Some things about the holiday season are traditional — like serving turkey at Thanksgiving and hanging Christmas decorations.
Football teams have their own fall traditions. Top-seeded Parkview Baptist (12-0) and No. 2 Notre Dame (12-1) extend theirs by squaring off in the Class 3A title game that helps highlight Saturday’s action at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Prep Classic.
“We don’t run the same offense or defense, but I think there are similarities,” Parkview coach Kenny Guillot said. “I don’t want to put Louie (Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook) in the same age group as me because he’s not as old as me. But in a lot of ways, I think we’re both old school. We believe in running the ball and controlling the clock to control the game.”
When PBS and NDHS play at 4 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, it will mark the fourth consecutive year the teams have met in the playoffs. The 3A contest is the middle game in a three-game schedule. Shreveport’s Evangel Christian (12-2) plays John Curtis (13-0) in the 2A game that opens the action at noon. Lake Charles-based Barbe (13-1) meets Archbishop Rummel (13-0) in the 5A final at 8 p.m.
A year ago, Parkview took a 28-13 win over Notre Dame in a regional-round game. In 2010, the Eagles beat NDHS 17-0 in the semifinals and then went on to win the 3A title. Notre Dame notched a 14-7 victory over Parkview in the 2009 title game.
“Obviously, we have a tremendous amount of respect for Parkview and their program,” Cook said. “In some ways, it’s like looking in a mirror. I think the kids in both programs are similar and both teams play extremely hard and never back down.
“To make to this point is tremendous accomplishment for our team. We opened the playoffs with Patterson and have had challenges all the way through, including last week with East Feliciana. Going into the year, I’m not sure we would have predicted this.”
Cook’s Pioneers had to replace several starters on both sides of the ball. Sophomore Brad Stoma took over at quarterback and has excelled, passing for 1,300 yards, including two touchdown passes last week in a 16-14 win over EFHS.
Stoma’s play complements the NDHS running attack, led by 5-foot-7 Luke Broussard, who recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season and now has 1,507 yards and 14 TDs. Austin Thibodeaux has 657 yards and 13 TDs.
There also were challenges for Parkview.
The Eagles had to replace the majority of their interior linemen on offense and defense. Having four new starters on the offensive line for an option offense was once a point of concern.
But PBS has been as prolific as ever on offense and scored 111 points in quarterfinal and semifinal wins, led by Hezekiah Randolph and Brennan Bozeman.
Randolph has 1,236 yards and 21 TDs in a rushing attack in which three other runners have at least 700 yards. Bozeman has passed for 1,099 yards and 18 TDs and has 755 rushing yards with nine TDs.
“I think the Bozeman kid is what makes them go,” Cook said. “He’s a three-year starter now. He’s crafty. He knows how to make the reads and gets the most out of every play.
“And you have to respect his ability to throw. He does other things besides pitching it to the backs.”
Cook will rely on his linebacker corps of Kipp Credeur (113 tackles), Hank Stelly (111 tackles) and Matt Venable (16 tackles for loss) on defense. Parkview’s balanced defense is led statistically by linebacker Ridge Womack (87 tackles, 16 for loss), lineman Victor Gutierrez (83 tackles, 20 TFL) and defensive back Manny Mukes (five interceptions).
“I think Notre Dame’s defense is much improved over last year,” Guillot said. “They fly to the ball and never give up on plays. When we play them, the difference usually is turnovers.
“What (a turnover) does is shorten the field for the offense, and it cuts down on the possessions for the other team. In a game like this, you need to take advantage of a turnover or anything you can to get an advantage.”
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