Home Sports Prep Hedges: Season openers offer intriguing matchups

Hedges: Season openers offer intriguing matchups

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OPINION

Well, there was no final tune-up before the regular season.
As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the 63rd annual Bossier Lions Club Jamboree was cancelled last week. Thursday’s heavy rain and the threat for more severe weather Friday prompted the move.
Field conditions were a concern. The possibility that Airline Stadium’s grass might get damaged before a single regular-season game was played was a factor.
Two years ago, the 61st jamboree was cut short by severe weather. But this is believed to be the first time it was cancelled outright.
It’s both a blessing and a curse for coaches. The great thing is all six parish teams will go into their season openers healthy. The bad thing was mentioned in the first sentence above — no tune-up.
Although it’s unlikely any coach would make big changes based on a jamboree, it was a final chance for evaluation and finetuning things.
Also, in the scrimmages two weeks ago, for the most part there was little special teams work.
In a broader sense, the cancellation was a disappointment for several reasons.
The jamboree usually attracts the biggest crowd of the season as you would expect with six schools competing.
It is also a major fundraising event for the Lions Club and that money is put back into the community.
Each school’s jamboree queen is introduced at the event. Cheerleaders also get a chance to perform before the big crowd.
But, of course, there is nothing to do but move on to Friday’s season openers.
If you want more details on those openers, check out today’s four-page insert, a new high school football feature that will run every week during the season.
Here, though, is a quick analysis of the six games.
Plain Dealing Lions at Haughton Buccaneers: This is the only matchup between Bossier Parish schools until Week 7 when Airline hosts Haughton.
On paper, this is a mismatch with the Class 5A Bucs a big favorite over the Class 1A Lions.
But it’s an opportunity for fans to see one of the state’s best players in Plain Dealing senior Keldrick Carper. Carper is mainly a wide receiver, but he could also play quarterback and running back as he did last year.
Carper had a good game against the Bucs last season, and you know the Lions will be fired up playing a big school.
I’m sure new Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton and his assistants won’t let the Bucs get overconfident, though, and challenge the defense to shut down Carper and company.
Green Oaks Giants at Benton Tigers: The two-time defending District 1-4A champion Tigers will go into this one as the favorite. With eight starters back on an offense that averaged about 40 points per game last season, the Tigers have the potential to light up the scoreboard.
Green Oaks won’t have playmaking quarterback Jaylon Carey this season, but the Giants seem to always have some gamebreakers. Green Oaks also has inexperience in other areas.
Benton coach Reynolds Moore will not let his team forget that the Giants led 30-21 last year in the third quarter.
If Benton’s inexperienced defense can prevent the big plays, the Tigers should prevail.
Airline Vikings at Union Parish Farmers: Much has been made of Airline having had to replace its entire offensive starting lineup. But that doesn’t mean Coach Bo Meeks doesn’t have any players on that side of the ball.
Running backs Coby McGee and Brian Fielding saw plenty of action last season. Sophomore quarterback Brad Fream may have a few first-game jitters along with some of the rest of the newcomers. That’s to be expected.
Airline’s veteran defense should be able to make stops against a young Union Parish offense that likes to run the football.
If the defense does as expected and the offense can consistently move the ball, the Vikings will come out on top.
Bastrop Rams at Parkway Panthers: As is outlined in today’s insert, this game has produced a lot of excitement and offensive fireworks the last three seasons.
With playmakers like quarterback Justin Rogers, receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and running back Robert McKnight, the Panthers should hold up their end of the bargain Friday.
It will be interesting to see what other Panthers step up and make their marks.
Bastrop is inexperienced on offense, and Parkway has the potential to be better on defense. The Panthers may be able to keep the score down, but it won’t be a surprise if the Rams have a few new playmakers.
Parkway, though, should take this one.
Bossier Bearkats at Homer Pelicans: Bossier got off to a fast start last season and will be looking to do so again.
The Bearkats have some experienced players on offense, including some capable of making big plays.
With Bossier’s Wing-T, ball-control offense, the main key to victory is putting together long, time-consuming drives and avoiding turnovers.
If the Bearkats can do that, Bossier will be 1-0 when all is said and done.

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