By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine
It’s that time of year again, the best time of year — Thanksgiving and Christmas are not far away and it’s Week 10 of the regular season for high school football teams in Louisiana.
Today I would like to share my two cents after watching football statewide in Louisiana over 30 years, giving you from my eyes what I’ve seen this fall in both North and South Louisiana.
It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it! I feel like I am the guy best positioned to provide Shreveport-Bossier football fans, players, coaches and parents analysis about the programs that might make it to Thanksgiving weekend or later — and the programs or teams elsewhere they could face along the path toward the Caesars Superdome.
Today we will focus on Class 5A Select and Non-Select playoffs.
In Class 5A locally, we have no teams ranked in the LSWA Top 10 poll from Shreveport-Bossier City, but we do have LHSAA power rankings. Airline (6-3) is No. 6, then comes No. 11 Benton (6-3), No. 15 Parkway (7-2) and at 25th, we have Haughton (5-4).
Byrd is right outside the LSWA Class 5A rankings in the state, but in the power ranking, the Yellow Jackets are in good shape at No. 5 among the Select Division I crowd.
So, who are the big school teams that will be tough for any team in the state to beat?
Class 5A’s top-ranked Destrehan is the best team I saw play this year — you don’t want to draw them as your opponent. Destrehan has 22 players in the starting lineup who will play college football one day and the offensive and defensive lines average over 6-3 in height and 300-pounds-plus in weight. To give you an idea of their talent, they have seven college prospects at WR. You can only use five on a play and that’s if you don’t go with a running back.
On the Class 5A Select side, the best teams I saw play in South Louisiana are Catholic-Baton Rouge and John Curtis, Edna Karr and Warren Easton of New Orleans.
In Class 5A Non-Select I would say Ruston is right there near the top, and as I mentioned, Destrehan is the team to beat. I would say Zachary is a threat.
So where do I think the local schools can win in the playoffs? Avoid these schools above and you have a chance.
In Non-Select locally I think Airline could shock some people in the playoffs. They have the right young, talented quarterback in Ben Taylor, with big-play WRs, a quality running back in Tre Jackson and a good, underrated defense.
If Benton and Parkway (led by Jaylan White) can both avoid the wrong matchups (teams with strong defenses), they also both can win a playoff game with their high-scoring offenses. Benton, led by Gray Walters and Pearce Russell, has lit up scoreboards. Haughton needs to win Friday night to get a really good matchup and seed, which they will need to avoid some of the top teams mentioned above.
On the Select side locally you have four teams who all have the ability to upset some programs ranked higher than them. Byrd, as mentioned, is fifth in the power ratings and Northwood (7-2) is No. 6.
Huntington (5-4) sits at 15th and has the dynamic Kam Evans, if he’s healthy. Captain Shreve stands 18th at 4-5, having been hit by injuries after a good start, but looking better the last couple of weeks.
Teams not in the top three you want to avoid are St. Augustine (4), Carencro (7), and Acadiana (8) — all big-time programs loaded with size and speed on both sides of the football.
I think Byrd can beat anyone on any given day. The Yellow Jackets have a really good group of seniors, along with young players who are starting to come on late in the year. They are accustomed to the playoffs and expect to succeed in postseason.
Northwood would need to score a lot of points but can do that to win a playoff game. They have the talent to do more. Huntington has played a quality schedule and it should pay off in the playoffs. Captain Shreve has the talent to beat anyone in the playoffs — if the Gators can get healthy and play sharp.
There aren’t heavyweights locally, but there are several teams who could be practicing during Thanksgiving week.
Friday: a look at the other divisions and local contenders.
Contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org