There are 20 teams out there within 24 hours of a trip to the Nokia Sugar Bowl Prep Classic. Let's take a look at the 10 games and what teams stand the best chance of making it to Shreveport.
Class 5A: A month ago, we predicted the five state champions, and four are still alive, including West Monroe. All signs point to the Rebels making it to Shreveport, and I would have to say Catholic High's advancement to the semifinal round impresses me. I'll predict the Hahnville-Acadiana game will be closer, and look for West Monroe vs. Acadiana in the 5A title game.
Class 4A: This is the most interesting class. Breaux Bridge is another one of those teams we predicted a month ago to win it all, and I consider Neville and Bastrop two of those teams that have surprised me in making it this far, though the Rams benefitted greatly from post-Katrina migration. Bastrop has been outstanding in the regular season during the six years I've been at The Times but has also traditionally come up short of expectations in the playoffs, at least in my view.
On the other hand, Ouachita is still in something of a rebuilding mode, and Bastrop is a more complete team. Look for the Rams and Breaux Bridge in Shreveport.
Class 3A: Who can figure the Benton Tigers? Perhaps they are destined to make it to Independence Stadium. I expected them to fall in each of their first two games, so nothing would surprise me now, but Redemptorist should be favored.
Notre Dame should be favored, too, though Independence knocked out our one wrong state champ pick, so far: Patterson.
Class 2A: Surprise! John Curtis should win, and let's take Sterlington in the other. St. Charles, with two of three easy wins in the playoffs, would appear to have a better chance to win than OCS, especially at home.
Class 1A: I told coach Dennis Dunn before his Southern Lab game it would be the Eagles' toughest challenge, but people with the Kittens program talked up the Kangaroos' chances after that second-round game. At the same time, Evangel always plays its best at this time of year. Kentwood will need a perfect game.
Both Opelousas Catholic and St. John had close games last week, so neither may have an emotional advantage. Though many coaches says every athlete should be up for a shot at a to state championship trip, I don't think that's realistic. St. John gets great credit for knocking off Oak Grove, but it probably required more resolve. I'll pick Opelousas Catholic at home.
- Brian McCallum