|Mark Menard's Prep PreviewFriday Dome action features three newcomers, one very familiar face
State Championship preview
Posted Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:42:54 CT
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Fri 12/9/2016 1:21 PM
Friday Dome action features three newcomers, one very familiar face
Mark Menard reporting
Five games are on tap in the Superdome as the high school football season in Louisiana comes to a close. Here's a look at Friday's action.
1A: HAYNESVILLE vs. LOGANSPORT
On one side of this matchup lies one of Louisiana’s most storied football teams, a school that is fully entrenched in the championship conversation year-in and year-out. On the other side is a once-prominent squad making a long-awaited return to the Superdome.
The Haynesville Golden Tornado are making an appearance in the championship game for the fifth straight year and the 25th time overall. In 17 of their previous 24 appearances, the Tornado blew out of town with the trophy in tow. That lofty number ranks Haynesville second in the state when it comes to football’s top prize, trailing only John Curtis.
So what are the Tornado’s chances of putting #18 on the shelf? Well for the most part, Haynesville has been head and shoulders above their opponents in 2016. They enjoyed an average margin of victory of 28 ½ points in the regular season while going a perfect 10-0.
That disparity grew even larger once the playoffs began as the top-seed Tornado thoroughly outclassed the competition in the first two rounds, crushing Lake Charles 53-7 then dominating Delhi Charter 37-6. In the semifinals though, Haynesville found themselves tested.
They trailed 14-0 before scoring the game’s final 21 points to advance 21-14 past Oak Grove and make the familiar trip to the Crescent City with a shot to close out a perfect season.
Their opponents for the 1A title also have a shot at perfection after their own season of utter domination. The Logansport Tigers have fielded one of the fiercest defenses of 2016. During their own 10-0 season, they held all but three opponents to a touchdown or less and posted four shutouts, including their last three games straight, all while scoring 42 points a game, the exact same per-game point total as Haynesville,
Qualifying for the playoffs as 1A’s #2 seed, the Tigers posted a fourth straight shutout, and fifth in six games, blanking Lincoln 49-0, before vanquishing Varnado in the quarters 50-14. Like Haynesville though, Logansport found the road grow rockier with a spot in the championship on the line.
Facing perennial power Kentwood, the Logansport defense once again took charge, forcing three Kangaroo turnovers and mounting two separate goal-line stands, allowing just one touchdown on the night as they punched their tickets to the Crescent City with an 18-7 semifinal win. Now Logansport has the opportunity to win just the second title in school history and first in 21 years.
So will the Tornado earn their third state championship in four years or will the Tigers hoist the trophy for the first time since 1995?
2A: MADISON PREP vs. STERLINGTON
The 2A title game offers a rarity in the world of high-stakes Louisiana high school football: a championship being contested between two teams still searching for their first trophy.
Every year, the slate of games in the Superdome on both the select and non-select sides is littered with familiar faces, but the teams competing in this matchup offer little in the way of pedigree.
The Sterlington Panthers have at least been here before. They made the trip from Monroe to New Orleans in search of championship glory two straight years in 2002 and 2003, and they came up empty both times. This season, the Panthers started off 4-0, but then hit the skids with two straight losses, falling in consecutive weeks to Loyola Prep and Ouachita Christian.
Rather than packing it in, the Panthers recommitted, and the result has been an eight-game winning streak. The first four wins allowed Sterlington to close out the regular season at 8-2. The next four took the Panthers to the doorstep of greatness.
Sterlington's veer offense has been clicking on all cylinders in the playoffs, topping 40 points in each of their four postseason meetings. Their defense though has found the competition more challenging though. After drubbing Capitol and Pickering in the first two rounds, winning with scores of 59-28 and 48-20, the Panthers went back and forth with defending 2A title-holder Kinder in the quarters, Sterlington relinquished a 21-point first-half lead, then watched the Yellow Jackets tie the game at 42 with a mere 33 seconds to play. But the Panthers launched a bomb to douse Kinder's comeback, as a 49-yard touchdown pass gave Sterlington the 49-42 win.
The Panthers played things even tighter in the semis, needing triple-overtime to finally push past top seed Many 40-37 to punch their first ticket to the Superdome in 13 years and a shot at their first ever title. Standing in their way is a newcomer to the title scene in every sense of the word.
The last time Sterlington played for a title, their opponents didn't even exist. Baton Rouge's Madison Preparatory Academy opened its doors in 2009 and implemented sports gradually, introducing football in 2013. Since then, it's been a rocket ride to prominence. In 2016, the Chargers of Madison Prep have looked dominant in the vast majority of their contests.
The Chargers averaged just over 43 points on offense through their 10-game regular season, topping 50 points in half of those contests, while allowing just 11 1/2 per game. They've continued to overmatch their foes in the playoffs, blasting Delcambre in the first round 76-0, then posting a second straight shut out by mauling Mangham 42-0.
In the quarters, it was another 40-point outburst as they flummoxed Ferriday 43-24. Last week they limited St. Helena to just six points while scoring 31 to qualify for their first ever title matchup.
And THAT’S what you need to know for Friday, brought to you by Pinnacle Medical, dedicated to your orthopedic care.