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Hedges: Key district games highlight Week 5

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OPINION

We’re at the midpoint of the high school football regular season, and Week 5 features three Friday games that should go a long way toward deciding district championships.
In District 1-5A, preseason favorite Byrd (4-0, 1-0) faces Parkway (3-1, 0-1) at Preston Crossnore Stadium.
In District 1-4A, Benton (3-1, 1-0) hosts North DeSoto (4-0, 1-0).
In District 1-1A, Plain Dealing (2-2, 1-0) hosts defending 1A state champ Haynesville (2-2, 1-0).
In the other District 1-5A matchups, Airline (4-0, 1-0) plays Captain Shreve (1-3. 0-1) at Lee Hedges Stadium and Haughton (4-0, 0-0) takes on Southwood (0-4, 0-1) at Independence Stadium. In the other 1-4A game, Bossier (3-1, 0-1) hosts Woodlawn (3-1, 1-0).
Parkway will be looking for some redemption Friday. The Panthers are coming off the worst regular-season loss in head coach David Feaster’s four-plus years, 56-21 against Evangel.
Evangel is undoubtedly a very good football team, but the Panthers hurt themselves a lot. They turned the ball over six times. The Eagles recovered an onsides kick and a fumbled kickoff return in the first quarter.
Parkway ran only 32 offensive plays.
The Panthers are facing an entirely different offense in Byrd’s option attack. Last year, Parkway did a great job against it, but the Jackets hit a late TD pass to tie and won in overtime. That game decided the 1-5A title.
Byrd is the favorite. But if the Panthers defense is up to the task and Parkway avoids mistakes, this game could go down to the wire again.
Last year, Benton defeated North DeSoto 7-0 in a defensive struggle, and the Tigers and Griffins went on to share the 1-4A title with Minden.
This year could be much different. Both teams are averaging more than 30 points per game. Benton is averaging close to 40.
The Tigers defense will face a stiff challenge against the Griffins’ run-oriented offense. Likewise, it won’t be easy for North DeSoto to shut down Benton’s offense.
The teams have one common opponent. North DeSoto defeated Natchitoches Central 30-20 in Week 1 and Benton lost to the Chiefs 43-36 in Week 2.
North DeSoto is a slight favorite. As is often the case in games between evenly matched teams, turnovers could be the difference.
Despite the fact they come into the game with the same records, Plain Dealing is a heavy underdog against Haynesville.
The Lions gave the Tors all they wanted last year in a 26-12 loss in the regular-season finale that decided the District 1-1A title.
But two of Plain Dealing’s stars, quarterback Logan Allen and receiver Isaac Jacobs, were seniors and the offense has a new look.
Still, Haynesville gave up a lot of points in its 57-38 district-opening win over Arcadia last week. If the Lions defense can get some stops, Plain Dealing just might make a game of it.
Airline and Haughton are both heavy favorites in their games.
The Vikings have a chance to start 5-0 for the first time since Bo Meeks took over as head coach in 2011.
There is no doubt that Airline is a very good football team. But how good won’t be decided until the second half of the season.
The same can be said of Haughton. The Bucs have been inconsistent on offense, although the running game has been strong all season. The defense has played well for the most part.
That will be enough to handle Southwood, which has scored only one touchdown in four games. But it will take more than that to challenge for the title.
Bossier took a big step up in competition last week and it showed against North DeSoto. For the second week in a row, the Bearkats will be facing a strong running team.
Bossier is the underdog, but I expect the Bearkats to put up a good fight.
Last week marked the first time parish teams failed to win five games. Even so, they went 4-2 and are 18-4 against out-of-parish competition.
Given the level of competition, the tables could be turned this week. We’ll see.

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