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The season begins now

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Bossier’s Chris Williams, Airline’s Chase Rivers, Louisiana New Tech @ Plain Dealing players.

Preview of 2013 Bossier Parish prep football season

Bo Meeks has experienced the opening night of the high school football season as both a player at Ruston High and as a head coach at Calvary Baptist and Airline.

Tonight, he’ll begin his third season as head coach of the Vikings when Airline hosts the Bossier Bearkats.

Meeks said the anticipation of a new season has changed some from his playing days, but one thing remains the same.

“It doesn’t get any less exciting,” he said. “We spend the whole offseason preparing. The jamboree is a great experience but it doesn’t count on your record. I hope all our kids are as excited about it as I am, because I’m looking forward to it.”

The Airline-Bossier game is one of five openers involving Bossier Parish schools. Elsewhere, Parkway hosts Calvary Baptist, Haughton hosts Woodlawn, Benton visits Sterlington and Louisiana New Tech at Plain Dealing hosts Green Oaks.

Of course, it’s not just opening night for the players and coaches. The bands, cheerleaders, dance lines, student sections, announcers and fans all combine to make high school football the spectacle it is.

Airline senior Chase Rivers, who will make his debut as the Vikings starting quarterback tonight, said the excitement has been building around the school this week.

“You could tell by the jamboree how many students came out, and they were all excited about this season,” Rivers said. “I think everybody should be excited about what’s going on at Airline.”

Rivers is glad the offseason is history.

“Everybody works for Friday football, and we’re just glad to finally get the season on the road and get the offseason behind us,” he said.

Like Meeks, Parkway defensive coordinator Neil May has been a part of many opening nights as a player and a coach. He played his high school ball at Evangel.

“I get just as excited as the kids for the first game,” he said. “Even though it’s our team against the other team, I always personally feel like I am competing against the opposing offensive coordinator. Who prepared their unit better?

“As an adult, you don’t get to compete very often in everyday life. As a coach, you get the opportunity to still compete. Even if it’s in the capacity of preparing a team, it is still competing.”

As usual, there is no lack of storylines this season.

Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris generated a lot of excitement in the offseason with his recruitment and subsequent commitment to LSU.

The Panthers, ranked No. 7 in the LSWA preseason Class 5A poll, haven’t hidden the fact that their goal is to win a state championship. They will get an early test tonight against a Calvary team ranked No. 1 in Class 2A in what is perhaps the most intriguing opener.

Benton will take the field with a new head coach in Reynolds Moore, who took over last March after four years at Bolton High in Alexandria.

The Tigers have ditched their traditional Wing-T run-oriented offense and installed the wide-open spread. Just how wide open was in evidence in the jamboree when quarterback Jordan Shaffer attempted 33 passes. Shaffer attempted just 62 all of last season.

Airline has one of the top defensive players in the state in lineman OJ Smith, an Alabama commitment. With several starters returning, defense is expected to be the Vikings’ strong suit early. But Rivers and the offense showed much potential in the jamboree.

Haughton will look to continue its winning ways under head coach Rodney Guin, who became the school’s all-time winningest coach last season. Like Airline, the Bucs have a new quarterback in Will Haines. Twins Jarred and Jerrod Craft are back for their final season. Jarred, a Louisiana Tech commitment, was the parish’s second-leading rusher last season. Jerrod is a standout defensive back and a capable receiver.

Bossier has a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball, but you can bet coach Michael Concilio will have his team ready to play. The Bearkats have won back-to-back District 1-3A titles.

Louisiana New Tech at Plain Dealing will be looking for its third successful season under head coach Coy Brotherton. But the Lions lost many of the players who made the first two successful to graduation. Senior wide receiver Tray Harris, a Grambling State commitment, should be a playmaker.

Of course, the biggest storyline statewide this season is the change in the playoffs format. Last January, the LHSAA approved a plan to divide the organization into “select” and “non-select” schools just for the playoffs.

“Select” schools are private schools and magnets with a selective admission process. “Non-select” schools are traditional public schools.

Five state champions will be crowned in “non-select” Classes 5A-1A in December at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome along with four “select” champions in Divisions I-IV.

During the season, though, “select” and “non-select” schools will compete against each other for district championship honors.

The playoffs are still 10 weeks away, but the road to the Superdome begins tonight.