The official playoff brackets should be released soon by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, and Scout.com has the first and most comprehensive analysis of the pairings.
Without question, the game that's creating the most buzz comes in the Class 5A bracket, where No. 27 Acadiana (5-5) visits No. 6 East St. John (9-1).
The storylines in this one are numerous. First, Acadiana is hardly your typical No. 27 seed. On the field, the Rams have only lost one game (to St. Thomas More in early October).
Unfortunately, however, the Rams were forced to forfeit four wins due to the participation (in a quartet of lopsided victories) of a reserve transfer who had presented the school with an altered birth certificate that incorrectly showed the student to be of the proper age under LHSAA rules.
East St. John, on the other hand, has had its own share of drama, losing its head coach late in the season after Larry Dauterive resigned following his remarks at a New Orleans-area luncheon that drew criticism.
Getting down to the crux of the matter on the field; Acadiana's veer offense has been firing on all cylinders for most of the season, including a 56-point explosion last Friday vs. Lafayette High. QB Ryan Bergeron doesn't throw much, but he can burn defenses with the occasional downfield pass.
Athletes Bakari Hollier and Micah Eugene line up all over the field for the Rams. Hollier, who visited the LSU campus yesterday for the Tigers' game vs. Alabama, should have some outstanding one-on-one battles with East St. John WR D'haquille Williams this week.
Eugene was among the leading rushers in the Lafayette-area this fall. He averaged close to 10 yards per pop; often finding open running lanes on the right side of the Rams' offensive line, which is anchored by guard Cade Dawes and tackle Nick Smith (University of Louisiana commit).
East St. John will attempt to neutralize Acadiana's option game with the duo of junior DT Gerron Borne and senior cornerback Floyd Raven.
On offense, junior QB Darion Monroe has had a terrific year for the Wildcats. In the ESJ/St. Amant game, Monroe threw for 375 yards and 5 TDs. His favorite target is the 6-foot-3 Williams, who had 244 yards receiving against Istrouma back in September.
Continuing in Class 5A, the quickest game of the week could be No. 17 Brother Martin (7-3) at No. 16 Carencro (5-4). Both clubs loves to pound the football on the ground, with the homestanding Bears favoring a Wing-T offense that relies heavily on Alex Johnson and Damian Rubin. Johnson, a junior, stepped off 199 yards last Friday vs. Comeaux.
Brother Martin RB Dante' Butler has over 2,000 yards on the year, including 267 in the Crusaders' one-point win over Jesuit last week. Butler's a workhorse, as evidenced by his 39-carry, 310-yard effort vs. Catholic League rival Archbishop Rummel last month.
No. 9 Ponchatoua (8-2) draws a dangerous first-round foe in No. 24 Westgate (5-4). The Green Wave's top two players are defensive tackle Jonathan Kinchen and inside linebacker Kaleb Muse. Westgate running back Jamal Sam has rung up some excellent numbers, including a 144-yard game two weeks ago. The visiting Tigers, under head coach Brian Fine, have made a habit of advancing deep in the playoffs the past few years. In 2009, Westgate reached the semis before losing to Rummel.
Expect plenty of points when No. 20 Slidell (6-4) hooks up with No. 13 Barbe (8-2). Slidell RB Jonathan Miles has approximately 1,500 yards rushing, and he's accompanied by elusive RB/WR Stephon Smith. On defense, CB Stephen Smith, twin brother of Stephon, is a player to watch.
Barbe has a couple of extremely talented underclassmen, such as WR Trey Quinn. On Friday, Quinn caught 5 passes for 162 yards vs. Sulphur. QB Jared Rogers, who threw for 413 yards on Friday, calls the signals for the Buccaneers' spread offense.
No. 19 Central (7-3) faces No. 14 New Iberia Senior High (8-2) in what should be an evenly-matched affair. Central CB James Richardson is one of the fastest players in the state. He has an offer from Colorado. NISH quarterback Jordy Joseph has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and leads the Lafayette-area in passing.
No. 23 Catholic-BR (6-4) goes for the upset at No. 10 St. Augustine (7-2). The Bears will need a huge night from Northwestern commit Zack Oliver at QB. Junior LB Chris Morgan has emerged as a hard-hitting playmaker for Catholic, which lost to West Monroe in the semis last year.
St. Augustine has perhaps the most talented roster in the state, featuring the likes of offensive linemen Trai Turner (LSU commit) and Jonah Austin (Houston commit), WR Marc Edwards (Tulane commit), DE/LB Lawrence Burl (Tulane commit), safety Renaldo Thomas (Tulane commit), and freshman RB Leonard Fournette.
In Class 4A, No. 12 Jennings (8-2) could be on "upset alert" when defending state champ No. 21 Neville (5-5) comes calling. The visiting Tigers have won four straight, including a win on the road at Bastrop two weeks ago. In that game, dynamic sophomore QB John Diarse (456 yards of total offense, 311 yards rushing) was unstoppable. Defensive tackle DeMarcus Hodge, an Arkansas commit, and junior middle linebacker Ricky Wyatt will make it hard for Jennings to run inside.
The Bulldogs and QB Bryson Abraham, who holds multiple scholarship offers, are scoring points in flurries (averaging more than 40 ppg). RBs Davondrick Phillips and Michael Wilridge complete the backfield for Jennings, which survived a 42-35 scare against 2-8 Washington-Marion last week.
The most hotly-contested Class 4A first-round game could be No. 22 DeRidder (6-4) at No. 11 Leesville (8-2). These two bitter rivals met earlier in the year, with Leesville coming out on top, 24-17.
The Wampus Cats are scoring points with reckless abandon, thanks in large part to the duo of QB Zack Squyres and WR Levander Liggins. Squyres threw for 402 yards earlier this season vs. 5A Sulphur. Liggins racked up 8 catches for 158 yards against defending 5A state champ West Monroe in Week One. Leesville has won eight straight.
DeRidder inside linebacker Harrison Lewis is one-man tackling machine and he gets plenty of backup from safety Deshazor Everett.
In Class 3A, No. 8 Loyola Prep (9-1) will have its hands full trying to contain No. 25 Crowley and talented junior RB Davante' Bourque. A couple of weeks ago, Bourque dashed for 361 yards and 6 TDs against Westlake. He has unusual size for a breakaway back at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds.