Hedges: New season could bring some surprises

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Editor’s note: This column is from The Press-Tribune’s 2015 High School Football Preview

While it’s possible to make some educated guesses about what the 2015 season will bring, the great thing about high school football is its ability to surprise.
Maybe a Bossier Parish team will rise above expectations this season. Motivated teams and players can overcome a lot. That’s part of the fun.
The only prediction I can make about the 2015 season that will absolutely be correct is that it will be a memorable one. That’s always the case in Bossier Parish.
The 2014 season is a good example. It was memorable for several good reasons and one very bad one.
Four of the six parish teams had winning seasons. The Benton Tigers and Plain Dealing Lions had their best seasons in years with both advancing to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
But 2014 will mostly be remembered as the year Parkway was forced to sit out the playoffs. The Panthers had to forfeit five of their eight victories after the LHSAA ruled an ineligible player played in those games.
It was a sad ending for a Parkway team — especially a core group of seniors that had been a big part of the team’s success over the past two seasons — that could’ve made a deep run in the Class 5A playoffs.
But that was last year.
One thing to keep an eye on this year is how District 1-5A plays out with Evangel joining Airline, Haughton, Parkway, Byrd, Southwood and Captain Shreve. The addition of the perennial private school power makes a strong district even stronger.
The other districts with parish teams have also changed slightly. Bossier is moving up to District 1-4A, which includes Benton and six other area schools, after four years in 1-3A. Loyola College Prep has moved from 1-4A to 1-3A.
District 1-1A, which includes Plain Dealing, has grown from six to eight teams. Homer and new LHSAA member D’Arbonne Woods are additions.
The 2015 season brings one new head coach — Plain Dealing’s James Thurman.
While parish teams as usual lost some outstanding talent to graduation, there is plenty coming back.
Three teams return quarterbacks that started all or most of the 2014 season — Parkway (Keondre Wudtee), Benton (Garrett Hable) and Bossier (Keimun Daniels).
Airline senior Thomas McKain started three games last year.
Wudtee was the Outstanding Offensive Player on The Press-Tribune’s All-Parish team last year.
Other first-team offensive players returning are Haughton senior running back Kei’Untre Normandin, Airline senior running back Shuncee Thomas, Airline senior wide receiver Cameron Howell and Airline senior tackle Colton Prater.
Normandin and Thomas were the top two rushers in Bossier Parish last year. Prater is a Texas A&M commitment.
First-team All-Parish players returning on defense are Airline senior defensive back Xavier Johnson and Plain Dealing junior defensive back Keldrick Carper.
Parkway senior CJ Morgan, another first-team selection, played defensive back and wide receiver last season. He is expected to focus on the latter this season could be one of the area’s most exciting players.
It should be another exciting year of high school football in Bossier Parish. Let the games begin.

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