It’s playoff time in Louisiana.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association set all nine of its prep football playoff brackets on Sunday afternoon – ending a weekend of anticipation among area coaches who were anxious to know their postseason foes.
In total, seven of the 11 schools in Lafourche and Terrebonne have made the field and three (Thibodaux, Vandebilt and CCA) will host opening-round games on Friday night.
In Class 5A, three local teams are in the postseason, but they all face stiff challenges to get into the second round of the 32-team field.
Thibodaux enters the field as the No. 16-seed. By earning that spot, the Tigers will be at home in the opening-round of the playoffs against No. 17 Mandeville.
On paper, the Tigers match up well with the Skippers. Both teams are 6-4 and both teams are probably better than their record would indicate because of brutally tough district schedules.
But Thibodaux will be without athlete Amik Robertson in the game after he suffered a severe, season-ending shoulder injury in Friday night’s regular season finale at Hahnville.
The loss of Robertson will put pressure on some of the Tigers’ other playmakers to step up and thrive in the biggest game of the season.
Without Robertson, Thibodaux is losing a player who plays quarterback, running back, receiver, cornerback and safety for the Tigers, as well as working as a return man.
“He does a little bit of everything for us,” Thibodaux coach Chris Dugas said earlier in the season. “We try and invent ways to get the ball in his hands, because we know that once he has it, he is very explosive and can make game-changing plays in a hurry.”
While the Tigers will be hosting a playoff foe without a star, two other locals will be on the road – facing teams who are loaded with college-bound talent.
Both Terrebonne and H.L. Bourgeois are playoff bound – the rivals earning the final two seeds in Class 5A.
The Tigers are the No. 32 seed – the last team in the field. They will travel to take on No. 1 Destrehan in the opening round – a Wildcats team that beat Terrebonne 44-17 on Sept. 30.
H.L. Bourgeois also faces a stiff challenge. They earned the No. 31 seed in Class 5A and are making a trip up to North Louisiana to take on No. 2 West Monroe – a program that’s won countless titles over the past two decades and which is 8-1-1 on the season, with its only loss coming against John Curtis.
In Class 4A, Ellender is still alive after rolling through the regular season with a 6-4 record.
The Patriots were comfortably in the playoffs as the state’s No. 23 seed.
But Ellender’s playoff hopes will start on a lengthy bus ride, as the Patriots will travel to take on No. 10 Benton on Friday – a squad that was 8-2 in the regular season in District 1-4A.
Benton has a high-powered offense. They’ve scored 28 or more points in every game this season. That will stiffly test a Patriots defense that struggled mightily against Vandebilt to close out the regular season, allowing more than 500 yards in a lopsided loss.
“For us, it starts with our defense,” Ellender coach David McCormick said earlier in the season. “We like our offense and some of the matchup problems we can give other teams. We focus on getting our guys off the field and trying to maximize our opportunities.”
In Division II (Class 3A and Class 4A-sized select (private) schools), a pair of rivals will lock horns for a second time.
Vandebilt Catholic is the No. 6 seed in the 11-team bracket. The Terriers will take on No. 11 E.D. White on Friday at Buddy Marcello Stadium – a rematch of the teams’ Week 1 meeting, which Vandebilt won 41-7.
Terriers coach Jeremy Atwell said he doesn’t expect the second go-round to be quite as easy.
“It’s never easy to beat a football team twice – much less a talented football team,” Atwell said. “E.D. White has progressively gotten better and better as the weeks have gone by and we will stress to our guys that what happened in Week 1 or what happened in the 10 games of the season don’t matter. We’ll all 0-0 again and we’re all on a level playing field.”
The winner of the meeting between the Terriers and Cardinals will travel and face No. 3 St. Thomas More in the second round. They are on a bye.
In Division IV lies the local team with the best chance on paper to make the Superdome: Covenant Christian Academy.
The Lions finished the regular season with an 8-2 record, which included Friday night’s victory over Class 5A opponent Grace King.
With that win, the Lions catapulted up the rankings to earn the No. 2-seed.
The Lions journey will begin on Friday against No. 15 St. Martin’s Episcopal – a team CCA beat 31-0 just three weeks ago.
In that game, the CCA defense swarmed and limited the opponent to virtually no offense in the game. •
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