Hosting their first playoff game since 2016, the No. 10 seed Carroll Bulldogs take on the No. 23 Jennings Bulldogs in a first round Class 3A matchup Friday night.
Jennings (5-5) got off to an 0-3 start with consecutive losses to a trio of Class 4A playoff teams — Leesville (48-41), Eunice (19-7) and DeRidder (21-6). Since then, the J-Dogs have won five of their last seven to reach the .500 level. After getting into the win column against Cecilia (56-35) and Washington-Marion (43-16) in Weeks 4 and 5, Jennings lost to St. Louis (41-21), defeated Iowa (35-7), lost to Lake Charles Prep (45-35) and finished out the regular season with back-to-back victories over South Beauregard (34-19) and Westlake (32-21).
Offensively, the J-Dogs lean on the power-speed combo of running backs Trevor Etienne and Jalen Lewis. Etienne, a 5-10, 200-pound sophomore, is the brother of former Jennings star and current Clemson running back Travis Etienne.
Keenan Landry, a 6-2, 295-pound junior defensive tackle, who has received offers from LSU and Tulane, anchors the Jennings defense.
“Jennings has been playing well lately,” Carroll coach Alex Washington said. “They are a well-coached team. I’m sure they will be ready to play just like we are going to be ready to play. They are going to play disciplined football, and we are going to have to match it.”
Back in the playoffs after a one-year absence, Carroll (6-3) is seeking its first playoff victory since a 47-23 first round triumph over Albany in 2016. Carroll reached the second round that season before falling to Marksville 38-22.
This season, Carroll got off to a strong start with wins over Shreveport Booker T. Washington (42-18) and Madison Parish (42-0) prior to dropping a 52-28 verdict to Bastrop, the No. 8 seed in Class 4A. Improving to 4-1, the C-Dogs took out Huntington (41-17) and Richwood (25-14), bowed to Caldwell (20-13), defeated Wossman (29-8) and Union (21-13), and fell to Sterlington (28-0) last week in a game that determined the District 2-3A championship.
Struggling offensively, the C-Dogs managed just 150 yards against No. 2 seed Sterlington, including 41 yards on 30 rushing attempts.
“The kids are ready to get the sour taste out of their mouths from the Sterlington game,” Washington said. “We were back in here Sunday for our gameplan introduction. (Tuesday and Wednesday) were our tough days.”
Carroll is led offensively by quarterback Antonio Hollins, running back Montrelle Jones and Louisiana Tech commit Cedric Woods, a two-way standout at wide receiver and cornerback.
Against Sterlington, the Carroll defense was forced to defend a short field throughout the second quarter. A turnover on downs, a special teams breakdown and a fumble led to second quarter touchdowns of 29, 44 and 14 yards as the Panthers opened up a 28-0 halftime lead.
“I was proud of the way our defense played in the second half,” Washington said. “Defensively, as a whole, we settled down to hold them scoreless in the second half.”
Leading the way defensively for the C-Dogs are end Ryan DeBurr, linebacker Bobby Williams and free safety Donald Nabors.
Looking ahead to the second round, the Jennings-Carroll winner advances to play the No. 26 F.A. Douglass-Church Point winner.