Parkway among talented teams in annual Battle on the Border

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Landers Dodge Battle on the Border High School Football Showcase Schedule

At Independence Stadium
THURSDAY
El Dorado, Ark., vs. St. Thomas Moore, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY
John Curtis vs. Shades Valley, Ala., 6 p.m.
West Monroe vs. Lufkin, Texas, 8:30 p.m.
SATURDAY
Parkway vs. Gladewater, Texas, 11 a.m.
Warren Easton vs. Evangel, 2 p.m.
Maumelle vs. Neville, 5 p.m.
Byrd vs. Longview, Texas, 8 p.m.

If you want to see a concentration of high school football teams as good as the ones competing in the Landers Dodge Battle on the Border High School Football Showcase in one place, you’ll have to head to the Superdome in December.
That’s where the Louisiana state championship games will be played.
The Battle on the Border began in 2011 with the idea of bringing together some of the top teams in the region for early-season matchups at Independence Stadium.
For its first four years of existence, it was a two-day affair with two games on Friday and four on Saturday. This year, the Battle has expanded to three days and seven games. El Dorado, Ark., and Lafayette St. Thomas More face off in the opener Thursday night at 7.
This year’s event features teams from Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama. Neville and New Orleans Warren Easton, who played for the Class 4A state championship last season, are among the 14 teams competing.
River Ridge John Curtis, which has won 26 state championships, is competing for the second straight year. The Patriots finished as the Division I state runner-up last season.
Curtis takes on Shades Valley, Ala., which went 9-3 last season, in the first game Friday at 6 p.m.
The event features the two winningest coaches in the history of Louisiana prep football — Curtis’ J.T. Curtis (540-58-6, 46 years) and St. Thomas More’s Jim Hightower (376-116-1, 40 years).
Last year’s event attracted almost 22,000 fans over the two days.
“The Landers Dodge Battle on the Border High School Football Showcase has become just that, a showcase of some of the finest high school teams in the region,” said Charlie Cavell, the event’s media represent and the radio play-by-play voice of the Byrd Yellow Jackets for the last 18 years.
“ This year’s Battle on the Border is like a great Louisiana football gumbo. You’ve got powerhouse programs chocked full of top tier talent mixed with incredible coaches all in one beautiful bowl we call Independence Stadium.”
Parkway is in the event for the third straight year. The Panthers defeated Marshall, Texas, the last two seasons 46-21 and 62-19. Parkway has a new opponent this season in Gladewater, Texas, which went 11-2 last season and lost in the regional round of the Class 4A, Division II playoffs.
Byrd has competed in all four previous Battles. The Jackets conclude this year’s event with an 8 p.m. game Saturday against East Texas power Longview.
“You’re not going to find anywhere around the concentration of quality teams showing up here to play,” said Byrd coach Mike Suggs, who is in his 18th season at the helm. “There’s going to be some great football teams here and some great games being played.”
Byrd, the defending District 1-5A champion, went 10-0 in the regular season last year and lost to
In the other Friday matchup, West Monroe takes on Lufkin, Texas, at 8:30. In the other Saturday matchups, Warren Easton faces Evangel at 2 p.m., Maumelle, Ark., takes on defending Class 4A state champ Neville at 5 p.m.
Curtis, Evangel, West Monroe and Neville have won a whopping 58 state championships among them.
The Battle will feature some of the state’s best players.
John Curtis’ Willie Allen, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive tackle, is ranked as the No. 1 overall college prospect in the state in the Class of 2016 by ESPN. He is the No. 2 ranked tackle in the country and No. 4 prospect overall.
Neville’s Rashard Lawrence, a 6-3, 309-pound defensive tackle, is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the state in the Class of 2016. He is the No. 3 ranked defensive tackle in the country and No. 17 overall.
Neither has committed to a college.
Some of the other top 2016 prospects on Battle team’s rosters are Warren Easton wide receiver Clyde Lefore-Chriss, Parkway wide receiver C.J. Morgan-Walker, Evangel wide receiver Corey Henderson, Warren Easton linebacker Pernell Jefferson and Parkway quarterback Keondre Wudtee.
Some of the top juniors are Neville cornerback Corey Straughter and safety Jacorion Andrews, Evangel quarterback Connor Curry and West Monroe defensive end Dennis Collins.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com