Rod Walker: New Orleans-area teams look to join Dome party

Three teams from the Greater New Orleans area (Rummel, John Curtis and Hannan) have already made their reservations to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for next week’s championships.

At least one more local team is guaranteed a spot when West Bank rivals Karr and Landry-Walker battle Friday in a highly anticipated Class 4A semifinal showdown.

But you’ll actually have to leave the West Bank to see it.

The game between the two Algiers schools is scheduled to be played at Tad Gormley Stadium because of ongoing issues with the lights at Behrman Stadium.

It is the third straight week Karr and Landry-Walker have had to change plans from playing at Behrman, the home stadium for both schools.

Karr played its playoff game two weeks ago at Gormley Stadium and played last week at Muss Bertolino Stadium. Landry-Walker, meanwhile, had to move its first playoff game to a Saturday afternoon and played last week at Pan-Am Stadium.

How much has the reshuffling affected the schools? Well, not much. The two schools have outscored their three playoff opponents by a combined score of 250-27.

But trying to find a place to play each week does take its toll.

“It’s just more work, one more thing to deal with,” Karr coach Nathaniel Jones said. “You just have to be flexible.”

It’s the second meeting of the season between Karr and Landry-Walker. Karr won the first game 26-22, but the stakes are much higher this time.

The winner gets to make the short trip across the Crescent City Connection next week to play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

They’ll face the winner of the other semifinal game that pits undefeated East Jefferson against undefeated Neville. Neville, the top seed in the 4A bracket, lost to Karr in the championship game last season.

East Jefferson is hoping to make it an all-New Orleans title game.

“Our chances are great,” East Jeff coach Nick Saltaformaggio said. “We have to play a Neville team. But we can’t play who they are. We have to play the football team, and get over the fact that it’s Neville and they’ve been in the Dome two years in a row. We just have to come out and play and see where we are at the end of 48 minutes. We’re still playing with a chance to get to the Superdome.”

Several other high schools in the Greater New Orleans are one win away from the Dome as well.

In Class 5A, Destrehan (undefeated on the field) travels to take on top-seed Acadiana.

In the other 5A semifinal, Covington, one of the surprise teams in the playoffs, will host No. 2 seed Parkway. Covington has made its run despite being a No. 14 seed in the playoffs. The Lions have knocked off a No. 3 seed (East Ascension) and a No. 11 seed (Baton Rouge Central) the past two weeks. Another upset win this week, coupled with one by Destrehan, could set up an all-New Orleans area title game.

The other local team one victory away from the Dome is West St. John. The Rams travel to play Mangham on Friday in the Class 1A semifinals.

Three other local teams don’t have to wait. They have already advanced to the title game in the select divisions.

Hannan will face Calvary Baptist in the Division III championship game.

Curtis, which beat its first two playoff opponents by a combined 88-6, will go for its 26th title when it plays University Lab for the Division II title.

And in Division I, Rummel will head back to the Dome after upsetting top-seed St. Augustine on Friday night. The defending champion Raiders will play No. 2 seed Byrd.

So to recap, that’s three New Orleans teams already assured spots in the championship game. At least one more is guaranteed a spot with Karr playing Landry-Walker. And four other area teams are still playing, meaning the city could have as many as eight teams, which would give the Dome a definite New Orleans flavor during the championships.

Just one more win.

Saltaformaggio knows just how close this team is.

“I told the kids during the week that I can kind of smell the popcorn cooking,” Saltaformaggio said.