Three Bossier Parish teams are still alive after the first round of the LHSAA state football playoffs and two of them are at home Friday night.
Haughton (9-2), seeded fifth in Class 5A, hosts No. 12 Hahnville (8-3) and Plain Dealing (8-2), seeded No. 6 in 1-1A, hosts No. 11 Block (6-5).
Benton (9-2), seeded No. 4 in Class 4A, travels to Metairie to play No. 20 East Jefferson (7-4), the defending state champion.
In first-round games last week, Haughton knocked off No. 28 Ouachita 34-19 and Benton defeated No. 29 Belle Chasse 23-15.
Airline, the No. 30 seed in Class 5A, saw its season end on the road with a 53-27 loss to No. 3 Zachary.
Plain Dealing received a first-round bye.
As any coach will tell you, there is usually no such thing as an easy game in the second round of the playoffs.
That applies to all three of the Bossier Parish games.
Even though Haughton and Benton are seeded higher than their opponents, some might label them underdogs.
Haughton’s defense came up big in the win over Ouachita. In fact, coach Rodney Guin said it was one of the Bucs’ best defensive efforts in recent memory.
It will take a similar or maybe even better effort for the Bucs to beat Hahnville.
The Tigers are riding a six-game winning streak. During that time, the they’ve averaged 50 points per game. Hahnville demolished Natchitoches Central 61-14 in the first round.
Seven different players scored rushing TDs.
The Tigers have two big-time receivers in TCU commit Brandon Singleton and Ricky Preston, who has offers from Florida State, Nebraska and Texas A&M.
Hahnville first-year coach Nick Saltaformaggio, who guided East Jefferson to the Class 4A title last season, picked up his 100th career victory.
Haughton senior QB Will Haines continued his outstanding senior season last week, accounting for five touchdowns in the win over Ouachita.
Haines has accounted for 36 touchdowns this season. Receivers Antonio Woodfork and Javonte Woodard also came up with big plays.
They will likely need several Friday night.
East Jefferson has one of the state’s top defensive backs in Deshawn Raymond, a TCU commit. The Warriors have won five of their last six games.
East Jefferson likes to run the football. The Warriors had two backs go over 100 yards in a win over Lakeshore.
Benton’s defense has been its strong suit all season. The Tigers played well for most of the game against Belle Chasse, although the Cardinals made a final push in the fourth quarter.
It will take another solid defensive effort for the Tigers to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
The Benton offense came around in the second half with freshman quarterback Garrett Hable completing 13 of 14 passes during one stretch.
The Tigers probably won’t be able to afford any offensive lulls Friday night.
Plain Dealing is facing a Block team that has turned it on after a slow start.
The Bears didn’t get their first win of the season until Week 5 when they edged Bossier 12-6.
Their only loss since then was to St. Mary’s 33-0 in Week 6 in a game that decided the District 3-1A title.
During its six-game winning streak, Block has averaged 39.8 points per game.
Like Haughton’s and Benton’s, the Plain Dealing defense faces a big challenge.
Block has recorded three shutouts in its last five games, but the Bears haven’t faced an offense as strong as Plain Dealing’s.
Quarterback Logan Allen and receivers Isaac Jacobs and Kendrick Carper will test the Bears early and often.
They will be well-rested, too. The Lions haven’t played since losing to defending state champion Haynesville 18-12 on Nov. 7. They should ready to go, especially with a fired-up home crowd behind them.
Airline ended its season 4-7, but that wasn’t indicative of how the Vikings played all season. Mistakes cost Airline at least two close games. Victories in those would’ve meant a better seed and a first-round opponent not quite as strong as Zachary.
Only Parkway and Zachary really dominated the Vikings. They were competitive with 1-5A champ Byrd and traditional Monroe powers West Monroe and Neville.
While Airline loses many quality seniors, including defensive lineman Charlie Matthews and offensive lineman Caleb Thomas, the future looks bright.
Barring something unforeseen, the Vikings will have their leading passer (sophomore Noah Hildebrand), rusher (junior Shuncee Thomas) and receiver (junior Cameron Howell) back next season.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at email@example.com