Previewing 2021 LHSAA football playoffs

Jude Papillion, Sports Editor

Week 10 of Louisiana High School Athletic Association football is officially complete, marking the beginning of the playoffs and the hunt for state championship titles. 

The Catholic High School Bears out of Baton Rouge are the top-seeded team in the Division I bracket. The Bears are 9-1 this season, and, aside from being upset by Woodlawn High School in week nine, Catholic has dominated a schedule of talented opponents, including Lafayette Christian Academy, Warren Easton Charter High School and Acadiana High School. 

Catholic quarterback Daniel Beale posted a school record 362 passing yards against Dutchtown last week, and the Bears have a bye week before hosting either Archbishop Shaw or St. Augustine in Baton Rouge for the quarterfinal round. 

The Jesuit Blue Jays, boasting an 8-0 record, are the second-seeded team in Division I and the champion of the ultra-competitive New Orleans Catholic League. Jesuit will have a bye week before facing either John Curtis Christian School or Holy Cross School in the quarterfinal round. 

If the Jays advance past the quarterfinals, they will certainly face a challenge against either third-seeded C.E. Byrd High School, sixth-seed Archbishop Rummel High School or 11th-seeded Brother Martin High School in the semifinal round.

Despite a 3-5 record on paper and receiving the 11th seed, the Brother Martin Crusaders certainly have a shot to win state. The Crusaders were forced to forfeit the first five wins of their season after two players violated the LHSAA’s academic eligibility requirements. Since then, the Crusaders have won their final three games of the season and will be a formidable opponent for anyone that stands in their way, including the Catholic High Bears. Brother Martin begins their postseason against Rummel on Nov. 12 at Joe Yenni Stadium

E.D. White Catholic High School in Thibodaux, Louisiana is the top-seeded team in Division II, finishing with a perfect 8-0 record. However, University Laboratory School from Baton Rouge is arguably the best team in the division, finishing with a 10-0 record and featuring a roster loaded with talent. 

The University Lab Cubs are led by class of 2022 four-star prospect and defensive back Austin Ausberry, who was recently invited to play in the Under Armour All-America game. Ausberry’s brother, Jaiden, is a five-star linebacker prospect for the Cubs in the class of 2023. The Cubs will host either Teurlings Catholic High School or De La Salle High School in the quarterfinals, while E.D. White will face either St. Michael the Archangel High School or the Parkview Baptist Eagles. 

The Division III bracket is highly contested, with five talented teams already advancing to the quarterfinals. The top seed is defending champions Lafayette Christian, who enters with an 8-1 record with their only loss coming to Catholic High. Crowley’s Notre Dame High School is the second seed after finishing their regular season 8-2. St. Charles Catholic High School, who beat Notre Dame to advance to state last season, is the third seed in Division III with an 8-0 record. Episcopal School of Baton Rouge is the fourth seed, holding an undefeated 9-0 record. 

Finally, Isidore Newman School is the fifth seed and top Division III school from New Orleans after finishing with a 6-2 record. The Greenies are led by the number one player in the country for the class of 2023, quarterback Arch Manning, and will face Episcopal in the quarterfinal round. 

Zachary High School is the top team in the Class 5A bracket for the first time ever. The Broncos compiled a 10-0 record and are on the hunt for their fourth state title since 2015. Zachary will face Slidell in the first round this week.

The second seed in 5A is the 9-1 Captain Shreve High School, whose only loss comes to district rival C.E. Byrd, the third seed in the stacked Division I bracket. Captain Shreve will face Live Oak High School in the opening round. 

Ponchatoula High School is this year’s surprise team in 5A, finishing with an 8-0 record and claiming the third seed in the playoffs. Ponchatoula will face Lafayette High School in the first round. 

Destrehan High School looks to make another run at the 5A state title after finishing with a 6-0 record in a season of only inter-district games. Destrehan will begin their postseason facing West Jefferson High School.

Defending 5A champion Acadiana is set to kickoff playoff action against Dutchtown on Friday. The seventh-seeded Wreckin’ Rams are 8-2 this season, falling to top-seeds Catholic High and Lafayette Christian. 

The Class 4A bracket presents the possibility for a state championship matchup between New Orleans powerhouses Edna Karr High School and Warren Easton. The Karr Cougars are in their final campaign in 4A, as many expect them to be placed in 5A’s Catholic League once the next round of LHSAA classification is complete. 

The top-seeded Cougars are 8-0, with their only close game coming against Warren Easton in a 20-18 October victory. Karr is set to meet Breaux Bridge High School on Nov. 12 at Behrman Stadium in the first round. 

Warren Easton enters the 4A playoffs with a 5-2 record. Their only losses this season come against top-seeds Catholic High and Edna Karr. However, the Eagles have dominated the rest of their schedule and are certainly a top contender in their class. Easton will face A.J. Ellender High School on Nov. 12 at Pan American Stadium in the opening round. 

The LHSAA playoffs will be held over the next few weeks, culminating in state championships. Championship games for Division I and Division III will be held at Yulman Stadium on Dec. 4, while Division II and Division IV games will be hosted at Cajun Field in Lafayette, Louisiana on Dec. 11. All non-select state championships will be held at the Caesars Superdome from Dec. 11-12.

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