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Arceneaux: Plenty of drama remaining in district races

Last Modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 8:43 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Heading into the home stretch of the regular season, most of the drama in district races is found in the smaller classes.

Barbe is in control of District 3-5A and can wrap up a share of the title with a win in Sulphur this week. Washington-Marion can get a share of the District 4-4A crown with a win over Beau Chene. LaGrange’s win over St. Louis boosted its chances of finally getting to play at home in the playoffs, and means the Gators can earn a share of the district title again if they can beat Opelousas this week and Washington-Marion in a Week 10 showdown.

Despite not getting the desired result in a battle against Notre Dame for the District 4-3A lead, the Westlake Rams showed they can play with the big boys.

The Rams controlled the first half but could not finish drives, getting stuffed on a pair of fourth-down plays, once at the goal line and again at the Notre Dame 31.

A few mistakes cost the Rams a chance to win, but they should feel good about themselves heading into another big game this week against Iowa. Both teams will need help to get a piece of the district title, but the game is still meaningful.

Westlake will want to win to try to remain one of the top eight seeds in the playoffs, which could mean getting a first-round home playoff game in the second or third round. Iowa needs to win to try to get into the top 16, which would mean playing at home in the first week of the playoffs.

Both teams will be capable of doing some damage in the postseason.

Westlake has a bevy of talented skill position on offense, including a pair of oversized receivers in Tyler Johnson and Jacory Washington. The Rams have a bulldog of a running back in Latrell Martin and a tough defense.

The area of concern has been special teams, an area that becomes more important in the postseason when the talent gap between teams shrinks and field position becomes more paramount.

Iowa won four games last season, none in district, but surged out of the gate with six wins to start this season, played fairly well in a loss at Notre Dame and is in line for a return to the playoffs. The Yellow Jackets defense gave up 34 points per game last year but has cut that number down to 12 this season.

Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have been dominant in the return game, with four players scoring at least once, and two of them, Chaz Key and Dequain Mathews, scoring multiple times. Key, a sophomore, and Mathews, a receiver, are also playmakers on offense, along with quarterback Austin Theriot, who can run and pass.

The winner of Friday’s game will get a boost to their power rating and build momentum heading into the playoffs, but both will be dangerous once the postseason begins.

Rosepine played well over the second half of last season but sputtered at the start of this season due to inexperience. The Eagles matured rapidly, and are in position to win a share of the District 4-2A title after picking up a second huge road win, this time over Kinder.

The Eagles announced themselves as a contender when they opened District 4-2A play with a narrow win at Lake Arthur, which hasn’t lost since and are in a three-way tie with Rosepine and Welsh for the district lead.

Rosepine finishes with two home games, while Lake Arthur still has to visit Kinder in Week 10. That game is the only one that any of the three co-leaders has to play against a team with a winning record.

In 1A, Basile is the area’s lone unbeaten team, riding a ferocious defense and the running of Kendrick Ceaser to eight consecutive wins. The Bearcats face tests over the next two weeks, when the play Oberlin, which is also unbeaten in district play, and Elton, which won seven consecutive games until losing in double overtime to Oberlin Friday night.

Oberlin and Basile were among the bottom eight seeds in the playoffs last season and went out in the first round. Basile is likely to be at home to start the playoffs, and a win Friday could have the Tigers home as well. Elton may also be able to earn a home game as well, meaning that our smaller schools could be supplying the drama again in the postseason.

•••

Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at warceneaux@americanpress.com

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