I have to admit I underestimated the Parkway Panthers.
I thought the Panthers might be intimidated by the two-time defending Class 5A state champion Wreckin’ Rams last Friday in the second round of the playoffs at Preston Crownover Stadium.
Many of the seniors on this year’s team were sophomores on the sideline two years ago when Acadiana and its veer option offense ran over the Panthers 77-41 in the state championship game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Yes, Acadiana came to Bossier City as the No. 11 seed in Class 5A. But in 2014 the Wreckin’ Rams won the title as the No. 15 seed.
And after a couple of early losses, Acadiana was riding a seven-game winning streak.
So when the Wreckin’ Rams took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for a quick touchdown, I thought, ‘Uh, oh, here we go again.’ ”
But on Parkway’s second play, Keondre Wudtee threw a swing pass to CJ Morgan and he raced 80 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
The Parkway bench erupted. If there ever was an intimidation factor, it ended there.
Even when Acadiana took a 12-7 lead after returning a short punt inside the 5, I had no doubt Parkway would answer.
The Panthers did just that. Wudtee hit Terrace Marshall with a perfect strike over the middle and he took it the house.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came when Parkway stopped the Wreckin’ Rams, who were having success moving the ball, on fourth-and-1 at the Panthers 4 in the second quarter.
Parkway then scored three touchdowns in about a four-minute span, starting with an option pass from Morgan to Marshall. A Greg Jones interception led to another Wudtee-to-Morgan TD. After a Lloyd Cole interception, Morgan made a spectacular catch in a crowd in the end zone on a Hail Mary on the final play of the half.
With Parkway up 35-12, the second half was academic. The Panthers went on to end Acadiana’s streak of 11 straight playoff wins 55-28.
And now it’s on to the next challenge. The No. 6 seed Panthers (11-1) take an eight-game winning to Destrehan for a quarterfinal matchup against the No. 3 Wildcats (11-0). Destrehan defeated Barbe, a team Haughton had on the ropes in the first round, 52-27 in the second round.
Destrehan is averaging 44 points per game. The Wildcats can run and throw. Kohen Granier passed for 207 yards and rushed for two TDs. John Williams caught four touchdown passes. Christian Mosley rushed for 147 yards.
The Wildcats might have been a bit relieved when they heard the Parkway-Acadiana score. Acadiana knocked Destrehan out of the playoffs the last two seasons. But be careful what you wish for.
Mainly because Destrehan is unbeaten and the long road trip, Parkway has to be considered the underdog.
I won’t underestimate the Panthers again, though. It won’t be easy, but they can win. They are playing with a lot of confidence.
While Destrehan is capable of scoring a lot of points, the Wildcats have also given up some. Their closest game was a 33-23 victory over Slidell in the season opener. Their second closest was 51-40 over Thibodaux in the regular-season finale.
Parkway is averaging 41 points per game. It should be a great one.
Parkway is the lone remaining team from Bossier Parish still playing.
Benton, the No. 4 seed in Class 4A, ran into a buzz saw in No. 13 McDonogh 35 and fell 48-0 at home in the second round.
A couple of turnovers put Benton in an early hole and the Tigers couldn’t climb out. Trailing 20-0, Benton fumbled a kickoff return and allowed a punt return for a TD in the second half.
The Tigers couldn’t slow down running back Darius May, who rushed for 225 yards and four touchdowns. An offense that averaged about 40 points per game had trouble moving the ball.
But the loss does nothing to diminish what Benton accomplished. The Tigers finished 10-2. They ran the table in District 1-4A.
This group of Benton seniors helped the Tigers win 20 games and two district titles the past two seasons. They have a lot to be proud of.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org