Tonight’s Class 5A semifinal game against Covington is the biggest in the history of Parkway high school.
Panthers coach David Feaster said his players are well aware of what’s at stake — a spot in the state championship game Dec. 14 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Panthers could become the first Bossier Parish school to play for a state title in the Superdome since the LHSAA started playing its championship games there in 1981.
Also, Parkway (12-0) can become the first parish school to reach a title game since Haughton in 1978. The winner of the Parkway-Covington game plays the Acadiana-Destrehan winner for the title.
Feaster said his players have been able stay on an even keel this week. That’s because this is just another in a series of big games this season.
“We really don’t notice much difference in the kids one week to the next,” he said. “Every week has been a big game starting with Calvary. Going to Bastrop was a big game. Byrd, Haughton and Airline were big games. Our guys are accustomed to playing on a big stage.”
A large crowd is expected to be on hand at Covington’s Jack Salter Stadium. The Lions (9-4) haven’t been in the semifinals in 1987.
Feaster said he has talked to his players about not getting caught up in their surroundings, but he doesn’t expect his senior-laded team to be intimidated by the hostile crowd.
Because of LHSAA sanctions resulting from an incident before last season’s first-round playoff game against Live Oak, Parkway has had to play all of its playoff games on the road.
This will be the third week in a row they’ve traveled 200-plus miles to South Louisiana.
After defeating Captain Shreve 41-7 in the first round, second-seeded Parkway traveled to New Orleans to play East St. John and the Baton Rouge-area to face Zachary. The Panthers defeated East St. John 52-25 and Zachary 49-34.
The Zachary game wasn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter, and Feaster expects to get another challenge tonight.
Covington’s record is deceptive. The Lions’ losses have come against Division I semifinalists Holy Cross (27-19, Week 1) and St. Augustine (40-27, Week 3), and Class 5A second-round teams Ponchatoula (Week 6, 33-24) and Mandeville (Week 10, 23-14).
Covington, which finished tied for third in District 6-5A, entered the playoffs as the No. 14 seed.
The Lions defeated Airline 48-13 in the first round and then upset No. 3 East Ascension 27-21 in the second. Last week, they knocked off No. 11 Central 20-14. The latter two games were on the road.
The Lions returned three interceptions for touchdowns against Airline.
Both teams could be without star players on offense.
Feaster said senior receiver Brodrick Jefferson, who suffered an unspecified injury against Zachary, has tried to practice this week but is “day-to-day.”
Covington’s top rusher, C.J. Sims, only played a little in the first quarter last week because of a sprained ankle. Sims rushed for 252 yards against East Ascension.
According to a report in The New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sims will be a “game-time decision.”
Joshua Bickham stepped up in his place against Central, rushing for 118 yards on two touchdowns.
Like Parkway, Covington lines up in the spread offense.
“Their offense has some explosive guys,” Feaster said.