Arceneaux more optimistic about proposed REV development

REV’IN IT UP: Shreveport Councilwoman Ursula Bowman, REV Entertainment President Sean Decker, and Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux were on hand to give an update on the proposed entertainment development.


Tom Arceneaux wasn’t sure how serious to take the news back in October when former Mayor Adrian Perkins held a press conference to announce the City of Shreveport had entered into a cooperative relationship with Arlington, Texas-based REV Entertainment that would bring professional baseball back to this area.

Five months later, things have changed quite a bit. Arceneaux is now the mayor of Shreveport and he’s got a little different take on the proposed development.

When the City of Shreveport and REV Entertainment held a press conference in the Independence Stadium Skybox Thursday morning to give an update on the master plan for the project, Arceneaux said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the concept would become a reality.

On Thursday, Arceneaux was joined by Shreveport Councilwoman Ursula Bowman and REV Entertainment President Sean Decker to discuss the proposed development concept that would include a ballpark as the anchor.

“We’re thrilled to be back here,” said Decker. “We wanted to let you know where we’ve been since we were in this room last October.”

Conceptual images displayed at the press conference showed the overall plans for the entertainment complex that would be developed in three phases and located right off I-20 near Independence Stadium and the State Fair Grounds.

“Part of the reason I’m more optimistic is because we’ve got a whole lot more information now (than back in October),” said Arceneaux. “REV has stepped up to the plate to develop that information.

“I did not know what public investment was being asked. Now I know it’s a really big public investment.”

Arceneaux said two things must be determined – the feasibility of the project and how it can be done without issuing general obligation bonds. The mayor said he could guarantee there would be no tax increases to build the project.

“There will be no general bonds and no property taxes,” he said.

The City of Shreveport is conducting a feasibility study on the plan. Once the study is completed, construction would begin on Phase I, which would include the ballpark. Future plans for the mixed-use development also include restaurants, bars and a hotel.

And what baseball team would be playing in the new ballpark?

“We would either buy a team and move it here,” said Decker, “or create and operate our own team here. Most likely, it would be a high-level independent league team.”

When asked for an update about the status of  the city’s former home for minor league baseball, dilapidated Fair Grounds Field, Arceneaux said demolition was in limbo because it remained in the litigation process.

“The outcome of litigation is still pending,” he said, “but I’m 100 percent confident that if we do this deal with REV, it will be demolished.”

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Calvary hoping to end the week with another big ‘delivery’

WHAT A WEEK: Calvary head coach Vic Morris will be in Burton Coliseum when the Cavaliers take on Isadore Newman in this afternoon’s Select Division III title game. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)


LAKE CHARLES — In his own words, Vic Morris says this has been a “crazy” week. And he’s hoping it ends that way.

It started Monday morning when the Calvary Baptist boys’ basketball coach had to inform his players – just a few hours before they took the court for a semifinal game against Catholic-New Iberia in the LHSAA Select Division III playoffs – that he wouldn’t be on the sidelines that afternoon.

Morris wasn’t totally surprised when he got the phone call saying his wife had gone into labor. In fact, he had prepared for such an occasion.

“I kind of tried to plan for it,” says Morris. “I drove my car down to Lake Charles just in case.”

So, Morris began his drive back to Shreveport as the Cavaliers’ coaching staff starting planning for the game. Assistant coach Cam Grinage thought he would be taking over the coaching duties, but Calvary was informed that LHSAA rules require a designated head coach to be a full-time school staffer.

Grinage, who is pursuing his college degree, is a part-time coach.

No problem. Calvary superintendent Chad McDowell – who left LSUS in 2012 as the winningest basketball coach in program history – served as head coach while Grinage supervised from the bench.

Just after the Cavaliers came away with the 52-47 victory over Catholic-New Iberia Monday afternoon, Morris and his wife welcomed the birth of their second child (a daughter).

He’s hoping for an exciting end to this “crazy” week — with the Calvary boys’ basketball team finally closing out a season with the championship trophy.

“It’s time, it’s time,” says Morris, whose Cavs are making their fourth consecutive trip to the title game.

They’ll have their hands full as the No.3-seed Cavs (26-8) face No. 1 Isadore Newman (31-6) in today’s 2 o’clock finals in Burton Coliseum. Newman, last season’s Division III champion, is trying to earn its 11th overall state title.

“They’re a good team,” Morris says of the Greenies. “They’ve got good guards in (Chris) Lockett and (Canin) Jefferson. They’re well-coached, they execute well and they’re very balanced.”

Newman has outscored its opponents 199-115 over its three playoff games while Calvary got to today’s title game with two 2-point victories (over Mentorship Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas) and a 5-point win over Catholic-New Iberia.

“We’ve been pretty good defensively all year,” says Morris. “We’ve been able to defend and rebound. Offensively, we’re going to try to keep the ball moving.”

The Cavs had three players score in double digits in Monday’s semifinal victory, with Player of the Game KJ Kennon leading with 14 followed by Rondae Hill (12) and Malaki Thomas (10). The trio also finished with eight rebounds apiece.

Today’s contest will be live-streamed on and can be heard on KSYR 92.1 FM “The Light” with Travis Shurling calling the game.

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Scotlandville’s Booker proves too big for Huntington in state semis

A BIG CHALLENGE: Huntington’s Jacob Stewart (10) goes up against Scotlandville’s Dorian Booker (33), who had a game-high 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the Hornets’ 63-43 victory over the Raiders Wednesday. (Photo by RODRICK ANDERSON, Lake Charles American Press)


LAKE CHARLES – Just how big is Scotlandville’s Dorian Booker?

The announcers called him a 7-footer. The Hornets’ roster lists him at 6-10. And Huntington Raiders coach Mack Jones described him as 6-11 and 280 pounds.

Let’s just say the UNO signee is really big.

Too big for Huntington, which fell 63-43 to No. 1 seed Scotlandville in the semifinals of the LHSAA Select Division I boys’ basketball playoffs Wednesday afternoon at Burton Coliseum.

The Hornets, who have made it to the title game every season since 2009, will face No. 3 seed Catholic-Baton Rouge in Saturday’s finals. Scotlandville, which defeated John Curtis for the Division I title in 2022, is going for back-to-back championships and its eighth overall state title.

The Raiders (24-9) fell in the semifinals of the state tournament for the second year in a row.

“He did what he does,” Jones said of Booker, who finished with a game-high 25 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks. “He doesn’t try to get out of his game and he’s difficult to defend in the middle.”

The No. 4-seed Raiders didn’t go down without a fight, however.

Down by 14 points in the first minute of the second quarter, Huntington fought back to come within two just as the first half was ending. When Scotlandville’s C’zavian Teasett converted both ends of a 1-and-1 with 2.5 seconds left before the break, the Hornets were able to go into the locker room with a narrow 33-29 lead.

Trailing 22-9 after the first quarter, the Raiders outscored the Hornets 20-11 in the second quarter.

“Being down by 14 at one point and to cut it within two (right before the half), I’m proud of our guys,” said Jones. “It could have gone bad at that point.”

Trey Carter and Kentravis Green led the second-quarter comeback, leading Huntington on a 9-0 run that brought the Raiders’ within two right before halftime. Carter (2-for-3 from 3-point range) hit two from long-range while Green (1-for-2) sank one from deep to spark the comeback.

“It took a lot of energy getting back into the game,” added the Huntington coach. “We just couldn’t make shots in the second half.”

The Raiders, who shot just 35 percent from the field in the contest, were outscored 30-14 in the final two quarters. At the start of the third quarter, the Hornets went on an 11-0 run – led by Booker’s six points – to open up a 15-point lead.

The Raiders were only able to come within 13 points the rest of the game.

The outcome continued the state tournament funk for Huntington, which fell to 0-5 in semifinal playoff games, including losses to the top seed in the last three years.

Huntington was led by Chris Carpenter – who fouled out with 4:26 left – with 14 points, followed by Carter with 10. Taylor and Jacob Stewart added 8 and 6, respectively, for the Raiders.

“Our guys showed a lot of grit and fight,” said Jones.

Scotlandville dominated in the paint, outrebounding Huntington 30-22 – with 23 of those on the defensive end.

All-in-all, Jones was pleased with the performance of his team this season.

“It was grinding, especially after playing Southwood in the quarterfinal game,” he said.

Huntington, which finished second in District 1-4A, defeated undefeated in District 1-5A Southwood twice this season – 50-42 in the in-season matchup and 48-44 in last week’s quarterfinal game.

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Fresh off a state championship, Mikaylah Williams ready for next challenge

ON A MISSION: Mikaylah Williams hits a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer of Saturday night’s 80-57 victory over Ponchatoula in the LHSAA Non-Select Division I championship game in Hammond. (Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports)


What’s next?

Now that Mikaylah Williams has finished her high school basketball career at Parkway – capping it off by leading the Lady Panthers to their first state championship this past weekend – you’d think she might take a little time to rest.

After all, she’s been unbelievably busy the past few years.

For the Parkway senior, however, it’s on to the next achievement.

On March 18, the reigning Louisiana Gatorade Player of the year will be in Pineville competing in the 2023 La. High School Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game. Ten days after that, Williams will be at the Toyota Center in Houston as one of 24 players selected to compete in the McDonald’s All-American Game – which will be televised on ESPN2.

Minutes after scoring a game-high 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in Parkway’s 80-57 drubbing of Ponchatoula in Saturday night’s championship game of the Non-Select Division I playoffs, Williams shared her excitement in being able to cap her Lady Panthers’ basketball career with the program’s highly-anticipated state title.

“Winning the title and being named Most Valuable Player is extra important to me,” said Williams. “Those are two things I can check off my bucket list. We’ve been waiting 365 days for this. It’s been on our mind all year.”

It was just over one year ago that Parkway fell to Ponchatoula 80-79 in double overtime of the LHSAA Class 5A championship game. Getting back to the title game – and bringing the trophy back to Bossier City – was a season-long goal for the Lady Panthers. Being able to avenge the heartbreaking loss to the Green Wave in the finals served as icing on the cake.

While Williams – a generational talent considered the nation’s No. 1 prospect – has been an integral part of Parkway’s rise to dominance in Class 5A, she is the first to credit her teammates for their part in the success of the program. That “family” also includes every member of the staff – especially coach Gloria Williams.

“From Mikaylah all the way down, those seniors have left their legacy,” the Parkway coach said following Saturday night’s victory. “Those five seniors … that heart and effort they showed is amazing.”

Four of Parkway’s starting five this season are seniors – Mikaylah Williams, Makenna Miles, Ty’lissa “Lucy” Henderson, and Amoree Williams. Henderson and Miles finished the championship game with nine points each while Amoree Williams had eight rebounds. Senior Aniya Russell, who battled back after a serious knee injury in December, came off the bench against Ponchatoula and scored six points.

All-around star athlete Chloe Larry, who will be back for her senior season next year, finished the title game with 17 points, four rebounds, and three steals.

“To play at that level, phenomenal offense and defense, and to be so focused is just amazing,” Gloria Williams said of her players.

Of Mikaylah Williams’ effort in the championship, the Lady Panthers’ coach simply said: “To have a double-double in her final performance in a Parkway uniform is awesome.”

That just capped off an incredible high school career, which includes (to name a few):

  • Being named “Miss Basketball” by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, the Most Outstanding Player on the Class 5A Girls’ Basketball All-State team and Most Valuable Player on the 1-5A All-District Team in 2022.
  • Becoming the third amateur athlete from Shreveport-Bossier area to receive the Carl Mikovich Sportsperson of the Year by the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl in December.
  • Capturing international acclaim as a three-time gold medalist for Team USA (she was named MVP at the FIBS 3×3 U18 World Cup).
  • Lauded as the No. 1 girls’ basketball player in the nation (according to AGSR, Prospects Nation, Jr. All-Star National Rankings and ESPN HoopGurlz).

Oh, and by the way, she will graduate in the top 10 percent of her class.

With all she has done so far, there are still a couple of big-ticket items on her bucket list: being a starter on the LSU women’s basketball team next season and (“pushing it,” she says) winning a title her freshman year.

I wouldn’t bet against either one.

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Shreve overcomes a little ‘bye’ rust to defeat McMain

SAFE AT HOME: Captain Shreve’s EJ McDonald (15) defends McMain’s Donte Briggs in the Gators’ 37-32 playoff victory Tuesday night. (Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD)


Some coaches will tell you they like having a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Captain Shreve boys’ basketball coach Corey Deans doesn’t mince words when he tells you how he feels about it.

“I hate the bye week,” Deans said after his Gators defeated Eleanor McMain of New Orleans 37-32 in the second round of the LHSAA Select Division I playoffs Tuesday night at the Captain Shreve gym.

With the victory, the sixth-seeded Gators (25-5) will now face No. 3-seed Catholic-Baton Rouge – a 61-58 winner over No. 14 Archbishop Rummel — in the quarterfinals.

While the bye gave the Gators a little extra time to prepare for their second-round game against the 11th-seeded Mustangs, it also meant they weren’t as game-ready as they would have liked.

After a back-and-forth, low-scoring first half that saw Shreve take a 14-12 lead into the locker room, McMain came out in the third quarter and went on a 9-0 run to open up the biggest margin of the game.

“Their physicality was overwhelming,” Deans said of the Mustangs, who caused turnovers on the Gators’ first four possessions of the third quarter. “We finally settled down and matched their physicality.”

The Gators were led by sophomore Marcus Lofton, who was held scoreless in the first quarter but came back to hit three 3-pointers and lead Shreve with 13 points.

Junior Jyrin Sowell added nine points for Shreve, followed by AJ Guin with five points and Mekel Hart and EJ McDonald – who finished with four points each.

“He can shoot really well,” Deans said of Lofton, “but I had to light a fire under him in the third quarter so he played like he is capable of playing.”

Deans also lit a fire under Sowell with a little time on the sidelines.

“Yeah, we were a little out of sorts,” said Sowell, who returned from his time on the bench in the third quarter to shut down the Mustangs’ fast-paced play with key rebounds on both ends of the floor. “Coach told me to sit down. I think he was testing me. He told me I had to be better.”

Donte Briggs had a game-high 15 points to lead McMain, which fell to 14-8.

The Gators will go on the road for their quarterfinal matchup with Catholic-BR, which is just fine with both Lofton and Sowell – who were a little disappointed with the low turnout for their home game against McMain Tuesday night.

“We’re all we need,” said Sowell.

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Jenifer Hill has seen it all at The Strand Theatre


It opened in 1925 at the corner of Louisiana Avenue and Crockett Street in the heart of downtown Shreveport and  — thankfully, in all of its glory — is still standing (and operating) today as a reminder of what our city once was and continues to be.

The flagship theater of the Saenger Brothers, it is the official theater of our state and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It closed in the mid-1970s, was donated to a newly formed corporation, and reopened in 1984 after a major restoration project.

Almost 100 years later, The Strand Theatre is alive and well … but, oh, what a journey it has been.

Jenifer Hill remembers being dropped off at The Strand Theatre at age 9 with her best friend, Hallie Dozier. The two young girls spent many afternoons at the theatre watching all the classic movies of their childhood.

“Bedknobs and Broomsticks, that’s the last one I saw there,” Hill recalls as we enjoy a recent lunch at Fairfield Market & Cafe. “I remember being there for that. And then I remember them talking about closing it down.”

The doors of the Strand were closed in 1976 with the thought of selling the historic theatre. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

Instead, three Shreveporters stepped up and saved the day – attorney Judd Tooke, businesswoman Virginia Shehee and The Times’ Jim Montgomery — by forming Strand Theatre of Shreveport Corporation.

The theater remained closed until it was donated by the ABC-Interstate Theatres to the corporation founded by the trio. After the major restoration project was completed, The Strand Theatre reopened in 1984.

Thirty years later, Hill was hearing talk of closing the theater again. This time, it hit closer to home.

When Jenifer Hill took over as executive director of The Strand Theatre in 2014 (after serving as general manager the previous two years), the place was in dire straits.

“When I took over, it was terrifying,” she says. “I found out how far in debt we were. There was some discussion from the Board (of Directors) saying, ‘Well, do we just shut the doors?’

“I said, ‘No, please don’t. Just give me a hot minute and let me figure out what’s going on.’”

What was going on was The Strand was $260,000 in debt.

“I went through all the bills and books and found a lot of spending on things we didn’t need,” explains Hill. “So we cut way back on those. And I’m just naturally tight.”

Hill used her experience working for non-profits (the Shreveport Symphony and Shreveport Opera), savvy budget cutting and smart business sense to pull the organization out of financial trouble.

In January 2020 came the big announcement: The Strand Theatre was out of debt.

Then the pandemic hit.

“I put my head in my hands and cried,” says Hill. “We all thought it was only going to be two weeks. After two to three months, it became clear that it was going to be longer.”

At that point, the Board voted to furlough all of the Strand staff except for Hill and one part-time person. For seven months, Hill worked on the books, scrubbed toilets, scrubbed stairs, vacuumed and did whatever she could to keep the building going.

There was a light opening the next spring with some dance recitals being booked, but everything was at 50 percent capacity. And after a few of those recitals, the 1,536-seat theater was forced to close its doors again.

Basically, The Strand Theatre went 19 months without any shows. During that time, cuts were made everywhere possible – insurance, payroll, housekeeping.

“We were cutting it pretty tight,” says Hill.

Slowly, things began to return to (the new) normal. The theater opened back up, most of the staff came back, the government provided “shuttered venue” money and employee tax credits and life returned to the historic building.

Life is not really the same, however. Not in the entertainment world. Like most of the industry, The Strand has seen a reduction in ticket sales – especially season tickets. But the public is responding.

Theo Von: Return of the Rat Tour was scheduled as a one-night show on Feb. 1 but was so popular a second night was added. “Both shows sold out in a matter of days,” says Hill.

And tickets for Chicago the Musical (March 19) are selling “pretty well.”

Hill is as busy as ever these days.

“Right now, I’m putting out offers for next season, which we’ll probably announce in June,” she says.

A typical season will include approximately 10 Strand-presented shows while the majority will be rental shows.

So, what’s the difference?

“If I’m on the stage, it’s a Strand show,” says Hill. “If I’m not on the stage, it’s a rental.”

In her time at The Strand, Hill has seen just about everything: dogs in the house, a homeless person roaming around, fights, flooding, and yes, even ghosts.

“I walk through that building in the dark all the time,” she says. “I’m often the first one there and I never had anything so much as raise the hair on the back on my neck.”

Until …

“Early one Saturday morning I was by myself and I turned off the alarm. I walked into the house and turned on the lights and I saw someone all in black walk on the stage. At first, I thought it was the technical director but no one else was there. It still didn’t bother me. I just figured it was a trick of the light, who knows?”

Then …

Two weeks after everything was shut down because of the pandemic, Hill ventured out of her house and made a visit downtown.

“Everybody had gone home,” she says. “We were all scared because no one knew what was happening. I just went down to check on the building. No one had been in there. We have cameras and alarms.”

Hill went upstairs to the Founders’ Room where the portraits of Tooke, Shehee and Montgomery are hung on the wall.

“The building is made of plaster and steel,” she says. “It doesn’t move, it doesn’t rattle in the wind, it doesn’t rattle when the train goes by.”

And yet, there was Montgomery’s portrait face down on the floor, 12 feet from the wall.

Hill didn’t panic. She didn’t scream or run out of the room.

“I picked him up, hung him back on the wall and we had a discussion,” she recalls. “I said, ‘Jim, I’ve got this. It’s gonna be okay. I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m here for the duration.’ After that, we got a ghost light and put in on the stage.”

It’s a theater tradition.

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Top local wide receivers taking their skills to the next level

A-STATE BOUND: Benton wide receiver Pearce Russell is joined by his father Cory, mom Ivy and sister Ava as he signs his letter to play for Arkansas State. (Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports)


With the explosive offenses displayed by many Shreveport-Bossier teams during the 2022 high school football season, it’s no surprise that three of the area’s top wide receivers will be continuing their careers at Division I FBS schools.

On Wednesday afternoon, Airline’s Daxton Chavez signed his letter to play for Louisiana Tech while Benton’s Pearce Russell confirmed his commitment to Arkansas State in the morning. Both were named to the 2022 Shreveport-Bossier Journal All-Metro Team.

Captain Shreve’s Marquez Stevenson, who had 16 receptions for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns in just eight games for the Gators, had signed with Texas Tech on the early signing date in December.

Benton coach Reynolds Moore was a little surprised that Russell wasn’t pursued more avidly. He got an offer from Northwestern State and one from Mississippi Valley State. Central Arkansas offered a preferred walk-on opportunity.

“There will be some coaches around here who are going to be sorry they didn’t get him,” Moore said of the Tigers’ star receiver. “He’s a playmaker. He can win any matchup. We didn’t worry about calling the right play; we worried about calling the play that would get the ball to him.”

The Tigers, who fell in the second round of the Division I Non-Select playoffs in a 29-28 buzzer-beater against Denham Springs, were very successful in getting the ball to Russell. He finished the season as one of the top receivers in the state with 1,556 yards in catches and 20 touchdowns. He was named to the LSWA Class 5-A All-State first team.

When Russell (6-0, 185 pounds) traveled to Jonesboro, Ark., to play in a 7-on-7 event last summer, he liked the Arkansas State campus and thought it was “a nice place.” As the Red Wolves recruited him, the decision became an easy one.

“They came here, and we built a good relationship,” said Russell, who said he was big on ULM before deciding on Arkansas State, a member of the Sun Belt Conference. “It felt like home.”

Russell’s decision was somewhat of a relief for Moore.

“He was leaning toward Mississippi State,” said the Benton coach, “and as an Ole Miss fan, I would have had to root for the Bulldogs.”

Chavez will be a little closer to home as the 6-4, 190-pound receiver will join Tech in Conference USA.

“Any receiver would want to play in their (the Bulldogs’) air raid offense,” said Chavez, who finished the season with 54 receptions for 1,149 yards and 19 touchdowns and made honorable mention on the LSWA Class 5-A All-State team.

“Any time a player receives big notoriety, it puts a good positive light on the program,” said Airline coach Justin Scogin, whose Vikings sailed through District 1-5A undefeated and finished the regular season on a seven-game winning streak (after starting 0-3). “This motivates your kids because they see what coming to Airline High School is all about.”

Both Chavez and Russell said NIL did not play a factor in their decisions.

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FROM VIKING TO BULLDOG: Wide receiver Daxton Chavez, standing with Airline coach Justin Scogin, is excited about joining Louisiana Tech’s air raid offense. (Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports)

What we’d like to see in ’23


After sharing what we expect to see in ’23 in Wednesday’s edition, your Shreveport-Bossier Journal team is back today with what we’d like to see this year. Before Christmas, ideally. 

LOCALLY, ladies tees at Querbes, please. It would be easy – just get the red balls out of the equipment shack and put them back out on the golf course. Just think, the ladies’ leagues may start playing there again.

In PREP sportsNO high school football games affected by bad weather (as in delayed, postponed or cancelled). Oh, and I’d love to see them start at 6:30.

In COLLEGE sports, a full stadium at the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl. The staff does such an amazing job putting on a great event year-in and year-out that the stands should be full (and I’d like to see more stadiums full during all college bowl games).

In the PROS, see the NFL change its overtime rules (it’s ridiculous that a team can win the game in OT without the other team having a possession) and NO games end in a tie (this is football, not futbol).

  • Harriet Prothro Penrod

In HIGH SCHOOLSfootball players wearing regular pants not cut off above the knee.

In COLLEGES, Bossier Parish Community College’s softball team make it to the NJCAA national tournament and win.

In the PROS, MLB batters that don’t step out of the box after EVERY pitch.

  • Lee Hiller

In PREPS, the football hydration rule during games adjusted to go by temperature, not time. If it’s a rare cool September night, keep playing; no break.

In COLLEGE, baseball teams stop using walk-up music. Please please please make it stop. Think about what homeboy is about to throw you and not about whether or not fans like your song. Walk-up music is embarrassing for everybody. Hit a home run? Drive in a run? Stand-up triple? Take an extra base? OK — NOW you can have music. But not just for making it from the dugout to the plate.

In PROS, every team in the NFL to finish the regular season 8-8-1. Yay for parity! So awesome. (Yawn … )

  • Teddy Allen

In COLLEGES, Northwestern State football returning to its winning ways — which hasn’t happened since 2008. Good, hard-working people who deserve success.

LOCALLY, Shreveport hosting more mainstream sporting events to enhance our quality of life. Cornhole and dart-throwing tournaments don’t do it for me.

In the PROS, Louisiana Downs promote more horse racing and less bounce houses and outdoor concerts in 100-degree heat.

  • Tony Taglavore

In PREPS, an All-District team that actually has some merit to it.

In COLLEGE, coaches to stop putting up the stupid screens on the sidelines so they can act like the second coming of Bear Bryant who, by the way, never put up a screen and hardly ever wore a headset.

LOCALLY, something actually comes from the bizarre minor league baseball stadium announcement that was made in October. Just throw us a bone.

In the PROS, the Saints hire Sean Payton back and bring Tom Brady with him.

  • John James Marshall

I covered many wishes in my Tuesday Journal column, but let’s get greedy and ask for more.

In PREPS, recognizing the big-time calls for a big box. Northwood provides one of the best game-day atmospheres in the area and the Falcons are dang good, too – they had one of the best post-season runs of any team. The press box screams Class 1A, and it’s not the school’s fault. It’s time for Caddo Parish to give the school and that program a press box it deserves.

In PROS, “Musky” to get Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame love. Scott Muscutt was the first player the Shreveport Mudbugs signed 25 years ago. He’s since won multiple championships as a player, a coach and a general manager. He’s a major reason why hockey has thrived in Northwest Louisiana — the Mudbugs perennially lead their league in attendance — and no job is too small. You are as likely to see a unicorn as to spot “Musky” somewhere other than George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.

He cuts the ice, replaces glass, cleans the aisles – and does whatever it takes to make this community a better place. He’s also helped establish healthy youth hockey and high school hockey programs.

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame honors the best of the best. It’s time to bring this man into the discussion for future, but hopefully not way-down-the-road enshrinement. Hockey in Louisiana’s Hall may sound strange, but this is a no-brainer.

  • Roy Lang III 

In PREPS, more high school coaches organizing clinics on their own — like Green Oaks’ Chad Lewis, with the help of his friend, North DeSoto’s Christopher Wilson, did over the holidays. It started with a post on Facebook and ended up with a full-fledged clinic at the Hamilton Branch of the Shreve Memorial Library. Kudos to Lewis and Wilson for spearheading that effort.

I’d like to see our school districts in Northwest Louisiana catch up to school systems in Northeast Louisiana. Strength and conditioning coaches working at every school, tasked with the athletic development of all teams. It’s overdue to see certified athletic trainers on each campus, who teach in the classroom and look for young people who want to go into that vital field.

I’d like to see us identify high school athletes who demonstrate an ambition of going into the coaching profession. Lewis and Wilson were once student-athletes at Byrd High School. Why can’t we “grow our own” next generation of outstanding coaches in this area? Let’s give them a head start by mentoring them right now.

  • Jerry Byrd Jr.

In PREPS, at the coin flip before kickoff, along with the team captains, bring out a couple seniors from the band, cheerleaders, dance line, and National Honor Society, and a teacher. Efficiently and sufficiently recognize all of them on the PA system, not as an afterthought at halftime, but when the energy level in the stadium is peaking. Celebrate their efforts and realize they are representative of their peers.

In COLLEGES, home-and-home competition in every sport between our four nearby Division I schools. I’ll grant that Tech and ULM aren’t playing football at Grambling or NSU, or against them at the I-Bowl. It’s absurd the Bulldogs and Warhawks don’t square off annually, and also host the Tigers or Demons. Common sense. Uncommon gate receipts.

LOCALLY, more neighborhood pick-up games. Less travel ball. Didn’t we find ways to play, no charge, instead of adults organizing everything – and then soiling too much of it with egos and selfishness? The best homefield is at home, somebody’s home, in a yard or driveway or even the street. Somebody’s mom will make lemonade after the game.

  • Doug Ireland

What we expect to see in ’23

Your Shreveport-Bossier Journal crew humbly offers our predictions for the 2023 sports year. Ladies first.

In PREPS, the Calvary Lady Cavs softball team goes BACK2BACK2BACK (winning a third straight Division IV state championship).

In COLLEGES, the Louisiana Tech baseball team makes the College World Series.

In the PROS, Sam Burns wins his first major (after his 2022 season, this is bound to happen sooner than later).

  • Harriet Prothro Penrod

In PREPS, improvements to continue at Lee Hedges Stadium with the construction of new locker rooms and training rooms along with a new press box.

In COLLEGESanother successful year for LSU and Tulane in football.

In the PROS, new rules making a difference in how we watch MLB games. 

  • Lee Hiller

In PREPS, a student-athlete makes more than his working parents off an NIL deal.

In COLLEGE, I’ll be keeping up with Centenary Football and caring about recruiting news for the first and only time in my feeble life. In the autumn of 2024, Centenary takes the football field for the first time since 1941. Ninety years ago this past fall, Centenary was 8-0-1. 1932. You could look it up. Nationally, the Gents were in the top 25 in per-game scoring average at 20 a game and had the fifth-stingiest defense in ’Murica; Centenary gave up just 26 points all season. Centenary was 8-0-4 in 1933, when playing for the tie must have been an “in” thing. In 1934, which will be 90 years removed from Centenary’s 2024 re-boot, Centenary was a salty 10-2.

In the PROS, Jake from State Farm will be on every commercial of every NFL, NBA, and MLB game. (Thankfully, I like Jake from State Farm.)

  • Teddy Allen

In COLLEGES, LSU once again will contend for the SEC Championship — and will knock on the door of the College Football Playoff. They will do so without QB Garrett Nussmeier, who surely will transfer.

In the PROS, the Saints and Cowboys replace their head coaches. Dennis Allen is in over his head, and Mike McCarthy has the talent to get to the NFC Championship Game — but won’t.

LOCALLY, Louisiana Downs will continue to promote less horse racing and more bounce houses and outdoor concerts in 100-degree heat.

  • Tony Taglavore

In PREPS, sadly, the quality of high school athletics continues to drop. Football coaches almost have to beg kids to play and if you watch any other sport, you quickly realize that the talent level simply isn’t as good as it was 5 or 10 years ago.

In COLLEGES, we’ll see a slight move toward normalcy in NIL. It’s not going away, but it’s also a two-way street. Somebody has to finance that and these people aren’t in it to watch Jimmy SuperStud (a.) think about transferring, because he can (b.) complain that his deal isn’t as good as the guy playing next to him (c.) start mailing it in around if he’s not getting the ball enough.

In PROS/LOCAL, what’s left of Fair Grounds Field will still be standing. The Independence Bowl will be played on a sunny, 55-degree day. The laws of probability HAVE to even out at some point.

  • John James Marshall 

In PREPS, some local high school football offenses will “struggle” early. The 2022 season offered ridiculous offensive numbers, or bad defense depending on your view. Expect the defenses to fight back – at least early — in the 2023 campaign.

No fewer than five 1-5A teams will have new quarterbacks, not to mention the expected changes at other local schools. In theory this would lead to gray hair on the top of some OC’s heads, at least while the new signal-callers get their feet wet.

Also in PREPS, here’s a “stat nerd” alert. A change could be coming to one of the dumbest rules in high school football. Unlike the NFL and college football, a holding penalty behind the line of scrimmage in high school is marked from the spot of the foul. Currently a first-and-10 could turn into first-and-28 simply with a holding call.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has surveyed coaches regarding a change to move in line with the next levels of football. Bravo.

  • Roy Lang III

In PREPSI expect to see more high-scoring games. The passing offenses were ahead of the passing defenses in 2022, and it wasn’t even close. Northwest Louisiana has had a good run of defensive backs who have made their way to the league. See Tre’Davious White, Morris Claiborne, “Greedy” Williams, and Israel Mukuamu. But there were simply too many great quarterbacks … and too few defensive backs.

While 2022 seemed to be the year of the quarterback, I expect to see 2023 to be the year of the kicker with Byrd’s Abram Murray, who committed last summer to the University of Miami, and Parkway’s Aeron Burrell being two of the best locals to ever put toe to leather.

In COLLEGE, unfortunately, I see local colleges and universities continuing to struggle in the transfer portal/NIL era. I think Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Cumbie and Grambling’s Hue Jackson are the men for the job and great coaches, I just think it’s the most difficult time in history to be a college football coach. There is one exception to this. I expect to see Centenary College — under the direction of former Evangel and LSU standout defensive lineman Byron Dawson — thrive locally, with home-grown talent familiar to local football fans.

In the PROS, in light of Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football, I expect to see all professional contact sports double down on player safety. For all of those attracted to the violence and entertainment football provides, I expect them to be in for a rude awakening.

  • Jerry Byrd Jr.

In PREPS, scheduling tough intersectional games pays off for the Parkway Lady Panthers, who leave no doubt as they win the girls basketball state championship. Mikaylah Williams IMMEDIATELY joins the LSU roster for March Madness and starts for Kim Mulkey.

In COLLEGES, the men’s basketball rules committee shifts from playing 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters, mirroring the women and the pros. Mostly, providing more TV commercial breaks for Teddy’s pal Jake, that guy from State Farm.

LOCALLY, Shreveport’s Tim Brando adds another sport to his vast broadcast resume when he becomes the lead announcer for USA Pickleball on FOX.

  • Doug Ireland

Coming Thursday: What we’d LIKE to see in ’23.

Recently honored local tennis community loses a beloved member

North Louisiana was in the spotlight over the weekend as a number of local individuals and organizations were highlighted during the Louisiana Tennis Association’s Hall of Fame Banquet and annual meeting held in Baton Rouge.

On Friday evening at Bocage Racquet Club, Shreveporter Lauren Cotter Wilson was inducted into the LTA Hall of Fame along with the Shoptaugh Family of Baton Rouge and official Harold “Rocky” Andry.

Legendary local tennis coach Jerry Montgomery – now the CEO and executive vice president of Chevyland – served as the host of the evening and gave Wilson’s introduction.

There was even more local flare when Johnny Shoptaugh introduced his family – mother Ruthie, sister Cathy, and brothers David and Mark – during the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Shoptaugh is a former football, baseball, and tennis coach at Captain Shreve High School.

More accolades for the local tennis community came at Saturday’s LTA annual meeting as Shreveport’s Grady Wilson took over the reigns as president of the organization, which leads thousands of adult and junior players throughout the state with league play and tournaments throughout the year.

Outgoing president Jay Boyd of Bossier handed the gavel to Wilson, the general manager and director of tennis at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club.

“These are two-year terms,” says North Louisiana LTA representative Bob Patterson, “so north Louisiana will have a president for the LTA for four years — which is unheard of as two-thirds of USTA and recreational players live south of I-10.”

The local tennis community also swept the awards at the annual meeting as the following individuals, facilities, and organizations were honored:

  • Charity Event of the Year went to the Katy Build Tournament, which is held at Bossier Tennis Center, with Angela Pfanner as tournament director.
  • Facility of the Year went to Querbes Tennis Center and was accepted by tennis director Chris Dudley and his wife Amy.
  • NJTL (National Junior Program for Underserved Youth) of the Year went to the Northwest Louisiana Community Tennis Association’s NJTL Chapter.

It was bittersweet, however, when the award for Special Tennis Event of the Year was given to the “Love for Lancey Tournament,” a tournament held at Pierremont Oaks this past spring to raise money to defray the health care costs of Lance Dreyer. POTC tennis pro Philip Campbell teared up as he accepted the award — along with Grady Wilson — in honor of his good friend.

Two days later (on Monday afternoon), Dreyer – a fixture in local tennis for the past 50 years – passed away after his battle with Alzheimer’s.

“Such an incredibly cruel disease took an incredibly gifted, loved, friend of mine,” said Indoors Racket Club owner and head professional Jimmy Livesay, who partnered with Dreyer to win numerous men’s doubles events in the 1980s. “He was the first, and only, real coach I had. I sure will miss him.”

Dreyer, who played at Centenary College, won the men’s open doubles title in The City Championships in 1979, 1980, 1985 and 1989 and was the singles runner-up in 1976. Over the years, he was a tennis instructor at Tyler (Texas) Swim and Tennis Center, Pierremont Indoors, Texarkana Racquet Club, Riverside Swim and Tennis Club, Bossier Racquet Club, Querbes Park, Pierremont Oaks, and Southern Trace Country Club.

Along with legendary tennis and football coach Lee Hedges, Dreyer was inducted into The City Hall of Fame during the 2022 Louisiana Family Medicine Clinic City Championships at Bossier Tennis Center in May.

“I lost a very good friend, coach, doubles partner and fellow tennis pro,” said Livesay. “I love him like a brother. Please pray for those suffering with this disease. Pray for their friends and family. Pray for their caregivers.

“Rest now, Sonny. Play with Zeus and Kaiser. Hug your mom and Carla real big. Have a hit with ‘Bigun’ (Ken Jantz) . . . we will play doubles again one day.”

Contact Harriet at

LOVE FOR LANCEY: Local tennis legend Lance Dreyer (far right), who passed away this week, is pictured with (from left) Andy Lloyd, Ken Jantz, and Gordon Traylor.

Media ban makes it difficult to cover local sports event

If you were one of the many who showed up at Centenary’s Gold Dome last Friday afternoon for the Big South Shootout: One Night Only, Volume One event, you got your money’s worth watching two of the nation’s best high school girls’ basketball players go head-to-head when the Parkway Lady Panthers took on the country’s No.2-ranked Sierra Canyon (Calif.) Trailblazers.

It seemed like a win-win situation for all involved.

Certainly, the fans were winners. They got to see two “generational talents” compete in a hard-fought, entertaining game that took place in a championship-like environment.

The line to get into the Gold Dome began forming hours before the 4 o’clock tipoff. Once inside, fans were treated to a championship-like atmosphere with music pounding through the arena.

And the game didn’t disappoint. Sierra Canyon’s Judea “JuJu” Watkins and Parkway’s Mikaylah Williams showed why they are two of the top players in the nation. No matter the final score – which was 61-49 in favor of the Trailblazers – both teams came out winners in this one.

Parkway got some more of the early-season, tough competition that it looks for in preparation of a state title run — the Lady Panthers were runners-up in last year’s Class 5A championship and are eager to get another crack at the trophy.

Sierra Canyon got a nice road trip to Louisiana and a chance to show why the Trailblazers are the defending California state champions.

Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year against California’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

And it must have been a win for Big Hoops Shootout, the organization that put on the event. The Shreveport game was the first stop in a five-city, national tour that highlights the top high school teams in the country.

Nothing but a win-win situation, right?

Well, not for local media. Which means not for fans who didn’t get to see the game in person.

Not all local media showed up to cover the event, but those who did were informed that they could not video or photograph during the game.

Are you kidding me?

Yes, this was an event put on by a private organization and it did not take place at a local high school gym, so Big South can put whatever they want in their disclaimer (that appears in small print on their website).

However, as members of the local media, we strive not only to promote these kinds of events but also to cover them and let our readers (and watchers) know exactly what took place.

As KSLA’s Doug Warner wrote on Facebook after being told no video footage could be taken at the game: “Just so the parents know we tried to put their girls on the news.”

That’s what we try to do. Believe me, USA Volleyball welcomed the local media to Brookshire Arena when the Women’s National Team was here for the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League event in May.

So, I could write about Friday’s game, but my photographer couldn’t take any pictures?

If any video or photography was to be shown locally, it would have to be supplied by the Big Hoops organization. When I was told I would be sent a picture that night to run in the next day’s publication, I figured it really was a win-win-win situation.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Three days later, I received some photos via email.

Too little, too late.

I did receive an apology from Big Hoops’ representative Pierre Robertson, who acknowledged the organization receives complaints “in every city” regarding the media ban.

I just hope media members in Fayetteville, N.C. – the next stop on the tour – get their requests in really early.

Contact Harriet at

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)


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

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 Children 5-and-under will be admitted free. 

Contact Harriet at

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

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

Calvary ready for another deep run in the playoffs


(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the SBJ spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)

Even though school was out for the week for Thanksgiving break, Rodney Guin was busy working Monday morning.

And he was very glad to be doing so.

“Yeah, that’s always the mark of success,” the Calvary Baptist head coach said about high school football coaches working during the break.

It’s a mark to which the Cavaliers have become accustomed. Going into this year’s playoffs, Calvary had made 17 playoff appearances with an overall record of 33 wins and 14 losses – including three state championships (Division III titles in 2013 and 2014 and Division IV title in 2020).

Last season, the Cavaliers made it to the semifinals of the Division IV playoffs before falling 40-37 to eventual state runner-up Ouachita Christian.

This week, No. 5-seeded Calvary is preparing for its quarterfinal matchup against No. 4 seed Dunham in the Select Division III playoffs. The Cavs (9-2) will meet the Tigers (10-1) at Dunham Stadium in Baton Rouge Friday night at 7.

After a first-round bye, Calvary faced No. 12-seeded Northlake Christian in last week’s second round. For a team that had outscored its opponents 443-134 prior to last Friday’s game, the Cavs got off to an uncharacteristic slow start.

At the end of the first quarter, the Cavs and Wolverines were tied 0-0. Not the typical start for a Calvary team that had scored 40 or more points in nine of 11 games and 50+ in seven of those matchups.

“We were moving the ball, but turnovers made it a slow start,” Guin said of last week’s game. “We fumbled twice in the red zone and had a guy wide open in the end zone but he dropped it.”

In most cases, turnovers and dropped balls could be a concern for a playoff team. But not this Cavs’ team.

“We haven’t turned the ball over all year long,” said Guin. “I think we may have had one fumble. And dropped balls is not a problem we have. We catch hundreds of balls.”

Guin was right not to worry. Running back James Simon caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Abram Wardell and ran for a 3-yard score. With Wardell’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Aubrey Hermes, Calvary had a 22-0 lead by halftime.

The Cavs added four more touchdowns and a safety in the second half, and the defense held the Wolverines scoreless as Calvary defeated Northlake Christian 52-0.

Simon, who finished the night with two rushing TDs and two receiving TDs, is close to 1,000 rushing this season with 20 TDs and no fumbles. On the season, Wardell has completed 128 of 160 passes for 2,181 yards and 31 TDs. Against Northlake Christian, the sophomore quarterback threw to seven different receivers and four different ones for TDs. Hermes has 9 TD receptions so far with 741 yards on 44 catches.

While Calvary is taking a prolific offense down to Baton Rouge, the Cavs will face a big challenge with an exceptional Tigers’ defense.

“They’re very good,” Guin said of the Wolverines. “They have the best defensive line we’ve faced since Week 2 against Captain Shreve (a 27-14 loss). That’ll be a challenge. The key is for us is being able to block up front. We’ve got to have good line blocking.”

Another challenge for Calvary will be a Dunham offense that has put up 50+ points in each of its last two games (including last week’s 56-21 victory over King Charter in the second round).

“You don’t win deep in the playoffs if you can’t play good defense,” said Guin. “Everybody can score. We’ve got to be able to stop their offense.”

With a defense that has shut out its last three opponents, Calvary is primed for another deep run in the playoffs.

Contact Harriet at 

Comeback comes up short, Bucs stopped by East St. John

WILDCAT PROWLING: Haughton quarterback Colin Rains (15) looks for a receiver as he is pursued by East St. John’s Ky’Van Fobb (24) Friday night. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)


It looked like the Haughton Buccaneers would take the lead into halftime against East St. John in the second round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs at Harold E. Harlan Stadium.

After falling behind 14-0 after the first quarter and fighting back to tie it at 14-14 in the second quarter, Haughton quarterback Colin Rains’ 35-yard Hail Mary with no time left on the clock was signaled a touchdown. That would give the Bucs the lead going into the locker room.

That’s what it looked like when one referee signaled “touchdown.” After a discussion between the officials, however, the pass was ruled incomplete.

The Bucs put up a fight in the second half, but came up short and ended their season with a 35-21 loss to the Wildcats.

“I thought we were up at the half,” said Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton. “It was kind of deflating. But our guys fought to the very end.”

The beginning was a little deflating, too. On the first play from scrimmage, Haughton senior running back Tyler Rhodes went up the middle for a 25-yard gain but fumbled and the Wildcats recovered on their own 35. On ESJ’s first play, Yashua Mitchell found Cortez Fisher for a 62-yard completion to the Haughton 3-yard line and the senior quarterback ran it in on the next play.

Mitchell’s 15-yard touchdown run – and Joe Henderson’s second PAT — with two minutes left in the first quarter gave the Wildcats the 14-0 lead.

The Bucs got on the board on their first play of the second quarter with an 11-yard touchdown run from Rhodes and PAT by Carter Ebarb and tied it at 14-14 with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Rains to Rashard Douglas and Ebarb PAT.

It looked like the Wildcats would take the lead at the half when they drove to the Bucs’ 13-yard line with 58 seconds to go in the second quarter but Haughton senior Jakob Handy came up with an interception to stall the drive. The Bucs got to the Wildcats’ 35 and, with a free play after the clock sounded due to a defensive penalty, the Hail Mary That Wasn’t occurred.

Two touchdown passes from Mitchell (33 yards to Koyal Gray Jr. and 6 yards to Dkhai Joseph) gave ESJ a 27-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. Rhodes’ 1-yard run and Ebarb PAT got the Bucs within six points (27-21) with just under nine minutes to go in the game.

After recovering an ESJ fumble with 5:38 to go, Haughton went three-and-out on their next possession and the Wildcats sealed the victory on their next possession with a 41-yard scoring run by George Martin III.

“They played hard and they played well,” Brotherton said of the Wildcats. “Their guys were big up front. I’m proud of the way our kids played. They (the Wildcats) made some big catches. There were times I thought we had good coverage and they still caught them.”

Mitchell completed 13-of-24 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns to go with his two rushing TDs.

“He’s good,” Brotherton said of Mitchell. “He’s a four-year starter and he’s really talented.”

Rhodes and Rains accounted for all of Haughton’s rushing yards. Rhodes finished with 115 yards on 17 carries and Rains added 69 yards on 21 carries. Rains was 12-of-28 passing for 160 yards.

Jalen Lewis had four catches for 63 yards for Haughton, followed by Jamarion Montgomery with two receptions for 51 yards.

“To be playing a second-round playoff game at home is a big deal for us,” Brotherton said of the 27th-seeded Bucs, who finished the season 6-6. 

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East St. John 35, Haughton 21 

Score by quarters

ESJ | 14 | 0 | 13 | 8 | – 35

Haughton | 0 | 14 | 0 | 7 | – 21

Scoring summary

ESJ – Yashua Mitchell 3 run (Joe Henderson kick)

ESJ – Mitchell 15 run (Henderson kick)

H – Tyler Rhodes 11 run (Carter Ebarb kick)

H – Rashard Douglas 35 pass from Colin Rains (Ebarb kick)

ESJ – Koyal Gray Jr. 33 pass from Mitchell (kick failed)

ESJ – Dkhai Joseph 6 pass from Mitchell (Henderson kick)

H – Rhodes 1 run (Ebarb kick)

ESJ – George Martin III 41 run (Joseph pass from Mitchell) 

Individual leaders 


ESJ (34-215) – Martin 20-142 1 TD, Mitchell 9-48 2 TDs, Cortez Fisher 5-25. 

Haughton (39-184) – Rhodes 17-115 2 TDs, Rains 21-69, Douglas 1-0. 


ESJ (13-24-2-247) – Mitchell 13-24-2-247 2 TDs. 

Haughton (12-28-0-160) – Rains 12-26-0-160 1TD, Jalen Lewis 0-2-0. 


ESJ – Fisher 5-106, Gray Jr. 4-71 1 TD, Joseph 4-68 1 TD, Ashton Williams 1-2. 

Haughton – Lewis 4-63, Jamarion Montgomery 2-51, John Ecot 2-8, Douglas 1-35 1 TD, Trent McGowen 1-3.

Kristi Gustavson answers the call to service at CFNLA


Until I met Kristi Gustavson at a recent press conference, we had only communicated by email after I contacted her about meeting for lunch. I knew she was the executive director of the Community Foundation of North Louisiana but, other than that, I knew very little about the 1996 Byrd graduate. Sitting outside at Ki Mexico and enjoying some incredible tacos, I heard a fascinating story about how she ended up at  CFLA.

It’s funny how phone calls work.

In 2017, Kristi Gustavson was on the verge of calling Cook, Yancey, King & Galloway – the law firm where she had served as a senior associate – and telling them she wanted to return.

There was something about being in a courtroom and arguing a case in front of a judge that attracted Gustavson – and she missed it. It’s why she got her law degree at Tulane University (graduating cum laude) after getting her bachelor of arts in political science from Rhodes College.

After practicing law in New Orleans, Gustavson and her husband moved back to Shreveport in 2007 and she joined Cook, Yancey, King & Galloway – where she practiced commercial litigation, contract issues and bankruptcy. She chalked up trial experience in state district court, United States District Court, United States Bankruptcy Court, Louisiana State appellate courts, and city courts.

Then, in 2013, she got a call from Regions Bank – one of the law firm’s clients – about managing the trust department. At the time, Gustavson’s daughter Malin was two years old, and her husband was travelling a couple of weeks out of every month with his job at Red Ball Oxygen.

The change sounded good, so Gustavson left the law firm and joined Regions, where she served as a vice president and trust advisor. After four years in that capacity, however, she decided she wanted to return to the courtroom.

She was about to pick up the phone when something happened before she called Cook, Yancey to tell the firm she wanted to come back, however. Her phone rang.

On the other end of the phone was Paula Hickman, the executive director of the Community Foundation of North Louisiana.

“Paula called and wanted to take me to lunch,” explains Gustavson. “We (Regions) worked with the Community Foundation so I thought there might be something wrong with the account.”

On the contrary. As it turned out, Hickman was planning to retire after nearly 15 years leading the Community Foundation of North Louisiana and she had decided who she wanted to replace her.

“I had seen the advertisement for the position,” says Gustavson, “but I wouldn’t have applied for it.”

While Gustavson had always been involved in nonprofit work — the former ballet dancer served as president of the board of the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet while at Regions — she had never considered doing it full time. The more she talked to Hickman, the more Gustavson realized that is where she belonged.

“I went home and told my husband, ‘I think this is my dream job,’” she says. “And he said, ‘What is the Community Foundation?’”

Established in 1961, the Community Foundation of North Louisiana oversees more than $183 million in assets for the benefit of North Louisiana. Its mission is to promote philanthropy and improve the quality of life in the community by serving as a permanent and growing resource of expertise and funds. The funds managed by the Foundation are invested for the community’s benefit and then are returned to the community in the form of grants to a wide variety of charitable endeavors. Since its inception, the Community Foundation has granted over $100 million in grants to nonprofit organizations.

After going through the extensive interview process, she was chosen for the job and started shadowing Hickman in the fall of 2017. In January 2018, Gustavson assumed her new role as executive director.

When asked what the biggest challenge of the new role has been, Gustavson pauses and says, “I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I keep pushing. I had never managed an office of human beings. I had to find my way in my job and manage them. As a lawyer, I was a solo practitioner. As an only child, collaboration was a little outside of my nature. I never liked group projects in high school.”

And the most rewarding part of her job? “When the collaboration works,” she answers quickly.

With Gustavson at the helm, the collaboration has worked. In 2021, CFNLA granted over $8.5 million in grants and scholarships to 339 nonprofit organizations and 46 students.

“My job is to put groups together,” says Gustavson. “Those groups do research and data. I take what we have all collectively decided on and go to our board.”

The big question is, “How do we match the funds that we have monetarily with the needs of the community,” she says. “Sometimes, the hard part is not raising the money but spending it in a timely manner.”

In 2018, CFNLA set a lofty but attainable goal: “To change the course or interrupt the cycle of poverty for children through education so they may grow up and attain a living wage job by the age of 25.”

One of the major initiatives established by the Foundation to meet that goal is the Early Childhood Education Fund – to expand access and enrollment in quality early childcare by providing scholarships for children ages 0-3 in Caddo Parish. Thanks to generous donor support and a 1:1 match from the State of Louisiana, over $2 million was secured for the first year of the multi-year initiative.

The Foundation stumped for money from the City (of Shreveport) and the City Council early, according to Gustavson, and it paid off. “They stepped up,” she says. “They turned our $2 million into $6 million – unanimously. They said, ‘We see the value in this.’”

You can see by the way Gustavson lights up when she talks about this particular initiative that the Shreveport native loves what she is doing.

“I feel super privileged,” she says. “I get a lot of personal fulfillment from it. I get excited about what I do and am proud to tell my daughter about it so maybe she’ll want to come back here.”

Just like her mom.

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Haughton seniors won’t let Bucs give up against Airline in playoff victory


(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the SBJ spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)

Walking off the football field two weeks ago, Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton had a feeling he had never experienced in all of his years coaching.

And it wasn’t good.

“For the first time, I felt like our kids shut it down and quit,” said Brotherton. “That’s a bad feeling as a coach when your team stops competing.”

That was Week 10’s final regular-season game when Captain Shreve pummeled Haughton 42-7 – marking the Bucs’ third loss in their last four games and threatening their streak of making the playoffs for 25 years.

“I didn’t know what we were gonna get (last) Friday,” Brotherton said of last week’s first-round playoff game against the heavily-favored Airline Vikings. “I was a little worried about that.”

There were a few reasons to worry. First, the Bucs’ lackluster performance against the Gators was a cause for concern. Then there was the fact that Haughton had squeaked into the Non-Select Division I playoffs as the 27th seed out of 28 teams. Next, Haughton’s first-round opponent was the No. 6-seeded Airline team that had sailed through the District 1-5A season undefeated.

And finally, that Vikings’ team had defeated the Bucs 55-42 in their Week 7 district matchup.

“Before (last week’s) Airline game, I told the kids that I thought something good would have to happen early in the game for us to have a chance,” said Brotherton. “Then the opposite happened.”

Airline came out in its first possession and took the early lead with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Ben Taylor to Daxton Chavez.

Not the start Brotherton had hoped for.

Then something good happened.

“We had a couple of seniors who weren’t going to let everyone else shut it down,” he said. “The flow of the game fell to us. The weather was a huge factor. It didn’t affect us as much as it affected them (the Vikings).”

Two of those seniors who made sure the Bucs didn’t give up were quarterback Colin Rains and running back Tyler Rhodes. In a pouring rain and howling winds, the Haughton duo racked up 387 of the Bucs’ 390 yards rushing and pounded their way to a 36-26 upset over the Vikings.

Rains, who had 178 yards rushing just in the first half, finished the game with 218 yards on 26 carries while running for one touchdown, passing for two touchdowns and catching a touchdown pass.

Rhodes, who finished with 169 on 21 carries, had a 7-yard touchdown scamper that started a 29-0 scoring run that gave the Bucs a 36-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Standing in the pouring rain in the middle of Airline’s M.D. Ray Field, Brotherton tried to find the words to describe Rains’ performance.

“Colin . . . ,” he started. “He’s been hurt for about a month. He’s just a competitor. He’s one of my favorite kids . . . ”

The Bucs also got a gutsy performance from junior kicker Carter Ebarb, who had an undeniable effect on the game’s outcome. While Ebarb was 4-for-5 on PATs in the driving rain, it was his punting — keeping the Vikings deep in their own territory — that helped Haughton deny an Airline rally.

Ebarb’s 57-yard punt pinned the Vikings on their own 1-yard line and led to a safety that put the Bucs up 36-13 near the end of the third quarter. On the Bucs’ next possession, Ebarb had a 48-yard punt that forced Airline to start a drive on its own 2-yard line.

This is when the game got really interesting. Starting that drive on their 2, the Vikings went on a 17-play, 98-yard scoring drive that began at the end of the third quarter and finished with a 7-yard scoring pass from Ben Taylor to Bryson Broom that closed the gap to 36-19 two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Haughton fumbled on its next possession, giving Airline the ball on its own 35. Four plays later, Taylor hit Bob Patterson with a 40-yard touchdown pass – and the Vikings were suddenly within 10 points of the Bucs with six minutes left.

At that point, Rains took over and made sure the Bucs would hold on to their 36-26 lead. An 8-play, 54-yard drive that ate up time on the clock deprived Airline of a chance to rally. In the middle of the drive, Rains had a 31-yard run on third-and-14 that kept the ball in possession of the Bucs – who held on for the victory.

The first thing Brotherton planned to say to his team as the Bucs prepared for this Friday’s second-round home game against East St. John was this:

“For the rest of your life, when someone says, ‘You can’t do something,’ you remember Friday night 36-26. Nobody thought we could win that (Airline) game. Nobody gave us a chance outside of our own locker room.”

That’s quite a different feeling than the one Brotherton had a couple of weeks ago.

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Rains pours it on to lead Haughton’s shocker over Airline

POURING IT ON: Haughton quarterback Colin Rains, who had 218 yards rushing Friday night, waits for the snap Friday night. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)


When it rains, it pours. And it rained down hard at Airline’s M.D. Ray Field Friday night.

Behind a brilliant performance from Haughton quarterback Colin Rains – who ran for 218 yards and a touchdown, passed for two touchdowns, and caught a touchdown pass – the Bucs upset Airline 36-26 in the first round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs.

The victory avenged the Bucs’ District 1-5A loss to the Vikings — 55-42 on Oct. 13 — and put them in the second round against No. 11 seed East St. John, which defeated Walker 29-28 in the first round.

The more it rained and the harder the wind blew Friday night, the more Haughton pounded the ball on the ground. And controlled the line of scrimmage. And the clock.

That was the game plan for Haughton (6-5), which squeaked into playoffs as the No. 27 seed (out of 28 teams). Airline, which finished its season 7-4, went in as the No. 6 seed after an unbeaten run through district play.

The Bucs’ plan worked.

“For three-and-a-half quarters, we were able to line up, run the ball, and control the clock,” said Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton. “Then they pushed the tempo.”

By the time the Vikings were able to control the tempo – and get two quick touchdowns — they were already down 36-13 halfway through the fourth quarter. Airline quarterback Ben Taylor threw two touchdown passes (7 yards to Bryson Broom and 40 yards to Bob Patterson) to bring the Vikings within 10 points (36-26) but Haughton wouldn’t let them get any closer.

Taylor’s 60-yard touchdown pass to Daxton Chavez on the Vikings’ first possession of the game gave them an early 6-0 lead (the PAT was blocked). The Bucs returned the favor on their first possession and took a 7-6 lead when Rains caught a 5-yard pass from Jalen Lewis and Carter Ebarb kicked the PAT.

Haughton controlled the second quarter, putting up 20 points on touchdown runs by Tyler Rhodes (7 yards) and Rains (2 yards) and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Rains to John Ecot (Ebarb connected on 2-of-the 3 PATs). Airline, which got a 1-yard touchdown run by Tre Jackson (and Ben Jump PAT) to open the second quarter, trailed 27-13 at the half.

Two plays in the third quarter – when Haughton kept Airline scoreless – were defining moments in the game. With the Bucs up 34-13 and facing fourth-and-16 from their own 42, Ebarb pinned the Vikings on their own 1-yard line with a 57-yard punt. Two plays later, Haughton’s Harley Ingram sacked Taylor in the end zone for a safety.

On the Bucs’ next possession, Ebarb’s 48-yard punt landed on the Vikings’ 2-yard line.

“I actually thought about a fake punt at that point,” Brotherton said of first punt. “With the wind and rain, I was worried about the exchange and getting the punt off. Sometimes, the best calls are the ones you don’t make.”

The Bucs’ only other second-half score came on Rains’ 30-yard touchdown pass to Lewis that put Haughton up 34-13.

“We came out and battled the weather,” said Rains, who had 178 rushing in the first half. “We were just the tougher team tonight. We wanted it.”

Taylor completed 27-of-51 for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns but the Vikings were able to get only 85 yards rushing. While Rains was 7-of-12 for 79 yards and 3 touchdowns, it was the ground game that was the difference for Haughton. In addition to Rains’ 218 yards rushing, Rhodes added 169 yards on 21 carries.

“He’s just a competitor,” Brotherton said of Rains. “And our defense was great tonight. That’s the best they’ve played all year. This win defines our season.”

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 Haughton 36, Airline 26

Score by quarters

Haughton | 7 | 20 | 9 | 0 | – 36

Airline | 6 | 7 | 0 | 13 | – 26

Scoring summary

A – Daxton Chavez 60 pass from Ben Taylor (kick failed)

H – Colin Rains 5 pass from Jalen Lewis (Carter Ebarb kick)

A – Tre Jackson 1 run (Ben Jump kick)

H – Tyler Rhodes 7 run (Ebarb kick)

H – John Ecot 5 pass from Rains (kick failed)

H – Rains 2 run (Ebarb kick)

H – Lewis 30 pass from Rains (Ebarb kick)

H – Safety

A – Bryson Broom 7 pass from Taylor (pass failed)

A – Bob Patterson 40 pass from Taylor (Jump kick)

Individual leaders


Haughton (53-390), Rains 26-218 1 TD, Rhodes 21-169 1 TD, Jamarion Montgomery 2-10, Ecot 1-2, Davontay Moss 3-(-9).

Airline (25-85), Tre Jackson 15-66 1 TD, Cameron Jefferson 5-22, Kylin Jackson 2-4, Taylor 3-(-7).


Haughton (8-14-1-84), Rains 7-12-1-79 2 TDs, Lewis 1-1-0-5 1 TD, Rhodes 0-1-0-0.

Airline (27-52-2-380), Taylor 27-51-1-380 3 TDs, Tre Jackson 0-1-1-0.


Haughton, Lewis 2-42 1 TD, Trent McGowen 2-20, Montgomery 2-12, Rains 1-5 1 TD, Ecot 1-5 1 TD.

Airline, Jefferson 8-55, Tre Jackson 7-77, Chavez 5-102 1 TD, Patterson 4-112 1 TD, Broom 3-34 1 TD.

Falcons follow game plan to grab share of district title with Griffins


(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the Shreveport-Bossier Journal spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)

All week leading up to last Friday night’s game against North DeSoto, the Northwood coaches told their players how the game would have to go if the Falcons were to come out victorious in the District 1-4A battle in Stonewall.

They knew it would have to be a low-scoring game and the Falcons would have to withstand a blitzkrieg from the Griffins’ offense. Northwood would probably get down and have to battle back and put up a fight for four full quarters. Don’t. Give. Up.

And, as is the case in games of this magnitude, special teams play would very likely be a factor.

When Austin Brown stood in front of his players at halftime Friday night, he told the Falcons that things were going according to the plan.

The blitzkrieg: the powerful Griffins’ offense had come out and grabbed a 13-0 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Brian Banks and a 9-yard scoring pass from Luke Delafield to Sam Odom.

The Falcons would fall behind: Northwood did get on the board with a 5-yard touchdown run by Quintavion White but went into the half down 13-6.

So far, things had gone according to plan. It would take two more quarters to see if the Northwood coaches’ prophecy would prove to be correct.

It was. And it went just the way they said it would.

Take a guess as to how the Falcons’ third-quarter comeback started. Yep, special teams.

“The turning point came in the second half when Hutson Hearron punted the ball down to the North DeSoto 1-yard line,” said Northwood coach Austin Brown. “He has been a key for us. He’s had 11 punts downed inside the 10.”

On the next play, Taderius Collins tackled North DeSoto’s John Lewis in the end zone for a safety and Northwood had closed the gap to 13-8.

From there, White – “just a workhorse in big games,” according to Brown – scored on runs of 10 and 7 yards to put the Falcons up 20-13. The Northwood defense allowed just one more score by the Griffins (a 12-yard TD run by Lewis) and, when the horn sounded at the end of the game, Northwood had upset previously undefeated North DeSoto 20-19 and grabbed a share of the District 1-4A championship with the Griffins. Both teams finished 6-1 in district.

“It was what everybody hopes a high school game is like,” Brown said of the incredible atmosphere at Griffin Stadium. “It’s bigger than two schools – it’s two total communities on the outskirts of the big city coming together. These are kids who grow up their whole lives playing together. You could feel the excitement leading up (to the game).”

And it went just how the Northwood coaches thought it would.

Special teams played a big part: in addition to Hearron’s clutch punt and the game-changing safety, both Northwood and North DeSoto missed extra points.

Defense was key: Collins and Mar’Jayvious Moss came through, as usual. “We’ve got the two best defensive players in Northwest Louisiana,” Brown said of the duo. Moss, the junior defensive back, had 7 tackles in the game.

And then there was White. The junior running back, who needed 142 yards rushing Saturday night to reach the 1,000-yard mark on the season, finished the game with 196 on 27 carries with 3 touchdowns.

“He is extremely passionate,” Brown said of White. “He’s an old-school football player. Every day at practice is like Friday night to him.”

Northwood (8-2 overall) has a bye this week and will play host to the winner of the St. Paul’s-Holy Cross contest next week in the second round of the Select Division I playoffs.

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After nearly half a century, Steve Prator is still passionate about his job


The best place to meet Steve Prator for lunch, I was told, was in his office in Government Plaza. The only question was: What in the world do I pick up for lunch with the Caddo Parish Sheriff? I was told he likes fried chicken (particularly gizzards), turkey club sandwich and if it was a salad —  ham or turkey.

I had heard great things about Doc’s Sandwich Shop, so I thought I’d give it a try. I went with the Mattie Club BLT, which turned out to be a big hit. “Best sandwich I ever had,” he said.

When the end of January rolls around, Steve Prator will have served in law enforcement for 50 years. Most people, after 50 years in a career, would start thinking about retirement.

Technically, Prator did retire — after 27 years of service in the Shreveport Police Department. But he wasn’t done with public service. His first term as Caddo Parish Sheriff began in 2000 and, in June 2020, he was sworn into office for his sixth term.

So now, after nearly 50 years in public service, is the 70-year-old thinking about retirement?

Prator might consider it, but there’s just one problem: He can’t find anything he is as passionate about as what he’s been doing for practically half a century. The only thing that comes close is fishing, which he does as often as possible with trips to his place in Orange Beach, Ala.

Hunting? “I like to shoot sporting clays,” he says, “but I don’t like killing things.”

Prator can’t imagine doing anything else – except, maybe, one thing.

“If I hadn’t gone into police work,” he says, “I would have been a school teacher.”

Actually, Prator has done both.

Back when he was a narcotics officer, Prator took an extra job as a substitute teacher at North Highlands Elementary School – the same school he attended when he moved to Shreveport from Clarksville, Tenn., in the second grade.

In those days, Prator wasn’t dreaming of being a police officer. He grew up raising cows and farming, so it looked like that’s how he would spend his life.

“Some people look all their lives and never find what they’re passionate about,” says Prator. “If you find that in life, you are fortunate. I’m lucky to have found my passion.”

Prator found it when he joined the Shreveport Police Department on Jan. 29, 1973. After 19 years, he served in a variety of departments — robbery, homicide, narcotics — and rose to the rank of sergeant.

“I was so fortunate to have been part of it (law enforcement) back when reform was needed,” says Prator, who was called “college boy” by other officers. “I was frowned upon a number of times for not taking part in what was standard operating procedure at the time.”

So, when he was chosen as chief of police – the position he held for eight-and-a-half years – Prator earned a new nickname: “Terminator Prator.”

“When I got to be chief of police,” he says, “I fired people for what used to be the standard when I first got hired. I fired a lot of people.”

As Caddo Sheriff, Prator oversees a department of 681 full-time deputies, 99 part-time deputies, 54 reserves, and 150 auxiliaries (according to 2020 numbers). His office’s main job, however, is maintaining the felony jail.

Once Shreveport Police have booked someone into Caddo Correctional Center, Prator’s office takes over.

“Then we do everything,” he says. “We take them to court, feed and clothe them, house them and watch them. We deliver the subpoenas for court cases and take them to and from court. When they’re convicted, we take them to Angola.”

Talking about maintaining the jail is when Prator’s voice takes a different tone. There is excitement in his voice.

“That building over there . . .” Prator says as he looks out the window toward the Caddo Courthouse, “in many cases, there’s a lack of urgency. There has to be a sense of urgency getting people to trial quicker. Until we get that, things won’t change.”

What needs to change, according to Prator, is the number of inmates at CCC.

“The jail was designed to hold 1,070 beds,” he says. “Right now, there are 1,400 in the building and 1,100 inmates are awaiting trial. The number of bookings at CCC is less than it’s ever been but the number awaiting trial is higher than ever.

“It costs $75 a day to hold one inmate. If that inmate waits four years to go to trial, that’s 75 times 365 times four. Do the math. Something’s wrong. Something’s got to be done.”

Prator pauses, looks over at me, and smiles.

“That’s it,” he says. “That’s what I’m passionate about.”

Contact Harriet at 

Yellow Jackets stay focused on the task at hand


(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the SBJ spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)

Sandwiched between a District 1-5A loss to Airline and the final regular-season game at Natchitoches Central was last week’s matchup against Southwood.

For the Byrd Yellow Jackets, it would have been easy to look a little past the Week 9 district game against the Cowboys last Friday night at Independence Stadium –the Cowboys were winless (0-8 overall and 0-5 in district) and the Yellow Jackets (5-3, 2-3) were already assured a spot in the playoffs.

And waiting for them in Week 10 was the team that caused the only blemish on the Yellow Jackets’ 2021 regular-season record. Even worse, the 23-10 loss to the Chiefs spoiled Byrd’s homecoming.

So a little loss of focus against Southwood would be understandable. But that’s not how the Yellow Jackets are built.

“Our kids stay on a pretty even keel,” says Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew. “Win or lose, they’ve come out to practice every week the same. None of us took Southwood lightly. They (the Cowboys) played a really good game against (Captain) Shreve.”

Focused on the task at hand, the Yellow Jackets opened up a 37-0 lead at the half and were able to sit most of their starters in the final two quarters.

Desmond Simmons ended the night with a game-high 106 yards on eight carries – and half of those were for touchdowns. The sophomore running back had a first-half touchdown run of 3 yards and added three more scores in the second half (1 yard, 7 yards, and 64 yards).

The Yellow Jackets’ 58-0 victory over Southwood was a total team effort – between seven offensive scores was a safety and a 61-yard kickoff return by Christian Jones. Starting quarterback Lake Lambert had touchdown runs of 60 and 14 yards, Dixon Poirier had an 8-yard touchdown run, Hunter Thrash had two interceptions and a forced fumble, and Abram Murray was 8-for-8 on PATs.

Once the game was over, then the Yellow Jackets could turn their thoughts toward the Chiefs.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Ballew told his team right after the victory over Southwood. “We are 6-3 with a chance to be 7-3. We play Natchitoches Central next week, and I don’t need to remind you about what happened last year.”

He’s right – he didn’t need to remind them.

“Motivation is not going to be a problem this week,” said Lambert, the senior who has lost just three District 1-5A games since taking over as Byrd’s starting quarterback at the beginning of his sophomore season.

Two of those losses came this year – 63-28 to Benton in Week 5 and 48-28 in Week 8 to district unbeaten Airline   – while the third came against . . . you-know-who.

“Playing Natchitoches is a little different than our other district games,” said the second-year head coach. “Our kids don’t run into their kids around town. Because of the distance, it’s different than our games against the other 1-5A teams.”

When GeauxPreps came out with its playoff predictions following last week’s games, Byrd was listed as the possible No. 5 seed in Select Division I with a first-round bye and possible home game in Round 2.

While it’s still a little early to start making plans for the playoffs, Ballew knows the Yellow Jackets are in good shape – no matter who or where they play.

“We’re just taking it one week at a time,” he said. “If we win, the projections probably don’t change much. I’m not necessarily a fan of the first-round bye, but sometimes a bye week can be good because your players will be well-rested.

“We’re just going to concentrate on what we need to do. We want to come out, control the clock offensively, and make sure we’re running to the ball.”

Byrd (6-3, 3-3) and Natchitoches Central (3-6, 2-4) meet Friday night at Turpin Stadium. 

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Second-half comeback gives Evangel bittersweet victory over Huntington

FIELD OF DREAMS: Evangel quarterback Peyton Fulghum (12) surveys the beautiful new artificial turf at Rodney Duron Field as the Eagles hosted the Huntington Raiders in a District 1-4A matchup Friday night. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)


It would take more than a light rainfall to dampen the spirits of Evangel fans at Rodney Duron Field Friday night.

After the Eagles had played on the road for seven straight weeks, they were taking on the Huntington Raiders in their Homecoming game on the beautiful new artificial turf field.

Spirits were dampened somewhat, however, as the teams gathered near midfield following Evangel’s 21-14 victory over Huntington in the District 1-4A matchup.

As the Eagles (5-4, 4-2) were celebrating the hard-fought victory over the Raiders (5-4, 4-2), Evangel junior Garrett Burns lay at midfield as medical personnel tended to the injured wide receiver and trainers waited for an ambulance to arrive.

“He’s unbelievable,” Evangel head coach Denny Duron said of Burns, who was on the ground for about five minutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter following a 19-yard run that put the Eagles at the Huntington 3-yard line. “He’s just amazing. He was himself tonight. That’s what he does.”

“He’s a tough kid,” Evangel quarterback Peyton Fulghum said of Burns, who gains more yards after contact than most players gain before.

Burns, who had 125 yards rushing on 16 carries before leaving with the injury, was sandwiched between Huntington defenders at the end of the 19-yard run. Two plays later, Peyton Fulghum found his brother Parker for a 5-yard touchdown pass that put the Eagles up 21-8 with 6:51 left in the game.

“We overcame a lot of stuff tonight,” said Duron, whose Eagles trailed 8-7 at the half.

Evangel got on the board first when Jamal Jordan intercepted a Jamarion Washington pass and ran it back 44 yards for a touchdown. With Kaegan Kent’s PAT, the Eagles took an early 7-0 lead.

Washington got the start at quarterback as Kam Evans’ shoulder injury kept the Huntington star, the state’s second-leading passer, on the sidelines. Evans is “day-to-day” and hopes to be back in the lineup for the Raiders’ final regular-season game against Bossier next Thursday.

Huntington took the lead midway through the second quarter as John Solomon followed a 64-yard run with a 1-yard TD and then ran in the 2-point conversion to put the Raiders up 8-7.

Solomon had 123 yards rushing in the first half and finished the game with 131 yards on 13 carries.

Evangel recaptured the lead (14-8) three minutes into the third quarter when Damari Drake scored on a 9-yard run and Kent converted the PAT. Kent was 3-for-3 on the night. The Eagles’ defense, which held Huntington to just 48 yards rushing in the second half, caused a fumble and recovered it deep in Raiders’ territory to set the offense up on the go-ahead drive.

After Evangel padded the spread to 21-8 on the Fulghum family hookup, Huntington got within 7 points (21-14) with 4:58 remaining in the game when Washington connected with Kenton Brossett for a 30-yard touchdown.

“Defense played their tails off tonight,” Huntington head coach Stephen Dennis told his team following the loss.

The Raiders’ defense held the powerful Evangel passing attack in check and held Peyton Fulghum to just 65 yards on 12-of-19 passing with 1 TD.

“The effort was there tonight,” said Dennis. “We just didn’t make enough plays. So what do we do now? We go home, watch the film, proceed to get better, and get ready for Senior Night (against Bossier).”

Evangel closes out the regular season next Friday at Booker T. Washington.

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Evangel 21, Huntington 14

Score by quarters

Huntington | 0 | 8 | 0 | 6 | – 14

Evangel | 7 | 0 | 7 | 7 | – 21

Scoring summary

E – Jamal Jordan 29 interception return (Kaegan Kent kick)

H – John Solomon 1 run (Solomon run)

E – Damari Drake 9 run (Kent kick)

E – Parker Fulghum 5 pass from Peyton Fulghum (Kent kick)

H – Kenton Brossett 30 pass from Jamarion Washington (run failed)

Individual leaders


Huntington (34-166), John Solomon 13-131 1TD, Jamarion Washington 12-37, Jamarion Mims 5-2, Kaleb Tucker 1-2, Tre Carter 3-(-6).

Evangel (33-195), Garrett Burns 16-125, Dashawn Johnson 9-36, Damari Drake 5-32 1TD, Peyton Fulghum 3-2.


Huntington (6-8-1-73), Jamarion Washington 6-8-1-73 1TD.

Evangel (12-19-0-65), Peyton Fulghum 12-19-0-65 1TD.


Huntington, Kenton Brossett 2-39 1TD, Jarvis Davis 1-18, John Solomon 1-11, Jimmy Anderson 1-9, Carter 1-(-4).

Evangel, Judah Whorton 4-24, Parker Fulghum 3-17 1TD, Brayden Curry 3-13, Jackson Graham 1-11.

Cavs roll over Warriors, remain undefeated in District 1-2A

FAST AND FURIOUS: Calvary got on the board early and often in the Cavaliers’ 63-0 victory over Lakeside in District 1-2A action at Jerry Barker Stadium Thursday night. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)


Calvary’s James Simon took just five handoffs Thursday night at Jerry Barker Stadium, and one of those was from his mother.

It was just before kickoff and the sophomore running back had left his No. 31 jersey at home, which – fortunately – is just minutes from the Calvary Baptist campus. Almost as soon as he took the handoff from his mother and got the jersey pulled over his pads, Simon was in the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns in the Cavaliers’ 63-0 rout over Lakeside (4-5, 0-4 in District 1-2A).

“My brother was rushing me,” Simon said with a laugh as he tried to explain why he had made it to the stadium without his jersey.

Turns out Simon wouldn’t need his jersey for long. When the first quarter ended, Simon had carried the ball four times, scored three touchdowns (on runs of 25 yards, 37 yards, and 1 yard) and the Cavaliers were up 28-0.

And the brother who caused him to leave his jersey at home? That would be Jay Simon, the junior who was on the receiving end of both of Abram Wardell’s touchdown passes in the second quarter.

Wardell finished 10-of-11 for 168 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters of play. James Simon had 72 yards on just four carries with three touchdowns while Jay Simon had two touchdowns on his two receptions (11 and 20 yards).

In the District 1-2A romp over the Warriors, the Cavs: ran just 25 plays the entire game (just two more than Lakeside ran in the first quarter alone), scored nine touchdowns with only eight possessions, and had two pick sixes (by Landon Sylvie and Chaz Whitaker).

“One of the plays was designed for me,” Jay Simon said of his two touchdowns. “On the other one, I just went up the field and I saw Abram scrambling so I cut it toward the end zone.”

Wardell connected with Aubrey Hermes for a 31-yard touchdown at the start of the second half to put Calvary up 49-0 and then handed the quarterback duties to freshman Owen Smith, whose 14-yard touchdown run on the Cavs’ next possession put them up 56-0.

Calvary’s final score came in the fourth quarter when Whitaker intercepted a Cooper Chase pass and ran it back for a 44-yard score.

The Cavs’ defense held the Warriors to minus-24 yards rushing and just 58 yards passing as the Lakeside quarterback was able to complete just 9-of-18 passes with three interceptions.

Tyson Driskell had 20 yards rushing for Calvary, followed by Smith with 16 yards. Kolby Thomas had four catches for 68 yards while Hermes finished with 43 yards on two catches. Garrett Little was 6-for-6 on PATs while Ty Knight was 3-for-3.

The Cavs (7-2, 4-0 in District 1-2A) close out the regular season next week against Loyola at Messmer Stadium.

Contact Harriet at

 Calvary 63, Lakeside 0

Score by quarters

Lakeside | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | – 0

Calvary | 28 | 14 | 14 | 7 | – 63

Scoring summary

C – James Simon 25 run (Garrett Little kick)

C – Landon Sylvie 55 interception return (Little kick)

C – James Simon 37 run (Little kick)

C – James Simon 1 run (Little kick)

C – Jay Simon 11 pass from Abram Wardell (Little kick)

C – Jay Simon 20 pass from Wardell (Little kick)

C – Aubrey Hermes 31 pass from Wardell (Ty Knight kick)

C – Owen Smith 14 run (Knight kick)

C – Chaz Whitaker 44 interception return (Knight kick)

Individual leaders

Rushing – Calvary (12-120), James Simon 4-72 3 TDs, Tyson Driskell 3-20, Owen Smith 2-16 1 TD, Chaz Whitaker 2-8, Abram Wardell 1-4. Lakeside (19-minus 24), Jordan Case 7-3, Cooper Chase 10-(-20), Rokedrick Smith 2-(-7).

Passing – Calvary (11-12-0-173), Abram Wardell 10-11-0-168 3TDs, Owen Smith 1-1-0-5. Lakeside (9-18-3-58), Cooper Chase 9-18-3-58.

Receiving – Calvary, Kolby Thomas 4-68, Aubrey Hermes 2-43 1TD, Jay Simon 2-31 2 TDs, Chris Jackson 1-20, James Simon 1-6, Luke Toups 1-5. Lakeside, Joshua Sebald 4-46, James Maxie 2-5, Omero Urbina 1-4, Rodney Smith 1-2, Jordan Case 1-1.