By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports
Both Airline and Captain Shreve will be directionally challenged when they meet tonight in a District 1-5A scrap at 7 at Lee Hedges Stadium.
Airline (2-3, 2-0) lost its first three games and won its last two.
Captain Shreve (3-2, 0-2) won its first three games and lost its last two.
Tonight will end with either a continuing trend or a couple of U-turns.
So does either coach change his message?
Not a chance.
“The message is the same,” Shreve’s Adam Kirby said. “The focus is on ourselves and not on who we’re playing. We try to take the other team out of it and instead ask ourselves, ‘Is this our best effort? Is this your best technique?’ We want to play fast, physical, and furious. And focus on us.
“There’s definitely disappointment,” Kirby said, “but not any panic. We lost to two really good teams.”
“Shreve is plenty dangerous without us having to say anything in regard to their record,” Airline’s Justin Scogin said. “They’ve had two losses and by, what, a touchdown each game? We don’t have to introduce them to our team; our players know.”
Plagued by turnovers early in the season, Scogin said that’s a thing his players have gotten past. The scoreboard agrees: the Vikings have scored a total of 121 points in their consecutive wins.
“Now we’re down to working hard on the small things,” Scogin said. “Practice the right way and leave the locker room (on game night) the right way. I think the way we’ve rebounded, the way we’re practicing, is a testament to how well our guys have bought in.”
Airline quarterback Ben Taylor has thrown for 11 touchdowns in the past two games and just one interception in the Vikings’ past four. The passing game has been so explosive that a Viking three-or-four-headed running game led by Tre Jackson has been overlooked a bit.
“Run off the pass is what we want to do,” Scogin said. “But some nights, things might go better on the ground.”
The Gators’ literal first line of defense will be a line that loves a challenge.
“A group of really good players and good kids who enjoy each other,” Kirby said about the Shreve defensive line. “Guys like Bryce Lopez and Greg Webb, Terrence Greene, Landon Mosley … the list could go on. They play hard, they don’t miss weights, they make their grades … This is a bunch that gets along well together and has the mentality of putting their head down and going to work. They’re willing to do whatever it takes.”
Tonight determines whether or not that will be enough.
Contact Teddy at email@example.com
Airline (2-3, 2-0 in 1-5A) vs. Captain Shreve (3-2, 0-2)
Where: Lee Hedges Stadium
Series: Airline leads 29-22-1
Last year: Captain Shreve 33-0
Last week: Airline defeated Natchitoches Central 46-0; Captain Shreve lost to Parkway 25-13
Rankings: Airline is No. 5 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal poll; Shreve is No. 4 in SBJ poll.
LHSAA power ratings: Airline is 22nd in the Division I Non-Select ratings; Shreve is No. 7 in Division I Select
Radio: Captain Shreve (The River 95.7 FM, klkl.fm)
Notables: Captain Shreve head coach Adam Kirby says his players are handling well the disappointment of starting 0-2 in district play. “We’re fine. The kids are resilient and are working hard to right the ship. We still have a chance to go 8-2 and possibly get a first-round bye in the playoffs, so we’re focusing on that”… linebacker Scotty Simo leads the Gators with 43 tackles (28 solo). “We encourage our kids to play fast, physical, and fearless,” Kirby said. “He lives by that and plays like that every game. He’s got a mind like a coach, so he’s able to process information quickly and react to it. He was a unanimous first-team All-District selection last year and he’s on pace to have another great season” … Airline is averaging 60.5 points in its last two games. “Trust your coaching,” Kirby said, when asked about the Gators’ defensive approach. “We need to play hard for 48 minutes and not get down on ourselves if and when something happens. Football games are up and down, and we need to learn how to stay even-keeled and trust what we’ve been coached to do.”
Friday in Airline’s shutout of Natchitoches-Central, Braylen Smallwood had nine of the Vikings’ 94 yards rushing, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize he plays offensive guard. The play ended up so pretty, it looked as if it were designed. It wasn’t. “We call it ‘The Snap Is Fumbled And The Guard Picks It Up And Runs With It’ play,” coach Justin Scogin said. Smallwood had a host of blockers around left end — a power sweep, it appeared — and rumbled around the corner as if he’d done it dozens of times before. Teammates and coaches claimed he was the happiest man in Bossier at that moment as he lived the offensive lineman’s dream … speaking of clean living, the Vikings were the beneficiary on a holding call on the Chiefs — on a Chiefs kickoff that was a touchback. Go figure … Vikes have found a new handyman in receiver and special teams regular Bryson Broom, who started at safety Friday, the first time he’d played defense in — ever. With Ladarius Epps injured, Broom stepped into the position at last Monday’s practice and did so well Friday that, even with Epps back tonight, Broom will play defense somewhere. He almost scored Friday on offense, too; look for him to be on the field most all the time … LB Justin Epps has been hurt since spring but should return in late October … Friday’s win was on Homecoming 2022 and was the first on the new turf installed late last summer at M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium.