Curtis wins, Byrd hugs the season goodbye

STOPPER:  Senior linebacker Brooks Brossette posted 21 tackles Friday night in the state quarterfinals but John Curtis overwhelmed Byrd. (Photo by APRIL NIX JOHNSON, Journal Sports)

By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports

METARIE – With just under a minute left in C. E. Byrd’s 35-14 loss to John Curtis in a LHSAA Select Division I quarterfinal playoff game, Yellow Jacket senior linebacker Brooks Brossette read his keys, attacked the line of scrimmage, and made a tackle. 

It was the final play of Brossette’s high school career.

It was a fitting end for Brossette, but not the one he wanted for his team … or for his coaches.

No. 9 trotted to the sideline and hugged the neck of Byrd defensive coordinator Jason Pope, then headed to the bench and found another neck to hug.

“Man, that’s my guy from day one,” an emotional Brossette said of his defensive coordinator. “Since my freshman year, he has been there for me. I look up to him a lot and he expects a lot from me.” 

In his final game, Brossette recorded 21 tackles, 13 unassisted. It gives the linebacker 233 tackles for his career and moves him to No. 2 on the all-time Byrd list behind only Paul Dupee and his 265 tackles.

But football is a team game, and the John Curtis Patriots made plays in all three phases on their way to a 28-7 halftime lead and a dominant win Friday night at Joseph S. Yenni Stadium.

“We had a great week of practice,” Brossette said. “We thought we had a plan to get it done, but it didn’t work out for us tonight.”

On the other sideline, things worked out well for Patriot Marlon Prout, the game’s leading rusher, who scored on the game’s third play – a 42-yard run up the middle of the Jacket defense. 

Prout, who finished with six carries for 120 yards — all in the first half — would add another score with a 39-yard run around left end with 1:27 left in the first half. 

“Prout has done a good job for us all year,” John Curtis head coach J.T. Curtis said. “A couple of those he had some decent blocking. Some of that he did it on his own. He is just that kind of back. When he can perform like that he makes me look good as a play caller – or I should say, Jeff (Curtis, offensive coordinator) as a play caller.”

Byrd could not get a first down on its next possession and the Patriots made the Jackets pay as John Curtis quarterback Dagan Bruno found Michael Turner on a deep post for a 61-yard touchdown pass with :15 remaining in the half.

“Defensively, I told them not to give up the big play,” Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew said when asked about the message to his team at halftime. “Make them drive it. Big plays killed us. You cannot give up big plays, and that’s at any level of ball. Hats off to them. They’re a great team.”

The Jackets’ only score in the first half came on a 4-yard touchdown run by Desmond Simmons, which came on Byrd’s first possession of the second quarter and tied things up, 7-7. The score was set up by Byrd’s biggest play of the night, a 48-yard pass from Lake Lambert to Jackson Dufrene.

But the Patriots’ defense scored on 24-yard scoop-and-score by cornerback Jermall Callio with 6:04 left in the first half, a haunting turnover that began a disastrous stretch for Byrd as a 7-7 tie ballooned into a 28-7 John Curtis halftime lead.

On special teams, the Patriots blocked a 55-yard field goal attempt by Byrd junior Abram Murray. 

The only other time John Curtis and Byrd played was in a 2020 semifinal at Lee Hedges Stadium. On a rainy night, it came down to a missed extra point by the Patriots as the Yellow Jackets won 14-13.

J.T. Curtis did not talk to his team much this week about getting revenge for the loss, but he did talk to them about the importance of special teams. And disappointment. 

“It was a one-point loss (in 2020) and very disappointing,” the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame coach said. “The emphasis was that we didn’t want to put ourselves in a position where it would come down to a field goal, because they have a good guy (Murray). That blocking the field goal was huge, huge for us. We didn’t want to put it in the hands of a special teamer.”

Curtis also credited the defense for stifling the Byrd offense.

Byrd’s Lambert, who had the most prolific night of any quarterback in school history with his 267 yards against Alexandria Senior High in last week’s 49-10 regional win, was held in check by the Patriot defense. Lambert finished with 65 yards rushing on five carries.

Jacket running back Tyler Nichols scored on a 1-yard run with 10:35 left in the game to make it 28-14, but it was too little, too late for the Jackets.

John Curtis had the final score of the game, a 1-yard run by Bruno with 3:42 left.

Curtis finished with 321 yards rushing on 52 carries. Byrd had 199 yards on 36 attempts.

Ballew’s message to his seniors after the game was heartfelt.

“No. 1, we love them to death,” Ballew said. “No. 2, Byrd High School is always their home. This is their team.” 

Contact Jerry Byrd at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com 

Curtis 35, Byrd 14 

Score by quarters

Curtis | 7 | 21 | 0 | 7 | – 35

Byrd | 0 | 7 | 0 | 7 | – 14

Scoring summary

JC – Marlon Prout 42 run (Jaden Alphonso kick)

B – Desmond Simmons 4 run (Murray kick)

JC – Jermall Calllio 24 fumble return (Alphonso kick)

JC – Prout 39 run (Alphonso kick)

JC – Michael Turner 61 pass from Dagan Bruno (Alphonso kick)

B – Tyler Nichols 1 run (Murray kick)

JC – Bruno 1 run (Alphonso kick)

Individual leaders 

Rushing 

Byrd (36-199) – Lambert 13-159, Jackson Dufrene 1 16, Devon Strickland 8-15, Simmons 2-5. 

Curtis (52-321) – Prout 8-120, Kaheam Smith 6-78, Aaron Johnson 13-42, Bruno 12-34.

Passing 

Byrd – Lambert 2-6-1-54. 

Curtis – Bruno 4-7-0-90.

Receiving 

Byrd – Dufrene 2-54. 

Curtis – Turner 2-68, Tyler Mitchell 2-22.


Lambert on the lam for 301, Crusaders outrace Falcons

FINAL HUDDLE:  Northwood’s Falcons rallied in the second half but this postgame gathering was their last one of the 2022 season. (Photo by LORI LYONS, Journal Sports)

By LORI LYONS, Journal Sports

NEW ORLEANS — The Northwood Falcons had one team to beat to reach their goal of getting to the semifinals for the first time in school history, but Brother Martin had one player that simply couldn’t be stopped Friday night.

Brother Martin senior running back Torey Lambert rushed 47 times for a career-high and school-record 301 yards and two touchdowns to give the No. 13 Crusaders a 28-14 win over No. 5 Northwood and a spot in next week’s LHSAA Select Division I semifinals.

Brother Martin (8-5) earned its fourth semifinals appearance in four years. Northwood finished the season 9-3 after losing in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in six years.

“We’re just happy we got to experience this and get after it,” Northwood coach Austin Brown said. “I don’t think people realize that we’ve won more playoff games in six years than we had in the last 60 years. We’re still a program that’s growing and building, and when you go toe-to-toe with the big dogs it’s a good measuring stick. We’ve got some room to grow still.”

Lambert, a 6-foot, 190-pound Texas State commitment, accounted for all but 58 of his team’s 359 yards of offense on the night. His longest carry was 25 yards and his touchdowns runs, one in the first quarter and one in the last quarter, were only 5 and 3 yards. But in between, he was the workhorse for the Crusaders, who were missing a few key players and lost another to injury during the game.

“I didn’t even know,” Lambert said. “A school record. I didn’t even know. That’s crazy. Coach called the plays, you got to execute it. He’s trusting you with the ball in your hands, (and) you’ve got to know what you’ve got to do with it. Happy Thanksgiving. That turkey and that ham was pretty good. I had to work it off tonight.”

Brother Martin’s defense simply shut down the Falcons in the first half, holding them to 40 yards of offense and a total of 221 yards in the game. The Falcons were down 19-0 in the third quarter before showing any kind of life.

Quarterback Mason Welch was 10-of-22 for 197 yards, but 75 of those yards came on one spectacular play – a 75-yard touchdown strike to Marc Dennison with 10:48 remaining in the game.  That got the Falcons within 22-15, but the Crusaders marched back downfield for Lambert’s final TD to clinch the outcome.

Northwood’s comeback push began in the middle of the third period, down 19-0. Welch drove the Falcons from his own 48-yard line to the end zone by hitting receiver Elijah Crawford for a 20-yard gain, then Dennison for a 32-yard strike to get the Falcons to the Crusaders’ 3. Quintavion White ran the rest for the score with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter.

But the rest of the game, other than the 75-yard TD strike, was all Brother Martin, just as it had started.

After forcing a Falcons punt on Northwood’s first possession, the Crusaders needed just five plays to go 67 yards for their first score, with Lambert touching the ball on every down. He ran left, right and up the middle to the Northwood 11 before catching a 7-yard pass from Seth Dazet to the 5, then ran it in from there.

Northwood couldn’t answer and its defense stiffened to hold off Brother Martin’s second possession, but Jacob Zimmer’s punt was downed at the Northwood 4. On the Falcons’ first play from scrimmage, Brenden LeBlanc blasted through the line to catch Chaise Stewart in the end zone and give Brother Martin a 9-0 lead.

Brother Martin forced another Falcons punt and started its next scoring drive at the Northwood 48 with Jordan West carrying the load. After Lambert ran for 8, West broke free for a 32-yard scamper, then scored from the 8. But in the post-touchdown celebration, West suffered an arm injury that ended his night. So it was left to Lambert, with an occasional scamper by quarterbacks Dazet and Clayton Lonardo. Dazet also completed seven passes for 55 yards.

After the second Brother Martin field goal of the night made it 22-7 early in the final period, Welch stunned the Crusaders with his 75-yard bomb to Dennison with 10:48 remaining. But the visitors couldn’t mount another threat.

The Crusaders replied with one more scoring drive, going 60 yards on seven plays, capped by Lambert’s 3-yard score with 7:02 remaining in the game. Northwood turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, and on its final possession, Welch was intercepted by Blake Ranlett.

Brown said his team knew it was better than it showed in the first half.

“When you play a big team like Brother Martin with a storied program, you kind of get punched in the mouth and it took a little while to shake back and knock the fuzz off,” Brown said. “But the boys weren’t ever scared, and at halftime it was upbeat. They were excited for another half to come back out there and show ’em Northwood football.”

Contact Lori at sportslyons@gmail.com

Brother Martin 28, Northwood 14 

Score by quarters

Brother Martin | 9 | 7 | 3 | 9 | – 28

Northwood | 0 | 0 | 7 | 7 | – 14

Scoring summary

BM – Torey Lambert 5 run (Leyton Liuzza kick)

BM – Safety

BM – Jordan West 8 run (Liuzza kick)

BM – Liuzza 21 FG

N – Quintavius White 3 run (Jaxson Bentzler kick)

BM – Liuzza 25 FG

N – Marc Dennison 75 pass from Mason Welch (Bentzler kick)

BM – Lambert 3 run (kick blocked) 

Individual leaders 

Rushing 

Northwood (15-24) – White 5-12 1 TD, Steward 3­­­-2, Moss 1-4, Welch 6-6. 

Brother Martin (61-348) – Lambert 47-301 2 TDs, West 4-44 1 TD, Lonardo 6-9, Dazet 2-minus-5. 

Passing 

Northwood – Welch 10-22-1-197. 

Brother Martin (7-10-0-55) – Lonardo 0-1-0, Dazet 7-9-0-55. 

Receiving 

Northwood – Dennison 5-110-1, Moss 2-22, White 2-14, Crawford 1-20, Hearron 1-3.


House call: Dunham’s QB closes door on Calvary’s season

CORDIAL START:  Team captains met at midfield Friday night as Calvary Baptist visited Dunham School in a playoff quarterfinal. (Photo by REED DARCEY, Journal Sports)

By REED DARCEY, Journal Sports

BATON ROUGE — A light rain fell over the Dunham School Stadium as the lights began to flicker Friday night in Baton Rouge. One voice lifted over the crowd’s nervous murmurs. 

“Let’s warm up,” exclaimed the home team’s hero.

That voice belonged to Jackson House, the son of LSU’s first-year defensive coordinator, more notably the quarterback of the fourth-seeded Dunham Tigers, who defeated Calvary Baptist in a Select Division III LHSAA quarterfinal game that had it all. High stakes, a muddy field, a slight rain, lots of points, some explosive plays … and yes, a power outage. 

Dunham’s stadium plunged into darkness as soon as the Tigers took their 50-35 lead early in the fourth quarter. Yes, at that moment, the lights shut off. On both the game and Calvary Baptist’s season. The Cavs made a late push but couldn’t change the score again.

“We played hard, and these guys won a bunch of games in the last four years,” Calvary coach Rodney Guin said. “Tonight, they were a little bit better than us. And that’s what happens when you get this deep in the playoffs.”

House’s fearless runs up the middle led the Tigers over the Cavaliers. He took 30 carries for 177 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 14 of his 22 pass attempts for another 190 yards and a score. When Dunham chose to call designed quarterback runs in the second half, House seized control. 

“We threw the ball pretty well,” Guin said, “but we had a couple of chances to score and we didn’t. Their offensive line wore us down and the quarterback was Superman in the fourth quarter.”

Once the lights turned back on, Calvary had a chance to move within one score. Under heavy pressure on 4th-and-15, quarterback Abram Wardell completed a pass to Aubrey Hermes over the middle to extend their drive. Then, he stood in the pocket, took a hit and fired another deep pass to Hermes, this one down the right sideline for 29 yards. 

Then, two plays later, Dunham intercepted Wardell, sending the home crowd into a frenzy, ending hopes of a miraculous comeback. 

“Heck, if we go down and score right there the last time we had it,” Guin said, “it’s a one-score game with three minutes left. But yeah, we competed hard, and we can feel good about that.”

The loss was frustrating for the Cavaliers, who seemed destined for better things.

Calvary jumped out to an early two-score lead with a couple of quick drives. Kolby Thomas caught the first touchdown from 12 yards out, and James Simon ran in the second from the three-yard line. Meanwhile, Dunham punted on two of its first three drives. 

But then a sack forced Calvary to punt from deep in its own territory. Dunham scored on the next drive, then the Cavaliers fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Suddenly, the Cavaliers’ two-score lead was gone, and the game was tied. The teams swapped TDs before the visitors made another move.

Wardell set up his offense near the Tigers’ goal line with a 24-yard run down the left sideline. Simon capitalized with a one-yard touchdown plunge, and Calvary was back on track with a 28-21 halftime lead. 

But Dunham adjusted at halftime. Maybe the Tigers made schematic changes. Or perhaps they just decided to put the game in their best athlete’s hands. Either way, their change in approach was clear. Eighteen of House’s 30 carries came in the second half. 

The Calvary offense simply couldn’t keep up. After scoring 28 points in the first half, the Cavaliers tallied only seven more.

“They kind of whipped us up front. We had a hard time slowing them down,” Guin said. “We played hard. We didn’t make enough plays and we couldn’t stop them from running that ball.

“We only start four seniors, so we’ll have a great football team next year,” Guin said. “And we’re gonna build from this and understand that in the quarterfinals you’ve got to play your best game or you’re not gonna win, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Contact Reed at reed.darcey@gmail.com 

Dunham 50, Calvary 35

Score by quarters

Dunham – 7 | 14 | 21 | 8 | – 50

Calvary – 14 | 14 | 7 | 0 | – 35

Scoring summary

A – Kolby Thomas 12 pass from Abram Wardell (Garrett Little kick)

A – James Simon 3 run (Little kick)

H – Brandon Drago 35 pass from Jackson House (Lane Mangum kick)

A – Aubrey Hermes 12 pass from Wardell (Little kick)

H – Mason Wild 4 run (Mangum kick)

H – House 5 run (Mangum kick)

A – Simon 1 run (Little kick)

H – Thomas 4 run (Mangum kick)

H – House 1 run (Mangum kick)

A – Moss 20 run (Little kick)

H – House 25 run (Mangum kick)

H – House 6 run (Laramie Guidry pass from House)

Individual leaders

Rushing 

Calvary (29-157) – Moss 5-56-1 TD, Simon 14-52-2 TD, Wardell 9-43 

Dunham (47-254) – House 30-177-4 TD, Mason Wild 8-41-2 TD, Colin Boldt 9-36

Passing 

Calvary – Wardell 19-27-1-225, 2 TDs

Dunham – House 14-22-0-190, 1 TD

Receiving  

Calvary – Aubrey Hermes 5-80-1 TD, Mangum 1-58, Kolby Thomas 5-33-1 TD, Chris Jackson 3-23, John Simon IV 2-22, Simon 2-10, Xaver McGlothan 1-9 

Dunham – Jac Comeaux 5-106, Brandon Drago 1-35-1 TD, Wild 2-15, Drew Bourgeois 2-12, Trevor Haman 1-10, Boldt 1-3, Collin Franta 1-1


LHSAA football playoff scoreboard

Quarterfinal games

Non-Select scores 

Division I

Ruston 49, Denham Springs 31
Zachary 48, Southside 37
Destrehan 21, East St. John 20
Westgate 21, Neville 10

Division II

Iowa 31, Leesville 14
North DeSoto 42, Breaux Bridge 13
Lutcher 45, Lakeshore 8
West Feliciana 30, North Vermilion 0

Division III

Many 14, Rosepine 7
St. James 48, Avoyelles 24
Union Parish 38, Patterson 14
Amite 42, Berwick 13

Division IV

Oak Grove 20, Kentwood 14
Haynesville 31, Basile 7
Mangham 48, Arcadia 0

Select scores 

Division I

Carencro 29, Warren Easton 26
Brother Martin 28, Northwood 14
John Curtis 35, Byrd 14
Catholic-BR 32, Karr 24

Division II

St. Thomas More 56, Madison Prep 34
E.D. White 42, John F. Kennedy 20
Lafayette Christian 70, De La Salle 39
Teurlings Catholic 27, Shaw 21

Division III

University 48, Newman 14
Dunham 50, Calvary 35
Notre Dame 47, Episcopal 0
St. Charles 40, Parkview 21

Division IV

Vermilion Catholic 17, Southern Lab 7
St. Martin’s Episcopal 29, St. Mary’s 25
Ouachita Christian 28, Glenbrook 27
Ascension Catholic 28, Opelousas Catholic 12


Tigers-Ags rivalry runs deeper than the annual game

GOOD NABERS:  LSU got a big game last Saturday from Malik Nabers, who collected 129 yards on seven receptions in a 41-10 romp over UAB. (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports)

By RYNE BERTHELOT, Journal Sports

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — When LSU and Texas A&M kick off tonight, it’ll be the next chapter in a rivalry that’s picked up steam in recent years.

There was the mind-blowing seven-overtime 2018 epic, won 74-72 at home by the Aggies. LSU’s response came in Tiger Stadium, a year later, with the first appearance of the Joe “Burreaux” jersey in Senior Night introductions followed by a 50-7 thrashing handed out by the eventual national champions.

Just last year, the Tigers gave lame duck coach Ed Orgeron a happy sendoff by surprising the 14th-ranked Aggies 27-24 in Tiger Stadium.

LSU is 8-2 in its Southeastern Conference contests against A&M since the Aggies joined the SEC. There’s an abundant collection of lore from prior matchups in a series the Tigers lead 35-22-3.

The 6 o’clock kickoff at Kyle Field is 2022’s on-field collision, but it’s not the first battle, or the most important, the two SEC West rivals have waged this year. Even if somehow, the struggling Aggies (4-7, 1-6, on a six-game SEC skid) shock the sixth-ranked Tigers (9-2, 6-1), LSU is still headed to the SEC Championship Game next Saturday in Atlanta.

The first confrontation came on Feb. 2, when Harold Perkins signed his letter on intent to play for LSU after originally committing to A&M. Perkins was ranked as the No. 8 player in the nation and a five-star recruit, according to 247Sports. This season and for at least 1-2 more, he’s a dynamic factor for the Tigers and a missing link at A&M.

Both head coaches, the Aggies’ Jimbo Fisher and LSU’s Brian Kelly, remember that recruiting battle well.

Fisher recalled something else about watching the freshman phenom play in high school.

“Harold’s very gifted,” Fisher said Monday. “As great as he’s playing on defense, if you watched him in high school, you could argue he was just as great of an offensive player as he was a defensive player. I think he averaged 10-yards-per-carry. Was really athletic, ball-skilled. Really good basketball player. You could just see a natural athlete.”

While Perkins spurned the Aggies, Max Johnson did the opposite: The former LSU signal caller  earned the starting spot on Fisher’s offense, but has missed most of the season with a broken hand.

Freshman Conner Weigman has taken the reigns and found limited success, though he’s been hampered by the absence of starting running back Devon Achane who’s missed the last two weeks with a foot injury. He’s been spelled by former LSU-target and Baton Rouge native Le’Veon Moss, who posted 78 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in a lackluster 20-3 win over Massachussetts last week.

Fisher felt “very optimistic” that both Achane and freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart would play in the season finale.

LSU may also be without its starting running back in Josh Williams, who missed last week against UAB with a knee sprain. Kelly said he’s “made progress” throughout the week, but was ultimately noncommittal on Williams’ status for the game.

Noah Cain turned in a three-touchdown performance in the 41-10 win last week over UAB in Williams’ absence, and may have earned himself a larger share of snaps moving forward, regardless of Williams’ status.

“I think Noah Cain has helped himself,” Kelly said at his Monday press conference. “He’s not flashy, I don’t think he’s going to be a guy that makes a ton of people miss, but does he really have to? He plays with low pads, he’s physical, he’s smart, he catches the ball coming out of the backfield. He’s reliable in pass protection, and he’s tough to bring down. I think I just mentioned four or five things that are pretty good to have.”

The bottom line: LSU and Texas A&M are two programs headed in very different directions. The Tigers have their sights set on a shot at the SEC championship and a playoff berth, while notching the 17th 10-win season in program history. The Aggies are limping into the offseason, ready to end their miserable 2022 campaign, regroup, reconsider and recover. And, of course, recruit.

Fisher knows just how important a win against LSU could be.

“It’s huge. Again, the future and what we have here is extremely bright, where we’re going and what we’re doing, playing together and being together,” Fisher said. “I think for the seniors it would be a great sendoff for the last time they walk in that stadium.”

Contact Ryne at rgberthelot@gmail.com


Grambling aims for second straight Bayou Classic upset

NEW TO HUE: First-year Tigers’ coach Hue Jackson will experience his first Bayou Classic today. (Photo by GLENN LEWIS, Grambling State University).

By T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT, Lincoln Parish Journal

NEW ORLEANS — It comes down to this, to close out chapter one of the Hue Jackson era for Grambling State University football.

And when it comes down to the annual Bayou Classic, history has shown anything can happen.

Nothing could close out the season for the Tigers any sweeter than to play spoiler in the traditional season-ending Southwestern Athletic Conference showdown, set to kick off its 49th edition at 1 p.m. today at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

Grambling State (3-7 overall, 2-5 SWAC) enters coming off a 41-7 loss at Texas Southern on Nov. 12. 

But GSU has won two out of its last three games heading into its final regular season game of the season.

Southern (6-4, 4-3 SWAC), which defeated Mississippi Valley State  27-7 at home on Nov. 12, controls its own destiny after snapping  a two-game losing streak with that win over the Delta Devils despite earlier  losses to Jackson State and Florida A&M. 

A Bayou Classic win for the Jaguars will secure a spot in the SWAC Championship game. But a Southern loss will mean that Prairie View A&M winds up meeting Jackson State on Dec. 3.

“Obviously we are excited about getting back to playing football. It’s obviously one of the biggest classics that there is, with a game played in New Orleans at the Bayou Classic,” said first-year GSU head coach Hue Jackson.

“The players are excited, the coaches are excited. We got back to work (Tuesday) after having some down time. We’ve seen some areas we need to focus on, to get better at. That’s our number one goal. Our number two goal is to continue to work extremely hard and to get ready for this game.”

Last year, playing in the wake of the dismissal of former head coach Broderick Fobbs two weeks before the Bayou Classic, a walk-off field goal gave the Tigers a 29-26 win over the Jaguars to win their first and only game under interim head coach Terrence Graves, who now serves as assistant head coach at Southern.

Jackson said he’d love to see this year’s Tigers cap off his first season as head coach at GSU with a similar win.

“Our players understand it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to get a jump-start into next season,” Jackson said during a press conference in New Orleans earlier this week. “For the seniors graduating, we want them to go out the right way.”

GSU is averaging 24 points per contest while Southern is averaging 32 points per game.

Defensively, the G-Men are giving up an average of 398 yards and 31 points per game compared to 282 yards and 20 points per game the Jaguars are yielding.

Southern leads the all-time series between the schools, 39-34, but the Bayou Classic series is tied at 24-24.

Grambling State is 1-1 this season in neutral site games, winning the Shreveport Classic over Northwestern State before falling in the State Fair Classic to Prairie View A&M.

Saturday’s game will air live on NBC and Peacock with Chris Lewis and Anthony Herron in the booth being joined by sideline reporters Lewis Johnson and Corey Robinson. 

Grambling State will broadcast and stream the game on the Grambling State Sports Radio Network.


Bulldogs look for a happy ending today at home

EVERY YARD MATTERS:  Calvary Baptist product Landry Lyddy, diving for yardage last week at Charlotte, will start at quarterback again today as Louisiana Tech concludes its season at home. (Photo by MURPHY BAVINGA, Louisiana Tech Athletics)

By MALCOLM BUTLER, Lincoln Parish Journal

RUSTON  — When Louisiana Tech and UAB kick off at 2:30 p.m. today at Joe Aillet Stadium, the Blazers will be playing for a bowl berth.

The Bulldogs will be playing for pride.

UAB sits at five wins knowing a victory today, in the regular-season finale for both Conference USA teams, will give the Blazers an opportunity to go to a postseason bowl in their final football game as a C-USA member, heading next season to the American Athletic Conference.

Tech (3-8, 2-5 C-USA) isn’t as fortunate when it comes to postseason possibilities. The Bulldogs have none.

However, first-year Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie isn’t allowing that to be used as any type of excuse entering the game.

“It’s about playing for our seniors,” said Cumbie. “I think that is something you can always hang on to. We have talked about this season a lot. If the won-loss record of our opponent or the location of where we play or any of those types of things has to dictate our energy, our effort and our preparation level, then it’s probably a hobby. You play for a sense of self pride. You play for a sense of pride for your teammate.”

The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network locally on 92.1 FM and the LA Tech Athletics app while the contest will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

The Bulldogs have suffered two overtime losses as well as a one-score setback at Charlotte last week. Win two of those three and Tech would be playing for a possible postseason bowl berth as well.

UAB (5-6, 3-4 C-USA) would like nothing better than to defeat Tech and keep its season alive.

Cumbie said the Blazers are better than their 5-6 record indicates.

“They are very talented,” said Cumbie. “They are a really good team. They have had some injury problems at quarterback in the middle of the season that hindered them a little bit. They are very good.

“They have an interim head coach. Coach (Bill) Clark stepped down right before the season (due to back problems). Coach (Bryant) Vincent has done a great job of keeping it together. That’s just the structure and the program that UAB has.”

Tech’s biggest challenge will be slowing down UAB running back DeWayne McBride, a Doak Walker Award semifinalist. McBride enters the game ranked second nationally in both rushing yards per game (144.1) and rushing touchdowns (18), but was held to a season-low 34-yard outing in last week’s 41-10 loss at No. 6 LSU.

“They have some really good players,” said Cumbie. “McBride is one of the best running backs in the country. He is going to be very difficult for us to tackle. It’s going to take a lot of guys running to the football, wrapping up and holding on to bring him down.”

McBride needs 147 rushing yards to set the single season school rushing record which is currently held by Jordan Howard who had 1,587 yards in 2014. He has had tremendous success in two games against Louisiana Tech, compiling 133 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2020 and 210 yards and four touchdowns last season.

“We have to take care of the ball,” said Cumbie. “Create takeaways. If we do that, we will find ourselves in the game in the fourth quarter and have an opportunity to go win it.” 


Big Hoops Shootout a win-win for local sports fans

PACKING ‘EM IN: Local sports fans lined up early for the Parkway girls’ game in the Big Hoops Shootout at Centenary’s Gold Dome Friday afternoon. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

Centenary’s Gold Dome was packed Friday afternoon to watch two of the nation’s best high school girls’ basketball players and their teams face off in a matchup between Parkway and Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth, Calif.

Lines to get into the Big South Shootout – the first stop in a five-city, national tour put on by the Big Hoops Shootout organization to highlight the top high school teams in the country– began forming early in the afternoon for the 4 o’clock tipoff.

And the game that highlighted the top two recruits in the nation in Parkway’s Mikaylah Williams and Sierra Canyon’s Judea “JuJu” Watkins did not disappoint. The Lady Panthers put up a fight against the preseason USA No.2 ranked Trailblazers – getting within 10 points in the final two minutes – but fell 61-49 in front of an amped-up crowd.

“Playing in front of a crowd like that puts us back into state championship surroundings,” said Parkway coach Gloria Williams. “To be so close in a game like that. That just built my confidence in these young ladies.”

Parkway superstar (and LSU commit) Mikaylah Williams got off to a slow start — scoring just four points in the first half – but came back to finish with 17.

“Mikaylah is all-world,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Kamaki said after the game. “I’m a No. 1 JuJu fan, of course, but Mikaylah is as close to that type of player as I’ve seen. They are very similar.”

Very similar, indeed.

Friday’s game matched the reigning Louisiana Gatorade Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year (Williams) against the California Gatorade Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year (Watkins). Both have been named to the 2022-23 Preseason MaxPreps All-America Girls’ Basketball team.

Williams averaged 22.8 points and 8 rebounds and led the Lady Panthers to a runner-up finish in last season’s state championship game. Watkins averaged 24.8 points and 10.3 rebounds to lead the Trailblazers to the California state championship.

Watkins is a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball and Williams won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2022 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup and was named MVP.

“JuJu just had a little more fire power today,” the Parkway coach said of Watkins, who had a game-high 24 points, followed by Mackenly Randolph with 21 and Crystal Wang with 10. Chloe Larry, who had a game-high 34 points in the 2022 state championship game, led the Lady Panthers with 21 points against Sierra Canyon.

“It was fun,” Larry said of playing in front of the large crowd. “We could have done better, but that was a great team out there.”

The Lady Panthers led 15-12 after the first quarter and trailed by just five points at the half but could not keep pace with the Trailblazers in the second half. Behind Watkins’ 10 third-quarter points, Sierra Canyon took an 11-point lead into the final period and pushed it to 15 points with three minutes to play.

Parkway got within 10 points with two minutes left but couldn’t get any closer.

“It was kind of like David and Goliath,” the Parkway coach said of the matchup against the nation’s No. 2-ranked high school team. “There were just a few mismatches.”

Still, Friday’s game was a win-win for the local sports community.

“I loved playing in front of the hometown crowd,” said Williams, the Lady Panthers’ star.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


Byrd, Ford hope to rev up the thrills against John Curtis

GOOD LORD MR. FORD: At 6-4, 200, senior end Isaiah Ford (90) leads an all-senior defensive line that will face John Curtis and its split-back veer tonight in the quarterfinals tonight in New Orleans. (Photo by APRIL NIX JOHNSON, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

C.E. Byrd senior defensive end Isaiah Ford is thankful for football.

“Football gives me a feeling like nothing else I’ve ever tried,” said Ford after a Thanksgiving early morning walk-thru in the Byrd High gym, final preparations for tonight’s playoff against John Curtis. “It’s a different kind of joy from any other thing I know. Just the thrill of it.”

Ford and his friends get the chance to keep the thrills going tonight when the No. 6-seed Yellow Jackets, 8-3, meet the No.3-seed John Curtis Christian Patriots, 9-2, in the Select Division I quarterfinals at 7 at Joe Yenni Stadium, located at East Jefferson High School in New Orleans.

Ford played on an undefeated Byrd team of freshmen three autumns ago, didn’t play because of the pandemic in 2020, but returned last year and, as a junior, earned 45 tackles, seven for loss, two sacks, a pass breakup and an interception to make First-Team All-District 1-5A.

This year as one of four seniors to start along the Purple Swarm D-Line, the 6-4, 200-pounder has 59 total tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks and a pass-breakup. He had seven tackles in last week’s 49-10 regional round thumping of Alexandria.

No wonder football feels so good.

“Being out there with your friends, it just feels more joyful than anything,” Ford said. “I don’t really know how to explain it with words, but anybody who’s ever played in a football game knows what I’m talking about.”

To keep having all the thrills and feels, Ford and his buddies will have to stop a Patriots team that put together a start-to-finish whupping of Catholic League rival Jesuit, 35-7, last Friday with their rarely seen split-back veer attack. The last time Byrd faced that type offense was in the 2020 playoffs when the Yellow Jackets earned a sticky, stingy 14-13 semifinal playoff win — against John Curtis.

“One of those things where you have to account for everybody,” said Byrd defensive line coach Jalen Bowers, who finished high school football at Byrd in 2013 and then at McNeese in 2017. “Somebody on the quarterback, always looking for the dive, somebody on the pitch man. These guys (starting on the D-line now) were scout team in 2020, but they learned then. They know that all it takes is one person out of position, especially against an offense like this, and it’s a big gain or a touchdown.”

Wyatt Watkins, 6-3, 205, moved during offseason from linebacker/safety to the end opposite Ford. The two tackles are Ben Martinson, 6-1, 206, and Brennan Belanger, 5-10, 223, who moved from end last year to tackle now to make room for Watkins.

“We didn’t have the chemistry last year that we have this year,” Ford said. “But we’ve been playing together since we were freshmen; we’re all good friends. Since Brennan moved inside and Wyatt got on the edge, we’ve all fed off each other’s energy. If one guy makes a good play, then another makes a good play.

“A big reason I think we’re so good is (current defensive coordinator) Coach (Jason) Pope was our coach when we were freshmen,” he said. “He knows what our strong suit is and gets us in the best situations to be successful.”

Although Ford missed the pandemic season in 2020, Bowers said he was able to step into a starting role last year on “pure athleticism.”

“We talked during the off-season about technique and getting down to basics, things that would elevate his game,” Bowers said. “He’s done the work. Last week, he played everything perfectly, made a lot of plays for us on the backside. Our guys know that we might not be the fastest or the biggest, but if they play technique and execute, they’re going to be awfully hard to beat.

“These guys know what it takes,” he said. “They know that each time out, they’ve got to go 1-0 to advance. We’ve had a great week of practice. Leaving the field Tuesday and Wednesday, I felt they were ready. Every day, how they’ve prepared and battled all year long, how they’ve showed up the next day ready to go and get better after being in some battle-tested games, I think they’re ready.”

Since losing to district champ Airline, 48-28, October 20, the Yellow Jackets are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents, 141-13. 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

Division I – Select Quarterfinal

6-Byrd (8-3) at 3-John Curtis (9-2) 

Where: Joe Yenni Stadium, Metairie 

Series: Byrd 1-0 

Last week: Byrd beat Alexandria 49-10; Curtis beat Jesuit 35-7 

Rankings: Curtis #7 in LSWA 5A poll 

All-time playoff record: Byrd 34-31-2; Curtis 176-22 

Last semifinal appearance: Byrd 2020; Curtis 2020 

Radio: Byrd (The Tiger 1130AM, 103.3 FM) 

Notables: Like the last time these two heavyweights met, this meeting comes in the middle of the LHSAA state playoffs. The Yellow Jackets and Patriots last met in the 2020 LHSAA semifinals at Lee Hedges Stadium. Byrd won 14-13 … Last week, Byrd dominated Alexandria Senior High 49-10 as quarterback Lake Lambert — with the help from his offensive line and downfield blocking by wingbacks — put on the most prolific rushing performance by a Byrd quarterback in school history. Lambert rushed for 267 yards including five touchdowns. Meanwhile, John Curtis, led by quarterback Dagan Bruno’s two rushing and two passing touchdowns, defeated Jesuit 35-7 for the second time this season. While Lambert’s 267 yards rushing was the most ever by a Byrd quarterback, it ranked No. 6 overall on the school’s single-game rushing performances … Did someone say Bruno? The most iconic play of Byrd’s 14-13 win over John Curtis in 2020 was an interception by defensive lineman Carson Bruno. Byrd had taken a one-point lead after a nine-play 69-yard drive. There was just under two minutes left in the game when Patriot quarterback Tyren Taylor went back to pass on a screen and tried to throw the ball over Bruno, who jumped up and pulled the football down like he was grabbing a rebound. After intercepting the pass, Bruno added insult to injury by bowling over the Curtis quarterback. Bruno also gave the Yellow Jackets excellent field position in order to run out the clock against the Patriots. The day after Byrd’s playoff game against John Curtis, Bruno will close out his redshirt freshman season as a starting right tackle for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs … Last week’s playoff win against ASH was the first playoff W for Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew, who is in his second year at the helm. Last season, Ballew’s Jackets went 9-1 during the regular season before losing to Brother Martin 45-14.  “After bowing out last year in the first (playoff) game, I’m glad we got this one,” Ballew said after the win against ASH. “I’m happy for our kids, our coaches, our school” … Ballew and his staff will stand across the field from the winningest high school coach in Louisiana history Friday night. J.T. Curtis Jr., who is in his 54th season as the Patriot’s head coach, has a record of 612-77-6 record for a winning percentage of .884. Curtis was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, and inducted into the National High School Fame in 2015. He is the winningest active head coach in the United Sports. All time, only Summerville, South Carolina’s John McKissick, with 621 wins, has more victories than Curtis.


Falcons believe they can take an historic step

STUFFED: The Northwood defense, led by Tadarius Collins (4) will be looking for another strong performance against Brother Martin. (File photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports)

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

There’s a difference this year and Northwood coach Austin Brown can sense it in his locker room and on the practice field.

Once again, the Falcons are in the state quarterfinals (though in a different bracket than 2021) and preparing to try to do something the school has never done – reach the semifinals.

A year ago, the quarterfinals were against Westgate and the Falcons were going to be at home for that game.

But as Brown came to find out later, many on his team did not go into that game with the belief that they could win. (Even though they almost did, losing on a two-point conversion on the final play that would have sent it into overtime.)

When Brown met with each of his players after the season, he found out that the talk in the locker room that week had been about some of the older players saying “this is our last game.”

That is not the case this year.

“The whole focus during the off season and during this week to our players has been to remember how you felt last year when some of your leaders didn’t believe,” Brown said.

This time, it will be a road trip to New Orleans to take on Brother Martin at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. Game time this evening is an hour earlier than normal, at 6 p.m.

The Crusaders, who play in the Catholic League, are one of the storied programs in the state, having been to the state semifinals in each of the last three years.

But the Falcons are no strangers to playing well-established teams in the playoffs, having teed it up with Edna Karr, Warren Easton and Carencro in recent years.

“We’ve always believed we could play with anybody at any time,” Brown said. “It’s that belief in ourselves. We’ve been up against some really good teams. And we are still here.”

Still here, just moved a little bit.

In previous years, Northwood played in the Non-Select, Class 4A playoff bracket. The LHSAA reworked the playoff classifications during the first month of the season and the Falcons are now on the Select side and in Division I. That bracket is for the schools in the top 25 percent of enrollment of Select schools (not just Class 5A select schools).

But you know who else is in the same bracket?  Edna Karr, Warren Easton and Carencro.

“We know we belong,” Brown said. “And I think that’s powerful to us for our confidence.”

What is also powerful to the Falcons’ confidence is their impressive 35-9 win over St. Paul’s, another member of the Catholic League, last week.

Northwood did not allow a touchdown (only three field goals) despite having turnovers in the red zone and gave up only 208 yards in total offense. Quarterback Mason Welch had a 69-yard touchdown run and added another TD run and a touchdown pass to Marc Denison.

Mar’Jayvious Moss had a 14-yard TD run and the Falcons also had a special teams touchdown on a blocked punt.

Brother Martin, the No. 13 seed at 7-5, is coming off a 27-24 win over St. Augustine. Northwood, the No. 5 seed, is 9-2 and has won seven straight games.

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com 

Division I – Select Quarterfinal

5-Northwood (9-2) at 13-Brother Martin (7-5) 

Where: Tad Gormley, New Orleans

 Series: First meeting 

Last week: Northwood beat St. Paul’s 35-9; Brother Martin beat St. Augustine 27-24 

Rankings: Northwood received votes in LSWA 4A poll 

All-time playoff record: Northwood 12-25; Brother Martin 30-30-2 

Last semifinal appearance: Northwood – none; Brother Martin 2021 

Radio: Northwood –  Miracle 89.1 FM http://69.64.65.171:8192/kflo 

Notables: Leading rusher Quintavion White has been fighting an injured ankle and saw limited duty last week against St. Paul’s (seven carries). Head coach Austin Brown said he expects White to be ready to go in Friday’s game … Taderius Collins blocked a punt and returned it 35 yards for a score last week … Quarterback Mason Welch had a career-high 108 rushing yards last week and Mar’Jayvious Moss added 68 … Moss and Camron McCullough were the leading tacklers with 11 each … Welch completed 10 passes, but none were for longer than 17 yards … Northwood is 0-3 in quarterfinal games — all coming in the last six years.


Calvary’s lines, defense to be tested in quarters at Dunham

LOOKING FOR SPACE:  Calvary’s talented skill position players will be relying on the Cavaliers’ offensive line to neutralize Dunham’s impressive defensive front in the state quarterfinals tonight in Baton Rouge. (File photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Calvary head coach Rodney Guin schedules Class 5A schools such as Byrd and Captain Shreve for a reason – to give his Cavaliers an idea of the competition when it’s time for the playoffs.

The Cavaliers have reeled off eight straight victories, but Guin says Friday’s Select Division III quarterfinal playoff matchup will provide the biggest test, especially up front, his team has seen since Week 2.

“They’re a lot like us – they haven’t played a lot of tough games since early in the year. Their defensive line is as good as we’ve played all year –- very comparable to Shreve in terms of the defensive line. The best we’ve played up front other than Shreve. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Calvary has scored at least 50 points in seven of its past eight games (beat Loyola 45-0 in regular-season finale).

On paper, Dunham and Calvary appear to be mirror images. Dunham has won 10 straight games since its season-opening loss to Parkview Baptist and has scored at least 40 points in every game since Week 6. That run began with a 72-14 victory against Northeast.

Dunham’s offense runs through quarterback Jackson House, who has compiled more than 1,000 passing yards and close to 800 rushing yards. The son of LSU defensive coordinator Matt House, he led his team in Kansas to a state title last year.

“We have to control (House),” Guin said. “He’s their key guy. He can throw and he can run. They spread out and try to create space for him to run.”

The Tigers had a bye in the opening round of the playoffs and then defeated M.L. King Charter, 56-21, last week.

If you’re going to clip the Cavaliers, the quarterfinal round is the place. Calvary had five consecutive losses in the quarterfinals from 2015-19. The Cavaliers won the Division IV state crown in 2020 and were bumped by Ouachita Christian in last year’s semifinals.

Contact Roy at roylangIII@yahoo.com

Division III – Select Quarterfinals

5-Calvary (9-2) at 4-Dunham (10-1) 

Where: Dunham School Stadium, Baton Rouge 

Series: Calvary 3-0 

Last week: Calvary beat Northlake Christian 52-0; Dunham beat M.L. King Charter 56-21 

Rankings: Calvary No. 5, Dunham No. 2 in LSWA 2A poll 

All-time playoff record: Calvary 34-14; Dunham 19-23 

Last semifinal appearance: Calvary 2021; Dunham 2019 

Radio: Calvary – The Promise 90.7 FM, http://69.64.65.171:8192/kflofm2 

Notables: Calvary quarterback Abram Wardell has completed 80 percent of his passes this season (128 of 160 attempts) for 31 touchdowns and three interceptions … running back James Simon has 20 rushing touchdowns … Dunham DL/TE Jake Rizzo is a National Merit Scholar being recruited by Ivy League schools. RB/S Colin Boldt committed to SLU … Dunham head coach Neil Weiner is son of legendary Catholic coach Dale Weiner, who retired with over 300 wins.


Just trying to help with some high school football tweaks

This has been one of my favorite high school football seasons ever, mostly due to the advent of the Shreveport-Bossier Journal and getting to cover games and teams I wouldn’t normally get a chance to see.

Of the 19 teams in the SBJ’s coverage area, I saw 12 of them. Kinda hacked I didn’t get to see them all (especially since I missed 66 percent of the Bossier Parish schools).

But I’ve covered 20 games this year – including one that took two days – and each had its own story to tell. I suppose you could get that covering the City Hall beat, but I doubt it.

There’s plenty to love about a high school football season, but there are some things that might want to be looked at in the name of improvement.

And before we go there, let’s go here. The playoff structure in place is the best way to do something that is, by its own nature, imperfect. It will be tweaked and adjusted and re-arranged, but it will never be fixed. So let’s just live with what we’ve got and go from there. (Spoiler alert – the best teams almost always win the state championship, no matter what the system in place.)

REWARDING DISTRICT CHAMPIONS: One of the criticisms about the Power Point system is that it de-incentivizes winning the district. The kids still get a patch on the letter jacket, but that’s about it.

This was once done in basketball and I think it’s a good idea for football: Each district champion gets an extra 1.0 added to their final power point total. A team that finishes at 14.1 would jump to 15.1. It won’t make much difference at the top – you figure those teams would be district winners anyway – but lower-ranked district winners could move up 4-5 spots.

In a few cases, that might even mean a first-round home game or maybe even a bye. Not a bad reward for winning the district and certainly better than a patch.

FLAG THROWING AND CHAIN MOVING: Everybody yells about holding calls. You could bring the best NFL crew to a high school game and you’d still get that complaint. I think the referees do a good job of (1) knowing the rules (2) explaining issues to coaches and (3) keeping control of the game.

But there are two things I see that need to be improved because they can often be game-changers. And it’s nothing new for me because I’ve had this conversation with referee friends of mine for years.

Too often, referees throw flags without regard for where the infraction took place. They just throw them and wherever it lands is the spot. Not a big deal – unless it’s a spot-of-the-foul penalty. If an offensive hold occurs three yards behind the line of scrimmage, but the flag lands eight yards behind, that becomes an 18-yard penalty instead of a 13-yard penalty. That makes a difference.

It’s even worse on kick returns because there are bodies in motion all over the place. Sometimes the flag is being thrown from 20 yards away as the play is continuing in the opposite direction.

But the bigger problem? Ball spotting, especially on fourth down. I guess these referees are watching too much NFL and college where they love showing the side judge hurriedly pointing upfield to signal to move the chains. What’s the hurry?

In the 20 games I’ve seen this year, I’ve seen maybe two measurements. I don’t care how fast the offensive team wants to play. Get. It. Right. Especially in the fourth quarter. Especially in a playoff game. 

AND THE BAND SHOULDN’T PLAY ON: Sorry band people, but there’s a time and a place for everything. Play all you want … during timeouts, between quarters and at halftime. Not during live action.

I applaud the creative band directors who know enough football strategy to play only when the opposing team has the ball, but it should never be allowed. You think referees would allow it if some band wanted to perform a whistle routine during the game?

A team shouldn’t have an advantage just because its band knows how to play “Shake Your Groove Thing” on fourth down in a tie game. 

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com


Today’s Big South Shootout features two of the nation’s best high school girls

WILLIAMS DUO: Parkway star Mikaylah Williams (left) and Lady Panthers’ coach Gloria Williams will welcome the Sierra Canyon Lady Trailblazers to Shreveport for today’s Big South Shootout. (Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports)

Local sports fans have the opportunity to watch two of the best girls’ high school basketball players in the country this afternoon at Centenary’s Gold Dome.

“Talk about an honor for northern Louisiana,” Parkway head coach Gloria Williams says of the Big South Shootout: One Night Only, Vol. One event that pits the Lady Panthers against the Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) Trailblazers, No. 2 in the nation in the SBLive Power preseason rankings.

The 4 o’clock matchup will give area fans a rare opportunity to see two of the top-rated girls in the U.S. go head-to-head when Parkway’s Mikaylah Williams and Sierra Canyon’s Judea “Juju” Watkins take the court for the early-season matchup.

Williams, considered the consensus No. 1 women’s basketball recruit in the Class of 2023, has signed to play for LSU. After leading the Lady Panthers to the 2022 Class 5A state championship game, she was named Miss Basketball by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year and one of five finalists for the Naismith National High School Girls Players of the Year while boasting a 4.0 GPA.

Williams — who averaged 22.8 points, 8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals as a junior at Parkway last season — won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2022 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup, where she was also named MVP. In addition, Williams was named one of 12 players on the 2022 USA Basketball Women’s U17 National Team, which took home a gold medal after competing in the FIBA U17 World Cup in Hungary over the summer.

Watkins — who recently signed with USC over finalists South Carolina and Stanford — is a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball and the state’s reigning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She averaged 24.8 points and 10.3 rebounds to lead the Trailblazers to a 30-2 record and the California state championship.

“She’s a generational talent,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Kamaki told ESPN. “I don’t think we’re going to see somebody else like her.”

Both Williams and Watkins have been named to the 2022-23 Preseason MaxPreps All-America Girls’ Basketball team – along with Breya Cunningham of La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day, Milaysia Fulwiley of Keenan (Columbia, SC), and Jadyn Donovan of Sidwell Friends (Washington, DC). Cunningham has signed with Arizona, Fulwiley with South Carolina, and Donavan with Duke.

The Lady Panthers — who bring a 3-2 record into today’s game — are coming off a road trip to Arkansas this week that included a 78-68 loss to Conway (Ark.), ranked No. 11 in the nation by SBLive. The Trailblazers are 2-0.

Today’s game is the first in a five-city stop by the Big Hoops Shootout organization, which matches top high school teams from around the nation. Other games will take place in Fayetteville (N.C.), Tyrone (Ga.), Glean Head (N.Y.), and Cayce (S.C.).

“I received a phone call (from Big Hoops Shootout) after the season ended,” Parkway coach Gloria Williams says when asked how today’s event came about. “We talked back and forth and, once we found a common date, it was finalized in July.”

Going up against top-notch competition early in the season is part of the Parkway coaching staff’s plan to prepare the Lady Panthers for a run at a state title.

“In order to be the best, you’ve got to play the best,” says Williams.

The Lady Panthers return four of their five starters from last season’s state runner-up team but will be without sophomore Savannah Wilson, who has been lost for the season with an ACL tear. In addition to Williams, Parkway will have junior Chloe Larry (who had a game-high 34 points in the 2022 state championship game) and Ty’lissa Henderson, who has recently returned after an injury.

General admission tickets for today’s game are $20 and can be purchased at bighoopsshootout.ticketleap.com. Children 5-and-under will be admitted free. 

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


Quarterfinal Preview: C.E. Byrd at John Curtis

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

I am very excited to see the outcome of tonight’s matchup between Byrd and John Curtis in a collision of two tradition-rich programs.

This is an evenly-matched game with talent, depth and experience about the same for both clubs.  I have to give the edge to Byrd because of the Yellow Jackets’ four-year starting QB, Lake Lambert, who has state title game experience, and many playoff games under his belt.

Both teams run the ball 95 percent of the time. This game might not last much longer than a couple hours. The only advantage I see John Curtis has is the playoff site – they have won a lot of games, and championships, at Joe Yenni Stadium in Metairie. I also have to say it’s hard to discount the great coach of the Patriots, J.T. Curtis, who next season will become the winningest prep football coach ever in the USA. But Stacey Ballew and the Byrd staff are not outfoxed, either.

I have seen both teams play in 2022. Let’s go over how close these two programs are in talent and depth.

The QB spot is a strength for Byrd with Lambert. He could be the difference in this game with his feet and if he throws the ball he’s pretty efficient.  John Curtis has a new starter at QB  in senior Jordan Smith, who does a good job running the offense but he is not really strong in the passing game. You might also see at Dagan Bruno play some for the Patriots.

In the trenches, usually John Curtis has the edge here, but not this year. The Pats  are smaller than usual and where they are big, they are young. Curtis is led on the offensive and defensive lines by Zachary Drake (6-3, 190), DE/OLB John David Morter (6-0, 245), DT Logan Barnes (5-10, 270), OL Richard Newby (6-0, 255), Andrew Martinez (6-3, 275), OL/TE Bryce Godfrey (6-3, 270), and Joshua Teague (6-2, 245). Most are seniors with good size but they’re not deep as a team in the trenches.

Byrd will counter up front with All District OLB/DE Isaiah Ford (6-4, 210) and DE/OLB Wyatt Watkins (6-3, 210), two guys who could be a problem for Curtis to block. The Yellow Jackets also have a veteran offensive line led by Jackson Rust (6-4, 205), Kailen Moore (6-4, 230), Noah Slaughter (5-11, 240), and veteran DT Brennan Belanger (5-10, 230). I give the edge to Byrd in the trenches.

In the ball-handling spots, I think it’s almost even. Byrd has a great WR in senior  Jackson Dufrene (6-4, 185), a deep group of RB’s in Josh Allen (5-9,180), Devon Strickland (5-10, 198), and all-purpose player Tyler Nichols (5-7, 180). John Curtis will bring about the same amount of talent to the field in RB Marlon Prout (5-8, 170), RB Jason Gabriel (5-10, 185), WR Tyler Mitchell and RB Liam Cohen.

Both teams have big-time leaders on defense. For the Yellow Jackets, it’s four-year starting LB Brooks Brossette, who plays much bigger than 6-0, 200 and is almost like a coach on the field. Other Byrd defensive standouts are CB Lamichael Taylor (5-9, 165), and Christian Jones (6-0, 180).

John Curtis has a bell cow in OLB Justin Horne (6-2, 220), a well-regarded senior prospect. Other Patriots to watch are DE Austin Ackel (6-3, 220), and SS Blake Wibel (5-10, 175), who is a big-time hitter.

In special teams, it’s even, which for Byrd fans is hard to swallow. The Jackets have one of the best kickers in the United States in Abram Murray (6-0, 205), with range to 60 yards and extreme accuracy. The Patriots boast All American long snapper Jason Dudenhoeffer (5-10, 165), and punter Josh Eames (6-0,185) will punt for some FCS program next year.

I am picking Byrd to advance in a contest that will go down to the wire, a “who has the ball last” type of game. It won’t be high scoring because both teams run a lot and the clock will not stop much. The Jackets and Patriots will be limited to how many times they get the ball in a clean game.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving, and if you’re headed south, try some oyster dressing while down in the Crescent City. 

HOLIDAY REMINDER: You still can go to our website, lafootballmagazine.com, if you’re a parent or fan and order your 2022 Football Preview Magazine, either the North or South issue, or both. It will be interesting to read preseason outlooks and compare them to the playoff realities. Our magazine covers all the high schools and colleges in Louisiana. 

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


Mudbugs have work to do after respite

BUBBLING TO GO: The Shreveport Mudbugs (shown enjoying bubble hockey) will complete their five-week road trip with two games at El Paso this weekend. (Photo courtesy Shreveport Mudbugs)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The Shreveport Mudbugs have won just seven of their first 20 games to start the 2022-23 season, but a week off may have given the squad an opportunity to get back in the North American Hockey League South Division race.

“I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet,” Mudbugs defenseman Alex Park said. “We have a lot of potential. It’s a long season. I’m excited to see us explode out of this break.”

Many players had the opportunity to go home after the Mudbugs (7-9-4) wrapped up a series at Lone Star on Nov. 12. Tonight, the season resumes at El Paso (8-10). With 20 games down and 40 to go, Shreveport enters the game in fifth place in the South (the top four make the playoffs).

“We’re underachieving,” head coach Jason Campbell said. “That’s not good enough. The guys know that. But even though we’re under .500, we have competed well against some really good teams and we know we’re in a battle. We have to figure out a way to string some wins together and get into a playoff spot.”

Much of the struggle revolves around an inability to put the puck in the net.

Shreveport ranks 28th of the 29 NAHL teams in offense (1.95 goals per game). The power play needs a spark, too, as the Mudbugs rank 26th in the league (11.8 percent).

“We’ve been playing OK,” Mudbugs forward Jaden Goldie said. “We have to find consistency and start burying our (scoring) opportunities.”

The Mudbugs’ place in the standings certainly didn’t affect the energy level as players returned to practice early in the week.

“We’re rip-roaring and ready to go,” Campbell said. “The boys are fired up.”

Shreveport made some moves during the holiday week. The Mudbugs traded forward Logan Valkama to Bismarck. They added a tender, forward Gavin Cherry (6-foot-4, 170 pounds).

Tonight begins the first series against the Rhino. After Saturday’s game, the Mudbugs will enjoy a home game (Dec. 2 vs. New Mexico) for the first time in six weeks.

Mudbugs at El Paso

Tonight and Saturday (8 p.m.)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Cowboys awaken in time, overpower Giants

COMEBACK KID:  Haughton product Dak Prescott led the Dallas offense to an impressive second-half rally Thursday in the Cowboys’ comeback win over New York. (Photo courtesy Dallas Cowboys).

JOURNAL SPORTS 

DALLAS — Thanksgiving naps are a holiday pleasure. For the Dallas Cowboys Thursday, their slumber was not enjoyable, but it was relatively short-lived, and not costly. 

The longer their game against NFC East rival New York went on, the more the Cowboys (8-3) seemingly awoke from their doldrums. A first half that saw them stumble into a deficit was overcome when Dallas surged in the second half to earn a 28-20 victory over the Giants (7-4), and a sweep of the regular-season series. 

“Yeah, we had to come out and fight,” Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons said. “Definitely not a pretty first round. Definitely not the way you want to start but, for the most part we came out in that second half and dominated.” 

Even though it wasn’t his finest performance, Haughton native Dak Prescott was named the John Madden Player of the Game, a new Thanksgiving tradition instituted by the NFL. The Cowboys’ quarterback tipped his cap to the Dallas defense. 

“Our defense can win a lot of games, we just have to lean on them. Those guys played well, only allowed that late touchdown.” 

As for the offense, things got a lot better after halftime. 

“We got up (on) our own feet, got things rolling, and played to our standard, our expectations,” said Prescott. “(We) pretty much scored on every drive in the second half except the last one, and that’s what we can do when we play to our capabilities.” 

Through the first two quarters, he was a pedestrian 6-for-10 for 116 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 44.8 passer rating. But afterwards, Prescott completed 15-of-20 passes for 145 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half to finish the day with a respectable 91.1 passer rating. 

CeeDee Lamb topped the century mark in receiving yards for the second time this season, mixing in some highlight-reel catches on his way to 106-yard effort. Michael Gallup also had his best game of the year with some strong grabs that led to 63 receiving yards. Tight end Dalton Schultz got in on the act as well, equaling a personal best with two touchdowns. 

The Cowboys did some work on the ground as well, totaling 170 rushing yards, the fourth straight game they’ve surpassed 150. Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 92 yards on 16 carries while Tony Pollard chipped in 60 more on 18 attempts. 

Similarly, the Dallas defense improved as the day went along. Parsons added another two sacks, his sixth multi-sack game of the season, with defensive end Dorance Armstrong adding to his already career high in sacks, now totaling eight. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch led his side with eight tackles. 

The Cowboys held Saquon Barkley, who came into the game ranked second in the NFL in rushing, to a paltry 39 yards on 11 carries, while allowing the Giants to convert only 27 percent of their third-down opportunities. 

“I thought we did pretty good,” Parsons said. “He might have had one, maybe two explosive runs. But, for the most part, we contained him and made sure everything was short. They passed way more than we expected.” 

For the second straight week, Dallas also dominated the time of possession, 34:09 to 25:51. 

“Just getting off the field (is important),” said Parsons following eight-point win that was not as close as the final score indicated. “I think that is the key: the more we can get the ball back to the offense, it’s better for things to get going. The more drives we can get them, the more they can perfect their rhythm, the more they can put points on the board as you can see towards the end of the game.”


More bad birds stories sure to please turkey hunters

A year or so ago, Jim Spencer, my good friend and avid, make that obsessed, turkey hunter, put together a book about his encounters with wild turkey gobblers, birds he described as “bad birds.” In fact, that was the name of his first book — Bad Birds.

Realizing that his book that took readers step by step up mountains, through briar thickets and across creeks to chase bad birds only covered part of his experiences, Spencer has assembled his accounts of more brushes with bad birds. His new book, “Bad Birds 2,” is hot off the presses and is available for the perfect Christmas gift for turkey hunters.

Beneath the title on the cover of his new book, Spencer adds … “Another collection of ‘mostly’ true stories starring the gobblers we all love to hate.”

Just who is this guy, Jim Spencer, anyhow? Here’s what a blurb on the back cover of the book says about this turkey fanatic … “Jim Spencer’s name and reputation are well-known in the turkey hunting subculture. A self-described turkey bum, Spencer has written more than a thousand magazine and newspaper features about turkeys and turkey hunting, and now, a third book on the subject. In more than 40 years of being whipped by turkeys, he has hunted them in three countries and 30 states. He and his wife Jill (also a well-known outdoor writer) live in the north Arkansas Ozarks, near Calico Rock.”

The book is beautifully illustrated in photos taken by Spencer, his wife, and renowned wildlife photographer Tes Jolly. The foreword was written by Tes and her husband, Ron Jolly. Here’s what Ron Jolly wrote in the book’s foreword about the kind of turkey man Spencer is.

In describing a hunt in which Spencer was the shooter and Jolly the cameraman shooting a video for television, they had set up on a gobbler and when the gobbler closed the distance and was within shooting range, Spencer never got the signal to shoot before the gobbler walked away.

“When he was gone, Spencer pulled down his mask and grinned at me over his shoulder. ‘You couldn’t see him, could you?’ I shook my head. ‘You should have killed him anyway,’ I said. ‘Naw,’ he said, ‘that wasn’t the deal. You couldn’t get any footage, so I didn’t want to shoot. It’s just a turkey.’”

Giving it their all for two more days to film Spencer taking a gobbler they never had another chance but Jolly added, “Spencer proved to us to be a turkey man.”

“Bad Birds 2” contains 40 stories of Spencer’s encounters with tough old birds, some he was able to conquer; some where the gobbler got the best of him. He affixed monikers to each of the bad ones he has met, names like Lazy Bones, Gabby, Sir Edmund, Ringo, Blinky and on and on.

As thrilling and frustrating and fun to read as Spencer’s stories are about the bad birds he has encountered, the book ends soberly with his epilogue where he describes in a manner only he can muster of the problems wild turkeys are facing in today’s world. “Something is happening out there in turkey country, and we need to get a handle on it,” he wrote.

This is a book every turkey hunter should read, for enjoyment, for pleasure and for instructions on what not to do. It’s also one that needs reading for his serious message about the plight of wild turkeys today.

To order your copy in time for Christmas giving, send a check for $26, which includes cost of shipping and handling to Treble Hook Unlimited, P.O. Box 758, Calico Rock, AR 72519 or to Paypal at modernmountainman@gmail.com via email.

Contact Glynn at glynnharris37@gmail.com


Northwood’s Welch is never ‘down’ on the farm or the football field

GIDDYE UP:  Northwood quarterback Mason Welch has thrown some beauties this fall for the Falcons, when he’s not helping with the family farm. (File photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports)

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

There are times when Northwood quarterback Mason Welch just wants to be outdoors and doing what he loves. Video games or texting is fine for everybody else.

When you are 18 years old, the pressures of the teenaged world can get a little overwhelming sometimes. Finding peace often isn’t the easiest thing to do.

He knows what he needs and where to find it.

“One of the most comforting things is coming in after practice and my dad telling me to put out three bales of hay in that field and two in this pasture,” Welch says. “A lot of people can’t believe I do that. But there’s nothing more comforting than the outdoors. You’re doing something that you realize your parents worked really hard to get and you are appreciating that you are doing things for them. I love those moments. That’s who my parents raised me to be.”

The hay better be in the barn later this week because Welch won’t be around much. He and the Falcons (9-2) will be in New Orleans Friday night to take on Brother Martin (7-5) in the Select-Division I state quarterfinals. Northwood, the No. 5 seed, will meet the 13th-seeded Crusaders at 6 p.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium.

Welch lives on a cattle farm with about 100 acres and another 150 acres leased nearby. There’s also about 500 acres in Beauregard Parish that his family works every other week or so.

Everything you might think he would need to do on a cattle farm, Welch does. He’s even branded a few bovines. In the least shocking news you’ll ever hear, he has spent time showing pigs and was in the 4-H club from fourth grade up to high school.

“Raising animals is difficult,” he says. “Getting them to where they listen to you and you listen to them is something you learn to appreciate. That respect for each other is a difficult process.”

If you don’t believe Welch is a country boy, consider this: He could drive a John Deere tractor before he could ride a bicycle.

“And that’s not an exaggeration,” he says.

There are other things about Welch that aren’t an exaggeration.

“Mason truly is 100 percent all in,” Northwood coach Austin Brown says. “This is his true passion. The consistency and accountability of who he is isn’t normal for a kid his age. To have that for your high school quarterback and everybody look up to, it sets the bar for everybody else to live up to.”

Welch says he hasn’t missed a Northwood football game since he was in the fourth grade. When he was in junior high, he dreamed of being the Falcons’ quarterback.

“I remember thinking about how one day I wanted to be the quarterback at Northwood and the guy who is leading them to the district championship and playoffs,” he says. “It’s been everything I’ve thought it was going to be. It just means the world to me that I’m getting to experience this.”

Northwood also experienced this – a quarterfinal appearance – a year ago and Welch believes it was the 34-32 loss to Westgate that was the springboard to this year’s success.

“What was instilled in us during the offseason was that every day matters,” Welch says. “Everything you do every day matters. It might not seem important to come to a workout during Christmas break. But everything we do and have done is with an intent and a purpose. All that work we’ve put it since that Monday after losing to Westgate last year is paying off.”

Welch, who is the school’s No. 2 career passing leader, threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns in the game in which Northwood battled back from 28-7 only to fall on a failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

“Being part of a district championship and being this far (in the playoffs) isn’t easy, and I think that’s why this team is so tight,” Welch says. “That’s my favorite part of high school football – the team aspect. We’ve all been through it together. It’s something special. Honestly, I think this team has something in them to push farther than any Northwood team ever has.”

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com


Tennis comes full circle for Lauren Cotter Wilson

She would hit tennis balls for hours against the green wooden backboard that was attached to the back of the tennis court at Shreveport’s Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club.

As her older brother John sat courtside, a young Lauren Cotter would try to hit 50 in a row above the painted white line that symbolized the net.

“It would take me an hour-and-a-half to get 50 in a row,” she recalls all these years later. “Then we’d go for 100.”

When Lauren got to 100, the goal would be 150 – hours and hours of repetition. And always sitting courtside would be John Cotter.

That’s what Lauren thinks about now as she prepares her acceptance speech for her induction into the Louisiana Tennis Association Hall of Fame. On Dec. 2, The Shoptaugh Family, Harold “Rocky” Andry and Lauren Cotter Wilson will be honored as the 2022 LTA Hall of Fame inductees at a dinner at Baton Rouge’s Bocage Racquet Club.

It’s an honor Lauren knows would not be possible without the influence of her older brother, who passed away over the summer.

“I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to say,” she says about her induction speech. “I’m overwhelmed by the honor. The timing of it couldn’t be more perfect.”

The prestigious honor comes just months after the passing of her brother and at a time in her life when tennis has come full circle.

“We’re enjoying the fruits of our labor,” Lauren says of she and husband Grady Wilson, the general manager and director of tennis at Pierremont Oaks.

Their son Cotter — a recent graduate of Ole Miss, where he played tennis — is now working alongside his father as the head of racket sports at Pierremont Oaks. I remember watching a young Cotter — later a Men’s City Singles Champion — hitting balls with his uncle John on those same courts where Lauren put in all that time when she was young.

It was time well spent.

In 1973, Lauren was No. 1 in Louisiana in both Girls’ 12 and 14 singles, ranked No. 1 in the state and the South in Girls’ 14 singles, No. 16 in the nation in Girls’ 14 singles; and No. 1 in the U.S. in Girls’ 14 doubles with Toni Moss of Houston.

At the age of 14, she won the Louisiana State Closed Girls’ 16 and 18 singles titles and the following year was selected to represent the state in the Seventeen Magazine Girls’ Junior Tennis Championships in Washington, D.C., in addition to winning the Girls’ 16 Singles at the Easter Bowl National Championship.

In 1977, Lauren was top-ranked in both the state and South in Girls’ 16 singles and No. 2 in the South in Girls’ 18 singles.

One of her proudest accomplishments, according to the Centenary College and Northwest Louisiana Hall of Fame member, is leading Captain Shreve to the team title at the National High School Tennis Championships in San Antonio, Texas, in 1979. Along with Stephanie Fess and Carol Boston, I was honored to be part of that team.

After playing for SMU from 1979-1981, Lauren returned to Shreveport to close out her college tennis career at Centenary and was the 1983 NAIA Collegiate Singles Champion.

“It’s pretty cool, the timing of all of this,” she says. “Pierremont Oaks, where we all grew up playing tennis, is now at an all-time high with memberships. Tennis is just booming.”

Funny thing, tennis wasn’t Lauren’s first choice. That was her mother’s idea.

“I was a swimmer,” she says. “I swam butterfly and back stroke because no one else wanted to swim those. But my mother thought swimming was making my shoulders too broad. So I started playing tennis.”

That decision turned out to be life-defining for the tennis champion.

“Tennis made us who we are,” Lauren says of all the people who were – and are – still part of her life. “We learned so much from the sport. We just had so much fun. We were all fortunate that our parents were able to provide us with such a great life.”

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

HOLDING COURT: Lauren Cotter Wilson, shown in 1975, will be honored Dec. 2 as a 2022 Louisiana Tennis Association Hall of Fame member.
 

Quarterfinal Preview: Calvary Baptist at Dunham School

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

It’s been an exciting ride to watch the 2022 LHSAA football playoffs and now we enjoy the cream of the crop lining up against each other in the quarterfinal round.

That’s certainly true as we break down the Division III Select matchup sending Calvary Baptist into Baton Rouge Friday night to the Dunham School Stadium for a clash with the 10-1 Tigers.

The best two teams left in this division are playing in this game. Yes, I did say that. Neither is seeded No. 1, but I think No. 5 Calvary (9-2) and fourth-seeded Dunham  School (10-1) are the two best teams and it’s a shame one will have to lose this week.

I saw Dunham play twice this fall. I have seen Calvary last year and once this year. Both teams are very well-coached, and can score a lot of points. They have the defensive players down scoring.

Newman QB Arch Manning deservedly gets all the national attention as a sure-fire college prospect. But you will not find two better high school quarterbacks for their programs in the state than Calvary’s first-year starter Abram Wardell and another newcomer, Jackson House from Dunham.

House is the son of Matt House, LSU’s first-year defensive coordinator and will be the focus for Calvary’s very strong defense. He reminds me of a smaller version of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow when the future Florida Gators great was playing high school ball.

He’s only 5-11, 196 to 200 pounds, but if you don’t contain him look out. House can house it. He runs better than most RB’s in the state and he doesn’t go down very easy – House is very tough to tackle in the open field.

Calvary will surely need a spy at LB to stop this kid from picking up third downs on key drives. House makes a living doing that with big plays.

The Cavaliers will also need to avoid Dunham dominating the Calvary offensive line. One of the best defensive fronts in all of Louisiana I’ve seen in 2022 is at Dunham. The Tigers are led by DE Jake Rizzo (6-4, 245), DE Laramie Guidry (6-6, 225), DT/DE Malachi Jackson (6-2, 245), and DT Braden Augustus (6-1, 290). This is a very athletic group, not just big kids. Even considering their matchups against Byrd and Captain Shreve, this will be the best defensive line Calvary Baptist will have seen all year.

What’s the answer? The Cavs will counter with one of the best skill groups in Louisiana. This will be the best Dunham has seen, steered by Wardell, who has thrown for 1,858 yards, with 27 passing TDS while completing an amazing 110 of 137 attempts. Coach Rodney Guin has an arsenal with RB James Simon, WR Aubrey Hermes, WR Julius Moss, CB/WR Xavier McGlothan and WR/RB John Simon. Everybody in this group runs under a 4.5 in the 40 all day long.

Dunham does have some skill players to go with House. The Tigers also have a 4.5 WR with great hands in Jac Comeaux, and dangerous weapons like TE Collin Franta (6-6 225), FS/WR Colin Boldt (6-1, 201) and FB/LB Sione Albert — he has multiple games with two interceptions.

I don’t believe people around the state understand what an excellent defense Guin’s Cavaliers field. If the Cavs can hold their own against the Tigers’ D-line, the matchup of the Calvary defense against House and company could give the visitors the edge.

This will be one heck of a game. This should go down to the wire and to use another cliché’, because it fits, whoever has the ball last could control the outcome.

I give Dunham the edge only because it’s a home game for the Tigers, but both these teams have the talent to win a state title, and both have plenty of playoff experience. As I said at the top, the winner of this game will walk off with the championship in Division III Select.

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


Checking local history of reaching football’s semifinals; Lang’s Lines

(File photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Staff)

JOURNAL STAFF

Byrd, Northwood and Calvary are the only Shreveport-Bossier Journal teams remaining in the 2022 LHSAA state football playoffs and all three are playing for a berth in the state semifinals this week.

For Northwood it would be a dream come true and a first-ever trip to the semis with a win over Brother Martin.

Byrd would advance to play in the semifinals for the 18th time by defeating the state’s most successful postseason participant, John Curtis.

Calvary would play in its eighth state semifinal if it beats Dunham.

Here is a list of the SBJ schools who have reached the state semifinals, with the number of appearances and years each has reached that milestone.  State championship years are indicated in bold type.

Evangel (21) – 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001; 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010; 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. 

Byrd (17) – 1926, 1928, 19301931, 1933, 193419351937, 1943, 1949, 1953, 1956, 1962, 1964, 2011, 2013, 2020

Fair Park (9) – 1939, 1945, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1965, 1974 

Bossier (7) – 1942, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1959. 1960, 1972 

Calvary (7) – 2007 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2020, 2021

Jesuit/Loyola (7) – 19651966, 19671976, 1978, 1994, 1998

Benton (5) – 1968, 1990, 1999, 2005, 2007 

Haughton (5) – 1977, 1978, 2981, 1990, 2019

Woodlawn (5) – 1965, 1968, 1976, 1978, 1979 

Plain Dealing (4) – 1938, 1947, 1960, 1961 

Captain Shreve (3) – 1971, 1973, 1983

Airline (2) – 1967, 1972

Parkway (2) – 2013, 2015

Southwood (1) – 1973

LANG’S LINES

Our final three, all on the road, aiming for the semifinals.

QUARTERFINAL PLAYOFF LINES

Brother Martin -19.5 vs. Northwood

John Curtis -11.5 vs. Byrd

Calvary -1.5 at Dunham

By the numbers

Favorites: 6-3 straight up in Second Round (128-23 on season), 3-6 vs. spread in Second Round (79-73 on season)

Final regular-season local standings vs. SBJ spread

Airline 7-3, Calvary 7-3, Evangel 7-3, Benton 6-4, Magnolia Charter 6-4, North Caddo 6-4, Parkway 5-5, Huntington 5-5, Southwood 5-5, Northwood 5-5, Green Oaks 4-6, Woodlawn 4-6, Haughton 4-6, Captain Shreve 4-6, Byrd 4-6, Loyola 3-6, BTW 3-7, Bossier 2-8, Plain Dealing 2-8.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com or via twitter @Roylangiii.


Tuesday’s basketball scoreboard

MVP: Doyline’s Juicy Clark was named the MVP of the high school game played Tuesday at the Decari Markray Classic hosted by BPCC. Clark is flanked by BPCC coach John Anthony Anglin and Markray’s mother, Lakechia Markray. (Photo courtesy of BPCC)

JOURNAL STAFF

COLLEGE 

MEN

Arizona State 80, Grambling State 49
Florida College 68, LSUS 67
LSU 73, Akron 58

Decari Markray Classic

BPCC 106, SUSLA 89
Navarro 75, Delgado 54

WOMEN

Central Florida 78, ULM 54
SMU 63, Louisiana Tech 59

HIGH SCHOOL 

Girls

BTW 49, Green Oaks 14
Calvary 47, Choudrant 39
Dutchtown 55, Airline 54
Haughton 59, Lakeside 19
North Little Rock 56, Parkway 53
Northwood 52, Cecilia 13
Springfield 51, Byrd 45

Boys

Bossier 36, Zachary 34
Carroll 59, Woodlawn 51
Green Oaks 41, BTW 40
Haughton 66, Lakeside 33
Huntington 60, Franklin Parish 60
Peabody 68, Southwood 40
Pineville 64, Byrd 34
Sterlington 47, Loyola 44

Decari Markray Classic at BPCC

Doyline 62, Metairie Park Country Day 55


Cowboys hope to produce worthy encore in NFC East showdown

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The NFL is a strange beast. Teams look like Super Bowl contenders one week and lose to an afterthought the next. Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys will attempt to avoid providing the latest head-scratching moment in what’s been a wacky season.

“It’s the NFL and that’s what can happen,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said.

Fresh off a stunning road destruction of the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys host the New York Giants in the annual Thanksgiving affair at AT&T Stadium. It’s a battle of 7-3 squads and will determine who keeps the pressure on the Philadelphia Eagles at the top of the NFC East.

“Knowing how good of a team that is, and this being a division game, it says enough,” Prescott said. “These guys are locked in and we’re just trying to continue building on our focus from the game last week, and the way we prepared last week.”

The Cowboys played their best game of the season, perhaps multiple seasons in Minnesota on Sunday. The defense shut down the Vikings and the offense did what it wanted when it wanted en route to a 40-3 triumph.

Following the victory, giddy owner Jerry Jones was “unequivocally” confident his team could make a run at a Super Bowl appearance. 

Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy immediately returned the focus to the present.

“Talking about anything other than the Giants is a waste of time,” McCarthy said. “This is about beating the Giants.”

Dallas, with Cooper Rush under center, beat the Giants, 23-16, in Week 3.

The Cowboys will aim to exploit a Giants’ defense that’s been below average against the run. Last week, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott helped Dallas pile up more than 150 yards on Minnesota. Both running backs scored twice (Elliott two on the ground, Pollard two through the air).

The Giants, armed with Saquon Barkley and the No. 4 rushing offense in the league (157 yards per game) will face a Cowboys defense that has often struggled against the run.

The Cowboys have lost three straight Thanksgiving games at AT&T Stadium – 36-33 to Las Vegas, 2021; 41-16 to Washington in 2020; 26-15 to Buffalo in 2019. The last Turkey Day win for the Blue Stars was a 31-23 defeat of Washington in 2018.

Prescott has six touchdown passes and just one interception in his past three Thanksgiving appearances. 

Dak on Turkey Day

Former Haughton star Dak Prescott has lost three of his five Thanksgiving Day starts.

2016: W, 31-26 vs. Washington, 17-of-24 passing for 195 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.

2017: L, 28-6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 20-27 for 179 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT.

2018: W, 31-23 vs. Washington, 22-31 for 289 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

2019: L, 26-15 vs. Buffalo, 32-49 for 395 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

2021: L, 36-33 vs. Las Vegas, 32-47 for 375 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT 

Totals: Record, 2-3, 123-of-178 passing for 1,433 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com