Home Sports Prep The season is (almost) here

The season is (almost) here

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Parkway’ Brandon Harris holds off a West Monroe defender during a scrimmage last Thursday at Preston Crownover Stadium. Parkway will play Benton tonight in the Lions Club Jamboree. (photo by Jere Grice)

Lions Club Jamboree kicks off prep football

Bossier Parish football fans will get a preview of the parish’s high school football teams in the annual Bossier Lions Club Jamboree tonight at Airline Stadium.

While the first regular season games aren’t until Sept. 6, the jamboree is generally considered the kickoff of the season.

Traditionally, the jamboree has been called a “dress rehearsal.” It will be the first chance for some players to compete in a game-type situation under the lights in front of a large crowd.

It will also be the first chance for some coaches to get a look at their special teams. All six parish teams participated in controlled scrimmages last week. But the kicking game is usually minimized in scrimmages if it is used at all.

With the limited playing time and the fact that a lot of the players are new, jamborees aren’t necessarily a good indication of how teams will perform in the regular season. The good news is everybody will still be 0-0 after tonight regardless of the outcome. Coaches, of course, also hope their teams escape injury-free.

Louisiana New Tech at Plain Dealing faces Bossier in the jamboree opener at 6 p.m. Airline plays Haughton at 7:25 and Parkway meets Benton at 9. Each “game” will consist of two 12-minute halves.

Louisiana New Tech and Bossier both have a lot of new faces this season. Both are breaking in new quarterbacks with Logan Allen now running the Lions’ spread offense and Justin Kennon at the helm of Bossier’s traditional Wing-T.

Airline is another team with a new quarterback as Chase Rivers takes over. Rivers has been waiting for his chance after backing up 2012 All-Parish MVP Hayden Hildebrand for the last two seasons. The Vikings have also replaced eight other starters on offense.

Defensive lineman OJ Smith, an Alabama commitment, leads an experienced Vikings defense. Smith was the defensive co-MVP on the All-District 1-5A team last season and an All-Parish selection.

Haughton is yet another parish team breaking in a new quarterback. Will Haines takes over for James David Almond, a two-year starter now at Northwestern State.

Bucs running back Jarred Craft, an All-Parish and All-District 1-5A selection last season, returns for his senior year. Craft, who has committed to Louisiana Tech, rushed for 886 yards in the regular season last season, ranking second in the parish.

Craft’s twin brother, Jerrod, was also All-Parish last season at defensive back. He has twice been named first-team All-District at that position.

Haughton has the fastest player in Class 5A at defensive back in Micah Larkins, who won the 5A 100-meter dash at the state meet last spring.

Parkway has created the most buzz in the offseason with quarterback Brandon Harris, an LSU commitment, and a slew of other offensive starters returning from last season’s 11-2 team.

Brodrick Jefferson, a Louisiana Tech commitment, was the parish’s leading receiver last season. Receiver Cory Hamilton was the 5A state 400-meter runner-up last season. The Panthers also return leading rusher Demetrius McAtee, who is also a capable receiver.

With a new coach and offensive scheme, Benton may be the most intriguing team in the jamboree. Reynolds Moore has taken over as head coach and installed the pass-oriented spread offense, a variation of which five of the six parish teams use now.

Jordan Shaffer has started at quarterback for the Tigers the last two years but seldom threw in the Wing-T offense. Shaffer, a pitcher, was the co-MVP on the All-Parish baseball team last spring.