Wayne Hooper Memorial Stadium will be packed tonight when Sam Houston hosts Barbe in a battle for control of District 3-5A.
The two teams currently share the top spot in the district with Class 5A No. 5 Acadiana (5-0, 2-0), who will host Comeaux today.
The game will be an aerial battle pitting the top two big school quarterbacks in Southwest Louisiana in Barbe’s (4-1, 2-0) Davis Meche and Sam Houston’s (4-1, 2-0) Kyle Bartley.
“We are very similar on everything that we do,” Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera said. “The kids picked up on things very well this week.
“Hopefully we can go out and execute well on Friday. We know our kids are going to be fired up to go and we know their kids are going to be fired up. One of our goals is to win a district championship and it will put us in that position. We are just looking to improve every week.”
Bartley, a three-year starter who is approaching 5,000 career passing yards, has thrown for 1,481 yards and 18 touchdowns with three interceptions this season.
“He is a good athlete and can run and throw,” Cutrera said. “He does a good job of running that offense and looks very good.”
Meche started at safety last year but quickly adapted to his new role with a 72 percent completion percentage (84-117-2, 1,311 yards, 15 TDs).
“You go from safety to quarterback that just tells you right off the bat how tough Meche is,” Sam Houston head coach Chad Paulk said. “Meche is a competitor and a winner.
“Bartley is the same type of guy. He is a competitor, a winner and loves what he is doing. That is two quarterbacks going head-to-head on a Friday night and that is what high school football is all about.”
The two quarterbacks have four of the top six SWLA big school receivers to throw to in Barbe’s Chandler Ware and Devin Bates and Sam Houston’s Tavyen Grice and Luke Yuhasz.
Bates is the Bucs’ big-play threat with 19 catches for 382 yards and five touchdowns while Ware is the area’s top receiver with 43 catches for 682 yards and seven touchdowns. Grice and Yuhasz have combined for 1,076 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns.
“Devin Bates is the fastest and most explosive player on their team,” Paulk said. “He presents issues with anybody because of his speed and athletic ability.
“And they have Ware. He is the kind of the leader of their offense. They are dangerous and it is the best offensive line we have faced all year long.”
Barbe has a strong ground game that averages 173 yards a game behind tailback Dylan Lewis (58 car., 434 yards, 5 TDs).
“I think they run the ball very effectively,” Paulk said. “It sets up their pass. We have to try to stop the run early on and put some pressure on Meche and force him to think fast. That will help a lot of the pass game with all the play action they do.”
Southside at Sulphur
Sulphur defense shut down a high-scoring offense last week but came up a little short in an 11-10 loss to Lafayette. But the lessons learned could pay off this week when the Tors host Southside for homecoming.
Southside (3-2, 0-2) is the state’s newest Class 5A school and started its first varsity season 3-0 before losses to District 3-5A powers Barbe and Acadiana.
“Southside is a new school but most of these kids played at Comeaux or other schools the last couple of years, so they are good too,” Sulphur co-interim head coach Jean Paul Duhon said. “Everyone in our district is good. “
Sulphur’s defensive line of ends Chaz Schrumpf and Trenton Lecoq and tackles Austin Broussard and Hazen Martin harrassed Lafayette quarterback Xan Saunier last week. Southside has a similar quarterback in Dillon Monette. The junior has completed 71 of 126 passes for 1,136 yards and 12 touchdowns and has a pair of big threat receivers in Rhett Peloquin and Jack Pruitt, who have combined for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“The defensive line got a lot of pressure on that guy (Saunier) and he wasn’t able to sit back and throw the ball where he wanted to,” Duhon said. “He had to move around.
“They like to throw the ball like Lafayette, so we got some practice against Lafayette. Hopefully, our kids keep the intensity up. So far our kids have had a good week of practice. They are good on offense. All of their receivers are good and their offensive line is bigger than they look on film. It is going to be another challenge. We are going to have to get back there and make him move around in the pocket.”
Sulphur’s offense staked the Tors to a 10-0 lead by halftime last week but went scoreless in the second half. Duhon chalked it up to the Tors learning a new offense mid-season but said it will get better. Sulphur tailback D.J. Harris (103 rushing yards) and quarterback Jacob Clark (167 passing yards) posted season-high marks in yards.
“With the situation that we are in we got Coach Kirby to do his offense because he was handcuffed for a while,” Duhon said. “They had two days of practice last week learning it, so it is going to get better.
“He did a good job managing the clock. There were a couple of turnovers here and there with some of our younger kids and a couple of penalties, but we told them stuff is going to happen and just keep playing hard. I think the kids see now that if they play hard, they will always have a shot.”