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Russell Hedges

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There are a lot of things that are easy to measure in football. All kinds of statistics — yards, pass completions, turnover margin, points per game, etc.
But there is one thing that’s not so easy to measure — what’s inside a player.
Call it heart, guts or whatever you want, the players on the three Bossier Parish teams who played in the second-round of the playoffs last week had it.
The Benton Tigers got on a bus Friday morning bound for Metairie where the defending Class 4A state champion East Jefferson Warriors awaited. All the Tigers did was dominate the Warriors, winning 31-19.
When East Jefferson returned a fumble almost the length of the field and scored two plays later to make it a five-point game with about five minutes left, Benton simply drove down the field and put the game away with a touchdown with 50 seconds remaining.
Haughton hosted a team in the 5A playoffs with an identical record, the Hahnville Tigers. The Bucs were seeded seven spots higher but basically considered a big underdog. Hahnville came in on a six-game roll, averaging 50 points per game during the streak. The Tigers had lost to defending Division I state champion Rummel, now 10-0, by six early in the season. They had two big-time recruits at wide receiver.
I kept hearing that Hahnville was possibly as good as any team in the state, including Byrd and Parkway, teams that blew out the Bucs.
But with just less than four minutes remaining, Haughton led 14-13. Then the Tigers picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. They went on to win 28-14, getting a late TD after Haughton turned the ball over on downs deep in its own territory.
The Bucs finished the season 9-3 after putting forth an outstanding effort.
At Plain Dealing, a steady rain Friday turned the field into a mudhole. That made things difficult for the Lions’ wide-open spread offense. To be fair, it didn’t help the Block Bears’ tight Wing-T run-oriented offense either.
In the end, the Lions got some big plays from Logan Allen, Isaac Jacobs and the defense and found a way to win, beating the Bears 16-6.
And so Plain Dealing and Benton move on.
The No. 6 seed Lions (9-2) travel to the Southeast Louisiana town of Edgard to face No. 3 West St. John (9-2) on Friday in the 1A quarterfinals.
The No. 4 seed Tigers (10-2) host No. 5 Warren Easton (10-2) in the 4A quarterfinals. It will be Benton’s first quarterfinal appearance since 2009.
Benton’s outstanding defense will get its toughest test yet. The Fighting Eagles average 44 points per game and have a quarterback, Deshawn Capers-Smith, that has committed to Texas A&M.
Before the season, Warren Easton was ranked nationally in at least one poll thanks mostly to winning a national 7-on-7 tournament during the summer.
Plain Dealing will be going up against a traditional 1A power. West St. John’s only losses were to 5A Holy Cross and undefeated Riverside. On the other hand, Plain Dealing’s only losses were to Benton by a point and defending 1A state champion Haynesville by six.
I’m sure there are those that are thinking, “How can Benton, which has a freshman quarterback, possibly beat Warren Easton, which has a big-time senior college prospect at quarterback?”
On paper, the Lions and Tigers are no doubt underdogs.
But as the old saying goes, they don’t play the games on paper. They play them on the field.
And as we saw last week, out there anything can happen.

OPINION

Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at rhedges@bossierpress.com

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Class 4A

Warren Easton vs. Benton

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Benton’s Tiger Stadium
LAST WEEK: Warren Easton def. Peabody 57-20, Benton def. East Jefferson 31-19
RECORDS: Warren Easton 10-2, Benton 10-2
PLAYOFF SEEDS: Warren Easton No. 5, Benton No. 4
WARREN EASTON NOTES: Fighting Eagles were ranked nationally in some preseason polls … Easton’s losses were to Woodlawn-B.R. 28-21 in Week 4 and Karr 34-33 in Week 10 … Fighting Eagles averaging 44.3 points per game overall and 59.5 in playoffs
BENTON NOTES: Benton in quarterfinals for first time since 2009 … Tigers QB Garrett Hable passed for 176 yards and two TDs against E. Jefferson … Tyler Stephens caught five passes for 61 yards and a TD … Keon Coleman led the defense with 11 tackles
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Benton — LB Gage Carroway, DB Xavier Washington, RB TJ Anderson. Warren Easton — QB Deshawn Capers-Smith, WR Darrell Clark, WR Tyron Johnson

Class 1A

Plain Dealing vs. West. St. John

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Edgard
LAST WEEK: Plain Dealing def. Block 16-6, West St. John def. Varnado 51-0
RECORDS: Plain Dealing 9-2, West St. John 9-2
PLAYOFF SEEDS: Plain Dealing No. 6, West St. John No. 3
PLAIN DEALING NOTES: Plain Dealing QB Logan Allen threw for 199 yards and a TD last week, giving him 2,774 and 29 on the season … Allen also returned a fumble for a TD … Isaac Jacobs caught a TD pass and kept his streak of games with TD catches alive
WEST ST. JOHN NOTES: Rams averaging 39 points per game … West St. John’s only losses to 5A Holy Cross 28-8 and undefeated Riverside 44-21 … Rams have allowed only 12 points in last three games. … School suffered a tragedy when QB coach Juan Joseph was shot to death in Baton Rouge the Sunday before the playoff opener
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Plain Dealing — RB Desean Morris, LB Herb McCauley, LB Bijan Mitchell. West St. John — QB Jemoine Green, WR Morrell Bartholomew, WR Jabari Walters

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The Haughton and Airline girls and the Airline boys posted basketball victories Tuesday night.

The Haughton girls defeated Minden 58-51 at Minden. Minden returned the favor in the boys game, downing the Bucs 73-47.

The Airline boys defeated Plain Dealing 79-63 at Plain Dealing. The Airline girls knocked off the Lady Lions 59-44.

Elsewhere, the Bossier Lady Kats fell to Fair Park 67-52 in the Thanksgiving Classic.

At Haughton, Lomia Watkins tossed in 16 points and Cassandra Simmons added 12 to lead the Lady Bucs (3-1) to the victory. Chelcy Swint and Ebone’ Green scored nine each.

Haughton led as many as 10 points in the second half, but Minden got as close as four late in the game thanks to a couple of 3-pointers. The Lady Bucs hit a couple of free throws and made some defensive stops to keep the Lady Tiders at bay.

In the boys game, the Crimson Tide took an early lead and steadily pulled away. Anfernee Red proved to much for the Bucs to handle inside. He led Minden with 23 points. JJ Sneed contributed 14 points.

Two players who played their final football game last Friday led Haughton (2-2) in scoring. Javonte Woodard had 14 and Ja’Marcia Banks 10.

At Plain Dealing, Kei McCoy continued her hot start to the season, leading Airline (3-0) with 23 points. Tyra Kidd helped the Lady Vikings’ cause with 12 points. Madison Rowland added nine.

Draunautika Thomas led Plain Dealing with 20 points. Hersey Stumon added 12.

Noah Hildebrand scored 22 points and KJ Bilbo 20 to lead the Airline boys to the win. Scott Jackson chipped in with 14. The Vikings improved to 3-0.

Plain Dealing’s Chiner Long led all scorers with 30 points. Marcus Gay added 13 and Desmond Ford 10.

In the Thanksgiving Classic, Fair Park’s Ty’Ronica Foster was too much for Bossier, tossing in 37 points.

Necka Wynn topped Bossier (2-2) with 12 points and Gabbie Mason had 10. Brittany Wallace had nine points and 15 rebounds. Tia Walker also scored nine.

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The Haughton Buccaneers’ season ended Friday night in gut-wrenching fashion.

The Bucs led the Hahnville Tigers 14-13 with just over three minutes left in the their Class 5A second-round playoff game at Haughton.

But the Tigers returned a fumble for a touchdown with 2:58 left in the game and went on to win 28-14.

Haughton finished 9-3. Hahnville improved to 9-3 and will face Destrehan in the quarterfinals Friday.

The Bucs came into the game as the No. 5 seed but were considered by some observers to be an underdog against No. 12 Hahnville.

The Tigers came into the game on a six-game winning streak during which they averaged 50 points per game.

But Haughton held them to basically two touchdowns. Hahnville scored one late after the Bucs turned the ball over on downs deep in their own territory.

Haughton quarterback Will Haines, a two-year starter playing his final game, completed 12 of 22 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

“They played their hearts out tonight; that’s for sure,” Haughton coach Rodney Guin told the Friday Football Frenzy radio scoreboard show in a postgame interview.

Sophomore Josh Lister scored the Bucs’ first touchdown on a 56-yard reception with 3:24 left in the first quarter. Lister had his best game of the season with nine catches for 156 yards.

Hahnville tied it at 7 on Mike Neal’s 1-yard run with 6:52 left in the second quarter. That’s how it stood at the half.

The Bucs drove 85 yards to take the lead in the third quarter. Haines got the TD on a 1-yard run and Nico Broadway’s PAT made it 14-7.

The score stayed that way until late in the fourth when Hahnville’s Drew Dunn scored on a 1-yard run. The extra-point try failed and Haughton still led 14-13 with 3:35 left in the game.

Haughton recovered the onsides kick, but the Warriors scored on the fumble return soon after.

Hahnville did most of its damage on offense running the ball. The Tigers gained 277 yards on 55 attempts and didn’t fumble. They finished with 329 total yards.

Jeremiah Williams led the Haughton defense with 8.0 tackles (seven solo, two assists), Jesus Santos had 7.5, JT Bledsoe 6.5, Mason Moreau 5.5 and TJ Sweeney 4.5. Quentin Brown had an interception.

It was the final game for several Bucs who contributed to Haughton’s success in the past few seasons, including Haines and wide receiver Javonte Woodard. Haines has committed to Incarnate Word and Woodard has committed to Louisiana Tech.

Other seniors listed on Haughton’s roster include linebacker JT Bledsoe; defensive back O’Shun Smith; offensive linemen Jamarcia Banks, Kody Cameron, Garrett Malone, Jacob Dent and Adam Holder; defensive end Michael Harris; receiver Hunter Hunsucker; defensive backs Quentin Brown and Pearson Harbour; and defensive linemen Moreau, Colt Taylor and Ted Henderson.

But the Bucs should have plenty of talent back next season. Just a few of those are Lister and fellow wide receiver Antonio Woodfork; defensive backs TJ Sweeney and Jeremiah Wilson, running backs Kei’untre Normandin and D’Kovin Ware; kicker Nico Broadway; linebackers Duncan Smith, Jesus Santos and Chance Brown; and defensive lineman Harrison Voight.

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One of the marks of a great football team is the ability to handle adversity on the road in the playoffs.

The Benton Tigers did just that against the defending state champion East Jefferson Warriors in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday in Metairie.

Leading 24-13 with about six minutes left to play and about to put the game away, the Tigers fumbled inside the East Jefferson 5-yard line. The Warriors recovered and returned the ball to the Benton 3.

Two plays later, East Jefferson (7-5) scored. Benton stopped the two-point conversion, but all of a sudden it was 24-19 with 5:49 left in the game.

So how did the Tigers react? They drove the ball straight down the field, converting a couple of third downs along the way, and scored with 50 seconds left. Brayden Hutchinson got the TD on a 3-yard run and Jordan White kicked the PAT for a 31-19 victory.

Benton (10-2), the No. 4 seed, will host No. 5 Warren Easton (10-2) in the quarterfinals Friday. Warren Easton defeated Peabody 57-20 in its semifinal game.

Benton is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.

“It’s big for our program,” said second-year head coach Reynolds Moore. “It’s something that I think people from Benton have expected of this program. I think it’s something they are right to expect. Certainly we’ve been blessed and had some breaks, maybe, but not a ton of breaks. The ones we’ve had I feel like we earned those and our guys have worked hard to get them.”

Moore wasn’t surprised by how his team reacted after the Warriors’ fumble return.

“Our team has a team-first concept and they have an attitude of doing whatever it takes, and I mean that, whatever it takes,” Moore said.

He credited tight end Keon Coleman with chasing down the East Jefferson player on the fumble return.

“He made them run two plays to score, made them run time off the clock,” Moore said. “That set the tone. It said, ‘You know, it doesn’t matter what kind of mistakes we make we’re all in this together,’ and that kind of team attitude kind of showed up when we got back on offense.”

Benton dominated the game statistically. According to stats kept by The Times-Picayune, the Tigers had 20 first downs to the Warriors 10. Benton had 317 total yards to 197 for East Jefferson.

“I really think we wore them down, pushed tempo hard all night,” Moore said. “We were snapping the ball within five seconds. That was kind of our plan coming in, push tempo, get a play in and go. We did that early. You could see them early really wearing down. It kind of gave our guys some confidence and made them a little bit stronger. They were just sucking wind. We just kept pounding it at ’em.”

The Warriors, primarily a running team, had 192 yards on the ground, but only 16 in the second half. They only attempted four passes, completing two for five yards.

Benton rushed for 179 yards and passed for 138. Freshman quarterback Garrett Hable completed 15 of 25 passes with no interceptions and also rushed for 34 yards. Benton’s lone turnover was the late fumble.

“I think this is probably the best game we’ve played all year,” Moore said. “We’ve put together some complete efforts, but with the exception of the fumble it’s the best we played overall as a team even with the missed PATs. The offense moved the football very. very well all night. The defense got a lot of stops and made a lot of tackles for loss and made it really tough on ’em.”

To advance in the playoffs, it also takes some breaks and great individual efforts. Benton got a few of those and more importantly took advantage of them. The Tigers’ first TD, a 15-yard pass from Hable to TJ Anderson, came after Benton recovered a muffed punt.

After the Warriors took a 7-6 lead, Chauncey Taylor scored on a 3-yard run to put Benton back on top 12-6. East Jefferson answered and led 13-12 at the half.

On the first play of the second half, the Warriors had a touchdown called back because of holding. The Tigers then recovered a fumble and drove for a touchdown, a 17-yard pass from Hable to Tyler Stephens.

Back in punt formation on fourth down, White kept Benton’s next touchdown drive alive with a run for a first down. Taylor got the score on a 1-yard run.

Moore said senior leadership has been a major key to the Tigers’ success this season.

“Our seniors have really led the way the whole time, and that’s big for them, taking the lumps they did as sophomores and coming back and playing now,” Moore said. “I think that’s a lot of what you can point to to our success this year.”

The Tigers are 6-0 on the road this year, but the trip to Metairie is the first time they have had to leave the area for a game.

“One of the things we told our guys was to soak it up and enjoy this,” Moore said “You don’t know when you’ll do this again. Enjoy it make the most of it, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Just appreciate it. And our guys did that. But when it was time to play it was time to play.”

Moore also credited the large contingent of Benton fans who made the trip.

“In the fourth quarter when we started mashing on ’em and getting it going and the defense playing well it just got louder and louder,” he said. “Our band made the trip. It was just a phenomenal atmosphere just being on the road.”

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With the score tied at 0 at halftime against the Block Bears, Plain Dealing coach Coy Brotherton knew the first team to make a big play would have a huge advantage.

Thanks to Logan Allen, that turned out to be Plain Dealing. Allen picked up a Block fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

The Bears got a big play of their own later, but the Lions answered with a couple and went on to win the Class 1A second-round game 16-6 Friday night in Plain Dealing.

“At halftime we told them one play is what we needed,” Plain Dealing coach Coy Brotherton said. “The defense played well. I kind of felt like we could stop them. Bijan (Mitchell), Herb (McCauley) and Logan Allen — the three linebackers — were all over the field tonight.”

The No. 6 seed Lions (9-2) will make the 330-mile journey to the Southeast Louisiana town of Edgard Friday to play No. 3 West St. John (9-2) in the quarterfinals. West St. John defeated Varnado 51-0 in its second-round game.

A steady rainfall Friday turned the Plain Dealing field into a virtual mudhole. Both offenses — Block’s tight wing-T running attack and Plain Dealing’s wide-open spread —had trouble gaining traction.

Much of the first quarter and some of the second was played on Plain Dealing’s end of the field. But the Lions defense never let the Bears get close to the end zone, stopping fourth-down plays several times.

While the field conditions played a part, Block’s defense also did a good job slowing down the Lions in the first half with a strong pass rush.

After Allen’s touchdown return, which came on a fumbled snap, the Lions had an opportunity to put the game away. Isaac Jacobs and Keldrick Carper both made great catches to get the Lions to the Block 10.

A penalty moved the ball back 5 yards. Then Allen fumbled when he was hit from behind on a run and the Bears recovered at the 12.

Block lone touchdown came on a 31-yard pass with 3:45 left in the game. The Bears were lined up in their usual tight formation on third-and-2.

“That touchdown was just kind of a mental mistake,” Brotherton said. “There are some things we’ve got to eliminate. Still way too many penalties and turnovers. Hopefully we’ll get that worked out this week.”

Oddly, the Bears lined up like they were going to kick the extra point. The snap was high and the “kicker” tipped it high in the air. He caught it, tried to run up the middle and was stopped well short of the end zone.

The Lions recovered the onsides kick but went backwards on two plays. On third-and-long, Allen hit Isaac Jacobs on a quick slant over the middle and he went all the way for the touchdown. Allen’s two-point conversion pass made it 16-6 with 1:57 left.

“Great job by him, using his athletic ability,” Brotherton said of Jacobs.

Despite the conditions, Allen finished with a solid game statistically. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 199 yards. Jacobs caught five for 106, Morris six for 52 and Carper two for 33.

Mitchell led the Lions with 11.5 tackles. McCauley had 9.5 and tackle Jarvis Washington had 5.5. Washington had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and recovered a fumble.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com With the score tied at 0 at halftime against the Block Bears, Plain Dealing coach Coy Brotherton knew the first team to make a big play would have a huge advantage.

Thanks to Logan Allen, that turned out to be Plain Dealing. Allen picked up a Block fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

The Bears got a big play of their own later, but the Lions answered with a couple and went on to win the Class 1A second-round game 16-6 Friday night in Plain Dealing.

“At halftime we told them one play is what we needed,” Plain Dealing coach Coy Brotherton said. “The defense played well. I kind of felt like we could stop them. Bijan (Mitchell), Herb (McCauley) and Logan Allen — the three linebackers — were all over the field tonight.”

The No. 6 seed Lions (9-2) will make the 330-mile journey to the Southeast Louisiana town of Edgard Friday to play No. 3 West St. John (9-2) in the quarterfinals. West St. John defeated Varnado 51-0 in its second-round game.

A steady rainfall Friday turned the Plain Dealing field into a virtual mudhole. Both offenses — Block’s tight wing-T running attack and Plain Dealing’s wide-open spread —had trouble gaining traction.

Much of the first quarter and some of the second was played on Plain Dealing’s end of the field. But the Lions defense never let the Bears get close to the end zone, stopping fourth-down plays several times.

While the field conditions played a part, Block’s defense also did a good job slowing down the Lions in the first half with a strong pass rush.

After Allen’s touchdown return, which came on a fumbled snap, the Lions had an opportunity to put the game away. Isaac Jacobs and Keldrick Carper both made great catches to get the Lions to the Block 10.

A penalty moved the ball back 5 yards. Then Allen fumbled when he was hit from behind on a run and the Bears recovered at the 12.

Block lone touchdown came on a 31-yard pass with 3:45 left in the game. The Bears were lined up in their usual tight formation on third-and-2.

“That touchdown was just kind of a mental mistake,” Brotherton said. “There are some things we’ve got to eliminate. Still way too many penalties and turnovers. Hopefully we’ll get that worked out this week.”

Oddly, the Bears lined up like they were going to kick the extra point. The snap was high and the “kicker” tipped it high in the air. He caught it, tried to run up the middle and was stopped well short of the end zone.

The Lions recovered the onsides kick but went backwards on two plays. On third-and-long, Allen hit Isaac Jacobs on a quick slant over the middle and he went all the way for the touchdown. Allen’s two-point conversion pass made it 16-6 with 1:57 left.

“Great job by him, using his athletic ability,” Brotherton said of Jacobs.

Despite the conditions, Allen finished with a solid game statistically. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 199 yards. Jacobs caught five for 106, Morris six for 52 and Carper two for 33.

Mitchell led the Lions with 11.5 tackles. McCauley had 9.5 and tackle Jarvis Washington had 5.5. Washington had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and recovered a fumble.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com

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The Benton Tigers and Plain Dealing Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the LHSAA football playoffs with victories Friday night.

The Tigers, seeded No. 4, knocked off defending state champion East Jefferson 31-19 in a Class 4A second-round game in Metairie. Benton (10-2) will host No. 5 Warren Easton (10-2), a 57-20 winner over Peabody, next Friday.

The Lions, seeded No. 6, defeated Block 16-6 in a Class 1A second-round game in Plain Dealing. Plain Dealing (9-2) will vist No. 3 West St. John (9-2), a 51-0 winner over Varnado, next Friday.

Haughton’s season came to an end. The Bucs, seeded No. 5, fell to No. 11 Hahnville 28-14 in a Class 5A second-round game in Haughton.

Haughton, which led 14-13 with just over three minutes to play, finished 9-3.

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The remainder of the Airline soccer tournament at Tinsley Park has been postponed because of rain.

The final two days will now be played Dec. 12-13.

The tournament started Thursday with the Airline girls and Parkway boys picking up shutout victories.

The Lady Vikings defeated Benton 3-0, and the Panthers knocked off North DeSoto 7-0.

Rachel Cochran scored a goal and assisted on another in Airline’s win. Savannah Howell and Mandy Sparkman scored one goal each.

Austin Coco scored five goals for Parkway (2-0). Bryce Culotta and Harrison Hopkins scored one goal each. Joe Alvarado had two assists.

In other boys game Thursday, Airline defeated Bossier 2-0 and Neville downed Benton 3-2.

The Parkway girls fell to Loyola 3-0 in the Loyola tournament Thursday at Messmer Stadium.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com