LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - We are just five 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 top seven Touchdown Live matchups this upcoming season.
7. Washington-Marion at LaGrange (November 1)
We start the list with the new look District 4-4A, although this is a long-standing district rivalry. Washington-Marion vs. LaGrange opens the list.
This Gators are back on the Charging Indians schedule after LaGrange dropped from 5A to 4A, while Washington-Marion returned to 4A after two years in Class 3A.
This game doesn't make the list because of last season's success for either team as the two teams combined to go 4-16. However, these two Lake Charles schools always attract a great crowd and energy no matter what sport they play in.
Last year wasn’t kind to LaGrange, finishing with an 0-10 record in Marrico Wilson’s first year as head coach. In fact, the program hasn’t seen a winning season since 2015. However, there is plenty of optimism around the program with the Gators playing in 4A now alongside some returning talent like quarterback Quintorus Jones.
On the other side, the Charging Indians also recorded a losing record last year, finishing 4-6. This offseason, Washington-Marion hired former Delhi coach Toriano Williams in hopes of leading the team back to glory. Williams led Delhi to a 9-4 record a year ago, which was the best season during his three years with the Bears.
While Washington-Marion lost a deep senior class, there is always talent to be found at the Teepee.
Depending on how both teams rebound, this game could be played for much more than just bragging rights— the week nine matchup may help decide who wins the district.
6. Barbe at Sulphur (October 25)
This matchup was number one a year ago, so that should tell you how great the upcoming schedule in the Lake Area is this season.
Southwest Louisiana’s biggest rivalry comes in a little lower, even though the Tors snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Bucs in 2018. However, both teams lost plenty of senior talent on both sides of the ball, including their multi-year starting quarterbacks.
Barbe lost Luke Richard, who passed for over 1,600 yards in the 2018 regular season. The Bucs also parted with all-district performers Zene Chretien, Nick Monticello, Davien Harmon and Carl Barrow.
Whereas Sulphur said goodbye to starting quarterback, Morgan Clark and a slew of Division I signees like Hayden Hagler, Jake LaFleur and Branden Walker. Another goodbye for the Golden Tors was to six-year head coach Jeff Wainwright as he left to be the head coach of the Grand Lake Hornets.
This off-season Sulphur hired former Walker High School coach Cecil Thomas to lead the football program. Thomas comes into his first season in Southwest Louisiana after leading Walker to an 8-3 season, the school’s best-ever record in Class 5A.
Will Barbe reclaim the series this season, or will the Golden Tors start a winning streak of their own?
5. Leesville at Northwood (November 1)
Coming in at number five is a big 4A matchup between Leesville and Northwood. If this one were played in Leesville, it’d likely be higher up on the list.
Leesville posted an impressive 2018, finishing with a 13-1 overall record, after making its first semifinal appearance since 1995. This season, the Wampus Cats will be returning their main piece on offense in quarterback Jacob Mount. Mount finished 2018 throwing for over 2,000 yards and 24 scores. Although, Leesville must replace a few key cogs on the offensive line like Nebraska signee Matthew Anderson.
Northwood, a 4A school out of Blanchard, is coming off a historic season of its own. The Falcons, like Leesville, went undefeated in the regular season, before a strong run in the playoffs. The Falcons are led by quarterback Luke Bogan who has thrown well over 5,000 career yards and scored 80 touchdowns in just two seasons.
This may be a quarterfinal round preview, just a few weeks earlier.
4. LCCP at Jennings (October 25)
Holding down the number four spot is the battle of the Trailblazers and the Bulldogs. This game may or may not be the deciding factor for the district, however one thing is sure— no other local matchup will have more elite talent.
Between the two teams, there’s a total of six Power Five offers.
LCCP’s Solomon Lewis and TreVonte’ Citizen have four. Lewis holds offers from Miami and Texas Tech, while Citizen has been offered by Penn State and Mississippi State.
On the other sideline, Jennings' Keenan Landry and Trevor Etienne each have been offered by Ed Orgeron at LSU.
Behind the pair of underclassmen, Jennings is looking to bounce back following a 4-7 season. Turnovers were a major problem for the Bulldogs in 2018, along with youth in many spots. This year, Jennings is returning four on offense and six on defense with many other starters having playing experience.
LCCP turned its program around last year posting an 11-2 record, including making the school's first-ever quarterfinal appearance. The Blazers return key talent on offense like Lewis, Citizen, and quarterback Dillion Simon. LCCP's big question mark comes in the form of replacing numerous senior leaders on defense and balancing being the hunted in the district.
This will be one of the games 247 and Rivals will have their eyes on because of the elite talent.
3. Welsh at Iota (September 13)
Coming in at No. 3 is the battle of Welsh and Iota. It’ll be a revisit to formerly one of the area’s best district rivalries.
2018 saw these two teams dominate. The Greyhounds made it back to the 2A state title game for the second year in a row, while the Bulldogs made a trip to the 3A state semifinals for the first time since 2002. That being said, both teams must replace plenty, including defensive standouts and a quarterback.
The Bulldogs lose multi-year starter Trae Rambin at QB, but the duo of Kaleb Guillory and Luke Doucet will mean the ground game will continue to be strong in Iota.
On the other sideline, the Greyhounds not only lose their head coach in John Richardson but their three main options on offense in Alec Iguess, Da’Ren Zeno and Austyn Benoit. Welsh's offensive system will remain the same however with offensive coordinator Cody Gueringer promoted to head coach. Despite the losses, this is still a roster of players who know nothing else but winning.
These two schools are separated by just 26 miles, so you can expect both fan bases to have Bulldog Stadium rocking.
2. Barbe at Sam Houston (October 11)
Barbe and Sam Houston has become a multi-sport rivalry that’s must-watch no matter where it’s held. The latest matchup came on the baseball diamond in the Class 5A title game, an 8-2 win by Barbe.
On the gridiron, this game was close a year ago as the Bucs won, 40-28. Barbe broke a tied game in the fourth as it pulled away for the win.
Despite the loss, last season was a re-birth for the Bronco football team under second-year coach Chad Paulk. The team finished with an 8-2 regular season record, while hosting a playoff game. A big reson for the turnaround was a change in defense, as a switch to the 4-2-5 allowed Sam Houston to go from allowing 39.3 points and 427 yards a game in 2017 to holding opponents to 20.8 points and 309 yards last season. The defense will look to match those numbers while the offense loses its bell-cow running back Gerron Duhon, to Yale.
Barbe as mentioned earlier in the article, loses plenty of offensive talent in the backfield, including its starting quarterback. That being said, this team played plenty of young starters a year ago that should be ready for bigger things in 2018.
One note on the matchup is that Sam Houston has never beaten the Bucs, although three times in the past five seasons the games have been decided in the fourth quarter.
1. LCCP at Leesville (September 13)
Coming in at the number one spot is the 3A-4A matchup between LCCP and Leesville. These were the area's top two teams a year as both made deep playoff runs following undefeated district titles.
Both schools have appeared on the list as both have much tougher schedules than a season ago. Both coaching staffs will use this game as a measuring stick for the rest of the season.
While the Wampus Cats and Blazers return plenty of talent (especially on offense), both teams lost plenty to graduation. Leesville lost an elite offensive lineman in Mathew Anderson, a Nebraska signee along with fellow linemen Brett Pope and Montae Lynch.
LCCP has plenty on defense to replace like all-state lineman Jacalon Pitre and cornerback Shane Bradford. Good news for the Blazers is that numerous key players were underclassmen a year ago.
Both teams are front runners in their districts and classifications, but the question remains— which team builds on what they accomplished in 2018? The winner of the game may get all the momentum they need to do just that.