Louisiana's five-week high school football playoffs begin this weekend with 32-team fields in five enrollment classes. Below are a look at some of the better matchups of the first rounds involving some of the state's top prospects. Better matchups will certainly follow in coming weeks, with more head-to-head matchups involving the state's best players:
No. 30 Denham Springs (5-5) at No. 3 West Monroe (7-2): LSU DL commit Tevin Lawson and Arkansas commit Kaleb Blanchard hit the road to play 5A's premier power, which features one of the nation's top juniors in offensive lineman Cameron Robinson.
No. 31 Houma/Terrebonne (6-4) at No. 2 Lake Charles/Barbe (9-1): Barbe has one of the state's most prolific passing attacks with 2014 QB Kennon Fontenot, who will likely play college baseball because of his height (5-foot-10) throwing to 2013 ESPN 150 tight end Desean Smith and 2014 ESPN Watch List WR Trey Quinn, the state's leading receiver.
No. 29 Shreveport/Woodlawn (4-5) at No. 4 Lafayette/Teurlings Catholic (9-1): Woodlawn, once a quarterback factory that produced NFL stars Terry Bradshaw and Joe Ferguson, has been a defensive line school lately. A year ago, DE Torshiro Davis surprised many when he flipped from LSU to Texas on signing day. This year, four-star DT Christopher Robinson is one of the state's top players. Teurlings features Connor Cronin, a 6-foot-6 senior quarterback who has been under the radar after sitting out last season following a transfer from Baton Rouge/University.
No. 23 Alexandria (5-5) at No. 10 New Orleans/St. Augustine (7-3): Alexandria features three-star linebacker Shaan Washington, a Texas A&M-bound prospect. He'll face off with perhaps 2014's top running back in St. Augustine's Leonard Fournette.
No. 22 Jackson/East Feliciana (5-3) at No. 11 Columbia/Caldwell Parish (7-2): The state's top player, EFHS's Kendell Beckwith, is facing possible elimination as an underdog that has to hit the road to north Louisiana. If East Feliciana loses, the focus will go to where Beckwith will attend college. But he's also a player who can inspire an upset.
No. 18 LaPlace/St. Charles Catholic (7-2) at No. 15 Westlake (6-3): St. Charles is the defending state champion, but it must begin its playoff quest on the road, taking on a Westlake team that features TE Jacory Washington, a member of the 2014 ESPN Watch List.
No. 30 Jonesboro/Jonesboro-Hodge (4-6) at Baton Rouge/University (9-1): One of the state's most prospect-laded teams, "U-High," as locals call it, features ESPN 150 defensive end Tim Williams, 2013 Watch List OL Garrett Brumfield and highly-regarded 2014 RB Nick Brossette. Like other top 2A contenders River Ridge/John Curtis (ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings), Shreveport/Evangel, Shreveport/Calvary and Winnfield, U-High should not have any problem in early rounds.