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Westlake, Jennings collide again tonight

Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 3:03 PM

By Rhett Manuel / American Press

We saw this same matchup two weeks ago. Old rivals going toe-to-toe for a chance at a district football championship.

Fast forward to today, and No. 12 Westlake and No. 5 Jennings are squaring off with a spot in the Class 3A quarterfinals on the line.

Jennings (8-3) ran away with the Week 10 matchup by a 41-20 margin and held Westlake (6-5) to 246 yards of offense in winning the District 4-3A title. But Westlake’s defense recovered last week and carried the Rams to a 13-6 win over No. 21 Franklin in a game where its offense wasn’t on point.

“We’ve made some adjustments on both sides of the football,” Westlake head coach Shawn Demeritt said. “Jennings did a good job in Week 10. We’ve got to play and show up with some emotion. We’ll have to be physical on defense like we have most of the year. Offensively, we’ve got to sustain some drives.”

But the stakes are higher with a quarterfinals trip on the line and the benefit of having played the Bulldogs two weeks ago.

“We’ve had a great week of practice,” Demeritt said. “They’ve got a little bounce in their step. When you’re in the playoffs, you’ve got a chance.

“We’re excited to have another opportunity at Jennings.”

Farther west, the No. 7 Vinton Lions are experiencing excitement the town hasn’t felt in a while.

Being in the playoffs was big, but a regional-round matchup with No. 10 Rosepine only magnifies the situation.

The last time Vinton (9-2) was in the playoffs was 2006, the same year it last made the quarterfinals.

The Lions are coming off a 49-14 blowout of No. 26 General Trass, one in which Vinton’s James McMillon ran for 294 yards and three touchdowns.

“This group of kids hasn’t experienced a whole lot of success,” Vinton head coach Tarius Davis said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was going to be a much closer game than that.

“I thought we were relaxed all week. We didn’t come across as nervous or anything like that. It’s been the same way this week.”

But the Lions are facing a different beast in the Eagles. Rosepine had two backs over the century mark last week. Noah Martin and Stanley Hogan combined for 358 rushing yards in Rosepine’s 51-50 shootout.

“They’re two really good football players,” Davis said. “Martin has been there since his freshman year and Hogan has come out of nowhere. They’re tough, physical runners.”

Run-first teams have been the Barbe Bucs’ Achilles heel with both of their losses coming against power football teams.

That makes tonight’s trip to No. 24 Hahnville (6-5) interesting. The Tigers will come at the Bucs with an option attack led by running back Lynn Simmons, who has 1,235 rushing yards and 11 TDs.

“(Simmons) is not a very big kid but runs the ball very well,” Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera said. “He’s a good athlete with good speed and he’s a tough guy.”

Barbe isn’t looking ahead, but is aware of a potential rematch with No. 1 seed and District 3-5A rival Acadiana if it can get by the Tigers.

“It would be nice. But first we have to win Friday night,” Cutrera said. “That’s all we’re looking at right now.”

DeRidder (10-1) has had no issues staying focused after a Week 1 loss to Westlake. The Dragons have won 10 games in a row — the second-longest winning streak in Southwest Louisiana behind Basile (11) — and welcome in No. 9 Breaux Bridge (7-3).

The Tigers haven’t lost since Week 5 against Teurlings Catholic and notched a 35-0 win over Tara last week.

“I don’t know you have enough ink in your paper to talk about the athletes they have,” DeRidder head coach Eric Parmley said.

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