Last Modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 11:57 PM
For the first time in five years, more than half of Southwest Louisiana’s contingent survived the first week of the high school football playoffs.
Area teams posted an 8-7 record Friday night, one winner better than last year’s 7-8 mark, and much better than the preceding three years, when area teams won only 15 of 50 bi-district round games, and produced only five regional-round teams each year.
A couple of the area’s lower-seeded teams, No. 26 Iowa and No. 22 DeRidder, were the big winners on the opening weekend.
Iowa, due to a poor strength of schedule, was way underseeded. The Yellow Jackets' victory was not a big surprise, but the impunity with which they did so was. Iowa scored on all seven first-half possessions to take a 49-0 lead over No. 7 seed Buckeye en route to an easy 49-6 win.
As a reward, the Yellow Jackets will get to enjoy the comforts of home in their upcoming regional-round game against No. 10 North Vermilion, which scratched out a 38-36 win over Avoyelles. Another win could set up a rematch between the Yellow Jackets and District 4-3A mate Notre Dame. The Pioneers won the regular-season meeting 28-13. Iowa moved the ball well in that game and has since picked up quality road wins against Westlake and Buckeye.
First, the Yellow Jackets will have to take care of business against North Vermilion. Against Buckeye, Iowa flexed its strength on defense and rolled up 362 rushing yards. That’s a good blueprint for postseason success.
DeRidder continued its second-half surge with a fine defensive performance of its own in beating O.P. Walker 10-6 in New Orleans to set up a home date against Holy Cross. The Dragons have won five of their last six games since opening the season 2-3. The sole loss in the current hot streak came to a red-hot Washington-Marion team that was in the middle of a seven-game winning streak.
The Dragons have allowed only 12 points per game during the 5-1 run, and gave their best performance Friday night against the Chargers. O.P. Walker had won eight playoff games over the past five seasons, twice reaching the semifinals, and had won at least one game the four times it had made the playoffs in that span.
DeRidder had won only four playoff games since 1952 — and none since 1995 — until Friday night. The Dragons didn’t let the lack of pedigree bother them last week and will face another tough test this week. Holy Cross has quality wins over East Jefferson and St. Augustine and has beaten traditional power Archbishop Shaw twice, including a 28-0 win Friday night.
LaGrange also had a good weekend, winning its first home playoff game in 13 years and receiving a better-than-expected regiona-round draw with No. 30 St. Martinville — which had lost its previous three games by a combined score of 119-16, pulled off the opening round’s biggest upset with a 30-29 win over No. 3 Lutcher.
That result gives the Gators a shorter trip, less intimidating opponent and a chance to avenge their lone district loss. If LaGrange and DeRidder both win, the Gators will host DeRidder in the quarterfinal round. DeRidder beat LaGrange 21-20 in the opening week of district play. LaGrange has won five games since, and will be playing a regional-round game for the first time since 1999, when they advanced to the quarterfinals.
Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org