University High and Parkview Baptist enter the opening weekend of their respective district seasons off to impressive starts after sweeping to league titles last year. Both carry a top-five ranking in their respective classifications.
But both local powers will have a big test right out the gate Friday as they start what they hope will be a repeat of last year’s district success.
Top-ranked Parkview (4-0) welcomes star recruit Kendall Beckwith and East Feliciana (2-2) in a showdown to start 6-3A play. No. 4 University (4-1) hosts crosstown rival Episcopal (3-1) in a 7-2A opener at Jeff Boss Field-Richard Gill Stadium on the LSU campus.
“It’s definitely not easing your way into district or anything like that,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said.
The Cubs and Knights combined for a record of 23-3 last year, with U-High handing Episcopal its only regular-season loss. Both teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2A playoffs.
If not for loss at Many last week that cost the Knights their state ranking, Episcopal would carry an unbeaten mark into its district schedule for the third straight year.
U-High’s lone loss in pre-district came in a 26-21 tussle against Loranger, led by LSU commitment Jeryl Brazil.
Sophomore running back Nick Brossette ranks among the state rushing leaders with 738 yards and 15 touchdowns on 112 carries. He scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns at Live Oak last week to lead the Cubs back from a 14-7 deficit.
Parkview’s balanced, veer-option offense helped the Eagles average 46.5 points during a predistrict schedule that included three 5A foes.
Running back Erik Martinez capped a heart-stopping rally to beat Catholic last week with a 3-yard touchdown run. Wide receiver Tom Wing hauled in a 27-yard pass from Brennan Bozeman to set up the winning score.
But coach Kenny Guillot said it’s imperative the Eagles put last week behind and turn all their focus to East Feliciana.
Beckwith lines up at quarterback when the Tigers have the ball and either defensive end or linebacker when they don’t. He had 403 yards passing in a season-opening loss to Zachary, but projects as a defensive star at the next level.
Along with U-High defensive end Tim Williams, Beckwith is considered one of the top two college prospects in the state this year.
Not that he is Parkview’s only concern.
“They’re a formidable foe,” Guillot said, rattling off a long list of East Feliciana playmakers. “They scare you to death.”
East Feliciana is a school just three years old and will be meeting Parkview for only the second time. The Eagles won last year in Clinton, 39-8.
U-High and Episcopal have far more history. The two schools are separated by just 10 miles, and have long fought for the same district hardware.
“When you get into these rivalry-type games, it wouldn’t even matter what the records are,” Mahaffey said. “I think everybody gets a little more excited about it because of the rivalry.”