Your Shreveport-Bossier Journal crew humbly offers our predictions for the 2023 sports year. Ladies first.
In PREPS, the Calvary Lady Cavs softball team goes BACK2BACK2BACK (winning a third straight Division IV state championship).
In COLLEGES, the Louisiana Tech baseball team makes the College World Series.
In the PROS, Sam Burns wins his first major (after his 2022 season, this is bound to happen sooner than later).
- Harriet Prothro Penrod
In PREPS, improvements to continue at Lee Hedges Stadium with the construction of new locker rooms and training rooms along with a new press box.
In COLLEGES, another successful year for LSU and Tulane in football.
In the PROS, new rules making a difference in how we watch MLB games.
- Lee Hiller
In PREPS, a student-athlete makes more than his working parents off an NIL deal.
In COLLEGE, I’ll be keeping up with Centenary Football and caring about recruiting news for the first and only time in my feeble life. In the autumn of 2024, Centenary takes the football field for the first time since 1941. Ninety years ago this past fall, Centenary was 8-0-1. 1932. You could look it up. Nationally, the Gents were in the top 25 in per-game scoring average at 20 a game and had the fifth-stingiest defense in ’Murica; Centenary gave up just 26 points all season. Centenary was 8-0-4 in 1933, when playing for the tie must have been an “in” thing. In 1934, which will be 90 years removed from Centenary’s 2024 re-boot, Centenary was a salty 10-2.
In the PROS, Jake from State Farm will be on every commercial of every NFL, NBA, and MLB game. (Thankfully, I like Jake from State Farm.)
- Teddy Allen
In COLLEGES, LSU once again will contend for the SEC Championship — and will knock on the door of the College Football Playoff. They will do so without QB Garrett Nussmeier, who surely will transfer.
In the PROS, the Saints and Cowboys replace their head coaches. Dennis Allen is in over his head, and Mike McCarthy has the talent to get to the NFC Championship Game — but won’t.
LOCALLY, Louisiana Downs will continue to promote less horse racing and more bounce houses and outdoor concerts in 100-degree heat.
- Tony Taglavore
In PREPS, sadly, the quality of high school athletics continues to drop. Football coaches almost have to beg kids to play and if you watch any other sport, you quickly realize that the talent level simply isn’t as good as it was 5 or 10 years ago.
In COLLEGES, we’ll see a slight move toward normalcy in NIL. It’s not going away, but it’s also a two-way street. Somebody has to finance that and these people aren’t in it to watch Jimmy SuperStud (a.) think about transferring, because he can (b.) complain that his deal isn’t as good as the guy playing next to him (c.) start mailing it in around if he’s not getting the ball enough.
In PROS/LOCAL, what’s left of Fair Grounds Field will still be standing. The Independence Bowl will be played on a sunny, 55-degree day. The laws of probability HAVE to even out at some point.
- John James Marshall
In PREPS, some local high school football offenses will “struggle” early. The 2022 season offered ridiculous offensive numbers, or bad defense depending on your view. Expect the defenses to fight back – at least early — in the 2023 campaign.
No fewer than five 1-5A teams will have new quarterbacks, not to mention the expected changes at other local schools. In theory this would lead to gray hair on the top of some OC’s heads, at least while the new signal-callers get their feet wet.
Also in PREPS, here’s a “stat nerd” alert. A change could be coming to one of the dumbest rules in high school football. Unlike the NFL and college football, a holding penalty behind the line of scrimmage in high school is marked from the spot of the foul. Currently a first-and-10 could turn into first-and-28 simply with a holding call.
The National Federation of State High School Associations has surveyed coaches regarding a change to move in line with the next levels of football. Bravo.
- Roy Lang III
In PREPS, I expect to see more high-scoring games. The passing offenses were ahead of the passing defenses in 2022, and it wasn’t even close. Northwest Louisiana has had a good run of defensive backs who have made their way to the league. See Tre’Davious White, Morris Claiborne, “Greedy” Williams, and Israel Mukuamu. But there were simply too many great quarterbacks … and too few defensive backs.
While 2022 seemed to be the year of the quarterback, I expect to see 2023 to be the year of the kicker with Byrd’s Abram Murray, who committed last summer to the University of Miami, and Parkway’s Aeron Burrell being two of the best locals to ever put toe to leather.
In COLLEGE, unfortunately, I see local colleges and universities continuing to struggle in the transfer portal/NIL era. I think Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Cumbie and Grambling’s Hue Jackson are the men for the job and great coaches, I just think it’s the most difficult time in history to be a college football coach. There is one exception to this. I expect to see Centenary College — under the direction of former Evangel and LSU standout defensive lineman Byron Dawson — thrive locally, with home-grown talent familiar to local football fans.
In the PROS, in light of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football, I expect to see all professional contact sports double down on player safety. For all of those attracted to the violence and entertainment football provides, I expect them to be in for a rude awakening.
- Jerry Byrd Jr.
In PREPS, scheduling tough intersectional games pays off for the Parkway Lady Panthers, who leave no doubt as they win the girls basketball state championship. Mikaylah Williams IMMEDIATELY joins the LSU roster for March Madness and starts for Kim Mulkey.
In COLLEGES, the men’s basketball rules committee shifts from playing 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters, mirroring the women and the pros. Mostly, providing more TV commercial breaks for Teddy’s pal Jake, that guy from State Farm.
LOCALLY, Shreveport’s Tim Brando adds another sport to his vast broadcast resume when he becomes the lead announcer for USA Pickleball on FOX.
- Doug Ireland
Coming Thursday: What we’d LIKE to see in ’23.