With the Benton Tigers’ and Plain Dealing Lions’ losses in the quarterfinals last week, the curtain came down on the 2014 high school football season in Bossier Parish.
The question is: Was the season a success?
No doubt it will be remembered as the year Parkway was banned from the playoffs because of one LHSAA violation school officials disputed and another they admitted to.
But when you consider that four parish schools — including Parkway — won eight games or more, it’s hard to say it wasn’t a success overall.
Of course, Airline, which finished 4-7, and Bossier, which didn’t win a game, won’t look at it that way.
But here are the records of the other four schools — Parkway 8-2, Haughton 9-3, Plain Dealing 9-3 and Benton 10-3.
For the first time since I started working at the BPT in August of 2010 two parish teams — Benton and Plain Dealing — were still playing during Thanksgiving week.
Benton won a share of the District 1-4A championship, its first district title since 2008. That was also the last time the Tigers won 10 games. Benton reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
Plain Dealing won nine games for the first time since 1991 and reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1997.
Haughton had its first nine-win season since 2011.
The season saw its share of great games, too.
Benton was involved in two of them — a near-miraculous come-from-behind overtime victory against Fair Park and a heartbreaking overtime loss to Minden.
Haughton’s 28-26 victory over Airline was another great one.
For my money, the best game of the year was Parkway’s 17-10 overtime loss to Byrd. The game featured Caddo and Bossier parishes’ best teams and decided the District 1-5A title.
As usual, there were some outstanding individual performances.
Parkway junior Keondre Wudtee and Plain Dealing senior Logan Allen both passed for more than 2, 500 yards.
Allen finished his career 424 of 747 for 6,204 yards and 62 touchdowns with 23 interceptions.
Haughton senior quarterback Will Haines accounted for more than 30 touchdowns and 2,300 total yards.
No parish back rushed for more than 1,000 yards, but three — including Haines — gained more than 700 during the regular season.
Parkway’s Jared Lancaster and Artavious Lynn, Plain Dealing’s Isaac Jacobs and Keldrick Carper, Haughton’s Javonte Woodard and Benton’s Tyler Stephens also had solid seasons catching the football.
Parkway’s William McKnight didn’t have gaudy statistics, but he was perhaps the parish’s most exciting offensive player — a threat to score anytime he touched the ball.
It’s always more difficult to single out players on the defensive side of the ball.
Knowing that I’m likely leaving some worthy ones out, here are a few of the players that stood out — Benton linebacker Gage Carroway and lineman Keon Coleman, Airline lineman Charlie Matthews, Haughton lineman Mason Moreau and linebacker JT Bledsoe, Parkway defensive backs Dante Williams and Hunter Huckaby and lineman Kyle Still, Plain Dealing linebacker Bijan Mitchell and Bossier linebacker Isaiah McKinsey.
It will be hard to duplicate this season’s success, but next season could be another good one.
Barring something unforeseen, the top returning offensive player will be Wudtee, who should be mentioned among the top quarterbacks in the class of 2016 in the state.
Parkway’s CJ Morgan, a defensive back and wide receiver, should be back for his senior year.
Haughton receivers Josh Lister and Antonio Woodfork are both underclassmen as is running back Kei’Untre Normandin, the parish’s leading rusher on the season.
Airline quarterback Noah Hildebrand, top rusher Shuncee Thomas and top receiver Cameron Howell should all be back along with a slew of other players.
Benton freshman quarterback Garrett Hable performed admirably and should be much better next season.
Another Benton freshman, Doyle Adams Jr., showed promise. Chauncey Taylor, a defensive lineman who can also run the football, is another underclassmen.
Junior defensive back Xavier Washington should also return.
Plain Dealing’s Keldrick Carper is just a sophomore. Linebackers Bijan Mitchell and Herb McCauley are juniors.
Bossier sophomore quarterback Keimun Daniels will have a year of running the Bearkats’ Wing-T under his belt.
And so another football season is in the books. The transition to winter sports is already underway.
Basketball, wrestling and soccer seasons are in full swing.
But, hey, it’s only about five months until spring practice.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at email@example.com