Livonia, Union Parish prepare to get physical

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A host of Northwest defenders try to bring down Livonia running back Russell Farris, right. Farris ran for 239 yards in last week's Class 3A semifinal victory over Jennings. Farris and the Wildcats face Union Parish for the 3A title Friday. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- A host of Northwest defenders try to bring down Livonia running back Russell Farris, right. Farris ran for 239 yards in last week's Class 3A semifinal victory over Jennings. Farris and the Wildcats face Union Parish for the 3A title Friday.

Livonia loves to dominate the line of scrimmage. Union Parish is big, tough and powerful. When the teams meet Friday for the Class 3A championship, something’s got to give.

It’s been 32 years since Olivia Newton-John’s song “Physical” topped the billboard charts. Livonia High football coach David Brewerton has come up with his own variation of the let’s-get-physical theme.

Of course, Brewerton has a different kind of hit in mind as his top-seeded Wildcats (14-0) face No. 3 Union Parish (13-1) in the Class 3A title game that concludes Friday’s action at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Prep Classic.

“Physicality is something we’ve preached about for the last three years,” Brewerton said. “We’re going to find out a lot about how far we’ve come in that respect. Union Parish is traditional north Louisiana football. They play a very powerful, physical brand of football like a lot of teams do.

“The big difference about them is they can play the spread game, too. How we respond to them is going to determine how the game goes.”

The 3A final is one of three football title games Friday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Action begins at 12:30 p.m. with the 1A game that matches top-seeded Haynesville (13-0) and No. 2 Mangham (11-2). At 4:30 p.m., top-seeded Many (13-1) meets No. 3 Kinder (13-1) in the 2A final.

Though Union Parish is the third seed, its coach Joe Spatafora leaves little doubt about his team’s intentions. Union, a first-year consolidated school, won a 2A title as Farmerville High in 2001.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to do what we’ve done every week up to this point and keep our focus and do what it takes to win a state championship,” Spatafora told the Monroe News-Star. “Our goal isn’t just to get there but to win it all, and we want to go out on top.

“Our defense has gotten better every week, and we plan on them continuing to do that this week. We like our matchup. They’re physical and strong and fast, but so are we.”

Each team has star power. Livonia is led by running back-linebacker Russell Farris and wide receiver-defensive back Darius Hammond. Farris, an all-state player as a linebacker as a junior, ran for 239 yards in last week’s semifinal win over Jennings.

Quarterback Kerry Savoy has 2,087 passing yards and ran for two TDs last week. Hammond, who had 554 yards receiving prior to the semifinals, is a top target and helped shut down Jennings’ passing attack last week after one big play.

Union Parish is led by its quarterback, Jamarius Williams, who has more than 2,000 yards of offense. Running back Desmond Turner (1,332 yards) is the top rusher for the Farmers.

“Their quarterback is very special,” Livonia’s Brewerton said of Williams. “They want to pound you by running the ball. But if there’s any resistance, they’ll spread you. (Williams) is lethal. He can run it and he can also drop it in a bucket from 50 yards. They’re a physical, physical football team.

“Last week, the conditions dictated that we had to run the ball. The last five or six weeks, we’ve been more balanced. We need to be able to spread their defense a little bit. All the other clichés apply, too. We can’t turn the ball over, and we have to play well in every phase of the game. That’s what championships are about.”

Class 1A

HAYNESVILLE VS. MANGHAM: Haynesville looks to give coach David Franklin his second 1A title. Franklin, the son of legendary HHS coach Alton “Red” Franklin, previously won a title in 2009. Red Franklin is an assistant coach for the Golden Tornado.

Both teams are run-oriented. Though Tyus Early rushed for 133 yards in Haynesville’s semifinal win over Kentwood, CaVontae Critton, is a huge threat along with quarterback-defensive back Jarrell Jackson, a San Diego State commitment.

Kemme Weeks, the top rusher for Mangham, had 151 yards and two TDs in his Dragons’ semifinal win.

Class 2A

KINDER VS. MANY: Kinder has never appeared in the Prep Classic and Many has been in the Big Easy-based title games since 1988.

Quarterback-safety Xavier Dias is a jack of all trades for Many. Last week, he blocked the potential game-tying point-after kick to preserve a 27-26 semifinal win over Loreauville. Dias also recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Running back Jordan Vickers, who ran for 125 yards last week, helps power Kinder, the lone team from the Lake Charles area to advance.