West Monroe visits Dutchtown at 7 p.m. Friday for the 2nd Round of the 2017 LHSAA Class 5A Football playoffs.
LA 105.3 FM will broadcast the game live on the radio and the iheartradio app.
A live stream video of the game will be available at wmhs.tv West Monroe, the top seed, has some concerns with the No. 17-seed Griffins and also some distinct advantages in the game that we will look at today.
First let us get the negatives out of the way, the obvious disadvantage for the Rebels (11-0) is that Dutchtown is at home. The Rebels will be making by far its longest road trip as it travels to Ascension Parish.
West Monroe played two scrimmages and one regular season game in Shreveport but this is even further away from the friendly confines of Don Shows Field at Rebel Stadium.
The other potential pitfall is the Rebels have lost in the second round of the playoffs 4 of the past 10 years.
Only one of those, the 2015 season at Ponchatoula, was on the road. West Monroe is 13-4 in road playoff games since 2000. Now let us look at the three phases of the game.
West Monroe has Alabama commit and defending 2-5A player of the year Slade Bolden at quarterback. Bolden has scored 102 touchdowns in his career. The Rebels also feature another 1,000 yard rusher in junior running back Cameron Wright. The Rebels can throw the ball when the situation allows, but keeping a grinding running game going and keeping the Dutchtown offense off the field is essential this week. DHS scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half to defeat Slidell last week. Dutchtown is led by an alternating set of quarterbacks in Drelon Monroe and Noah Gray. Gray plays slot receiver when he is not under center. The Griffins lost starting quarterback Ben Mays due to a broken leg three weeks ago against Catholic-Baton Rouge.
ADVANTAGE: WEST MONROE
West Monroe is led by defending Class 5A state defensive player of the year John Bailey Gullatt. Gullatt is deciding on scholarship offers from Ivey League schools Yale and Princeton. Brooks Miller (4 interceptions), Carson Jones, and Isaiah George lead a defensive backfield that will again be tested. Anchoring the defensive line is Ethan Swanner, Dalvin Hutchinson and Andrew Gleason. WMHS has given up just 16.0 points per game over the course of the year and down to 13.0 ppg over the past five weeks.
Dutchtown (7-4) is led on defense by Van’Shon Grayson. Grayson comes as the next in a great line of defensive back/return specialist for the Griffins that include former LSU Tiger Eric Reid and former Alabama Crimson Tide star Landon Collins. Dutchtown has given up 18 points per game this season yet has pitched three shutouts and also held McKinley to 14 points two weeks ago. DHS head coach Guy Mistretta has made quite a name for himself as a great defensive coach and has led two different schools (Livonia and Redemptorist) to state titles.
ADVANTAGE: WEST MONROE
West Monroe kickers Reece Aultman and Jones have been steady this season. The return game with Max Hunter and Co. has seen its own bright spots too. The punting unit of the Rebels, while not being tested a lot this season, has been solid as well.
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