After another mostly successful week, five of the six parish high school football teams open district play this week.
The one that will likely have the most effect on a district title is Friday at Preston Crownover Stadium where the Parkway Panthers (3-0) take on the Evangel Christian Academy Eagles (1-2).
The Panthers and Eagles shared the District 1-5A title with Byrd last year.
In the other 1-5A opener Friday, Airline (2-1) plays Southwood (1-2) at Lee Hedges Stadium. Byrd (0-3) faces Captain Shreve (3-0) at Lee Hedges on Thursday.
The Haughton Bucs (2-1) host Green Oaks (1-2) in their final non-district game.
The Benton Tigers (3-0) begin defense of their District 1-4A title Friday at home against Huntington (1-2). Also in 1-4A, the Bossier Bearkats (2-1) host North DeSoto (2-1).
In a District 1-1A opener, the Plain Dealing Lions (2-1) hosts Homer (0-3).
Based on non-district play, it looks like 1-5A is shaping up as predicted in the preseason with Parkway and Evangel the favorites.
Even though Byrd began the season with no returning starters, I thought the Yellow Jackets would be among the contenders.
It’s definitely been a tough year so far. Injuries have forced Coach Mike Suggs to go deep into his bench. Last week, quarterback Zavier Moore, a tremendous athlete, was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Still, I wouldn’t completely count the Jackets out. Byrd has played a tough schedule. Their three opponents have a combined record of 7-2.
Captain Shreve is off to a great start, but it’s still wait-and-see on the Gators, whose victories have been over teams with a combined one win.
I rate Parkway, which defeated Huntington 35-0 last week, a slight favorite over Evangel.
The Panthers will be eager to avenge last year’s 56-20 loss, one of just two in the regular season.
Evangel’s record is deceiving. Their losses have come against one of the best teams in Texas and one of the best in Louisiana.
Evangel got its offense rolling last week in a 62-18 victory over LaGrange. Both defenses will be challenged.
Parkway quarterback Justin Rogers, receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., running back Robert McKnight and the rest of the Panthers offense will be hard for any defense to stop.
I don’t look for a game like Parkway’s 69-54 win over Lufkin in Week 2, but there will be some points put on the scoreboard.
Airline is coming off a very tough 29-19 loss to Ruston. The score is deceptive. The Vikings led 19-17 with two minutes left and had the ball. But the Bearcats returned a punt and fumble for TDs.
Airline has shown its capable of making the big play. Coby McGee returned his second kickoff for a touchdown last week.
The defense again turned in a solid effort, allowing just one offensive touchdown and scoring one of its own on Zylon Newsom’s fumble return.
For Airline to contend in 1-5A, though, the young offense will have to improve.
Airline is facing an improved Southwood team, but the Cowboys defense won’t be as good as Ruston’s. The Vikings should win and gain some confidence in the process.
Airline can take a lesson from Haughton, which bounced back from its 23-20 Week 2 loss to Minden in a big way last week, routing a previously undefeated Woodlawn team 40-6.
The Bucs defense dominated. The offense moved the ball and took advantage of six turnovers.
Haughton can be a contender in District 1-5A. Green Oaks is coming off its first win, but the Bucs should be 3-1 going into their district opener against Southwood next week.
Benton, Minden (3-0) and North Desoto were predicted to battle it out for the District 1-4A title before the season began, and nothing has changed to alter that assessment.
Benton is averaging 50 points per game. The Tigers may have taken Southwood a bit lightly last week. The game was tied at 20 at the half, but the Tigers rolled in the second and won 55-20.
Quarterback Garrett Hable, running back Jermaine Newton and receivers Doyle Adams Jr. and John Westmoreland all had big games.
Adams had 13 catches for 149 yards and four touchdowns.
The defense allowed just one first down in the second half.
The Tigers visit North DeSoto for a huge district game next week, but don’t expect them to look past Huntington.
Parkway shut the Raiders out, but they have the capability of putting points on the board.
But I do believe Benton will win relatively easily and go into Stonewall undefeated.
Bossier rallied from a 28-6 deficit against Logansport and led by four in the fourth quarter before falling 43-39.
Quarterback Keimun Daniels and running back Quinton Smith were both impressive. Daniels scored five touchdowns, including the one that put the Bearkats ahead early in the third quarter. Smith rushed for 133 yards.
Bossier will be a big underdog against North DeSoto and running back Delmonte Hall, who has scored 15 touchdowns. The Griffins lost on the road to Many, the second-ranked team in Class 2A, 34-33 on the final play of the game last week.
If Bossier can sustain some drives, be consistent in the kicking game and avoid turnovers, the Bearkats could give the Griffins a game.
Plain Dealing will be trying to win its third straight game when it faces Homer. The Lions upset Class 1A No. 4 St. Mary’s 30-12 last week in Natchitoches.
Before the season, coach James Thurman said the Lions would have to give All-State receiver Keldrick Carper some help to be successful on offense.
Carper did his part against St. Mary’s, but so did Derreon Washington, Shavolyea McKinney and Meiko Ford.
Washington caught two touchdowns passes — one from quarterback Matt Sullivan and one on a halfback pass from Ar’Tavious Washington-Carper.
McKinney and Ford both ran the ball well. The offensive line did its job as did the defense.
The Lions should come out on top against Homer, which has struggled in all three of its games.
Traditional power Haynesville (3-0) is still the clear favorite to win the District 1-1A title.
Arcadia (2-1) and Ringgold (2-1) are off to good starts. Cedar Creek (1-2) lost to Class 2A No. 4 Ouachita Christian 48-38 last week.
I won’t surprised if Plain Dealing is in the mix along with those teams for the district’s runner-up spot before the season’s over.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org