It’s that time of year again for Bossier Parish high school football teams — win or go home.
The state playoffs start tonight and five of the six parish schools are participating.
Last year, four made it to the second round, but the season ended there for all four.
It’s been 35 years since a Bossier Parish school won a state football championship.
Tonight the quest begins anew to end that drought.
“Right now everybody is 0-0,” said Airline coach Bo Meeks, whose sixth-seeded Vikings host New Orleans-area school East St. John in the first round. “We’re not 8-2 and they’re not 5-4. We’re all on equal footing.”
Here is a look at tonight’s games.
East St. John (5-4) at Airline (8-2)
East St. John is located in the town of Reserve between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The community was hit hard by Hurricane Isaac. The Wildcats’ season opener was canceled, and the New Orleans Saints donated equipment and gear to help replace those items lost to the storm.
East St. John finished 4-1 in District 8-5A, runner-up to Hahnville.
The 27th-seeded Wildcats have won three in a row since losing to Hahnville 26-16.
Quarterback Leonard Davis, who ran and passed for more than 100 yards in a win over Bonnabel last week, leads the Wildcats offense.
Meeks expects his defense to be challenged.
“He’s extremely athletic,” Meeks said of Davis. “He makes a lot of plays with his legs. That’s kind of what they do offensively. They put the football in his hands and look for him to make plays.”
The Airline defense has been without linebacker Rodriguez Parker since Week 8. Parker, who led the team in tackles, suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The Vikings could also be without lineman OJ Smith, who suffered an undisclosed injury against Byrd. Meeks said Wednesday his status for tonight’s game hasn’t been determined.
Regardless of who plays, Meeks said the Vikings will have to simply do what they’ve been doing well all season to win.
“The big thing for us is to just play the way we’re capable of playing, protect the football and play well up front,” he said.
Led by quarterback Hayden Hildebrand, the parish’s leading passer, Airline is averaging 31 points per games.
Other offensive standouts include running back Michael Nunnery and receivers Laterious Pouncy, Trey Turner, Logan Williams and Chris Stinnett.
Live Oak (5-5) at Parkway (9-1)
Live Oak is located in the town of Watson in Livingston Parish, about 15 miles northeast of Baton Rouge.
Like Parkway, Live Oak is relatively new to Class 5A. Live Oak moved up from 4A four years ago, and this will mark the Eagles’ first appearance in the football playoffs in the state’s highest class.
Live Oak finished 2-3 in District 4-5A under first-year coach Coach Barry “Tut” Musemeche. The 26th-seeded Eagles are coming off a 56-27 loss to district champion Central of Baton Rouge.
In another similarity with Parkway, Live Oak runs a spread offense with sophomore quarterback Michael Claverie and senior running back/receiver Wesley Howard leading the way.
The Eagles are averaging 25.4 points per game and allowing 19.4.
They will be facing a Parkway team averaging 40.7 points and allowing 12.5.
Quarterback Brandon Harris leads the Parkway offense. He has passed for 2,093 yards and 23 touchdowns despite having rarely played four quarters this season because of routs.
Brodrick Jefferson was the parish’s top receiver in the regular season, catching 44 passes for 912 yards and 10 TDs. Corey Hamilton has also had a solid season catching the ball, and Demetrius McAtee leads the team in rushing.
The defense has also been outstanding.
Haughton (7-3) at Ouachita (8-2)
Ouachita finished runner-up to defending state champion West Monroe in District 2-5A.
The ninth-seeded Lions have won three straight since losing to West Monroe 35-7. Ouachita’s only other loss was to defending Class 4A state champion Neville 21-3 in Week 3.
Ouachita handed Class 2A power Evangel one of its two losses 52-27 in Week 5.
The Lions have had some close wins in district play, including 27-24 over Pineville and 29-20 over Natchitoches Central.
Haughton, the 24th seed, and Ouachita have one common opponent in Captain Shreve. The Lions beat the Gators 21-12 in Week 2 and Haughton won 27-3 in Week 8.
“They’re very talented,” Haughton coach Rodney Guin said. “I was telling somebody that we got a bunch of film on them. I watched the Evangel game and they beat Evangel by 20 points. That’s all I had to see.
“They’re a lot bigger than us. They’re one of the best teams we’ve seen on film.”
Guin said the Lions vary their offense, lining up in the spread and I formations.
The Lions have a receiver, Taijuan Thomas, who recently committed to Stanford. But he’s the second-leading receiver on the team behind Cam Sims.
“He’s phenomenal,” Guin said of Sims.
In Haughton’s three losses. the Bucs hurt themselves with mistakes. If they can keep those to a minimum tonight, Guin thinks his team has a chance to pull off an upset.
“We’re not going to be able to make any mistakes,” he said. “We’re going to have to slow the clock down a litte bit. If we do that, we’ll have a chance. If we don’t, it’ll be tough.”
Jewel Sumner (5-4) at Bossier (7-3)
Jewel Sumner is located in Kentwood in South Louisiana.
The No. 25 seed Cowboys finished third in District 8-3A with a 3-2 record.
Sumner had a chance to grab a share of the league title but lost to Loranger 18-10 in the regular-season finale.
Jewel Sumner features LSU commitment Jeremy Cutrer, who is similar to another LSU commitment Bossier faced this year, Green Oaks’ Tre’Davious White.
Cutrer plays wide receiver, safety and returns kick. He has also played quarterback.
Bossier, the eighth seed, will try to continue to do what it does best — control the ball with its Wing-T attack.
Quarterback Samuel Dudley and running back Jaquarious Tutt lead the offense.
If Bossier wins, the Bearkats could face a rematch with 1-3A rival North DeSoto in the second round.
La. New Tech at Plain Dealing (7-3) at Mangham (9-1)
The No. 29 seed Lions travel to northeast Louisiana to face the No. 4 seed Dragons.
Mangham was ranked No. 6 in the final LSWA Class 1A poll.
The Warriors’ only loss was to District 3-1A rival Oak Grove 37-15 in Week 8 in a game that decided the district title.
Mangham reached the semifinals of the playoffs last season. The Warriors are a ground-oriented team on offense, led by running back Chris Hardmon.
New Tech is led by quarterback Deaumante Johnson, running back Cardarrious Ray and receivers Tray Harris, Kaino Long and Jammarei Stromile.