McDonogh #35 (5-5) at Bastrop (7-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Though Bastrop has never played McDonogh #35 before, the Roneagles from New Orleans have a familiar look to the Rams. As the No. 9 seed, the Rams (7-2) host the Roneagles (5-5) Friday night at 7:00 in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Bastrop coach Adrian Burnette says the Roneagles bear a striking resemblance to such New Orleans powers as No. 1 seed and two-time defending state champion Edna Karr, No. 2 Warren Easton and No. 19 George Washington Carver.
Bouncing back from a 20-19 loss to Bastrop, Carver went on to win the District 10-4A championship with McDonogh finishing second.
"One of the reasons we put Carver on the schedule is that to get through the playoffs, you have to fight through the New Orleans teams," Burnette said. "One may have more athletes than the other in a given year, but Karr, Warren Easton, Carver and McDonogh #35 are all similar. They all run a similar scheme, and they all have long athletes and speed. It's just a different culture down there."
There's a familiarity between the coaches, too. Burnette, a former offensive coordinator at St. Augustine, and 35 defensive coordinator Frank Daggs are long-time friends and talk regularly throughout the season.
Ironically, the Roneagles visited Bastrop last season in the first round of the state basketball playoffs. McDonogh edged the Rams 54-51 en route to advancing to the state semifinals as a No. 18 seed.
McDonogh opened the season with a 27-6 loss to St. Aug, followed by wins over L.W. Higgins (23-0) and East St. John (16-14), a 31-16 setback to Helen Cox, a 14-7 victory over Carencro and a 35-6 loss to Karr. Stepping into district play, the Roneagles beat Riverdale 26-20 and lost to Carver 28-0, followed by a 64-0 non-league loss to Warren Easton. Returning to 10-4A play last week, McDonogh ended the regular season on a positive note with a 34-13 triumph over John F. Kennedy.
Quarterback Manuel Armstrong, running back Steveland Williams and wide receivers Shateek Stewart and Frank Robertson are among the Roneagles' offensive playmakers.
Spearheading the defense is safety Jesse Lawrence.
Coming off of back-to-back first round playoffs exits, the Rams are seeking their first playoff victory since reaching the 2015 quarterfinals. Bastrop lost to Livonia at home in 2016, followed by a 50-24 setback to Carver last year in New Orleans.
Bastrop started the season 5-0 with wins over Carver, Airline (18-13), Calvary Baptist (41-6), Richwood (42-8) and Holy Savior Menard (58-0) before closing out pre-district play with in New Orleans with a 28-25 loss to Brother Martin. In league play, the Rams defeated Franklin Parish 47-20 and West Ouachita 32-10 before dropping a 17-12 decision to No. 4 Neville last Thursday.
Offensive leaders for the Rams include quarterback Quaterius Hawkins, receivers Christian Smith and Calvert Johnson and center Carter Ellison.
Setting the tone on the defensive side are end T.J. Blanch, linebacker Germany Powell and cornerback Phillip Jackson.
The McDonogh #35-Bastrop winner will face the No. 25 Westgate-No. 8 Plaquemine winner in the second round.
Other first-round pairings have No. 32 Minden at No. 1 Edna Karr, No. 17 Tioga at No. 16 Benton,
No. 25 Westgate at No. 8 Plaquemine, No. 28 DeRidder at No. 5 Lakeshore, No. 21 Cecilia at No. 12 Livonia, No. 20 Franklin Parish at No. 13 Pearl River, No. 29 Opelousas at No. 4 Neville, No. 30 Franklinton at No. 3 St. Martinville, No. 19 G.W. Carver at No. 14 Belle Chasse, No. 22 Carencro at No. 11 Assumption, No. 27 Woodlawn (Shreveport) at No. 6 Leesville, No. 26 South Terrebonne at No. 7 Northwood (Shreveport), No. 23 Helen Cox at No. 10 North DeSoto, No. 18 Lutcher at No. 15 Breaux Bridge and No. 31 Rayne at No. 2 Warren Easton.