- Gary Laney, Reporter, GeauxTigerNation
But for 20 Louisiana teams and many of the state's top prospects, semifinal week brings them within one game of their ultimate goal as high school football players from the Pelican State: A chance to play at the LHSAA/State Farm Prep Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In Louisiana, state championship games in five enrollment classes are played in the Superdome over two days. This year, the Classic is Dec. 7-8. The matchups will be determined in packed prep stadiums around the state on Friday. Here's a brief look at the matchups:
No. 13 Mandeville (10-2) at No. 1 Metairie Ashbishop Rummel (12-0): It's a battle of under-the-radar quarterbacks. Rummel's Damian Williams has completed 78 of 120 passes for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding 741 rushing yards. He's drawn interest from several FBS schools, including a Kansas State offer. Mandeville's Glen Cuiellette is one of the state's top 2014 quarterbacks, having completed 162 of 287 passes for 2,259 yards and 24 touchdowns.
No. 3 West Monroe (11-2) at No. 2 Lake Charles Barbe (12-1): The season statistics for Barbe 2014 Watch List WR Trey Quinn read like a video game: 103 receptions, 1,971 yards, 24 touchdowns. But he's not necessarily the top 2014 player in the game. He'll likely fall behind WM offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, perhaps the top offensive lineman in the 2014 class. Barbe also has LSU commit Desean Smith (38 receptions, 682 yards) at tight end and quarterback Kennon Fontenot, a likely baseball prospect, has passed for 3,701 yards. They'll face a stout West Monroe defense led by 2013 defensive back Xavier Woods, who is receiving some BCS interest.
No. 21 New Orleans McDonogh 35 (8-5) at No 1 Monroe Neville (12-0): McDonogh 35, 4As Cinderella, has better than Cinderella talent with three-star offensive lineman Kenneth Santa Marina leading the way. The Roneagles will be a longshot against defending state champion and long-time powerhouse Neville, which features LSU commit John Diarse and 2014 Watch List member Laurence "Hootie" Jones.
No. 6 New Orleans Holy Cross (10-2) at No. 2 New Orleans Karr (12-0): Holy Cross, a team lacking in big-time talent but with an impressive win over Fournette's New Orleans St. Augustine team, will face one of state's most talented teams in Karr, which has Miami commit Standish Dobard and Texas A&M-bound Noel Ellis in its senior class and Watch List members Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis in the junior class.
No. 1 Baton Rouge Parkview Baptist (11-0) at No. 5 Livonia (11-2): Parkview lacks stars, but has been one of Class 3A's most consistent winners based on sound coaching from long-time coach Kenny Guillotte and a terrific triple-option scheme on offense with running back Hezekiah Randolph, who has received interest from major college programs. Livonia is an up-and-coming Baton Rouge-area program with some 2014 talent.
No. 2 Crowley Notre Dame (11-1) at No. 22 Clinton East Feliciana (8-3): East Feliciana's Kendell Beckwith, Louisiana's top 2013 prospect, put on his superhero cape to help his team rally from a 16-point deficit to beat Farmerville, 22-16 in the quarterfinals behind two touchdown runs and a touchdown pass from Beckwith in the fourth quarter. This week, Beckwith and his teammates will try to stop the Pioneers from making their seventh trip to the 3A finals since 2000. Like Parkview, Notre Dame lacks blue chippers but runs a tremendously successful system under lengendary coach Lewis Cook.
No. 4 Springfield (11-1) at No. 1 River Ridge John Curtis (12-0): Springfield is making its first semifinal appearance in school history and the first semifinal appearance in 40 years for Livingston Parish, a growing suburban/rural county outside Baton Rouge. The Bulldog's reward? The right to play at football factory Curtis, the No. 3 team in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings. The Patriots are loaded with prospects, including six seniors who have committed to Division I programs and a seventh, three-star linebacker Duke Riley, who is pondering several BCS programs. The junior class includes ESPN Watch List members Malachi Dupre and Kenny Young.
No. 3 Baton Rouge University (12-1) at No. 2 Shreveport Evangel (11-2): Two talented teams will line up with multiple blue-chip prospects. "U-High" features 2013 ESPN 150 defensive end Tim Williams, 2014 Watch List member Garrett Brumfield and 2015 prospect Nick Brossette. Evangel offensive lineman Josh Thomas is a Houston commit, linebacker X'Zavier Preston is headed for Oregon State and receiver Trent Taylor will play at Louisiana Tech. All three are three-star prospects.
No. 5 Kentwood (11-1) at No. 1 Monroe Ouachita Christian (13-0): Kentwood's one loss was to Brazil and 3A power Loranger and the Kangaroos also beat LSU commit Jeremy Cutrer and his 3A Kentwood Jewel Sumner team. Kentwood will face the defending state champion OCHS team that, like Notre Dame and Parkview in 3A, lacks blue chip players, but is long on tradition.
No. 6 Edgar West St. John (9-3) at No. 2 Haynesville (10-2): West. St. John has a long football history. Terry Robiskie, the former NFL player and Browns' interim head coach, is from there and current NFL players Quinn Johnson and Tyson Jackson, both ex-LSU stars, prepped at West St. John. WSJ does not have a blue chipper this season, but have kept the winning tradition alive. Speaking of tradition, Haynesville has won 15 state championships, second only to John Curtis in Louisiana prep history.
Leonard Fournette is now in off-season mode. The dream's long over for Jeryl Brazil and countless others.But for 20 Louisiana teams and many of the state's top prospects, semifinal week brings them within one game of their ultimate goal as high school football players from the Pelican State: A chance to play at the LHSAA/State Farm Prep Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.