Hedges: Parkway-Evangel clash highlights district openers; parish teams’ success continues

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OPINION

It was another strong week for Bossier Parish high school football.
For the third week in a row, parish teams went 5-1. That makes them 15-3 overall and 14-2 against out-of-parish competition.
It’s an understatement to say that’s a very good start to the season.
Of course, it may be time to stop using the word “start” with the regular season nearing its halfway point.
Plain Dealing was the only parish team that lost last week but it was hardly unexpected. The Lions fell 54-6 to a St. Mary’s team ranked No. 2 in Class 1A. Haynesville is the only team left on their schedule as good as the Tigers.
Like four other teams, Plain Dealing opens district play Friday. The Lions (1-2) visit Homer (1-2). It’s a game they are certainly capable of winning.
In District 1-5A openers, Parkway (2-1) visits Evangel (3-0) and Airline (3-0) hosts Southwood (0-3). In District 1-4A openers, Benton (2-1) faces Huntington (1-2) at Lee Hedges Stadium and Bossier (3-0) visits North DeSoto (3-0).
Haughton (3-0) hosts Green Oaks (0-3) for homecoming in its final non-district game before opening 1-5A play.
The big one, of course, is at Evangel. The Eagles, who dominated District 1-3A the last several years, are back in 1-5A. The last year Evangel was in 1-5A — 2004 — the Eagles won the state title. After that season, the LHSAA passed a rule stating schools could no longer “play up” in classification. Evangel’s enrollment at the time placed it in Class 1A.
The rule was later revised to allow schools to play up one class. Last year, the LHSAA voted to allow schools to play in higher classes without restriction.
Evangel is off to a 2-1 start. The Eagles lost to St. Joseph’s of Philadelphia 14-0 then defeated 2014 Class 4A runner-up Warren-Easton 21-6. Last week, they routed Idabel, Okla., 62-0.
The game will feature some of the top offensive players in Northwest Louisiana. Among those are Parkway quarterback Keondre Wudtee, Parkway running back/receiver CJ Morgan, Parkway running back/receiver Robert McKnight, Evangel quarterback Connor Curry and Evangel running back Jamarquez Mims.
Both defenses are playing well, but this could be a high-scoring game. It may not be decided until late in the fourth quarter.
Airline got a big win last week, defeating Ruston 42-27. The Vikings got big games from running back Shun’Cee Thomas and the offensive line. Thomas McKain threw long touchdown passes to D’Juan Byrd and Harvey Calhoun.
Airline is facing a Southwood team that has only scored one touchdown in three games. Any coach will tell you that you have to respect every opponent. But if the Vikings bring their “A” game they will win in a rout.
Benton coach Reynolds Moore says his team’s first three 1-4A games is as tough a stretch as he’s seen in his three years at the helm.
The Tigers open against Huntington Friday followed by North DeSoto and Minden, the teams with which they shared the district title last year.
Benton is coming off a 35-0 victory over Southwood that should give its defense some confidence. The offense is averaging about 37 points per game, almost double what it averaged in 13 games last season.
If Benton can contain Huntington’s talented sophomore quarterback Larry Moton the Tigers should start district play 1-0.
Haughton has won back-to-back games against 1-4A foes Minden and Woodlawn. Both were still in doubt in the fourth quarter.
That shouldn’t be the case Friday against District 1-3A’s Green Oaks. The Giants have some good athletes, including quarterback Jaylon Carey, but not enough to hang with the Bucs.
The game might provide the opportunity for Haughton to work on its passing game, which has taken a backseat to its strong ground attack so far.
The only battle of the unbeatens will take place in Stonewall where Bossier takes on North DeSoto.
Bossier deserves praise for its 3-0 start, but the Griffins will be a giant step up in competition. The Bearkats are heavy underdogs, but if they can get off to a good start they’ll start believing they can play with the Griffins. If that happens, things could get interesting.

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