Upset Alerts: Predicting LHSAA football playoff surprises in first round
When it comes to picking upsets in the LHSAA prep football playoffs, it is always easy to pick the 17th-seed over the 16th-seed on the non-select side or the ninth-seed over the eighth-seed on the select side of things. After all, those are the most closely matched teams, based on power points.
We will resist the urge on the non-select side to pick 17th-seeds while reserving the right to do so on the select side. As always, I lean to lower seeds who have played difficult schedules.
Here is our upset alert for week one of the prep football playoffs:
(21) Chalmette at (12) Airline
The Vikings are a good team and they have been in tough. They have good wins over Bastrop, Byrd and Haughton and the losses were to Evangel, Ruston and Parkway. The Owls have been in tough as well and have a big win over Holy Cross and lost to John Ehret by two points. The other losses were to defending 5A state champ Landry-Walker and Division II power St. Charles Catholic. While Airline remains the slight favorite, Chalmette has a shot.
(24) Lutcher at (9) Salmen
By all measures, it has been a hugely disappointing season for perennial power Lutcher. The defending 3A state champions have struggled in the jump to 4A against a very tough schedule. While 4-6, Lutcher is a live underdog, having lost to East Ascension, St. James, St. Amant, Dutchtown, Parkview Baptist and Plaquemine, six playoff teams that have combined to go 45-15. The Spartans have won a slew of close games and Jerry Leonard has done a great job, winning four games by a total of five points. This one should be nip and tuck.
(20) Madison Prep at (13) Caldwell Parish
The Chargers have struggled a bit in the step up in class, going 4-5, but they have been in very tough with the likes of University High, Zachary, Scotlandville, Salmen and West Feliciana. To say that they are battle tested would be accurate. The Spartans are good. Any team that starts 8-0 is legitimate but they have lost two straight against good competition. Their seed is lower due to a lack of strength of schedule, making this a toss-up game.
(18) East Feliciana at (15) Mansfield
The Tigers have been in tough, losing five games to excellent teams in West Feliciana, St. Helena, Kentwood, Dunham and Episcopal. The Wolverines are good and East Feliciana must make a long trip but they have a shot in this one.
(18) Lincoln Prep at (15) Delta Charter
Rematches are always tough, very tough. The first time around, the Kittens lost 34-33 at Delta Charter in a thrilling, even matchup. They return to the scene of the crime Friday night. The Storm have lost two straight entering the playoffs against good opponents.
(9) Archbishop Rummel at (8) Byrd
This is a shaky vote. The Raiders were extremely formidable to start the season but they have lost their three best offensive linemen for long periods of time, lost gifted Koy Moore and will likely be without their two best running backs and lost their tight end for the season. Still, they are a bad call away from a win over Holy Cross, an inch from a win over St. Augustine and lost close games to Brother Martin and John Curtis. The Yellow Jackets are an honest, well coached team. Rummel has played at Byrd twice previously in the playoffs, splitting the two games. Do the Raiders want to play?
(9) Vandebilt Catholic at (8) Archbishop Hannan
Both teams have very good quarterbacks and good offenses. Who plays defense better? Andrew Robison spearheads the Terriers attack while Chris Rabensteiner leads the Hawks. The issue for Hannan is strength of schedule. Can they rise up? They did score a big win over Bogalusa a week ago. Hannan started the season 7-0 while Vandebilt Catholic started 6-1.
(10) St. Thomas Aquinas at (7) Ascension Episcopal
Hutch Gonzales has done an excellent job in keeping his small numbers intact and getting his team better throughout the season. They have won four straight games, beating a good Pine team before beating a potential state champion in Amite on the road a week ago in one of the biggest upsets of the season. Kade Bleakley has been superb at quarterback for the Falcons. The Blue Gators are coming off of a good win over West St. Mary. It is all about catching a hot team playing well that gives the lower seed a big chance here.
(9) Ouachita Christian at (8) Sacred Heart-VP
It is hard to imagine the Eagles as a road in the first round of the state playoffs, based on their stellar record under Steven Fitzhugh. Add to that the fact that OCS enters the playoffs on a three-game win streak. Their losses were to Oak Grove, Sterlington and Cedar Creek, who have combined for a 28-2 record. The Trojans are no slouch at 8-2 and they are at home. Still, this looks like a good spot for the Eagles.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…