By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
With two weeks to go in the regular season, Captain Shreve coach Adam Kirby knows his team will be in the playoffs. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot of thought going into what all of that is going to mean.
He’s not thinking about current rankings or power points or what side of the playoff bracket he’d like to be on.
“Not at all,” Kirby said. “That’s so unimportant to us right now. What’s important to us is that we’ve got to go win a game.”
That game will be tonight when the District 1-5A-leading Gators (7-1, 5-0) take on Benton (4-4, 3-2) at 7 p.m. at Jerry Burton Stadium.
“Nobody is going to care what happened Week 2 or Week 3 if we don’t take care of business now,” Kirby said. “We aren’t looking at a district championship, playoff seeding or being No. 1 or 2 or 3. I couldn’t care less. When we get to the playoffs, we will regroup and start going at it again.”
The matchup with Benton didn’t seem like it would be much a few weeks ago when Shreve was coming off a big win over Airline to assume first place in the district and Benton had lost four straight and given up 60 points in back-to-back games.
Since then, the Tigers have rattled off three straight wins, averaging more than 50 points in those victories.
“I knew they’d start winning,” Kirby said. “(Benton’s) Reynolds (Moore) is too good of a coach and they have too good of a staff. They were young. They all knew it, and everybody who has been there knows you go through growing pains early in the season when you are young. Hats off to them for being able to withstand some tough times. Now they are playing as well as anybody in the district.”
The game will feature two of the area’s top running backs in Benton’s Greg Manning and Shreve’s Jamarlon Otis – the top two in Caddo-Bossier in rushing this season.
Manning has rushed for 1,201 yards on 193 carries and 19 touchdowns and has 27 catches for 354 yards and two scores. He has a chance to move into the Top 5 in Caddo-Bossier history for career rushing in this game.
Otis leads with 1,256 on 142 carries and 14 touchdowns.
“They are sitting in first place in the district right now for a reason,” Moore said. “Maybe the most athletic team in the district. They always have a solid defense. But I do believe we are as talented. It’s just taken us longer to come together, but I think our guys are up for the challenge. We have found our rhythm, and they know what’s at stake. We have to win one of these last two games to guarantee a playoff spot.
“But I know Coach Kirby has them motivated,” he added. “They love playing for him and they really want that district championship.”
A win by the Gators would clinch at least a share of the district title, and Shreve has already defeated both of the teams that have one district loss.
Benton is at No. 27 in the Division 1, Non-Select power rankings. Shreve is at No. 3 in the Division 1, Select power rankings.
Contact JJ at email@example.com
BENTON (4-4, 3-2) vs. CAPTAIN SHREVE (7-1, 5-0)
Where: Jerry Burton Stadium
Series: Captain Shreve 3-1
Last year: Benton 22-21
Last week: Captain Shreve beat Southwood 42-6; Benton beat Haughton 62-41
Rankings: Captain Shreve #2 in SBJ Top 10 poll, receiving votes in LSWA 5A poll; Benton #8 in SBJ poll
LHSAA power rankings: CS #3 Select Div. I; Benton #27 Non-Select Div. I
Radio: CS (KLKL.fm; 95.7 FM); Benton (streamed on The Benton Tiger Sports Network)
Notables: Both teams on win streaks with Benton having its last three, CS last six … The game will feature the top two running backs in the area. Benton’s Greg Manning has rushed for 1,201 yards, second to Captain Shreve’ Jamarlon Otis who has 1,253 yards. Manning has 19 rushing TDs, Otis 14 … Benton quarterback Jeff King has thrown for 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns … Trey Smith has 35 receptions for 592 yards and seven scores … Cole Austin leads the defense with 90 tackles, nine for a loss. Miller Malley is next with 72 stops and Brayden Jackson has 57 total tackles and 10 for a loss … Shreve QB Quortni Beaner has run for 504 yards and 11 touchdowns … Junior linebacker Peyton Houston leads the defense with 74 tackles, eight for a loss … Kyron Wilson has 54 stops, while Landon Lee and Amarion Storey both have 51 total tackles… EJ McDonald is among area leaders with five interceptions.