There are some serious state title possibilities here

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine/YouTubeTV

I will say this and be blunt. The one part of the state where you have a bunch of schools built to go past the second round of this year’s LHSAA football playoffs – however the brackets get set — are located in the Shreveport-Bossier City area and a few right around the Natchitoches-Keithville area.

I appreciate the talent level in my hometown, seeing these kids play every year being that I live in Baton Rouge, but I have always traveled to Shreveport-Bossier for games and practices.

I want to keep up with my own eyes and not depend on what others pick based a lot on the year before.  Too many “analysts” or “experts” don’t even watch games in person. They are just seeing teams in championship games for reference, which is OK. Not everybody can travel statewide like I do. Hopefully coaches, players and fans appreciate that I’ve been going to games around “the Boot” since 1991 so I can provide the true feel and pulse of what’s going on in real time, statewide.

Today we are just going to talk about four local teams I think have a high percentage of opportunity to go all the way to the promised land of a state championship. We can’t get to every strong local in this one article, but another will follow.

With its most talented team in 10 years, maybe 15, at the Evangel Christian program will have a chance to play for a state title in Class 4A Select. Why? They have the best offensive line I’ve seen for 2023. Only a few programs at any level average over 260 pounds up front with every starter able to run under a 5.0 forty.

The Eagles have a four-year starting QB in Peyton Fulghum who is a very underrated athlete, and his brother Parker Fulghum, who could approach the national receiving record for career catches. With 180, he’s got a chance to finish behind only two players, current LSU receiver Trey Quinn from Barbe HS who had over 350, and Davis Howell’s 356 at Knoxville (Tenn.) ending in 2012.

ECA coach Denny Duron is a great leader and tactician. He has a group of kids who have started together for four years and they’re very talented. If they stay healthy, the Eagles’ defense has a chance to look like some of the old Evangel Christian crews did in the program’s peak. Texas A&M commit Gabriel Reliford is the total package and will wreck offenses from his OLB/DE spot.

In Class 5A there are two teams I really like.

This is the most talented Captain Shreve team I have seen size-wise, experience-wise and speed-wise in my 27 years of covering them. The Gators have a real chance to go all the way, ironically and sadly, just after the passing of their forever legendary coach Lee Hedges, who started the program and led Shreve to the 1973 state title. It’s cool they are wearing tribute helmets to coach Hedges this season.

The other state title contender locally is Airline High School. Junior QB Ben Taylor had a spectacular sophomore debut and might end up the most talented QB to ever play for the Vikings. They also have a ton of talent at skill postions –WR/RB/DB/TE — to compete with anyone in the state. Second-year coach Justin Scogin hit all the right buttons last year and is going to outfox a lot of defensive coordinators while getting his players to constantly improve.

If the offensive and defensive line can hold up, the Vikes might shock some people statewide. They do have talent in the trenches, no question. Airline might be a sleeper pick, but not to you who live up there.

The best team I saw over the summer — not just based on talent, but the best team, was Calvary Baptist Academy. I will be shocked if they do not win the Class 2A Select state title.

It’s the most skilled Calvary team I have seen since the days of QB Shea Patterson and WR/DB Greedy Williams. I think this team has more skill players at a high level than those teams – not necessarily Power 5 recruits, but more of the quality Division I prospects — and it has more depth.

That’s a scary thought, right?  I saw those CBA teams in person and I think the 2023 squad coach Rodney Guin has is the most talented and physically strongest team in the young history of the school.

Next week – more playoff potential from Caddo-Bossier.

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