Falcons have been waiting for this chance

 FIRE-D UP: Northwood’s Tadarius Collins (4) will lead the Falcons into an electric atmosphere Friday night. (Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports)

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

There were a lot of dejected faces when the Northwood Falcons walked off the field on Sept. 22 after a 28-20 loss to Huntington in the opening game of the District 1-4A race.

But Northwood coach Austin Brown had a feeling there was a light at the end of a very long tunnel.

First, the Falcons would have to negotiate their way through the district schedule. But if they were successful in doing that, opportunity would still be there.

And he was right.

Though they will come into the game as underdogs, the Falcons, winners of five straight, can capture a share of the district championship by beating undefeated North DeSoto in Stonewall tonight at 6 o’clock.

“It’s exciting, but it’s weird being on the other end of it,” Brown said. “We’ve been on the back burner and we are the underdogs. We knew we would have another opportunity after the Huntington game.”

While the Griffins get a lot of attention for their offensive numbers, it is on the other side of the ball that’s got Brown’s attention.

“They run around on defense like rabid dogs,” he said. “It’s impressive. I’m a pretty proud defensive coach and I don’t usually throw a lot of compliments around, but they got it going right now on defense. They give their offense a lot of short fields.”

North DeSoto is known for its charged game atmosphere and that will certainly be the case tonight.

“We have to withstand the blitzkrieg for those first five minutes,” Brown said. “We’ve got to not have three-and-outs on offense because they (the Griffins) do not go three-and-out on offense and they don’t turn the ball over.”

Brown saw the makings of North DeSoto’s rise coming a year ago, when the Falcons and Griffins met twice in three weeks. Northwood won the regular season finale 13-7 to capture the district title and then won the rematch 19-9 in the second round of the playoffs.

“Last year they started 0-4 and then won five in a row before they played us,” he said. “But if you look at the games they lost, you could see that they could just as easily been 8-1 and 9-0. This year they are very similar, but I think they’ve got that belief. They’ve got lightning in a bottle.”

There is more on the line than just a share of the district championship. Northwood is currently No. 6 in the Select-Division 1 power rankings. The top eight teams will receive a first-round bye. North DeSoto is No. 2 in the Non-Select-Division II rankings.

“This is different for us to come in as underdogs,” says safety Mar’Jayvious Moss. “It’s going to be a loud, hyped-up game. They are going to be ready and we are going to be ready.”

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com

Northwood (7-2, 5-1) at North DeSoto (9-0, 6-0)

Where: Stonewall 

Series: Northwood 8-6 

Last year: Northwood 19-9 in playoffs, 13-7 regular season 

Last week: Northwood beat Woodlawn 48-0; North DeSoto beat Bossier 56-16 

Rankings: Northwood is No. 7 in the Shreveport-Bossier Journal Top 10 poll; North DeSoto ranks No. 8 in the LSWA Class 4A Top 10 poll 

LHSAA power rankings: Northwood is 6th in  Select Division I; North DeSoto is No. 2  in Non-Select Division II 

Radio: Northwood (Miracle 89.1 FM) 

Notables: The Falcons will be looking to improve their efficiency on offense, particularly in the passing game, according to head coach Austin Brown … Running back Quintavion White needs 142 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He has 16 of the team’s 27 rushing touchdowns … Defensive end Tadarius Collins has 10 quarterback sacks – the rest of the team has combined for 10 – and 19 tackles for loss … Northwood has won its last seven games to end the regular season.

Evangel (5-4, 4-2) at BTW (1-8, 1-5) 

Where: Leonard C. Barnes Stadium 

Series: Evangel 6-1 

Last year: Evangel 21-6 

Last week: Evangel beat Huntington 21-14; BTW lost to Minden 43-26 

Rankings: Evangel is No. 8 in Journal Top 10 poll 

LHSAA power rankings: Evangel is No. 13, BTW ranks 33rd in Select Division II 

Radio: none 

Notables: Eagles, winners of two straight games, eye their first three-game run of the season … Evangel has won six of seven games vs. BTW. The only blemish came with a 36-20 loss in 2020 … Junior receiver Parker Fulghum (847 yards) is 153 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season and ranks 14th statewide in all classes in receiving yards, and third with his 63 catches, according to GeauxPreps.com.

The Lions will be trying to avoid a one-win season, which they last had in the 2018 season … Even with a win, BTW would not get enough points to get into the top 28 of the power rankings to qualify for a playoff berth. The Lions are currently at No. 33 … BTW beat Evangel 36-20 during the 2020 season.

Minden (3-6, 2-4) vs. Woodlawn (3-6, 2-4) 

Where: Independence Stadium 

Series: Minden 17-9 

Last year: did not play 

Last week: Minden beat BTW 43-26; Woodlawn lost to Northwood 48-0 

Rankings: none 

LHSAA power rankings: Woodlawn stands 25th in Select Division II; Minden is No. 33 in Non-Select Division II 

Radio: Minden (Real Country 104.5 FM)

Notables: Last week, the Knights suffered their first shutout loss of the season to Northwood, 48-0 … Last season, Woodlawn had four shutout losses … Woodlawn head coach Thedrick Harris and Minden’s Spencer Heard were teammates on the Louisiana Tech football team in the mid-1990s.

Minden running back Jaylen Robinson became the first Tide back with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Sammy Seamster did it from 1985-87 … He also became the third all-time leading rusher behind Raymond Tate and Seamster … Robinson leads the team with 14 touchdowns and 84 points … QB Jakobe Jackson has run for 644 yards and passed for 759 for total offense of 1,403 yards, an average of 155.9 per game.