(Class 5A picks through three rounds: 18-10; Overall, 107-32)
NO. 27 ACADIANA (8-5) AT NO. 2 ST. THOMAS MORE (13-0) -- Acadiana is probably the best 8-5 team in the history of prep football. Of course, the Rams aren't 8-5 on the field. They've actually lost only one game between the lines; a 42-13 setback that was delivered by none other than this week's opponent, fellow Lafayette-area program St. Thomas More.
As has been mentioned ad nauseum, Acadiana was forced to forfeit four wins after the program self-reported the use of an ineligible player, a backup transfer who presented a fraudulent birth certificate to the school.
That debacle - which cost Acadiana a high seed - would have deflated many teams, but not the Rams.
In the first-round of the playoffs, Acadiana promptly thumped No. 6 East St. John -- on the road, no less -- by a 56-6 margin. Last week, in the quarterfinals, the Rams ripped then-undefeated No. 3 St. Paul's, 41-20, and the game wasn't even that close.
Despite losing a half-dozen fumbles, Acadiana was constantly in control, leading 41-6 at one point. The Rams' split-back veer offense produced 486 yards rushing, with Micah Eugene accounting for 178 of those yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Eugene, who rarely exits the field during a game, also blocked an extra point and picked off a pass. His 46-yard return on that interception set up another touchdown run by Jeff Brown.
"The Acadiana/STM game should be a really good one," said Northside defensive tackle Tyler Porter, whose team lost to Acadiana to open the season (although the game was overturned due to forfeit). "You know how the cliche goes - that it's hard to beat a good team twice, but if anyone can do it, it's STM.
"I'm pulling for Acadiana. Those boys have some fight in them and they've made the best of that situation with the forfeits. They have like nine backs in their rotation on offense and they're almost impossible to stop. They're going to fall forward for at least three yards on every play.
"Micah Eugene is their best player. He's going to lock up the other team's best receiver at cornerback, and he also has the range to play free safety."
In the first Acadiana/St. Thomas More game, the Cougars took an early lead on the strength of two Brandon Bergeron to Evan Tatford touchdown passes. STM's QBs - Matt Flores and Bergeron - combined to complete 14-of-16 passes vs. the Rams.
While the Cougars dominated the scoreboard in that game, the statistics were more equal than you'd expect. Acadiana moved the ball at will (313 yards rushing, 223 of which came from Eugene), except when it came to punching it in for six points.
Acadiana may very well have the top offensive line in the state and it's powered by Nick Smith, Cade Dawes, Seth Daigle, Stryker Trahan, Trey Junker, Barrett Guidry, Alex Morvant, and Coby Nero. Ryan Bergeron, the quarterback, has averaged almost eight yards per carry and RB Terry Abraham is stepping off almost nine yards per rush. DB Bakari Hollier is a three-star prospect.
The Cougars' most prominent players are Tatford, a 6-5, 235-pound tight end, and safety Sam Scofield, who is committed to Tulane. Two weeks ago, Scofield returned a long punt for a touchdown against Hahnville.
STM emerged victorious in the quarterfinals after a last minute pass from Bergeron to Andrew Stevenson lifted the Cougars to a come-from-behind road win over St. Augustine in New Orleans. Flores, ran for 87 yards and two TDs and helped set up the game-winning score with a long return. Bergeron, only a sophomore, was 12-for-17 passing for 144 yards and a pair of TDs, both of which went to Stevenson.
Don Oliver kicked a 43-yard field goal in the quarterfinals (in horrible conditions).
As Porter mentioned earlier, it is difficult to beat a good team twice and Acadiana has been nothing short of brilliant over the past several weeks. The Rams of head coach Ted Davidson have overcome adversity; check that...they've thrived in the face of adversity and the buck isn't going to stop short of the Superdome.