BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/ Consulting Writer
After disposing of regional round higher-seeded opponents, Opelousas and Northwest are now aiming for the Division II semifinals.
If both St. Landry Parish football programs are successful in reaching the next postseason steps, they will be confronted with eliminating a pair of road opponents in quarterfinal games scheduled this Friday night.
Opelousas (9-3) faces defending Division II champion Lutcher, while Northwest (9-3) goes to Assumption High in Napoleonville.
The Tigers will be playing a quarterfinal-round playoff game for the first time since 1994 when the program reached the semifinals.
Northwest, which began football in 1991, has never reached the semifinal round of the state playoffs. The Raiders advanced to the semifinals in 2017, but lost to West Feliciana in a game played in Prairie Ronde.
On Friday night No. 12 Opelousas eliminated West Feliciana 14-0, while Northwest, seeded No 22, defeated No. 6 Wossman (24-14).
A victory over fourth-seeded Lutcher will move Opelousas into a semifinal round matchup with either top-seeded North DeSoto or eighth-seeded Iowa.
The Northwest-Assumption winner plays either 10th-seeded Jennings or No. 2 Cecilia, which is one of three teams to defeat Opelousas this season.
What The Coaches Are Saying
Northwest head football coach Chris Edwards is no stranger to the playoffs.
Edwards has coached most of the Raiders’ football program postseason appearances, including a couple of quarterfinal games, since 2014.
For Zachery, who is in his fourth year at Opelousas High, this marks the third straight year that the Tigers have moved into the postseason.
Assumption, according to Edwards, will present the Raiders’ defense with some issues.
“They (Assumption) defeated Lutcher for the district championship, so they are a quality team.
The kids talked about (the quarterfinals) after the (Wossman) game and they have adopted that idea when you look at each week it’s going to be 1-0, trying to get the next game,” Edwards said.
Zachery said the Tigers have benefitted from playing all but three of their 2023 games on the road.
“I think all the games we played away this year have gotten us ready for those hostile environments you meet in the playoffs. It looks like we play on the road for the rest of the season, so it’s not like anything we haven’t already seen,” added Zachery.
The Raiders’ defense limited Wossman to 129 rushing yards and another 84 passing.
Edwards said Northwest forced Wossman to use the throwing game, something he said made his opponent uncomfortable.
Wossman led (6-0) on an 11-yard, first quarter pass from quarterback Tristen Wooten to Zion Weeks.
Northwest broke the game open later in the first period when Samuel Leday returned a kickoff 78 yards for the first Raiders’ touchdown. It was the third touchdown for Leday this season, according to Edwards.
The Raiders also received a pair of touchdowns from senior running back Javian Reese, who gained 112 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
Reed scored on a three-yard run in the third period, while added another TD on a five-yard run.
The Tigers received touchdowns on a Corey Fontenot 30-yard pass reception from quarterback Zach Malveaux and another from 20 yards out by De’Shaunn Ford in the fourth period.
“I thought our defense came out and did a good job. We were able to put a lot of guys in the box, so we could force (West Feliciana) to cut back inside. Our guys really did their jobs,” Zachery said.