Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Louisiana's stars still alive in prep playoffs
By Gary Laney
As Louisiana's high school football playoffs reach their second week, the matchups get better in the five classes, each whittled down to a field of 16 remaining teams, many who feature some of the state's top prospects. In Class 5A, West Monroe and Scott/Acadiana meet in a matchup of traditional powers. In 4A, Neville meets Breaux Bridge in a rematch of an epic semifinal matchup last year. Here are the top games involving major prospects this week:
No. 16 Geismar/Dutchtown (8-2) at No. 1 Metairie/Rummel (10-0): Dutchtown has plenty of talent, including Mississippi State commit Shelby Christy at wide reciever. It was surprising to see the Griffons slip to the No. 16 seed. It's a tough draw for the top-seeded Raiders, led by dual-threat quarterback Damian Williams, who sports a Kansas State offer.
No. 9 Monroe/Ouachita Parish (9-2) at No. 25 Ruston (6-5): The Monroe area, which won three of last year's five state championships last season, showed its toughness again last week when Ruston upset No. 8 seed South Lafourche, creating an all-Northeast Louisiana second-round match. Ouachita features three-star receiver and Washington commit Caleb Tucker at linebacker and Taijuan Thomas and 2014 ESPN Watch List member Cameron Sims at wide receiver.
No. 14 Scott/Acadiana (8-2) at No. 3 West Monroe (9-2): Two programs that have combined for five of the last seven 5A state titles (three for West Monroe, two for Acadiana, including a split of two state title games against each other) meet early in the postseason. West Monroe is led by Cameron Robinson, a 2014 Watch List member many expect to contend to be the nation's top 2014 offensive lineman prospect.
No. 7 Bossier City/Parkway (10-1) at No. 23 Hahnville (6-4): Parkway, led by three-star defensive tackle Antonio McGhee, travels to a potential Cinderella in Hahnville, which has reeled off six straight wins after an 0-4 start.
No. 15 Shreveport/Byrd (8-2) at No. 2 Lake Charles/Barbe (10-1): Byrd safety Kieron Williams has an Ole Miss offer, but he and his Yellow Jackets teammates will have their work cut out for them against the state's top passing team, led by 2013 LSU commit Desean Smith at TE and 2014 ESPN Watch List WR Trey Quinn, the state's leading receiver.
No. 1 Monroe/Neville (10-0) at No. 17 Breaux Bridge (8-3): Last season, Neville knocked off a Breaux Bridge team that featured three eventual LSU signees, including current starting linebacker Lamar Louis, in the semifinals. In the rematch, Neville is the more talented team with 2013 LSU commit John Diarse and 2014 ESPN Watch List member Laurence "Hootie" Jones.
Leonard Fournette and St. Augustine will face St. Thomas More in the Louisiana playoffs this week.
No. 10 New Orleans/St. Augustine (8-3) at No. 7 Lafayette/St. Thomas More (8-3): If top 2014 Leonard Fournette and his Purple Knights are to advance, they'll have to do it against an STM team that owns wins over 5A No. 2 Barbe and 4A No. 4 Teurlings Catholic. Cougars QB Brandon Bergeron is one of the state's best passers.
No. 2 New Orleans/Karr (10-0) at No. 18 Shreveport/Northwood (5-6): After upsetting Lake Charles/Washington-Marion and LSU commit Melvin Jones, Northwood goes after perhaps the state's most prospect-filled team in Karr. Tight end Standish Dobard, a Miami commit, and cornerback Noel Ellis, who has pledged to Texas A&M, led the Cougars' 2013 class while "Speedy" Noil, a prep quarterback who projects as a receiver, and DE Gerald Willis are both 2014 ESPN Watch List members.
No. 9 Stonewall/North Desoto (8-3) at No. 25 Kentwood/Jewel Sumner (6-4): Both teams feature high-end prospects. North Desoto's three-star defensive end Hakim Gray was receiving SEC interest when he instead pledged to Louisiana Tech. Sumner features LSU commit Jeremy Cutrer, who does a little bit of everything to lead the Cowboys.
No. 5 Livonia (9-2) at No. 21 Port Allen (7-3): Port Allen, led by Texas A&M linebacker commit Darian Claiborne, who doubles as the Pelicans' quarterback, is out for its second upset in a row after knocking off No. 12 New Orleans/McMain in the first round.
No. 13 Jennings (8-3) at No. 4 Loranger (9-1): The state's top committed prospect, LSU-bound QB-DB Jeryl Brazil, continues his state title quest against a traditional West Louisiana power.
No. 6 Rayne (9-2) at No. 22 Clinton/East Feliciana (6-3): Louisiana's top prospect, Kendell Beckwith, helped lead his EFHS team to an upset of Caldwell Parish in the first round. The Tigers were rewarded with a second-round home game.
No. 1 River Ridge/John Curtis (10-0) at No. 17 Springhill/North Webster (7-4): Curtis is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings thanks to a slew of college prospects, led by four-star linebacker Duke Riley and three-star running backs Tevin Horton and Sherman Badie. Curtis has six players committed to FBS schools, a list that does not include the uncommitted Riley. And that's just the senior class.
No. 5 Winnfield (10-1) at No. 21 Many (7-4): A state finalist a season ago, Winnfield is trying to get back behind LSU commit Michael Patterson. If the Tigers stay on track, they can force a semifinal rematch with Curtis.
No. 14 Loreauville (9-2) at No. 3 Baton Rouge/University (10-1): If any team in 2A has a prospect resume that can compare to Curtis, it's University with uncommitted 2013 ESPN 150 DE Tim Williams, 2014 ESPN Watch List OL Garrett Brumfield and 2015 star RB Nick Brossette. The Cubs can avoid Curtis until the state championship game but have some tough games to get there, starting with Loreauville's high-powered offense.
No. 7 New Iberia/Catholic (8-2) at No. 23 New Orleans/Carver (7-3): The alma mater of Marshall Faulk, Carver has been slow to regain enrollment in the post-Katrina era. But the Rams have prospects, including Alabama commit Raheem Falkins at wide receiver and Ole Miss commit Eugene Brazley at running back.
No. 15 Rosepine (8-3) at No 2 Shreveport/Evangel (9-2): Evangel, the school that produced the Booty brothers and Brock Berlin, still likes to throw the ball around, although quarterback Dakota Duron, who stands 5-foot-9, is not considered a major prospect. Wide receiver Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech commit), offensive lineman Josh Thomas (Houston commit) and linebacker X'Zavier Preston (Oregon State commit) are major prospects.
No. 14 Ruston/Cedar Creek (9-2) at No. 3 Abbeville/Vermillion Catholic (9-1): Class 1A's top prospect is LSU-bound Cedar Creek OL K.J. Malone, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone. If his team is to advance, it'll need an upset on the road.