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High school football: Still a lot on the line in final week of regular season

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Robert Summerlin/Special to The Press-Tribune

Week 10 schedule

THURSDAY’S GAME
Bossier at Northwood, 7

FRIDAY’S GAMES
Haughton at Airline, 7
Parkway vs. Southwood, Lee Hedges Stadium, 7
BTW at Benton, 7
Plain Dealing at Homer, 7

COLUMN

Hard as it is to believe, the final week of the regular season has arrived.
As mentioned here last week, the Haughton Buccaneers, Parkway Panthers, Benton Tigers and Plain Dealing Lions are headed to the playoffs.
The Airline Vikings saw their playoff hopes dashed last week, falling to Byrd 28-18 at M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium.
A victory over Haughton (8-2, 4-1) Friday night at Airline would undoubtedly give the Vikings (2-7, 1-4) a boost in the Class 5A power rankings, but probably not a big enough one to crack the top 32.
A victory also wouldn’t be enough to salvage what has been a frustrating season, but it would send the seniors out on a high note and provide some momentum heading into the offseason.
Of course, Haughton will be doing everything in its power to prevent that. The Bucs are coming off an emotional 26-23 victory over Parkway at Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium.
Regardless of the outcome, Haughton will be hosting a first-round playoff game. According to louisianasportsline.com, the Bucs are No. 10 in the 5A power rankings. The top 16 teams host first-round games.
Haughton also has a chance to finish second in District 1-5A, something few would have predicted before the season. If Captain Shreve (7-2, 3-2) pulls off a huge upset against Evangel Christian (5-3, 4-1), the Bucs would get a share of the title.
Parkway didn’t take a big hit in the power rankings with the loss. The Panthers are No. 18. It’s unlikely a victory over Southwood (1-8, 1-4) Friday night at Lee Hedges Stadium will be enough to push them up the two or more spots necessary to host a first-round game.
The Parkway-Haughton game was played with a high level of emotion and intensity. It was obvious the way the Bucs celebrated it wasn’t just another victory in an outstanding season.
It’s a cliche, but players from both teams left everything on the field.
Parkway rallied from a 13-3 deficit to take a 17-13 lead. Then Haughton rallied for a 26-17 lead. The Panthers answered with a TD which made for a suspenseful fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the game came down to special teams play. Haughton’s Tristan Sweeney returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Another Bucs TD was set up by a punt blocked by Dylan Turner. Haughton also scored after a bad punt snap.
Both teams played without their starting quarterbacks. Haughton’s CJ McWilliams and Parkway’s Gabe Larry both made key plays in a game where the defenses mostly had the upper hand.
Benton continued its amazing streak of close victories last week, defeating Woodlawn 29-28 at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers’ last five games have been decided by four points or less, including three by one point.
At No. 17 in the Class 4A power rankings, Benton (6-3, 5-1) needs to move up just one spot to host a first-round game. Whether a win over Booker T. Washington (1-8, 1-5) Friday night at home will be enough remains to be seen.
Regardless, Benton has a chance to finish second in District 1-4A. Like Haughton, few would’ve thought that possible before the season considering how much veteran individual talent coach Reynolds Moore lost off last season’s 11-1 team.
Plain Dealing got back in the win column last week, defeating Lincoln Prep 26-0 in Grambling to end a four-game slide.
The Lions (3-6, 2-3) close the regular season at Homer (5-3, 3-2) Friday night. Plain Dealing will be on the road in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Bossier (1-8, 0-6) closes its season Thursday night at Northwood (9-0, 6-0), which clinched a share of the District 1-4A championship last week with a 48-14 victory over Booker T. Washington.
Bossier fell to Minden 56-6 at Memorial Stadium after trailing 49-0 at the half.
Dropping down to Class 3A next season will help the Bearkats. But they will still need to find a way to get more players out to have enough depth to consistently compete for district titles.

Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at rhedges@bossierpress.com
— Featured photo by Robert Summerlin, Special to The Press-Tribune