High school football: Tough Week 5 for parish teams; second half of regular season starts Thursday

2085

WEEK 6 SCHEDULE
THURSDAY’S GAME
Parkway vs. Captain Shreve,Lee Hedges Stadium, 7
FRIDAY’S GAMES
Airline at Evangel, 7
Haughton at Franklin Parish, 7
Minden at Benton, 7
North DeSoto at Bossier, 7
Jonesboro-Hodge at Plain Dealing, 7

COLUMN

Except for the Parkway Panthers, Bossier Parish football teams didn’t have much to celebrate last week.
Parkway was the only winner in Week 5, defeating parish and District 1-5A rival Airline 23-21 at Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium.
But even in a loss, there can be something worth celebrating. Benton’s remarkable comeback against undefeated preseason District 1-4A favorite Northwood is an example.
Yes, the Tigers lost 28-27 on a Thursday night at Jerry Burton Memorial Stadium. But halfway through the fourth quarter, Benton trailed 28-7.
If the game had one of those ESPN graphics calculating the chance of winning, the Tigers’ percentage would have probably been at less than one percent at that point.
But there’s a reason coaches constantly tell their players to never quit.
Incredibly, Benton scored three touchdowns in 2:30 to get within one with 1:05 left in the game. Coach Reynolds Moore elected to go for two, which I believe was the right call. Moore’s defense had been on the field a long time against a very talented Northwood team loaded with playmakers.
Benton had a well-conceived pass play called, but the Falcons quickly put pressure on sophomore quarterback Clint Lasiter, who had to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack. The pass sailed high out of the end zone.
Even if Benton had taken the lead, a victory was far from guaranteed considering the time remaining and Northwood’s ability to score quickly from anywhere on the field.
I do think, though, the fired-up Tigers would’ve risen to the challenge.
While obviously disappointed with the loss, Moore was rightly proud of his team’s effort. After listening to his emotional postgame speech, the Tigers headed to the buses with their heads held high.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” he said. “I just told them there’s a lot of fight in them. 28-7, very little time left, they could’ve quit, could’ve folded up, said, look, that’s a great football team, we’re behind and there’s no chance, but our guys fought like crazy and I mean just didn’t quit. That’s why I wanted to go for two there. They fought back in. I told them we didn’t come to play for a tie. We came to win.”
The Haughton Bucs also had some positives to take from their first loss of the season last week. The Bucs fell to three-time defending 1-5A champion Evangel Christian 49-19 at home. Yes, the final score was lopsided. But midway through the third quarter, Haughton trailed 21-19 and lined up for a field-goal attempt to take the lead. Unfortunately for the Bucs, it was no good and Evangel rolled from there.
Like Parkway in Week 4, Haughton had no answer for Evangel running back Tamauge Sloan, who ran for 290 yards and four touchdowns. His shortest TD run was 23 yards. His longest was 90.
Haughton sophomore quarterback Peyton Stovall continued to be impressive, completing 24 of 36 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 93 yards rushing.
After the Eagles took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter Stovall hit Keyshawn Davis for a TD and then ran for another to keep the Bucs very much in the game.
In the other two games last week involving parish teams, the Bossier Bearkats fell to Huntington 28-8 in a District 1-4A matchup at Independence Stadium and the Plain Dealing Lions lost to Class 3A Green Oaks 41-0 at Northwood.
Hard as it is to believe, the regular season has reached the halfway point.
Thursday night, Parkway (3-1, 1-1) travels across the river for a 1-5A game against Captain Shreve (4-1, 0-1). The Gators are coming off their first loss of the season to Byrd, 27-25. The Jackets blocked a field goal on the game’s final play.
In District 1-5A Friday, Airline (1-4, 1-1) visits Evangel Christian (2-3, 2-0). Haughton (4-1) plays its final non-district game at Franklin Parish (3-2).
In District 1-4A, Benton (2-3, 1-1) hosts Minden (2-3, 2-0) and Bossier (1-4, 0-2) hosts North DeSoto (4-1, 1-1). In District 1-1A, Plain Dealing (2-3, 1-1) hosts Jonesboro-Hodge (2-3, 1-1).
As expected, last week’s Parkway-Airline game was a battle between evenly-matched teams.
It was also a game mostly dominated by defense. Parkway did manage some big plays in the passing game and had some success on the ground mainly in the second half.
The Panthers rallied from an early 14-3 deficit and then held off a late rally by the Vikings.
Airline had its moments. The Vikings got a touchdown pass from Brad Fream in the first quarter. In the second, Airline sacked sophomore quarterback Gabriel Larry in the end zone for a safety. Brandon Marshall returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and the 14-3 lead.
Jordan Gladney replaced Fream in the fourth quarter and led an 80-yard touchdown drive to get the Vikings within two.
The Viking sacked Larry several times, but he kept his poise, tossing one TD pass in each half.
Both teams hurt themselves with penalties, but Airline’s mistakes were especially costly. Perhaps the biggest one gave Parkway a first down on its final touchdown drive. Otherwise, the Panthers would have been facing a fourth down around midfield.
Three of Airline’s four losses have been by a combined 10 points. In the other, a 36-19 loss to Ruston, the Vikings led after three quarters.
All that doesn’t mean that much to coach Bo Meeks. He knows his team will be fighting for its playoff life in the second half of the regular season.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of focusing on the little things, staying focused for 48 minutes. Again, we’re at Week 6 now, can’t continue to make the mistakes we’re making at one, two and three. We’ve got to get better, all of us.”
Airline will be a heavy underdog against Evangel. Slowing down Sloan and the Eagles is a major challenge for any team.
But I won’t be surprised if Airline, like Haughton, stays close early. The Vikings obviously can’t make the kind of mistakes they made against Parkway. If they don’t, who knows what might happen down the stretch. But it will take their best effort this season to have a chance.
Parkway has won 11 straight games against Captain Shreve, including two first-round playoff victories. But this may be the best Shreve team in years and the Panthers will be challenged.
It could go down to the wire.
Bossier running backs Michael Green and Daniel Moore both had big games against Huntington. But the Bearkats couldn’t overcome penalties and turnovers.
They also failed to capitalize on a couple of fumble recoveries.
Bossier will be a big underdog against North DeSoto.
Plain Dealing will also be an underdog against Jonesboro-Hodge. The Tigers gave perennial 1A power all it could handle in a 35-26 loss in Week 4.

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