The Plain Dealing Lions fell to the Huntington Raiders 47-21 in their season opener Friday night at Independence Stadium.
The Lions got off to a good start, scoring on their opening drive. They then forced Huntington to attempt a field goal and the Raiders missed.
“At that point we had our kids believing that they belonged there,” Plain Dealing head coach James Thurman said.
But Huntington gained the upper hand with a punt return that set up a touchdown.
“I think it kind of broke our momentum a little bit,” Thurman said.
Class 4A Huntington had about three times the number of players as 1A Plain Dealing, whose roster includes a seventh-grader that Thurman said played about 20 snaps.
The Raiders also featured a pair of defensive ends that were 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-4.
That began to take its toll on the Lions, and Huntington built a 34-7 halftime lead.
One thing Thurman was proud of was his players’ conditioning. Despite the brutal heat on the artificial turf at Independence and the fact that most of the players play on both sides of the ball, only one Lion suffered cramps. Several Huntington players had to leave the field, Thurman said.
“It was kind of refreshing to see a team with almost 70 kids have three, four or five kids go out with cramps and our kids kind of sucked it up and played,” he said.
Senior quarterback Ken Gay, making his first start for the Lions, threw two touchdown passes and ran for one.
Receiver Darrien Perry had a big night, catching six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Artavious Washington-Carper also caught a touchdown pass.
“I felt like our kids played well and we’re in decent condition right now,” Thurman said. “We’ve just got to get better at blocking and tackling. That was the key last night. They blocked and tackled a lot better than we did. We’ve just got to get better from week to week.
“I told our guys several times that I feel like by Week 4 or 5 when we start jelling a little better we’ll be a pretty good ball club. We’re not there yet.”
The Lions play their home opener against North Caddo this Friday. The Rebels opened their season with a 26-6 victory over Homer.