Editor's note: This is part two of our playoff breakdown for parish schools this week.
After previewing the matchups involving our biggest teams in the parish, let's dive into some equally compelling playoff matchups that involve Sterlington, Ouachita Christian and St. Frederick.
Class 3A Quarterfinals: No. 1 Sterlington vs. No. 8 Madison Prep
Lee Doty fires me up in interviews. I can’t imagine how fired up those players get in the locker room before a game.
By the end of our conversation Saturday I was ready to purchase a ticket for Sterlington vs. Madison Prep, even though I’m set to cover it for our newspaper. It’s simply going to be worth the price of admission to see one of the most talented teams in the state face off against one of the nastiest, grittiest ball clubs around.
And make no mistake about it, that’s what this Sterlington team is. And it all starts at the top.
Doty embodies all things Sterlington. Think about it this way. If I was stuck in a back alley somewhere, I’d feel good about my chances getting out of there if Doty had my back. And in a nutshell, that’s Sterlington.
The Panthers have already lost this game on paper. And they’ll lose it again in warmups when 4-star athletes step on the field for the Chargers. But when the game is played between the lines, the Panthers will be in Madison Prep’s face for four physical quarters.
Many have speculated about this game for weeks. I’ve heard many of the same opinions, such as: “Sterlington will lose to Madison Prep because they give up too many big plays on defense. They can’t hang with those athletes.” And I suppose it’s a fair assessment. I’m sure Madison Prep will break loose on some explosive plays against the Panthers, just like the Chargers do against everyone else.
But I also expect Sterlington to fire off of the ball and punch Madison Prep in the mouth. The Chargers didn’t like that back in 2016 when the Panthers upset them in the Class 2A State Championship Game. Let’s see how Madison Prep responds Friday night.
Division IV Semifinals: No. 1 OCS vs. No. 4 Calvary Baptist
The rematch of last year’s state championship game goes down in our own backyard Friday night, so if you plan on attending, you better get there early.
The “Candy Man” Landry Lyddy sprinkled OCS defenders with starbursts and 464 yards in a 62-41 state championship victory a year ago. So you can imagine the motivation for OCS heading into this one.
The Eagles defense has really come on down the stretch too, as it’s allowed just 40 points in the previous eight contests. But we all know there isn’t an offense that has tested the Eagles quite like Calvary Baptist will Friday night.
The Cavaliers have scored 58 points or more in eight contests this season. Heck, Calvary Baptist has scored 70 or more points in four games.
Lyddy leads the state in passing yards this year, as the Louisiana Tech commit finished the regular season with 3,244 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Calvary Baptist has one loss to its credit and that was to Archbishop Rummel. The Cavaliers scored a season-low 14 points in that defeat, so there’s hope yet for OCS to stop this offense.
Will we see some form of another shootout Friday night? More than likely, but don’t sleep on the Eagles defense making a game defining play Friday night. Ascension Catholic might have been down a few players going into last week’s quarterfinal contest, but OCS swarmed to the football and shut down Bryce Leonard and that passing attack. That served as a nice tune-up for what the Eagles will see Friday night.
On the flip side, can Calvary Baptist slow down an OCS offense that's averaged 44 points per game this season? Better yet, can they slow down Tristan Wiley, who recorded 13 catches for 218 yards and two scores against the Cavaliers one year ago?
Division IV Semifinals: No. 14 St. Frederick at No. 2 Southern Lab
Speaking of Wiley, I had a chance to visit with him Friday night after OCS’ 42-0 victory against Ascension Catholic, and Wiley told me he had his own personal checklist. He wanted to avenge losses in his career to Oak Grove, Calvary Baptist and Southern Lab.
If St. Frederick has anything to say about it, Wiley and the Eagles won’t get another shot at Southern Lab. And at this point, would we be all that surprised if the “Road Warriors” played spoiler again?
St. Frederick’s record on the road improved to 5-0 after last Friday night’s 31-7 victory against No. 6 Vermilion Catholic, and that was a ceiling-shattering win.
The perception of St. Frederick football going into this season was that of a team that’s simply a tough out. Pardon my candor, but it’s true. St. Frederick has garnered respect around the state for being a very good, gritty ball club. But the Warriors are far from a popular pick to be practicing during Thanksgiving. Well, that should all change after last week’s victory, as the state retunes its thoughts and feelings about a St. Frederick program that’s on the rise.
But why let the story end there? Southern Lab is the No. 2 seed for good reason as this is always an immensely talented club. And you’ve seen that talent flourish in the playoffs after outscoring Hanson Memorial and Country Day by a combined score of 95-6.
St. Frederick’s defense is good enough to compete with anyone, as the (9-2) Warriors have given up a combined 94 points this season through 11 games. Now that the offense has found something with running back Michael Thompson, who has rushed for 660 yards and seven touchdowns in the last three games, St. Frederick has evolved into something far more than a “tough out.”