Win, or go home

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown heads into the Class 5A playoffs as the No. 17 seed. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

It was a tremendous regular season for the high-school football teams in the parish, but this is the time of year when all the records, stats and accomplishments of the year are thrown out.

This is the time of year when it’s not important what you have done in the previous weeks, but what you do this week.

There is no margin for error. There is no loser’s bracket. It’s win, or go home.

Teams in Ascension showed tremendous improvement from last year.

In 2016, the six high-schools combined to go 33-26. Three teams finished with losing records.

This year, those six teams combined to go 45-15. No teams finished with losing records. In fact, all six schools finished above .500, and four of the six won at least eight games.

That’s superb. I’ve never seen that kind of widespread success throughout the parish since I started covering sports in Ascension back in the fall of 2012.

But once again, those 45 regular-season wins are now meaningless. It’s now about surviving and advancing with everything on the line.

Can these Ascension Parish teams live up to the pressure of having high playoff seeds?

Playoff football is a whole different animal. It takes a level of focus and intensity that is superior to that of the regular season.

Last year, four parish teams made the playoffs. Three of the four reached the second round. Two reached the state quarterfinals.

It will be interesting to see if the success of the regular season will translate to the postseason.

Of course, one team didn’t make the playoffs. That was Ascension Christian.

Though the Lions won seven games, they were ineligible to make the postseason, because they did not play a district schedule.

Personally, I hate the Louisiana high-school playoff system. I don’t like how four new divisions have been created. I don’t like how we’ve separated public and private schools.

Now, we have nine state champions, instead of five.

Unfortunately, with the new system, teams that have no business being in the playoffs make it there anyway.

But with that said, it does make things interesting.

For instance, it gives Ascension Catholic a legit shot at winning the state championship.

With only 15 other teams in Division IV, they’ll only have to win three games to punch their ticket to the Superdome.

Fortunately for them, the two teams that beat them this year, they won’t be standing in their way.

Because of major program infractions, Southern Lab is ineligible for the postseason, and Kentwood is in a whole different playoff bracket.

The new system also benefits the public schools in the parish.

Donaldsonville had a great turnaround season, upping their win total from four to seven victories in what was a very tough District 10-3A.

They have the No. 16 seeding in Class 3A, and they won’t have to worry about facing powers like University, Parkview Baptist or district rival and top-ranked 3A squad, De La Salle.

Dutchtown was another parish team that experienced a terrific turnaround in 2017. Under first-year head coach Guy Mistretta, they went 6-4, after going just 3-7 and missing out on the playoffs last year.

With the 6-4 record, the Griffins were able to claim the No. 17 seed.

St. Amant and East Ascension both have legitimate chances to make it to at least the semifinals.

Each team has its share of issues on offense. They both struggle at times in the passing game, and East Ascension lost all-district running back Ralph Williams at the start of the year.

However, with their defenses, they will always have a chance.

The two teams combined to go 17-3 during the regular season, allowing them to earn the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds in Class 5A.

They’ll both get to host first-round games, and there’s a good chance they could be the host in the second round as well.

Most importantly, they won’t have to deal with juggernauts like John Curtis and Evangel.

But there will still be plenty of competition.

West Monroe—who eliminated St. Amant in the quarterfinals last year—is there as the No. 1 seed. Zachary—who eliminated East Ascension in the second round last year—is looming in the top five.

It should be a very, very intriguing November.