As the high school football season hits the home stretch, the games just keep getting bigger.
The biggest in Week 8 will take place Friday at Evangel Christian Academy’s Rodney Duron Field. That’s where the fifth-ranked Airline Vikings (7-0, 3-0) will face the eighth-ranked Evangel Eagles (6-1, 3-0) with first place in District 1-5A on the line.
While it’s not a battle of district unbeatens, there will be plenty at stake in Benton on Friday also when the District 1-4A- leading Tigers (6-1. 4-0) take on the Woodlawn Knights (5-2, 3-1) and prolific rusher Trivensky Mosley.
Parish rivals Parkway (6-1, 2-1) and Haughton (5-2, 1-2) face off in a District 1-5A game at Preston Crownover Stadium.
Parkway likely needs a win to keep its district title hopes alive. A Haughton win would do wonders for the Bucs’ LHSAA power rating.
Elsewhere Friday, Bossier (3-4, 0-4) will try to end a four-game slide when the Bearkats face Fair Park (4-3, 2-2) in a District 1-4A game at Independence Stadium.
Plain Dealing (3-4. 2-2) travels to Ruston to play Cedar Creek (4-3, 3-1) in a District 1-1A contest.
The winner of the Airline-Evangel game will by no means have the 1-5A title wrapped up, but they will be in the proverbial driver’s seat.
It’s a cliche, but something’s got to give. Airline is averaging 43.4 points per game and has won all seven games by at least 15 points.
Evangel has won six straight since losing to St. Joseph’s (Pa.) 14-0 in the season opener. During the streak, the Eagles have averaged 44.8 points per game. Their closest game was a 21-6 win over 2014 4A runner-up Warren-Easton in Week 2.
Evangel is competing in 1-5A for the first time since winning the 5A state championship in 2004. The Eagles moved up from Class 3A last year. Evangel has won 13 state championships in Classes 1A, 2A and 5A and hasn’t lost a home district game since 1990.
The Eagles feature one of the state’s best quarterbacks in Connor Curry, but they can run the ball too. Evangel is also stout on defense.
Airline has one of the area’s best running backs in Shun’Cee Thomas and another very good one in Brian Fielding.
While he hasn’t put up big passing numbers, quarterback Thomas McKain has done an effective job of running the offense.
I don’t think Airline needs to change what it’s been doing to have a chance to win. I do think Evangel is a slight favorite simply due to the home-field advantage.
No doubt this is the Vikings’ toughest opponent to date. It should be an entertaining game. If you want a good seat, you better get there early.
When a team faces adversity, the way it responds is obviously an indicator of how good it is. Last week against Fair Park, Benton let a 20-0 second-quarter lead slip away and trailed 22-20 going into the fourth. The Tigers responded by scoring three TDs en route to a 42-22 victory.
Another challenge awaits in Woodlawn. Like just about every other team in 1-4A the Knights have a player capable of making big plays on offense. Trivensky Mosley reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark halfway through the season.
Just like everybody else, Benton’s defense has had trouble containing players like Mosley, but the Tigers have made big plays at the right time. Last week, Dalton Rangel and Zeke Barnett returned interceptions for touchdowns and the Tigers forced a fumble while leading by six in the fourth.
Benton should be able to put some points on the board. If the defense can contain Mosley, look for the Tigers to win their sixth straight.
Haughton goes into Preston Crownover Stadium against Parkway as the underdog for the third week in a row. The Bucs played well in last week’s 37-21 loss to Airline. Big plays on special teams kept them in the game.
To have a chance against Parkway, Haughton will need to sustain some drives to give its defense some rest and keep the powerful Panthers offense off the field.
As expected, Parkway wasn’t tested against Booker T. Washington last week. Parkway led 41-7 after the first quarter, emptied the bench and went on to win 48-7.
The Panthers are playing very well now. It will take a special effort to beat them.
Bossier played well defensively in last week’s 35-10 loss to a very good Minden team. Two of the Tide’s touchdowns came on defense and special teams.
The defense will be challenged again by Fair Park running back Robert Rochell. But if the offense can move the ball, Bossier will have a chance to win.
Plain Dealing did a nice job of rebounding from a tough overtime loss to Grambling with a 28-6 win over Ringgold last week.
Junior Keldrick Carper showed why he’s one of the state’s top players, scoring four touchdowns three different ways.
Cedar Creek is playing well this season after an uncharacteristically tough 2014 season. Plain Dealing has been hit by the injury bug and had less than 20 healthy players at the end of the Ringgold game.
If the Lions can overcome that, they should have a chance to win.
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org