Familiar coaches face off as Evangel, North DeSoto battle

PEYTON’S SPACE: Evangel quarterback Peyton Fulghum stands in the pocket and looks for a receiver. (Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports)

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

The easiest way to look at tonight’s North DeSoto-Evangel game would be to view it as a “Dunn vs. Duron” matchup. After all, the Griffins’ Dennis Dunn was head coach at Evangel for 13 years while Eagles’ coach Denny Duron has been everything from offensive coordinator to chancellor at the school.

For most of that time – the 1990s and early 2000s – Duron and Dunn were the face of Evangel football.

However, when it comes to this game, that is nothing more than a subplot. There are a lot more things to focus on than the two guys who will stand on the sidelines 53.3 yards apart at Griffin Stadium in Stonewall before the 7 o’clock game.

But what about when they meet at midfield before the game?

“We will talk about each other’s teams and tell some old stories,” Duron said. “We don’t have any trouble enjoying each other’s company. We will probably laugh until one of us realizes it’s time to go.”

North DeSoto will come into the game with an unbeaten record and as one of only two teams without a loss in District 1-4A. Evangel (3-3, 2-1) is coming off a 21-20 loss to Northwood, but seems to be getting better every week.

This begins a stretch in which the Griffins will play the three teams immediately behind them in the district standings.

“Everything about them impresses me,” Duron said of North DeSoto. “They’ve got a great young quarterback (freshman Luke Delafield) who is as poised as any I’ve ever seen at that stage. They have a very aggressive defensive line and really block well on the offensive line. They are coming after you from the get-go.”

North DeSoto is currently No. 3 in the Division II non-select power rankings.

“Dennis is a great coach,” Duron said. “He’s a great fundamental and charismatic leader. They’ve had a little bit of a drought but I think this is the team he’s been looking for. He’s formidable for anybody who plays against him.”

The Eagles looked as if they might pull an upset on the road against Northwood last week but were unable to overcome some critical mistakes.

“We’ve just got to play good, fundamental football and not shoot ourselves in the foot,” Duron said. “We have continued to make game-changing, unforced errors and if we can just take care of our business, we will be competitive.”

The Eagles are led on offense by junior quarterback Peyton Fulghum who has thrown for 917 yards and eight touchdowns. He threw for 238 yards against Northwood last week with twin brother Parker Fulghum catching seven passes for 134 yards.

Jacob Wilson (71 tackles) and Jamal Jordan (68) lead the Evangel defense.

“I love the way they show up for work every day,” Duron said of his team. “I’ve never been around a more positive group of boys in my life. I love their resilience and the fact they understand this is a team thing. They are going to play hard every down.”

North DeSoto has scored at least 40 points in every game and has allowed only five touchdowns in the last four contests. Duron knows it will be a challenge for his team.

“If we win, I’ll be excited about winning,” Duron said. “But if we lose, there’s nobody I’d rather lose to than Dennis.”

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com

Evangel (3-3, 2-1) at North DeSoto (6-0, 3-0)

Where: Stonewall

Series: North DeSoto 2-1

Last year: North DeSoto 36-13

Last week: Evangel lost to Northwood 21-20; North DeSoto beat Woodlawn 47-6

Rankings: Evangel is 10th in the Shreveport-Bossier Journal Top 10 poll 

LHSAA Power Ratings: Evangel is No. 20 in Division II Select; North DeSoto is No. 3 in Division II Non-Select

Radio: none

Notables: Another matchup between Evangel head coach Denny Duron and former Eagles head coach Dennis Dunn (now the head coach for the Griffins) . . . Eagles have one victory against the Griffins over the past three seasons (42-0 in 2019). North DeSoto won 36-13 in 2021 and 40-15 in 2020 . . . undefeated Griffins are the state’s highest scoring team and have scored at least 40 points in every game . . . overlooked: they have allowed just 31 total points in their past four games.

Minden (2-4, 1-2) at Northwood (4-2, 2-1)

Where: Jerry Burton Stadium

Series: Minden 24-19

Last year: Northwood 20-14

Last week: Minden beat Bossier 33-6; Northwood beat Evangel 21-20

Rankings: Northwood is tied at No. 8 in the Journal Top 10

LHSAA Power Ratings: Minden is No. 28 in Division II Non-Select; Northwood is 11th in Division I Select

Radio: Minden (Real Country 104.5 FM); Northwood (Miracle 89.1 FM)

Notables: If you don’t know who made a tackle at a Northwood game, someone with a single-digit number would be a good guess. Leading tacklers for the Falcons are Number 4 Tadarius Collins (38 tackles), No. 7 Jeremiah Reed (37), No. 5 Mar’javious Moss (33) and No. 9 Parker Stroope (31). And two of the next three leaders are also single-digit uniform numbers . . . Collins has seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss . . . the Falcons will face the option attack of the Minden Crimson Tide this week. “This is Minden every year – they are going to have about five dudes on their team that nobody else in the city has,” coach Austin Brown said. “They are going to look the part. They are putting in a new offense, but they are going to run it 55 times and you have to be really disciplined on defense because they can bust one for 80 yards at any time.”

Benton (3-3, 2-1)) vs. Southwood (0-6, 0-3)

Where: Independence Stadium

Series: Benton 6-0

Last year: Benton 50-16

Last week: Benton beat Natchitoches Central 62-15; Southwood lost to Parkway 55-6

Rankings: Benton is No. 3 in the SBJ poll

LHSAA Power Ratings: Benton is 18th in Division I Non-Select; Southwood is No. 31 in Division I Select 

Radio: Benton (The Light 92.1 FM; 69.64.65.171:8192/ksyr) 

Notables: The Cowboys face a tough task in their attempt to get in the win column . . . Benton hasn’t scored fewer than 34 points in a game all season . . . the Tigers have outscored their two previous opponents 125-43 (63-28 over Byrd and 62-15 over Natchitoches Central) . . . and the Cowboys will have to do it without DE Antonio Caldwell, LB Caleb Nunsant, and SS Jathon Skinner . . . “On a good note,” says Southwood coach Jesse Esters, “we get running back Melvin Coleman back.” 

Benton has won all six matchups against Southwood since 2011, including a 50-16 victory last season . . . the Tigers have recovered from a three-game losing streak to win a pair against Byrd (63-28) and Natchitoches Central (62-15) . . . Tigers boast the No. 2 passer (Gray Walters, 1,500 yards), No. 2 rusher (Greg Manning, 689 yards) and No. 1 receiver (Pearce Russell, 840 yards) in Bossier Parish . . . Walters ranks 6th statewide in passing yards and Russell is No. 2 in receiving yards, according to GeauxPrep.com.