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Benton, Plain Dealing seek semifinal berths; gutsy efforts by parish teams in 2nd round

There are a lot of things that are easy to measure in football. All kinds of statistics — yards, pass completions, turnover margin, points per game, etc.
But there is one thing that’s not so easy to measure — what’s inside a player.
Call it heart, guts or whatever you want, the players on the three Bossier Parish teams who played in the second-round of the playoffs last week had it.
The Benton Tigers got on a bus Friday morning bound for Metairie where the defending Class 4A state champion East Jefferson Warriors awaited. All the Tigers did was dominate the Warriors, winning 31-19.
When East Jefferson returned a fumble almost the length of the field and scored two plays later to make it a five-point game with about five minutes left, Benton simply drove down the field and put the game away with a touchdown with 50 seconds remaining.
Haughton hosted a team in the 5A playoffs with an identical record, the Hahnville Tigers. The Bucs were seeded seven spots higher but basically considered a big underdog. Hahnville came in on a six-game roll, averaging 50 points per game during the streak. The Tigers had lost to defending Division I state champion Rummel, now 10-0, by six early in the season. They had two big-time recruits at wide receiver.
I kept hearing that Hahnville was possibly as good as any team in the state, including Byrd and Parkway, teams that blew out the Bucs.
But with just less than four minutes remaining, Haughton led 14-13. Then the Tigers picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. They went on to win 28-14, getting a late TD after Haughton turned the ball over on downs deep in its own territory.
The Bucs finished the season 9-3 after putting forth an outstanding effort.
At Plain Dealing, a steady rain Friday turned the field into a mudhole. That made things difficult for the Lions’ wide-open spread offense. To be fair, it didn’t help the Block Bears’ tight Wing-T run-oriented offense either.
In the end, the Lions got some big plays from Logan Allen, Isaac Jacobs and the defense and found a way to win, beating the Bears 16-6.
And so Plain Dealing and Benton move on.
The No. 6 seed Lions (9-2) travel to the Southeast Louisiana town of Edgard to face No. 3 West St. John (9-2) on Friday in the 1A quarterfinals.
The No. 4 seed Tigers (10-2) host No. 5 Warren Easton (10-2) in the 4A quarterfinals. It will be Benton’s first quarterfinal appearance since 2009.
Benton’s outstanding defense will get its toughest test yet. The Fighting Eagles average 44 points per game and have a quarterback, Deshawn Capers-Smith, that has committed to Texas A&M.
Before the season, Warren Easton was ranked nationally in at least one poll thanks mostly to winning a national 7-on-7 tournament during the summer.
Plain Dealing will be going up against a traditional 1A power. West St. John’s only losses were to 5A Holy Cross and undefeated Riverside. On the other hand, Plain Dealing’s only losses were to Benton by a point and defending 1A state champion Haynesville by six.
I’m sure there are those that are thinking, “How can Benton, which has a freshman quarterback, possibly beat Warren Easton, which has a big-time senior college prospect at quarterback?”
On paper, the Lions and Tigers are no doubt underdogs.
But as the old saying goes, they don’t play the games on paper. They play them on the field.
And as we saw last week, out there anything can happen.


Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at rhedges@bossierpress.com

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