Curtis wins, Byrd hugs the season goodbye

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

By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curtis also credited the defense for stifling the Byrd offense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Jerry Byrd at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com 

Curtis 35, Byrd 14 

Score by quarters

Curtis | 7 | 21 | 0 | 7 | – 35

Byrd | 0 | 7 | 0 | 7 | – 14

Scoring summary

JC – Marlon Prout 42 run (Jaden Alphonso kick)

B – Desmond Simmons 4 run (Murray kick)

JC – Jermall Calllio 24 fumble return (Alphonso kick)

JC – Prout 39 run (Alphonso kick)

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

B – Tyler Nichols 1 run (Murray kick)

JC – Bruno 1 run (Alphonso kick)

Individual leaders 

Rushing 

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

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

Passing 

Byrd – Lambert 2-6-1-54. 

Curtis – Bruno 4-7-0-90.

Receiving 

Byrd – Dufrene 2-54. 

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


Lambert on the lam for 301, Crusaders outrace Falcons

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

By LORI LYONS, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Lori at sportslyons@gmail.com

Brother Martin 28, Northwood 14 

Score by quarters

Brother Martin | 9 | 7 | 3 | 9 | – 28

Northwood | 0 | 0 | 7 | 7 | – 14

Scoring summary

BM – Torey Lambert 5 run (Leyton Liuzza kick)

BM – Safety

BM – Jordan West 8 run (Liuzza kick)

BM – Liuzza 21 FG

N – Quintavius White 3 run (Jaxson Bentzler kick)

BM – Liuzza 25 FG

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

BM – Lambert 3 run (kick blocked) 

Individual leaders 

Rushing 

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

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

Passing 

Northwood – Welch 10-22-1-197. 

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

Receiving 

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


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

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

By REED DARCEY, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Reed at reed.darcey@gmail.com 

Dunham 50, Calvary 35

Score by quarters

Dunham – 7 | 14 | 21 | 8 | – 50

Calvary – 14 | 14 | 7 | 0 | – 35

Scoring summary

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

C – James Simon 3 run (Little kick)

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

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

D – Mason Wild 4 run (Mangum kick)

D – House 5 run (Mangum kick)

C – Simon 1 run (Little kick)

D – Thomas 4 run (Mangum kick)

D – House 1 run (Mangum kick)

C – Julius Moss 20 run (Little kick)

D – House 25 run (Mangum kick)

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

Individual leaders

Rushing 

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

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

Passing 

Calvary – Wardell 19-27-1-225, 2 TDs.

Dunham – House 14-22-0-190, 1 TD.

Receiving  

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

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


LHSAA football playoff scoreboard

Quarterfinal games

Non-Select scores 

Division I

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

Division II

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

Division III

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

Division IV

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

Select scores 

Division I

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

Division II

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

Division III

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

Division IV

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


Big Hoops Shootout a win-win for local sports fans

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

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very similar, indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


Friday’s basketball scoreboard

COLLEGE 

Women

Hawaii 63, Grambling 47
Louisiana Tech 73, Stetson 50

Men

Grambling State 75, UTSA 55
Louisiana Tech 79, Samford 76
Omaha 63, ULM 56 

HIGH SCHOOLS 

GIRLS

Sierra Canyon (Calif.) 61, Parkway 49


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

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

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder football feels so good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu

Division I – Select Quarterfinal

6-Byrd (8-3) at 3-John Curtis (9-2) 

Where: Joe Yenni Stadium, Metairie 

Series: Byrd 1-0 

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

Rankings: Curtis #7 in LSWA 5A poll 

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

Last semifinal appearance: Byrd 2020; Curtis 2020 

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

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


Falcons believe they can take an historic step

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

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

That is not the case this year.

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

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

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

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

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

Still here, just moved a little bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com 

Division I – Select Quarterfinal

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

Where: Tad Gormley, New Orleans

 Series: First meeting 

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

Rankings: Northwood received votes in LSWA 4A poll 

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

Last semifinal appearance: Northwood – none; Brother Martin 2021 

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

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


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

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

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Roy at roylangIII@yahoo.com

Division III – Select Quarterfinals

5-Calvary (9-2) at 4-Dunham (10-1) 

Where: Dunham School Stadium, Baton Rouge 

Series: Calvary 3-0 

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

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

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

Last semifinal appearance: Calvary 2021; Dunham 2019 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com


Quarterfinal Preview: C.E. Byrd at John Curtis

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


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

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

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

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

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

He knows what he needs and where to find it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com


Quarterfinal Preview: Calvary Baptist at Dunham School

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


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

(File photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Staff)

JOURNAL STAFF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Shreve (3) – 1971, 1973, 1983

Airline (2) – 1967, 1972

Parkway (2) – 2013, 2015

Southwood (1) – 1973

LANG’S LINES

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

QUARTERFINAL PLAYOFF LINES

Brother Martin -19.5 vs. Northwood

John Curtis -11.5 vs. Byrd

Calvary -1.5 at Dunham

By the numbers

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

Final regular-season local standings vs. SBJ spread

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

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


Tuesday’s basketball scoreboard

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

JOURNAL STAFF

COLLEGE 

MEN

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

Decari Markray Classic

BPCC 106, SUSLA 89
Navarro 75, Delgado 54

WOMEN

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

HIGH SCHOOL 

Girls

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

Boys

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

Decari Markray Classic at BPCC

Doyline 62, Metairie Park Country Day 55


Prep soccer: High-caliber rematches, potential state finals battle

BEARKAT ATTACK:  Bossier’s Bearkats drive to the goal in a closely contested Week 1 match against The Willow School. (Photo courtesy Coach Orando Medelin, Bossier High School)

By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports 

The first week of high school soccer featured rematches of state finals and semifinals contests from last season, along with a potential state championship preview.

In Loyola’s Flyers Invitational, the Lady Flyers had a rematch of their DIII finals win over Archbishop Hannan, with the result being a little different. The teams played a physical and very evenly-matched game. Both teams had opportunities to score, but both defenses stood tall, resulting in a 0-0 tie. Loyola dropped a division so this rematch will not be seen this year.

Caddo Magnet girls faced Lakeshore in a rematch of the Lady Mustangs’ 6-0 semifinal loss. While missing three starting offensive players, the Lady Mustangs were forced to play a more defensive game. Lakeshore won 4-0, but the match played much closer then their state semis did. This match could easily be replayed next February.

The Bossier boys’ soccer team got out of its comfort zone in a big way by traveling to south Louisiana for a couple early games. They played DII Ben Franklin to a 2-2 tie last Friday. Saturday they matched up with fellow DIII contender The Willow School. It was a fast-paced, up-and-down physical game that answered only one question with the 0-0 tie. It showed both teams are very good and evenly matched, perhaps destined for a finals rematch.

Byrd’s Lady Jackets faced preseason state title favorite St. Scholastica Friday. Byrd was able to prove it fits in the conversation as a DI state contender by playing to a 0-0 tie with the Lady Doves.

The week for Parkway’s Lady Panthers was highlighted by a 2-0 victory over Baton Rouge High School. Both goals were scored by Cammie Dunn. Keeper Aubri Dupri had 51 saves in four games.

Captain Shreve’s girls travelled to Mississippi to play two games. Friday they beat Sumrall High School 4-0, but on Saturday morning losing to perennial power Biloxi High School 2-1. These games do not go into the LHSAA rankings but were very encouraging for the Lady Gators.

Benton’s girls started their season by winning Haughton’s Cranberry Classic, going 3-0.

The Loyola and Evangel boys hosted Episcopal of Acadiana, both losing by six to the Lafayette area school.

The Byrd boys traveled to Monroe to face Ouachita Parish (L 1-0) and West Monroe (L 3-0). Earlier in the week they topped Parkway 6-1. Parkway later beat Evangel 1-0.

Benton’s boys faced two strong teams, tying Alexandria 0-0 and falling 2-0 to Lafayette.

The Shreve boys beat Lafayette 2-1.

The local soccer scoreboard for Week 1:

Monday 11/14 Girls 

Loyola 4, Airline 2
Bossier 8, Huntington 3
Haughton 6, Northwood 0
Shreve 8, Ouachita Parish 0

Boys

Loyola 2, Northwood 1
Benton 0, Alexandria 0

Tuesday 11/15 Girls

Calvary 2, West Ouachita 1
North Caddo 3, Southwood 0
Airline 0, North Desoto 0

Boys

Magnet 3, Evangel 1
West Monroe 2, Bossier 1
Haughton 9, Southwood 1
Byrd 6, Parkway 1

Wednesday 11/16 Girls

Bossier 0, Northwood 0
Magnet 8, Evangel 2
West Monroe 1, Benton 0
Shreve 4, Alexandria 0

Boys

Parkway 1, Evangel 0
Ouachita Parish 4, Northwood 0

Thursday 11/17 Girls

Loyola 4, Parkway 0
Huntington 3, Wossman 1
Airline 2, Calvary 2
Benton 4, Minden 0
Haughton 2, Ruston 1

Boys

Haughton 4, Minden 0
Benton 8, Southwood 0
Byrd 5, Natchitoches Central 1
Shreve 7, North Desoto 1

Friday 11/18 Girls

Loyola 0, Hannan 0
Parkway 2, Baton Rouge 0
Lakeshore 4, Magnet 0
Byrd 0, St. Scholastica 0
Shreve 4, Sumrall Miss. 0

Boys

Episcopal-Acadiana 7, Loyola 1
Bossier 2, Ben Franklin 2
Shreve 2, Lafayette 1

Saturday 11/19 Girls

Benton 2, Calvary 0
Calvary 2, Northwood 0
Loyola 2, Baton Rouge 1
St. Scholastica 2, Loyola 1
Ruston 7, Bossier 1
Minden 4, Bossier 1
Hannan 5, Magnet 2
Airline 4, Minden 0
Haughton 2, Northwood 0
Northshore 6, Parkway 1
Lakeshore 3, Parkway 0
Benton 2, Haughton 0
Byrd 1, Hannan 0
Byrd 2, Northshore 0
Biloxi Miss. 2, Shreve 1
St. Thomas More 5, Magnet 1

Boys

Episcopal-Acadiana 6, Evangel 0
Bossier 0, The Willow School 0
Ouachita 1, Byrd 0
Lafayette 2, Benton 0
West Monroe 3, Byrd 0


Calvary ready for another deep run in the playoffs

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports 

(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 sbjharriet@gmail.com 


Quarterfinal Preview: Northwood at Brother Martin

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

If I am a college recruiter, I’m camping out at ancient Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans Friday night. There will be talent all over the place on both sides of the football in the state quarterfinal matchup between Northwood and Brother Martin in Division I-Select.

I have seen both teams play this year and last year. They are very talented but different in terms of strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t know much about Brother Martin High School, just know that if it wasn’t for Catholic High of Baton Rouge and the Bears’ recent dominance, the Crusaders would probably have three state titles in the past five years. During that time, Brother Martin has lost to Catholic in the playoffs, either in the quarterfinals or deeper.

Brother Martin has been part of the fabled Catholic League district in New Orleans for almost a century, and it’s one of the most successful programs.

Both teams have great quarterbacks. Both are seniors who played in many big games in the past three years.

Brother Martin’s triggerman is Clayton Lonardo, who at 6-3, 210 with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash was an all-district tight end last season. This kid is a D-I prospect all day but doesn’t get talked about much. Trust me: I’ve seen him several times in the past two seasons and he’s a big-time player.

Northwood counters with Mason Welch, who in my eyes is definitely a D-I QB, standing 6-4, weighing 220 pounds, but more mobile this fall than before. He also has been the QB for the Falcons so has an edge in experience at the position, and it shows week after week. He is a great leader for coach Austin Brown’s team.

The Falcons and Crusaders are very athletic on offense.

Brother Martin is led by WR Jordan West (5-8, 180, 4.5 speed with great agility), WR/TE Ray Lotten (6-5, 230, 4.6), WR Chase Dephillips (4.5 speed) and RB Sidney Harris (5-9, 205). Brother Martin star RB Torey Lambert, a prime recruit, has been hurt most of this year and it’s uncertain if he will play in this game or not; Lambert is 6-0, 210 with 4.5 speed if healthy.

Northwood counters in skill players with sure-handed WR Marc Denison, who has 4.55 speed at 6-0, 180. The Falcons have the best two-way player in Louisiana in Mar’Jayvious Moss (5-11, 180, 4.40 speed), and two running backs who both are tough to tackle and play some defense in Fabian Sanders and Quintavion White.

Both teams have great players on defense.

Brother Martin’s top hand is four-year starting DT Brendan Leblanc (6-1, 245, 4.9 speed).

The Crusaders’ MLB, Rylon Johnson (5-11, 220), has over 100 stops – he’s a tackling machine. Other standouts are LB Jadon Weber (6-0, 210), DT Dakota Berns (6-2, 255), LB Blake Ranlett (6-2, 190), and two great cornerbacks — Troy Santa Marina (5-11, 175, 4.5 speed) and Greg Jackson (5-10, 182, 4.5 speed).

Northwood has superstars on defense who include LB Jeremiah Reed, DT Ted Jamison (5-11, 303), DE Taderius Collins (a real playmaker at 6-4, 250), and DT Jamarion Kennedy (6-4, 300) who is among the best players on the team, I think. And of course, the Falcons are anchored by one of the best defensive backs in the country, Mr. Moss.

What will be the keys to this game? Northwood must score points with big plays and get turnovers to put the offense in the red zone — like they have been doing all year.

Brother Martin needs to put together long drives and wear down Northwood on defense. The Crusaders do have more depth and players, but the Falcons can win this game if they don’t turn the ball over, pick up some turnovers and don’t let the talented QB from Brother Martin beat them with his legs on third down. This kid can run and is a tough player to prepare for.

Brother Martin overall has more talent and more depth but as far as starting talent? It’s the best 22 in Louisiana at Northwood as far as college prospects, rivaled only by Catholic-BR, Edna Karr and Ruston.

I will take Northwood in an upset – not according to the seedings, but the eyeballs.

Although the Falcons are seeded No. 5 and Brother Martin, at 7-5, is seeded 13th, most prep pickers will expect the Crusaders to move on.

Even though the seedings favor Northwood, few will join me in picking the Falcons. 

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com


Monday’s basketball scoreboard

(Photo by LEE HILLER, Journal Sports)

JOURNAL STAFF

College

MEN

Faulkner 100, LSUS 88
LSU 77, Illinois State 61
Louisiana Tech 79, ULM 58

Decari Markray Classic at BPCC

BPCC 95, Delgado 94, OT
Navarro 120, SUSLA 90

WOMEN

Hendrix 77, Centenary 47

HIGH SCHOOLS 

Girls

Airline 56, Mansfield 12
Camden, Ark. 56, BTW 43
Captain Shreve 59, Winnfield 57
Conway, Ark. 78, Parkway 68
Glenbrook 40, Calvary 32
Haughton 59, Minden 39
Southwood 39, Ellender 36
Sterlington 41, Loyola 6
Woodlawn 40, Green Oaks 12

Boys

Bossier 67, Barbe 54
BTW 75, Magnolia Charter 32
Captain Shreve 58, Menard 40
Captain Shreve 54, Simsboro 36
Carroll 54, Bossier 52
Franklin Parish 66, Woodlawn 61
Green Oaks 60, Camden, Ark. 48
Lakeview 75, Airline 67
Loyola 57, West Ouachita 53
Red River 51, Byrd 40


The Lake, Lake, Lake, Lake, Lake Show powers Byrd

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Lake Lambert ripped off a 97-yard touchdown run 3 minutes into Byrd’s second-round playoff game against Alexandria on Friday night at Lee Hedges Stadium. 

And that was just the beginning. 

Subsequent scoring runs of 56, 19, 34 and 50 yards highlighted one incredible evening for the Yellow Jackets’ senior and his team, who eliminated the Trojans, 49-10.

“I don’t think (ASH) knew what he could do, obviously,” Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew said. “He was running up and down the field. I’m trying to talk to linebackers, then all of the sudden, it’s time for kickoff again. I don’t know what all he did, I didn’t see it all, but he was running up and down the field.”      

Lambert compiled 267 rushing yards on just eight carries.

“The job is not finished. I’d like a ring on my finger whenever we are talking about records,” Lambert said after posting the sixth-most rushing yards in a game in Byrd history.    

Pearce Russell, Benton

Was locked in one heck of a receiver duel with Denham Springs’ Camron Eirick (six catches, 158 yards, three TDs) on Friday night. Russell completed an incredible season with five catches for 154 yards – all receptions of at least 15 yards — and a touchdown.

On the year, Russell finished with 91 receptions for 1,691 yards. He scored 19 touchdowns. 

Abram Wardell, Calvary

The Cavaliers quarterback completed 18 of 23 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s 52-0 whitewashing of Northlake Christian on Friday.

Wardell found seven different receivers in the second-round playoff game and four different players for the touchdowns. 

Mason Welch, Northwood

The Falcons’ foray into the Select playoffs started with a bang. Welch set the tone with a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and, when Northwood needed to finish the job, added a 6-yard touchdown pass to Marc Dennison and another scoring run (4 yards) in the fourth quarter. 

Greg Manning, Benton

An absolute workhorse in Friday’s second-round game against Dunham Springs. Manning had 37 touches – 33 carries for 104 yards and three catches for 19 yards.

His 1-yard touchdown run marked his 33rd trip to the end zone of the season – 26 rushing, seven receiving. The junior completed his 2022 season with 1,445 rushing yards.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


LHSAA quarterfinal football playoff pairings

 (File photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)

JOURNAL STAFF

Thanksgiving week is the time of year many schools aspire to be practicing for its next game. Three of the Shreveport-Bossier Journal teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the LHSAA football playoffs.

All three schools will be making the trip to south Louisiana. In Select Division I No. 5 Northwood (9-2) will be in New Orleans to play Brother Martin (7-5). Sixth ranked Byrd (8-3) will also be in New Orleans to battle John Curtis (9-2), the No. 3 seed.

In Select Division III No. 5 Calvary (9-2) will be in Baton Rouge to play No. 4 Dunham (10-1).

Select 

Division I

8-Carencro (8-2) at 1-Warren Easton (10-1)

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

6-Byrd (8-3) at 3-John Curtis (9-2)

7-Karr (7-3) at 2-Catholic-BR (10-1)

Division II

8-Madison Prep (8-3) at 1-St. Thomas More (10-1)

5-John F. Kennedy (10-1) at 4-E.D. White (10-1)

6-Lafayette Christian (8-3) at 3-De La Salle (11-0)

7-Shaw (9-2) at 2-Tuerlings (10-1)

Division III

8-University (8-3) at 1-Newman (8-2)

5-Calvary (9-2) at 4-Dunham (10-1)

6-Episcopal (10-1) at 3-Notre Dame (9-2)

2-St. Charles (8-3) at 10-Parkview Baptist (10-2) 

Division IV

1-Vermilion Catholic (11-0) at 9-Southern Lab (8-3)

5-St. Mary’s (9-1) at 4-St. Martin’s Episcopal (10-1)

6-Glenbrook (11-0) at 3-Ouachita Christian (10-1)

15-Opelousas Catholic (9-3) at 10-Ascension Catholic (10-2)

Non-Select 

Division I

1-Ruston (10-1) at 9-Denham Springs (10-2)

5-Zachary (8-2) at 4-Southside (10-1)

3-Destrehan (11-0) at 11-East St. John (10-2)

2-Neville (8-2) at 10-Westgate (9-3)

Division II

1-Iowa (10-1) at 9-Leesville (10-2)

4-North DeSoto (10-1) at 28-Breaux Bridge (6-6)

6-Lutcher (11-1) at 14-Lakeshore (10-2)

2-West Feliciana (11-0) at 23-North Vermilion (6-6)

Division III

1-Many (10-0) at 9-Rosepine (10-2)

4-St. James (9-2) at 5-Avoyelles (9-3)

3-Union Parish (10-1) at 11-Patterson (8-4)

7-Amite (9-3) at 18-Berwick (8-4)

Division IV

8-Oak Grove (9-3) at 1-Kentwood (10-1)

5-Haynesville (10-2) at 4-Basile (10-1)

3-Mangham (9-1) at 11-Arcadia (9-3)

7-Logansport (9-3) at 2-Homer (8-3)


Bad timing: Denham Springs stuns Benton at buzzer

RIDE OF HIS LIFE:  Friday’s hero, kicker Caleb LeBlanc (48) lifted his Denham Springs Yellow Jackets to an improbable victory at Benton. (Image courtesy Denham Springs TV)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports 

In the final minute of Benton’s Division I Non-Select second-round playoff game against Denham Springs, fireworks lit up Tiger Stadium to celebrate a victory by the home team and a spot in the quarterfinals.

One problem.

Benton didn’t win.

Denham did, 29-28, thanks to an ending that will be bitterly remembered by the Tigers and treasured by the Yellow Jackets.

With a two-point edge and the ball at Denham Springs’ 49, the Tigers looked to be in good position. However, Benton got a little too cute and then, in its mind, gypped by the referees.

On fourth down with a running clock, Benton knelt on its 13-yard line and thought it punched a ticket to the quarters. However, after the play, the scoreboard still displayed 0.6 seconds. Denham Springs’ Caleb LeBlanc, who struggled all season, subsequently kicked a 30-yard field goal to put a cap on one of the most stunning finishes you’ll see at a sporting event.

“We just got cheated out of a football game,” said Benton coach Reynolds Moore, who bolted toward the officiating crew and unleashed a tirade after the ball went through the uprights. “They told me to snap it at 1 (second left), we snapped it at 1. I didn’t call time out because both officials said, ‘Coach you’re good, snap it at 1,’ and so we did and then (the LHSAA clock operator) up in the freaking press box stops it and cheats my guys out of a game.”

A field goal should have never been in play. On third down, Benton’s Pearce Russell attempted to run around and waste time before taking a knee. However, a handful of penalty flags were thrown for multiple holding violations.

Suddenly, the Tigers were backed up and still had to kneel twice in the final 42 seconds. They did, but didn’t completely erase the clock.

“That was a wild sequence of events,” Yellow Jackets head coach Brett Beard said. “I knew there was going to be a shot with some time and we did a good job to try to make it happen. The game is never over until the clock strikes zero – that’s something you teach these kids and these coaches. Everyone has to know this game must be played for 48 minutes.”

Getting the opportunity to kick was a miracle. Making it may have been, too.

“(Our kicking game) — it’s been bad,” Beard said. “(Caleb) has made some good kicks, but he hasn’t had a chance to make any big kicks. At that point, that’s all you have. You say, ‘Kid, everything can be deleted from the year when you make this kick,’ and he came through.”

LeBlanc is a Louisiana Christian University commit who put his struggles behind him and couldn’t have picked a better time to nail his longest field goal of the season.

“When I heard Coach scream for the field goal unit I kind of just froze in the moment and realized I’ve been waiting on this moment my entire high school career,” LeBlanc said. “I walked out confident and remembered everything I’ve been taught.

“All you have to do is believe in yourself. I won’t forget this night any time soon. This is the best night ever.”

Denham Springs (10-2) moves on to play host to Ruston in the quarterfinals.

“(If the refs don’t tell me we’re good), we call timeout and we get things settled,” Moore said. “We do what we did (on the first third down) and have Pearce run around for a minute and fall down. They told me, ‘Coach, don’t worry about it,’ and then pulled that crap.

“It’s the worst officiating I’ve seen. They cheated my guys out of a game. They can do whatever they want. My guys just got hosed and that’s bull crap.”

The loss spoiled what had been a stellar effort from Benton’s defense, at least for the first 41 minutes.

“The defense played phenomenal all night,” Moore said. “This is the best ever we’ve seen from them and the offense just didn’t get it done. We just couldn’t get a first down, couldn’t do anything.”

A 1-yard touchdown run by Greg Manning gave Benton (8-4) a 28-14 lead with 5:16 left in the game. Denham Springs needed just two plays to answer as Camron Eirick hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass — his second of three on the night — from Reese Mooney, but the Yellow Jackets missed the extra point.

Denham Springs recovered an onside kick and scored again four plays later – a 46-yard connection between Mooney and Eirick. The 2-point conversion failed with 3:59 left.

After forcing Benton into a three-and-out, Denham Springs’ hopes appeared to be extinguished when it failed on fourth down near midfield. However, the Tigers failed to close the door. Instead they let the Yellow Jackets get into field goal position and were foiled by a final-minute calamity and a trigger finger.

“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Beard said.

Eirick had six catches for 158 yards, while Mooney completed 16 of 34 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns.

Manning finished with 103 yards on 34 carries. His team didn’t trail until the final gun and led for more than 40 minutes.

Friday’s controversy signaled a not-so-fitting end for Tigers seniors, like quarterback Gray Walters (9-of-21 passing for 184 yards and a touchdown) and Russell (five catches for 154 yards).

“I’m trying to tell the officials, ‘You’re taking this away from (the seniors) and they don’t get another shot.’ This is a playoff football game, this is not Week 8 or Week 9,” Moore said. “You can’t blow this, and they blew it.”

 Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com

Denham Springs 29, Benton 28

D. Springs | 0 | 7 | 7 | 15 | – 29

Benton | 14 | 7 | 0 | 7 | – 28

Scoring summary

B-Gray Walters 14 run (Peyton May kick)

B-Pearce Russell 38 pass from Walters (May kick)

D-Camron Eirick 15 pass from Reese Mooney (Caleb LeBlanc kick)

B-Andy Lim 5 pass from Walters (May kick)

D-Eirick 33 pass from Mooney (LeBlanc kick)

B-Greg Manning 1 run (May kick)

D-Micah Harrison 49 pass from Mooney (kick blocked)

D-Eirick 46 pass from Mooney (pass failed)

D-LeBlanc 30 field goal

Individual statistics 

Rushing 

Denham Springs – Ray McKneely 13-34, Cam Kelly 9-34, Micah Harrison 3-27, Jerry Horne 1-1, , Mooney 2-1. 

Benton – Greg Manning 33-104, Gray Walters 6-36, Landon Duggan 1-0, Team 1-(-31). 

Passing 

Denham Springs – Reese Mooney 16-34-0-326; Horne 4-7-0-(minus-4). 

Benton – Walters 9-21-0-184.  

Receiving 

Denham Springs – Camron Eirick 6-158, Harrison 6-77, McNeely 3-36, Andrew Goodwin 1-1, Rylan Hyatt 1-15, Seth Bishop 1-8, Maison Vorise 1-8. 

Benton – Pearce Russell 5-154, Manning 3-19, Andy Lim 2-11.


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)

By HARRIET PROTHRO 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. 

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

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 

Rushing  

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. 

Passing 

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. 

Receiving 

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.


Byrd puts exclamation point on question mark, smokes ASH

NIGHT AT THE RACES:  Byrd quarterback Lake Lambert found room to run Friday night, and covered plenty of ground. (Photo by APRIL JOHNSON, Journal Sports)

By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports

The Big Question heading into C.E. Byrd’s regional playoff game against visiting Alexandria Senior High was whether or not the Yellow Jackets would be able to move the football against the Trojans’ big defensive front. 

Byrd quarterback Lake Lambert answered the question in the game’s first three minutes when he raced 97 yards for the second-longest touchdown run in school history, on Byrd’s first possession of the game.      

It was only the beginning for Lambert, who finished with one of the most prolific nights in school history. He finished with 267 yards on eight carries and scored five touchdowns to lead the Yellow Jackets, 8-3 and seeded sixth in Select Division I, to a 49-10 win over No. 22-seeded ASH, which finished its season 5-7.    

“It was our great offensive line,” Lambert said of his performance running the football. “Great blocking by our wingbacks and receivers. That’s on them. I didn’t get touched on a couple of those because we had great blocking down the field. Great blocking at the second level. I think that was a difference maker in this game.”        

The Lake Show at Lee Hedges Stadium ranks No. 6 all-time in single-game rushing in Byrd football history, the best-ever by a quarterback.       

Lambert wouldn’t entertain any questions about his name in the school record books.

“We can talk about records when the season is over,” Lambert said. “The job is not finished. I’d like a ring on my finger whenever we are talking about records.”       

Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew thinks his quarterback caught the Trojans off guard.     

“I don’t think they knew what he could do, obviously,” Ballew said. “He was running up and down the field. I’m trying to talk to linebackers, then all of the sudden, it’s time for kickoff again. I don’t know what all he did, I didn’t see it all, but he was running up and down the field.”      

As a whole, Byrd’s offense finished with 475 yards rushing. It’s the fourth-highest rushing total in school history.       

The game was not as close as the score indicated.       

Byrd led 35-0 at halftime.    

After his first touchdown run of the night, Lambert added three touchdowns in the second quarter on runs of 56, 19, and 34 yards.       

Byrd’s other score in the first half came in the second quarter on Tyler Nichols’ 10-yard touchdown run.      

Alexandria’s first points, a 25-yard field goal by Bodie Van Dyke, came early in the third quarter after Byrd’s only miscue of the night, a fumble on a pitch play from Lambert to Malachi Johnson on the first offensive play of the second half.      

Lambert answered ASH’s field goal with his fifth and final touchdown run of the night, a 50-yarder. 

Byrd fullback Devon Strickland got in the act with a 68-yard run — Byrd’s final score of the night — with 3:37 left in the third quarter. 

Byrd kicker Abram Murray was a perfect 7-for-7 on all of his point-after attempts.      

ASH’s J.T. Lindsey scored the Trojans’ only touchdown on a 42-yard run with 2:49 left in the game.       

“The kids came out and I think they missed not playing last week,” Ballew said. “They want to play. They’re competitors. They were ready to go, and we did everything right tonight. We didn’t get a bunch of penalties. We had one turnover. We got fourth-down stops. Two interceptions. Our kids played their butts off, and our coaches did a good job getting them in position. I’m proud of our kids, they deserve it.”      

Defensively, Byrd was led by All-City linebacker Brooks Brossette, who had eight tackles. Three Purple Swarm defenders – Isaiha Ford, Christian Jones, and Ben Martinson – had seven tackles each. Jones had an interception, as did cornerback LaMichael Taylor.

Taylor returned his interception for a touchdown, but it was called back on an illegal block, which had no influence on the play.   

“Good teams are going to go out there and punch the other team in the mouth and the other team is not going to respond,” Brossette said. “I think that’s what happened tonight. We got them from the get-go and they never wanted to get back in. Every game we play in, we expect to win by a reasonable amount. This game, we just came together. That’s what we can do.”         

What the Jackets will do next is prepare to go on the road for the quarterfinals and play John Curtis in River Ridge on Black Friday. The Patriots defeated Jesuit Friday, 35-7.   

“I’ve said from day one, we want to be practicing during Thanksgiving,” Ballew said. “When you get to practice during Thanksgiving, that’s something special. You’re always going to remember that as a player. As coaches, we love having that week where we do more football than we usually do. It’s always a special week.”     

Contact Jerry at sbjjerrybyrd@gmail.com  

Byrd 49, ASH 10 

Score by quarters

Byrd | 14 | 21 | 14 | 0 | – 49

ASH | 0 | 0 | 3 | 7 | – 10

Scoring summary

B – Lake Lambert 97 run (Abram Murray kick)

B – Tyler Nichols 10 run (Murray kick)

B – Lambert 56 run (Murray kick)

B – Lambert 19 run (Murray kick)

B – Lambert 34 run (Murray kick)

A – Brodie Van Dyke 25 FG

B – Lambert 50 run (Murray kick)

B – Devon Strickland 68 run (Murray kick)

A – J.T. Lindsey 42 run (Channing Meche kick)

Individual leaders 

Rushing 

ASH (32-216) – Cunningham 24-149, Lindsey 4-60, Mingo 1-6, Bordelon 1-4. 

Byrd (41-475)– Lambert 8-267, Strickland 4-87, Simmons 5-61, Nichols 4-44.

Passing 

ASH – Bordelon 12-21-2-131.

Byrd – Lambert 0-2-0.

Receiving 

ASH – Mingo 7-46, Johnson 3-60, Cunningham 2-25.