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Arceneaux: Season heating up as we pass midpoint

Last Modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 10:21 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The regular season is halfway over and the majority of area football teams will begin district play this week. Coaches have started checking out power ratings and discussing the importance of getting first-round home playoff games.

The season is heating up with more regional rivalry games and high-stakes showdowns on the horizon over the next five weeks.

Here is a look at how the races shape up in each district.

District 3-5A: the top three finishers from last season — Acadiana, Barbe and Carencro — have started to separate from the pack. Each of the three is undefeated in district play. The first game between members of the group takes place Friday, when Acadiana visits Barbe. The Bucs play at Carencro the following week and can assume control of the race with a pair of wins. Barbe’s defense has struggled against the pass in games against Evangel and St. Thomas More, a pair of shootouts that the Bucs split. The Bucs can score with anyone but will need the defense to stand up to the powerful running attacks of Carencro and Acadiana if it is to sweep the pair of games.

District 4-4A: A similar scenario is playing out in here as Washington-Marion, LaGrange and St. Louis — which all tied for the district title last year — look like the favorites coming in. The Charging Indians are 4-1, and after riding the running of Melvin Jones last year, have added balance to the offense with the development of quarterback Marius Rideaux, running back Rawlin Guillory and receiver Demond Delahoussaye.

LaGrange and St. Louis are each 3-2 against difficult nondistrict schedules. The Gators have quality road wins over Sulphur and Northside and have the benefit of three district home games, including both the St. Louis and Washington-Marion games. The Gators have an abundance of quality skill position players but have hurt themselves with penalties throughout the first half of the season. Cleaning up the pre-snap penalties and getting running back Robert Leday back healthy will be keys.

St. Louis has had to battle inexperience and the temporary absence of head coach Mike Johns, but picked up good wins over Sam Houston and East St. John and played well in a one-point overtime loss at Jennings.

The Saints have found a few playmakers on offense in quarterback John Paul Crawford and wingbacks/receivers Lenny Breda and Andrew Dietz. Consistency in the running game will be needed in games against the other top teams, but a solid defense and spectacular special teams play should keep the Saints in every game.

District 4-3: The race appears to be wide open. Jennings and Notre Dame are as good as expected, but Iowa has been the story, winning all five games while putting up ridiculous point totals.

Chaz Key has emerged as a dual-threat as a runner and kick returner, and the Yellow Jacket defense has been dominant. However, Iowa has yet to play a winning team. It will be tested early in the district race with consecutive trips to Crowley.

Jennings has kept rolling on offense, plugging in Jarquis Brown and Lamontay Mouton at the running back spots and adding some balance with the throwing of Jaylon Boutte. The Bulldogs have three wins over 4A teams and will get a chance to take control of the race early, as they host Notre Dame this week.

The Pioneers (3-1) have been impressive, beating Breaux Bridge to open the season and blowing out St. Louis and Catholic-New Iberia. The lone loss was by four to undefeated Teurlings Catholic.

Westlake (3-1) should also be a factor. The Rams have an impressive set of skill position players and have been good defensively. Receivers Jacory Washington and Tyler Johnson, 6-foot-6 and 6-3, respectively, are tough matchups for opposing defenses, and Latrell Martin is a powerful running back.

District 4-2A: Little has been decided in the first two weeks of play. Welsh is undefeated with a big win over Kinder and a quality win at Rosepine. Kinder and Lake Arthur each have one loss but remain in the race. Kinder’s toughest remaining games, against Rosepine and Lake Arthur, are both at home. Lake Arthur controls its fate with games against Welsh and Kinder remaining.

Head-to-head games between the three contenders will be crucial in the chase for playoff positioning. Class 2A is deep. A team with two or three losses will no be guaranteed a home game, so getting big points from beating the other elite teams will provide a big boost in terms of seeding.

District 4-1A: Undefeated Basile and one-loss Elton appear to be the favorites. Sophomore Kendrick Ceaser has emerged as a star for the Bearcats, with 837 rushing yards. Elton’s Micah Lavan is not far behind with 753 yards and Carson Ortego and Scott Ross have shown they can produce big plays in the new-look spread offense.

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

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