All three District 4-3A high school football games this week will have title implications as Lake Charles College Prep, St. Louis Catholic and Westlake all attempt to earn at least a share of the crown.
All three are 3-1 in district play entering the final week of the regular season. None play each other as the Trailblazers (6-3, 3-1) will host South Beauregard (2-7, 0-4) on Thursday night, Westlake (3-5, 3-1) will visit Jennings (4-5, 2-2) on Friday and St. Louis (6-2, 3-1) will play Iowa (4-5, 1-3) at Sulphur on Friday night.
For the three teams tied at the top, the mission is clear: win, claim a share of the district title and get an automatic berth into the playoffs. That final piece is particularly important to Westlake, as the Rams enter the week on the playoff bubble.
All teams earning a share of a district title get an automatic playoff berth. The remainder of the 32-team Class 3A field will be determined by power ratings. Iowa is 33rd and Westlake 34th in the most recent Louisiana High School Athletic Association power ratings.
Jennings is technically alive for the district title. It would need to beat Westlake and have Prep and St. Louis lose to create a four-way tie.
There's a similar story in District 4-1A. Oberlin (9-0, 6-0) has clinched a share of the title. It wins outright with a win at Basile (6-3, 5-1), while the Bearcats earn a share with the win.
Merryville plays at Hamilton Christian with both teams on the playoff bubble. The Panthers (2-7, 1-5) are 22nd in Class 1A, in which 24 teams qualify for the playoffs. Hamilton (4-4, 2-4) is 15th in Division IV, in which 16 teams make the playoffs.
The Warriors have missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons.
"It's been our goal to make the playoffs and now we control our own destiny," said Hamilton head coach Jules Sullen. "Our seniors have done a good job and are up for the challenge. Merryville does some great things offensively. We have to be able to find a way to stop them. Offensively we have gotten into the red zone but not been able to score. We have to work on that and be sure we play a full game instead of only half a game as we have in every one we've lost."
Sullen said he isn't worried about his team getting too excited or distracted during a hectic week.
"It's homecoming, it's senior night and we have a chance to go the playoffs," he said. "I'm glad we are in this position. We're hoping to get into the playoffs and having that carry over into next season."
Oakdale (27th) and Vinton (31st) enter Week 10 near the cutoff line. The Warriors (4-4, 1-3) will visit Pickering (3-6, 0-4) while Vinton is at Kinder (5-4, 4-0), which has clinched the District 5-2A title outright.