Hedges: Bossier parish teams enjoy success in first half of regular season

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OPINION

Halfway through the regular season, it’s safe to say it’s been a very successful year so far for Bossier Parish high school football teams.
Plain Dealing is the only one with a losing record at 2-3 and the Lions have played a very tough schedule. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat.
After last week’s 4-2 record, parish teams are 26-6 against non-parish teams.
The Parkway Panthers and Benton Tigers both posted huge wins over previously undefeated teams.
Parkway defeated Byrd, the fifth-ranked team in Class 5A, 20-6 at Preston Crownover Stadium. Benton knocked off North DeSoto, the fourth-ranked team in Class 4A, 28-21 at Benton.
The Panthers and the Tigers had to be considered slight underdogs in both games.
Parkway was coming off a 56-21 loss to Evangel. The Panthers came out with redemption on their minds and got after the Jackets from the opening kickoff.
Parkway dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball but particularly on the defensive side.
Byrd didn’t have a serious scoring threat until late in the game. In fact, Parkway could’ve and probably should’ve won by four or five touchdowns. The Panthers offense played well but couldn’t finish a couple of promising second-half drives.
Byrd played without their No. 2 rusher, Tysen Hardman, a back capable of big plays. And his replacement, Jalin Thomas, left the game on Byrd’s first series with a knee injury.
To his credit, Byrd coach Mike Suggs didn’t use that as an excuse. Sadly, injuries are part of the game. Parkway linebacker Antoine Beckwith left the game with an injury in the first half and didn’t return.
I think Parkway would’ve won even if both teams had been at full strength.
At Benton, the Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never trailed.
Sophomore running back Jermaine Newton put on a show. The defense came up with some key stops, including an interception by lineman TJ Anderson that sealed the victory.
Even though it was Benton’s third straight victory over the Griffins since Reynolds Moore became the head coach in 2013, considering North DeSoto’s ranking, it has to be among his biggest wins.
The other four games last week went about as expected.
In District 1-5A, Airline and Haughton both got off to slow starts before getting down to business against Captain Shreve and Sothwood, respectively. The Vikings won 56-21 and the Bucs won 35-0.
In District 1-4A, Bossier hung with Woodlawn until the fourth quarter, trailing by just nine. But the Knights scored two late TDs and won 44-21.
In District 1-1A, Plain Dealing trailed defending state champion just 14-6 at the half, but the Tors turned it on in the second and won 53-6.
There are two big district games this week. Benton (4-1, 2-0) hosts Minden (4-1, 2-0) Thursday and Haughton (5-0, 1-0) faces Byrd (4-1, 1-1) Friday at Lee Hedges Stadium.
The Benton-Minden game was one of the best games of the 2014 season. Minden won 25-24 in OT. The Tigers scored first in OT. The Tide then scored and hit a two-point conversion pass to win it.
It should be another tight game. Both teams are playing well. Minden has many of the same players who figured in last year’s victory.
Haughton has lost to Byrd every year since it moved into Class 5A in 2012. Only one of those games, a 27-21 loss in 2012, was close.
The Bucs are starting the meat of their schedule. After Byrd comes Airline, Parkway and Evangel. Those four games will tell the story of their season.
Byrd is the definition of an “injury-riddled” team. Haughton has been tough on defense most of the season. If the defense continues to play well and the offense steps up, this will be a very good game.
Parkway (4-1, 1-1) hosts Captain Shreve (1-4, 0-2) Thursday in the other 1-5A game. The Panthers should roll in this one.
In District 1-4A, Bossier (3-2, 0-2) visits Northwood (2-3, 0-2) Friday. In District 1-1A, Plain Dealing (2-3, 1-1) visits Grambling (2-3, 0-2) Thursday.
The Bearkats and Lions both have good chances to add to their win total.
In a non-district homecoming game, Airline (5-0) hosts Mansfield (0-5). The Wolverines are probably better than their record shows, but if Airline plays like it’s been playing it shouldn’t be close.

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