Top 10 must-see local high school football games

By By Albert Burford / American Press

High school football often falls victim to a number of mismatched, lopsided contests throughout the season.

But there are some games that, due to highly skilled athletes, a season on the line, local ties or traditions, will likely be a treat to watch.

These 10 games, listed in no particular order, represent a combination of all the things that make high school football games exciting:

West Monroe at Barbe

The 2012 5A semifinal game will be

fresh in the minds of West Monroe players when these titans play at

Barbe on Sept. 20.

That game was one of the best of last season, and don’t be

surprised if this one follows up with another classic. This matchup

stands out as the showdown with the most talent in the area all

season. Expect some exciting offense from this one, as LSU

commit Trey Quinn will look to impress on a big stage, as will

West Monroe’s Cameron Robinson, an offensive lineman with offers

from LSU and Alabama, among others. This one will be a big test

for a West Monroe defense that lost nine defensive starters

from last year’s squad and gave up 49 points.

Grand Lake at South Cameron

Grand Lake is fielding a varsity football team for the first time since 1961, and that means parish neighbor South Cameron

has a new rival on the gridiron. While neither of these teams is likely to be a major player in District 4-1A, this could

be the start of an intense local rivalry and may have implications regarding where young football talent chooses to attend

high school. Grand Lake takes the field at South Cameron on Oct. 4.

LaGrange At Washington-Marion

Since Lake Charles-Boston closed, this

has become the new “Soul Bowl.” It will be an event, rather than just a

game, likely

with an impressive halftime show. But that’s not to say there

won’t be plenty of action on the field. LaGrange coach Jules

Sullen has the Gators looking strong after a co-district

championship shared with Washington-Marion in 2012 last season. The

teams take the field in a regular season finale on Nov. 8.

Basile at Elton

Basile head coach Tony Bertrand took

the Bearcats to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last season,

beating Elton

twice in a row along the way. The second of those losses stung the

most, as Basile jumped out to a 14-0 lead and weathered

a comeback from Elton to hold on for a 17-16 win in the first

round of the playoffs. The District 4-1A foes will square off

on Nov. 1 at Elton.

Westlake at Sam Houston

Sam Houston had won the Battle of the

West Fork for three consecutive years before Westlake pulled off a 34-24

win in the

latest edition of the rivalry. This game features an intriguing

coaching matchup, as Westlake coach Shawn DeMerritt was a

football player at Jennings while Sam Houston coach Vaughn

Eggleston was an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. The two teams

meet on Sept. 20 in Moss Bluff.

St. Louis at Iowa

With tempers still high from the

decision to split the playoffs into select and non-select divisions,

this will be a showdown

of two teams affected by the change. Political or not, these teams

will be looking to prove a point when they meet Oct. 18

at Iowa — a point neither will get the chance to prove in the

playoffs, as long as select and non-select schools are split.

Washington-Marion at Barbe

The best game of the first week of the

season. Washington-Marion will find out where they stand right away

when they go head-to-head

with Barbe. Talking to Washington-Marion players in early August,

they were already fully obsessed with the idea of beating

the Bucs in the season opener. This one may not be as big of a

deal to Barbe, but the Bucs go in with a target on their back.

Plus, watching Quinn and Chargin’ Indians wide receiver Demond

Delahoussaye light up the scoreboard should be fun. This showdown

takes place Sept. 6 at Barbe.

Welsh at Kinder

These two District 4-2A rivals will

play an important district contest in their next to last regular season

game on Nov. 1

at Kinder. Last year, Welsh made a goal-line stand in the final

minute of the game to hold on for a 26-21 victory in the district

opener. The Greyhounds proceeded to finish as co-district

champions with Rosepine, just one game ahead of Kinder. First-year

Kinder coach Bret Fuselier should have this one circled on his

calendar.

DeRidder at Leesville

The Wampus Cats suffered a 49-0 loss at

the hands of DeRidder to open the 2012 season as they struggled to a

1-9 finish. But

there have been plenty of ebbs and flows between the two rivals as

they play for the Hooper Trophy, which they have battled

for since 1962. We’ll see if Leesville can make this historical

rivalry competitive again when the teams meet at Leesville

on Oct. 11.

St. Thomas More at Sulphur

Sulphur trailed St. Thomas More 14-0

and 21-7 early in last season’s opener, but forced four turnovers and

stormed back to

upset the Cougars, 35-28. St. Thomas More will once again come to

Sulphur to open the season this year, and they are once

again getting a fair amount of preseason hype. The Cougars will

look for revenge in this one, while the Tors will go for another

hot start to their season. They meet Sept. 6 at Sulphur.