Central spent the regular season in the shadows of two top 10 teams, Scotlandville and Zachary, in District 4-5A. Could an intriguing playoff matchup against a traditional power/familiar playoff foe change that?
The seventh-seeded Wildcats (8-1) host No. 10 West Monroe (5-1) for a Class 5A second-round game set for 7 p.m. Friday. It might be the Baton Rouge area’s marquee game in some other year.
But as coach Sid Edwards said, this is 2020 and 20-20 vision is in the eyes of the beholder.
“This West Monroe team lost some games due to COVID-19, and that has a lot to do with where they are seeded,” Edwards said. “But they are West Monroe and they have some impressive wins, including one over Neville.
“Are we confident that we can play well against them? Yes, we are. We only have one guy on our roster who will sign with a (Division I) school. This group has bonded together and bought into the joy of playing each week. This is another chance to do that.”
The circumstances are special for this West Monroe-Central game for several reasons, including the slate of other local games.
The Wildcats beat the Rebels 14-0 in 2013 in the second round, a game Edwards and his staff have noted. But they also lost to WMHS by lopsided margins in 2015 and 2017. In 2017, they were a No. 32 seed and the Rebels were No. 1.
Edwards said that if it were not a COVID-19 year with 25 percent attendance limits, the West Monroe-Central game and John Curtis-Scotlandville game at Southern University’s A.W. Mumford Stadium would be main attractions featuring two of Louisiana’s best-known football powers playing just a few miles apart.
Throw in the fact Catholic hosts Rummel in a Division I quarterfinal at Memorial Stadium for a rematch of last year’s title game and you see how crowded the Class 5A/Division I landscape is.
However, the matchup gives Central a chance to step into the spotlight regardless of who is on hand to watch. The Wildcats beat their past two opponents 76-10 and are playing their best after a regular season that included a loss to Scotlandville and losing a key matchup with Zachary to COVID-19 issues.
Running back Pierce Patterson and quarterback Jonathan Swift lead the offense, while safety Da’Veawn Armstead sets the tone on defense.
“West Monroe is back to the veer offense they used to run,” Edwards said. “They are talented and physical. It is a good challenge for us.”
A 5A game-changer?
Central’s 2013 win over West Monroe is viewed by many as a game that helped change the 5A football landscape.
The Rebels have not won a 5A title since 2011 but finished as the runners-up to Landry-Walker in 2016 and to Zachary in 2018.
Since 2014, Zachary has won three 5A titles and defending champion Acadiana has two.