Episcopal, West Feliciana focused on big picture

Advocate file photo by LIBBY ISENHOWEREpiscopal coach, Travis Bourgeois, directs his team from the sideline  against University last season. Show caption
Advocate file photo by LIBBY ISENHOWEREpiscopal coach, Travis Bourgeois, directs his team from the sideline against University last season.

Some teams receive statewide recognition each week when their names are mentioned in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s weekly prep poll. Other teams remain in the shadows of their peers, even as they continue to pile up wins.

Episcopal and West Feliciana are two teams that don’t mind life in the latter category.

The Knights (4-0) and the Saints (3-1) are off to fast starts this season and look like teams that could contend in their respective district races. But neither Episcopal in Class 2A nor West Feliciana in 3A has cracked the state rankings.

Each was mentioned in the “others receiving votes” department Monday when the LSWA’s latest poll was released.

Each, of course, is focused on the larger picture.

“All you can do is play the schedule in front of you week in and week out, and if you take care of business, everything will take care of itself,” Episcopal coach Travis Bourgeois said. “Being undefeated and not being in the top 10 — our kids have all been through the power-rating system and all know that’s the main focus. It’s good to be recognized statewide, but the thing you can’t control are votes. The thing you can control is your power ranking and how you handle your business week in and week out.”

West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said he and the Saints, too, are more concerned with strengthening their position in the power ratings that determine playoff seeding.

“The only thing that matters to us is power points,” Odom said. “We like the recognition for the school and the kids when we’re in (the LSWA poll), but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is who you draw in the playoffs. The best thing to do is to try and keep on winning so you can assure yourself a spot.”

Both coaches know if their teams keep winning, they will have their place in the state poll soon enough.

Teams from the Baton Rouge area that are ranked this week include East Ascension at No. 9 in 5A and district rival Catholic, which fell six spots to 10th after losing to Rummel on Saturday. Plaquemine is up to No. 6 in 4A and riding a three-game winning streak.

In 3A, Evangel’s loss at St. Thomas More on Friday helped University move up one spot to No. 2.

The Cubs rank only behind John Curtis in the 3A poll. Parkview Baptist, a rival of West Feliciana and U-High in 7-3A, stayed sixth in the rankings.

“It’s obviously a nice honor,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “I think our kids are playing well. We’re like everybody else and trying to get better. While we appreciate the honor, we want to show we’re worthy of that and continue to get better.”

Episcopal and West Feliciana are both relying on veteran defenses while breaking in several new starters on the offensive side.

The Knights opened District 6-2A play with a 56-12 win over Istrouma, the third straight win for Episcopal by 30 points or more. They went 8-3 last year, losing in the second round of the playoffs.

“It’s a different type of team because we don’t have as much size,” Bourgeois said, “but it’s a team that’s probably a little deeper than in the past.”

West Feliciana finishes its regular season with early November trips into Baton Rouge to face U-High and Parkview. But Odom said he isn’t looking past anybody.

This week, the Saints visit a Kentwood team ranked fifth in 1A.

“They’re very athletic, they have size and speed, and are very well-coached,” Odom said. “Just because they’re 1A by name, we know they’re just as good as anybody we’re going to play this year.”