By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the Shreveport-Bossier Journal spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)
If you had told Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton a few weeks ago where his team would be at this point of the season, he might not have believed you.
The 2-0 Buccaneers went into Week 3 at Many and were soundly defeated 35-3 right before the start of District 1-5A play. The following week, they opened district play against Parkway and put up a fight before losing 17-14 on Aeron Burrell’s 50-yard field goal with three seconds left in the game.
It took the Bucs a little while to get going in their district game against Southwood in Week 5’s Homecoming game, but they used a strong second half to grab a 37-24 victory against the Cowboys.
And then came last week, when the Bucs went into Lee Hedges Stadium to meet Byrd – considered by Brotherton to be “the standard” in District 1-5A — for the Yellow Jackets’ Homecoming game. Byrd held a 10-5 overall record against Haughton, won last season’s matchup 38-7, and went into the game No. 2 in Division I Select in the LHSAA power ratings and No. 2 in the Shreveport-Bossier Journal Top 10.
The Yellow Jackets got on the board first, but the Bucs fought back to take a 17-14 lead at the half and then dominated the second half – highlighted by four consecutive Byrd turnovers and an incredible performance by Haughton running back Tyler Rhodes. Rhodes had 92 yards rushing and one of his two touchdowns in the final two quarters as the Bucs held on for the 23-14 victory.
With the victory, Haughton has been named the Journal’s “Team of the Week.”
“I’m really excited about where we are,” says Brotherton. “Our outlook has changed a lot in the last few weeks.”
The outlook began to change after the heartbreaker against Parkway. “I think that opened our kids’ eyes that if we play a certain way, we play well, we play clean, we can beat people that are good,” said Brotherton. “It’s hard to say a loss springboards your season, but I really feel like it did.”
The way the Bucs played against the Yellow Jackets was everything the Haughton coach mentioned – complimentary football with all three phases of the game clicking in a well-played, clean game.
“We ran the ball two-thirds of the time, and that’s our best weapon,” said Brotherton. “Early in the game we were pretty balanced. (Quarterback) Colin (Rains) was very efficient passing, and that allows you to run the ball.”
Rains was 11-for-15 for 163 yards and one TD while Rhodes finished with 150 yards on 21 carries and two TDs.
“Offense usually gets the credit,” said Brotherton, “but our defense played great. They forced four turnovers in the second half. Hats off to them.”
Now, the focus is on the second half of the regular season — which includes games against Airline, Benton, Natchitoches Central, and Captain Shreve in what Brotherton calls “a loaded district” – and getting to the playoffs.
“We know we’ve gotta get to ‘this many’ wins to get to the playoffs,” said Brotherton. “From that standpoint, it (the victory over Byrd) was huge. We feel like we’ve gotta win one more.”
Brotherton is not only excited about where his team is at this point, he’s excited about what’s ahead.
“We always say we want to play in big games,” he said. “We’re going to have a huge game next week at Airline. I’m excited.”
Haughton takes a 4-2 overall and 2-1 district record to Airline (3-3, 3-0) on Thursday night.
Contact Harriet at firstname.lastname@example.org