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All eight River Parish teams in hunt for state football championship

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 06, 2016 - 3:07pm

File photoAll eight River Parish football teams will be chasing after a state championship trophy with the start of the prep playoffs on Friday.

There’s a bit of the expected, unexpected and the familiar for the River Parish football teams with the start of the playoffs next week.

As expected, all eight teams in the River Parishes advanced to the postseason. Also as expected, Destrehan garnered the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A playoffs and Riverside Academy earned the No. 1 spot in Division III.

Destrehan, the only undefeated team in the River Parishes this season at 9-0 opens the Class 5A playoffs by hosting District 7-5A rival Terrebonne, the No. 32 seed, on Friday.

“I know there are a lot of matchups that people have played already. That’s what you will get with this type of formula. It is what it is. There are 32 teams left and you have to out and get ready for that next match. It’s Terrebonne right now and we are getting that game plan together and try to get to the second round,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux.

As the No. 1 seed in Division III, 8-1 Riverside, which is on an eight-game winning streak, will play host to Sacred Heart of Ville Platte, the No. 16 seed.

“The biggest benefit of holding the No. 1 seed in the bracket is that the opportunity that you get the first round game at home and if you get all the way through to the semifinals you are guaranteed the semifinal game at home. You are guaranteed those two games at home. That’s probably the most enticing thing about garnering the No. 1 seed,” Riverside coach Bill Stubbs said.

The unexpected came with 8-2 St. James receiving the No. 18 seed in Class 3A and having to open the playoffs in Alexandria against Peabody, the No. 15 seed.

“It’s a little disappointing,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said. “You play the schedule that you are given. We lost to what I consider two very quality football teams in Lutcher and De La Salle and we are sitting here now as the 18 seed and have to go on the road but this is not the time to cry over spilled milk. We just have to get ready to play.

“It’s a single-elimination tournament. It’s a pretty favorable bracket. Going to Peabody gives us our first road trip. We really had one road trip, which was to New Orleans. They are a physical football team. It sets up you to potentially get the No. 2 seed (Iowa) at home and down the line are the usual suspects in Amite and all that. We have to put all our energy on beating Peabody.”

Lutcher, the defending Class 3A state champions, were ranked in the Top 2 in the polls throughout the season but ended up as the No. 4 seed following a Week 10 loss to unbeaten De La Salle.

“We knew going into the game Friday night, after some things that had happened Thursday, that a win would put us at No. 2 and a loss would leave us at 3 or 4, depending on what happened with the Iowa-Jennings game,” said Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins.

Iowa beat Jennings 58-28 in Week 10, giving Iowa the No. 2 seed while Jennings ended up No. 6.

Along with Destehan, Hahnville and East St. John also advanced to the Class 5A playoffs from District 7-5A.

Hahnville, at 8-2, earned the No. 8 seed and will host No. 25 Covington. East St. John, which finished 5-5, is the No. 23 seed and will have to travel to Lake Charles to take on Barbe, the No. 10 seed.

In Division III, 8-2 St. Charles Catholic, ended up as the No. 3 seed and will host Thomas Jefferson, the No. 14 seed.

West St. John, despite a 3-7 mark, earned the No. 24 seed in Class 2A and will travel to East Feliciana, the No. 9 seed.

“We lost our last two games. Before that, we were up around 16 or 17. Those two losses kind of bumped us down and kind of saw us slide but we knew we would be right around that area. You just have to play. At this time of year, everybody is 0-0,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.

The familiar comes in the form of teams facing rematches either to open the playoffs or later in the postseason.

In Class 5A, Destrehan opens the playoffs against district foe Terrebonne. The Wildcats could face league rematches against Thibodaux in the second round and Hahnville in the quarterfinals.

“We saw that a couple of years ago when we had East St. John and Hahnville. We just hope we are there. You have to play well. Thibodaux is a good football team and they have a tough matchup with Mandeville. Hahnville has Covington. It’s a situation where we will just take it one game at a time and that presents itself, so be it,” Robicheaux said.

St. Charles opens the Division III playoffs against a Thomas Jefferson team the Comets beat 36-0 in Week 2 of the regular season.

“We had a pretty good feeling we would be third even before last week although we didn’t know who the opponent would be,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said. “Now we found out we will have an opponent that we are already familiar with and they are familiar with us because we played them in Week 2.

“They are a different team and so are we, but we’re not taking anything for granted even though we had a win.”

Although West St. John opens on the road at East Feliciana as the No. 24 seed, the Rams may have drawn a favorable part of the bracket. If the Rams defeat East Feliciana, West St. John would face a potential winnable game against the winner of the South Plaquemines-Fisher game. A win could then lead up to a potential rematch against top-seeded Many. The Rams up upset then-No. 1 Many 34-30 in the second round of the playoffs a year ago.

“It’s crazy how the luck of the draw goes. We are happy to be in the playoffs. We are just going to work hard and get ready for East Feliciana and not look forward down the road and take care of business this week and make something happen,” Walters said.

Other rematches could involve River Parish teams potentially meeting for state championship because of placement in the brackets.

One such rematch could be between Riverside and St. Charles in Division III.

“From my vantage point and the number of times I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in the playoffs in my coaching career, I’ve seen so many strange things happen,” Stubbs said. “I certainly believe St. Charles now is playing at a very high level and I expect them to get better. There is certainly that possibility and wouldn’t that be a tremendous thing for our area for two local teams to make it all the way to the state championship. I think it would draw a tremendous amount of interest.”

“We are not even (thinking that far ahead). When you look past Week 1, in Week 2 there’s another tough opponent. Even though you might have someone you are familiar with that first week, that second week will be brutal and the third week will even be worse than that. It’s not an easy draw. We are not looking at that right now,” said Monica.

There is the potential for District 9-3A foes Lutcher and St. James to meet not only a rematch of their regular season encounter but also the Class 3A state championship from a year ago.

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” Valdez said. “It’s something tempting to look at down the line but there are a lot of good football teams with a shot in the bracket right now.”

“I knew there was a possibility that if we were the No. 2 seed that we would end up on the same side of the bracket and playing early-on. I think they are in a great spot and poised to make a real good run. I know they have gotten the last few weeks to get their feet underneath them and moving in the right direction. Now, we need to respond after our game on Friday and start moving in that direction as well,” said Jenkins.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.