For the Lutcher Bulldogs, it was the week that wasn’t.
Lutcher’s game scheduled last Friday at Donaldsonville was cancelled because of COVID-19 issues at Donaldsonville High. Try as they might, the Bulldogs were unable to find a substitute opponent.
“I really complimented our kids Thursday, which was the last day I met with them. I thought we handled everything great,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “We had two really good days of practice on Monday and Tuesday, which is our normal heavy-lifting days as far as practice goes. That’s when you get in the most amount of work and it’s the longest days.
“The frustrating part is that a couple of times you kind of had something worked out that you might be able to play and you find out later that people decided not to play, or decided to play someone else.”
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association announced last week that teams need to have played four games this season to be eligible to participate in the playoffs.
With more and more teams missing games because of the coronavirus, some schools have assessed whether they should find rescheduled opponents if they are comfortable with their current power rating and debating not playing in the final weeks of the regular season in order to be healthy come playoff time, according to Jenkins.
“I guess there was a lot of jockeying with power ratings and I think that is something you will see again this week. I think it’s kind of two-fold. I think, one, you’ve got people who have good spots in the power ratings and want to preserve those. The other thing is, I think people do have that fear what they can’t control. They can control a lot of thinks in-house and in their school. But you go out and play that other team and with the way the contract tracing has shown to work, you play the other team and on Saturday morning, one of their players tests positive and you end up losing, eight, 10, 12 guys due to contract tracing and now your season is in jeopardy,” the Lutcher coach said.
The Bulldogs, Jenkins said, are grateful to have gotten to play in six of the first seven weeks the season heading into the regular-season finale.
‘Some schools have gotten to play, six, seven games so far this year and you have states across the country that are going back and shutting down. Some states are finishing up – those that kind of started their seasons on time but shortened their seasons somewhat. Some are finishing up right now. Some of getting nixed, said Jenkins.
Lutcher closes out the regular season at home against Patterson at 7 p.m. Thursday in District 9-3A action. The game has been moved up, shortening by one day the chance of one of the schools developing a COVID issue.
“Now, it gives you a couple more days on the weekend where you can keep kids away, and hopefully, not have to have kids get in contact and possibly lose somebody. That all plays into it right now,” said Jenkins.
While Lutcher (3-3 overall, 1-2 in district) didn’t play a week ago, Patterson (2-5 overall, 1-3 in district is coming off a 61-3 domination at the hands of the St. James Wildcats.
The Lumberjacks, under first-year coach Zach Lochard, love to throw the football.
“When we charted the St. James game, I think (the Lumberjacks) had 39 or 40 passing attempts – not all of them ended up being thrown; you had some sacks in there. Out of a 55-60 snap game, they dropped back to throw it 40 times,” Jenkins pointed out.
Patterson’s most dynamic player is 6-foot-3, 195-pound Tylon Walton
“He’s just a good-looking football player. He does a lot of things well. One of the things you’ve seen in every film this year is him making a big play. Regardless of who they have played against, he’s been able to make some plays. He plays receiver. He plays quarterback,” said Jenkins.
Walton, Jenkins said, isn’t the only Lumberjack who lines up at multiple positions on offense.
“They have him and another skilled player, Kyler Paul. Both of them are very dynamic,” the Lutcher coach said. “Both are juniors. Both of them can play anywhere.
“Another guy that’s kind of done some different things for them at times is the other guy who plays quarterback, Joseph Larson. Two weeks ago against Donaldsonville, he threw for over 300 yards.”
Caylon Davis another Lumberjack who has played at quarterback.
Darion Robertson is considered Patterson’s top running back, but much of the ground game is provided by the quarterbacks.
The Lumberjacks’ primary look on defense is the 3-3-Stack.
“When you think about Patterson when they were at their best, they normally had great skilled guys. They played a very attacking style of defense, and I think that’s the plan. You can see them starting to move back to that style. They want to put pressure on you and be able to play man coverage with their great athletes on the outside and get pressure up front,” said Jenkins.
Top defenders on defense for the Lumberjacks, Jenkins said, include linebackers Lonnie Kinchen and Allen Everitt.
The final game of the regular season has been a time for crystal-ball gazing, trying to figure out if team teams may move up or down in the power rankings and what likely first-round matchups may be.
In the year 2020, the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.
“For us, it’s get the game in this week, hopefully end the regular season on a good note, and have everybody able and capable of playing the first week of the playoffs,” said Jenkins. “That will be the story of the playoffs this year – who plays and who doesn’t play.”
“Somebody is going to move on without playing a game,” the Lutcher coach continued. “You even may have a case where two teams double-forfeit and someone else wins a game and you don’t play the next week. Things will be interesting the last month of the season, to say the least.”