The Westgate Tigers play six of ten games on the road this season, starting with Friday’s matchup at Lafayette Christian Academy, which has won 20 straight.
“Last year we only lost one game on the road so we can put that into context,” Westgate head coach Ryan Antoine said. “Our kids, for some reason, focus better when they’re on the road.”
The Tigers want to avoid a slow start after losing 48-21 to Catholic High in Week 1 last season.
“Our big thing is that Westgate doesn’t have a history of starting the year off right,” Antoine said.
“Everyone knows they’d rather play us early in the year, so Friday is a good test for us to get ourselves together and play a quality opponent in the opener.”
LCA, which is ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, is led by junior wide receiver/defensive back Sage Ryan, who scored two touchdowns in a 20-0 jamboree win over Catholic-Pointe Coupee.
Ryan is the third-ranked junior prospect in Louisiana, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
He’s joined by two seniors teammates ranked in the top 100 statewide - quarterback/wide receiver Errol Rogers and linebacker Princeton Malbrue.
A Louisiana-Lafayette wide receiver commit, Rogers will start at quarterback although he also might play receiver.
In the preseason scrimmage vs. St. Martinville, Rogers caught a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ryan Roberts, whose father (Ron) is the ULL defensive coordinator.
“This is a good chance to see where we are as a program,” Antoine said. “They’re two-time state champions, so it will be a great game for us to see if we belong as one of the top teams in the area.”
Westgate may have a larger enrollment, but the Knights will have the size advantage.
“They’re bigger than us and they’re talented on the perimeter so we’ll have to put our best foot forward,” Antoine said.
“They may be a 2A team on paper, but they’ll be bigger than us when we walk onto the field.”
The Tigers will have to contain LCA running back Logan Gabriel, a Northwestern State commit who rushed for 1,700 yards and 40 touchdowns as a junior.
“(Gabriel) is a big back,” Antoine said. “He reminds me of our big back we had here, Tyreese Jackson, who is now at Colorado State.
“Once you let those type of guys get rolling, things can open up everywhere else for them, and they also have guys on the perimeter. Stopping the run is definitely going to be a big key. “
Another key will be the play of WHS quarterbacks Brennan Landry and JaQuallen Allen.
“JaQuallen played one game for us last year (vs. Jeanerette),” Antoine said.
“This is Brennan’s first game under the lights, so we want to give him some easy things to do to get him comfortable in this big matchup.”
Antoine said his players are excited about facing an LCA program that has established itself as a perennial powerhouse.
“We teach that around here. We’ll play anyone at any time,” the WHS coach said. “We love that kind of competition.
“Our schedule — district and non-district — is no slouch. Our guys understand that they have to come out here every day and compete.”