Stakes high in 5A rivalry games

There are district football games and then there are rivalry games. Put the two together and you have a marquee matchup. Or in Week 6, make that two.

Catholic High (4-1), ranked 10th in Class 5A, heads to St. Amant (4-1) for a District 5-5A opener that also is a rivalry game. Central (4-1, 1-0) travels to Denham Springs (3-2, 2-0) for a District 4-5A game that continues one of the Baton Rouge area’s oldest rivalries.

The two games help highlight a Friday schedule that features league games in 4-5A, 5-5A and District 6-4A. Catholic and St. Amant play at The Pit, located at St. Amant Middle School. Games start at 7 p.m.

“We were in another district for a few years and kind of got away from it,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “And last year it was a great game, so I think our fans are getting back into the rivalry aspect of this one. I think everybody is excited about it this game.”

Catholic coach Dale Weiner added, “We’re 4-1 and so is St. Amant. I think it will be an outstanding high school football game. Our guys always love playing at the The Pit and the atmosphere you have there. We’ve got to be able to execute and make as few mistakes as possible. You need to do that, especially on the road.”

Dutchtown (4-1) hosts Woodlawn (3-2) and McKinley (2-3) travels to East Ascension (5-0) in other games that are part of an evolving 5-5A dynamic.

The status of two of the league’s top running backs is cloudy as 5-5A play begins. Catholic’s Derrius Guice, who has been bothered by bruised thigh, will miss a second straight game but is expected to return next week, Weiner said.

EAHS’ Sione Palelei, an LSU commitment, injured a knee in last week’s win over Lutcher and is awaiting results of an MRI, Spartans coach Paul Bourgeois said.

Catholic leads its series with St. Amant 15-11. Denham Springs holds a 31-30-4 advantage in its 66-year-old series with Central.

“This last few years this game has usually helped determine who won the district title,” Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said. “It looks like it’s going to be that way again.

“We came into the season with some questions about who would play some roles, but have had guys who have stepped in and done a great job. This week there’s no doubt about what we need to do, which is control the football. And we need to score when we have the chance to.”

Central coach Sid Edwards noted the emotional nature of the series. He seeks stability and offensive consistency this week.

“There are times when the emotional nature of the rivalry doesn’t bring out the best in either teams,” Edwards said. “We need to stay away from getting caught up in the emotion and play.

“Until we scored the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter I think we had maybe 12 or 14 offensive plays in the second half. We can’t let them settle in and run the ball.”

The quarterbacks are worth watching in the Catholic-St. Amant game. Tyler Dixon ran for two touchdowns and a threw a TD pass last week for the Gators. Catholic’s Nick Coomes tossed four TD passes last week and has completed 26-of-55 passes for 391 yards. Freshman running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (245 yards, three TDs) figures to get more carries for the Bears.

Central’s Jarrad Hayes has passed for 706 yards and has yet to throw an interception. B.J. Armstrong (300 yards) and Anthony Bracy (299 yards) are Denham Springs’ top rushers.

“We had to replace a number of starters this year, but I’d say we’re right where we need to be,” St. Amant’s Oliver said. “And you want to be in a game like this one.”