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By Rhett Manuel

rmanuel@americanpress.com

With the regular season nearing its end, ignoring the state’s playoff picture is no longer an option.

In District 4-3A, no game is bigger than the one between the league’s last unbeaten team Iowa (6-2, 3-0) and Jennings (6-2, 2-1).

The Bulldogs are No. 9 and Iowa No. 13 in the Class 3A power rankings. Tonight’s game could go a long way toward solidifying a home game for one of the teams.

Additionally, Iowa could lock up a share of the district championship.

“Any time you get 16 (power) points in one game it’s a big one,” Iowa head coach Sean Richard said. “We knew coming in (to district) that every game would be a battle. We’re just fortunate to still be here with a chance for the district title in Week 9.”

The teams play extremely different styles with Jennings’ veer matching up with Iowa’s spread attack.

“I don’t know that you (completely) stop it,” Jennings head coach Rusty Phelps said. “They can score from 1 yard out or from 99 yards out. You have to be very conscious of where they’re at.”

Iowa will have its hands full stopping Jennings’ running attack led by Travis Etienne and LaMontay Mouton. Etienne is one of the area’s leading rushers, entering tonight’s game with 1,088 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“They’re a really good offensive team and have been for the last four or five years,” Richard said. “(Etienne) is really a good runner, (Mouton) is shifty, and their quarterback (Kaleb Chaisson) is very good. It’s definitely a triple threat.”

Jennings must win tonight to keep its District 4-3A championship hopes alive.

“This game is very important for both teams,” Phelps said. “We’re at the point in the year where a lot of things are on the line for both teams.”

Westlake at St. Louis

The Saints (3-5, 2-1) are in the hunt for the district championship and have shown a knack for pulling off big district wins under first-year head coach Charlie Cryer.

St. Louis gave Jennings its lone district loss and beat South Beauregard by 25 points on the road last week. A win against Westlake (2-6, 1-2) would give the Saints consecutive wins for the first time this season.

“The kids have started to play physical for four quarters,” Cryer said. “We’ve made some plays offensively and put some points on the board.”

The Rams are No. 26 in the Class 3A power rankings but a win could be huge for their playoff seeding.

“Every game is important on the schedule, especially in our district,” Westlake head coach Shawn Demerritt said. “It’s another big game for us and we’re looking forward to another opportunity (tonight.)”

Iota at South Beauregard

The Golden Knights (6-2, 1-2) are ranked No. 11 in the Class 3A power rankings but have lost the last two weeks.

A win over Iota (0-8, 0-3) would give South Beauregard some much-needed momentum in hopes of heading into the playoffs on a high note.

The Golden Knights will pull no punches in its attack, led by running back Shea Holland. He has run for 1,539 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Iota is hoping to win its first game in nearly two seasons. It found signs of life in the running game behind sophomore Kaleb Guillory, who ran for 101 yards on 14 carries last week.

Battle for first place

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.

That’s something they haven’t been able to do this season.