Scotlandville, Central square off in key 4-5A game

Central and Scotlandville have yet to garner much statewide attention. But the Wildcats and Hornets will be the main attraction Friday night.

Scotlandville (3-0, 1-0) hosts Central (3-1, 0-0) in a District 4-5A showdown that helps highlight action in Class 5A/4A.

“This is what high school football is all about,” Scotlandville coach Eric Randall said. “It’s the kind of game I’d buy a ticket to go see if I wasn’t coaching. This is one of those whatever-it-takes games, as in either team is going to do whatever it takes to win it.”

Other key 4-5A games include Denham Springs (2-2, 1-0) at Broadmoor (3-1, 1-0) and Zachary (2-2, 0-1) at Live Oak (2-2, 0-1). Walker (1-3) hosts Loranger (2-2) in a nondistrict game. The list of nondistrict games involving 5-5A teams also is notable. Ninth-ranked East Ascension travels to 4A Lutcher (1-3), while No. 8 Rummel (3-1) plays at Dutchtown (3-1) and St. Amant (3-1) hosts John Ehret (3-1). Catholic (3-1), ranked 10th, hosts 4A Salmen (0-4) at Olympia; McKinley (2-2) hosts Landry-Walker (4-0), ranked seventh in 4A.

Central has won five straight district titles and was the 4-5A preseason favorite. Scotlandville was rated right behind the Wildcats. A year ago, the teams waged an epic fight as Central emerged with a one-point win.

“I stopped preaching to our guys about it, but I’ve let them know one thing is for certain — we’re the hunted,” Central coach Sid Edwards said. “Over the last few years, we’ve become everybody’s mark-your-calendar game.

“We expect Scotlandville to come out and play a great game. And we’ll have to play our best game, there’s no doubt about it.”

Certain things about the Central-Scotlandville game are givens. One is Scotlandville’s Dontrell Hilliard.

The senior running back has rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past two seasons. Hilliard’s rushing totals aren’t as high this season, but he has been equally effective. He had 89 rushing yards and 117 receiving yards in last week’s win over Zachary.

Central is led offensively by quarterback Jarrad Hayes, a McKinley transfer, who has 575 passing yards. Hayes’ ability to scramble and to distribute passes to a number of receivers has been pivotal for the Wildcats.

“What I like most about Central is the way they’ve bought into their system and the things they do,” Randall said. “Most people don’t realize it, but in high school football the buy-in is so important.

“The players, the school, the parents and the fans have to buy-in for a program to be successful. And it can’t just be six or seven out of 10 weeks. I guarantee you, the buy-in for top programs is 10-out-of-10. That’s what Central has, along with some talented players.”

Randall mentions all the coach’s clichés, noting that turnovers and field position will be pivotal. Edwards talks about game breakers and breakdowns.

“We’ve got some things we’ve worked to clean up,” Edwards said. “If you get caught out of position against this team, they take the ball and take it to the house.

“We have to be able to limit the big plays for him. And on the flip side, we need to be able to make some ourselves.”