Hedges: Airline-Haughton clash highlights Week 7 slate; Benton faces challenge

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OPINION

Parish teams will go head-to-head for the first time since Week 1 when the Haughton Buccaneers host the Airline Vikings on Friday night.
The Vikings, ranked fifth in Class 5A, bring a perfect 6-0 record into the game. The Vikings are tied with Evangel at 2-0 atop District 1-5A.
Haughton (5-1, 1-1) is coming off its first loss of the season 49-17 against Byrd.
It was one of those games that simply got away from the Bucs. After playing well in the first quarter and leading 10-7, things unraveled. A failed fourth-down attempt and a long run by Byrd that set up a TD put Haughton behind 14-10.
Then the Jackets scored 21 points in the final 1:38 of the half.
It’s a game the Bucs can only learn something from and then forget about. Things won’t get any easier against Airline.
The Vikings have dominated all six opponents. Their closest game was a 15-point victory over Ruston in Week 2.
Haughton will be their toughest opponent since then, regardless of the status of Bucs leading rusher D’Kovin Ware, who missed last week’s game with an injury. Ware was on the sideline but not dressed out.
Last year’s game was one of the best of the 2014 season in Bossier Parish. Haughton stopped a late two-point conversion attempt that would’ve likely sent the game into overtime and won 28-26.
Airline will be the favorite Friday night. But if Haughton can cut out the mistakes that cost the Bucs dearly last week, it could be another thriller. The Bucs need a win to have any shot at the 1-5A title.
In another big game, District 1-4A leader Benton (5-1, 3-0) plays Fair Park (4-2, 2-1) Thursday night at BTW’s Leonard Barnes Stadium.
Elsewhere Friday, Parkway (5-1) hosts Booker T. Washington (1-5) in a non-district game, Bossier (3-3, 0-3) hosts Minden (4-2, 2-1) in 1-4A and Plain Dealing (2-4, 1-2) hosts Ringgold (3-3, 0-3) in 1-1A.
Last week’s Benton-Minden thriller was the game of the year so far in Bossier Parish.
Both teams put on an offensive show. Benton quarterback Garrett Hable passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns. Minden’s L’Jarius Sneed had almost 300 yards receiving and caught four TD passes.
The Tide rallied from 27-13 and 34-27 deficits. But a great defensive play was the difference in the end.
Benton’s TJ Anderson knocked the ball loose from Minden QB Antonio Rivette and Jake Norris returned it 17 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 26.9 seconds left to play.
Benton has now beaten the two teams it shared the 1-4A title with last year in North DeSoto and Minden.
Fair Park poses a challenge. The Indians have some outstanding athletes, including one of Bossier City-Shreveport’s best in quarterback Robert Rochell.
Fair Park has played some tight games against teams Benton routed. The Tigers are a clear favorite, but they certainly can’t afford to let up or take the Indians lightly.
Last year’s game was the debut of Benton quarterback Garrett Hable, then a freshman.
He entered the game with about five minutes left and the Tigers trailing 18-6.
Hable threw two touchdown passes to tie the game and a third in overtime as Benton won 24-18.
The Parkway-BTW game is a mismatch on paper and it will likely be one on the field. The Panthers, who defeated Captain Shreve 47-10 last week, are playing well on both sides of the ball.
Bossier has lost three straight since a 3-0 start. But the Bearkats were in two of those games in the fourth quarter. After falling behind 23-0 against Northwood last week, Bossier dominated the second half and got within three late.
Minden is coming off the tough loss to Benton. The Tide need a win to stay in the hunt for the district title.
But if Bossier plays like it did in the second half last week, the Bearkats could have a chance to pull the upset. The defense will need to plat their best game of the year, though.
Plain Dealing is coming off a tough 22-16 overtime loss to Grambling at home. The Lions led 16-0 going into the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold it.
Ringgold has lost three straight but the Redskins appear to be better than in recent seasons.
Even so, I expect the Lions to rebound with a win.

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