Practicing on Thanksgiving week is the privilege of postseason success, and nine local schools can earn that distinction if they prevail Friday evening in LHSAA second-round football playoff games.
Haughton gets homefield advantage based on one play (read below) and one big win, its shocker over Airline last Friday night.
Captain Shreve faces one of the state’s perennial postseason contenders, Warren Easton, in New Orleans. Evangel travels to Thibodaux and the Eagles will clash with the Cardinals of E.D. White. Both Warren Easton and E.D. White ended the regular season ranked second in their classes statewide.
11-East St. John (9-2) at 27-Haughton (6-5)
Where: Harold E. Harlan Stadium
Series: First meeting
Last week: East St. John beat Walker 29-28; Haughton beat Airline 36-26
Rankings: East St. John received votes in LSWA 5A poll
All-time playoff record: East St. John 21-26; Haughton 37-39
Notables: Following the 42-7 loss to Captain Shreve in the final regular-season game – putting a doubt on Haughton’s chances of getting into the playoffs for the 26th straight year – Bucs coach Jason Brotherton was asked by the program’s coaches of the freshman team if they should put the practice equipment up for the season. “I didn’t let them put it up,” Brotherton said. “I knew there was a chance (of getting into the playoffs).” And here the Bucs are in Round 2 … Also, forgive Brotherton if he does a little rain dance Friday morning before the East St. John game on the grass at Harold E. Harlan Stadium. Haughton beat Airline in Round 1 on a rainy, windy night on turf at Airline’s M.D. Ray Field. East St. John seldom plays on a grass field, much less a wet and muddy field. Friday’s chance of rain: 6%. So, maybe “accidentally” hose down the field before the game? “It has crossed my mind,” Brotherton said. (He was joking!) … Had the East St. John Wildcats’ Round 1 opponent, Walker, made a field goal on the last play of the game, Haughton would be on the road this week instead of at home — where Brotherton said the Bucs “usually play well” … Wildcats’ QB Yashua Mitchell (5-10, 185), has a big arm and 4.5 speed … A couple of his targets include Koyal Gray (4.4 speed) and Dkhai Joseph (5-9, 150, 4.4) … A Buc or two will have to mind ESJ O-lineman Gaylon Fobb, easy to spot at 6-3, 370 … Behind 4-year starter and premier lineman Peyton Polk, fellow Haughton seniors Colin Rains (QB) and Tyler Rhodes (RB) rushed for 387 of the team’s 390 yards in last week’s 36-26 win over Airline.
17-Captain Shreve (6-5) at 1-Warren Easton (9-1)
Where: Pan American Stadium, City Park, New Orleans
Series: First meeting
Last week: Captain Shreve beat Tioga 36-27; Warren Easton had a bye
Rankings: Warren Easton is No. 2 in LSWA 4A poll
All-time playoff record: Captain Shreve 19-28-2; Warren Easton 35-25-2
Radio: CS (KLKL 95.7 FM; www.klkl.fm)
Notables: Things got a little chippy in Shreve’s first-round playoff win at Tioga, with one Indian being ejected. “Usually, things get chippy when a team is getting beat and doesn’t have the discipline to overcome it,” said Gators head coach Adam Kirby. “I was proud of our kids for going into a hostile environment and not doing anything to hurt ourselves. We’ve been preaching all year about how to overcome moments in the game and how to play with class. A good example of that was Jordan Wiggins getting punched twice and not retaliating. On the play he was punched, we scored and because he kept his cool, we were awarded a TD and a penalty on the kickoff instead of offsetting penalties”. . . This week’s opponent, Warren Easton, has been to the state semifinals eight straight years. “They are really good,” Kirby said, “so you talk to (your team) about everything but explain that it’s really about HOW we play instead of WHO we play. We’ve been playing with confidence the last couple of weeks, and I know our kids will play hard Friday night, too”. . . How does Shreve knock off the #1 seed? “We continue to play up to our standard – fast, physical and fearless,” Kirby said. “We preach to our kids every day that when you play Captain Shreve, those are the three characteristics for which we want to be known. This year’s group has overcome a lot of adversity and put in a lot of work to get to this point. We have a chance to be in the quarterfinals for the first time as a 5A program. Our kids know that as long as we’re playing by our standard and not getting too up or too down with the different flows of the game, I’ll be proud!”
13-Evangel (7-4) at 4-E.D. White (9-1)
Where: E.D. White in Thibodaux
Series: Evangel 1-0
Last played: 2019 playoffs, Evangel 84-20
Last week: Evangel beat Istrouma 60-0; E.D. White had a bye
Rankings: E.D. White is No. 2 in LSWA 3A poll
All-time playoff record: Evangel 101-17; E.D. White 47-46
Notables: The Eagles (7-4) ride a four-game win streak, including back-to-back shutouts (49-0 vs. BTW in regular-season finale, 60-0 vs. Istrouma in first round) … Evangel lost in the first round of the Division II playoffs last season. The Eagles were last in the quarterfinals in 2018 (Division I) … E.D. White is the reigning Division II runner-up (lost to No. 2 University Lab as the No. 1 seed) … Evangel’s last road playoff victory came in Thibodaux against E.D. White (84-20 in first round in 2019).