Parish teams ready for scrimmages

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This week’s scrimmages mark another step for Bossier Parish high school football teams as they prepare for the season.
Two parish teams will go head to head. The Airline Vikings and Benton Tigers face off Friday at Benton. Also Friday, Bossier visits Red River and Parkway hosts West Monroe.
There are two scrimmages Thursday. Haughton hosts North DeSoto and Plain Dealing visits Fair Park.
The format of scrimmages varies, but they usually go something like this.
Each schools’ first and second (and sometimes third) teams face off for a set number of plays. If a team fails to make a first down, the ball is brought back to the original line of scrimmage.
Some coaches get on the field behind their offenses. The kicking game is usually absent from the controlled portion of the scrimmage.
Then after two or three go-rounds, the teams conclude the scrimmage with a 12- or 15-minute regulation period.
For players, the scrimmage is a chance to finally go against someone other than teammates and get some game-type experience. For coaches, it’s a chance to see how much progress has been made and what areas need work.
Airline coach Bo Meeks has always treated scrimmage week like a regular game week because it helps players, especially newcomers, become familiar with the routine.
Airline and Benton are familiar with each other. The teams faced off almost once a week in a 7-on-7 passing league this summer. Of course, linemen and pads will be added to the mix Friday.
The Vikings are coming off a 4-7 season. The Tigers went 10-3 last season and shared the District 1-4A title. Airline is loaded with returning starters. Benton was hit hard by graduation, especially on defense.
Parkway will be going against another opponent for the first time since last year’s season finale. The Panthers had an intra-squad scrimmage in the spring. Parkway, which finished 8-2 on the field, had to forfeit five games and sit out the playoffs last season after the LHSAA ruled it used an ineligible player.
The Panthers will get an idea of how they stack up against the state’s best Friday. West Monroe is a perennial power. The Rebels went 11-2 last year, losing to Destrehan 27-22 in the Class 5A semifinals.
Haughton, which went 9-3 last season, is taking on a North DeSoto team that shared the District 1-4A title in 2014. Two of the area’s top running backs will be on display in Haughton’s Kei’Untre Normandin and North DeSoto’s Delmonte Hall.
Plain Dealing’s scrimmage will be its first under new head coach James Thurman. Former Airline head coach Mike Greene is entering his fifth year as head coach at Fair Park.
Bossier is facing a Red River team that went 6-5 last season. The Bearkats have a bevy of running backs looking for playing time this season.
The 62nd annual Bossier Lions Club Jamboree is a week from Friday with season openers set for Sept. 4.

THURSDAY
Haughton at North DeSoto, 6 p.m.
Plain Dealing at Fair Park, 6
FRIDAY
Airline at Benton, 6
Bossier at Red River, 6
West Monroe at Parkway, 6

Note: After presstime for the Aug. 19 print edition, the location of the Haughton-North DeSoto scrimmage was changed to Stonewall.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com