The two teams went toe-to-toe twice in 2011 with Church Point claiming the regular-season meeting and Rayne pulling off a shocking 22-14 upset of the Bears in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
This year, both teams are vying for the league title and both are unbeaten in District 5-3A play.
Needless to say, the magnitude of this year’s matchup goes without saying.
“This is a big game,” said Church Point coach John Craig Arceneaux, whose Bears travel to Rayne Thursday evening (7). “It’s a big district game, it’s a big parish rivalry game.
“There’s your typical teenage trash talk going on between the kids, but as for as our approach as coaches, it’s another game and we’re going to try and prepare them as best we can.”
For Rayne, the matchup has far more implications than just bragging rights.
“It’s always big when you play Church Point,” said Ware. “It’s a rivalry no matter what.
“The magnitude is tenfold because if we win this one, it sets up a showdown with Eunice next week. It would be a step in the right direction as for as a district championship goes and, also, you have to look at seedings. If we win out, we can possibly be a top 4 seed. So this is a huge game.”
Rayne, the No. 6-ranked team in the LSWA Class 3A polls, enters the contest with an unblemished record of 7-0 in the wake of a 58-13 throttling of Port Barre last Friday.
Offensively, the Wolves are averaging a whooping 33.7 points per outing. Senior tailback Jalen Williams leads Acadia Parish in rushing with 1,074 yards and 13 touchdowns on 137 carries.
However, Williams isn’t the Wolves’ lone threat.
Fullback Trent Duhon has racked up 711 yards and eight touchdowns on 94 carries and Javon Cormier has 212 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries.
Quarterback Clarence Leger is also a dual threat. He has rushed for 103 yards on 28 carries and has thrown for 261 yards and three touchdowns, all to tight end Dannie Harmon who has seven receptions for 165 yards.
“When you have a back like Jalen, Clarence doing a good job at quarterback and you have threats like Dannie and Trent, you’ve got some weapons,” said Arceneaux. “And they do a good job of mixing it up.
“They are doing a good job, they have some explosive kids and they’re pretty good up front on the offensive line. It’s not an accident that they’re scoring a bunch of points.”
Church Point will counter with an offense that has averaged just over 21 points a game. However, the Bears have posted big numbers the last two weeks, outscoring Port Barre and Northwest 75-5 in a pair of district victories.
“We were just very inconsistent on offense early in the year,” said Arceneaux, who lost starting quarterback Jake Morvant to injury in the first week of the season. “We were depending on Jake to carry us on offense and losing him in Week 1, it has just taken us several weeks to just kind of find a rhythm on offense.
“We lost a couple linemen early in the year and had to play some young kids; it’s just taken some time for it all to come together. We’ve been fortunate and able to put it together the last two weeks.”
The Bears got a big game from tailback James Bellard last week. The junior rushed 11 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-7 victory over Northwest. Devin Landry also broke loose for 131 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
“The main change with Church Point is that they have kind of abandoned the pistol (offense) and went back to what they always have done with the wing-t,” said Ware of the Bears’ offense. “They don’t run a lot of plays, but the plays they do run, they run real well and they have a lot of speed in the backfield.”
Church Point’s strength, however, has been its defense.
The Bears have given up 118 points in seven games for an average of 16.8 points. But the bulk of those points were in just two games. They gave up 44 points to offensive juggernaut Catholic of New Iberia and 57 to Erath. In their other five games, the Bears have pitched two shutouts and limited their opponents to just 17 points.
“You’ve got a real good player in the nose guard position, you’ve got two real good linebackers and a really good secondary,” said Ware of the Bears’ defense. “The only place they’re a little inexperienced at is the defensive tackles. Everybody else has played and they’re good on defense.
“I expect it to be a tough football game and it may even come down to special teams and turnovers.
“I think we’ve improved on defense as the season has gone on and I think they’ve improved on offense.”