SPAR drops ball on Battle on the Border

The Five P’s are important.

“Prior planning prevents poor performance.”

This week, local high school football coaches are talking to their teams about the Five P’s as most have begun practice for the 2022 season.

Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation would do well to go out to some of the practices and take notes on the subject as the 11th annual Battle on the Border will be held Sept. 2-3 (Friday/Saturday) — with next to no representation from Caddo-Bossier teams.

The reason? A lack of attention to detail on the part of SPAR.

C.E. Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew likes the BOTB, but when he was contacted in early spring about participating, the details were lacking.

“They couldn’t tell me who I would be playing, when I would be playing, the compensation I would receive, or even a list of teams involved in the event,” Ballew said. “The way it was presented, I didn’t trust that it would be an event that we wanted to be a part of.”

Even last week, SPAR representatives told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal they had recently reached out to local coaches in hopes of getting teams in the event this year — just over a month away. Yet nobody from SPAR has contacted Ballew since early spring.

“Four years ago, it was a great event,” Ballew said. “It was well run, and we always enjoyed participating.”

That is obviously no longer the case.

Even if SPAR were to have its footballs in a row and be able to give Ballew and other local head coaches more details, early spring is already too late to ask high school football coaches to participate. The schedules are already set.

“Those conversations take place in December,” Ballew said. “I’ll pick up the phone in December and call Rodney (Guin) at Calvary and say ‘Hey, you want to play?’” Ballew said. 

This is not the first year where there have been signs of mismanagement by SPAR’s BOTB event management crew.

Instead of BOTB officials telling Ballew who his opponent would be in last year’s BOTB, he had to go out on his own and find a foe.

“I had to call and get Tioga,” Ballew said. “Then Coach (Mike) Suggs called Tioga and had to help us talk them into participating.” 

A conversation with Parkway head coach Coy Brotherton suggests more evidence that SPAR has simply dropped the ball.

“Didn’t even know that was still a thing,” Brotherton replied when asked if he had been contacted by SPAR to participate in the BOTB. “I haven’t talked to anyone.”

“We would have probably considered it since our turf wasn’t done,” Brotherton said. “Instead, we had to move our game to Bossier High.”

Brotherton said it looks like the turf will be finished in time for the Panthers to play Minden at home on Week No. 1. 

SPAR assistant director Joe Mero told the Journal last week that “once we moved to the first weekend, a lot of teams already had their schedules in place. I’m wishing and hoping.”

It’s early August. It’s more than a little late in the game for Mero and his staff to be “wishing and hoping” for local teams to participate. What they should have been doing last December was picking up a phone and calling. 

The last-minute push wasn’t completely futile. Mansfield was persuaded to give up its home opener and will play Huntington at Independence Stadium in the BOTB’s final game at 7:30 on September’s first Saturday night.

But I have yet to see a full list of teams participating. Why? Because the Battle on the Border website, with the first game less than 30 days away, had not been updated Wednesday afternoon.

SPAR does many good things — especially for the young people in our community — but as it relates to the mismanagement of the Battle on the Border and providing local high school football fans with a true showcase … C’mon man!

Contact Jerry at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com