LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - We are just six weeks away from KPLC's coverage of Two-A-Days and to get ready we continue our 7-in-Seven countdown.
Countdowns will include topics from McNeese to high school football. A new countdown each week, beginning every Monday.
We continue the countdown with the seven most competitive local districts this upcoming season. Of course, this is just our analysis, you never know what might happen on the gridiron this fall.
7. Class 2A - District 6 (6-2A)
This district was anything but close in 2018 as Notre Dame roared to a 10-0 season, pitching shutouts in three of the four games.
2019 is a classification year, and big changes are brought to the district. Kinder leaves for a much more favorable 5-2A district, while the Division IV champions, Lafayette Christian, add another power player to this already stacked lineup. The Pios too are coming off a state title, and Welsh finished runner-up in Class 2A.
Notre Dame is once again a heavy favorite to run away with another district title, although the Knights will have a say in that. Welsh will have its work cut out for it losing such a strong senior class and Lake Arthur is in a similar boat.
FAVORITE: Notre Dame Pioneers (13-0 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: Lafayette Christian Knights (14-0), Welsh Greyhounds (11-4)
UNDERDOGS: Lake Arthur Tigers (6-5), Port Barre Red Devils (2-8)
6. Class 4A - District 3 (3-4A)
Leesville once again rolled to the title, although Tioga gave the Wampus Cats a run for their money in week nine. However, the Cats still won each district game by double digits en route to a semifinal playoff appearance. Despite losing a second straight strong senior class, Leesville will still enter the favorite in the district. Jacob Mount returns at quarterback after throwing for over 2,000 yards and 24 scores.
Tioga looks as poised as any to unseat the champs. Led by junior QB Blake McGehee, the passing offense has flourished. The two-year starter finished with 2,901 yards and 34 touchdowns a year ago and he once again returns his main receiving weapons.
DeRidder, on the other hand, must replace its star QB and the main offensive threat from a year ago. Good news for the Dragons though is the team brings back a wealth of experience on the offensive line and nearly the entire defense.
Grant and Buckeye both are out of the district now with Peabody and Bolton coming in. The Warhorses may run the district for basketball but on the gridiron, there is ground to be made up.
FAVORITE: Leesville Wampus Cats (13-1 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: DeRidder Dragons (6-5), Tioga Indians (8-4)
UNDERDOGS: Bolton Bears (3-7), Peabody Warhorses (1-9)
5. Class 3A - District 5 (5-3A)
This district won’t feel the same with Class 3A champion Eunice moving up to 4A and Crowley leaving as well. The district championship between Iota and the Bobcats was arguably the best game of the season in terms of both the score (35-34) and the atmosphere.
The Iota Bulldogs completed its turnaround and made me look like Nostradamus a year ago, as the team took an undefeated record into the semifinals. While Iota must replace its quarterback and defensive leaders, much of the core is back including the running back duo of Kaleb Guillory and Luke Doucet.
The Bears of Church Point will still be a menace as they return all-star running back Rodney Dupuis. Northwest too brings back a bell-cow runner in quarterback Montaze Sam. The rising senior carried the Raiders to the second round a year ago with a 383-yard performance in the opening round.
Mamou, Pine Prairie and newcomer Ville Platte will all have to flip a switch if the schools want to compete in the district.
FAVORITE: Iota Bulldogs (13-1 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: Church Point Bears (8-4), Northwest Raiders (8-4)
UNDERDOGS: Mamou Demons (0-10), Pine Prairie Panthers (3-7), Ville Platte (3-8)
4. Class 5A - District 3 (3-5A)
We continue the list with the big boys in class 5A. This district has been arguably one of the best in the state over the past few years and at the top, we may see a number of playoff hosts once again.
The Wreckin' Rams proved last season that it still has the magic as Matt McCullough led Acadiana to a 9-1 record and a quarterfinal appearance. The triple option offense should once again give district mates fits and is why the Rams are my favorite to win the district.
Barbe has talent to replace at quarterback and in the backfield, however, the Bucs may end up being a more complete team in 2019. Barbe has the best chance to knock off the Rams followed by Sam Houston and Comeaux. The Broncos too lost some impressive senior talent, but this still is a well-coached team that is hungry to prove itself in 5A.
Sulphur has plenty of unknowns with the amount of offensive talent the team has to replace. Coupling the losses with a new coach and we are having a wait-and-see approach to how dangerous the Golden Tors will be.
A huge question mark comes in the form of Southside High School. The Sharks are set to play their first-ever varsity season in 2019.
FAVORITE: Acadiana Rams (11-2 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: Comeaux Spartans (5-6), Barbe Buccaneers (8-3), Sam Houston Broncos (8-3)
UNDERDOGS: Lafayette Lions (3-7), New Iberia Yellow Jackets (2-8), Southside Sharks (first varsity season), Sulphur Golden Tors (5-6)
3. Class 3A - District 4 (4-3A)
This has been one of the more fun districts over the past few seasons and this season should be no exception. It’s rare that a team towers over the rest of the district and this year, LCCP is hoping to do that.
The Blazers made plenty of history in 2018 following an 11-2 season and a quarterfinal playoff run. While LCCP has plenty of talent to replace, the Blazers bring back nearly every piece on offense, including a pair of Power 5 offered skill players in WR Solomon Lewis and RB TreVonte’ Citizen.
On LCCP's heels will be Jennings, Iowa, St. Louis and South Beauregard. Like the Blazers, SLC and South Beau took steps forward following a rough 2017 season and the schools may be even better in 2018. Jennings can match LCCP with top-end talent as Trevor Etienne and Kennan Landry each hold offers from LSU. Iowa is one of the best-coached teams in the area and should also improve.
Speaking of great coaching, despite Westlake luring away state champion coach John Richardson from Welsh, the Rams may still be a year or two away from being contenders.
FAVORITE: Lake Charles College Prep Trailblazers (11-2 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: Iowa Yellow Jackets (2-7), Jennings Bulldogs (4-7), St. Louis Saints (5-7), South Beauregard Golden Knights (5-6)
UNDERDOGS: Westlake Rams (2-8)
2. Class 1A - District 4 (4-1A)
We move down to our lowest classification, but it's far from the least competitive. The district once again went through big changes this offseason as it lost St. Edmund and South Cameron and gained back East Beauregard and welcomed in newcomer Gueydan.
This may be the hardest district to predict with so much talent leaving the top two teams from a year ago in Oberlin and Basile. The Tigers are still my pick to win thanks to their grind it out style and sound defense. The Bearcats are also well-coached and seem to always be right in the mix.
The wildcard of the bunch may be East Beauregard. The last time the Trojans played a 1A schedule, the program won 35 games in a four year period. However, Gordy Glaser retired this offseason and former Oberlin coach Ronnie Simmons was promoted to take over the reins.
Merryville has had coaching stability since Randy Jones took over and following back-to-back second round appearances, the Panthers may be ready to pounce. Gueydan will also have a say following a 7-4 season a year ago.
Grand Lake and Hamilton Christian both picked up coaches with proven track records this past season and may flip a switch, but both should take a year or two to really make noise.
FAVORITE: Oberlin Tigers (10-3 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: Basile Bearcats (10-3), East Beauregard Trojans (7-4), Gueydan (7-4), Merryville Panthers (5-7), Grand Lake Hornets (2-9), Hamilton Christian Warriors (1-9)
UNDERDOGS: Elton Indians (3-8), Grand Lake Hornets (2-9), Hamilton Christian Warriors (1-9)
1. Class 4A - District 4 (4-4A)
We wrap up with basically a brand new district. Following the re-classification process, district four was created nearly out of thin air. Eunice, North Vermilion and Washington-Marion were all called up from Class 3A, while LaGrange dropped from 5A and Rayne technically stayed still (Rayne's former district is now 5-4A).
With so many new faces, this district is up for grabs. Eunice will come in the favorite following its state championship season. Sophomores powered the title run led by quarterback Simeon Ardoin. His return cements the Bobcats as favorites.
LaGrange will be an interesting study entering year two of Marrico Wilson's tenure. Last year was rough for the Gators as they continued to struggle in the 5A district. Competition is nowhere near as fierce and we should see a much-improved unit.
Washington-Marion lost a talented senior class, but the Charging Indians are always talented. WM also hired former Delhi coach Toriano Williams to lead the program. He led the Bears to a 9-4 record and a quarterfinal trip a year ago.
North Vermilion flashed at times a year ago and should be competitive and the same goes for Rayne. The Wolves made a switch at head coach hiring alum Kaine Guidry.
I have no underdogs in this race as each team can make some noise in the race.
FAVORITE: Eunice Bobcats (13-2 in 2018)
CONTENDERS: LaGrange Gators (0-10), North Vermilion (5-5), Rayne Wolves (3-8), Washington-Marion (4-6)