From an 0-3 start, the Catholic High Panthers have rebounded nicely to run off six straight wins and in the process, improve their power ranking as CHS is around seventh in the rankings as the final game of the regular season looms Thursday.
And while CHS has accomplished much this season, there is still so much more on the line Thursday night as the Hornets come to town.
Firstly, Catholic High clinched a share of the District 7-2A title last week with an impressive 77-12 win over Jeanerette. But Franklin and Ascension Epicopal are right behind CHS with one district loss each.
If Franklin can upset CHS and Ascension handle West St. Mary, there would be a three-way tie for the district championship. Somthing that hasn’t happened for Franklin since the 2004 season.
“We know that they are coming into the game with something to prove,” said Catholic High coach Brent Indest. “They haven’t won a district title since the early 2000’s and I know their coach is telling them they have a chance to so something that hasn’t been done in several years.
“We know they are going to come and do everthing they can to get that win.
“We can’t afford to take them lightly or not take them seriously.”
Secondly, while the Panthers are guaranteed a spot in the Division III playoffs, where they will end up is still in question.
Right now, the Panthers are the seventh seed and will play the first round game at home — but that could change.
“There is a very real possibility that a home playoff game rides on the outcome of this game,” Indest said. “If we lose, a couple of teams could jump us and we could end up on the road in the first round.
“That’s something that I’ve stressed to the kids this week. We need to win to get a home playoff game.”
Thirdly, a win over Franklin would keep a remarkable streak going. The Panthers have not lost a district game since losing to Notre Dame in the last week of the 2016 campaign — a span of 18 straight games.
A win would also be the third straight outright district football title won by the Panthers.
“We’ve kind of gotten to the point here where district titles are the by-product of our end game goal of playing in the finals,” Indest said. “But I still want to stress to the kids that the team we’re playing Thursday is hungry.
“We’re playing a team that’s juiced up and ready to play and wh’s actually bigger, faster and stronger than we are. We’re going to have to come out and play as a team and we’re going to have to excute way better than they do.”
One thing working in Catholic High’s favor is running back Tray Henry.
While the records are not complete on this issue, it is believed that Henry is on pace to become the all-time leading rusher in CHS football history with more than 2,000 yards to his credit since getting onto the field as a freshman.
As for Franklin, the Hornets’ opened the season wit three straight losses to Class 3A Kaplan and Class 5A schools Central Lafourche and Southside.
But the loss to Southside very easily could have been a win as the loss two weeks ago to Ascension Episcopal.
Franklin lost to Southside by three points and to AES by two points.
The Hornets are currently 14th in the powe raankings, trying to stay in the top 16 and play host to a first round playoff game.
Last season, Franklin advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time is school history and are looking to build on that this year.
Kickoff Thursday night is 7 p.m.