Okay, in this first of a kind unique playoff format here in Louisiana, we already have six teams and three title games set for next weekend's LHSAA Championships. In Division I, the defending 5A Champion Rummel Raiders will battle the Byrd Yellow Jackets. In Division III Archbishop Hannan will take on Calvary Baptist. And, the Division II Title Game looks like one of the best match-ups—the John Curtis Patriots take on the undefeated University High Cubs.
So what's left? This week is now officially semi-final weekend. 12 games will produce six state title games. All five classes play semi-final games this tonight while Division IV will also play its semi-final game.
Up in Class 5A we are one week away from a dream match-up of great high school QB's. Now in order for that to happen two very good teams stand in the way. The Destrehan Wildcats and star QB Donovan Isom take on the battle tested Acadiana Rams. And in the other 5A semi-final match-up the Covington Lions entertain future LSU Tiger and current Parkway QB Brandon Harris.
Harris leads a Parkway team that has had to play every game on the road this post season due to a penalty that was levied against their program last playoff season. Harris and his Panthers are now just one win away from making it to the Superdome. A Destrehan versus Parkway 5A final would give us perhaps one of the best QB match-ups in recent memory. Harris has already inked with LSU and Isom is a verbal commitment to Utah.
Now, if you want to talk about power, let's bring up Class 4A. Again we're looking at two of the best programs. Teams in the deep south are one weekend away from playing in the State Finals for a third straight season. Edna Karr and Neville have played each other in the last two 4A Title Games with the Tigers taking the 4A Title in 2011 and Karr got the win a year ago.
Both teams have difficult games this week. The Tigers have to come down to Metairie to battle the East Jefferson Warriors, while Karr has a rematch against district foe Landry Walker. Karr came from behind earlier this season to edge the Charging Bucs 26-22.
Other big games include Haynesville at Kentwood under the Tank and Amite visits Union Parish.
Great high school semi-finals; we'll have it all covered on the All State Sugar Bowl Prep Football Roundup at 7pm. Let's hope the weather cooperates.
by Deke Bellavia, email@example.com, @dekebigchief,posted Dec 4 2013 2:34PM
The Seahawks are the best. The Panthers have not lost a game in two months. Peyton is having another great REGULAR season. Pretty Boy Tom and the Boston Patriots are lurking. And, the Saints threw the Seattle game tape in the Gulf of Mexico. Here is my TOP 10 for this week!
1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1) – Say what you want, but this is the most complete team in the NFL. And when they play at home they are nearly invincible. Unless Seattle falls apart, the road to the Super Bowl will go through Century Link Field! Perhaps the only chance the Seahawks have to lose at home would be to an NFC West team. Last week Seattle beat up New Orleans 34-7 / this week @ San Francisco.
2. Carolina Panthers (9-3) – The hottest team in the NFL has now extended their win streak to eight games. Only the Chiefs (9-0) have won more consecutive games this season! If defense wins championships,the Panthers can win it all. They have a legit shutdown D! Last week Carolina beat Tampa Bay 27-6 / this week @ New Orleans.
3. Denver Broncos (10-2) – We know how good Peyton Manning and the Broncos are. But will they get it done in January? I'll believe it when I see it. Last week Denver beat Kansas City 35-28 / this week vs Tennessee.
4. New England Patriots (9-3) – New England has just about sewed up the AFC East and now the Pats can earn the #1 seed by having the same record as the Broncos. That come-from-behind win over Denver could prove to be huge in late January. Last week the Patriots beat Houston 34-31 / this week vs Cleveland.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) –The Chiefs could actually finish the season 13-3 and be the #5 seed in the AFC. Hey, those are the rules! Last week KC lost Denver 35-28 / this week @ Washington.
6. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – Man, the Saints made an exception to their 24 hour after a game rule. They reduced that to 24 minutes. Oh well, better get it right! The hottest team in the league comes to town Sunday night! Last week New Orleans lost to Seattle 34-7 / this week vs Carolina.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) – The Bengals still have a two game cushion over the Ravens in the AFC North. A key battle this week to decide playoff seeding takes place against the inconsistent Colts. Last week Cincybeat San Diego 17-10 / this week vs Indianapolis.
8. San Francisco (8-4) – The 49ers are right back in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. Now the boys from Rice-A-Roni land will look to extract some revenge. The 49ers can make the race for the #1 seed in the NFC a lot more interesting with a win over the Seahawks. Last week San Francisco beat St. Louis 23-13 / this week vs Seattle.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) – The Eagles won their last two games at home upping their record to 7-5. Now the Eagles are in a heated battle with the Sliver Stars for the NFC East Title. Last week Philadelphia beat Arizona 24-21 / this week vs Detroit.
10. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) – The Cowboys still have everything in front of them. If Dallas wins the NFC East, they would have earned it. The Boys last four games are @ Chicago, home vs Green Bay followed by a trip to Washington and a huge one at home against the Eagles. Last week Dallas beat Oakland 31-24 / this week @ Chicago.
by Deke Bellavia, firstname.lastname@example.org, @dekebigchief,posted Dec 3 2013 10:28AM
One second and three yards were the difference last weekend in the ability of two teams to survive. In Ann Arbor Michigan's failed two point conversion allowed the Poisonus Nuts to run their win total to 24 straight games.
While on the Plains, the one second Little Nicky begged for, cost him a shot at a national title. Like they say...be careful what you wish for because you just might get it! Now, the most unlikely two teams battle for the SEC Title. The Buckeyes have their hands full this week against those smarten Spartans. And the Noles look like they'll have an easy time in the ACC Title Game.
Last week I told you there's a lot of football left to be played. With only one week left there still is. Any slip ups this week and we'll be talking about the best "one loss" teams in the national title...and that conversation will be a damn good one!
Here is my Top 10 for this week:
1. Florida State - (12-0) – Win and you're in the BCS Title Game. It's only fitting that the team that was in the first three BCS Title Games makes their fourth and final appearance. Last week Florida State beat Florida 37-7 / this week vs Duke in ACC Title Game.
2. Ohio State (12-0) – Man, had their rivals made that two point conversion, we'd be talking about another possible all SEC BCS Title Game. But, "if...ifs and buts...were candy and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas. You can say what you want about the Buckeyes and their weak schedule, but I don't know another team that has won 24 straight games. Do you? Hell no! Last week Ohio State beat Michigan 42-41 / this week vs Michigan State.
3. Auburn Tigers (11-1) – Auburn had one hell of a season. And now with one more win and some help from the Spartans, the Tigers could get back to the BCS Title Game for the second time in four years. Not Bad! Last week Auburn beat Alabama 34-28 / this week vs Missouri in SEC Title Game.
4. Missouri Tigers (11-1) – Hey, this team is still alive in the BCS Title Game hunt. A win over Auburn and a loss by either FSU or Ohio State and this team DESERVES to be in. Yes, over ALABAMA! Last week Missouri beat Texas A&M / this week vs Auburn in SEC Title Game.
5. Alabama (11-1) – Even the greatest coaches mess up! The only play in football that has the least amount of athletes on the field is a long field goal attempt. High risk, high reward. Last week 'Bamalost to Auburn 34-28 / this week crying!
6. Michigan State (11-1) – It's a shame because even if the Spartans beat Ohio State, it won't be enough for them to land in the BCS Title Game. This would be a great year for that new playoff format that starts next season! Last week Michigan State beat Minnesota 21-3 / this week vs Ohio State in Big Ten Title Game.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1) – The Pokes can lock up the Big XII Title with a win over rival Oklahoma this weekend. Last week Oklahoma State beat Baylor 48-10 / next vs Oklahoma on Dec 7th.
8. South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2) – The Gamecocks beat their rivals, but did not get the help from Johnny Football. Oh well, at least the Gamecocks had another 10 win season! Last week South Carolina beat Clemson 31-17 / next bowl game.
9. Baylor Bears (10-1) – The Big XII Title is on the line for a few teams this weekend and Baylor is one of them...so is the team they're playing. Man, this is a big weekend in the conference that doesn't even have 12 teams! Last week Baylor beat TCU 41-38 / this week vs Texas.
10. Stanford Cardinal (10-2) – The Cardinal team is in the Pac 12 Title Game and will take on the red hot Devils from the desert. Another trip to the Rose Bowl is just fine with the folks from Palo Alto! Last week Stanford beat Notre Dame 27-20 / this week vs Arizona State in Pac 12 Title Game.
by Deke Bellavia, email@example.com, @dekebigchief,posted Dec 2 2013 7:19AM
Okay folks this has the makings for a classic. All the right things have been said from both teams, compliments have been passed out like a Black Friday sale flyer and, now it's game time! The two best teams in the NFC meet in prime time.
New Orleans, which used to be a flat out loser on MNF, has become prime time king. QB Drew Brees is 9-0 in his last nine starts on Monday Night Football, with a QB rating of 123.6 in those nine previous games.
Okay with the extra time and the long holiday weekend, there have been more breakdowns for this game than any other this weekend. Honestly this is a huge game, but next week's game against Carolina is even bigger for the Black and Gold. If any team could afford a loss here it is the Seahawks.
Seattle is nearly invincible at home with a perfect mark of 5-0 at CenturyLink Field this season. Seattle has one of the most difficult venues an opposing team can face in all of professional sports. They have won their last 13 games at home.
I won't get all deep on you. I'll give you what I think are the 3 big spots to look for in this game.
1. Can the Saints protect the football? The Seahawks feed off turnovers, as they are +11 this season... which is good for second in the NFL. Seattle blows teams away when they create turnovers. If the Saints protect the football, they will win this game. I'm not saying that the Saints have to win the turnover battle, but I know that they can't lose it.
2. To the left, to the left! No, I'm not singing Beyonce's hit tune. What I am doing is giving much love and mad respect to the Seahawks defense, particularly the left side of their defense. At left DE are two of the best in the game today. Red Bryant and Michael Bennett are beast. Both can stop the run and wreak havoc on QB's. These two guys get off the ball as fast as any DE's in the league, and if they have big games that is not good for the road team. Weakside LB Bruce Irvin is also on the left side of the Hawks defense. Although Irvin has just two sacks this season, he does a good job of hurrying the QB and he is considered one of the toughest in the game today.
3. Run through the defense! The Seahawks have the 2nd best defense in the NFL, and their rushing attack is a big reason why. Seattle allows 112.9 rushing yards per game, which is 12th in the NFL. However, let's look at what teams have done as of late. In their last four games, the Seahawks have not been as good defending the run. In their last four games against St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Minnesota; Seattle allowed over 130 rushing yard in three of those four games, with St. Louis and Tampa both gaining at least 200 yards rushing. Seattle has given up 601 yards on the ground in their last four games, with an average of 4.8 yards per carry to their opponents. Should the Saints average 4.8 yards per rush, they will win this game. Bet on dat!
The Big Chief Says:
Okay the Saints are a very good team, but they are not good against the spread. In eleven games this season, New Orleans is 6-5 against the spread, including just 1-4 against the numbers on the road.
Both teams get great play from the QB's, and both QB's should be able to do some good things in this game. Brees will look to exploit a thin Seattle secondary that was hit by the league last week when both Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond were suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. How will this affect the game?
"It is certainly a concern from a depth standpoint. The Seahawks have enough players to cover things right now. But there is not much depth there with the loss of those players," said Brock Huard. Huard once played QB for Seattle and now he is an analyst for the Seahawks.
So if anything, things seem a little even with both teams adjusting to defensive secondary issues. The Saints lost Jabari Greer two weeks ago, and the Seahawks have some problems of their own.
Folks in the past, even under Sean Payton, I would not be as confident as I am right now. The confidence that I carry is solely due to the way the Saints defense plays. When you have a consistent defense like New Orleans has, you will be in every game you play... as long as you don't give things away.
The Saints defense is good enough to keep them in and help them win in any environment. Even if the Saints were playing the Dracula's in Transylvania, I'd give them a good chance to win due to their defense.
I think the Saints play well and make this a four quarter game. It's hard to go against New Orleans, but if this game were played in the Superdome I'd go with the Saints.
Since it is in Seattle I'll give the edge to the Seahawks. Take the points, but the Saints come up short here.
Seattle 24 - New Orleans 20
What they're saying
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan on Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
"I'll tell you what. I think we played him the second game he ever played quarterback in this league. Right now the guy is one of the star quarterbacks in the league. He does so many excellent things with his feet first of all, and then you can see the intelligence out there. I know it's documented how smart he is, but it looks like he loves to play the game. He is so accurate, especially when he's on the move, running around like he does making plays. He's tremendous at that. He's probably the best scrambler in football (in my book). I think the guy is outstanding. We got our work cut out for us. The receivers are extremely talented. This is a well-coached team. They've got a hunter-killer back there running the ball. This is what you get, I guess, this time of year and this will be a hell of a challenge."
Saints Coach Sean Payton on if more emphasis is being put on this game compared to other games
"No. We would try to, every week, prepare as if that type of game is of that same magnitude. In other words, it's the next challenge and certainly it's a big challenge. It's not like you do additional this (or that). Guys are working late, players are practicing, studying, and preparing just like we did on a short week last week, just like we did the week before last week before Dallas. That's just the nature of the work week and the schedule. We feel like we've got a pretty good itinerary. This one was a little unique in that it fell after a Thursday game and then Thanksgiving week and then Monday Night Football. Seattle had a bye week with Thanksgiving this week and a Monday night game. As coaches and players you quickly lay down the itinerary, you get adapted to it, and you follow the process of getting acclimated as quickly as you can to the opponent. That's how you treat it. After this game, we'll treat the next week the same week. So to answer your question, no."
Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll on how big the game with
"Every game we play is a championship game. You never know which one is going to be the one that you look back on and say, 'Boy, if we'd have got that one, we would've had this or that.' We play every one of them like it's the biggest game in the world. It's the championship game every time we go. This happens to be against a great opponent and a well-balanced football team and a winning group and all of that. They will pose us all of the challenges of anybody we've played, so we're going to have to play at our best, which is what we try to do every week. So if you're asking me if this is a bigger game than the others, no it isn't. It's the biggest game we can possibly play this week and we're going to try to make the most of it."
New Orleans Saints (9-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
Monday December 2 7:40PM Kickoff on WWL Radio, ESPN TV
Last week's Results: New Orleans beat Atlanta 17-13 and Seattle had their bye week
Series History: The teams have met a total of 12 times with the series tied 6-6
by firstname.lastname@example.org, @dekebigchief,posted Nov 29 2013 10:52AM
Remember when I told you four weeks ago that this post season would be a very different one? Well, this is where things get a little awkward. This week some teams are playing quarter-final games while others are in the state semi-finals.
There are five classes and four divisions in the LHSAA playoffs. This week three of the four divisions all have semi-final match-ups.
In Division I--the St. Augustine Purple Knights take on the Rummel Raiders, while the Byrd Yellow Jackets come to the Big Easy to battle the Holy Cross Tigers. Down in Division II--John Curtis battles post season rival Evangel, and there's a rematch between defending 3A champs Parkview and the U-High Cubs. And in Division III--#1 seed Episcopal Knights entertain #4 Archbishop Hannan, and Catholic New Iberia battles Calvary Baptist. The winners of these semi-final games all have two weeks to get ready for the title games.
A coach once told me it's tougher to play Thanksgiving week because there is no school. That same coach told me a lot of other teams wish they could play during the holiday break.
Other big match-ups: the Covington Lions take on the Central Wildcats. And, in Class 4A you could blindfold anyone and let them pick a game and they'd choose a great match-up. We are a week away from a possible rematch between Edna Karr and Landry Walker.
The Cougars and Charging Bucs would face each other in the semi-finals next week, if Landry/Walker can get by Plaquemine...and if the Cougars get past the team that beat them in the 2010 Class 4A Finals--the Franklinton Demons.
The E.J. Warriors battle the Warren Easton Eagles and the powerful Neville Tigers entertain the DeRidder Dragons. And I'll be back home Friday night for a big game in Amite. It'll be a long day...early to rise (6am)...I've got to be on my way to LSU/ by 7am to get in place for our WWL Tiger Tailgate Show with the Cajun Cannon that starts at 9. Then, I'll watch the LSU/Arkansas ....host a brief "Purple & Gold Point After"...then it's off to R.W. Russell Memorial Stadium in Amite as the mighty Warriors entertain the North Webster Knights. It's always good to be home. And I'm proud to say I'm a Warrior.
Amite is trying to get back to the 3A Finals for the second time in three years. My childhood friend, former teammate and Southern Jaguars star, Alden "Poochie" Foster is having another good season as head coach of the Amite Warriors.
The Warriors lost the 3A Title game 9-8 to St. Charles in 2011, and last season the Warriors fell off by not making the playoffs for the first time in 30 years. "Let's just say we had a lot of motivation this off season. We lost six games in which we had a lead in the fourth quarter. This season we have been able to win the close games," said Amite Coach Alden Foster.
The Warriors are led by their massive O-Line and sophomore running back Kenner Harrell. Warriors offensive tackle Devon "Fat Baby" Johnson is one of the top offensive linemen in the state. Johnson, affectionately known as "Fat Baby" has already received scholarship offers from several schools including Tulane, helped pave the way for Harrell's 187 yards rushing in the Warriors 28-6 win over West Feliciana last weekend.
So folks, eat up, dress warm and enjoy a cold Friday night of great prep football action here in Louisiana!
by Deke Bellavia, email@example.com, @dekebigchief,posted Nov 26 2013 11:51PM
Three huge match-ups headline this week's NFL Top 10. First place in the NFC and AFC are on the line, the battle of the Birds takes place between the Cardinals and Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love. And no one has won more games in a row right now that those Cats from Carolina. Here's my Turkey Week NFL Top 10! So weather you shake ‘n bake or buy and fry, I wish everyone a good Thanksgiving!
1. Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – The Seabirds are set to host the Saints in the biggest game of the season thus far. If Seattle wins this one, they can sit back and possibly chill for a few weeks before the second season begins. Last week Seattle had a bye / this week vs New Orleans.
2. New Orleans Saints (9-2) – Man, the Saints are kind of in playoff mode already. If this team wants to land one of the top two seeds in the NFC, they may have to win out. Isn't that the same mindset in the playoffs? Win out! Last week New Orleans beat Atlanta 17-13 / this week @ Seattle.
3. Carolina Panthers (8-3) – They are feeling hot, hot, hot down in Charlotte. The Cats from Carolina are for real. They've won seven straight and now are in a heated battle with the Saints and Seahawks for all the marbles in the NFC. The red hot Panthers could very easily be 9-1! Last week Carolina beat Miami 20-16 / this week vs Tampa Bay.
4. New England Patriots (8-3) – Man, in all of the great meetings between Peyton and Tom last Sunday's come from behind might have been the best. For the pretty one, that is. What a win! Last week New England beat Denver 34-31 / this week @ Houston.
5. Denver Broncos (9-2) – Did that really just happen? How could the White Horses let the Patriots come back and win? They didn't. New England took that one, baby! Oh well, can't cry over sour milk. The division title is on the line this week with a trip to Arrowhead. Last week Denver lost to New England 34-31 / this week @ Kansas City.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) –The Chiefs found some offense. Too bad they didn't play defense. Better get it right or else! Last week KC lost San Diego 41-38 / this week vs Denver.
7. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) – You know of all the 7-4 teams in the NFL only one won four straight games. Guess who? These Red Birds from the Desert are playing good football right now and they are one of four reasons why the NFC West is by far the best division in the NFL right now. Last week Arizona beat Indianapolis 40-11 / this week @ Philadelphia.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – The Cats from C Town once had a comfortable lead in the rather inconsistent AFC North. Now the suddenly once left for dead boys from the Steel City are alive. Look out! A tough road trip this week as the Bolts are ready and waiting. Last week Cinci had a bye / this week @ San Diego.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – Yes, I could have another team here, but the one thing that intrigues me about the Birds from the City of Brotherly Love is that they have the best road record in the NFL (5-1). Damn, they also have one of the worst at home (1-4). Even it out and the Eagles could take the NFC East. A monster match-up this weekend as the red hot Birds from the West are in town. Last week Phili had a bye/ this week vs Arizona.
10. Detroit Lions (6-5) – Yes, I could go with the 49ers here, but the Lions have the better QB and a far greater WR. And, they're in a much weaker division. So there you have it. My rationale about why Detroit rounds out my top ten. Hail to the team that made the NFL relevant on Turkey Day! Last week Detroit had a bye / this week vs Green Bay.
by Deke Bellavia firstname.lastname@example.org @dekebigchief,posted Nov 25 2013 12:50PM
A lot of Iron is on the line this week on the plains, can “Hail to the Victors” (Michigan) knock off the Poisonous Nuts from Columbus (Ohio State)? The Tigers (Clemson) and Cocks (South Carolina) battle it out in the Palmetto State (South Carolina). And, the sunshine is bright on two Florida teams and I’m not talking about the Gators or Canes, instead the Noles (Florida State) and Knights (Central Florida). Man oh man, its rivalry week. Let’s get it on! Here’s my TOP 10 for the 13th week of college football.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) – It’s the Iron Bowl. A lot of hype is forthcoming. Will the game live up to expectation? Don’t think Alabama can’t go over there and hand those Tigers their lunch. They sure can. And the real bettors will put money on Roll Tide! Last week Bama beat Chattanooga 49-0/ this week @ that other team in our state!
2. Florida State Seminoles - (11-0) – They scored 80 on I-Dah-Ho! The Noles will score at least half that much against the toothless Gators. Last week Florida State beat Idaho 80-14 / this week @ Florida.
3 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0) – Time is running out for these Buckeyes. All I hear is how the Buckeyes are going to get left out of the BCS Title game. Who thinks they are a lock to beat those Spartans from East Lansing? I don’t! Last week Ohio State beat Indiana 42-14 / this week @ Michigan.
4. Auburn Tigers (10-1) – Great season or great program? Can you tell the difference? You will see the difference this week and into next season. The good thing about a game like this--the Tigers can do what they’ve been doing all season long--prove the world wrong! Last week Auburn was off / this week versus that other team in the state we hate but want to be like.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-1) – The Pokes can land in a nice BCS Bowl and finish with a possible top 5 ranking. Mike Gundy has done well, since all those preseason SI reports on how bad things are in Stillwater. Last week Oklahoma State beat Baylor 49-10 / next vs Oklahoma on Dec 7th.
6. Clemson Tigers (9-1) – The Tigers manhandled the Citadel and now will look to beat the team they love to hate…that happens to be from the same state. Last week Clemson beat the Citadel 52-6 / this week @ South Carolina.
7. Missouri Tigers (10-1) – The Tigers jumped a huge hurdle last week with a big road win over the Rebels. Now the Tigers can advance to the SEC Title game with a win over Texas A&M. Last week Missouri beat Ole Miss 24-10 / this week vs Texas A&M.
8. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2) – South Cack-A-Lacka scored 70 on Coastal Carolina. Now the Cocks can improve their ranking with a win over the Tigers from Clemson. Man these teams hate each other. Last week South Carolina beat Coastal Carolina 70-12 / this week vs Clemson.
9. Michigan State Spartans (10-1) – The most overlooked team in all of college football can really prove their worth with a win over Ohio State. For the last 12 weeks all we’ve heard is how Ohio State is going to get left out of the National Title game. That’s a slap in the face to a team that is good on defense as anyone (with 12.1 points per game allowed). I’ve got to be honest…I’m for the Spartans this week. And my favorite all time MSU players are the late great Bubba Smith and Percy Snow. Google it! Don’t fall asleep against a good Minnesota team this week. Last week Michigan State beat Northwestern 30-6 / this week vs Minnesota.
10. Baylor Bears (9-1) – Did the real Bears stand up last week? Or, shall I say sit down? And Baylor’s supposedly unstoppable offense was shut down when they lost to Oklahoma State 49-17 / this week @ TCU.
The LHSAA’S unique, new playoff format got off to a good start last week. Heck, our game of the week (Haughton @ Ponchatoula) went into overtime with the Green Wave victorious in a high scoring affair, coming away with a 56-55 win.
Although last week was the first week of the playoffs, this week we welcome teams fortunate enough to have the week off. Yes, there were several. Truth is, far more than several… 21 teams enjoyed an extra week of rest. Now, this week, we’ll see if the additional week of rest or preparation helps them win or if that week off disrupted momentum and hurt their chances.
If you’re looking for a Cinderella team that’s still alive, there are several. Down in Class 3A, the biggest upset took place when 25th seeded Donaldsonville beat #8 South Beauregard 32-21. The Tigers were the lowest seed team in all of the playoffs to advance to the regional round of the playoffs.
Up in Class 5A the #21 John Ehret stunned Mandeville 21-14. The Patriots knocked off the Skippers, who were hoping to get back to the semi-finals for a third straight season.
Now, we focus on our game of the week. It’s always a treat to visit the schools in the River parishes, and this Friday night the All-State Sugar Bowl Prep Football Round-up will come to you live from Hahnville High School.
Give it up for the Tigers of Hahnville! Hahnville is the #24 seed, and last week this team had to travel all the way up to North Louisiana to take on Ouachita. The Tigers won convincingly 42-25. And, now, Hahnville High takes on last year’s state runner-up, Barbe. Can’t wait to witness this elite prep action live!
The Barbe Bucs have a high-scoring offense that features a record-breaking receiver. Trey Quinn will go down as one of the best prep football players in the history of high school football. Last week in their 42-16 win over South Lafourche, Quinn hauled in 197 yards receiving. Quinn broke Dorial Green-Beckham’s national record of 6,356 career receiving yards and set the new record to 6,376. Quinn also set the state record for career receiving yards with 5,881 receiving yards, and was named to play in the 2014 U.S. Army All American Bowl. Quinn has a verbal commitment to play for the LSU Tigers.
Hahnville’s strength this season has been their defense. I think it’s safe to say the Tigers defense will have their hands full this Friday night.
Other games to keep an eye on: #2 Parkway @ #15 East St. John and #14 Covington is at #3 East Ascension. Down in Class 4A, #5 Warren Easton hosts #12 Belle Chase in a rematch from earlier this season.
The Eagles took care of Belle Chase 52-24 in a District 9-4A game. This time around the prize is much greater as the winner moves on to a possible showdown with the undefeated East Jefferson Warriors. Division II has a rematch of last season’s Class 3A Title game. #3 Notre Dame will look to avenge last year’s title game loss to Parkview Baptist. The Eagles won Class 3A last season and they are the #6 seed.
I’m really looking forward to the biggest game in Division I this weekend. #3 Catholic High of Baton Rouge plays host to #6 Holy Cross. Both teams had a bye last week. The winner of this game will face the winner of the Shaw versus Byrd game.
Folks, what started in August now comes down to just four more weeks. Get out and enjoy some great prep football…what a party!
by Deke Bellavia, email@example.com, @dekebigchief,posted Nov 22 2013 9:40AM
Not since Tim Tebow and the powerful Florida Gators came to town has a team with a big time player roared through Tiger stadium. Yes, folks in the Capital City will get their first and perhaps only look in person at one of the all-time greats in the history of college football...Johnny Manziel, "Johnny Football!"
The 9th ranked Texas A&M Aggies are still very much alive for a BCS Bowl bid with their final two games against ranked teams. A&M battles LSU on the road this week, then the Aggies wrap up the regular season against the Missouri Tigers.
Both LSU and Texas A&Mare coming off bye weeks. A&M beat Mississippi State 51-41 two weeks ago; LSU was beaten soundly in the 38-17 loss handed to them by the #1 ranked Crimson Tide. Both teams, however, are clearly fired up for this game.
The Tigers and Aggies have played 51 times. The Bayou Bengals hold a 28-20-1 edge. The Tigers won the last two meetings including last season's 24-19 win over Texas A&M in College Station.That 19 point output by the Aggies offense was the second lowest total points scored in a game under QB Johnny Manziel. (The Aggies lost 20-17 last season to Florida.) The rivalry between these two schools is one of the best in all of college football.
Texas A&Mfootball IS JohnnyManziel. Last year's Heisman trophy winner put up even better numbers this season. In week two "Johnny Football" ran through Alabama's defense... reducing the Crimson Tide to just average. Johnny Football gashed the Tide for over 550 yards of total offense.
And to those who preached thatManziel is just a college athlete and his play may not do well on the professional level, well Johnny upped his passing game this season.So far"Mr. Football" has passed for 3,313 yards with 31 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. Manzielalso rushed for 611 yards and eight more scores giving him a total 39 TDs.
If LSU has a shot at beating A&M, they need to...at the very least...get the Tigers offense a couple more possessions than A&M.
Yes,Johnny is a little cocky...somewhat arrogant at times...but he's good. "Damn good, I say," said Bobby Hebert. "Manziel is one of those special players who just has the ability to score anytime he has the football. It's going to be hard for LSU to slow him down," observed the Cajun Cannon.
Texas A&M scores on average 49 points per game. In their two losses the Aggies scored 42 and 41 points...a 49-42 loss to Alabama followed by a 44-41 loss to Auburn. The A&M offense is one of the most efficient and best offensive units in the country.
Texas A&M averages 379 passing yards per game to go along with 198 rushing yards. That's nearly 600 yards...(577) yards every game. And the Aggies have produced with such strong utput against the very best opponents.
The most exciting home game of the season presents the biggest challenge for an LSU defense, that hasn't done well for most of the season. And, when the Tigers' D has faced a top tier QB, they've faired far worse.
This QB, Johnny Football, is the best of the best. Saturday should be downright fun. Who has the most fun is yet to be determined. But, I'd bet win or lose...Johnny will have his numbers. Will those numbers put his Aggies over the top against the Tigers? Tune in Saturday to find out.
Our coverage on WWL (870am and 105.3fm) starts at 10am. Join Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia for the "Fleur de Lanes Tiger Tailgating Show" live from LSU's campus in front the ticket office on North Stadium Drive. Pre-game with Jim Hawthorne at 12:30...kick-off 2:30pm ...then after the game—"The Purple & Gold Point After" with the Big Chief live from Bayou Burger, 503 Bourbon Street in the world famous French Quarter ...on TIGERradio WWL!
by Deke Bellavia, firstname.lastname@example.org, @dekebigchief,posted Nov 21 2013 7:22AM
The road to landing one of the top two NFC seeds begins to get a little rougher for the Black & Gold. The Saints are 8-2 with a perfect 6-0 mark at home. The Saints are 2-2 on the road. And four of the last six games are away from the Superdome for the Saints.
If the Saints are going to win the NFC South and land one of those first round byes as either the #1 or #2 seed, they will have to play well on the road and there is very little room for error.
This week's challenge is not as tough as it looked back in the first week of the season. Or, at least it seems that way on paper. After holding off the Falcons late in the game way back in week one, these rivals have gone in different directions.
Since the Saints 23-17 win over the Birds, the Saints have posted a 7-2 mark, while the Falcons have gone 2-7. I'm quite sure many of you would not have been surprised if Atlanta wasn't deep in the playoff mix this season after landing the #1 seed in the NFC last year.
But, I'm equally sure not many thought Atlanta would be this bad. I mean let's be real! Right now the only thing the Falcons have a chance to be is #1 in is the 2014 NFL Draft. Yes, right now Atlanta is in the running for the #1 overall pick.
Atlanta has nothing going for them. They are 2-8 and the only thing the Falcons are halfway excited about is the fact that by winning this week they could very well hurt the Saints chances at being one of the top two seeds in the NFC.
When you're a bad team, you do bad things. The Falcons do a lot of things badly. Atlanta is a horrible team when it comes to rushing the football and stopping the run. Atlanta averages 73.1 yards rushing per game (31st) and the Birds allow 132.7 rushing yards per game on average which is 30th in the NFL.
Just because one team has a weakness does not necessarily mean the opposing team will take advantage of that weakness. But in this case, tempered by the way the Saints have been rushing the football the last two weeks, I feel the Saints will be able to expose the Falcons rush defense.
And, don't let the Falcons point total (28) from last week fool you! Atlanta was down against the Bucs 24-3 at one point in the game and then 38-6. So, as you can tell, the Bucs called off the dogs on Atlanta with the Birds getting 22 of their 28 points well after the game was decided.
New Orleans is on the verge of proving they have solved their running game struggles. New Orleans gained just 92 yards last week in their 23-20 win over the 49ers. But the Black & Gold were effective when they needed to be.
As much as the Saints offense has done over the course of time during the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era, it's the Saints defense that leads me to believe this team can be in any type game and come out on top.
If we still believe that defense wins championships (which I do), the Saints have that caliber of defensive unit. In the last two games the Saints defense has been salty. The Cowboys were 0-9 on third down against the Saints. And Coach Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme kicked it up a notch higher in the 23-20 win over the 49ers.
The Saints defense faced 10 offensive possessions from the 49ers offense. Six of those 10 possessions ended in punts including five three and outs. The Saints did a bang up job in limiting RB Frank Gore last week. And this Saints defense is playing with a lot of confidence.
The challenge now is dealing with the loss of the best CB--veteran Jabari Greer. CB Corey White will start in place of Greer and you best expect Falcons QB Matt Ryan will test White early and often.
Other than White's ability to check Falcons WR Harry Douglas throughout the game, I'm confident the Saints defense can limit the Falcons offense. I'm not saying White can't cover Douglas, I just think it is a match-up everybody's interested in.
I like the way the Saints are playing. New Orleans is playing sound football on offense, defense and special teams. Kicker Garrett Hartley looked very confident last week nailing three fourth quarter field goals.
On the flip side, what is there to like about the way the Falcons are playing? Okay, Who Dat Nation, I know y'all are happy about how the Falcons are playing, I get that. But regardless, the Falcons are not good.
The Saints are a veteran team led by one no-nonsense type guy in Sean Payton. There is a lot on the line for the Saints. The chanceof playing in the Super Bowl is far greater for the Saints, if they have some home playoff games.
The Saints have everything in front of them including the top seed in the conference. A win here gives the Saints a lot of momentum going into a huge MNF game against Seattle early next month.
Look for the Birds to play hard for a while, but the Saints are the far better team. Rivalry or not, you answer me this. If I gave each of you 100 dollars, would you take the Falcons with eight points or bet on the Saints giving the eight? I thought so!
The Big Chief Says: New Orleans 33 Atlanta 21
What They Are Saying
Atlanta Coach Mike Smith on why the Falcons have struggled this season
"I think where we stand is we have not won the close games in the early part of the season and a number of games came down to the final possession. (We) didn't win them and we've not played very good football in the last four weeks. We've done numerous things across the board that have stopped us from playing well. We have not been very good in the turnover ratio. We are not creating turnovers. We are not protecting the football. We have not been good on third down on defense. When you don't win situationally it is hard to win…and we've done it across the board, offensively, defensively and special teams. That is my synopsis."
Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White on the Falcons Offense not having WR Julio Jones
"It's tough he's out and not playing with us. For the first two or three games of the season he was rolling. He (Julio Jones) was doing a heck of a job of making plays; getting us big plays in the passing game and things like that. It's tough anytime you don't have that guy out there, especially when you're used to having him out there. It's just tough for our offense, because we pride ourselves in our skill players and our ability to make plays. When one guy's absent, the next guy isn't there, Tony (Gonzalez) isn't there, it's tough because defenses guard you a different way. That's probably been the toughest thing, because he draws so much attention in the passing game that it makes it easy for everybody else."
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan on losing CB Jabari Greer for the season and his replacement Corey White
"Jabari (Greer) was having such a great year. He is great person. We will miss him in the locker room most. But he was having a great year. He was doing everything we asked him to do and then some. This Corey White has really been an ascending player. He has been outstanding. He is a physical player. He is a smart kid. He is getting better and better. We've lost some great players along the way and we are so fortunate to have excellent players behind him and that is what this Corey White has been doing, begging for an opportunity. He is going to be great when he gets in there."
Saints Coach Sean Payton on the Falcons 2-8 season
"I think in our league there is such a fine line that you deal with, especially when it comes to injuries. We could point to a number of seasons where you play in a number of games and you are able to win close games maybe as opposed to not. I don't know if that that would be the correct word, because I know how difficult it is to win in our league and I know how often these games come down to the final plays, making a play in the end and having a chance to win a game. I think when you add the injury element to it, it obviously is that much more difficult."
Saints QB Drew Brees on the success the Saints had rushing the football the last two games.
"Yeah, obviously it's extremely beneficial when you talk about balance and controlling the clock and establishing the line of scrimmage in a game and also the way it opens up the play-action and opportunities for big plays."
New Orleans Saints (8-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-8)
Thursday, November 21st in Georgiadome
7:25pm Kickoff on WWL Radio - 870AM/FM 105.3
Last week's results: New Orleans beat San Francisco 23-20; Tampa Bay beat Atlanta 41-28
Series History: Atlanta leads the series 46-42. But the Saints have owned the Falcons as of late. New Orleans won 12 of the last 15 meetings between the two rivals.