Taking a look at midseason, with 5 games (at least) to go


Heading into the second half of the high school football regular season, Shreveport-Bossier Journal writers Teddy Allen (Airline, Haughton, Plain Dealing), Jerry Byrd Jr. (Bossier) and Roy Lang III (Benton, Parkway) offer midseason takes on the six Bossier Parish teams.

Coming in Thursday’s edition: a midseason update from the SBJ staff on the 13 teams in Caddo Parish.

AIRLINE VIKINGS (2-3, 2-0 in District 1-5A)

GOOD STUFF: Scoring the ball. The Vikings have been record-setters lately and put up 121 points the past two games. OL has been solid and has a pair of dependable backups. The Vikes have depth at RB and WR too. Tackling has improved since the season’s first two games.

NOT-AS-GOOD-STUFF: In a win over Natchitoches Central Friday, Airline at one point early dropped four passes in five attempts, including three in a row. And while it seems forever ago now, eight turnovers in the soggy opener against North DeSoto and at least half that many in a loss to Union Parish snatched away a chance at two wins; this offense is good, but as with any offense, it’s not good if it can’t protect the ball. An improvement in overall execution and consistency and … who knows?

BENTON TIGERS (2-3, 1-1 in District 1-5A)

GOOD STUFF: The Tigers’ offense has scored no fewer than 34 points in any game this season. Leading the way: quarterback Gray Walters (69-for-122 passing for 1,107 yards and 12 TDs), running back Greg Manning (617 rushing yards, nine rushing TDs) and wide receiver Pearce Russell (36 catches, 685 yards, 7 TDs).

Walters tossed eight touchdowns in the Tigers’ shocking 63-28 mauling of Byrd. The Tigers boast either the No. 1 or No. 2 passer, rusher and receiver in Bossier Parish.

NOT-AS-GOOD-STUFF: The Tigers have allowed an average of 43 points per game (and gave up 75 to Airline), so clearly the defense needs to improve. 

“We have to be more consistent,” Benton head coach Reynolds Moore said. “The group on defense we thought we had showed up Friday night (against Byrd). They just need to show up every week.”

However, Benton’s special teams isn’t blameless. Contributing to the high point totals by the opposition are a flurry of kick coverage breakdowns. Opponents have returned at least one kick for a touchdown in four of the past five games.

BOSSIER BEARKATS (0-5, 0-2 in District 1-4A)

GOOD STUFF: Bearkats head coach DeAumante Johnson has some talented young coaches on his staff, including former Parkway and Mississippi State defensive back C.J. Morgan. Johnson is also modeling how to show appreciation, like he did before the Parkway game – presenting his high school coach at Plain Dealing, Parkway’s Coy Brotherton, a plaque. Special teams have been special for the Kats — including 60-yard punts by Christobal Dario Gonzales Cruz and a game with two kickoff returns for a touchdown.

NOT-AS-GOOD-STUFF: -The Bearkats are 0-5.

HAUGHTON BUCS (3-2, 1-1 in District 1-5A)

GOOD STUFF: Undersized on the line on both sides of the ball, the Bucs have blocked better than expected; that OL unit is exceeding expectations. That means Haughton has been able to run the ball pretty well as big back Tyler Rhodes, 5-11 and a stout 205, has been placed in favorable spots; he rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries in last week’s 37-24 win over Southwood. QB Colin Rains had two TD rushes in that game and has been a team leader as expected.

NOT-AS-GOOD STUFF: Special teams. If teams trade 3-and-outs with Haughton, the Bucs are likely to lose 20 yards in field position on punts. (Or, it could be that other teams are more talented in special teams groups.) Nonetheless, it was a special teams play — a successful onsides kick — that opened the second half and jump-started Haughton against Southwood; the Bucs led just 10-6 at half but scored on three consecutive possessions after recovering the kick.

PARKWAY PANTHERS (5-0, 2-0 in District 1-5A)

GOOD STUFF:  The Panthers have put “special” into special team this season. Aeron Burrell may be the best weapon you’re not quite familiar with. He’s already kicked a 50-yard game-winner against Haughton, one of seven field goals this season. He’s also made a kick from a Bossier Parish-record 52 yards.

Burrell has also contributed to another significant stat. The Panthers’ average starting position is their 41-yard-line. Opponents’ average start is their 22.

“If you get 10 possessions, that’s almost a 200-yards advantage,” Parkway head coach Coy Brotherton said.

The Panthers have used a strong running game and terrific special teams to run through the first half of their season undefeated. Running back Jaylan White has 779 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns in five games. Cornerback Camaro Mayo has been lights out, too.

“He’s going against the better receivers and been able to limit their touches – essentially eliminate their best player,” Brotherton said. 

NOT-AS-GOOD STUFF: The Panthers have survived despite averaging more than a turnover a game. 

“Later in the year you want that number to be zero,” Brotherton said.

Defensively, Parkway has to get off the field on third and fourth. Haughton was able to extend several drives and Captain Shreve was 2-of-3 on fourth down last week.

PLAIN DEALING LIONS (0-5, 0-2 in District 1-1A)

GOOD STUFF: The Lions are battling to build a program and have shown plenty of fight. In last week’s loss to Haynesville, senior lineman Dakavious Hogan was injured, out for one play, then back in after he checked out fine (and begged his coaches). Partly a case of tough luck, but the Lions persevered even after having two TDs called back in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Ringgold, 36-34. Community support has been solid.

NOT-AS-GOOD STUFF: The District 1A Gods haven’t been kind, and it’s no one’s fault, but when you’re trying to build a program as Plain Dealing is, having Glenbrook, Homer and Haynesville in your district doesn’t make it any easier. A case could be made that the Lions need more numbers than the 22 on the team — but that’s more than 40 percent of the male enrollment, and no other team in the SBJ area can boast that high of a percentage.