Plenty on the line when LaGrange, Washington-Marion square off

By By Troy LaFleur / American Press

On Friday night the LaGrange Gators and Washington Marion Charging Indians will meet for the third consecutive season with

district title implications and crucial playoff positioning on the line.

And for the third straight year there

will be more than that on the line. Ever since joining the same district

in 2011 the

two schools have seen their annual Week 10 battle blossom into a

crosstown rivalry, making it a big event for the community.

The Gators (4-5, 4-1) are riding one of

the area’s hottest streaks having won four in a row after starting the

season 0-5.

Last week they clinched a share of the District 4-4A championship

with a 36-0 win over Opelousas, making it three years straight

that they have accomplished the feat. A win over the Indians would

give them the district championship outright, as well as

possibly propel them to a first-round home playoff game. They sit

at No. 19 in the Class 4A state power rankings.

“A win would be an extreme confidence builder,” said LaGrange head coach Jules Sullen. “This summer, when we set our goals,

one of them was to win the district outright, and being able to be at least co-champs three years in a row speaks volumes

for our program.”

For the Indians (5-4, 3-2) a

first-round home playoff game may be slightly out of reach as they sit

at No. 23 in the power

rankings (the top 16 of 32 teams receive first-round home playoff

games), but the chance to win a share of the district championship

and improve their playoff seeding is an enticing motive for

victory. A W-M win could potentially force a five-team tie for

the district title between themselves, LaGrange, Crowley, Rayne

and Eunice.

“This is a good opportunity for us. It

was one of our goals to put ourselves in this situation and be where we

are today,”

said W-M head coach Freddie Harrison. “We have a lot of respect

for LaGrange, as well as coach Sullen and his staff, and we

are expecting a hard-fought football game.”

Both the Gators and the Indians possess offenses capable of lighting up the scoreboard, but each prefer to do it in their

own way.

LaGrange will likely continue to utilize its effective two-back rotation of Markell Hawthorne and Tyler Guillory to wreak

havoc on the ground. Guillory, a senior, plays the role of the power runner while Hawthorne, a sophomore, is used in more

of an all-purpose role.

“Both of those guys have been playing very well, and that is a testament to how well our offensive line has been playing,”

Sullen said. “I think if they can stay within their realm and focused they can be just as productive as they have been in

past weeks.”

W-M will face a tough task in stopping the duo, but it is a task that Harrison said his team is capable of handling.

“Our defense has to bend, not break,”

Harrison said. “We have to make sure that we don’t miss tackles and

handle our responsibilities.

Everyone knows that (Tyler Guillory) runs very hard and Markell

Hawthorne has had some big games so we have to make sure we

corral them and execute our game plan.”

The Indians’ offense is known primarily for its blazing speed in the passing game with junior quarterback Quajae Boutte and

senior wide receiver Demond Delahoussaye producing big numbers. The connection between the two will be a tough one to stop

for the Gators’ defense.

“(Boutte and Delahoussaye) are both

phenomenal athletes, and coach Harrison has done a great job with them,”

Sullen said.

“We have to make sure we know where Delahoussaye is at all times.

We know that he is one of the better receivers in the state

and he is going to get his touches, but we have to make sure he

doesn’t get behind us for the long ball.”

Leading the way for LaGrange in its effort to shut down Boutte and Delahoussaye will be cornerbacks Markel Thomas and Deonte

Goodley who have proven to be two of the best defensive backs in the district.

“We have to make sure that we protect

our quarterback, establish the run game and make sure that we catch the

football,” Harrison

said. “Our main focus every week is to keep the ball and chains

moving. LaGrange has a pair of really good cornerbacks in

Goodley and Thomas, and our kids understand that they are facing

good competition and know they have to perform at a high

level.”

The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday at W-M’s Robert Lavergne Memorial Stadium.