Last Modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 4:22 PM
Number-crunching time has arrived with the final week of the season. All eyes will turn to the power ratings as fans and coaches try to figure out who needs to win, who needs to lose, who will be playing who and where games will be held next week when the postseason starts.
Locally, the final week of the regular season offers up some interesting match-ups and scenarios.
Washington-Marion will make the short trip to play LaGrange. Fans of both teams have been trying to force rivalry game status on the matchup even since the closing of Lake Charles-Boston. The game has been a high stakes affair each of the last two seasons with district title implications on the line each time. That helps get a rivalry going more than silly nicknames and commemorative t-shirts.
The Charging Indians may have to play without all-purpose star Melvin Jones, but the Charging Indians offense has been solid running the ball all season and quarterback Maurius Rideaux has proven to be more than capable in the passing game. Defensively, the Charging Indians should gain confidence from getting a shutout win in their first full game without Jones at linebacker.
LaGrange will pose a challenge with a pair of good running backs in Tyler Guillory and Robert Leday and a host of talented, multidimensional skill players such as Freddie Williams and Nick Pitre. The Gators defense has been good and features a difference maker in Tirell Wellmaker.
The winner of the game should lock up a first-round home game, which would be a big step forward for each program. LaGrange has not hosted a playoff game since 1999 and Washington-Marion won its first playoff game in a decade last year. That game featured an overflow crowd and big-game atmosphere that harkened back to the days when the Charging Indians were a perennial power.
The 1999 season was the last time LaGrange won a playoff game. From 2000-07, the Gators won a total of 20 games in eight seasons. Head coach Jules Sullen has rebuilt the program back into a solid one with three trips to the postseason in his first four seasons. A home game and win in the playoffs would represent another step forward for the Gators, who won at least one playoff game six times in the 1990s, reaching the semifinals in 94 and quarterfinals in 96 and 99.
Iowa has not made the playoffs the last two years, but punched its ticket Friday night with a huge win in Westlake, the team’s eighth win of the season. More importantly, it was the first over a team with more than two wins, which gave a boost to Iowa’s power rating, which was in the 20s entering the game due to a low strength of schedule.
The win over Westlake now gives the Yellow Jackets hope of staying at home for the first round if it can win a showdown with Jennings this week. The Bulldogs are likely in the same position, need to win the regular season finale to secure a home game. The game will feature a good matchup between the strong running game of Jennings and Iowa’s bruising defense, which shut down a good Westlake offense and held its own against an outstanding Notre Dame team earlier this season.
In Class 2A, Lake Arthur, Kinder, Welsh and Rosepine are all hopeful of getting home games. Kinder and Lake Arthur will play each other in a game that may serve as an eliminator for home-field advantage. The Elton-Basile game in Class 1A may serve a similar purpose.
The elimination games don’t start until next week, but there are plenty of games this Friday with high stakes on the line.
Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at email@example.com