By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
There are only three teams in Shreveport-Bossier with unbeaten district records as Week 9 approaches. After the first three weeks of the season, you would have gotten some pretty decent odds on one of those teams being Loyola after the Flyers went 0-3.
But as the leaves fall and the grass turns brown (unless you have turf), there are the Flyers at the top of the District 1-2A standings with a 3-0 record and a four-game winning streak. And they still have two more home games to play. That’s the good news.
The bad news is there is more work to do. A lot more work.
Loyola has beaten the teams with a combined 1-8 district record. Next up are the two teams who are a combined 5-1 in the district – and both ranked in the LSWA statewide Class 2A poll.
The first of those two games is against North Caddo, who will come to Messmer Stadium Friday at 7 p.m. with a 6-2 overall record and a No. 8 state ranking. The only 1-2A team the Titans have lost to is No. 5 Calvary who is, you guessed it, Loyola’s final regular-season opponent.
It’s Halloween season, so you might understand Flyers coach Mike Greene’s feelings about taking on the Titans. “It’s scary,” he said. “Every snap you just have to hold your breath.”
North Caddo relies on a quick-strike offense with a number of different weapons who can line up all over the field.
“It’s like they say, get your playmakers the ball in space and let them do what they do,” said North Caddo coach Johnny Kavanaugh. “It’s definitely part of our game plan to do that. It’s a blessing to have kids who can take the ball and go 80 yards. You just have to find a way to get them the ball so they can do that.”
“I told our kids that every single play we are going to have to run to the football and play like you are on fire,” Greene said. “You watch them (the Titans) on field and they will start one way and cut back three or four times and the next thing you know they are in the end zone.”
That’s quite different from the approach Loyola uses on offense. The Flyers’ recent success – they’ve scored 118 points in the last three weeks – has come from a balance of running, passing and grind-it-out drives.
“They seem to pound people with power,” Kavanaugh said. “They pull that guard and go right up the middle and have had success with that. The scary part to me is the quarterback (Cooper DeFatta) with his run aspect. Any time you have a quarterback who can run, that adds an extra dimension. Their balance makes them very difficult to stop.”
In addition to throwing for 732 yards and five touchdowns this season, DeFatta is Loyola’s leading rusher with 484 yards and seven touchdowns.
In addition, the game carries postseason implications. Both are currently in the Top 10 in the Select-Division III power rankings. The top eight ranked teams will get a first-round bye.
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North Caddo (6-2, 2-1) at Loyola (4-3, 3-0)
Where: Messmer Stadium
Series: Loyola 31-18-1
Last year: did not play
Last week: North Caddo beat Green Oaks 38-0; Loyola beat Lakeside 41-14
Rankings: North Caddo No. 10 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal Top 10 poll
LHSAA power rankings: North Caddo is 7th; LCP is No. 10 in Select Division III
Radio: North Caddo (KNCB 1320 AM, K104 FM)
Notables: Haughton scored 71 points and lost to Benton last Friday night. The last time a team scored that many points and lost was when North Caddo lost to Lakeside during Week 10 of the 2013 season.
Loyola has lost its last six games against ranked opponents, dating back to 2016 … The Flyers will come into the game with back-to-back games with more than 400 yards in total offense … Loyola has rushed for five touchdowns in a game three times this year, including the last two games … The Flyers have more wins against North Caddo (31) than any other opponent in school history … Senior defensive end Andrew DeFatta had two quarterback sacks last week and Grayson Hutchins picked off his third pass of the year.
D’Arbonne Woods (5-3, 1-2) vs. Green Oaks (2-6, 0-3)
Where: Lee Hedges Stadium
Series: First meeting
Last year: did not play
Last week: D’Arbonne Woods lost to Calvary 56-7; Green Oaks lost to North Caddo 38-0
LHSAA power rankings: D’Arbonne Woods is No. 16; Green Oaks ranks No. 18 Select Division III
Notables: The Giants, who have lost five straight games, were shut out for the first time last week when they fell 38-0 to North Caddo, No.8 in the LSWA Class 2A rankings … “Their athletes are every bit as good as advertised,” Green Oaks head coach Chadwick Lewis said of the Titans. “We have to get over the mental hump and learn how to rise to the occasion when playing good teams and players like North Caddo” … The good news from last week is the Giants were able to come out of the game “pretty injury-free” … “We were able to get a couple of guys back this week from injury, so another week of getting them back in a groove will definitely help,” said Lewis … The Green Oaks coach knows his offense will have to step up and help the defense against D’Arbonne Woods … “They want to run the ball and they do it well,” said Lewis. “Coach (Thomas) Tharp has always had a good rushing attack and this year is no different” … Despite the Giants’ losing streak, Lewis is proud of the fact that his players continue to fight. “Our boys never quit, so that is what I love about them,” he said. “As a team, we just have to keep pushing and keep grinding.”
Arcadia (5-3, 1-3) at Magnolia (1-7, 1-3)
Series: Arcadia 2-0
Last year: Arcadia 70-12
Last week: Arcadia lost to Homer 43-6; Magnolia lost to Haynesville 48-6
LHSAA power rankings: Arcadia is No. 10 in Non-Select Division IV; Magnolia ranks No. 25 in Select Division IV
Notables: After notching their first victory of the season two weeks ago, the Mariners took a tumble last week as they fell to the No. 9 team in the LSWA Class 1A rankings … They trailed 41-0 and didn’t score until the final stages of the Week 8 loss to Haynesville (48-6) … “The game was not what we hoped,” said Magnolia head coach Toriano Williams, “but I was proud of how our kids bounced back after our player had the mild concussion” … The Mariners’ coach is hoping his players who were out due to illness will be back this week … “This week we play another good running team,” said Williams. “And we will have to do better on offense” … Arcadia is hoping to get back in the win column as the Hornets have lost back-to-back district games (47-18 to Haynesville and 43-6 to Homer) … Their district win came against Ringgold (36-0) in Week 6.