Upstart Springfield vs. powerful Curtis

Advocate staff photo by ROBIN FAMBROUGHSpringfield quarterback Shaquille Smith will be one of the key players for the Bulldogs who are facing John Curtis in a Class 2A state semifinal playoff game Friday.
Advocate staff photo by ROBIN FAMBROUGHSpringfield quarterback Shaquille Smith will be one of the key players for the Bulldogs who are facing John Curtis in a Class 2A state semifinal playoff game Friday.

Springfield High coach Ryan Serpas didn’t foresee a Class 2A state semifinal playoff matchup against John Curtis, but he is sure enjoying the team’s playoff run this year.

The Bulldogs are 11-1, have a district crown under their belts and fought their way to the semifinals of the Class 2A playoffs for the first time in school history. After a 5-6 finish last season, even Springfield coach Ryan Serpas is pleasantly surprised by his team’s showing this season.

“I knew that this was going to be a special team coming into the season,” Serpas said. “Everybody wants to say that they foresaw us making it this far, but that wasn’t our goal. Our goal was to come out and win district championship and let everything fall out the way it would. Everything we do from here on out is just lagniappe.”

Springfield is the first Livingston Parish school to reach the semifinals since Denham Springs did it 40 years ago in 1972. The Bulldogs have the tall task of facing top-seeded football juggernaut John Curtis (12-0) with the winner destined for the Superdome.

Curtis is the defending 2A state champion and is searching for its 25th title. Serpas knows he has his hands full with the Patriots and is hoping a few good breaks can push his team through to the final.

“They’re a tremendous football team that plays for a state title year in and year out,” Serpas said. “I think if we can make them earn everything they get and hopefully extend drives and try to force them into situations they’re going to be uncomfortable in, maybe we can get a couple turnovers and the ball will bounce our way.”

UNIVERSITY AT EVANGEL: No. 3 seed University High is riding an 11-game win streak, and the Cubs have scored 40 points
or more in eight of those games.

They put up 19 points on Calvary Baptist last weekend but will need that high-powered offense to return Friday as they face No. 2-seeded Evangel Christian Academy, which boasts an eight-game winning streak of its own, scoring 35 points or more in each contest.

Evangel, 11-2 on the year, is looking to return to the Superdome after losing to Curtis in the semifinals last season. The Eagles put up a whopping 62 points on Carver last Friday and haven’t scored less than 40 in a playoff game this year.

It’ll be a second straight trip to the northwest corner of the state for U-High, after the Cubs traveled to Shreveport last weekend to seek revenge on Calvary, which ended their playoff dreams a year ago.

Class 1A

WEST ST. JOHN AT HAYNESVILLE: West St. John and Haynesville meet again in a rematch of Class 1A quarterfinal last season.

West St. John squeaked out a 15-8 win in that contest, and Rams coach Robert Valdez expects another close game Friday in Haynesville, the sight of last year’s matchup.

“Haynesville is one of the great programs in 1A with a long tradition,” Valdez said. “We expect this one to be as tough as the last time.”

Powered by quarterback Austin Howard and running backs Kylum Favorite and Jeremy Jackson, the Rams threw for 232 yards and rushed for 148 more in a 41-20 win against Vermillion Catholic.

It’s the second straight trip to the semifinals for No. 6-seed West St. John (10-3), which was last season’s runner-up. Second-seeded Haynesville (11-2) rallied for a win over Westminster Academy a week ago.

KENTWOOD AT OUACHITA CHRISTIAN: Top-seeded Ouachita Christian (13-0) enters the game looking to remain perfect on its run to the state championship, and No. 5-seeded Kentwood (11-1) holds a nine-game win streak heading into Friday.

Kentwood returned a slew of starters from last year’s squad that made it to the second round of the playoffs and is led by converted quarterback Tavarious Battiste.

Battiste, who played defensive back and wide receiver last season, ran for 420 yards and passed for 1,099 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season, powering the quick Kangaroos offense to three straight double-digit playoff wins.

After giving up 22 and 32 points in the first two weeks of the season, Ouachita Christian hasn’t allowed a team to score more than 19 points in the past 11 games, posting seven shutouts in that span.

“We should have an advantage in team speed,” Kentwood coach David Currier said. “But Ouachita Christian is definitely not slow. They’ve got some speed, and they execute very well. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”