As we have seen a number of times over championship weekend thanks to the new select and non-select format, it will be a new face in the Superdome taking on a well-established power.
Lafayette’s Acadiana High School ended last season with a second-round loss on the road to West Monroe, but was as usual a strong contender when 2013 started. They stumbled only once on the year, giving away a 21-7 halftime lead in a loss to Neville 35-28 in Week 2.
At 9-1, their patented veer offense proved typically tough to stop, averaging 34 points a game, and they proved themselves time and time again in district with big victories over Barbe and New Iberia. For their efforts, they were awarded the #1 seed in the 5A bracket and steamrolled through the first two rounds.
First it was a 35-7 win over #32 Slidell, then a 49-7 victory over #16 Ponchatoula. In the quarterfinals, they faced a rematch with district rival Barbe, the 8th seed and a state finalist a year ago. Whereas they only scored a two-point 35-33 victory the first time around, they improved to a 10-point victory in the second game, winning going away 27-17.
In the semifinals, they hosted a hot Destrehan ballclub, whose only loss was a forfeit, but the Wildcats proved to have no answer for the Wreckin’ Rams on offense or defense, and Acadiana won handily 35-7 to advance to the title game for the first time since winning it all in 2010.
As for their opponent, the Parkway Panthers had a season for the ages. Over the course of going 9-0, they’ve scored 51 ½ points a game behind the arm of LSU commit Brandon Harris. They had two huge wins in three weeks, knocking off both Byrd and Airline on their way to a district crown. But as they playoffs loomed, so did a punishment from the LHSAA.
As the result of their part in a brawl in a playoff game last year, the LHSAA ruled that the Panthers would not be allowed a home playoff game in 2013. If they wanted to win a title, they would have to survive a gauntlet of hostile environments, but the Panthers were game.
First, they scored a 41-7 victory at #31 Captain Shreve, then a 52-25 win at #15 East St. John. In the quarters, they traveled to Zachary and tamed the #10 Broncos 49-34, setting up a matchup on the Northshore with a team who thought they were riding destiny to the Dome.
The Covington Lions played well above their status as a 14 seed, with big road wins over #3 East Ascension and #11 Central of Baton Rouge. Thanks to Parkway’s punishment, the Lions got to host their semifinal showdown with the Panthers.
In the first half, Parkway’s offense faltered, giving away four turnovers. The Lions capitalized with 21 points off of Parkway’s mistakes and led 27-21 at the half. In the second half, the offensive fireworks were silenced, but after a scoreless third quarter, it was the Panther offense that finally got on track.
As the fourth quarter got under way, William McKnight slipped around the left side and took off for a 35-yard touchdown. The extra-point gave Parkway the 28-27 lead and the Panther defense did the rest, holding Covington down the rest of the game. The win gave Parkway the title of ultimate road warriors, but now the Panthers have another title in their sights.
So here we are. One more state title to be decided. One last game before we put the 2013 season to bed. And one more team will etch their name into championship lore for all time. Will it be the Wreckin’ Rams and their veer offense adding a third trophy to the case or will the Panthers earn their first championship in school history.
It’s the #1 Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams vs. the #2 Parkway Panthers for the 5A state championship, and that's what you need to know.