No secrets as district rivals East Beauregard and Merryville clash
Coaches use the axiom that it’s hard to beat a team twice in a season.
East Beauregard and Merryville will take it a step further with their third meeting in the bi-district round of the Class 1A high school football playoffs.
The District 4-1A rivals played to a tie in a preseason jamboree game. East Beauregard won a close game 40-34 in Week 6 and will host the Panthers at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It is always tough playing somebody twice,” East Beauregard head coach Ronald Simmons said. “With Merryville, it is three times. We know it is going to be a battle.”
The Trojans have lost four consecutive games since beating the Panthers but Simmons said they are getting healthy at the right time.
“I think we are getting a few guys back from injuries and getting a little bit healthier,” he said. “A lot of it is just end-of-season stuff.
“We play pretty physical football and those injuries start adding up. We have one major injury on the offensive line, and that is a big loss for us. Hopefully one of the kids will step up and fill his shoes.”
Offensive line play is key to both teams because they rely heavily on their run games. Kane Atkinson leads the Trojans (327 rushing yards per game) with 1,623 yards and 22 touchdowns, while Merryville (2-8) has Cam’ron Williams (1,422 yards, 13 TDs, who is approaching 5,000 career yards.
“Merryville is very dangerous on offense,” Simmons said. “They have Cam’ron (Williams), a four-year starter, and he is tough to stop. They have some other weapons too.
“We are going to run the ball, and we have to take care of it. We can’t get into third-and-longs because that is not what we are built for.”
Simmons said the Trojans (4-6) fixed their defensive problems last week against Grand Lake but will need to improve ball control after committing a pair of costly turnovers.
“(Turnovers) hurt us against Grand Lake,” Simmons admitted. “We put the ball on the ground against Grand Lake twice. Against Grand Lake, you don’t get a lot of possession, and every mistake is amplified.
“Hopefully we have learned some things. They do so much offensively and they have done a lot of new stuff since we played them. Lining up on defense is key. If they catch you out of alignment, they take advantage of it.”
In Class 1A, No. 14 Oberlin (4-6) hosts No. 19 Plain Dealing (2-8), looking to reach the regional round for a 10th consecutive season. A win would match up the Tigers with No. 3 Grand Lake (9-1) next week.
Basile (6-4) will put its five-game win streak on the line when it hosts Magnolia School of Excellence (1-9) for a second consecutive season. Basile beat the Mariners 40-0 last year.
In Class 2A, No. 8 Rosepine (9-1) hosts history-rich No. 25 Kentwood (4-4). The Kangaroos have won nine state championships, including the 1A title in 2018. They reached the regional round in 2020 in their first season in Class 2A.