As expected, Plain Dealing wasn’t able to pull off an upset against Haynesville on Friday night, but the Lions made the Golden Tornado work for the victory.
The undermanned Lions fell to the undefeated Tors 35-8 in a District 1-1A matchup in Plain Dealing. Most of the game was played in a steady rainfall. Haynesville (8-0, 4-0), a perennial state power, is tied for No. 4 in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 1A poll.
Plain Dealing dropped to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in district.
At one point in the third quarter, Plain Dealing trailed 28-8 and had the ball at the Haynesville 10. But the Lions couldn’t get in the end zone.
Coming off district losses of 44 and 46 points, Plain Dealing coach James Thurman was pleased with the way his team stayed with the Tors.
“We gave them all they wanted I think for a little while,” he said. “Through two-and-a-half quarters we played really, really hard. I think at the end we kind of just wore out a little bit. But I’ve never been so proud of these kids. They played hard and rose to the occasion.
“If there was ever a team that a team going through the problems we’re going through could find a reason to lay down for it’s Haynesville, but they didn’t. They played hard. We got a couple of turnovers, got a couple of stops. We made ’em punt a couple of times, got in the end zone one time, moved the ball on ’em. We definitely left it all on the field.”
One of Haynesville’s TDs came on a punt return. Another came on a 60-yard screen pass with one second left in the half.
“We held their offense in check a good portion of the first half,” Thurman said,
Plain Dealing’s defense included a 13-year-old seventh-grader at linebacker and an eighth-grader on the defensive line.
Thurman went into the game with 22 healthy players, including four middle schoolers. That’s not a lot but it’s better than where things stood going into the Jonesboro-Hodge game in Week 5.
In that game, Thurman had 17 players available after four quit and two others were suspended for missing practice without telling him beforehand. Another player was injured early in the game.
The bad news is the Lions lost a receiver to what Thurman described as a “pretty bad” ankle injury Friday.
Plain Dealing’s touchdown came on a fumble return by Kel Henderson. The Lions then recovered an onside kick which resulted in the drive that stalled at the 10.
Despite the adversity his team has faced this season, Thurman is optimistic going into the final two regular-season games.
The Lions travel to Grambling on Thursday to play Lincoln Prep (1-7, 1-3), which defeated Ringgold 52-20 Friday night, before facing a tough Homer team on the road in Week 10. Regardless of the outcome of those games, Plain Dealing will be in the playoffs.
Thurman believes he’s got a team now that’s committed to finishing strong. He said if the Lions had played like they did against Haynesville earlier in the season they would’ve had a chance to have at least two more wins.
“We’re starting over and I told them we may not be quite where we want to be this week with Haynesville,” he said. “We may not have gotten it rolling yet. But we’re going to get it rolling by next week.”