The playoffs have come early for both Central Lafourche and Terrebonne.
Both the Trojans and Tigers are in good position to earn an 11th game. But first, both teams will play a showdown matchup with one another — a game that could provide valuable seeding to both teams heading into the Class 5A Playoff Bracket.
Central Lafourche is currently No. 22 in power ratings. They’re in no matter the outcome of the game, and they’re also locked into a road first-round game.
For Terrebonne, there’s a strong likelihood that they, too, are in. They sit at No. 29 and are almost a full power point ahead of the No. 33 team.
But both coaches in the game say that Week 10 will be huge because crucial seeding will be earned for the winner — that and momentum heading into the postseason.
“It’s a big game. We want to get some momentum going into the playoffs and get that good feeling and some better seeding,” Trojans coach Keith Menard said. “We have a chance to maybe knock those guys out of the playoffs, so we know emotions are going to be high on both sides.”
“We told the kids we needed to have that playoff intensity in the final games,” Terrebonne coach Gary Hill said two weeks ago. “We have to take that next step and be a little more intense if we want to get to where we want to get.”
These teams are a contrast in styles.
The Trojans are incredibly explosive on offense — a spread group led by halfback Deon Jenkins and a slew of capable receives.
But Terrebonne’s defense is one of the best in the area with five-star defensive end Maason Smith plugging up all of the running holes and an opportunistic defense that’s forcing turnovers just about every game.
Menard said it will be a challenge for his offense to get in a rhythm against a tough Terrebonne defense.
“We’re going to have to block and execute. There’s no question,” Menard said. “They have some big, physical guys and we’re going to have to handle that and do what we’re coached to do and make plays to stay ahead of the chains and on the field.”
On the opposite side of the equation, Terrebonne’s offense is struggling, but so, too, is Central Lafourche’s defense, which could turn the game into a high-scoring game.
Menard said he thought his defense played well against Destrehan on Friday, but they still let up 30-plus points. Terrebonne’s offense has also struggled in recent weeks, having scored just 22 points combined in the past 2 games — and one of those scores came on a pick six.
Hill said one of the keys to Terrebonne’s offense is keeping its balance. When the Tigers are at their best, they’re able to both run and throw.
On Friday, they had that balance at times. Ja’khi Douglas both ran and threw for a touchdown in the second half of a close loss against East St. John. But for a lot of the game, the Tigers couldn’t challenge the Wildcats’ defense.
“We have to be able to do a little bit of both,” Hill said. “We have to be able to keep the defenses honest.”
On paper, these teams are equal, and historically, this is one of the best games of the year — even though Terrebonne has gotten the upper hand recently in close, hard-fought games.
The Terrebonne and Central Lafourche rivalry has been fierce in recent years.
Last year, Terrebonne was undefeated for the first nine games of the season, but the Trojans gave them all they could handle before falling short late in a 25-17 game — one that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
In 2017, Terrebonne beat the Trojans 34-28. In 2016, Terrebonne won 27-23.
Menard said he’s been telling his team all week that the stakes will be high and this is a great time to avenge some of those close defeats and find a way to power forward.
“We know we match up well with them. We’ve played with them the last few years,” Menard said. “They might have better athletes than us, but we know we can match up with them at the line of scrimmage. We’ve had some wars with them, but they’ve been able to get on the better end of those games. This year, we’d like to flip that around. We’d like to be the ones who find a way to make that play at the end to get the win.”