A look at Plain Dealing’s home field advantage
The past two years have been a transitional period for Plain Dealing High School.
The school reverted back to a block schedule in the 2014-2015 school year and away from the New Tech curriculum, which was implemented in 2009. It was also Sandrina Isebaert’s first year as principal. Then the 2015-2016 school year welcomed another new face to the school.
This time, it’s on the football field. James Thurman was named the head football coach this year, following the resignation of Coy Brotherton.
The school is unique in the fact that it’s the only school campus in Bossier Parish that serves grades sixth through twelfth. Isebaert said it’s an opportunity they take full advantage of.
The school has combined the high school and middle school cheerleading teams for Friday night home games. By doing so, Isebaert said the overall school spirit has increased this season.
Cheerleader Khayja Glenn was elated to find out the squads would be combined this year. Not only was she excited about attending the high school games, but she was excited to get a head start learning the high school cheers as an eighth grader.
But it’s not just the middle school students who are benefiting from this change. The Lions have a louder presence at football games due to the expanded team.
“It’s important for us to be there because it helps keep their spirit up,” Glenn said. “The louder we get the more they know we support them.”
Even a few of the younger athletes are getting experience under the stadium lights.
“We dress out one seventh-grader and four or five eighth-graders,” Thurman said. “…one of the seventh-graders gets a decent amount of playing time on our special teams. He’s on kickoff, kickoff return, things like that. He gets in the game here and there at defensive back and receiver.”
However, the coaching staff has made it a priority of keeping all athletes safe.
“You take the ones that are physically mature,” Thurman explained. “You don’t want to put the real young ones that are not physically mature yet out there getting hit on by kids who are seniors in high school. There’s a fine balance between finding kids that can play on Friday night that are at that level and then not getting kids that don’t need to be out there out there. You’ve got to make sure you protect those kids.”
Plain Dealing has also made it easier for students to join the band, which gives more students the opportunity to perform at games and provides a bigger sound in the stands.
“The more students you have involved in your school, the better,” Isebaert said. “We want to offer as many opportunities to our kids as possible. We want them to experience what the bigger schools are doing.”
Plain Dealing entered their season with one of the best athletes in Class 1A in rising junior Keldrick Carper. But the Lions have played a tough schedule.
Their losses this season have been to St. Mary’s, who is ranked No. 1 in all of 1A, Haynesville, the defending 1A state champs, and Haughton, who are 5-1 in the Class 5A division.
The Lions are now 2-4 and 1-2 in District 1-1A , following a heartbreaking 22-16 loss to Grambling in overtime. The remainder of their schedule will continue putting their talent to the test.
“Obviously, anybody we play is going to be tough,” Coach Thurman said. “I don’t see any Haynesvilles, or Haughtons or St. Mary’s necessarily on the second half of the schedule. Cedar Creek is playing a lot better football this year and a few of the schools there are playing pretty good. They’re not Haynesvilles though.”
Plain Dealing is celebrating homecoming this week and has a full schedule of fun activities. A parade will be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The route will begin at the school and make its way through downtown before returning to the school.
Immediately after, the school will host a carnival for the community. A pep rally and bonfire will also be held at the baseball field.
Coronation will be held Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the gymnasium. The Lions will face Ringgold Friday night at home. Kick off is set for 7 p.m.
Pregame festivities include introducing the homecoming sweethearts. The homecoming court will be presented at halftime.
Plain Dealing alumni are invited to attend the festivities and football game. Former cheerleaders have also been invited to cheer at the game.
Homecoming festivities will conclude Saturday night with the high school homecoming dance.
Russell Hedges, sports editor, contributed to this article.
Plain Dealing’s Schedule
Oct. 16 Ringgold 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 @ Cedar Creek 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 @ D’Arbonne Woods 7 p.m.
Nov. 6 Arcadia 7 p.m.