JIM DERRY’S PREP RANKINGS WEEK 8
NEW ORLEANS METRO AREA LARGE SCHOOLS (5A, 4A) TOP 10
(All games Friday at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
- Rummel (7-0). Last week: No. 1, defeated Holy Cross, 17-7. This week: vs. St. Augustine (4-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Joe Yenni Stadium.
- John Curtis (7-0). Last week: No. 2, defeated Jesuit, 35-14. This week: vs. Holy Cross (4-3) at Yulman Stadium.
- Lakeshore (7-0). Last week: No. 3, defeated Westgate, 35-13. This week: vs. Franklinton (4-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
- Hahnville (7-0). Last week: No. 4, defeated Central Lafourche, 42-30. This week: vs. HL Bourgeois (1-6).
- Karr (4-2). Last week: No. 5, defeated McMain, 44-0. This week: vs. Landry-Walker (2-4) at Behrman Stadium.
- Brother Martin (6-1). Last week: No. 7, defeated Shaw, 58-21. This week: at Terrebonne (4-3).
- East St. John (5-2). Last week: NR, defeated No. 10 Destrehan, 14-13. This week: at Central Lafourche (5-2).
- Mandeville (5-2). Last week: No. 6, lost to Fontainebleau, 28-16. This week: at St. Paul’s (4-3).
- Slidell (5-2). Last week: No. 9, defeated Ponchatoula, 38-17. This week: at Covington (4-3) in the VSN North Shore Game of the Week.
- Destrehan (4-3). Last week: No. 8, lost to No. 7 East St. John, 14-13. This week: at Thibodaux (6-1) on the VSN Bayou Game of the Week.
Dropped out: Jesuit (10).
On the fringe: Holy Cross (4-3), Jesuit (4-3), Warren Easton (3-3), Covington (4-3), Ehret (5-2), St. Augustine (4-3), St. Paul’s (4-3), Belle Chasse (6-1).
NEW ORLEANS-AREA SMALL SCHOOLS TOP 5
- St. James (7-0). Last week: No. 1, defeated Donaldsonville, 37-6. This week: vs. Berwick (3-4)
- St. Charles (5-1). Last week: No. 2, defeated Franklinton, 35-6. This week: vs. No. 3 Newman (7-0) on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the VSN River Parish Game of the Week.
- Newman (7-0). Last week: No. 3, defeated Riverside, 48-21. This week: at No. 2 St. Charles (5-1) on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the VSN River Parish Game of the Week.
- De La Salle (3-3). Last week: No. 4, defeated Pensacola-West Florida, 24-6. This week: vs. Haynes (4-1) at Muss Bertolino.
- West St. John (3-3). Last week: NR, defeated Country Day, 42-35. This week: bye week.
Dropped out: Country Day (5).
On the fringe: Country Day (3-3), Booker T. Washington (5-2), McDonogh 35 (4-3)
THE WEEK 8 CRYSTAL BALL
Jim Derry of VSN Louisiana offers his top 10 games to watch along with key information, as well as all the games being broadcast on VSN Louisiana this week and the rest of his predictions.
TOP 10 NEW ORLEANS METRO-AREA MATCHUPS, PREDICTIONS
1 | NEWMAN (7-0, 0-0) at ST. CHARLES (5-1, 0-0)
What/when: District 10-2A game on Thursday at 6 p.m.
On the air: This game will be broadcast live on VSN Louisiana and the Varsity Sports Now app on Apple TV, along with iOS and Android devices. Jim Derry will handle the play by play, and former Lutcher and St. Charles coach Tim Detillier will offer color analysis.
Last week’s results: Newman defeated Riverside, 48-21; St. Charles defeated Franklinton, 35-6.
Series record since 2009: St. Charles has won all four matchups, including the last one, 38-19, on Oct. 14, 2016.
- After one cycle of St. Charles playing in Class 3A, the Comets are back in the same district with Newman after the two schools were together in 2009-2010 and 2015-2016. St. Charles has scored at least 38 points in all four of those games, while Newman has scored a total of 64 points in the recent series.
- After giving up 44 combined points in Weeks 2 and 3 against Lutcher and De La Salle, the Comets have allowed just 20 total points over their last four games with two shutouts.
- Newman freshman quarterback, the son of Cooper Manning and grandson of former Saints quarterback Archie Manning, is third in the metro area in passing yardage (1,621) and tied for first with Mandeville’s Devon Tott in touchdown tosses (22). His top target, Jarmone Sutherland, is second in the area with 784 receiving yards.
- Newman is the No. 1 team in the latest Class 2A poll by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, while St. Charles is fifth. The Greenies are second in the Division III power ratings behind Lafayette Christian, while the Comets are fourth.
Jim Derry’s pick
The classic defense vs. offense matchup. As good as Newman has been, and Manning as exceeded anyone’s expectations – despite his last name and family pedigree – they have yet to face a defense as good as this one.
Meanwhile, almost quietly, Coach Frank Monica’s group has done what they seem to always do: Fly under the radar and attack you from just about every way possible.
I am not sure who “they” are, but “they” are right: Defense wins championships. At the minimum, I think defense wins this game.
St. Charles 28, Newman 20
2 | SLIDELL (5-2, 3-1) at COVINGTON (4-3, 3-1)
What/when: District 6-5A game on Friday at 7 p.m.
On the air: This game will be broadcast live on VSN Louisiana and the Varsity Sports Now app on Apple TV, along with iOS and Android devices. Jim Derry will handle the play by play, and Jim Rapier will offer color analysis.
Last week’s results: Slidell defeated Ponchatoula, 38-17; Covington defeated Hammond, 34-0.
Series record since 2009: Covington leads 7-3, but Slidell won last year, 34-14, on Sept. 28. 2018.
- This is the oldest rivalry in St. Tammany Parish, dating back to 1931, and this will be the 84th meeting all-time. Covington leads the all-time regular-season series, 53-29-1. Prior to last season, the Lions had won seven consecutive games in the series after the Tigers had won five in a row.
- In the series, Covington won the first nine games – with four shutouts – with Slidell’s first win coming in 1942. From 1966 to 1978, the Lions won 13 consecutive games, holding Slidell to six or fewer points in 11 games and keeping the Tigers scoreless in six games.
- This is only the fourth time this century this game has been played in October instead of September, and it’s the first time since 1996 they have faced off in the second half of the regular season.
Jim Derry’s pick
Four weeks ago, it seemed like this long-time rivalry game might be a dud. Slidell was primed to go on a roll to another district title, while Covington was wallowing in an underachieving non-district start. Since then, the Tigers have been steady, while the Lions have completely turned their season around.
That being said, I am not sure why I’m not convinced the Lions are a 6-5A contender. Maybe the St. Paul’s victory wasn’t enough. Maybe I need to see more than just an offense that is winning with a handful of ridiculous big plays from Chandler Washington. Maybe I am nuts.
Whatever the reason, I still think Slidell is the class of the district, and now that they have themselves back as the favorite to win it, I don’t see them letting that fall from their grasp.
Slidell 27, Covington 19
3 | DESTREHAN (4-3, 1-2) at THIBODAUX (6-1, 2-1)
What/when: District 7-5A game on Friday at 7 p.m.
On the air: This game will be broadcast live on VSN Louisiana and the Varsity Sports Now app on Apple TV, along with iOS and Android devices.
Last week’s results: Destrehan lost to East St. John, 14-13; Thibodaux defeated Breaux Bridge, 42-35.
Series record since 2009: Destrehan leads, 7-1, and has won the past seven matchups, including 49-10, on Sept. 28, 2018.
- This is not only the first time in seven years Destrehan has lost as many as three regular-season games, but it’s also been since 2012 they lost multiple district games, when they lost their final three games.
- Last week marked the first time since Week 4 of the 2017 season the Wildcats scored fewer than 14 points in a game and just the second time since then they scored fewer than 22 points – a span of 39 games.
- After a slow start by his standards, Wildcats running back Kyle Edwards has moved into the top 10 in the metro area in rushing – going for 761 yards and seven touchdowns on 129 carries.
- Thibodaux has scored 28 or more points in all but one game this season (a 12-3 victory against South Lafourche in Week 2). They also have allowed 28 or more points in 12 of their past 13 games dating back to last season.
Jim Derry’s pick
I would have lost a lot of money had someone allowed me to bet on Destrehan being 4-3 at this point and in serious danger of going on the road in the first week of the Class 5A playoffs. (Not that I would ever bet on high school football, because only a sick-minded degenerate would ever do such a thing.)
Jokes aside, what the heck is going on? Maybe it’s simply that we’re putting too much stock in this Wildcats team simply because they have “Destrehan” across their chests. That being said, as well as Thibodaux has played, I am not going to be foolish enough to pick against Destrehan when they have their backs tacked up against a wall staring at a potential .500 season.
Destrehan 35, Thibodaux 34
4 | JOHN CURTIS (7-0, 3-0) vs. HOLY CROSS (4-3, 1-2)
What/where/when: Catholic League game at Yulman Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: Curtis defeated Jesuit, 35-14; Holy Cross lost to Rummel, 17-7.
Series record since 2009: Curtis has won all four matchups, including 46-21 on Oct. 19, 2018.
- Holy Cross is looking for their first-ever victory against the Patriots in six all-time games.
- Curtis is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association poll, as they have all season long, and are No. 3 in the Southwest Region (six states) of the USA Today rankings. They also remained 11th in the paper’s national rankings.
- Tigers quarterback John Dade Wooton is sixth in the metro area in passing with 1,482 yards, completing 102 of 169 pass attempts with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. His teammate, Tyler Kirkwood, is sixth in receiving with 626 yards on 33 receptions with six touchdowns.
- John Curtis’ Corey Wren and Collin Guggenheim have combined to rush for 1,374 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.
Jim Derry’s pick
Come playoff time, Holy Cross is one of those teams other Division I foes better watch out for. They can sneak up on just about anyone and have the defense to shut down their opposition.
But, really, can anyone stop this vaunted offense of John Curtis? We might find out the answer next week when they play Rummel, but the Patriots seem to be on their annual mission of conquering and destroying.
Curtis 33, Holy Cross 13
5 | MANDEVILLE (5-2, 3-1) at ST. PAUL’S (4-3, 2-2)
What/when: District 6-5A game on Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: Mandeville lost to Fontainebleau, 28-16; St. Paul’s defeated Northshore, 44-7.
Series record since 2009: St. Paul’s leads, 8-2, and won 14-10 on Oct. 26, 2018.
- Since St. Paul’s moved up from Class 4A to 5A and these two became district mates before the 2001-02 school year, the Wolves have won 10 of the 17 games played between the two. Mandeville won the first four games – all in low-scoring affairs with the Skippers scoring 21 points or fewer in all four wins.
- Four of the past seven games between the two schools have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Skippers haven’t won a game closer than seven points against St. Paul’s since a 10-6 win in 2004.
- Despite a sub-par offensive game last week, Mandeville quarterback Devon Tott and wide receiver Will Sheppard continue to lead the metro area in passing and receiving, respectively. Tott has completed 107 of 175 pass attempts for 1,845 yards with 22 touchdowns against four interceptions. Sheppard is the area’s only receiver with more than 800 yards, and he is 7 yards shy of 1,100 and has scored 18 times.
- The Wolves have allowed 20 or fewer points in all but one game this season and have two shutouts. Over the past three weeks, they have allowed just 27 total points to Northshore, Covington and Hammond.
Jim Derry’s pick
This might be the toughest game to pick across the entire metro area this week. Common sense and logic dictates that as Fontainebleau opened weaknesses in that Mandeville offense, Coach Hutch Gonzales and company will find ways to close those gaps this week.
On the other hand, they’re now going from one of the average defenses in 6-5A that held them to 16 points to the unquestioned top defense in the league. (Sorry, Covington and Slidell.)
So what gives? Eight times out of 10 I go with defense, and nine times out of 10 I’d go with St. Paul’s in a close one simply because they’re St. Paul’s. But I’m not sure they’re going to be able to move the ball all that much, and they have been prone to turn it over in key times during key games.
The Skippers haven’t been able to win a game this season in which they haven’t been able to score at least four touchdowns. Until now.
Mandeville 24, St. Paul’s 21
6 | ST. AUGUSTINE (4-3, 0-3) vs. RUMMEL (7-0, 3-0)
What/where/when: Catholic League game at Joe Yenni Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: St. Augustine defeated Helen Cox, 49-13; Rummel defeated Holy Cross, 17-7.
Series record since 2009: Rummel leads, 7-4, including a 38-14 victory on Nov. 3, 2019.
- These teams had played in Week 10 the past four seasons. They also played in the first-ever Division I semifinals, which Rummel won, 31-28, at Joe Yenni Stadium before going on to win their second consecutive state championship two weeks later in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (The season prior, the Raiders won it in Class 5A, the season before the split.) That game was the last in high school for then-St. Augustine and current Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette.
- Rummel allowed its first touchdown of the season last week – on a third-and-goal run by Holy Cross’ Jaden Handy. This came after the Raiders’ defense had posted three consecutive shutouts and had allowed just six points all season. They now have outscored their opponents 181-13 through seven games.
- Augustine has lost six consecutive Catholic League games and eight out of their past nine. It’s the first six-game losing streak for the Purple Knights in district play since they lost their last game of 2004, didn’t play in 2005 (Hurricane Katrina), went 0-4 in 2006 and lost the league opener in 2007.
- Rummel hasn’t lost to any team other than John Curtis in Catholic League play since falling to St. Aug in the 2017 regular-season finale. In all, the Raiders have won eight of nine District 9-5A games.
Jim Derry’s pick
There’s no question the winner of the Catholic League will be determined next week when Rummel and Curtis face off. And while I’d love to see St. Augustine turn things around after a disastrous few weeks inside the football program, this isn’t really the opponent to help them break their long losing schneid in district games.
Rummel 24, St. Augustine 6
7 | BROTHER MARTIN (6-1) at TERREBONNE (4-3)
What/when: Non-district game on Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: Brother Martin defeated Shaw, 58-21; Terrebonne defeated HL Bourgeois, 37-7.
Series record since 2009: First meeting.
- Because each team plays in a district with an odd number of teams, they will face off against one another while the rest of their respective league mates matchup against one another.
- The Tigers have won 10 out of their past 11 non-district games with their only loss coming earlier this season to Jesuit, a Catholic League foe of Brother Martin’s. The last non-district loss to a non-Catholic League team came in 2016 to Lakeshore, which lost the following week to Franklinton, then hasn’t lost in the regular season since.
- Last week, the Crusaders opened a 23-0 first-quarter lead before running to a 51-0 advantage at halftime against Shaw. Mass substitutions lead to the Eagles putting up 21 on a defense that allowed 31 points total the first five weeks of the season.
- In that first half last week, Brother Martin outgained Shaw, 289 yards to 27 (minus-8 yards rushing). The Eagles had 3 yards rushing in the game.
Jim Derry’s pick
I didn’t need quotes from Coach Mark Bonis to tell me how ticked off Brother Martin was heading into last week after the beatdown they took from Rummel in their previous game. They showed that on the field by destroying Shaw with a ridiculous first half.
Think they’re happy now? You’re joking right?
This Crusaders team is the one team outside the big three – Curtis, Rummel and Catholic – that has any shot at making it to the Dome. Why? Because they are well-coached and play with an edge. They might be a year away, but they know how to put away teams not quite on their level. And no offense to the Tigers, but they’re not on the Crusaders’ level.
Brother Martin 40, Terrebonne 27
8 | PEARL RIVER (5-1, 0-0) at SALMEN (3-4, 0-0)
What/when: District 9-4A game on Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: Pearl River had a bye; Salmen lost to McDonogh 35, 28-6.
Series record since 2009: Salmen leads, 10-1, but Pearl River broke a long losing streak to the Spartans last season with a 28-10 victory on Oct. 19, 2018.
- The Rebels won their first game against Salmen last season since the two teams joined the same district before the start of the 2007-08 school year, as the Rebels moved up from Class 3A, and the Spartans moved down from 5A.
- Even with a bye week last week, Corey Warren of Pearl River continues to lead the metro area in rushing – and by a wide margin – over his opponent’s top rusher in Mikell Marco, who is second. Warren has 105 carries for 1,279 yards with 25 touchdowns in six games, while Marco has 1,052 yards and 15 scores on 125 carries.
- Warren also leads the metro area in scoring with 156 points, 36 more than Darryle Evans of Hahnville.
- Whoever wins this game should get a nice boost in the power ratings. Pearl River currently sits at No. 9 entering district play, while Salmen is 22nd, the highest of any 3-4 team in the state. The Rebels are hoping to host a playoff game for the second consecutive season, which would be the first time they accomplished such a feat since moving up to 4A.
Jim Derry’s pick
Both of these teams are feel-good stories on the North Shore, and both have powerful weapons in Warren and Marco.
And while the Rebels have had a week off to prepare for Salmen, I think last week’s big loss to McDonogh 35 might have served as a wakeup call for them. One can bet Eric Chuter’s squad will be playing with a chip on their shoulders, that’s for sure.
With the potential of a driving rainstorm Friday in Slidell for this one, it’s going to come down to not just who can score first, but maybe who can score, period. Going with my gut in this one.
Salmen 12, Pearl River 7
9 | PONCHATOULA (3-4, 2-2) at FONTAINEBLEAU (3-4, 2-2)
What/when: District 6-5A game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: Ponchatoula lost to Slidell, 38-17; Fontainebleau defeated Mandeville, 28-16.
Series record since 2009: Ponchatoula leads, 6-4, but Fontainebleau has won the past two matchups – 58-34 on Oct. 19, 2018 and 38-21 on Oct. 20, 2017.
- These teams both score points in bunches, and each has an All-State candidate at a skill position. Ponchatoula quarterback and LSU commit TJ Finley is averaging more than 300 yards passing this season, including a 470-yard effort against Mandeville two weeks ago. Bulldogs junior running back Iverson Celestine, who has missed some time this season with a shoulder injury, has rushed for 753 yards and nine touchdowns on 116 carries.
- Ponchatoula and Fontainebleau are 2-3 in District 6-5A in scoring behind high-flying Mandeville, and they are second- and third-to-last in points allowed ahead of only winless Northshore. The Green Wave has scored 238 points over seven games, while Fontainebleau has 225.
- The Bulldogs took a giant leap in the power ratings (from 42nd to 33rd) with a win last week and now are all but guaranteed a spot in the Class 5A playoffs if they can win their final three games against Ponchatoula, Slidell and St. Paul’s. In fact, Fontainebleau might only need to win this week and one of the next two to get in.
- Ponchatoula dropped to 35th in the power ratings and desperately needs to win this one and likely the last two, as well, against St. Paul’s and Hammond to avoid missing the playoffs for the third straight season. Before 2017, Green Wave coach Hank Tierney had only missed the playoffs once in 31 seasons.
Jim Derry’s pick
Dear Mr. Scoreboard Operator, I hope your carpel tunnel has healed a bit from all the times you have had to put scores on the board at the Dawg Pound this season. Unfortunately for you, I expect you will have to wear that wrist brace once again, as Mr. Finley and Mr. Celestine should be doing their thing all night long – no matter the weather.
But speaking of the weather, and getting (slightly) serious for just a moment, with the impending opening of the skies, wouldn’t it make sense to go with the team that runs the ball better in a game like this? I’m no genius, but I am friends with Captain Obvious.
Sorry Bulldogs, no bulletin-board material for you this week.
Fontainebleau 32, Ponchatoula 26
10 | FRANKLINTON (4-3, 0-0) at LAKESHORE (7-0, 0-0)
What/when/where: District 9-4A game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s results: Franklinton lost to St. Charles, 35-6; Lakeshore defeated Westgate, 35-13.
Series record since 2009: Franklinton leads, 5-3, but Lakeshore has won the past two matchups – 52-7 on Oct. 19, 2018 and 59-22 on Oct. 19, 2017.
- Lakeshore remained second in the Class 4A power ratings, just fractions of a point behind No. 1 Tioga. The Titans were top-ranked in the LSWA state poll for the second consecutive week.
- The Titans’ 29-game regular-season winning streak is the longest active such streak in the state across any classification. Not only that, only one of those wins has come by fewer than 17 points – a 48-41 win over Fontainebleau in Week 1 of this season.
- Franklinton, with a power rating of 15 in Class 4A, has a balanced offensive attack, as senior quarterback Jasper Lasalle has passed for 1,075 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions, while senior running back Mike Martin has gained nearly 5 yards per carry with 550 yards total rushing with 14 touchdowns.
Jim Derry’s pick
I was thinking about making one of those picks where you make the obvious choice but be kind to the losing pick, simply because they are a good team that just happens to be running into a chainsaw.
But when you look at the stats presented above, how could this possibly be picked to be a close game? I have seen a few runs like this over my time watching prep football, but not many. And I don’t think it’s going to end until 2020.
Lakeshore 44, Franklinton 13
PICKS FROM OTHER METRO-AREA GAMES
West Jefferson over Grace King
Ehret over East Jefferson
Hammond over Northshore
Carver over Kennedy
De La Salle over Haynes
Springfield over Pope John Paul II
Country Day over Ben Franklin
Hahnville over HL Bourgeois
East St. John over Central Lafourche
Bonnabel over Riverdale
Chalmette over Higgins
Jesuit over Shaw
Belle Chasse over Helen Cox
Karr over Landry-Walker
Lusher over Livingston Collegiate
Hannan over Jewel Sumner
St. James over Berwick
McDonogh 35 over Douglass (3:30 p.m.)
Sophie B. Wright over Abramson Sci
Kenner Discovery over Thomas Jefferson
St. Thomas Aquinas over Northlake Christian
South Plaquemines over Cohen
Ecole Classique over Ridgewood
Riverside over St. Martin’s
Booker T. Washington over Bogalusa
Warren Easton over McMain
JIM DERRY’S PICKS RECORD
Top 10 games: 7-3. All Week 7 games: 31-4 (.886)
Top 10 games: 51-19 (.729). Overall: 215-50 (.811)