W.L. Cohen (6-4) at Sterlington (8-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Hosting a first round playoff game for the sixth consecutive year, the Sterlington Panthers tangle with the W.L. Cohen College Prep Green Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. Sterlington is the No. 4 seed while Cohen is No. 29.
Cohen has come a long way over the past two seasons. Following an 0-9 2016 campaign, the Green Hornets from New Orleans improved to 4-6 last season. Winners of five of their last six, Cohen (6-4) is assured of a winning record in 2018 after finishing second to Sophie B. Wright in the District 9-3A standings.
Sterlington will see a different look this week as the Green Hornets operate from the single wing. Quarterback Clay Essex and running back Jamal Green, a pair of juniors, are the principal playmakers. Senior center Maron Thomas is the pillar of the offensive line.
Cohen got off to a 1-3 start with losses to Pearl River (55-16) and Springfield (22-12), a win over The Church Academy (26-7) and a loss to South Plaquemines (19-8). Righting the ship, the Green Hornets went on a four-game winning streak at the expense of St. Martin's Episcopal (54-0), Ben Franklin (52-0), Sci Academy (34-12) and KIPP Renaissance (34-6) before falling to Sophie B. Wright (27-8). Closing out the regular season in emphatic fashion last week, the Green Hornets blanked Thomas Jefferson 62-0.
Sterlington (8-2), the District 2-3A champion, brings a five-game winning streak into the postseason. In pre-conference play, the Panthers defeated West Ouachita (35-21) and Ouachita Christian (22-20), lost to Oak Grove (20-14), beat Loyola (34-13) and bowed to Calvary Baptist (37-20). Capturing their second straight conference championship, the Panthers went 5-0 in district play with wins over Carroll (52-26), Wossman (43-34), Madison Parish (45-0), Union Parish (31-20) and Richwood (48-21).
Powered by the front wall of Trey Rugg, Tyler Hitt, Braden Bruscato, Brock Risinger and Jack Anderson, the Panthers average 292.6 yards rushing per game and 7.2 yards per carry.
Averaging 9.6 ypc, tailback Dallas Reagor has been called upon 161 times for 1,539 yards and 16 touchdowns. Fullback Jordan Townsend has contributed 492 yards and seven touchdowns on 72 attempts, highlighted by a 17-carry, 125-yard effort vs. Wossman.
Quarterback Hayes Crockett has completed 35-of-70 passing attempts for 650 yards and eight touchdowns without throwing an interception. With the district championship on the line at Union two weeks ago, Crockett responded with his best game to this point by connecting on 7-of-8 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Layton Rainbolt is the Panthers' primary receiver with 14 catches for 249 yards and five scores. He has also returned 14 kickoffs for a 22.7-yard average, including an 85-yard touchdown, while running back six punts at a 15.8-yard clip.
Wide receiver Clay Vaughn has hauled in seven passes for 224 yards and a touchdown while averaging a staggering 32 yards per catch. In addition, he is averaging 34.2 yards on 20 punts.
Leading the way for the Panthers defensively are linebacker Willie Holloway (83 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 1 sack), linebacker/defensive back Cole Jones (83 tackles, 6 TFL, 4 sacks), cornerback Trey Eddins (57 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 INTs) and end Justin Fuller (53 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks).
POWs: Sterlington's Week 10 Players of the Week for the Richwood game were strong tackle Trey Rugg (offense), free safety Reece Brooks (defense) and Clay Vaughn (special teams).
Rugg graded out at over 80 percent in the Richwood game while Brooks tallied a career-high 14 tackles and an interception. Vaughn punted only once while catching two passes for 38 yards.
NEXT: The Cohen-Sterlington victor advances to play the No. 20 West Feliciana-No. 13 Church Point winner. West Feliciana is the defending state champion.