By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports
Prep football in Shreveport-Bossier this fall was the kind of season where you could score 42 and 71 points in consecutive games — and lose both.
It happened to Haughton, who made it the playoffs’ second round, in back-to-back October losses to Airline and Benton. But true to 2022 prep football form around here, the Bucs bounced back the next week to score 56, plenty enough to beat Natchitoches-Central.
Benton was the Top Dog when it came to scoring; the Tigers averaged 46 points a game this fall. Airline averaged “only” 41 but beat Benton, 75-59, in the District 1-5A lid-lifter September 23. In its 7-0 sweep of district, the Vikings averaged a robust 56 points a game. Once they got warmed up …
And so it went this autumn, a head-spinner for those of us who remember when a 35-28 game was a real barnburner. The all-fall tale of these record offensive eruptions makes it the Shreveport-Bossier Journal Story of the Year.
It outscored some memorable contenders:
Benton’s the fall guy in a last-partial-second loss to Denham Springs;
Kason Muscutt becomes first homegrown Mudbug;
Louisiana Downs cancels Super Derby that was never scheduled;
Mobile sports betting launches in Louisiana;
Huntington hoops advances to the Top 28 a day after the fatal shooting of a team member, led by coach Mack Jones, who won No. 700 last month;
Mikaylah Williams shines at Parkway and for Team USA, and signs with LSU;
Byrd golfer Sydney Moss wins the state Junior Amateur and Women’s Amateur titles;
Benton golfer Noah McWilliams repeats as Louisiana Player of the Year;
Calvary sweeps softball, baseball state titles;
Loyola girls’ soccer nets a state crown;
Louisiana Tech baseball makes its second consecutive NCAA regional led by a pair of Byrd High scholar-athletes, Steele Netterville and Jonathan Fincher;
LSU football wins nine games, about five more than most people thought in preseason, in large part due to Evangel products and defensive starters Micah Baskerville and Jarrick Bernard-Converse;
Dak Prescott leads Cowboys back to Super Bowl contention;
LSUS baseball rallies to reach World Series, finishes third;
Mike McConathy’s coaching career ends, then he enters politics; and most recently,
Ice-cold Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl provides last-minute drama as Houston edges ULL.
As usual, a quality year. Including the breakout campaign for Calvary’s and LSU’s Sam Burns, who scored three victories and more than $7 million in earnings on the 2021-22 PGA Tour and earned the inaugural Shreveport-Bossier Journal Sportsperson of the Year crown.
But it’s prep football on greenies that made the most noise, a kind of pinball pigskin game that has been lurking since the birth of summertime 7-on-7, the spread offense, the run-pass option, and year-around conditioning, to name a few factors.
A story by SBJ’s John James Marshall ran October 5 and began like this:
“If you took just their best single game in the last two weeks, the combination of Airline’s Ben Taylor, Huntington’s Kam Evans and Benton’s Gray Walters has thrown for 22 touchdowns and 1,429 yards.
“What’s crazier, no one seemed all that surprised by it.”
To explain the haughty numbers, the seven coaches he talked with (none were named) offered the factors above, plus some others, like continuing to score in lop-sided games, putting the best players on offense, and the improvement in top-to-bottom coaching and ramped-up sophistication of the game, to name a few.
In our case locally, there is also the Experienced Quarterback Factor. Benton, Byrd, Evangel, Haughton and Northwood each had a third-year starter at QB. Huntington, Parkway and Shreve had a returning starter. “It’s almost cheating when you can put a quarterback on the field who can think like you do as a coach,” one of the SBJ panelists of coaches said.
Lots of skill players and an up-tempo system help too. Witness the outlier that is Airline’s Ben Taylor, who won the starting job late in summer practice and passed for 2,730 yards and 34 touchdowns; he’s a sophomore.
It was definitely The Year of the War-and-Peace Scoring Summary. Calvary averaged 44 points a game and scored 50-plus seven times. Evangel averaged 34 points a game. Haughton, Byrd and Huntington each averaged 32 points a game. Loyola averaged 38 a game in five of its six wins. Northwood scored 35 three times and 48 twice.
The most perfect example of this year’s offensive wizardry was on full display at Haughton’s Harold E. Harlan Stadium on October 21, a perfect night for football. Benton and the homestanding Bucs combined for 21 touchdowns. Every single conversion try was successful. Fifty-one points were scored in the fourth quarter.
Keith Burton was the arm-weary referee. “After a while,” he said, “we just tried to stay out of the way.”
Contact Teddy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @MamaLuvsManning