The Art of Sports Talking: Preseason

In the Introduction to ‘Sports Talking,’ we determined that The World of Sports has a language all its own, and that each individual sport has an even more specialized lingo.

A field goal is different in football than in basketball. “Pin” is one thing in bowling and another in wrestling. A skater spins lots and lands; a second baseman spins once and throws.

It’s like in America, where we all speak the English language but someone in the Northeast calls a Coke a “soda pop” or “bottle of pop” and we in the South call the same thing a “soft drink” or a “drank,” or even a “Coke” when we don’t really want a Coke. How many times have you heard this in the fast-food place or outside a convenience store:

“Get me a Coke.”

“What kind?”

“Uhh, Dr Pepper. NO! No. Pepsi. Mountain Dew if they don’t have it.”

Language is one big, beautiful mess.

Later down the sports talk road, we’ll talk individual sports. But today we deal in something universal: preseason sports talk.

While each sport has its own tongue, the overall feel and sound of any preseason sports talk is the same. And the word of the day in preseasons is, no question, “excitement,” or some form thereof. Whether the volleyball or stock car racing season is beginning, “excitement” wins the day.

“We’re excited about who we’ve got coming back.”

“We’re excited about our schedule, excited for our fans, excited for these seniors.”

“We’re just excited to be together again, to get out on the (field, court, pitch, ice, lanes) and see what we can get done as a team.”

 You’d give a 50-dollar bill and I would too if just once a coach would say, “We went 0-10 last year and have everybody back and I gotta tell you, I’d be more excited if the doctor told me I had to have both my ears and one knee cut off.”

So, if anyone asks you about your team, you are “excited.” Company line.

Also, you have heard that the players are “flyin’ around out there,” that they look to have a “high energy level,” that they are “just having fun.”

Sure, “focusing on fundamentals” and “attention to detail” is a “grind,” but to win we’ll have to “do the little things right.”

Tiffany has worked on her serve all offseason and you look for her to “figure it out” this year. The second-line bowling athletes are going to have to “step up” because the “nucleus” looks solid and we just need some “new blood” to “contribute” and help us “piece this thing together” and we’re “excited” to have a chance to do that, which, “hopefully,” we can do.

(File this away: the word “hopefully” is a biggie at ANY time in ANY sport. “Hopefully” is a golden preseason word, a parachute before the bullets start flying that can be used as a “backtrack” word later and cover a multitude of shortcomings if “things don’t go our way/(we screw up).”

Of course, Timmy or Sally are stars but “they can’t do it alone” so we’ll need “everyone pulling the rope the same direction.” That’s our “brand” and “who we are,” and we’re trying to “establish” that by our “focus on the little things.”

Look for the coach to assure you they are having “a good camp” and that although stuff is “constantly being installed,” the players are “catching on” and “working hard” and they’d better because “we’ll have to earn it.”

And maybe they will. If everyone keeps flying around and stepping up. And sticking to fundamentals. If everyone keeps contributing and having fun. Because if they don’t, it’ll be hard to be excited, which most teams are at first and most teams aren’t at last.

What you want is for the excitement to last. And it can. Maybe it even will.

“Well, I mean … hopefully…”   

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


Raiders have risen through the ranks to constant contenders

KAM CAN: Accomplished senior Kamron Evans will be looking for another outstanding year as Huntington quarterback.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

Three straight playoff appearances. Two trips to the second round and with home playoff games. Sure, a lot of schools can make that claim. It’s a reasonable goal.

But for Huntington, it’s a little bit more than that.

“It’s taken us a while to build towards that,” said head coach Stephen Dennis. “When we look back and see where we have come from and where we are going, it’s something we are really proud of. That produces expectations.”

For the Raiders, these are expectations that they have set, even with the loss of a large group of starters from a year ago.

Dennis, in his sixth year as head coach of the Raiders, took over a program in 2017 that was 3-17 in the previous two seasons. He believes that part of the growth of the program has been the ability to learn on the job.

“One thing I learned pretty quick is that we had to do what it took to make Huntington successful,” he said. “We had to make the blueprint fit what Huntington needed. You couldn’t necessarily use the blueprint that worked at another school. That’s why we are able to meet the needs of our student-athletes as best we can and that is one of the major reasons for our success.”

It’s also nice to have a blueprint that has Kamron Evans in it. The senior quarterback is coming off a season in which he threw for 3,630 yards with 44 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Evans will attract a lot of attention during the season – both the high school season and recruiting season.

“Last year, he was the new kid who was waiting in the wings and now he’s the one who everybody is looking at,” Dennis said. “We are replacing a ton of skill players and we have some good ones coming up, so we are going to really lean on his experience and leadership to get those guys through playing their first varsity football games.”

Dennis expects to use a number of running backs, featuring senior Jamarion Mims, junior John Solomon (5-9, 171) and sophomore Nyles Hullaby. Mims moves back to offense from defensive back. Solomon started the playoff games last year as an injury replacement. Hullaby will be used as a power back.

At receiver, Huntington will need to replace three three-year starters, but Dennis is counting on a “very talented group of sophomores” to take their place. The group is led by Jarvis Davis “who is going to take a lot of people by surprise,” Dennis says. Senior Demarion Carter (5-6, 145) also brings some experience to the position.

On defense, Dennis is looking for the team speed to be a difference maker. “The speed on that side of the ball is very impressive,” he says.

Defensive end Nehemiah Barrett (6-2, 225) has moved over from offense and Dennis said, “I’m telling you he’s going to be an issue (for offenses) because he has the speed and the size.”

Senior nose tackle Brian Rodriguez (5-11, 268), who started as a freshman, and Jalen Butler will also anchor the defensive line.

Dylan Holmes headlines the linebacker corps and in the defensive backfield, Kamar Lewis (5-11, 158) plays a hybrid role at safety.  “He has the ability to play in the box and also cover the field; that’s hard to find in high school,” Dennis said.

Also in the backfield is sophomore Tyler Welch (6-2, 185), who is returning as a cornerback and had two interceptions in the playoffs.

The Raiders will open against Mansfield in the Battle on the Border and will play Byrd in Week 2, Class 4A semifinalist Neville in Week 3, before beginning the District 1-4A season against pre-season favorite Northwood.

“We will be successful if we take care of the little things,” Dennis said. “Every day. One week at a time. I really believe in that.”

Contact J.J. at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com


Northwood has talented duo at running back

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

One of this football season’s best duos for a run game, not only in Shreveport but also in all of Louisiana, will be Quintavion White and Fabian Sanders, both Northwood seniors in the Class of 2023.

White (6-0, 190) is the bigger of the two with power, speed and burst. He ran for 634 yards on 108 carries with eight touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in 2021.

Sanders (5-9, 190) has power and speed — 4.48 in the 40 — and ran for 562 yards on 87 attempts in 2021.

“Quintavion is thunder and Fabian is lightning,” said head coach Austin Brown. “Both very passionate young men. Q is a solid running back who is very good in all three aspects of the position — running, blocking, and pass catching. Fabian is a home run threat with a knack for weaving in and out of traffic.”

Running backs coach Jaran Hall says the duo brings experience to the position.

“We are blessed to have a committee of running backs in the backfield this fall; White and Sanders will be able to provide a lot of veteran experience this year,” said Hall. “They have both come through in big moments last year. I like to call them ‘lightning and thunder.’ We know that Sanders can give a quick strike and White will bring the boom. Both of these kids are quick to point out that it starts with the big boys up front.”

Notes for Quintavion White: His favorite colleges are the University of Tennessee, Tennessee State, and the University of Texas in Austin. “I’ve always loved these programs and it’s not too close to home for me. I have an offer currently from Louisiana Christian in Pineville.”

In the classroom White currently has a 4.0 GPA and has posted an ACT score of 19.

White’s dad played high school basketball.

“I love hanging out with my football team because I already spend most of my toughest days with them and that’s where we built our closest bonds,” White said.

He attended the Louisiana Christian camp over the summer.

He plans on majoring in business in college.

Notes for Fabian Sanders: Plans for college are to “major in either kinesiology or engineering,” he said.

His hobbies: “I love to sing, cooking, and playing video games.”

His favorite college “would be LSU,” he said. “I like LSU because that’s the best college around with very good coaches.”

Sanders also runs track and plays baseball.

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


Lake Yucatan: Go east, not south to Mexico, for fishing fun

It was probably 20 years ago when I made my first and only visit to a Louisiana lake that has its ups and downs. I’m talking about Lake Yucatan, one of the many oxbow lakes in close proximity to the Mississippi River.

My friend Mike Gammill from Oak Grove took me to the lake to give the crappie a try. We didn’t catch many but I was impressed by the size of the slabs we caught.

Looking at a map of Yucatan, it resembles a long and narrow question mark and what sets the lake apart from other oxbow lakes along the big river is the fact it is an “active” oxbow. This means that when the river rises or falls, the same thing happens to Yucatan because at the lower end of the lake, there is a two-mile long chute that connects the lake to the Mississippi River.

This rise of water levels in Yucatan produced when the river is high creates several situations for the lake. First, when the lake is very high, you can forget about fishing because access to the lake is next to impossible.

While anglers wait for the water to fall, however, the mighty Mississippi is improving the quality of fish in the lake by pushing a boat load of nutrients into the lake which has the capacity to improve the size and quality of the fish along with replenishing the lake’s fish population. 

For years, I have written and broadcast fishing reports from lakes around north Louisiana with Yucatan on my list of lakes I call each week. James Lachney from Gilbert owned Yucatan Landing and was my contact. He was always on the ball about keeping me abreast of what was happening on the lake.

Because of a health condition that curtailed his ability to see after the property, Lachney sold the business to his nephew, Gene Lachney, who is set to retire from the National Guard in a couple of years. Gene’s parents, Terry and Juanita Lachney, are running the landing until he retires.

Today, my contact is Gene’s mom, Juanita, who keeps me up to date on what is going on at the lake.

“The water level is low and on a slow fall right now and we had a wonderful weekend recently with all the campers filled and people from all over catching fish. The lake has been producing fine catches of not only big crappie but lots of bass, catfish and barfish,” she said.

“The lake is on a slow fall and this seems to be the absolute best time to catch fish. The water levels totally depend on what the Mississippi River is doing. When they get heavy rains up north to swell the river, we get high water here and sometimes we have to shut everything down and move out until the river and the lake levels start receding,” she said.

To keep up with the conditions for Yucatan Lake, all one needs to do is go on Facebook and search for Yucatan Landing to find not only photos of proud anglers showing off their catches, but also a graphic showing the stages of the Mississippi River. When it reveals that the river is falling, so is the lake. However, when the line on the graph zooms upward, you can forget about fishing until water levels drop.

Although you can’t fish the lake then, just know that the waters of Lake Yucatan are being replenished by fish and nutrients that are destined to keep the fishing up and going.

Yucatan Landing is located some five miles from the village of Newellton in Tensas Parish. For information on fishing conditions, camping sites available and other amenities, visit the Yucatan Landing page on Facebook or call the landing at 318.467.2259.

Contact Glynn at GlynnHarris37@gmail.com


Survey says: Game day benefit for LSU tailgaters

TOPIC OF TIGER TALK:  Standout receiver Kayshon Boutte will be a focal point of conversation this fall among LSU football fans. 

JOURNAL SPORTS

LSU fans at Tiger Stadium this season spoke up, and have been heard.

However, three times this fall, local LSU fans will not hear their coach where they’ve listened for years. They’ll have to rely on a secondary source to listen to the weekly radio show featuring new LSU coach Brian Kelly.

TAILGATING: There are 102,321 seats in Tiger Stadium and during any home game, there are tens of thousands of people, including many LSU fans, tailgating outside. Before pre-game warmups, they’re all around the stadium, often looking for bathrooms and shelter and air conditioning.

LSU Athletics has taken a logical step, as the result of a fan survey, to address tailgating comfort. Athletics director Scott Woodward recently announced the Pete Maravich Assembly Center will be open to the public to use restrooms and seek relief from the weather.

Beginning five hours before an evening kickoff, the PMAC will be open with live telecasts of other games shown on the video board inside. The Tiger Band will perform in the PMAC after the Victory Hill parade, he said.

No plans were announced for use of the PMAC before day games, however.

BYRD FOOTBALL 3, THE BRIAN KELLY SHOW 0: New Tigers football coach Brian Kelly has made sweeping changes in the program, and one created a quandary for Townsquare Media, the radio group that airs LSU sports on KWKH 1130 “The Tiger” locally.

For many years, the LSU coach’s radio show was broadcast on Wednesday during the season, but Kelly decided it best fit his schedule to do the show on Thursday nights (so don’t expect to see him at Thursday night prep games).

One other mainstay of 1130 The Tiger’s fall broadcast slate for many years has been game broadcasts of C.E. Byrd football games. Every season, the Yellow Jackets play a few times on Thursday nights – three times this fall, to be exact, in the regular season. Never a conflict – until now.

That presented a miserable dilemma for Townsquare: forgo coverage of Kelly’s show, or those three Yellow Jacket game broadcasts?

The Charlie Cavell-led Byrd broadcasts got the nod on the three “conflict” dates of Sept. 15, Sept. 22, and Oct. 20. There won’t be a Kelly Show on 1130 AM the Tiger those nights, nor will there be a Talkin’ Tiger Football show with our own Tony Taglavore.

His locally-based show has aired in the hour following the LSU coach’s show, on Wednesdays. Now it shifts to Thursday nights – except when Byrd is playing.

Kelly’s first show is Aug. 25. Talkin’ Tiger Football begins after the Sept. 1 Kelly show.

Photo by GUS STARK, LSU Athletics


Tennis tournament ‘serving it up for kids with cancer’

It’s a date he keeps on his calendar every year — for a number of reasons.

“Oh, man, for at least the last 10 years,” Todd Walker says about his participation in the annual Northwest Louisiana St. Jude Classic.

Yes, the event — with teams competing as mixed doubles pairs in levels 5.5 through 9.0+ — is one of the most popular tennis tournaments in the area.

“It’s a fun weekend, and it’s highly competitive tennis,” says Walker, a fixture on the tennis courts at Pierremont Oaks since his retirement from Major League Baseball.

That’s just one of the reasons the former LSU star, a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, is a regular in the event. But that’s not the main reason.

“We (Todd and wife Katie) have friends with a daughter who was going up to St. Jude’s for spinal treatments,” he explains. “Now, their child goes up there every six months to a year for check-ups.”

All proceeds from the tournament, which will be held Sept. 9-11 at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club and Southern Trace Country Club, go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

“This is just a small, small way we can support that cause,” says Walker.

Tournament co-chair Edmund Brown says the money raised from the tournament is “kind of a drop in the bucket. But if it wasn’t for all the buckets . . .”

Actually, all those buckets from this particular tournament have added up to over half a million dollars donated to St. Jude since the event’s inception in 2008.

“As of a couple of years ago, Louisiana had the second highest number of referrals to St. Jude, behind only Tennessee,” says Brown. “That tells you how important it is in Louisiana to have this resource.”

It is an invaluable resource, especially considering that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. Approximately 8,600 patients are seen at the children’s research hospital annually, with most treated on a continual outpatient basis.

Brown says around 150 players have already signed up for the tennis tournament, which usually has a field of about 300. Registration begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9 at POTC and STCC with play beginning at 5 p.m. Play begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with matches scheduled all day both days.

Your entry fee ($100 per person before Aug. 27 and $125 between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2) includes lunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner on Friday and Saturday.

There is plenty of time to sign up to play, but that is not the only way you can donate to this worthy cause. The non-playing social guest fee of $60 allows you to watch some incredible tennis and participate in all the meals (and free beer) and the silent auction.

Whether you’re playing, watching, volunteering, or simply making a monetary donation, you can make a difference in the lives of children with cancer by participating in the Northwest Louisiana St. Jude Classic. In the 14 years of the tournament, 2,571 players have participated, 9,839 tennis balls have been hit, and $512,935 has been raised.

Those are some pretty incredible numbers. With your help, those numbers can get larger.

Eight thousand, six hundred patients a year at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. With your help, those numbers can get smaller.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


Experienced Benton ready to make waves in 1-5A

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

It’s not common for a high school football team to see a three-year starter at quarterback, a two-year starter at running back, a record-breaking wide receiver and a reigning defensive MVP all return for another season.

There’s the reason Benton head coach Reynolds Moore can’t wait for the 2022 campaign to begin. 

If the Tigers can parlay a little luck filling a couple of holes along the line and their experience – as individuals and a program after three years in the state’s highest classification (Class 5A) – they could find themselves as a contender in District 1-5A.

“There is a lot of reason to be optimistic,” said Moore, whose bunch is coming off an eight-win season, including a first-round playoff victory against Hahnville.

Gray Walters returns for a third year under center. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior tossed 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions during the 2021 regular season.

Although Moore has witnessed every pass Walters has thrown for the Purple and Gold, his eyes were recently opened when a Walters highlight reel was produced.

“Sometimes when you’re around it every day, you don’t realize how good these guys are,” Moore said. “In 2022, I don’t want to take it for granted. I want to soak it up and enjoy this.”

Walters’ main weapon, Pearce Russell, broke a school record with more than 1,000 receiving yards in 2021 and posted double-digit touchdowns. If you think the 6-foot, 170-pounder Russell’s stats are hollow, think again.

“He may be the best football player I’ve ever coached,” Moore said. “He’s unbelievable.”

The running game, led by Greg Manning (13 TDs during the regular season), isn’t too shabby, either.

However, the offense isn’t without question marks. Moore admits losing a pair of guys – who combined for seven years of experience – on the right side of the line will be a challenge.

“As (the replacements) come along, we’re going to be a lot better than we can imagine,” Moore said.

Linebacker Zach Halbert, the Bossier Press Tribune’s reigning Defensive MVP, returns after a season where he amassed 73 tackles (including 13 for a loss and 4 ½ sacks), an interception return for a TD, two fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks.

By the end of the Tigers’ Class 4A era, Moore believed the program was “as good as anyone” other than perennial powerhouses Edna Karr and Warren Easton.

Over the past three seasons, Moore has again seen the Tigers progress. In 2021, Benton captured its first wins (as a member of District 1-5A) against Airline and Haughton.

“We’re seeing the hope,” Moore said. “We can compete, but we’re still a bit away. We don’t feel really good about our depth (against the best).”

However, the star power the Tigers possess has the potential to mask any weaknesses.

They’ll be tested right away in one of the best Week 1 area matchups as they face highly-touted Northwood, a former 1-4A foe.

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Edwards next in long line of quality Shreve RBs

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

You see this many times in high school football: a Division I running back graduates and the next fall season, a new senior emerges with tons of talent who played in the shadows.

That’s the Class of 2023 senior Jayden Edwards from Captain Shreve.

Edwards ran for 484 yards in 2021 as a backup to a talented senior and averaged 6.4 yards per carry on 76 carries, which is very impressive.

This is someone who might easily run for over 1,000 yards or more in Class 5A football in 2022.

Watching him play against Union Parish in 2021, Edwards showed me 4.5 speed in the 40, great balance, a good burst and, most of all, a lot of power for someone under 190 pounds.

I can see many colleges adding Edwards’ name to their recruiting list during or after the season is over. It would not surprise me if he signs at the FBS or FCS level. He has the stuff to become a Division I starter.

Running backs coach Kendrick Law Sr. likes Edwards’ dedication to be as good as he can be.

“First and foremost, Jayden is a great character kid, which is what we expect out of our program,” said Law. “He works hard, he doesn’t complain, he is very dependable and positive. He will try his best to complete whatever task is set before him. He is very coachable.

“He is also a very good ‘total package’ running back. He has good speed, he can catch, he can make you miss, but he is also not afraid to drop his shoulder and get extra yardage. He has worked hard this spring and summer and this season should be his payday.”

“Some things I like most about football are the families you create with your teammates,” Edwards said. “It’s like having brothers you’ve never had. Also, (I love) the excitement from being on the field when those Friday night lights come on.”

Notes on Jayden Edwards: In the classroom he has a current GPA of 4.1 and has posted an ACT score of 19.

Edwards’ favorite colleges are LSU, TCU and Southern. “I like LSU because I grew up around a majority of the LSU fans in all sports. I like TCU and Southern, not only for their athletic programs but because these schools have a really good business/real estate program.”

His plans for college: “I would like to major in business and real estate. I chose these two majors because this will ensure job security as there will always be people looking for places to live. Having this career will also open up opportunities for me to help more and more people.”

“My hobbies are working out, spending time with my family and traveling.”

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


A win is a win as train keeps rolling

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

OK, so last week’s miniscule profit didn’t make a dent in the retirement plan, but we moved to six straight weeks of gains and that’s all that matters.

We head to the second week of the PGA Tour Playoffs, but, again, there just isn’t much value. We’ve been crushing the world’s other Tours, so we’re headed to the Czech Open and the beginning of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

We had two of the top three guys entering the final round on the KFT last week, but neither could close the deal. We come right back with one of those, Taylor Montgomery, again this week.

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: +.03 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA TOUR

BMW Championship

Win bet

Aaron Wise, .1 unit, +6150 (DK)

Top 20 bet

Luke List, .4 units, +400 (FD)

DP WORLD TOUR

C&C Czech Masters

Win bets

Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, .1 unit, +7600 (MGM)

Thirston Lawrence, .1 unit, +2900 (FD)

Niklas Norgaard Moller, .1 unit, +6600 (FD)

Marcel Schneider, .1 unit, +7000 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Tapio Pulkkanen, .4 units, +280 (DK)

Zach Murray, .3 units, +850 (FD)

Ricardo Santos, .2 units, +750 (DK)

Aman Gupta, .2 units, +500 (FD)

First-round leader (FRL)

Niklas Norgaard Moller, .1 unit, +7600 (FD)

KORN FERRY TOUR

Albertsons Boise Open

Win bets

Taylor Montgomery, .1 unit, +2900 (FD)

Nick Hardy, .1 unit, +4900 (FD)

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Still time to get tickets for Mulkey’s Aug. 30 speech at I-Bowl Dinner

AS GOOD AS IT GETS:  LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey is one of the all-time greats in the coaching ranks in her sport, or any other. The former Louisiana Tech All-American and USA Olympic gold medalist speaks at the I-Bowl Kickoff Dinner here Aug. 30.

JOURNAL SPORTS

The event that officially starts the countdown to Shreveport’s annual college football bowl game, the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner, is approaching on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at the Shreveport Convention Center with another superstar featured speaker.

In the 50th anniversary year of Title IX paving better opportunities for women in America, and certainly in sports, LSU women’s basketball coach and former Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters star Kim Mulkey will be the first woman to be the featured speaker for the 12th annual event. She was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020, introduced by Michael Jordan, and a year later made the move from Baylor to LSU.

Doors at the Shreveport Convention Center will open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour, dinner buffets will open at 6:15 p.m. and the program will begin at 7 p.m. with a brief audience Q&A following the program. 

Individual tickets to the 2022 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner are on sale for $50 apiece, while a table of eight is $400 apiece. Tickets are available for purchase at RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com/shop or by calling the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl office at 318.221.0712 or toll-free at 888.414.BOWL.

A six-time national champion as a player and coach, Mulkey is one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all-time. She was an integral part of building the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters into a national power in the 1980s. After 19 years at Louisiana Tech as a player and coach, as well as 21 years as head coach of the Baylor Lady Bears, the native of Tickfaw, a few miles south of Hammond, returned home to take over the LSU women’s basketball program in April 2021.

In 1990, she became the youngest-ever inductee in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame for her playing career at Hammond High School, Louisiana Tech and as a member of the 1984 USA Olympic gold medal women’s basketball team. She was also included among the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Top 25 Sports Figures of the Century selected at the turn of the century in summer 1999.

Mulkey has justifiably earned a reputation for being a dynamic speaker, and someone who will not hesitate to make bold statements. While being enshrined in the Ark-La-Tex Museum of Champions several years ago, she pledged $25,000 toward installation of a statue at her alma mater honoring her college coach, Leon Barmore, and challenged the university’s president to move forward on that front. Barmore’s statue now stands outside the Thomas Assembly Center.

Mulkey has always been one of her sport’s top recruiters and recently earned the verbal commitment of the USA’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2023, Parkway High’s Mikaylah Williams.

The presenting sponsors of the 2022 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner are the Shreveport Convention Center, Willis-Knighton Health System, Morehead Pools, Home Federal Bank, Shreveport Rubber & Gasket and Wieland. For more information on the Kickoff Dinner, visit RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com/fan-events.

Photo  courtesy of LSU Athletics


Miles later, Brennan makes his last audible the right call

Nobody’s mad, or admitting to it, regarding Myles Brennan’s semi-surprising decision to end his football career, leaving the LSU quarterback room without its security blanket.

All the nice things were said Monday. There was plenty of feel good. It’s textbook PR, to get out in front of a negative story with (apparent) transparency and (seemingly sincere) respect and mutual admiration. Perhaps the hierarchy at Louisiana Downs takes note of that approach.

But no horsin’ around here. Myles Brennan is unhappy. He feels betrayed by new LSU coach Brian Kelly. As a descendent of one of New Orleans’ great restaurant families, he surely understands business decisions. Doesn’t have to like Kelly’s depth chart, but it is what it is.

So he, and Kelly, took the high road out of Baton Rouge, elevation 56 feet above sea level.

Brennan was the Tigers’ only SEC-tested quarterback, and his credentials were at the very least, solid.  In three games as the 2020 starter, he threw 11 touchdown passes and only three interceptions, going 79 of 131 and becoming the first Tiger to throw for 300-plus in his first three starts.

His leadership ability and toughness were unquestioned after he played through a muscle-mangled outing at Missouri, when he completed 29 passes for 430 yards and four TDs.

That turned out to be the last game of his life. In basketball, there’s a credo among shooters, when practicing, that you always leave on a make. Wasn’t planned that way, but Brennan has left on a make.

Degree in hand, fiancée on arm, future away from football very bright, Brennan is no dummy. As for football, he can live as a fondly-regarded, much-admired Tiger who can enjoy reunions of the 2019 National Championship team forever, and whatever business field awaits, he will have LSU goodwill always at his back.

He probably realizes due to his pair of injuries (remember, he broke his left arm slipping on the deck during a July fishing trip, costing him the 2021 season) that his skills may have diminished.

Kelly and staff concluded that was the case.

Brennan was stepping into the transfer portal while LSU was in limbo at the end of the Ed Orgeron era, but when Kelly came in from Notre Dame, he persuaded Brennan to backtrack to Baton Rouge, for what seemed to be a senior season do-over that had all the potential for a big finish.

Then Kelly created more competition, or chaos – take your pick. He landed Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels, who entered the portal with 6,025 yards and 32 TDs in three seasons starting in Tempe as a dual-threat QB.

It was “one of the more difficult decisions that I made in the offseason,” said Kelly, “but it was about … upgrading the competition on this roster across the board.”

That couldn’t have been well received by Brennan. At least Kelly didn’t string him along. The LSU QB pecking order was outlined in last Thursday’s scrimmage and none of it favored Brennan. It was apparent Daniels was in front and redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier was in the race. Kelly said if he had been healthy enough, Nussmeier would have gotten snaps with the first team. Brennan was clearly on the outside.

He didn’t mind the competition, he said in spring and during the summer. He wasn’t bad at all, but he wasn’t mobile, and if you recall LSU’s offensive line the past couple of years, that’s a volatile combination.

His quality of life got better Monday. He departs with dignity, instead of carrying a clipboard this fall. And he gets to keep that NIL money – from five businesses, including Raisin’ Canes and Smoothie King.

Leaving was a bittersweet call but, undeniably, the right one for a guy who gave it every chance to work at LSU.

Contact Doug at SBJDoug@gmail.com


Magnolia hoping to turn things around in Year 4

FOCUSED ON THE TASK: Magnolia head coach Toriano Williams (right) has a group of kids who are eager to learn everything they can about the game before the start of the Mariners’ fourth year playing football.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

“Sometimes, you’ve gotta believe that ignorance is bliss.”

Toriano Williams is taking that approach as he readies his young players for the start of the 2022 high school football season. He might just be on to something.

When Williams and his coaches were walking through the halls of Magnolia School of Excellence last spring in an attempt to recruit boys for the team, they may not have been very successful if they had explained the history of the Mariners’ football program.

After just three years in existence, Magnolia has a 2-26 overall record – going 0-10 in 2019, 1-6 in 2022, and 1-10 in 2021. Yes, the Mariners went to the District 1A playoffs last year, but that was as a 1-9 team – yes, the playoffs with one victory.

Try telling them that the Mariners were outscored by their opponents 596-106 last season and the young men probably wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to join the team.

Then add the fact that the 2022 schedule includes three non-district opponents that won eight or more regular-season games and two of them won state championships last season. Oh, and when you get to district play, you’ll be facing defending state Class A champion Homer, state semifinalist Haynesville, Glenbrook, Plain Dealing, and Arcadia.

But that is not the approach Williams is taking. Instead of talking about the difficulties the Mariners are facing, the second-year head coach is concentrating on building a team with young men who are eager to learn the game and represent Magnolia.

“We’re young,” says Williams. “We have three seniors, and just one of them has played football more than two years. The rest are 8th-, 9th-, 10th– and 11th-graders.”

The Magnolia coaches were able to recruit some new guys to join the one veteran senior and underclassmen, and they are pleased with the effort they have seen so far.

“This summer took care of itself,” says Williams. “That’s where the hope comes from. They’re giving us everything we’re asking for. These guys are excited – regardless of how the season turns out.”

Williams is quick to point out that the excitement is not just coming from the players.

“We have a great staff,” he says, naming Husher Calhoun (former Woodlawn, Fair Park, and Northwood coach) and Anthony Brown (Bossier) as additions to the Mariners’ staff. “We can build the team up now because we’re more consistent with our staff. We’re more experienced.”

When the Mariners returned from their first-round playoff loss last season (52-12 at Basile), that’s when the coaches began recruiting the hallways at Magnolia.

“We got in the playoffs with a 1-9 record, and we were fortunate to get in,” says Williams. “But we didn’t earn it. When we came back from the playoff game, we said, ‘This will not happen to us again.’ We’re going to be stronger, bigger, faster – and our knowledge of the game will be better.”

Leading the way for the Mariners this season will be senior wide receiver/linebacker Deandre Johnson (6-1, 205), junior quarterback Mark Mccray (5-11, 225), senior tight end/defensive end/linebacker Terrell Williams (6-3, 205), and freshman center Zindreck Simpson (6-3, 270).

“Deandre moves really well,” says Williams. “Mark is in his third year in the program and his second year as a starter. He has grown leaps and bounds.”

And while Simpson is just a freshman, he has started for the Mariners since the eighth grade.

“We tell the guys, ‘We’re not asking you to be perfect. Just give us the perfect effort that you can give us,’” says Williams, who knows that success cannot always be measured in the “win” column.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD


Bossier LB Johnson has college upside

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

One of the best seasons for a high school linebacker in Louisiana in 2021 was provided  by Bossier’s Christian Johnson. He led his team with 79 tackles, 18 tackles for losses, six sacks, one interception and one blocked punt.

Johnson did all this weighing 190 pounds at 6-0. He goes into the 2022 season bigger at 6-1 and 205 pounds, and faster with 4.65-or-better speed in the 40.

If you’re a college coach, you have to think outside the box some in recruiting him because he plays basically defensive end up on the line — that’s where the team needs him. But I think he’s a legit true outside linebacker for college and one big-time hidden gem with his speed, toughness and size now to be a special recruit in 2022 for many FBS or FCS colleges.

Bossier linebackers’ coach Rahkeem Mitchell thinks Johnson will be a key player for the Bearkats’ defense in 2022.

“Johnson has a great motor on the field that allows him to make plays,” said Mitchell. “He has enough speed to secure the outside and enough toughness to fill the inside. He will be a key player for us this upcoming season.”

“Very exciting young man to watch play with a very high motor,” said head coach De’Aumante Johnson. “He’s that guy you can put all over the field to make a play for you.”

Johnson loves playing football and being with his teammates.

“What I love about football is the competitiveness and the drive to impress my coaches,” said Johnson. “I just love the excitement of making that big play and on the other hand, I love the brotherhood of our team. You never feel left out of anything.”

Notes on Christian Johnson:  Johnson’s thoughts on a major in college: “I would love to major in law but with the strain and time with football, I won’t have the proper time management, so realistically it would be computer science.”

He carries a 2.8 GPA and has an ACT score of 19.

“I love to build fences with my uncle,” said Johnson when asked about his hobbies. “I like spending the time with him and learning things that could help me in future situations, and just watching the fence come together is one of those good things to know.”

About summer camps: “I went to one camp over the break and that was Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.”

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


Her horses are her children

 PEACEFUL SETTING: At Channon Farms, Gillian Taylor and her husband, Roy, care for young horses like this foal from Majestic Fantasy.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Gillian Taylor doesn’t have children.

At least not what you think of as children.

“I’m a total animal person,” Taylor said from her office at Channon Farm in Doyline. “If I’m not doing horses, I have a houseful of dogs — rescue dogs. God gave me talents in the animal business. That’s all I can tell you.”

But Taylor can, and does, tell so much more. Her “talents” were formed in the United Kingdom, where she was born.

“I started falling in love with horses when I was eight years old. It’s ironic because I went to a farm named Taylor Farm. It was pigs, cows, horses. That’s where I learned to ride.”

A few years later, Taylor’s father moved his family to the United States. “He saw America as a golden opportunity,” she remembered.

Taylor saw America as a place to pick up where she left off.

“I started right back into horses. I had already made up my mind that was going to be my career.”

And when Taylor puts her mind to something . . .

Her career brought Taylor to Fox Fire Farm in Alexandria, then to Lickskillet Ranch in Greenwood. That’s where she earned a stellar reputation of working with horses who needed rehabilitation from injury — called a “layup” service.

“I used to do all of (trainers) Gene and Cole Norman’s layups. They used to fill up my whole barn. I had quite a few stalls. But over the years, (the layup business) seemed to dwindle when Louisiana Downs started going down. Some of my big clients didn’t even come back.”

At Channon Farm — Channon is Taylor’s middle name — Taylor still has her hand in layups, working with six to 10 horses at a time. Taylor’s rehab success has less to do with exercise, and more to do with creating a calming environment throughout the farm’s 85 acres.

“The atmosphere at the track, they hear the noises and the horses. Out here, it’s just totally peaceful. You can hear the birds. (The horses) just relax. That’s the main thing. They unwind and relax. They take a break from the stress of training.”

Stewart Madison, a horse owner from Shreveport who lives in Jackson, Miss., has been trusting Taylor for 25 years.

“She’s good at what she does,” Madison said. “She’s honest. She never hides anything. If there’s something wrong, she won’t tell you things are great. She will tell you if something’s wrong. She’s just an honest person.”

These days, Channon is mostly a broodmare farm.

“We had 34 foals this year,” Taylor said. “We raise the babies. A lot of my clients race, so we raise (the foals) until they’re ready to go to different people to break.”

Taylor’s most memorable foal came on February 1, 2001. Happy Ticket, owned by Madison, grew up and won 12 of her 20 starts, earning $1.6 million.

“I am very, very indebted to Stewart for sticking with me all these years and letting me raise a baby like that. It was huge. We still ride on that high.”

Madison gives Taylor as much credit for Happy Ticket’s success as anyone.

“Without someone like her, sometimes horses like Happy Ticket never get the chance to be what they are. When Jill handed Happy Ticket off to the trainer, Happy Ticket was ready to be trained. The horse was a good horse and healthy, and Jill was responsible for all of that.”

Happy Ticket left Taylor’s care at a young age. But seeing the horse’s very successful career left Taylor, who considers herself the horse’s human mother, with a feeling of satisfaction.

“Not having children, I can only speculate, but it’s like (being) a proud parent.”

Taylor has always felt a certain connection with horses, a connection Madison can tell is still there.

“If you walk out her back door, there’s her barn. So, she’s pretty close to her horses. That’s what she does. She’s a great person with horses. She’s always taken great care of mine.”

And at 66 years old, Taylor sometimes feels like a kid again.

“When I get a new horse, I get excited,” Taylor said. “The thrill is just — I love the animal. I just love horses. I call it a long-lasting love relationship.”

Like a mother has with her children.

Louisiana Downs races Saturday through Tuesday. Post time is 3:05.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

Submitted Photo

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants. Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.

Grambling, NSU finally announce details on Sept. 10 ‘Shreveport Classic’

JOURNAL SPORTS

Kickoff time is finally set at 6 p.m. for an attractive Sept. 10 college football matchup between Grambling and Northwestern State at Independence Stadium.

The teams, meeting for the first time since 2018, will play in what’s billed as the “Shreveport Classic.”

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster at this link. Parking information and rates for tailgating are available by contacting the State Fair of Louisiana at 318-635-1361 or via email at info@statefairoflouisiana.com.

The release of ticket information for the contest was woefully late in a contest brokered by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. Since the initial agreement was reached well over a year ago, both institutions have gone through transition in their athletic directors’ positions, while Grambling has endured a coaching change and Northwestern has a new president. That turbulence and accompanying change with Sports Commission leadership this spring resulted in much uncertainty and no local promotion of the contest to date.

Fifth-year Northwestern coach Brad Laird and new Grambling coach Hue Jackson will take part in the Shreveport Classic’s pregame press conference Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Stadium Club.

The teams met for the first time at what was then called State Fair Stadium in Shreveport in 1974, while Eddie Robinson was coaching Grambling. The contest was perhaps the first matchup in the Deep South, if not anywhere, between a Historically Black College or University and a predominantly white institution. It drew a near-capacity crowd and came down to the final moments in a narrow Grambling victory.

Grambling is the designated home team for the contest and fans can purchase tickets at the gsutigers.com website. In addition, Tiger fans have the option for prepaid parking or reserved tailgate space (or RV hookups) at the Independence Bowl. 

Grambling season tickets include games against Northwestern State, Prairie View A&M (State Fair Classic), Florida A&M, Alcorn State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Homecoming) and are on sale by visiting the GSU Ticket Office or by calling 318.274.2629. 

Monday’s announcement means kickoff times for all 11 of Northwestern’s games are set. All four of NSU’s home games all will be played in the afternoon.

NSU will kick off at 3:30 p.m. against Lamar (Sept. 24) and Nicholls (Oct. 1) and at 1 p.m. for Homecoming against Southeast Missouri (Oct. 22) and in the regular-season finale against UIW on Nov. 19. It is thought to be the first time in over 80 years that no nighttime home games will be played by the Demons.


Too many questions surround Louisiana Downs’ approach to 2022 Super Derby

More than a month before Louisiana Downs began its 2022 thoroughbred meet, new owner Kevin Preston made an attention-grabbing revelation that provided a shot in the arm for horse racing fans – especially locals.

The Super Derby was back.

“It puts us back on the map,” said Preston, the President of Rubico Acquisition Corporation — the company that purchased Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack from Caesars Entertainment and VICI Properties for $22 million in November. “It shows that this new ownership group is serious about racing, and about bringing this track back to life.”

The Super Derby, established in 1980 and a former gem on the national scene, hasn’t left the gate since 2019.

Preston’s assertion was a smart move, but appears to be irresponsible at best, likely hollow and possibly deceitful.

Wednesday, just one month prior to the supposed Super Derby Day, Louisiana Downs sent a press release to selected people and organizations stating the 2022 Super Derby was off.

In the release, obtained from other outlets, Preston said, “While we were excited to potentially bring the Super Derby back …”

Potentially?

So, if we’re to believe the original statement, this shows Louisiana Downs fans and horsemen the new ownership is not “serious about racing.”

I’m not sure what to believe.

Was there ever a plan to run the Super Derby this year, or did Preston attempt to leverage the track’s calling card to cheaply drum up interest and goodwill prior to his first meet?

Other than Preston saying the Super Derby was back, there’s not much proof. For starters, the race is not listed on The National Stakes Conditions Book, the stakes schedule at Bloodhorse.com or the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

Plus, there was never a Super Derby Prelude on the books. In the past, the Prelude Stakes offered horsemen loyal to Louisiana Downs entry into the Super Derby. The race, roughly a month prior to the Super Derby, featured many local horses and trainers and offered the top few finishers a stakes purse and a free ticket into the track’s signature event.

Al Stall Jr. parlayed Apart’s Prelude win and a fees-paid berth for the big race into a Super Derby romp in 2010.

The only stakes events listed at Louisiana Downs in racing publications were the six races ($50,000 each) held on Louisiana Cup Day (Aug. 6).

So, a month before the race there were no details available. The track then spun the disappearance of the Super Derby as, “The race will return in 2023!” Again, no details, just a general statement and a smokescreen about Historical Horse Racing machines, pending off-track betting locations, and sportsbook revenue. Plus, a plan to place another 100 new slot machines on the casino floor, which will “increase slot revenue and further enhance the purse structure.”

Those HHRs are cool, I’m a huge fan of the sportsbook and OTBs (by the way, the Mound location was supposed to open long ago), but there is good reason to be leery.

I wonder if Downs officials realize the ramifications of the not-so-super Derby confusion. According to TOBA, the group that initiated the graded stakes process in 1973, the race was ineligible to be a graded event in 2022 and – even with a COVID exemption from 2020 — is likely ineligible to be a graded event (your chance to attract elite talent) in 2023.

“If a race is not run for two or more years or has not run in two of the last three years, it is ineligible for grading,” FOBA rules state. “Stakes races that are eligible for grading must appear in the track’s published (electronic and/or print) stakes book before the beginning of the meet with their run date and full conditions.”

Naturally, we’d love details straight from the horse’s mouth on why the Super Derby was void of full conditions and wasn’t on any calendar for 2022 despite a pledge otherwise. However, the folks in charge have repeatedly denied requests for basic information.

“We wanted to make sure people knew that we were serious, and that’s why we wanted to bring back the Super Derby,” Preston said in April. “We want to make sure it’s on people’s minds for years to come.”

What else has been promised and not delivered to local fans and horsemen?

Another freezing-cold take made by Preston early this season: “We may not be able to get (the track) back to its heyday in the ’80s, but we sure want to give it a shot.”

May not be able to? There is ZERO chance the 1980s are coming back to the Downs or any other horse track in the nation.

As the horse racing industry ran into tough times in the early 2000s, Louisiana Downs felt the squeeze.

For so many reasons, certainly not only because of the folks running the track, the crowds, purses and interest waned. One of the few things the Bossier City facility kept was the Super Derby.

Sure, it lost its Grade I status (the highest in the sport), and then its Grade II status, and then its Grade III status – now that was the track’s fault (a short-sighted move to the grass in 2017, under prior ownership). The purse tumbled from $1 million to $200,000.

But Louisiana Downs still had the Super Derby – the track’s undisputed calling card. Now, there is no chance the modern-day Alysheba is rolling into Bossier City.

The ’80s? Let’s start with a goal to get the track back among the top in the state of Louisiana.

Currently, a place like the Fair Grounds is Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont and LaDowns is aptly-named Sham.

 Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Airline: Good expectations on Viking Drive

REBOUND AND RAID: Airline’s Vikings flushed a dismal 2021 and have ‘plenty of potential to be pretty good this year.’ 

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Airline football coach Justin Scogin and wife Bonnie are expecting their second child, another boy, in January.

Oh, if predicting football seasons were only that “easy.” Precisely what to expect the Vikings to deliver this fall is a different ballgame.

A program that made the state quarterfinals in 2017 and 2019 saw everything go wrong last season on the way to a single win in 10 games. Injuries early. Couple of tough September losses.

“Then all of a sudden you’re playing in one of the best 5A districts in the state and you lose a couple early, morale is down and it’s hard to bounce back sometimes,” said Scogin. “I’ve been there.”

But not last year. Scogin was in Leesville for the past five seasons, and each year the Wampus Cats won at least one playoff game. Is that kind of ending too much to hope for this fall on Viking Drive?

“We have the right kind of kids, a good core nucleus that’s willing to push through and work hard,” Scogin said. “There’s no reason to harp on (last season). We can use it as a lesson to build off failures, to learn from them. But regardless of last year’s record, we have plenty of potential to be pretty good this year.”

The Vikings have the numbers: they’ll dress around 90 and have 110 on the roster, so “want-to” is not an issue.

Junior Preston Doerner and sophomore Ben Taylor remain locked in a battle to start at quarterback. Junior Ladarius Epps, in the QB mix in the spring, will be at safety.

Airline has “moved some guys around” on the offensive line, Scogin said, and have some “really good returners there,” led by senior guard Reid Hawsey, one of five projected senior starters along with guard Hunter Howard, tackles Jackson Warren and Artis James, and center Hunter Kendrick.

The 1-2 punch at receiver is Cameron Jefferson and Daxton Chavez, both projected as Division I players. Chavez, 6-4, 198, has “everything you look for in a D1 receiver,” Scogin said, “and Cam (6-0, 185) is a 4.5 slot or safety at the next level; he’s probably the best overall guy on the team.”

The Vikings also have what Scogin thinks are “two of the better corners in the area” in senior Chris Montgomery and junior Jeremiah Boudreaux.

A couple of other things Scogin feels he can safely predict? “Watch for kids playing hard for each other,” he said, “and doing the right things all the time.”

The Vikings will be tested early and often. Before beginning what’s always demanding district play, Airline will face two of the state’s better 4A teams in North Desoto and Northwood, and sandwiched between that pair of games is a matchup with arguably the best team in 3A, Union Parish — a testy trifecta for any team.

“That,” Scogin said, semi-laughing at the obvious understatement, “will get us ready to go.”  

 Contact Teddy at Teddy@LaTech.edu

Photo by TEDDY ALLEN


Plenty of talented Tiger receivers in Kelly’s tank

TOP TIGER:  Kayshon Boutte is one of the most explosive, productive receivers in the country and anchors a deep and talented pass catching corps at LSU.

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

BATON ROUGE — New LSU coach Brian Kelly has pulled back the curtain in preseason, giving media – and by extension, the public – much greater insight into this year’s Tiger football team than we’ve had in many years.

Thursday, I was among the media able to watch the whole practice, mostly a scrimmage, that lasted about three hours. I came away really impressed with many position groups — standouts that included the defensive and offensive lines. I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw up front, especially on offense in contrast to the last couple seasons — but most of all I wanted to see if these young, talented wide receivers getting the hype are starting to come together as a unit.

I was blown away by the talent, and depth, LSU has at wide receiver.

We all know what junior Kayshon Boutte can do. He’s one of the best not only in the Southeastern Conference but also in the country, and is now wearing Jersey No. 7, reserved annually for the elite homegrown Tigers who are proven leaders on and off the field.

Boutte (6-0, 205) looked sharp again and appears completely healthy for the first time in over a year. I was glad I picked a practice that had the players wearing full pads and scrimmage tempo. You get the best upside viewing and translating what to project on game day, because the game is played in full pads and fill tilt on Saturdays. Boutte showed he is back in form and displayed his 4.4 speed in the 40.

I was able to see a more confident, stronger Brian Thomas. The 6-4, 201-pound sophomore from Walker was showing signs of greatness with his ability to handle the ball thrown over his right shoulder on sideline throws. He looked better than ever, like a future star about to blossom.

I saw another talented sophomore, Malik Nabors, who is 6-0, 195 with 4.5 speed or better, and can be an all-conference player in due time. A lot of people saw a glimpse of his potential in the Ole Miss and Kentucky games in 2021.

Jack Bech, and talented Chris Hilton, two more future NFL players, were sidelined with minor injuries but were dressed out.

Both of these kids are incredible leaders and both have great talent. Bech is now 6-2, 212 with 4.55 speed and as you saw in 2021, he has a competitive drive as strong as anybody else’s on the team. Hilton is bigger now, but added good weight at 6-1 and now 182 pounds. Hilton still runs a 4.4 in the 40.

We saw Hilton’s ability in the Texas Bowl game against Kansas State on the last play when he caught a long TD pass from Jontre Kirklin, who is now an NFL free agent with the Cardinals.

The player I came away most impressed with, who made another step toward being in the primary rotation, is UL Lafayette transfer Kyren Lacy. He is a grown man at 6-2, 217 with 4.5 speed. He is not someone you want to have to tackle in the open field.

This kid has a chance to be special. Lacy started for the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2021 and showed some of the ability that is evident now in the more explosive LSU offensive scheme. Lacy will be a redshirt junior and has two years left in college.

Don’t forget the understated Jaray Jenkins, the Jena product who is 6-2, 200 with 4.5 speed. Henkins has a ton of experience, lettering three years and making a bunch of big plays. What Tiger fan can soon forget the two big-time TD’s he caught in the Swamp from Max Johnson in that big 2020 upset of No. 5 Florida by LSU.

Jenkins just needs to catch the ball more consistently as a senior. He has all the tools to be an NFL player.

I am not done yet! There’s a freshman from one of Louisiana’s more tradition-rich, powerhouse programs, St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, who turned down scholarship offers aplenty to walk on for LSU. Javen Nicholas (5-9, 180) might be the fastest player on the team with 4.39 speed. I saw this kid returning punts and he showed stealth, speed and elusiveness. If he can catch the ball he just might find his way on the field as a punt returner for LSU.  Running backs coach Frank Wilson, one of the top recruiters anywhere, and Kelly talked Nicholas into walking on at LSU, but he’s not a walk-on in the talent department.

Speaking of walk-ons, Evan Francioni (6-0, 201) deserves mention because he will return for his fifth year with 4.59 speed as one of LSU’s best special teams gunners.

The program has two more young receivers who have great upside in true freshman Landon Ibieta (5-11, 192) from Mandeville, who was extremely productive for the Skippers with 4.45 speed.  Keep an eye on a walk-on from Catholic-Baton Rouge, Noah Nash (5-11 182), who has 4.5 speed and showed great hands and route running in the spring game. He could be a player who makes his mark in the near future, faster than a typical walk-on.

Who will be the Tigers’ starting three receivers? I think it will be hard to name just three, and you’ll play 6-8. To produce W’s in the SEC, you’ll need at least six getting it done. LSU has that covered better than any other team in the league in 2022.

Contact Lee at LeeBrecheen@aol.com

Photo by GUS STARK, LSU Athletics


Demons’ offense, Tigers’ defense notch wins in opening scrimmages

EARLY STRIKE: Zach Patterson streaked 65 yards for an early score Saturday in Northwestern State’s first preseason football scrimmage Saturday, with the Demons throwing for 502 yards and five TDs.

JOURNAL SPORTS

Grambling and Northwestern State collide on Sept. 10 in Independence Stadium aiming for improvement from their 2021 seasons. Saturday, each squad got its first full scrimmage action of preseason and each head coach noted progress.

NORTHWESTERN STATE:  In Natchitoches, the scrimmage had a little of what fifth-year head coach Brad Laird hoped for and expected.

There was a fast start by the Demon offense that included several big plays and a plethora of playmakers and a defense that made the necessary adjustments later in the day.

Finally, there were teachable moments on both sides of the ball and approximately 100 plays of information from which Laird and his staff can continue to glean information.

“A good day – close to 100 snaps, (in a) clean football game,” Laird said. “There’s things in all three phases we did well and things we need to correct. The one thing through 100 snaps and another 20 special teams plays, we only had five penalties. Offensively, we protected the ball. Defensively, you want to force turnovers, but we protected the ball.

“Offensively, we came out fast. Three touchdowns the first four drives and four of five in one stretch. Then the defense did what you wanted to see. They made adjustments once we got into the situational scrimmages – the coming out, the red zone and the 2-minute. You saw the defense make some key stops. Great film to evaluate, which was key for us. We’ll make our corrections and see where we are.”

The Demon offense started quickly, scoring on three of its first four possessions.

Two of those touchdowns were chunk plays, starting with Zach Patterson’s 65-yard, catch-and-run score on the second play of the second drive.

“I came off the ball, put a good tempo on it,” he said. “The DB tried to play the ball, I caught it and I knew I had to score it. When you have those opportunities, you have to make the best play you can.”

Patterson’s scoring grab was one of four touchdowns that covered at least 21 yards – all of which came through the air.

Quarterbacks Miles Fallin, Zachary Clement and Kaleb Fletcher combined to go 34-for-59 for 502 yards and five touchdowns. Fallin and Clement each threw a pair of scores while Fletcher added a 40-yard strike to Jaren Mitchell for his touchdown toss.

The trio of quarterbacks had plenty of options to distribute the ball and took advantage as 13 different players caught a pass. Freshman Hogan Wasson collected a scrimmage-high six catches while Stanley King hauled in four passes for 100 yards, including a 32-yard scoring pass from Clement.

While the offense started quickly, the Purple Swarm defense settled in late in the scrimmage, keeping the offense scoreless in four of the final six drives. The only points they allowed in that time came in the two red-zone possessions that ended with a 2-yard Kennieth Lacy touchdown run and a 37-yard Eddie Godina field goal after a three-and-out.

GRAMBLING:  New GSU head coach Hue Jackson was pleased with what he saw Saturday morning and how his team is developing its new culture. There was productivity from the offense in the scrimmage, but the Tiger defense clearly had the best day.

Grambling has five new quarterbacks — Chance Amie, Julian Calvez, Amani Gilmore, Quaterius Hawkins and Kajiya Hollawayne, vying to operate the first-team offense and Jackson played all five during Saturday’s scrimmage. 

Calvez, a freshman, and Amie, a junior transfer from Syracuse, threw the longest completions of the scrimmage, but none of the five quarterbacks appeared to truly lock down the top spot in GSU’s “arms race.” 

“I think we’re where we need to be at this point,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to name a quarterback soon, at some point of time here because I think that’s what takes the team over the top — somebody they can go follow and believe in. We’re getting closer to that. 

“Today there were some good things and there were some throws I wanted to jump on some people about. But at the same time, there were some plays that were made and that’s all you ask for. They didn’t turn the ball over and that’s really important. That’s the key to winning many a football game. So that message has been pounded into them. I’ve seen a couple of times where fans might think it’s a bad play, but they’ve been told to throw the ball away. Our goal is to always get to the next down with the ball. So that was very rewarding to me as a coach. That’s what we preach and that’s what was done today.” 

As far as GSU’s running back corps, freshman Jaden Handy broke off the longest run of the day, racing around 60 yards to paydirt, but that play was backed by an illegal blocking call. 

Keilon Elder, Jaylen Joseph and CJ Russell are the returning running backs for the Tigers and have been joined by newcomers Floyd Chalk IV, Jaden Handy, Dedrick Talbert, Maurice Washington and Chance Williams to give Jackson a full stable of diverse talent to run the football. 

“I saw things from Williams, I saw Chalk, Handy, and even CJ Russell and Elder. I mean, we have some guys, and they’re all different shapes, sizes and forms. But they’re talented, and I’m excited about that because I truly believe how you win in football is run,” Jackson said. “I think you throw to score but run to win. At some point we’re going to have to run the ball and I think we can. But you’ve got to be able to throw as well, so I think we have the chance to be very dynamic on offense as we move forward.” 

But while gaining confidence in his offense, it was the defense that Jackson knew won the day on Saturday. 

“The strength of this team is our defense,” Jackson said. “The defense is the heartbeat of this team. We have some very talented players over there that everybody knows, and they’re really coming on.” 

Jackson said the best thing about scrimmage was the forward vision it will help provide. 

“I’m happy about where we are as a football team,” Jackson said. “I see where we need to improve. I see the improvement we’ve made from spring to now. The next jump is going to be the next two weeks and I think if we can get there I’m excited about starting the season the right way.” 

Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State


A day that (still) lives in infamy

By the time you read this, I will already have received at least two or three texts.

How do I know? Because this is August 12. I always receive texts from a certain group of people on August 12.

We share the same memories of this day, which is inexorably etched in our minds (and, all these years later, perhaps still in our bodies).

The texts will begin with “Remember when …” or “I still …” or “It’s hard to believe …” and will go from there.

We all know August 12 because we can’t forget August 12.

Way back when, August 12 was the day that high school football practice started. And not just one practice – it was the start of two-a-days.

Our group of former team members will text each other on special days during the year – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter … and August 12. And while the old “war stories” are fun, the bigger part is the bond that still exists all these decades later. It’s not just the former players; a couple of our coaches also join in. (Thankfully none of them are yelling at us to “do it again until we get it right!”)

To be honest, what we went through at the start of summer practice really didn’t resemble football. There was a lot of rolling around in the dew-filled grass, jumping jacks, sprints, getting hit by hand-held padded dummies and more sprints. Every once in a while, an actual football would appear.

Then we’d come back and do it again in the afternoon. Fun times!

You can’t do two-a-days anymore because school has started by now. But even if you could, the authorities would probably be slapping the cuffs on high school coaches for mistreatment of minors.

It was around August 11 when we all realized that maybe we should have gotten in better shape in the previous three months instead of hanging out at the lake or working on our suntan.

Every year on the morning of August 12 in my high school football years, I would walk into the locker room with the same thought college basketball teams have during March Madness — survive and advance. Get through this practice and get one step closer to the finish line.

You could forget about any kind of break from the weather. I actually looked it up — between August 12 and the 29th in my senior year, it rained exactly .04 inches — total.

It was always a tough call whether morning or afternoon practice was more miserable. Morning was sticky and humid; afternoon was Equator Hot. I would stand on the practice field and calculate how long it would take the sun to get behind the nearby nine-story United Gas building. That might drop the temperature from 100 degrees all the way down to 97, huh?

Even worse, if possible, was the smell of mesh practice shirts with dried sweat on them in the locker room. That is an odor I can still smell to this day.

Unless you lived through it, you can’t possibly imagine the dread of waking up on the morning of August 12. There are a lot of things I have feared going through in my lifetime and I can promise you that August 12 is still at the top of the list.

But the dread was only temporary. We didn’t realize it at the time, but those two weeks of hell did so much more than just get us in condition for the upcoming high school football season.

I know that, because I just got another text.

Contact J.J. at JohnJamesMarshall@yahoo.com


Postseason success the standard to meet at Calvary

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Rodney Guin’s resume is stout. His program at Haughton was excellent for two decades and included a deep playoff run by a guy named Dak Prescott. When Guin crossed the river and entered the private school sector, he won a state title at Calvary Baptist.

He doesn’t need much help when it comes to leading a group of young men in pursuit of a ring, but a winning culture sure doesn’t hurt.

“It’s a big deal,” Guin said. “The (players) expect to win.”

In just about every sport, the Calvary Cavaliers not only hope to win a state championship, they expect it. Football is no different. Guin helped continue and enhance that mindset with the 2020 state crown.

Guin, and consequently the players, also take pride in Calvary’s annual choice to play the biggest and the best non-district opponents early in the season.

Calvary opens the regular season against perennial state title contender Logansport before a matchup with 5A Captain Shreve in Week 2. The Cavaliers have a date with the other member of the city’s most intense rivalry, Byrd, in Week 3.

If the Cavaliers take their lumps early, it’s for one reason only.

“Our season starts the second week of November – that’s what we’re geared up for,” Guin said. “Everything else is like preseason.”

The Cavaliers, who moved up to Division III in the LHSAA’s Select classification, aren’t without question marks in 2022. They have big shoes to fill at quarterback — the position many value as the most important in the sport.

Gone is Landry Lyddy, the state’s reigning Mr. Football and Gatorade Player of the Year. His replacement? That’s to be determined.

Two players — junior Bryce Carpenter and sophomore Abram Wardell — are deep into the competition to be the No. 1 guy.

“We’re going to have to see them in the jamboree and scrimmage,” Guin said. “We have OCS and Union Parish. They will be well-tested early.”

The good news, Guin is geeked about the rest of the squad.

“We can be really good on defense, and we’re going to have to be,” he said. “It’s very important and I’m very pleased what they’ve been doing. And our skill guys and our lines are as good as we’ve had since I’ve been there. We just have to get that quarterback position ironed out.”

Senior linebacker Cade Bedgood and safeties Hutch Grace (junior) and Landon Sylvie (senior) are expected to lead the Cavs’ stout defense.

“We have some athletes and we are excited to see them run around,” Guin said.

No matter who emerges behind center, it’s clear, once again, the Cavaliers’ talent and that ring-or-bust mentality are going to be tough to handle come November.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

Calvary back in District 1-2A for 2022 football season

Calvary’s Grace is a divine talent

Calvary, Evangel head list of district, state champions since 2012

Calvary, Byrd top SBJ list of wins over past decade


Bedgood is ‘heart and soul’ of Cavaliers’ defense 

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

Calvary Baptist has had its share of great FBS football players come through its program over the years like quarterback Shea Patterson (Michigan), cornerback Greedy Williams (LSU), cornerback-athlete Brandon Wilson (Houston), cornerback Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State), and most recently quarterback Landry Lyddy (Louisiana Tech).

Then you have sleeper players over the years, a longer list. The latest addition: Calvary’s three-year starting linebacker Cade Bedgood, an upcoming senior, who is the heart and soul of the defense for another talented Calvary team in 2022.

Players like Bedgood are the reason high school football in Louisiana is such a great sport with guys who play the game 100 percent and play every play with passion and determination.

Bedgood has amassed over 140 tackles (51 solo), eight sacks and four caused fumbles for his program since 2020.

I hope Bedgood gets an opportunity to play football at a small college when it’s all said and done. This is someone who runs at a “football speed” colleges are looking for at the Division III and Division II level.

Even though he’s not very big at 5-11 and 200 pounds at linebacker, he has room to grow and play a few spots in college at linebacker, safety or fullback for many small colleges and could be a very productive player in time if given a shot at an FCS college like a Northwestern State, Grambling, Southeastern, McNeese State or Nicholls.

Linebackers coach Cade Maxwell likes Bedgood’s enthusiasm.

“Cade Bedgood is the definition of toughness,” said Maxwell. “Cade has been through a lot since his time here at Calvary Baptist Academy. Can’t say enough about how fun and enthusiastic he is every day, whether in the weight room or on the field; he works his tail off and does everything the right way. He also epitomizes the way we want to play defense here at Calvary Baptist Academy, with grit, relentless effort, and selflessness.”

Bedgood likes everything about playing football.

“I love football because I love the excitement it gives me walking on the field together with my teammates and coaches, the sacrifices, and all the hard work that goes into the game,” said Bedgood. “I have been playing football since I was 6 years old. From playing in the back yard to playing under the Friday night lights, it doesn’t get much better.”

NOTES ON CADE BEDGOOD:  Away from football, he is an avid outdoorsman. “The reason I like duck hunting is because there is nothing like watching the sun rise and seeing a bunch of mallards flying in. Laughing and joking around with the guys in the duck blinds.

“I love fishing, whether it’s bream, catfishing, running yo-yos, running trot lines with my mom and (brother) Cole, to bass fishing and deep-sea fishing with family and friends. I also like to fish by myself because it gives me time to relax and unwind.”

His dad (Michael) played football (linebacker, running back) for St. Mary’s in Natchitoches and also participated in track and field (high jump and 4×100 meters). He also played for Northwestern State in track and field (pole vault and javelin) and football as a linebacker.

“My brother Cole Bedgood played football (linebacker) and wrestled at Calvary Baptist Academy.”

Bedgood scored a 21 on his ACT and carries a 3.24 GPA.

His favorite colleges are Louisiana Tech, ULM and Northwestern State.

I plan on majoring in criminal justice, and after college I’m going to be a game warden,” said Bedgood.

GET YOUR ORDER IN:  For previews of every Louisiana high school and college football team, info on the state’s top senior prospects, and more, you can pre-order the 2022 Louisiana Football Magazine at LaFootballMagazine.com – offering North Louisiana and South Louisiana editions, printed or digital.

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


Byrd’s Ball still holds local record for single-game rush yards

By LEE HILLER, Journal Sports

Charles Ball isn’t a name you will find splashed all over the C.E. Byrd High School football record book, but he still holds the single-game rushing record for the Shreveport-Bossier Journal coverage area.

His 407 yards on 24 carries against Huntington in 1990 is the only time a Caddo-Bossier running back has surpassed the 400-yard mark in a game. It came on a Thursday night at now Lee Hedges Stadium and was Homecoming for the Jackets. He scored all five of Byrd’s touchdowns in a 34-14 win. Four of those came on the ground with the last TD of the game coming on a 64-yard screen pass.

According to correspondent Chuck Herron, who covered the game for The (Shreveport) Times, Ball believed in two good things: the good Lord and good offensive linemen. “This was fun,” Ball told Herron. “People were coming up to me at school today and saying I was going to get over 400 (yards). I just asked the Lord at halftime to help me get through the game.”

Ball, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior, led District 1-AAAA with 1,101 yards that season.

The closest anyone has come to the record was in 2006 when Jeremy Jefferson of Booker T. Washington ran for 393 yards on 42 carries against Fair Park in a 46-7 win. Jefferson, who played collegiately at Northwestern State, scored three touchdowns and added a couple of 2-point conversions as he set the career scoring mark in Shreveport-Bossier City. His rushing total surpassed his own previous school record set the year before of 351 yards against Woodlawn (45 carries).

Bossier star and future LSU standout Tony Moss had the second-best game at the time of Ball’s feat. Moss totaled 361 yards against Airline in 1984 on 36 carries. Moss’s son Anthony Moss broke the 300-yard mark in 2001 with 323 yards against Natchitoches Central on a mere 10 carries to become the only father-son combination with more than 300 yards.

Richard Gay had the previous Byrd school record with 353 yards on 31 carries against Springhill in 1954. His total was the most for 30 years when Moss surpassed it in 1984.

Top 10 all-time single-game rushing performances:

407              Charles Ball                       Byrd, vs. Huntington, 1990 (24 carries)

393              Jeremy Jefferson            BTW, vs. Fair Park, 2006 (42 carries)

361              Tony Moss                       Bossier, vs. Airline, 1984 (36 carries)

353              Richard Gay                     Byrd, vs. Springhill, 1954 (31 carries)

351              Jeremy Jefferson            BTW, vs. Woodlawn, 2005 (45 carries)

344              Stevarrio Hogan             Bossier, vs. Mansfield, 2005 (22 carries)

343              Bo Wheatley                   Benton, vs. North Caddo, 1994 (34 carries)

342              Jalin Thomas                   Byrd vs. Parkway, 2017 (27 carries)

323              Anthony Moss                Airline, vs. Natchitoches, 2001 (10 carries)

323              Brandon Nightingale     Byrd, vs. Evangel, 2000 (21 carries)

Contact Lee Hiller at lee.hiller51@gmail.com


Bat banishment to start demolition of Fair Grounds Field

DESTRUCTION LOOMS:  Abandoned for many years, dilapidated Fair Grounds Field is slated for destruction in a two-phase process beginning Aug. 22.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Fair Grounds Field doesn’t have a specific demolition date, but there is now a timeline for its demise.

The removal of flocks of bats will begin Aug. 22. As the Shreveport-Bossier Journal reported in April, the bats — which have lived in the stadium for years — must be removed and relocated before the city-owned, abandoned former home of Shreveport minor-league baseball can be demolished.

The process was stalled due to federal regulations protecting some bat species during their mating season, which runs from April to August. That pause ends next week.

“We will be taking these bats and trapping them live, and replacing them 25 miles away from the stadium,” said David Perault with Perault’s Nuisance Wildlife Control, in Denham Springs. “Basically, they’re getting a new home.”

Perault will catch the bats using traps he invented. Perault and his six-person crew will bring 10 traps to Fair Grounds Field.

“We have caught up to 400-500 bats in a trap,” Perault said. “We will put multiple traps in places where there are a lot of bats, and just see what we’ve got. It’s going to be around-the-clock work for us. We’re going to watch for them in the evening when the bats come out. If (a trap) starts to get too many in it, we will switch it out.”

Perault has twice scouted Fair Grounds Field. He doesn’t know how many bats he will catch, but he knows it will be a lot.

“My record is 1,440 in one place,” Perault said. “I think we’re going to beat the record. I have seen four or five hundred at the stadium, but you don’t know what’s behind everything. That’s why this system works so well. When the bats come out, they will go into the system. We will get a good count of them.”

Once the bats are trapped, they will be released outside the city.

“Usually, we like to get 20-25 miles away at least,” Perault said. “That’s to make sure the bats don’t come back. There’s no guarantee they won’t, but we will have them gone enough in time for the stadium to be taken down.”

Perault hopes to have the bats removed in seven days. Then, Henderson Construction Services of Shreveport can begin the stadium demolition process. There will not be a “3-2-1 BOOM!” moment.

“There won’t be any explosions,” said Ida Henderson, who runs Henderson Construction with her father, Shelton. “We will take it down with machines. We’re going to do it section by section. We’re going to get the building down on the ground, and we will haul the debris to a landfill. We will take environmental measures to keep the dust controlled, so anything won’t get out in the neighborhood, to the hospitals, and the Queensboro community.”

Henderson cited safety concerns.

“We’ve been doing demolitions for a couple of years now, and that’s the way we’ve done them,” Henderson said. “We’ve taken down buildings at Louisiana Tech and Southern University in Baton Rouge. We’ve found that’s the safe way to do things.”

Lately, Henderson Construction has become more of a call center for people asking how they can get items from Fair Grounds Field before it’s too late.

“Someone called,” Henderson said, “because there’s a sign they vividly remember and they want to get it. Someone called about a metal knife sharpener they remember. They know exactly where it was left, and they want to get it. Some people were season ticket holders. They want the seats they sat in. Some people want some benches.”

Henderson said it hasn’t been decided if there will be a charge for items.

“We’re still working that out. We will have to pull those items because of safety. Our employees will have to do a little labor to get those items out.”

Anyone interested in memorabilia from Fair Grounds Field can call Henderson Construction at 861-0512.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

https://shreveportbossierjournal.com/2022/04/12/untended-fair-grounds-field-set-for-demolition/

https://shreveportbossierjournal.com/2022/04/15/fair-grounds-field-left-us-a-long-time-ago/

https://shreveportbossierjournal.com/2022/04/21/spotlight-swinging-bats-delay-demolition-of-fair-grounds-field/