Hedges: Much at stake in final week of regular season

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OPNION

The high school football regular season comes to a conclusion Friday night, but that won’t be the end for five Bossier Parish schools.
Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s games, Airline, Parkway, Haughton, Benton and Plain Dealing will all be in the playoffs. Airline, Parkway and Benton will host first-round games and Haughton could.
But that doesn’t mean nothing’s at stake Friday.
Benton (8-1, 6-0) clinched a share of the District 1-4A title for the second straight year with a 55-38 victory over Northwood last week. But the Tigers want more.
Last year, they had to share the title with North DeSoto and Minden. Benton can win it outright with a victory over Bossier (3-5, 0-6) at Memorial Stadium.
“We set our goals on two things,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said. “One, we wanted to go undefeated at home. All three games we lost last year were at home. We wanted to make sure we did a better job of winning at home and protecting our home field. Then we had a second one which was to win the district championship outright.”
Benton is also looking to secure the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A playoffs.
Bossier will be trying to end a six-game losing streak. The Bearkats have been close in the second half in the majority of those games and will not be a pushover.
But the defense will have its hands full trying to stop a Benton offense averaging almost 40 yards per game.
Parkway has a chance to win a share of the District 1-5A title, but the Panthers will need some help from Byrd. If the Yellow Jackets (8-1, 4-1) knock off Evangel (8-1, 5-0) Thursday night, the Panthers will know they can grab a share of the title with a win at Airline (7-2, 3-2).
Otherwise, the Panthers will be playing for solo second place.
Regardless, the game between the two parish teams is always a big one and should draw a large crowd to Airline Stadium.
The Vikings and the Panthers met in the jamboree with Airline coming out of top 14-9.
But that was a long time ago. Parkway has won five straight. Airline has lost two in a row, but the Vikings are still playing well.
Almost every team this time of year has players battling injuries to one degree or another, but both teams have stayed generally healthy.
It should be a great game. I rate it a tossup.
As expected, Parkway had no trouble with Southwood last week, routing the Cowboys 54-0.
Airline fell to Byrd 35-21, but the game was tied at 21 late in the fourth quarter.
A large crowd made for a great atmosphere at Airline Stadium. Airline fans were on their feet as the Vikings rallied from a 21-6 halftime deficit.
But Byrd drove 90 yards and then returned an interception for a TD.
Missed opportunities cost Airline in the first half. The Vikings penetrated the Byrd 20 three times and came away with just two field goals.
Thomas McKain, though, had perhaps his best game of the season, completing 20 of 34 passes for 228 yards.
Elsewhere, Plain Dealing (3-6, 2-4 1-1A) hosts Arcadia (6-3, 3-3) in its regular-season finale. A win would definitely improve the Lions’ playoff seeding.
Arcadia has been lighting up the scoreboard but so have the Hornets’ opponents.
Injuries have definitely been an issue for Plain Dealing in the second half of the season.
The Lions can beat Arcadia, but they’ll need an outstanding all-around effort to do so.

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