Last year, the Benton Tigers found themselves down by nine to the Green Oaks Giants in the third quarter of their season opener.
The Tigers eventually wore the Giants down and rallied for a 41-30 victory.
The teams meet again at Benton’s Tiger Stadium in the 2016 season opener Friday night. Benton coach Reynolds Moore plans to make sure his Tigers haven’t forgotten how tough it was to win last year.
“We’ll definitely remind our kids of that,” he said. “We had some first-game issues last time.”
Green Oaks is coming off one of its best seasons in years. Playing a tough schedule, the Giants lost their first four games. But they won four of their last six, finished second in District 1-3A and made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, losing to eventual state runner-up St. James 34-21 in the first round.
This could be a rebuilding year, though. Coach Curtis Evans has had to replace eight starters on offense, including three-year starter Jaylon Carey at quarterback. Carey was one of Caddo Parish’s top playmakers last year. Sophomore Ellis Alexander won the starting quarterback job in the spring.
Regardless, Moore expects the Giants to have big-play capability.
“They’re always athletic and have to ability break one away at any time,” he said.
Green Oaks has more experience on defense, especially in the secondary.
“Talking to Curtis (during the summer), I know they’re going to be young,” Moore said. “From what he sounded like he has some pretty good athletes, but also has some inexperience. We’ve been there, and we’re going to be there on defense early on, so we feel like it will be a good test for us and a good opportunity for both teams to get better.”
Benton is coming off a 10-2 season highlighted by a second straight District 1-4A title. The Tigers have eight starters back on offense. Junior quarterback Garrett Hable has started since the second half of his freshman season.
Last year against Green Oaks, Hable passed for 241 yards and a touchdown to John Westmoreland. Jermaine Newton scored two touchdowns. Both are back this season.
The defense is inexperienced with only three starters returning in the same position and could be a work in progress early.
Moore is ready to see what his team can do.
“If we can stay healthy, I think we’re going to be OK,” he said.
NOTE: Friday Night Mix is a special insert in The Bossier Press-Tribune that will run weekly during the football season. It will feature information on all six Bossier Parish teams. In the future, a PDF version of the Mix will be posted online by Thursdays.
Sept. 2 Green Oaks 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 Natch. Central 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 Southwood (IS) 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 Huntington 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 @N. DeSoto 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 @Minden 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 Fair Park 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 Woodlawn (IS) 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 @Northwood 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 Bossier 7 p.m.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com