By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine
It’s been an exciting ride to watch the 2022 LHSAA football playoffs and now we enjoy the cream of the crop lining up against each other in the quarterfinal round.
That’s certainly true as we break down the Division III Select matchup sending Calvary Baptist into Baton Rouge Friday night to the Dunham School Stadium for a clash with the 10-1 Tigers.
The best two teams left in this division are playing in this game. Yes, I did say that. Neither is seeded No. 1, but I think No. 5 Calvary (9-2) and fourth-seeded Dunham School (10-1) are the two best teams and it’s a shame one will have to lose this week.
I saw Dunham play twice this fall. I have seen Calvary last year and once this year. Both teams are very well-coached, and can score a lot of points. They have the defensive players down scoring.
Newman QB Arch Manning deservedly gets all the national attention as a sure-fire college prospect. But you will not find two better high school quarterbacks for their programs in the state than Calvary’s first-year starter Abram Wardell and another newcomer, Jackson House from Dunham.
House is the son of Matt House, LSU’s first-year defensive coordinator and will be the focus for Calvary’s very strong defense. He reminds me of a smaller version of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow when the future Florida Gators great was playing high school ball.
He’s only 5-11, 196 to 200 pounds, but if you don’t contain him look out. House can house it. He runs better than most RB’s in the state and he doesn’t go down very easy – House is very tough to tackle in the open field.
Calvary will surely need a spy at LB to stop this kid from picking up third downs on key drives. House makes a living doing that with big plays.
The Cavaliers will also need to avoid Dunham dominating the Calvary offensive line. One of the best defensive fronts in all of Louisiana I’ve seen in 2022 is at Dunham. The Tigers are led by DE Jake Rizzo (6-4, 245), DE Laramie Guidry (6-6, 225), DT/DE Malachi Jackson (6-2, 245), and DT Braden Augustus (6-1, 290). This is a very athletic group, not just big kids. Even considering their matchups against Byrd and Captain Shreve, this will be the best defensive line Calvary Baptist will have seen all year.
What’s the answer? The Cavs will counter with one of the best skill groups in Louisiana. This will be the best Dunham has seen, steered by Wardell, who has thrown for 1,858 yards, with 27 passing TDS while completing an amazing 110 of 137 attempts. Coach Rodney Guin has an arsenal with RB James Simon, WR Aubrey Hermes, WR Julius Moss, CB/WR Xavier McGlothan and WR/RB John Simon. Everybody in this group runs under a 4.5 in the 40 all day long.
Dunham does have some skill players to go with House. The Tigers also have a 4.5 WR with great hands in Jac Comeaux, and dangerous weapons like TE Collin Franta (6-6 225), FS/WR Colin Boldt (6-1, 201) and FB/LB Sione Albert — he has multiple games with two interceptions.
I don’t believe people around the state understand what an excellent defense Guin’s Cavaliers field. If the Cavs can hold their own against the Tigers’ D-line, the matchup of the Calvary defense against House and company could give the visitors the edge.
This will be one heck of a game. This should go down to the wire and to use another cliché’, because it fits, whoever has the ball last could control the outcome.
I give Dunham the edge only because it’s a home game for the Tigers, but both these teams have the talent to win a state title, and both have plenty of playoff experience. As I said at the top, the winner of this game will walk off with the championship in Division III Select.
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