes it looks like they have 12 players on the field.
“Offensively they do a lot of what we do.”
The team also has good bloodlines, with many of the LSU coaching staff’s sons playing, including quarterback Nik Kragthorpe, son of LSU quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe, and his backup, sophomore Manny Miles, son of LSU head coach Les Miles.
The game will be played at Jeff Boss Stadium, located just behind the new Alex Box Stadium on the LSU campus.