By LEE HILLER, Journal Sports
Many of last season’s top statistical leaders in Caddo and Bossier parishes will be returning for the 2023 football season with Calvary, Airline and Evangel among the schools with the most.
Calvary returns all of its offensive skill positions and defensive leaders from last season. Quarterback Abram Wardell is back for his junior year after passing for 2,410 yards, completing 78 percent of his passes with 33 touchdowns and four interceptions. His leading receiver from a year ago, Aubrey Hermes (50 catches, 886 yards, 10 touchdowns) heads up the list that includes Kolby Thomas (40-592-7), Chris Jackson (29-510-7) and John Simon IV (24-371-7) as the top pass catchers returning. Simon, a junior running back, will add to last year’s rushing totals of 138 carries, 1,005 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Defensively the Cavaliers lost their leading tackler in Cade Bedgood but return a host of top stoppers from last season. Hutch Grace was second on the team with 100 tackles, 13 for a loss and three sacks. Linebacker Heath Gross (72 tackles) and defensive backs Landon Sylvie (68), Julius Moss (51), Xavier McGlothan (47) are all back.
Airline returns junior quarterback Ben Taylor who passed for 3,098 yards and 37 touchdowns. One of his top targets for 2023 will be senior Bob Patterson, who caught 30 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns along with one of the top running backs in Tre’Von Jackson, who compiled 733 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing.
Evangel will return its starting quarterback in Peyton Fulghum who passed for 2,392 yards with 23 touchdowns. Twin brother Parker Fulghum returns after catching 89 passes for 1,245 yards and 14 touchdowns. Defensively, leading tackler Jamal Jordan returns at linebacker after compiling 135 tackles, 11 for losses and is joined by Texas A&M commit defensive lineman Gabriel Reliford (129 tackles, 27 for loss), Jacob Wilson (117 tackles, 12 for loss) and Damari Drake (102 tackles, 9 for loss).
Benton running back Greg Manning returns for a final senior season after turning in 1,384 rush yards and 24 rushing touchdowns, 30 overall. Quarterback Jeff King passed for 504 yards and six touchdowns in a backup role to 2022 senior Gray Walters who passed for more than 2,500 yards.
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