Two rivals will be locking horns on Friday night in Mathews.

It’s the district opening game for both teams.

Oh, and did we fail to mention that both are undefeated so far this season?

Emotions and stakes will both be high on Friday when Thibodaux travels down the bayou to take on Central Lafourche.

On paper, the two parish powers appear to be evenly matched, which should make for a close, competitive, hard-fought football game.

Coaches and players on both sides agree and think this one will be talked about for a long, long time — the type of game that could have a huge impact on the fate of each team’s season.

“My thoughts are that this is going to be such an exciting high school football game — the type of game that coaches love to coach in and players love to play in,” Thibodaux coach Chris Dugas said. “You have two parish rivals and they’re both coming in hot with some momentum. We’re both playing well right now and I just know that it’s going to be a big crowd and a great environment.”

“You have to be excited and ready to play in those types of games,” Central Lafourche coach Keith Menard added. “The kids will be excited and I know those guys over there will be ready. I think it’ll come down to which team executes better and makes the most plays on Friday night.”

Both Thibodaux and Central Lafourche score tons of points, but the irony of the matchup is that they score in such vastly different ways.

The Trojans are mostly run heavy.

Senior halfback Deon Jenkins is treating his senior season like a video game, posting just absurd statistics. In three games, he’s surpassed 800 rushing yards and has scored 14 touchdowns.

On Friday against South Lafourche, Jenkins rushed for almost 300 yards and four scores. Several times, it looked like he was going to be bottled up for short gains, but he’d wiggle out of traffic and bounce outside for huge gains.

For Thibodaux, the powerful offensive attack is mostly through the air.

The Tigers have quarterback Luke Alleman and playmakers all over the field — guys like receivers Kyren Lacy and Darwin Davis.

On Friday against McDonogh 35, Thibodaux passed for well more than 300 yards against a defense that had given problems to state powers Karr and St. Aug earlier this season.

But for all of the talk about the offenses, there are other pieces of Friday night’s game that may decide the winner.

For one, there’s turnovers.

Thibodaux turned over the ball a dozen times in their first two games — somehow still finding ways to win, despite their mistakes.

Dugas has said repeatedly that his team can’t continue to win playing turnover-filled games.

On Friday, there were glimpses of improvement. The Tigers had just one turnover in their win over McDonogh 35.

“I think we were much better,” Dugas said. “And we knew we had to be. The kids really took it to heart and did a better job protecting the football.”

On Central Lafourche’s end, the Trojans have to continue to clean up their play in the secondary.

Against White Castle, the Trojans were hit for several long pass plays, and while the team has improved since then, they’ve also not faced a passing offense with the prowess of Thibodaux’s.

Menard said one of the best ways his team can protect its secondary is to win at the line of scrimmage.

“I think one of the big keys will be, ‘Can we get pressure on Alleman?’” Menard said. “If we can get in his face, we think we can disrupt them a little bit.”

But the coach then stuttered a little and mentioned exactly why stopping the Tigers is a challenge.

“But then again, if you do pressure him, he’s going to make quick throws to their athletes in space,” Menard said. “So that presents its own challenges.”

On special teams, the kicking game favors Thibodaux.

Kicker Peyton Domangue has a powerful, accurate leg, while the Trojans have a bit of a revolving door. On Friday, they missed a couple extra points.

But the Trojans are well-known for their ability to steal offense on special teams — either with trick plays on extra points or fake punts/kicks.

The winner of that third phase could have a leg up in what is expected to be a close, competitive game that’s expected to be played before a huge crowd.

“We know it’ll be a wild atmosphere,” Dugas said. “But the kids love those opportunities and we know we’ll have our fans there, too. It’s going to be a great environment to play a high school football game.”

Follow Casey on Twitter for more.

Casey Gisclair is the Sports Editor at Rushing Media. A native of Cut Off and graduate of Louisiana State University, Casey is a lifelong sports fan who joined the Houma Times team in Dec. 2009 upon college graduation.

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