LEESVILLE – As expected, the level of competition for Leesville has gotten higher the deeper it goes into the playoffs, and with a chance to play in the Class 4A semifinals on the line, the Wampus Cats will have to bring their A-game.
No. 6 Leesville travels to No. 3 St. Martinville Friday in a battle of undefeated teams to get one step closer to a trip to New Orleans.
"They're massive up front," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "They have a 350-pound tackle. They average about 260 everywhere else. The quarterback is a Division I athlete, and the tailback is a 210-pound athlete. They have good receivers that make one-handed catches.
"This is a culmination of everything. You don't get here by accident. You have to have talent and have some luck. Luck is when preparation and opportunity meet. We've been preparing for this moment since last year when we got beat out before Thanksgiving."
The Tigers are led by quarterback Markavon Williams and running back Travien Benjamin, and Causey says their speed is like nothing his team has seen this season.
"They are going to line up in I-pro and run isos, counters and kickouts," he said. "They can line up in the gun and run traps, sweeps and counters. Their passing game is spread out and vertical. They just do it better than 12 other teams. They are one of the top eight teams in the state and rightfully so. They are, at this point, the best team we've played so far."
St. Martinville (12-0) averages 41 points a game on offense, while its defense has been solid all season, giving up 17.8 points a contest.
"Defensively, they're huge in the middle and athletic everywhere else," Causey said. "They're basic, but they get after you. They're a typical St. Martinville football team. They're fast and physical on defense and make you earn everything."
Like every week, the Wampus Cats are focused on working on themselves, rather than changing their scheme to match up with their opponent.
"It keeps you in a habit," Causey said. "If you start the season with that mentality, and you get to the point where you have to win to stay in, you keep everybody on an even keel. It's about how you prepare and what you focus on. You look at what your opponent does and their strengths and weaknesses, and you have to stop what they do best. You're still working on your opponent, but it's all about us."
Leesville is coming off a 27-14 win over No. 11 Assumption, and the Wampus Cats made adjustments early in the game to counter the size of the big Assumption running backs.
"You cannot replicate size or speed, no matter how hard the second team guys try," Causey said. "You're never going to get it. You know going in that you have to be quick with your adjustments. We try to prepare the best we can for that. This year, we've been blessed with kids that learn to adjust quickly. This week, it's going to be speed."
The Wampus Cats and Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Martinville High School.