Brossette, Byrd tackle Alexandria in playoffs, Round 2

BYRD BRAINS:  Dynamic senior linebacker Brooks Brossette confers with Yellow Jackets coach Stacy Ballew in the season opener. (Photo by APRIL JOHNSON, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports 

Most football folk will tell you it’s a simple game, really: block and tackle.

Brooks Brossette, a senior linebacker who’ll finish his career in the Top 4 on the all-time career tackles list at C.E. Byrd, talks as if he believes that.

The secret to tackling people?

“Hit ’em hard as you can,” he said. “Wrap up.”

And there you go. Not rocket science. Just basic football science.

Brossette and his buddies will have plenty of chances to practice tackling tonight at 7 at Lee Hedges Stadium when the No. 6-seed Yellow Jackets, 7-3, face No.22-seed Alexandria Senior High, 5-6, in the regional round of LHSAA’s Select Division I Playoffs.

“They’ll try to run off-tackle against us, gut plays, try to establish that early,” Brossette said. “If we can shut that down and get our offense on the field, we’ll be good.”

Brossette knows something about good, as his 204 career tackles illustrate. This season, he leads Byrd with 16 tackles for loss, six more than he got last year when the Yellow Jackets went 9-2 and he became not only a starter, but an All City and All District selection.

“Salt-of-the-earth kid,” Jerry Byrd, former Byrd and Louisiana Tech lineman and current Byrd High assistant principal, said. “A leader. All his teammates love him. And not just in football, but baseball too.”

Byrd’s football linebacker is also Byrd’s baseball centerfielder.

“He makes plays that coming off the bat you think, ‘That’s in the gap and will be extra bases,’” said “Voice of the Yellow Jackets” Charlie Cavell. “Then the next thing you know, there’s Brooks, running it down and making some spectacular diving catch and you just shake your head, smile and say, ‘I’m sure glad he’s on our team.’”

And that’s the secret, besides hitting hard and wrapping up: speed. Brossette has it.

“Speed, his instincts and the intense competitive edge he plays with,” Cavell said. “That’s what separates him from being a good high school player to being a great one. He has that intangible drive that all great linebackers have.”

While on the subject of intangibles, don’t let the 5-6 ASH record deceive: three of ASH’s six losses came to two No. 1 seeds (Ruston and St. Thomas More) and a No. 8 seed (Carencro). ASH’s playoff win against No. 11-seed McKinley was a taking-candy-from-a-baby 42-0.

Tonight’s challenge for Byrd includes being successful running against a stout Trojan defensive front and containing an ASH team that has a formidable passing game led by quarterback Joe Bordelon. Byrd faltered against high-powered passing attacks in the regular season. See losses to Benton (68-28) and Airline (48-28).

And keep in mind that ASH’s head coach is Thomas Bachman, who coached pass-happy Evangel to a state championship. Brossette and his teammates would do well to keep Bordelon uncomfortable if Byrd head coach and Yellow Jacket lifer Stacy Ballew, in his second year as head coach and his 26th at the school, is to get his first playoff win as head man.

If things get really dicey, Ballew could always put his All-City linebacker in at the only other position Brossette would like to play.

“Running back, scoring touchdowns,” Brossette said. “I should have asked (Ballew) a couple of games ago. But he wouldn’t let me now. I think he likes me at linebacker too much.” 

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22-Alexandria (5-6) at 6-Byrd (7-3) 

Where: Lee Hedges Stadium

Series: First meeting 

Last week: Alexandria beat McKinley 42-0; Byrd had a bye 

Rankings: none 

All-time playoff record: Alexandria 13-30; Byrd 33-31-2 

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

Notables: This is the first-ever meeting between C.E. Byrd and ASH … Both Byrd and ASH played in the 2020 LHSAA State Championships in Natchitoches. Byrd lost to Catholic before the Jackets ended up with the trophy when the Bears were forced to forfeit several games including their 35-12 win against the Jackets. Acadiana beat ASH 35-34 in an overtime thriller … After losing 45-14 in their second-round playoff game to Brother Martin in 2021, Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew is looking for his first playoff win since taking over the program. 

What’s over’s a new start for Vikings

After going 1-9 last season, Airline went 7-4 this fall and made a clean 7-0 sweep of District 1-5A, a success by any measuring stick, but especially by measuring one win against seven — an improvement of 700 percent.

Or maybe 600 percent. You do the math. (Seriously, you do it because I don’t know how and am not going to. I know 7 > 1, though, and in Airline’s case, a whole lot greater.)

After last season’s disaster and a 3-4 record during the football-forgettable COVID Autumn of 2020, the Vikings were basically grounded, spear-less and sword-less and plunder poor.

“Football’s always been fun,” said Viking senior linebacker Tyler Bullard, who started playing organized football around kindergarten on a team called the Dragons when, he said, his pads were bigger than he was. “Since I can remember, it’s been fun. Well, maybe it wasn’t last year. Or the year before, everything going on those two years.  Plus, I was out with an MCL all last year. On my freshman team our offense wasn’t very good so … it was fun, but let’s just say we weren’t the best.”

This year, in the regular season, the Vikings were. Started 0-3, then ran the demanding 1-5A table.

“100 percent fun and we all knew, even at the first, it was a big improvement over last year,” said Bullard, who might well be the “H” and the “S” in High School football. Good grades, good high school player, leader on the field. Not going to be a college player, but was going to be every bit of a high school player.

“We were in all the games,” he said. “Even in the first game (a 46-21 loss to North DeSoto), we scored 21 points with eight turnovers. We knew we could win; we just had to finish. Then after the Byrd game (a 48-28 win that pushed Airline’s district record to 5-0), things got real. ‘Wow,’ we thought, ‘we can do something here.”’

They did. Airline averaged nearly 50 points a game in district, never scored less than 41 and scored 75 against Benton. The Vikings were back in the plundering business.

Then another kind of pirate, the Haughton Bucs, ended it all with a 36-26 win at Airline in the first round of the playoffs last week; Airline won the regular season game, 55-42, the closest 1-5A game Airline played. But then there was the rain last Friday and the wind, and there was also the hurricane called Haughton, a tough team that plays in Round 2 this Friday.

“I told the team it was my fault that it ended,” said Airline first-year head coach Justin Scogin, who orchestrated the turnaround since his arrival in April. “All year long, some problem would happen and we’d fix it. I didn’t get that (factoring in the weather) fixed in time. But the team, they didn’t do anything wrong. What a good group. These seniors laid the foundation for what we’re trying to do, and what they accomplished is important and impressive.”

“That playoff loss put a bad taste in the mouths of the kids we have coming back,” said defensive coordinator Zack Pourciau who, like Scogin, came to the school in the spring. “They want to be better next year, to take the next step.  We’re pleased with where we went, but these seniors, after coming off a 1-9 season to winning district, to being district champs, they’ve told the team that now we know that next year, they can take it to the next level. Again, that’s the seniors talking; that’s the vibe of the locker room.

“Even though they’ve turned it around, the kids coming back have something to prove,” he said. “They’re itching and ready to go. We’ve hit the ground running with off-season.”

Bullard is one of those seniors who’ll be watching next year. And remembering. He’s played his last game, except in his memory, except in how he’ll “play” through what his teammates do next season.

“Being in the off-season competing every day and working out,” he said of what he’ll likely most remember. “Calling a guy slow when you beat him outside in a rep. Max Day and seeing who could out-squat or out-power clean the other guy. Just the competition and the fun …

“Playing with the boys, having fun with them, having a great senior year with them, seeing some of the crazy things we did on offense, things I’ve always wanted to see … Just having fun. Just watching all these guys succeed, and being a part of it.” 

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Haughton at Airline, Round 2: Winner-Take-All

SPECIAL VIKINGS:  Overlooked in Airline’s seven-game win streak has been special teams play, like the punt return team.  (File photo courtesy of JENNIFER ENGLEKE)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Haven’t we seen this before?

Well, yes — and probably no.

District 1-5A cousins Haughton (5-5, 3-4) and Airline (7-3, 7-0) go at it again tonight at 7, a first-round Non-Select Division I playoff game at M.D. Ray Field at Airline High Stadium. Some people are old enough to remember when these two teams played before — a whole 29 days ago.

Airline won it, 55-42, the closest winning margin in the Vikings’ 7-0 district sweep and turnaround from last year’s 1-9 season. That first meeting on Oct. 13, a Thursday night, was closer than the final 13-point gap: Airline led 27-21 at the half and also by just six early in the fourth quarter.

But in reality, and in metaphor, this is a whole new ballgame.

The Vikings eventually overwhelmed the Bucs in mid-October with speed and were “a little faster getting to the edge than we were prepared for,” Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton said.

“We’re going to try some different things (tonight), some different personnel: you’d be crazy to give up 55 points to a team and play them a second time the exact way.

“Will that be a magic formula?” he said. “I doubt it. But hopefully we can get enough stops to give ourselves a chance to outscore them, because I don’t think you can shut them down; they’re too talented on offense. But if we can get a couple of turnovers and make them punt a couple of times, I think we’ll be right there.”

Like Airline, Haughton can play offense too, but in a much different way. Senior backfield mates Colin Rains and Tyler Rhodes are a bruising 1-2 punch: among SBJ-area teams, quarterback Rains is seventh in passing yardage and in the top 20 in rushing yardage, while Rhodes is second in rushing yardage.

“The biggest thing with Haughton is that duo; they’re really good,” Airline defensive coordinator Zack Pourciau said. “And they’re able to do just enough in the passing game to hurt you.”

In the first meeting, the Bucs had a pair of wideouts with more than 100 yards each receiving in Jalen Lewis (6-158) and Rashard Douglas (3-101).

Airline likes to play fast and, with all that talent in all the skill positions, there’s little reason not to.

“We knew we’d be solid at the skill spots on offense,” Pourciau said of preseason expectations. “I think the surprise has been on the offensive and defensive lines, defense for sure because we’re so undersized compared to who we play against. We’ve got to use our speed to slant and move and that’s what we’ve done; we haven’t gotten pushed around like I thought we might.”

After an 0-3 start, the Vikings are the ones doing the pushing. Pourciau, in his first year at Airline, and head coach Justin Scogin, the Vikes’ rookie head coach, figured in preseason that 7-3 would be about right.

“Felt we’d start slow and then get better,” Pourciau said. “We might have gotten here in a little different way than we thought. Justin said at the beginning to give him three games to get the offensive going; he definitely didn’t lie about that.

“We’re still battling with some guys, still getting things figured out. But they’re steadily learning and we’ve been winning and it’s been fun for sure.”

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27-Haughton (5-5) at 6-Airline (7-3) 

Where: M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium 

Series: Airline 27-12 

Last week: Haughton lost to Captain Shreve 42-7; Airline beat Southwood 42-14 

Rankings: Haughton is 10th in Shreveport-Bossier Journal Top 10 poll; Airline is No. 1 in Journal Top 10, and 10th in the LSWA’s Class 5A Top 10 statewide poll 

Radio: Airline (Miracle, 89.1 FM, 

Notables: Fighting through some defensive injuries, the Bucs have lost three of their last four games, all in bruising District 1-5A … LB Conner Blank is second among SBJ-area teams in tackles with 113 … Senior RB Tyler Rhodes is second in rushing yardage with 1,079 and 15 TDs on 169 carries … Senior QB Colin Rains is seventh in passing yardage with 1,639 (104-171-5, 16 TDs) and is in the Top 20 among area rushers … The mid-October loss to Airline wasn’t decided until late: midway through the final quarter with Haughton trailing 48-35, Bucs senior receiver John Ecot slipped a yard short of a first down on a fourth-down play; Airline then scored and Haughton went on a 9-play, 80-yard drive to close out the scoring.

Vikes’ sophomore QB Ben Taylor leads SBJ-area teams in passing yardage with 2,730 … He’s also thrown 34 TDs … Senior receiver Daxton Chavez is first in TDs caught with 18, third in receiving yardage with 1,044, and fourth in number of receptions (50) … Cam Jefferson is third in number of receptions (53 for 627 yards and 5 TDs) … Junior RB Tre Jackson is seventh in total catches (41 for 442 yards and 6 TDs), and he’s also eighth in rushing yards (670 and 13 TDs on 104 carries) … In Airline’s 55-42 win over Haughton Oct. 13 at Airline, Jackson scored six TDs, five rushing — the longest was from 8 yards out — and one on a 28-yard pass play … Taylor was an efficient 24-31-1 for 314 yards and 3 TDs.

A loss that pierces

Every note Jerry Pierce wrote me I kept because he was Jerry Pierce and I was just me and I always loved his company, even if it was just through words on a page. It wasn’t like being with him — nothing was quite like being with the man most guys called “Pierce” — but it was like being within his gravitational pull, and that was enough.

An idol of mine, Jerry Pierce became ill last week and passed away Tuesday. That hurts me.

Hurts a lot of people. Our world is less when laughter leaves it.

If you didn’t know him, you’re either not involved with Northwestern State in Natchitoches, where he’s “worked” since 1965 as an administrator and bona fide goodwill ambassador, or you’re not deeply involved in Louisiana sports — and if you’re not that is definitely OK because while there’s a lot of good in athletics there’s some bad too, but the bad is worth putting up with because of guys like Pierce, let me please tell you.

In brief, I was crazy about him. Met him when I was a young sportswriter and loved the guy. He was at heart an old-school newspaper wretch at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans who moved into sports information at NSU and then into administration, all the while a Johnny Appleseed of encouragement and wit, and a guy who, in our sports-rich state, began the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame from scratch 50 years ago, something that’s grown into sort of a big deal, as the museum on Front Street in Natchitoches suggests.

He was supposed to host a 50th Anniversary at the Hall last Thursday night, an informal get-together for whoever wanted to come, a casual history lesson that would have turned into a Q&A and a standup routine, all unrehearsed, Pierce at the wheel. That’s the safe bet, though we’ll never know because instead, on that Thursday evening, he was in the hospital, given no chance at that point to make it much longer, and still he was telling a friend how much fun it had all been.

When we heard he’d been feeling suddenly a little down with flu symptoms and Thursday’s event would have to be delayed until spring, I was disappointed one minute and happy the next because, hey, it was another fun thing to look forward to in the spring. I’ll laugh in the spring.

Then the bad parts came and it was all so sudden and totally unexpected and messed up. Just all messed up, if you ask me.

But … none of us are promised spring. Just like ball, life has rules, and that’s one of them.

Pierce knew that, so he lived in the springtime most every day.

He was the best emcee I’ve ever seen or heard, and no telling how many times — literally hundreds — he was called on for that slippery chore.

Once an inductee went long on an acceptance speech at a Hall of Fame Saturday night induction ceremony, so from the lectern he looked at me with a straight face and said, to everyone, “Teddy, it’s a good thing we didn’t give him the Pulitzer or we’d have been here ’til Tuesday.”

The room exploded. Crisis averted. On with the show.

I once sent him a disastrously long email to answer in great detail a question he had and he wrote back, “Many thanks. I have a vacation coming up in July and will try to respond then to your very thorough email.”

He followed that up a week later with, “Haven’t gotten to that information you were kind enough to send but I plan to read it right after I finish my Briggs and Stratton maintenance manual.”

He once left the Louisiana Tech president comp tickets for a Northwestern State basketball game; they were on the top row of Prather Coliseum, as far away from the court as you could get and still be inside.

The most recent note he wrote to me was in August and ended with “Love you.” I knew he did, but he’d never written it. Through the years I got bushels of encouraging notes from him. Funny that he would have closed as he did, the final note from him I’ll ever get.

He was a tremendous writer. One of my favorite columns was about his little granddaughters and the tests he would give them during car rides and bike rides and on school breaks. Almost every visit, one of them would say, “Ask us some questions.”

“What’s the name of the river where Jesus was baptized?” Brief silence. Then Charlee, only 5, says, “The Holy Nightwater.” (“She makes up some of her answers,” Jerry wrote about this girl comedian who is no doubt the granddaughter of the grandfather.)

More from Pierce. “What country is most identified with kangaroos?” One of the girls blurted, “Georgia!”

“Who invented the airplane?” Big sis Allie was excited. “I read about it in school! It’s Chris Walker,” she said.

Granddaddy Jerry had to tell her it was the Wright Brothers. “Right,” she said. “Chris Walker Wright. He was their cousin.”

Must be something in the water this family is drinking …

Here’s another question for you, Allie and Charlee: Who’s a guy who could totally command a room, who could calmly or not-so-calmly defuse the most heated situation, who could encourage you on your worst day, a guy who, right after you saw him, you always felt better than you did before?

Answer: your granddaddy. He was tried and true, and like you, we miss him, desperately, already.

Love you.

Contact Teddy at

Shreve tortures, torches Haughton

STARTING THE PARTY:  Jamarlon Otis breaks loose for Captain Shreve’s first touchdown Friday night in a surprising domination of Haughton.  (Photo by KEVIN PICKENS, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Captain Shreve’s 42-7 undressing of Haughton Friday night wasn’t like watching a TKO as much as it was like watching the winners stretch the losers out on a primitive torture rack and gradually turn the wheel.

Death, slowly but surely.

Haughton could never get up and resurgent Shreve, high as the threatening clouds that moved in over Lee Hedges Stadium in the second half of a game that started at 5:30 to dodge weather, would never come down.

The Gators, who’ll see where they’ve landed in the playoff picture when the brackets are released Sunday morning at 10, have now won two of their last three, the loss a 22-21 setback against high-flying Benton last week. The Tigers came into the game averaging 55 points and had been held to less than 400 yards in only one contest; Shreve, 5-5 overall and 2-5 in District 1-5A after Friday’s regular-season finale, held them to three touchdowns and 250 yards.

Against Haughton, the Gators defense seemed never to be out of position, stacking the box, playing tight coverage, hardly allowing the Bucs to breathe. Haughton could manage just 217 yards, 67 passing and a bruising 150 on the ground.

The Bucs, 5-5, 3-4, will find out Sunday if their 25-years playoff streak is either extended, or ended.

“They whipped us up front, on both sides of the ball,” Haughton coach Jason Brotherton said. “I didn’t think it’d be like that. We’ve been able to hold our own up front every game other than Many (a 35-3 loss). We knew they were talented and thought before the season they could win district. We knew they were getting back to full strength (after some midseason injuries). But I still didn’t think it would be that big of a mismatch up front.”

Shreve coach Adam Kirby said it was as physical as his team has played all year—and just in the nick of time.

“I told our team the challenge tonight would be, ‘Can we be the more physical team?’” the rookie head coach said. “I wanted to make sure we set the tempo early and got it going. To the kids’ credit, they took it personal. They wanted to send a statement heading into the playoffs; that’s just what they did.”

The Gators won the toss and elected to receive, a wise call since sophomore running back Jamarlon Otis ran off right tackle and was never touched on his way down the west sideline and into the south end zone for a 76-yard touchdown. The kick from senior John Chance was good; he was a perfect 5-for-5 on PAT’s, and sophomore Zane Wyss nailed the final one when Shreve scored its sixth touchdown with substitutes and 1:07 left to play.

In between, the two teams played a first half that settled little. What probably determined the game was what happened between 3:02 left in the second quarter and 4:02 left in the third.

Following a Haughton punt and one of Shreve’s 11 penalties (for 110 yards), the Gators rallied for a first down from an unfavorable first-and-26 from its own 16. Shreve got a rush from Jayden Edwards for four yards, a scramble from quarterback Kenyon Terrell for 13, then Terrell hit Edwards in the flat for a first-and-10 near midfield.

Next came the killer, a Terrell pass to Keaton Flowers on a crossing route for 49 yards to the Haughton 4. On first-and-goal, Terrell found Flowers all alone for the score and a 14-0 lead.

With 1:28 left in the half, Haughton drove from its own 20 to a fourth-and-9 at the Gator 29 but couldn’t convert. 14-0 Shreve at the half.

Haughton started the second half with the ball at midfield after a pooch kick and Shreve penalty, but the Gators forced a three-and-out and the offense put together an 80-yard, 14-play drive that ended with junior wideout Jordan Wiggins rushing from 16 yards out and spinning into the end zone for a 21-0 lead that seemed to break the Bucs with 4:02 left in the third.

That final Haughton first-half drive that ended on a fourth-down stop by Shreve was one of three fourth-down chances the Bucs couldn’t make good on; one was a fourth-and-one that turned into a fourth-and-six and punt attempt after a procedure penalty. A bad snap then gave Shreve a first down on the Buc 21 and led to the fifth TD of the night, a Terrell keeper from 8 yards out, to make it 35-0 early in the final quarter.

Too many little things added up to too many big things for the Bucs to overcome on a night that belonged to the Gators.

“We were in the game in the first half,” Brotherton said. “We had some misreads and we dropped a crossing route we maybe score on to make it 7-7. We had our chances. If we get any of those plays early, the whole game might be different.”

Instead, the Gators racked up 463 yards — 98 passing, 365 rushing — then crowd-surfed their first-year head coach above the home field turf only a few minutes after the final horn.

“Meant the world to me,” Kirby said. “Been a long year for all of us. But these kids, they’re still fighting.” 

Contact Teddy at

Captain Shreve 42, Haughton 7

Score by quarters

Haughton | 0 | 0 | 0 | 7 | – 7

Shreve | 7 | 7 | 14 | 14 | – 42

Scoring summary

CS – Jamarlon Otis 76 run (John Chance kick)

CS – Keaton Flowers 4 pass from Kenyon Terrell (Chance kick)

CS – Jordan Wiggins 16 run (Chance kick)

CS – Jayden Edwards 21 run (Chance kick)

CS – Terrell 8 run (Chance kick)

H – Rashard Douglas 17 pass from Colin Rains (Carter Ebarb kick)

CS – Javen Thomas 2 run (Zane Wyss kick)

Individual leaders


Haughton – Tyler Rhodes 18-66, Colin Rains 8-25, Davontay Moss 4-23, Jamarion Montgomery 1-22, John Ecot 3-7, Rashard Douglas 1-5, Marlon Montgomery 1-2. 

Captain Shreve – Otis 10-115, Edwards 15-96, Terrell 9-80, Thomas 2-34, Wiggins 1-16, Scotty Simo 3-14, Brodie Savage 1-8, Flowers 1-2. 


Haughton – Rains 7-19-0-67. 

Captain Shreve – Terrell 7-8-0-98.


Haughton – Jalen Lewis 2-24, Douglas 1-17, Jam. Montgomery 2-15, Ecot 2-11. 

Captain Shreve – Flowers 4-68, Edwards 1-14, cam Wilson 1-9, JT Hester 1-6.

LA Tech’s Bruno cookin’ up a ‘dream come true’

LET THE BIG DOG EAT: Redshirt freshman and C.E. Byrd grad Carson Bruno is chomping up this college football stuff, starting at right tackle for LA Tech, loving the student-athlete life and learning the game. (Photo by JOSH MCDANIEL)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

RUSTON — In the new apartment he shares with one current and one ex-teammate, Louisiana Tech’s right offensive tackle is making some pasta, which is to say he’s boiling water and putting noodles in it.

“See, the thing is, I don’t cook,” said Carson Bruno, who, at 6-5, 300, does eat.

Has to. A lot. So it’s handy to know how to boil pasta and heat up some red sauce and sprinkle the mozzarella.

You’re an offensive lineman. You figure things out.

Which is what he’s doing and why he’s starting as a redshirt freshman. He’s trying hard to figure it out.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” said senior guard Joshua Mote, the O-Line’s veteran from Oak Grove. “He’s definitely put in the work.”

Bruno graduated from Shreveport’s C.E. Byrd early and showed up at Tech for spring practice, his 290 pounds and athletic genes good enough to make All-State but not ready for Division I football. One look and you can see he was never really a “little” kid — “According to my mom, definitely not,” he said — and just a glance at those grins and that lumbering walk and you maybe mark him off as half-goofball.

Mistake. He’s already been on the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll, and he’s starting as a freshman in a position that won’t tolerate dummies.

“Everybody who knows Carson knows he’s just a big, young, funny dude,” Mote said. “He changed his body during the offseason. Learned the playbook. You’ve got to be sharp out there at right tackle. Think about two of our first three games: we start at Missouri and the stadium’s packed and then in Game 3 it’s another sellout on the road and he’s going against a first-round pick at Clemson, and he held his own.

“He’s had some moments in some games where he had a freshman slump,” Mote said, “but he’s overcome it. And he practices and works hard.”

It helps that he won the Gene Pool Lottery too. Dad Lindsey was a two-way lineman at Nicholls State, and mom Amy played college hoops; each of his granddads played college football.

“Best athlete in the family?” Bruno said. “I’d like to think I’m up there. My dad recently told me I’m better than he was. Now mom, she’s a competitor. But I think I was better than she was at basketball.”

But not at cooking.

“No way,” he said.

The other dogs who eat alongside Bruno are a group of big boys who got a new coach in the spring in Nathan Young, a two-time first-team NCAA Division II All-American as a player at Abilene Christian (2006-07) who coached at Stephen F. Austin last year.

“Coach Young simplified things for us (since last season),” said Bruno, a star defensive tackle in high school who knew his future was on the offensive line.

“Really helped me. Defensive line in high school is just reacting; react and make a play. Offensive line is about being able to work with the people around you. You’ve gotta know where you’re going and what everyone’s doing to execute what the play is.”

“Everyone” he’s talking about are the other linemen who are the most likely to know, right when a play ends, why it did or didn’t work. Lots of thinking, and lots of hitting.

“That’s a hard job, knowing someone is trying to run through your face every play,” said Tech junior receiver Tahj Magee, a quarterback in high school in Franklinton. “They have every bit of my respect. Carson, he’s doing an amazing job. I’ve been watching him over the season, seeing how he’s developing and how he’s gotten better, how he’s learned from his mistakes.

“The biggest thing to me was in the opener against Missouri, he wasn’t afraid at all. He attacked then and he’s attacked every game since. That’s one of those things that you either have it or you don’t; he has it.”  

His fellow starters include Mote, a Tech prodigy who moved to center in midseason when Abe Delphin suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. “Really smart and competitive,” Bruno said when asked to offer a brief description. “And that good set of hair. Really great hair. I tell him that all the time. I do. I tell him.”

The guards are Isaac Ellis (“Great communicator,” Bruno said) and Bert Hale who, like Mote, is from Oak Grove (“He’s football nasty”), football nasty meaning he’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done and doesn’t much care what it looks like.

And Bruno’s bookend tackle? Dakota White, 6-4, 313. “Athletic,” Bruno said. “And also nasty. Very.”

What those ’Dogs need to cook up now are some wins. Tech is 2-6 this season and 5-15 in its last 20 games after a streak of seven straight bowl appearances. The last two games have been an unsettling different kind of “nasty” — a loss to Rice in overtime at home, a loss to FIU in double OT in Miami.

The wins will come, Bruno said. “It’s just gonna take us jelling together with the new staff, and I think we’re doing that. They’ll get some more people in here they need. We’re gonna be fine.”

He said he’s known it since he signed at Tech because of the “family atmosphere,” because of “how bad they really wanted me.” He’s known it since the first time as a college player he ran onto the field on special teams in the opener at Mississippi State, “a dream come true, everything I’ve dreamed of.”

“There’s nothing like playing this game with your friends,” Bruno said. “These last two games, we were so emotional on the sideline, we wanted to win so bad, we were so close and everybody was coming together … we’re making plays, the defense was making plays … for us to win, everybody — no matter what’s happened — we have to all be in this together at that moment, just us and now and nothing else.

“Our junior year at Byrd, we were pretty bad. The next year we played for the state championship. I’ve been there. That’s why I have a positive mindset. I’ve seen it turn around. So I’m looking forward to playing the rest of this season and having some great years here and winning games and making bowls. That’s ahead. We’ll get there.” 

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Giddy for Lyddy? Tap the brakes

Fair doesn’t figure into life a lot of the time, and you sure can’t figure fair into football.

So when Louisiana Tech’s season began a slow spiral this fall — the Bulldogs were 3-9 last year and 2-6 now, a meager 5-15 in their last 20 games — it stood to reason that the more vocal parts of the fan base figured it was Lyddy Time.

“Free Lyddy!”

Lyddy is Landry Lyddy, a true freshman quarterback for the Bulldogs who won’t be 19 until next Sunday. Last year in more carefree times, the 6-0, almost-190-pounder was named Louisiana Mr. Football and the Gatorade Louisiana Football Player of the Year for what he and his teammates did on an 11-2 state semifinalist Calvary Baptist team.

So a couple weeks ago in Aillet Stadium, it hardly seemed fair that, when the two QBs in front of him left the game with injuries, Lyddy was called on with 43 seconds left and Tech down by 8 on the Rice 19.

Up until that point in his college career, he was exactly two passes old, both completions in a September blowout of SFA.

This was a different ballgame, both in reality and metaphorically. And what did he do? Apparently with no heartbeat, he trotted onto the field, tapping this player and that one on the helmet, then immediately took the snap and threw a touchdown pass. Then he completed a two-point conversion. Both great catches to Cyrus Allen and Tre Harris, but both thrown under pressure and where no one but the receiver had a chance at the ball.

Tie game and overtime.

“Cool as a cucumber,” starting center Joshua Mote said.

So the guy threw another TD in overtime, and when his pass for the winning two-point conversion try was thrown where only Superman could have caught it — could even Superman have gotten a foot down in bounds? — and Rice won 42-41, it didn’t much matter. Tech was 2-5 but a semi-star seemed to have been born.

Last week in Miami, Lyddy pretty much had to start since backup Matthew Downing was lost for the season against Rice and starter Parker McNeil, the LSWA Offensive Player of the Week just two weeks earlier in a four-touchdown-passes 41-31 win over UTEP, was dressed out but nursing sore ribs. A freshman can play in four games and still redshirt so … this was house money for Lyddy and head coach Sonny Cumbie.

Lyddy was 28-of-40 for 256 yards, rushed for a short TD and didn’t throw a touchdown or interception. Tech lost in double OT this time, 42-34. Two of Lyddy’s final two passes, including the game-ender, were high and away. If they were baseball pitches, each would have been easy-call ball fours.

Understandable. It’s a hard position to play. And now, maybe he won’t have to — although he could play one more game and still redshirt. What any clear-thinking football fan would hope for is that he has to serve only as an emergency backup, play a lot in the season’s final game at home against UAB Nov. 26 — unless Tech wins its final four November games to become bowl eligible.

Lyddy was fine against FIU in his first start. Extended some plays, including a big one that led to a completion and a first down in the second overtime. Gave his team a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Didn’t throw an interception although … he started the game 10-of-10 and would have been “11-of-11” had the FIU linebacker between the hashes not dropped what would have been a pick six. After that, Tech didn’t throw to the middle of the field.

He did good. We can’t ask him how he thought he did because Bulldog freshmen can’t speak with the media, but if you watched the game, you were encouraged for him.

But right now, Lyddy is not the answer. He’s going to get the chance to be part of the answer, for sure. But now, he’s not even part of the real question.

The question is whether or not a Bulldog can make a play with the game on the line. When you get in a 5-15 slump, when so many of those 15 losses and 12 straight on the road are down-to-the-last-possession games, one guy can make a difference. On one play.

Tech dropped three should-have-been interceptions in Miami. Made three special team snafus, the biggest being an uncovered pooch kick that led directly to a Panther touchdown.

Lyddy wasn’t on the field for any of that.

And while he’s on the field for running plays, neither he nor any other Tech QB run blocks or is a running back in a run game that has been statistically one of the NCAA’s least productive. Tech ran it much better in Miami, but with two minutes left and FIU with no timeouts, when one more first down would have iced the game in regulation, the Dogs couldn’t grind one out so …

Punt. Drive. Game-typing field goal with :24 left. Overtime. Loss.

“We’ve been losing, and people just want to see us win, so I understand,” said wide receiver Tahj Magee, who threw for 50 touchdowns at Franklinton High, rushed for 37 more and knows how demanding the position is. “People think this guy or that guy should play (QB) and really, it just comes down to everyone doing their job. We can win with anyone, but at the end of the day, Parker’s the starter. But whoever is playing, if the quarterback performs well, it’s because everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do.”

“Landry’s a great option,” said starting right tackle Carson Bruno, himself just two autumns removed from high school football. “But it’s Parker’s senior year and he’s got these few games left and Landry’s got a redshirt year to play with. Whoever’s back there, we’ve (as an offensive line) got to do what we’re supposed to do.”

“The advantage of him redshirting at this point far outweighs him coming in, even if he were to kill it the rest of the year,” Mote said. “He’s gonna be a great player. He came in (against Rice) and didn’t flinch, and last week he put us in a position to win. He’s learning a lot from Parker; that’s what’s gonna be better for his career.

“In ’19, I played a lot but didn’t start,” he said. “I got to learn a lot from Ethan Reed and Drew Kirkpatrick and Kody (Russey) and those guys, got to watch them and have them coach me up instead of me just being thrown out there. In that way, I can relate to what Landry’s going through right now. I learned a ton; it did me so much good to get that experience and learn. Seems like Landry’s going good too and learning a lot. Hey, it’s one block here, one block there, or one play here, one more play there; the reason we’re not winning isn’t because of one position.”

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The greatest Tiger’s greatest return of all

(This time of year every year around here, everyone remembers Billy Cannon running his way into the Instant Legend Stratosphere on Halloween Night, 1959 in Tiger Stadium. Second-best return of his memorable life. This is about his best one. First appeared in print May 27, 2018, a week after his passing at age 80.)

He had on scruffy pointy-toed cowboy boots, his western shirt was tucked into his jeans, and he smiled when he got up and came around his desk and opened up a calloused, catcher’s mitt-sized hand:

“Billy Cannon.”

I wasn’t intimidated because he wouldn’t allow that, but it was easy to see how people could be. Now nearing 50 years old on this late-summer day in 1988, his build was still athletic. You could still see plenty of football player. Powerful, his legs and chest and arms thick and solid.

Plus there was the Being a Legend and all. Time was about the only thing that could run him down, and it finally did when Dr. Cannon passed away last Sunday morning in his sleep. But the Legend part is both deserved and well preserved.

We were in his stark dentist’s office that mid-morning, alone. He was trying to reboot his dentistry practice and I’d been a sportswriter at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans for only a few months, covering mostly LSU. He knew who I was only because he loved LSU and read all things LSU and so when I called to see if I could meet him, he said sure. He wasn’t very busy: less than two years before, the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner had gotten out of federal prison in Texas after serving almost three years for making counterfeit $100 bills.

The building didn’t really look like a dentist’s office either inside or out. No receptionist. No aide. No waiting room TV set. Just Dr. Cannon. Turns out his private practice wouldn’t make it but something better came along, something we couldn’t have guessed that morning while we drank coffee from his dark green Thermos with a silver coned cup on top.

We talked LSU football and people we both knew. A little girl came by to have her braces checked; he called her beautiful as she sat in the dentist chair and the dad and Dr. Cannon lined up the next appointment; moms usually bring little girls to the dentist in the middle of the day, but this was Billy Cannon so…

Yet those were the only patients who ever came by during what were probably a dozen visits by me to his office.

After maybe 40 minutes he said, “I’m just an old washed-up counterfeiter with not much to say about all that.” He paused, then smiled and looked me right in the eyes. “But come on back next week.”

And I did, for lots of weeks. And brought coffee. He’d teach me some football, talk about that week’s game, tell stories. I lined up an ESPN crew to visit him when the movie Everybody’s All-American came out that year, but I never wrote about him or attributed in the paper anything he’d say about LSU or anyone or anything. I was just a young sportswriter guy he was taking time to talk to and to help. How many Heisman winners let a guy just hang around?

I knew one day he’d talk about it, about the Heisman and prison and what happened next, and he did. Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run was published in 2015 and written by Cannon and his friend Charles N. deGravelles, who spent more than a quarter-century ministering to inmates at Angola’s state pen where Cannon, who’d been on both sides of the razor wire and who’d answer phone calls there with, ‘Who is this? I don’t have time to mess with you!,” ran the dentistry department and counseled inmate after inmate. Considering his multi-dimensional athletic skill set, it should not be surprising that, at Angola, he was like a pastor who could fill a cavity or a counselor who could either clean your teeth or help you clear your conscience.

But he wasn’t ready to talk about It in 1988. At that point, a lot had happened — a lifetime for most of us — but not much had happened Next. But plenty would, and what a remarkable and glorious closing act it would be.

The 30th anniversary of the 1958 LSU national champions was that fall in 1988, so it was a perfect timing sort of deal when his dear friend Boots Garland, who’d been the proctor of the athletic dorm during their college days, talked him into coming to a luncheon reunion of the team and a few friends. They let me ride with them in a solid Buick the size of a Humvee. The luncheon was in a Holiday Inn meeting room or something like that, very cozy, and no one asked about the counterfeiting or prison, they just acted as if they’d played Clemson the week before, and laughed and told stories, and honestly beamed just looking at each other, and remembering.

Finally Dr. Cannon agreed to stand up and talk about that season and the next, mostly The Punt Return on Halloween night of 1959, and he pointed to guys and thanked them for this block or that one, and for the first time in a long time he was re-living that wonderful moment with his friends, his football family, that October new moon night when he ran to colors and away from colors, and right into LSU and college football legendhood…

And as he talked, there in the open again, surrounded by his football brothers, I think he might have been comfortable once more, or even if he wasn’t he was going to run until he was, run with honesty and a poke-fun-at-himself laughter, run right back into the arms of the LSU faithful and into the hearts of anyone who’d ever fumbled. It’s where fans wanted him, where they needed him, where the program needed him, and where he’s served in a humble and compassionate and graceful way for the past 30 years.

The Punt Return against Ole Miss is legendary. But Cannon’s willingness to return in 1988, to put All That behind, to move along as a very human hero, wasn’t that just as big? I love that he stopped running and started being.

Here he was, world, a Tiger flawed but a Tiger who could laugh at himself, a Tiger who stopped running and started sharing, a Tiger who they all wanted to be like after all, still the greatest Tiger of them all. 

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Benton, Haughton create a classic

3 FOR 6 x 8: Benton running back Greg Manning outpaces a Haughton defender for one of his eight – 8 – touchdowns. (Photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

HAUGHTON — As long as linemen love bacon, as long as quarterbacks date cheerleaders and running backs wear bruises like badges of honor, all who were here and all who’ll hear about it will never forget Benton 78, Haughton 71. 

“That was a basketball game,” said Benton senior quarterback Gray Walters, who was responsible for much of the madness by completing 23 of 33 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, and either rushing or scrambling for 107 yards.

“Been doing this 26 years,” said Haughton quarterbacks coach Kyle Wilkerson, “and I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

“Might never see anything like it again,” Haughton assistant Josh O’Nishea said. 

“We got in a shootout and lost to Newman, 54-52,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said, “but that was nothing like this.” 

“I knew during warm-ups (it would be this type game),” Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton said afterward in the calm of his office, a world away from what had finished less than half-hour ago out the back door on a perfect October night for football at Harold E. Harlan Stadium. 

“I just knew,” he said. “I know what we can do on offense. I know how they play offensively. I’m not saying I knew it would be in the 70’s, but it was gonna take a bunch to win.

“I think I said yesterday we might need 70 to win. I was wrong. We needed 80.” 

Well … 79, anyway. 

Benton is 5-3, 4-1 in District 1-5A and has scored more than 50 points in its past six games. Haughton is 4-4, 2-3, and has the odd sensation of having scored 10 touchdowns in one game — that’s a good month for some teams — and losing. 

Just as a quick starter-kit glance, the score was 14-14 after the first quarter, 35-28 Benton at half, and 56-42 Haughton going into the fourth when Benton outscored the Bucs, 36-15. 

The Tigers and Bucs traded touchdowns and extra points until 6:51 was left in Friday night’s game. Benton’s Ethan Johnson scored on a pick six to pull his team within a point of a tie, 63-62. Moore decided to go for two, and senior Landon Duggan scored from the wildcat formation for Benton’s 64-63 lead. 

“I thought maybe we could change the momentum,” Moore said. “I’d told our coaches if we scored again we were going to go for two and try to put this thing away.” 

It seemed the Tigers finally had when a fumble recovered by Benton set up junior running back Greg Manning for the seventh of his school-record eight touchdowns on the night and pushed Benton’s lead to 71-63 with 2:34 left. 

But … Haughton’s Jalen Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a score, his second kickoff return for a touchdown of the night. Crazy. 

Then Haughton went for two and the tie, and got it on a pass from Colin Rains to Jamarion Montgomery in the left flat to make it 71-71 with 2:20 left — in this game, an eternity. 

It took the Tigers nine plays to go 84 yards, the final 30 on a burst by Manning, who earlier in the game had begged his coaches, “Don’t throw the ball! Give it to me!” 

They did, for a school-record 278 yards on 32 carries. After his final touch and Peyton May’s 10th extra point kick, Benton led 78-71 with 0:48 left.

It wasn’t decided until Benton’s Johnson picked off a deep-ball try from Rains around the Tigers’ 35, where their victory formation put an exclamation point on the night.

“We made one more play than they did,” Moore told his team afterward. “We made enough mistakes for two or three games, but you kept fighting, and made one more play.”

Haughton workhorse Tyler Rhodes and the offensive line combined for 279 yards on 27 attempts, a 10.3 yards-per-rush average. Rains rushed 11 times for 126 yards and three scores.

With all those scores, with all the onside kicks and kick returns for touchdowns, with all the drive-stopping interceptions and fumbles, this classic came down to two or three plays, same as your ordinary, everyday 14-10 brawl — (if anyone remembers those).

Haughton had stolen a couple possessions early with successful onsides kicks turned into touchdowns for a 28-14 lead when Benton faced a fourth-and-9 from its own 34. The Bucs had a scrambling Walters hemmed up as they did much of the night, but each time he ran and weaved and stayed on his feet, all so unrehearsed. He threw passes to receivers who didn’t as much run routes as they ran to open spots, where Walters would find them.

“Just trying to make a play,” he said.

On this crucial fourth down, he finally pitched the ball forward over two leaping defenders to Manning, like a shortstop’s pitch to a second baseman, and Manning spun and ran 42 yards.  Benton scored three plays later and trailed by only a touchdown, 28-21.

“I heard (Manning) yelling my name and I just pitched it,” Walters said. “He did the rest. He’s the best back I’ve ever played with.”

Huge play. 

“Stop them there up by two scores, and you have a chance to go up by three touchdowns,” Brotherton said. “That’s a big one. We just couldn’t get off the field a couple of times.” 

Benton was 7-of-10 on third down, 1-1 on fourth. But Haughton was good too: 4-of-6 on third down and 1-of-1 on fourth. 

Everything was just razor thin. 

“Once they got up by two scores, we knew we were in a dogfight,” said Benton senior offensive lineman Cameron McCormack, whose back Manning ran up much of the night. “I felt like I had to make every block, every time. It felt like every single play was pivotal.” 

“You don’t really know what to tell your guys after a game like that,” Brotherton said. “I told them it hurts, I know. But if it means anything to you right now, you’ll never forget this game. It might not be a great memory, but you’ll always be a part of something really special. People around here are gonna be talking about this game forever.” 

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Benton 78, Haughton 71

Score by quarters

Benton | 14 | 21 | 7 | 36 | – 78

Haughton | 14 | 14 | 28 | 15 | – 71

Scoring summary

B – Greg Manning 4 run (Peyton May kick)

H – Tyler Rhodes 57 run (Carter Ebarb kick)

H – John Ecot 8 pass from Colin Rains (Ebarb kick)

B – Manning 4 run (May kick)

H – Rhodes 1 run (Ebarb kick)

H – Ecot 7 pass from Rains (Ebarb kick)

B – Manning 7 pass from Gray Walters (May kick)

B – Landon Duggan 1 run (May kick)

B – Andy Lim 4 pass from Walters (May kick)

H – Rhodes 6 run (Ebarb kick)

B – Manning 32 run (May kick)

H – Jalen Lewis 78 kickoff return (Ebarb kick)

H – Jamarion Montgomery 10 pass from Rains (Ebarb kick)

H – Rhodes 26 run (Ebarb kick)

B – Manning 20 run (May kick)

H – Rashard Douglas 57 kickoff return (Ebarb kick)

B – Manning 11 run (May kick)

B – Ethan Johnson 40 interception return (Duggan run)

B – Manning 28 run (May kick)

H – Lewis 75 kickoff return (Montgomery pass from Rains)

B – Manning 30 run (May kick)

Individual leaders


Benton (50-387) – Manning 32-278, Walters 15-107, Duggan 1-1, Cole Austin 1-1.

Haughton (38-349) – Rhodes 27-279, Rains 9-74.


Benton – Walters 23-33-3, 248 yards, 2 TDs.

Haughton – Rains 11-18-2, 126 yards, 3 TDs.


Benton – Russell 10-113, Jeffrey King 4-55, Manning 4-52, Lim 3-23, Brady Blaylock 2-5. 

Haughton – Lewis 2-49, Douglas 2-50-38728, Montgomery 2-23, Ecot 4-22, Trent McGowen 1-4.

Benton, Haughton try to make their point(s)

CONVERSIONS NEEDED: Haughton’s offense will be under the gun to convert on third down to stay with Benton. (Photo by DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Haughton football coach Jason Brotherton is old enough to remember when scoring 42 points would most likely win you any game.

But the Bucs scored 42 last week at Airline — and lost by two scores, 55-42.

“And that’s not even the crazy thing,” Brotherton said.

No, it’s not. This is …

Haughton goes into each game with a prescription that would usually work for any team. Be able to run the ball. Don’t turn it over. Convert on third down.

Against the Vikings, the Bucs exceeded their rushing-total target, didn’t turn it over, were 7-of-11 on third down. Lost by 13.

“Our defensive coordinator is ready to jump off a bridge,” Brotherton said. “I’m not gonna let him because eventually we’ll lose a game, 7-0. Two years ago, we beat Benton, 7-0; it won’t be 7-0 this year, that’s for sure.”

Unless they play the game with a bowling ball, probably not when Benton visits Haughton tonight at 7 in yet another big District 1-5A game.

“Might need 62 to win,” Brotherton said.

That’s not unchartered waters for the Tigers. Benton (4-3, 3-1) has scored 63, 62, and 56 points in its current three-game win streak.  But Haughton, (4-3, 2-2) is at home, has maybe the best athlete on the field in its quarterback, Colin Rains, and maybe learned some lessons in the Airline loss.

Four times the Vikings went for it on fourth down. Four times they were successful; once Haughton was called for encroachment on a 4th-and-1 from the 2.

“If we win those four plays, we probably win the game,” Brotherton said. “We said all last week that Airline was going to score; they were going to get their yards. So is Benton. So on defense, you can still give up points, but there are gonna be three or four big plays in a game, and you gotta win those to win it. We don’t need 10 stops; we need three or four.”

Benton senior quarterback Gray Walters is one of several three-year starters at the position in the district. “Seems he’s been playing there 11 years,” Brotherton said. “I’m ready for him to graduate.”

Walters’ favorite target is Pearce Russell, who caught four of Walters’ five TD passes in last week’s 62-15 rout at Natchitoches-Central.

“He reminds me of (former Haughton star) CJ McWilliams,” Brotherton said. “CJ is faster, Pearce is bigger, but everything looks so easy for them. I don’t know if (Benton coach) Reynolds (Moore) even needs to go to the games anymore.”

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Benton (4-3, 3-1) at Haughton (4-3, 2-2) 

Where: Harold E. Harlan Stadium 

Series: Haughton 20-8 

Last year: Benton 42-21 

Last week: Benton beat Southwood 56-12; Haughton lost to Airline 55-42 

Rankings: Benton is No. 2 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal Top 10; Haughton is 7th in Journal poll 

LHSAA Power Ratings: Benton is No. 17 in Non-Select Division I; Haughton ranks 21st in Non-Select Division I 

Radio: Benton (The Light 92.1 FM) 

Notables: The Tigers are on a roll, putting themselves back in the District 1-5A race by winning three straight since an early-season three-game losing skid … Benton has scored at least 50 points in five straight games. Haughton allowed 55 points to Airline last week. Benton is 2-9 in their last 11 against Haughton, but ended an eight-game losing streak to the Buccaneers with a 42-21 victory last season … Tigers receiver Pearce Russell leads Bossier Parish with 54 catches (second statewide, per, 3 behind Howard Kinchen of Patterson) and 1,041 yards receiving yards (also second statewide, 82 yards behind Kinchen). His 14 touchdown receptions are tied with Airline’s Daxton Chavez.

The Bucs were 5-6 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Chalmette, 21-20, but are much better offensively this season. “It’s weird because we have a lot of the same kids (this year) who were on that team,” Brotherton said. “We didn’t have as much speed when they were younger as we do now. We weren’t very explosive. We run it a lot better this year” … For Haughton against Airline, Rains was 13-of-18 for 289 yards and 3 TDs, no picks … Tyler Rhodes rushed 22 times for 119 yards and two scores, and Rains rushed 14 times for 88 yards and a TD … Jalen Lewis caught six passes for 158 yards and a score … Rashard Douglas had three catches for 101 yards, including a 75-yard catch-and-run TD.

Natchitoches Central (3-4, 2-2) at Parkway, (6-1, 3-1) 

Where: Preston Crownover Stadium 

Series: Natchitoches Central 12-10 

Last year: NCHS 38-21 

Last week: Natchitoches Central beat Captain Shreve 30-17; Parkway lost to Byrd 39-14 

Rankings: Parkway is No. 4 in Journal poll 

LHSAA Power Ratings: NCHS stands 35th in Non-Select Division I; Parkway is No. 13 in Non-Select Division I 

Radio: Natchitoches Central (95.9 FM Kix Classic Country) 

Notables: Panthers licking their wounds after their first loss of the season – 39-14 to Byrd … Parkway running back Jaylan White has 1,124 yards from scrimmage (895 rushing, 229 receiving) and 12 touchdowns … Chiefs are coming off a surprising 30-17 victory at Captain Shreve … Natchitoches Central has allowed at least 46 points three times this season … Parkway is 2-2 against the Chiefs since 2015 … NCHS quarterback Brian Young, who injured a shoulder early in the jamboree, finally regained form last week at Shreve and is a dual threat along with productive tailback Jeremiah Miles.

Southwood (0-7, 0-4) at Captain Shreve (3-4, 0-4) 

Where: Lee Hedges Stadium 

Series: Shreve leads 31-21 

Last year: Shreve won by forfeit 

Last week: Southwood lost to Benton 56-12; Captain Shreve lost to Natchitoches Central 30-17 

Rankings: none 

LHSAA Power Ratings: Shreve is No. 15 in Select Division I; Southwood is 33rd in Select Division I 

Radio: Shreve (, 95.7 FM) 

Notables: Despite the 56-12 loss to Benton last week, Southwood coach Jesse Esters thinks the Cowboys handled the Tigers “pretty well” until late in the game … “Our defensive backs missed a couple of assignments and they scored late,” he said … While the Cowboys started with a strong rushing attack against Benton, penalties killed first-half drives … Senior DB Marrio Stevenson filled in at RB and had 157 yards on 27 carries with 2 TDs … Junior Shamichael Johnson also filled in at RB … “We’re finding special players that (maybe) should have been heavy contributors early in the season,” said Esters … WR’s Dantonio Arkansas and Zamarian Tageleri continue to be threats on offense. “They’re the offensive threats we need to beat some of these teams in our district,” Esters said of the receiving duo … There is great news for the Cowboys as senior RB/DE Melvin Coleman will be back from an injured knee – along with two junior LBs, Caleb Nunsant and Jathon Skinner … “We are very positive about this week,” said Esters. “We’ll get back to the drawing board and prepare for a good Captain Shreve team.”

The Gators are dealing with a rash of injuries. It’s hard to build depth in high school football, especially along the offensive line. “You need those five guys playing as one unit,” said Shreve coach Adam Kirby. “There has to be a level of trust that can only be built by playing beside someone rep after rep. Offensive line is a position where if one guy messes up, it makes the entire unit look bad … Because of injuries, Shreve had to play a lot of young players in last week’s loss to Natchitoches Central. But, there is a bright spot. “They gain the experience needed in order to build a program,” Kirby said. “That way, they’re not caught in the moment when they’re older” … A win over Southwood would give their Gators their first district W. “Execute at a high level, give great effort, and have a great attitude when things don’t go our way,” Kirby said, when asked what the keys are to beating the Cowboys. “If we can do those three things, I like our chances.”

The sweet and the sour of Airline at Byrd

VIKING QUEST: Airline’s defense will be put to the test again tonight in a key District 1-5A game with C.E. Byrd. (Photo courtesy of JENNIFER ENGELKE)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

After a dominating 39-14 road win over previously unbeaten District 1-5A leader Parkway last Friday, C.E. Byrd football, back in the hunt after two straight losses, must have enjoyed a pretty sweet week.

“Sweet?” Byrd coach Stacy Ballew said. “Well not real sweet. We got Airline now and they’re averaging, what, 50 points a game?”

In district play, that’d be 52 points game, and All Those Points have helped the Vikings, 4-3, get to 4-0 in 1-5A and No. 1 in the Shreveport-Bossier Journal  Top 10 poll.

The Vikings and Byrd (5-2, 2-2) meet at 7 tonight in Lee Hedges Stadium.

“It might not look like it to the average fan in the stands, but they’re very balanced in what they do,” Ballew said of Airline’s wide-open, up-tempo, stretch-the-field offense. “Defensively (at practice) this week, yes, we’re saying ‘Get back’ a lot to our defensive backs and ‘Watch the vertical,’ because (the Vikings are) throwing the ball deep.”

In last week’s 55-42 win over Haughton, Airline passed for 314 yards, rushed for 221, and had 22 plays of 10-plus yards.

“They’re so multiple in what they do,” Ballew said. “They’re throwing it, but they’re running the ball well. Inside runs. Outside runs. Shovel passes. Bombs. Not just one thing … they do quite a few things, and right now, they’re doing them all good.”

Byrd will counter with a triple option that Airline coach Justin Scogin says the Yellow Jackets “run to perfection.”

“The way they do stuff on offense, it’s so well-timed,” Scogin said. “Been telling our guys all week, it’ll catch you by surprise. And the way they play defense is very precise and they play extremely hard. That’s what I’ve told our guys will stick out, how efficient they are and how hard they play.”

Byrd quarterback Lake Lambert returned from concussion protocol to engineer an efficient passing game — 5 of 8 for 76 yards — and rushed for 121 yards on 16 carries in last week’s win at Parkway; the Yellow Jackets finished with a healthy 309 yards on 50 carries.

While Byrd figures to show Airline more of the same with its efficient option, the Vikings “always want to add stuff in,” Scogin said. “Our assistant coaches do such a good job of suggesting something we haven’t done before with this player or that one; they figure out the blocking scheme and the skill side of it. Makes it easier for me.”

Something will have to give as Byrd’s Purple Swarm defense is coming off its best performance of the season.

“We played so well on defense; did a great job of stopping their running back (Jaylan White) who’s so good,” Ballew said. “And offensively, we didn’t turn it over; that was the key. Coming off a two-game losing streak, our kids never gave up. There was no quit in them, they had a great week of practice, and then they performed well. And Parkway is a good football team. They’ve got athletes and lots of them. They’re not hurting; it’s just that on both sides of the ball, we played well.

“We’ve got a bunch of kids playing hard every single play.”

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Airline (4-3, 4-0) vs. Byrd (5-2, 2-2) 

Where: Lee Hedges Stadium 

Series: Byrd 29-17 

Last year: Byrd 51-27 

Last week: Airline beat Haughton 55-42; Byrd beat Parkway 39-14  

Rankings: Airline is #1 in SBJ; Byrd is #3 in SBJ poll 

LHSAA Power Ratings: Airline #11 in Non-Select Div. I; Byrd #3 Select Div. I 

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

Notables: Airline played Haughton on Thursday last week, but Scogin didn’t attend the Byrd-Parkway game Friday night. “I don’t get enough time to spend with my family as is,” he said, “so I was with them. If I go to a game, my family is usually with me, or I’ll go with my dad. Really, if you show up for a game (to scout), it’s for something like trying to figure out how fast they go. I can get the rest of what I need on film.” Team Scogin is expecting its second child soon after football season … Against Haughton, the Vikings’ heralded wide receiver, Daxton Chavez, was held to one catch for 37 yards — a fly pattern and he stretched to make the catch with his fingertips — but that left Cameron Jefferson (10-107), Tre Jackson (8-93), Bryson Broom (3-46), and tight end Bob Patterson (2-31) open for business. “Anybody who knows anything much about football knows people try to take your best players away,” Scogin said. “On the sideline, Dax was saying, ‘Hey, they’re taking me away. It’s y’all’s time to shine.’ One, it’s a badge of honor (for him) that they’re trying to stop him, and two, he was thrilled for Cam and Tre and Bob and Kylin (Jackson) and the rest of the guys. All we heard from him was, ‘Y’all keep it up. Keep the ball rollin’ and keep playin’” … For his part, Scogin calls himself an “Equal Opportunity Touchdown Guy. When we get to the goal line, I’m not thinking, ‘Let’s make sure Cam scores’ or ‘Let’s make sure Tre scores.’ I call the best play I can think of and whoever is on that side, out of all these different guys, that’s the guy who’s gonna score. I never go into a game thinking, ‘Dax or anyone else has got to touch the ball 15 times.’”

This is the 47th meeting between C.E. Byrd and Airline. The series began in 1964. The Yellow Jackets lead the series 29-17. Airline’s 36-20 win over Byrd in 2017 snapped a 14-game win streak. Byrd has won 18 of 19 games against Airline since 2005 … The return of offensive skill players Lake Lambert and Josh Allen aided the Jackets in their 39-14 win over previously unbeaten Parkway. Lambert, Byrd’s quarterback, rushed for a game-high 114 yards, including two touchdowns, and Allen, a wingback, added a couple of touchdown runs … Byrd’s All-City linebacker Brooks Brossette led the Yellow Jacket defense last week with 10 tackles. It’s the third week in a row that Brossette has had double-digit tackles, and the fourth occurrence this season. In the last 20 years, only five Byrd players have recorded more tackles than Brossette.

A good long haul to the Hall

There were three of us and the drive was four hours and the National League Division Series was on the radio when someone said,

“Bruce Benedict. Rick Mahler.”

There is but one reason to say those two names out of the blue, as neither has much of anything to do with either baseball playoffs or October. But to baseball fans of a certain age, those names represent a distinctive time, a unique moment in baseball and sports television history.

“You said ‘Eggs’? Loved him. Looked nothing like a catcher.”

“Well … maybe a high school catcher.”

Names that represented losing. But joy. And hope.

“Bob Horner. Glenn Hubbard. God, Glenn Hubbard.”

“Mother Hubbard.”

“Dale Murphy.”

Then a few moments of silence until finally, what the rest of us were thinking, “He was so good.”

These were the hapless Atlanta Braves of the early existence of sports cable. These guys played on wonderful, life-giving, soul-lifting Atlanta-based TBS when we were in college and suddenly, after growing up with three channels and a couple of weekend games, we were presented with baseball on a Tuesday night, on a Wednesday, even a 9:35 p.m. start if the Braves were playing on the West Coast.

And TBS would possibly replay that night’s 6:05 start if they weren’t.

And we would watch.

It was bad baseball, for the most part, but it was major league baseball. We would cuss Steve Bedrosian for blowing a save and praise Claudell Washington just for being broad-shouldered Claudell Washington. They had a pitcher, a starter, named Bob Walk, for cryin’ out loud.

It was a fine time to be alive.

And in 1982, when we were hooked no matter what, the Braves threw us a bone. They got good! These nearly-the-same Braves. They lost in the playoffs, first round, and we thought that was that until …

There were rumblings of a “documentary.” What is that, a documentary? Seems TBS, filming all the games, had also been filming practice and locker room stuff and spring training and the radio guys and everything that is baseball. Players and coaches mic-ed during games. Unheard of.

The reality was a three-hour special about the 1982 Atlanta Braves that aired in 1983. Perfectly, it was titled It’s a Long Way to October, narrated by Red Barber. We saw it and, between bouts of weeping, recorded it on a new bulky contraption called a VCR. We watched it endlessly. The joy of having something at your disposal you could only dream about before is a feeling impossible to describe.

The executive producer of that piece was Terry Hanson, and he’s got a sports Emmy and cable ACE award because of what he and his crew did. Through the years I was finally able to thank him for all the joy he and his TBS friends have brought to us.

And this summer I got to congratulate him for being inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown, where he is now retired as an NAIA soccer coach of the year, the first head of TBS Sports, the architect of Hanson Enterprises, and a list of other accomplishments as long as the list of glowing adjectives we used to throw Phil Niekro’s way.

As it was in 1982, it’s a long way through the summertime to October, yet here we are again, 40 years later, thank goodness and thank Terry Hanson. Thank him for forever-young Jerry Royster and Bob Watson and Biff Pocoroba. For Rafael Ramirez and Brett Butler, for Pascual Perez and Terry Harper and Mike Lum. And again, for “Eggs” Benedict.

It’s a long way to the Hall, but shoot, it shouldn’t have been. Not for Terry Hanson. We could have told the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame that he deserved to go in back in 1983, just for It’s a Long Way … In the meantime, we’ve relived that summer whenever we’ve wanted, and he moved on to win other Emmys and ACE awards and titles and, naturally, friends.

We bet it was worth the wait.

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There will be a day when there won’t be another day

I went by Wiley’s grave the morning after, stepped up to his headstone as if it were home plate, and instead of down looked up at the sky of that bright Thursday morning and said, “Wiley, you won’t believe this, but …”

The night before, in Game 7, his Cubs had won. Pigs flew. Icicles hung on hell’s awnings. And the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Wiley Hilburn, a journalistic giant and friend who left this earth two baseball seasons ago, much too young at age 75, wore his Cubs hat right up until the untimely end. There were few things he loved more than conversation about the Cubs.

It’s a nice sentiment, but I don’t think people in heaven can see what’s happening on Earth to their loved ones or to their loved teams. Otherwise, they’d see the losses too, be sad, and there is no sadness in heaven. That’s not to say he won’t experience it one day, somehow, heaven being a miracle in itself. I hope he does.

A lot of Cubs lovers like Wiley died just a bit too soon to see the impossible happen. What a wonderful three weeks of playoffs they missed. The postseason was a joy for all who loved baseball, or for all who don’t necessarily love baseball but do love the Cubs. Wiley loved both. It made us happy to think of how he’d have acted this summer, and then this autumn as his team took on October.

But, the sad part . . .

The baseball joy of October overshadowed the baseball grief of September, when Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident. The recent news that Fernandez had alcohol and cocaine in his system when he was killed does not make the death of the 24-year-old charismatic ballplayer any different; he is still a talented young man dead.

A young man with little athletic talent, dead, would be just as big a tragedy.

The point is, life is short. Even Wiley’s 75 years seemed short, to him and definitely to us, even though he milked a lot of mileage out of every trip around the sun. And he lived three times longer than Fernandez.

We know that life is short. It’s just that we seldom live like it.

I have liked Clint Hurdle for 40 years, since his picture was on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” with the caption, “This Year’s Phenom.” His playing career never blossomed, but he’s been solid as a manager, now of the Pittsburgh Pirates. His comments in the wake of Fernandez’s death echo Solomon’s message in Ecclesiastes.

“If you use your eyes and ears, there are reminders throughout your week that life’s short and you don’t call the shots,” Hurdle told reporters in September. “A sense of gratitude and a sense of joy needs to be more prevalent. In my experience with that young man (Fernandez) — I spent three-and-a-half hours with him on a dais at the baseball writers’ dinner in 2013; he was in very close proximity to me — he’s just a tremendously engaging young man. We had a lot of commentary that night.”

The two were at the dinner because Hurdle was Manager of the Year and Fernandez was Rookie of the Year. Hurdle has, as many of us have, already lived twice as long as Fernandez. We never know.

“I’ve been trying to live that life for a while now; I wasn’t always in that place,” Hurdle said. “It just makes all the more sense when things like this happen. Be where your feet are. Enjoy the moment. There’ll be a day when there won’t be another day.”

* Originally ran November 13, 2016 

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SPOTLIGHT: Airline defense beginning to offend opponents

FOR THE DEFENSE – Brayden Linton (33) and Mark Engelke (19) celebrate a defensive stop against Captain Shreve as teammates Chris Montgomery (5) and Tyler Ballard (40) look on. (Photo courtesy of JENNIFER ENGELKE)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

In the past three games, each a win, Airline’s up-tempo offense has dropped a lot of jaws in the stands and a lot of points on the field. The Vikings have averaged a bit better than 54 points a game to even their record at 3-3 overall, and more importantly, 3-0 in District 1-5A.

But don’t forget about the defense.

The Vikings won a wild won against Benton, 75-59, a game that wasn’t really in doubt by halftime. Then they shut out Natchitoches-Central, 46-0, and gave up only seven in a 42-14 win last week over Shreve; the Gators’ other score was a pick 6.

“Those first three games, I thought we were right there, just not putting it all together,” Airline defensive coordinator Zack Pourciau said. “Even after I watched the Benton film, if you take out the fourth quarter, I was pleased with how we played. The biggest thing after that was making sure our guys understood that the intensity can’t drop at all. Ever. The kids are finally buying into that and believing that no matter what happens on offense or special teams, every time you’re on the field you have the opportunity to make a play and that you owe it to yourself and to your teammates to play to the best of your ability. We can’t let the momentum of the game affect how we play.”

“A lot of how we played early had to do with the kids learning a new scheme and the coaches trying to figure things out,” head coach Justin Scogin said. “I knew everything was going to be good; it was just a matter of it clicking with the kids.

“Plus, it was the first time for a lot of our coaches to play with an offense that plays really fast like ours does,” he said. “We didn’t give the defense a lot of time to rest. I think that and special teams slowed (the defense) a little at the start.”

There were eight turnovers in the 46-21 season-opening loss to North DeSoto, so the defense basically had no time to rest.

“Take out the North DeSoto game,” Pourciau said, “and I think we played well the second half against Union (26-22 back-and-forth loss) and well in the first half against Northwood (a 35-28 loss).”

“(Northwood) is definitely good,” Scogin said. “But a lot of it that night was we needed to make plays and didn’t make enough. We held them to seven points the first half and then kind of wore down.”

Since the 0-3 start, the Viking tide has turned.

“The biggest difference is we got frustrated very quickly, frustrated and angry when there would be a turnover and we had to go back on the field really quick,” said senior outside linebacker and leader Mark Engelke. “Now when there’s a turnover or something goes wrong, we don’t collapse on ourselves. We say, ‘Let’s go get a stop and get off the field.’

“I wasn’t real confident after the North DeSoto loss,” he said. “But the Union game was super fun. We hung in there with them the whole night. I felt then that our defense could be pretty good. I think now we’re consistent, we follow our assignments, we play like we practice.”

When safety Ladarius Epps was hurt and missed the shutout of Natchitoches-Central two weeks ago, wide receiver Bryson Broom played safety for the first time in his life and did so well that both he and Epps played defense in last week’s win over Shreve.

“That way we have so much more athleticism on the field,” Pourciau said. “Bryson picked (free safety) up so fast. He’s extremely coachable, so athletic and fast; he can play the pass so well that we can get (strong safety) Brayden Linton a little more intentional in the run game.”

“He’s not scared to hit,” Engelke said of Broom. “He’s flying around all over the place. I love having him out there.”

Versatile defender Justin Epps, a solid 5-9, 195, hasn’t even played and won’t be back until late October. But he has been “helping out and coaching kids up,” Scogin said. “Such a great kid to have around. It’s been quite a surprise how the guys who’ve filled in have bought in and done such a good job.

“I like our physicality,” he said. “Really good tackling, solid coverage … it’s all been pretty exciting to watch.”

Thursday’s 1-5A game should be, too, when Haughton visits Airline at 7 p.m.

“Last year after we started 0-3, I felt we were a good team athlete-wise, but I got the feeling we weren’t going to win a lot of games,” said Engelke; (the Vikings won one). “But after we started 0-3 this year, the difference was confidence. We knew we had the ability to win games if we just put it all together.”

“I’m having a blast right now,” said Pourciau, in his first year as Airline’s DC. “It’s fun to be able to have a chance to be in ballgames. When we play defense the way we’ve played the last two weeks, it’s even more fun. Guys are running around having a blast. It’s easy to coach when the kids are playing fast and smart.”

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Haughton toughens up for big trip to Airline

GETTING PHYSICAL – The Haughton Buccaneers bring a 2-1 District 1-5A record into tonight’s game at Airline Stadium while the Vikings are looking to stay undefeated in district play. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Hang on. Pretty sure something’s about to happen …

Yep. Here it is right here: “Haughton at Airline, tonight, 7 p.m.”

The sun coming up, death and taxes, and a huge mid-October game in District 1-5A.

“We feel like we’re tough; I didn’t feel like that a month ago,” said Jason Brotherton, head coach of Haughton (4-2, 2-1), a game back of Airline (3-3, 3-0).

After a last-second loss to Parkway—Haughton didn’t trail until the final two seconds—and wins over Southwood and Byrd, something has changed a bit for the Bucs, who seem to be getting better at what they do best.

“We’ve almost gone all the way in on lining up and running the ball right at you with our 210-pound running back (Tyler Rhodes) and a quarterback (Colin Rains) over 200 pounds,” Brotherton said. “They’re both big. Our offensive line has bought into it.”

Haughton rushed 35 times for 264 yards in its 37-24 win over Southwood two weeks ago, then got 150 yards from Rhodes, 92 of those in the second half, in last week’s 23-14 win over Byrd.

“I think it’s helped our defense,” Brotherton said. “We’re not asking as much out of them. We’ve won the time of possession the past three weeks.

“We were more physical than Byrd, and that’s usually not the case when we play them,” he said. “Physicality can make up for a lot of shortcomings. Our kids have started to believe in that.”

Logic suggests it would help Haughton’s cause to keep off the field an Airline offense that’s scored 163 points the past three weeks. The Vikings are matching that flair on defense: in Airline’s 42-14 win last week over Captain Shreve, the Gators’ offense managed just 45 yards in the first half and had only 75 total when their backup quarterback took over for the game’s final two series.

“(Rains) is similar to (Shreve quarterback Kenyon) Terrell; they’re both athletic and can move around,” Airline defensive coordinator Zack Pourciau said. “You don’t want to let him leave the pocket. Rhodes is really good too, just a solid, solid player.”

“Problems all over the place,” Scogin said of the challenges Haughton brings to the field. “They’ve been to the playoffs for, what, a quarter-century straight? Pretty good program.”

By this back half of the season, everyone knows who has what. Few secrets. So, it’s more about sweeping off your own porch.

“Our worries aren’t so much about Haughton or Parkway or Byrd,” Airline senior linebacker Mark Engelke said. “We know we’re a good team. If we execute, we’re gonna win games.”

“We feel like if we play well, we can beat anybody in our district,” Brotherton said. “Thursday night (against Byrd) was like that. If we play well, we have a chance; we’ve got some tough guys.”

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Haughton (4-2, 2-1) at Airline (3-3, 3-0) 

Where: M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium 

Series: Airline 26-12 

Last year: Haughton 10-7 

Last week: Haughton beat Byrd 23-14; Airline beat Captain Shreve 42-14

Rankings: Haughton is No. 4 in SBJ poll; Airline is No. 2 in SBJ poll  

LHSAA Power Ratings: Airline is No. 17 in Div. I Non-Select; Haughton is No. 15 in Div. I Non-Select 

Radio: none 

Notables: Is 1-5A a joy or a gauntlet? It’s fun for fans of high school football, that’s for sure. In his first year as Airline’s head coach, Justin Scogin said he was “ready for it,” meaning the excitement and challenge of it, because no one can really BE ready for today’s 1-5A. “Best in the state,” Scogin said. “No other district in the state can match it top to bottom. Every single week is just brutal. As good as Southwood has gotten, there’s no game you can look at and say it’s a 100 percent win. Any team can beat any other team on any given night” . . . after early-season hiccups, the Vikings are putting their sophomore QB, Ben Taylor, in more favorable positions to be successful; his being five games older than he was in the 8-turnover opener has something to do with it too. “He’s surrounded by good skill players,” Haughton HC Jason Brotherton said. “He’s got big talented receivers around him. He’s done a good job himself and he doesn’t have to be great. Just get the ball close to (Daxton) Chavez and he’ll catch it” . . . Chavez and his “huge catch radius” is one problem for defenses, and his strength running it after the catch is another, Brotherton said. “Then if you roll to the side of Chavez, you have to worry about Cam Jefferson on the other side and he’s good.”

Green Oaks (2-4, 0-1) at Calvary (4-2, 1-0)

Where: Jerry Barker Stadium 

Series: Calvary 2-0 

Last year: did not play 

Last week: Green Oaks lost to Loyola 30-12; Calvary beat North Caddo 56-26 

Rankings: Calvary is tied No. 5 in SBJ, tied No. 5 in Class 2A LSWA poll 

LHSAA Power Ratings: Green Oaks is No. 17 in Div. III Select; Calvary is No. 6 in Div. III Select 

Radio: Calvary (Promise 90.7 FM) 

Notables: Giants’ head coach Chadwick Lewis is still hoping his players can clean up the mistakes – penalties, bad reads, forcing the ball — as they continue district play this week . . . the Giants have been without standout DL Kashaun Green since he suffered a knee injury in Week 2’s “Soul Bowl” victory over BTW . . . Lewis points to DB/WR Delarious Marshall and DE Phillip Hayes as the leaders on defense . . . Marshall also had nine catches for 119 yards in last week’s 30-12 loss to Loyola . . . Amarion Dorsey leads Green Oaks receivers with 14 catches for 281 yards and 3 TDs . . . QB Tovoras Lee is closing in on 1,000 passing yards . . . after going 14-for-25 for 199 yards last week, Lee is 177 shy of the mark.

This marks the first matchup between the Cavaliers and Giants in 12 years. Calvary won 59-18 in 2010 and 49-8 in 2009 . . . since a Sept. 15 loss to Captain Shreve, Calvary has scored at least 50 points in three straight against Wossman, Mansfield and North Caddo and the Cavs boast an average winning margin of 53-17 . . . running back James Simon IV has scored 12 touchdowns this season (eight rushing, four receiving). Six different Cavaliers have hauled in a touchdown pass this season.

High School Football Night in Haughton (and in America)

Counting tomorrow night’s game against Byrd, Haughton’s football team would have lived an entertaining and interesting past four weeks.

But you could say the same all over District 5A. Or 4A. Or as many A’s as you can come up with.

Like the “A” in America. High school football might be different here and there, but the feelings, the backstories, are all common as clay.

There’s so much more to high school football — any amateur sport — than meets the eye. We’re asking teens to do really difficult things. In front of passionate people.

It’s very hard to make it look easy.

We’ll take this snapshot of Haughton. Three weeks ago, the Bucs lost to 2A’s best team, Many, at Many, which is a lot like playing — I don’t know, at Haughton?, maybe? — except the roles were reversed. Haughton was the hunted, not the hunter. Tough team and tough place to play.

And the Bucs aren’t likely ever to forget it. That’s a good thing.

Two weeks ago it was the Bro Bowl, an added layer to what was already going to be a very competitive district opener. Younger brother Coy Brotherton and his Parkway team — currently ranked No. 1 in the SBJ poll — beat older brother Jason Brotherton and Haughton in an “instant classic.” Field goal at the end. 17-14. That kind of deal. The Panthers didn’t lead until there were two seconds left in the game.

“Sure, you want to win every game,” Jason said, “and it hurts when you don’t, and people don’t believe this, but I’ve done it long enough that now, it’s gotten to the point where as soon as it’s over, when it’s a game like that one, I don’t think ‘win’ or ‘loss’ as much as I think, ‘Man, what a great high school football game.’ Huge crowd. Rivalry. Both teams played well. Just a great high school football game.”

Sometimes, after a game like that one, the next-best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing.

Then last week … Homecoming. A coach for 25 years, Brotherton knows Homecoming week with all its extracurricular activity is a fun week for student-athletes, as it should be — but a Worry Week for coaches.

“I’d be lying if I said we focused only on Southwood this week,” he said on the eve of the Southwood game. Although the Cowboys’ September wins have since been forfeited, Brotherton said the on-field victories showed him the Cowboys had “gotten over that hump” of “knowing how to win. I told our kids, ‘They’re gonna beat somebody in our district; don’t let it be us.’”

It wasn’t. But it was 10-6 at the half before the Bucs pulled away, 37-24.

The Thursday night of Homecoming, Brotherton actually took the night off as coach and was instead dad to daughter Kinsley, who won the school beauty pageant last year and so was in the parade in a convertible Lexus, her dad at the wheel — “Not my car; I’m a high school football coach, remember?” Brotherton said — in that evening’s Homecoming parade. Kinsley was Lady of the Locket, and Brotherton was just glad last year’s pageant was over.

“Those things will wear you out,” dad Brotherton said.

Now this week, C.E. Byrd. Made it to the quarters last year. For so long, the standard bearer in 5A. Lurking Byrd, coming off its only loss of the season.

“You never,” Brotherton said, “get a week off in this district.”

Which is sort of the point of all this. A team’s base remains the same as the season goes along, but the playbook keeps growing with new wrinkles. It’s semi-gigantic by now. And there’s always The Next Game.

But high school football is just two-and-a-half hours in a day filled with other stuff.

The coach is still a dad and a teacher. The center is a math student. The corner has a cousin playing on the other team. The linebacker is having girlfriend woes. The slot receiver is thinking about a term paper and his ACT test tomorrow. Sometimes a coach is worried whether or not one of his players is going to have a ride home after practice.

“Part of (coaching) that’s frustrating is when your team might struggle and you hear some stuff, but not everyone knows what some of these kids might have going on,” Brotherton said. “Sometimes a kid missing a block might not be that big of a deal to him right then in his life.”

It’s a perspective thing.

Hopefully, teams are safe places, happy places. And mostly they are. While high school football is a glorious slice of American life, it’s just one slice. 

So cheer for your team. Hard and loud and long. They deserve it. But remember that in high school, every team is America’s Team.

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Streak ends tonight when Airline visits Shreve

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Both Airline and Captain Shreve will be directionally challenged when they meet tonight in a District 1-5A scrap at 7 at Lee Hedges Stadium.

Airline (2-3, 2-0) lost its first three games and won its last two.

Captain Shreve (3-2, 0-2) won its first three games and lost its last two.

Tonight will end with either a continuing trend or a couple of U-turns.

So does either coach change his message?

Not a chance.

“The message is the same,” Shreve’s Adam Kirby said. “The focus is on ourselves and not on who we’re playing. We try to take the other team out of it and instead ask ourselves, ‘Is this our best effort? Is this your best technique?’ We want to play fast, physical, and furious. And focus on us.

“There’s definitely disappointment,” Kirby said, “but not any panic. We lost to two really good teams.”

“Shreve is plenty dangerous without us having to say anything in regard to their record,” Airline’s Justin Scogin said. “They’ve had two losses and by, what, a touchdown each game? We don’t have to introduce them to our team; our players know.”

Plagued by turnovers early in the season, Scogin said that’s a thing his players have gotten past. The scoreboard agrees: the Vikings have scored a total of 121 points in their consecutive wins.

“Now we’re down to working hard on the small things,” Scogin said. “Practice the right way and leave the locker room (on game night) the right way. I think the way we’ve rebounded, the way we’re practicing, is a testament to how well our guys have bought in.”

Airline quarterback Ben Taylor has thrown for 11 touchdowns in the past two games and just one interception in the Vikings’ past four. The passing game has been so explosive that a Viking three-or-four-headed running game led by Tre Jackson has been overlooked a bit.

“Run off the pass is what we want to do,” Scogin said. “But some nights, things might go better on the ground.”

The Gators’ literal first line of defense will be a line that loves a challenge.

“A group of really good players and good kids who enjoy each other,” Kirby said about the Shreve defensive line. “Guys like Bryce Lopez and Greg Webb, Terrence Greene, Landon Mosley … the list could go on. They play hard, they don’t miss weights, they make their grades … This is a bunch that gets along well together and has the mentality of putting their head down and going to work. They’re willing to do whatever it takes.”

Tonight determines whether or not that will be enough.

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Airline (2-3, 2-0 in 1-5A) vs. Captain Shreve (3-2, 0-2)

Where: Lee Hedges Stadium

Series: Airline leads 29-22-1

Last year: Captain Shreve 33-0

Last week: Airline defeated Natchitoches Central 46-0; Captain Shreve lost to Parkway 25-13

Rankings: Airline is No. 5 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal poll; Shreve is No. 4 in SBJ poll.

LHSAA power ratings: Airline is 22nd in the Division I Non-Select ratings; Shreve is No. 7 in Division I Select

Radio: Captain Shreve (The River 95.7 FM,

Notables: Captain Shreve head coach Adam Kirby says his players are handling well the disappointment of starting 0-2 in district play. “We’re fine. The kids are resilient and are working hard to right the ship. We still have a chance to go 8-2 and possibly get a first-round bye in the playoffs, so we’re focusing on that”… linebacker Scotty Simo leads the Gators with 43 tackles (28 solo). “We encourage our kids to play fast, physical, and fearless,” Kirby said. “He lives by that and plays like that every game. He’s got a mind like a coach, so he’s able to process information quickly and react to it. He was a unanimous first-team All-District selection last year and he’s on pace to have another great season” … Airline is averaging 60.5 points in its last two games. “Trust your coaching,” Kirby said, when asked about the Gators’ defensive approach. “We need to play hard for 48 minutes and not get down on ourselves if and when something happens. Football games are up and down, and we need to learn how to stay even-keeled and trust what we’ve been coached to do.”

Friday in Airline’s shutout of Natchitoches-Central, Braylen Smallwood had nine of the Vikings’ 94 yards rushing, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize he plays offensive guard. The play ended up so pretty, it looked as if it were designed. It wasn’t. “We call it ‘The Snap Is Fumbled And The Guard Picks It Up And Runs With It’ play,” coach Justin Scogin said. Smallwood had a host of blockers around left end — a power sweep, it appeared — and rumbled around the corner as if he’d done it dozens of times before. Teammates and coaches claimed he was the happiest man in Bossier at that moment as he lived the offensive lineman’s dream … speaking of clean living, the Vikings were the beneficiary on a holding call on the Chiefs — on a Chiefs kickoff that was a touchback. Go figure … Vikes have found a new handyman in receiver and special teams regular Bryson Broom, who started at safety Friday, the first time he’d played defense in — ever. With Ladarius Epps injured, Broom stepped into the position at last Monday’s practice and did so well Friday that, even with Epps back tonight, Broom will play defense somewhere. He almost scored Friday on offense, too; look for him to be on the field most all the time … LB Justin Epps has been hurt since spring but should return in late October … Friday’s win was on Homecoming 2022 and was the first on the new turf installed late last summer at M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium.

Grass looking greener for Airline in 46-0 win

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Airline scored a school-record 75 points last week against Benton and won by only two touchdowns, 75-59.

Last night the Vikings scored 46 and won by — 46, a 46-0 whitewashing of visiting Natchitoches-Central (1-1, 2-3).

Of course while this was going on, a one-win Benton team that scores more often than a pinball machine was up the road at Mason-Newman Field at Tiger Stadium mauling previously unbeaten Byrd, the Shreveport-Bossier Journal’s No. 1-ranked local team, 63-28.

And Parkway was having a little bit easier of a time than most expected in its 25-13 win over the Gators, while Haughton was having a little bit tougher of time than most expected in its 37-24 win over Southwood.

But … this is the District 1-5A world we live in.

All that mattered to Airline (2-0, 2-3) on Homecoming night was winning its second game in a row after a turnover-filled 0-3 start and a 1-9 season last year. The Vikings needed an exclamation point on last week’s 75-point total and a defensive effort from start to finish.

That’s what they got.

“I knew we’d play well,” head coach Justin Scogin said, “but I didn’t think in my wildest dream it’d be like this. Defensively, we just dominated.”

By the time the visiting Chiefs had gotten their third first down — two of those were by penalty — Airline had built a 26-0 first-quarter lead.

After opening the game with two three-and-out efforts, the Viking defense scored when Jeremiah Boudreau snapped up a three-hop fumble after a vicious Viking hit and returned it 27 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

Other first-quarter scores were Viking quarterback Ben Taylor passes to Bob Patterson for 28 yards and Daxton Chavez for 18, and a 3-play, 51-yard drive that ended in a one-yard scoring run by Tre Jackson.

The score was 39-0 at half and much of the second half was played with a running clock; the Chiefs just never came close to scoring, something that put some pep in the step of defensive coordinator Zach Pourciau, who had to wear a semi-fake smile after last week’s victory when his unit gave up 59.

“The maddest I’ve ever been after a win in my life,” he said. “I was not happy. The problem was the lapse we had (last week) after we pulled the 1’s out.

“Tonight we came out fast, we started fast, we played fast, and we finished fast,” he said. “The big thing was to make sure we kept the intensity up for the entire game. Doesn’t matter what time in the game it is or what the score is or who’s playing. And I think we did an excellent job of that tonight. We finished.”

Taylor finished 14-of-24 passing (with four drops) for 253 yards and four touchdowns, three of those on the only three balls Chavez caught in the game — for 18 yards in the first quarter and deep posts for 60 and 33 yards in the second quarter. Play-action helped on the last one, but on both, Chavez just basically ran past the secondary and Taylor dropped it to his receiver on the run.

“We felt they’d try to take Dax away early on, and they did,” Scogin said. “But when they do that, you just throw to Cameron (Jefferson) or Bob (Patterson) or Tre; all of them. There’s no drop off at all. I think we loosened them up with some good passing plays to those guys, and we were able to hit Chavez late for a couple.”

Not unnoticed was Friday’s win marked the Vikings’ first on their new turf, which was installed just before last year’s winless-at-home season.

The grass is looking a lot greener now.

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Airline 46, Natchitoches Central 0

Score by quarters

NCHS | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | – 0

Airline | 26 | 13 | 7 | 0 | 46

Scoring summary

Air – Bob Patterson 28 pass from Ben Taylor (kick failed)

Air – Jeremiah Boudreaux 27 fumble return (Ben Jump kick)

Air – Daxton Chavez 18 pass from Taylor (kick blocked)

Air – Tre’ Jackson 1 run (Jump kick)

Air – Chavez 60 pass from Taylor (Jump kick)

Air – Chavez 33 pass from Taylor (kick failed)

Air – Cameron Jefferson 10 run (Jump kick)

Individual Leaders

Rushing – Airline (15-85), Ben Taylor 2-2, Tre Jackson 5-32, Kylin Jackson 1-9, Cameron Jefferson 3-16, JoJo Johnson 3-8, Preston Doerner 6-(-5). NCHS (33-118), BJ Young 4-19, Jeremiah Miles 16-55, Lannon Collum 1-6, Zecarious Thompson 7-14, Jaiden Medlock 3-23, Camryn Davis 2-1.

Passing – Airline, Taylor, 14-24-0-253. NC, Young 6-10-0-12.

Receiving – Airline, Bob Patterson 2-50, Jackson 5-38, Daxton Chavez 3-111, Cameron Jefferson 3-47; Kylin Jackson 1-7.

All kinds of fireworks likely tonight when Shreve visits Parkway

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Parkway jumped from the ice chest into the frying pan last week when District 1-5A play opened against Haughton.

Didn’t take but a few minutes into what would be a nail-biting 17-14 Panthers win to knock off the chill and feel the heat.

“It was the first time we’d faced any adversity,” said Parkway coach Coy Brotherton, whose team had beaten its first three opponents by a combined score of 131-20 and had pitched two straight shutouts. “Felt it was a little easy for them. We got woke up the first half against Haughton, that’s for sure; that really brought us back to reality.”

It keeps on being for real tonight when Parkway, 1-0, 4-0, welcomes Captain Shreve, 0-1, 3-1 to newly-turfed Preston Crownover Stadium at 7. 

While Parkway won a close one last week, Shreve rallied from being down 17-0 at the half to Byrd before losing, 25-20. That’s old news now to the Gators, who’ve had to think on their feet just to get through a challenging pre-district schedule.

“One thing about this team is they buy into the ‘one play won’t win you the game, and one play won’t lose you the game; one game won’t win district for you, and one loss won’t lose it for you,’’’ Shreve coach Adam Kirby said. “This week we’ve had three of our best practices so far. They’re focused, and our goals are still in reach.

“I’m so proud of their effort in the second half (last week),” Kirby said. “They could have folded. I’m seeing the hunger, the desire to want to get back at it.”

To do it, the Gators will have to slow the fastest player on the field in running back Jaylan White (43 carries, 495 yards, 7 TDs), who finished tied for No. 17 in the state in the 100 meters.

“He’s electric,” Kirby said. “Coy does a fantastic job of getting the ball into his hands in all sorts of different ways. Fans are going to see two of the fastest players in the state between him and (Shreve receiver) Macho (Stevenson, 10 catches, 177 yards, 2 TDs).”

Parkway’s defense has its own challenges, starting with containing Gator quarterback Kenyon Terrell, who’s thrown just one interception in 86 attempts.

“He extends a lot of plays and can hurt you either running or throwing,” Brotherton said. “You think you’ve got him bottled up and, somehow, he makes a good play.”

Whatever happens, it will be in an atmosphere that illustrates “big boy football,” Kirby said.

“It’s tough over there man,” Shreve’s rookie head coach said. “They’ve done a good job. Hat’s off for finding something and getting it really going. They’ll have fireworks before the game, a deejay … It’ll be a playoff atmosphere. I’ve told our guys, you’ve got to treat this like a district title game. (The Panthers) play hard and it’s tough.”

“There’s the new turf, a lot of buzz, 4-0, and we’re playing a team we’re familiar with, separated by only a river,” Brotherton said. “I think a lot of people are going to be there. It’s a big game, our band is top notch … it’s going to be loud. For even the casual football fan, I believe this will be the place to be.”

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Captain Shreve (0-1, 3-1) at Parkway (1-0, 4-0), Bobby Marlow Field at Preston Crownover Stadium

Series: Captain Shreve 30-16

Last year:  Parkway 30-23 in playoffs

Last week: Captain Shreve lost to Byrd 25-20; Parkway beat Haughton 17-14

Rankings:  Captain Shreve is No. 3 in SBJ Top 10; Parkway is No. 2 in SBJ poll

Radio: Captain Shreve (KLKL 95.7 FM)

Notable:  Head Coach Adam Kirby insists losing the district opener has not put any additional pressure on the Gators. “Our job is to control what we can control. We’ve got six weeks of football left. As long as we continue to play hard, our goal is still within reach” … the last two weeks, Shreve has shown they have two productive running backs in Jayden Edwards and Jamarlon Otis. “I think it’s a huge advantage, because both are extremely talented,” Kirby said. “It helps you in-game, and in game preparation, to have two guys that can get you positive yards every time they touch the ball” … Friday’s game is against the team that knocked Shreve out of last year’s playoffs (second round). “None,” Kirby said, when asked about the loss being motivation for this year’s team. “We treat each game the same, regardless of who it is. We really try to focus on ourselves and how we play, and focus on what we can do better day-to-day. It’s 2022, and what happened last season doesn’t affect this season.”

Parkway quarterback Ashton Martin will face his former team … the teams split last year – Shreve won 46-21 in the regular season, but the Panthers took a 30-23 second-round playoff victory … running back Jaylan White needs 262 rushing yards to break the school’s career record … White is averaging 11.5 yards per carry this season.

Natchitoches Central (1-0, 2-2) at Airline (1-0, 1-3), M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium

Series: Airline leads 24-15

Last year:  Natchitoches 28-7

Last week: Natchitoches Central beat Southwood 27-0; Airline beat Benton 75-59

Rankings:  Airline is No. 5 in SBJ Top 10 poll

Radio: NCHS (95.9 FM, Kix Classic Country,

Notable: Airline set a school record for points scored in the Vikings’ 75-59 victory at Benton last Friday night and earned the title of “Team of the Week” by the Shreveport-Bossier Journal … QB Ben Taylor threw seven TDs and Daxton Chavez caught five … Junior RB Tre’ Jackson had 15 carries for 173 yards and 1 TD … Sr RB Kylin Jackson had 120 yards on six carries with 1 TD … but the Secret Weapon was an offensive line that did the dirty work: LT Jackson Warren, LG Reid Hawsey, C Hunter Kendrick, RG Hunter Howard, RT Artis James, and backups Malik Word and Nathan Hill. SBJ Hat Tip … Special teams got in on the scoring too: JoJo Johnson returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD … not to be dismissed, the Vikings gave up 59 points, but that’s something Airline HC Justin Scogin wasn’t overly concerned about. “One (TD) was a kick return, and there was kind of a lull in the game when we got a little too comfortable,” he said. “And there are still a few things schematically we’re trying to get installed. Our defensive coaches were upset, but minus a handful of things, I think we’ve been pretty good defensively all year. Our defensive staff does a fantastic job.” … Scogin also isn’t worried about a letdown after last week’s record-setting result. “Practice has been upbeat and all that, but not any more than usual,” he said. “I think they understand last week was just one game and we’ve got to keep our foot on the pedal as far as getting better to build this program.” … Taylor ranks third in the state with his 1,090 passing yards, according to … the Chiefs have been playing a pair of sophomore quarterbacks since senior standout B.J. Young suffered a shoulder injury early in the jamboree against Loyola.

Cousin Kevin: USA’s secret weapon in Presidents Cup win

He doesn’t talk about himself much, likes to keep quiet in his retirement from high school coaching, prefers to get on the mower at his home course, Royster Memorial at City Park, in his hometown, Shelby, N.C., and quietly work his part-time job with no more fanfare than a bump on a tee box.

So you didn’t read about what Kevin Allen did this weekend at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, an hour’s drive from Shelby and a golf universe or two removed from Royster Memorial — 9 holes, 2911 yards (from the tips!), par 35.

But for two crucial matches in last weekend’s Presidents Cup, he was a standard bearer, the guy who walks inside the ropes with that Big Huge Sign that the gallery can see, the sign denoting the players and scores of the match they are watching.

Cousin Kevin. My man. America’s Man, a man you didn’t read about for two reasons.

One, the Americans pretty much spanked the Internationals, 17.5 to 12.5, which is equivalent to you (the American) firing a light-running 68 and me (the foreign guy) turning in a bulky, bloated 89.

Not a tremendous amount of drama.

The other reason is Cousin Kevin’s humility. “I just wanted to help the team,” he told me Tuesday, when his knees had quit aching long enough for him to walk to his car and find his phone.

He’s a regular volunteer down in Greer, S.C. at the annual Korn Ferry event, the BMW Charity Pro-Am, so this was nothing new. He loves it. He’d be a professional standard bearer if there were such a thing.

But it was the Presidents Cup, at updated and lush Quail Hollow, (and all I heard about all summer).

So …

Thursday, the event began. Cousin Kevin had America’s Tony Finau and Max Homa against Foreign People Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira. Kevin and Finau and Homa won, 1 up.

America led, 4-1, when the day ended.

“3-2 makes it a longer night,” Cousin Kevin said. “Felt like I helped us push through there late. Big point.”

I’ll say.

His next shift was the biggie: Sunday. The US had a comfortable but not insurmountable lead. So Cousin Kevin drank an extra Red Bull, grabbed his standard and headed out to seal the deal.

His singles group was Xander Schauffele (Us) against Corey Conners (Them). Schauffele closed out Conners with a putt on 18 that gave America all the points it needed; the rest was for show.

But here’s the story behind the story:

Earlier in the round — Schauffele was putting on 6, a challenging 249-yard par-3 — and Cousin Kevin and his standard are behind the green. He gets a tap on the arm.

It’s Davis Love III, the team captain.

Keep in mind that the volunteers like Cousin Kevin are told in no uncertain terms that they aren’t to speak to the competitors unless spoken too. Gentleman’s agreement.

But Davis Love III, captain of the whole team, for crying out loud, in the heat of the battle, the middle of competition, spoke to my cousin, who recreated for me their conversation, word for word.

Love: “Is Xander’s putt for birdie?”

Cousin Kevin: “Yessir, Captain.”

Swear to Arnold Palmer it’s true.

“Felt like that was another point right there,” Kevin said. “Look, he could have called Zach Johnson. He could have called Steve Stricker. He could have called — who’s the other co-captain?”

Me: “Webb Simpson?”

Kevin: “Webb Simpson! But he asked me. Felt I helped us get another point.”

Dang straight.

I almost forgot to ask: Did Schauffele make the putt?

“Not even close,” Kevin said. “Made his par.”

Not even close to Cousin Kevin’s double-eagle weekend. We thank him for his service.

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Parkway vs. Haughton: Throw out the records — and the brothers

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton spent the evening before the Haughton-Parkway football game playing football with his 9-year-old son in the front yard. Then he camped out in his pickup at the end of his driveway to ward off toilet-paper rollers.

“Three years in a row they’ve got me,” he said. “It’s a rivalry game, so …”

Little brother Coy, the head coach at Parkway, was at a high school football game Thursday but he was “playing football” too. How can football not be on your mind when you’re stepping on the field against your rival in less than 24 hours?

“Their quarterback (Colin Rains) is so good,” Coy said. “We can’t let him extend plays. Got to keep him in the pocket.”

The brothers won’t catch a pass or make a tackle or score a touchdown tonight. But some of their players will, and each is hoping their guys play better than the other guys. Parkway beat Haughton, 13-0, in the preseason jamboree.

Brotherly love aside, the tale will be told tonight when Parkway (3-0) meets Haughton (2-1) Between the Pines at Harlon E. Harlon Stadium at 7.

“It’s a tough place to play,” Coy said. “It’s hard to go in there and win. A rival game like that, you’ve got to throw everything else out the window. We’ve got to stay focused and let our players do the talking.”

“We’ve got to run the ball better and create some turnovers,” Jason said. “Can’t let them make any explosive plays. And they can kill you on special teams. We’ve got to make two more big plays than they do to be able to win.” 

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Parkway (3-0) at Haughton (2-1), Harold E. Harlan Stadium

Series: Haughton leads 35-15

Last year: Parkway won 17-3

Last week: Parkway beat Bossier 49-0; Haughton lost to Many 35-3

Rankings: Parkway is No. 2 in SBJ poll

Radio: none

Notable: It’s time for another version of the Bro Bowl — head coaches and brothers, Coy (Parkway) and Jason (Haughton) … The brothers have split the first two meetings … The Panthers were the only Bossier Parish school to win last week … Haughton and Parkway have split the past 10 meetings.

Evangel (1-2) at Bossier (0-3), Memorial Stadium

Series: Evangel 6-0

Last year: Did not play

Last week: Evangel lost to Westgate 37-21; Bossier lost to Parkway 49-0

Rankings: Evangel is No. 10 in SBJ poll

Radio: none

Notable: Bossier head coach DeAumante Johnson presented Parkway head coach Coy Brotherton with a plaque before last Friday night’s game. Brotherton was the head coach at Plain Dealing when Johnson was the quarterback for the Lions … Brotherton also attended Senior Day at Grambling State University to honor Johnson. Brotherton was the first to call Johnson and invite him to be a part of Bryant Sepulvado’s staff at Captain Shreve High School … The Bossier offense only managed to earn one first down against the Parkway defense last week. Two of Bossier’s first downs were attributed to Parkway penalties … Bossier’s Cristobal Cruz had a 60-yard punt in last week’s game against Parkway …. Kameron Manning provided the Bearkats with a bright spot in the first quarter with an interception. … The 0-3 start for the Bearkats marks the first time since 2018 that Bossier has lost three games in a row. The Bearcats were 1-9 in 2018. 

Evangel boasts the top three positions on Shreveport-Bossier City’s tackles leaders. Jacob Wilson leads the way with 43 while teammates Gabriel Reliford and Jamal Jordan have posted 42 apiece. Four other Eagles are listed with 20-plus tackles. Those seven Evangel players have combined for 212 tackles and own seven of the top 18 spots.

Peabody (2-1) vs. Green Oaks (1-2), Jerry Burton Memorial Stadium

Series: Green Oaks 4-0

Last year: Did not play

Last week: Peabody lost to Logansport 46-13; Green Oaks beat BTW 28-6

Rankings: none

Radio: none

Notable: The good news from last week’s Soul Bowl was Green Oaks getting the 28-6 victory for the Giants’ first victory on the field since Nov. 20, 2022. The bad news is their star defensive lineman, Kashaun Green, was injured in the first quarter and will be out for a couple of weeks … “We told Kashaun, ‘We want you to play, but we need you for district,’” said Green Oaks coach Chadwick Lewis. “It’s no big deal if he has to sit out a couple of games” … The Giants are working hard to get the offense going. “We will have to be able to get some points on the board to help the defense,” said Lewis … The defense was the star of the game last week, recovering a fumble in the BTW endzone, coming up with a 14-yard scoop-and-score, and a 35-yard interception return for a score … “This is Military and First Responders Appreciation Night,” said Lewis, “so we want to acknowledge and thank them for their hard work and dedication to serving and protecting” … After breaking the losing streak, the Giants “want to be and remain hungry for more,” according to Lewis.

North Caddo (3-0) at Neville (2-1)

Series: Neville 2-0

Last year: Did not play

Last week: North Caddo beat Bolton 44-20; Neville beat Huntington 49-12

Rankings: North Caddo No. 5 in LSWA 2A poll, No. 7 in SBJ poll; Neville No. 4 in LSWA 4A poll

Radio: North Caddo (KNCB 1320 AM, K104FM)

Notable: Last time the schools played was in 1958 won by Neville 20-7 … North Caddo running back K.J. Black did not play in the 44-20 road win against Bolton last week … North Caddo has scored no fewer than 40 points in the first three games of the 2022 season … North Caddo’s University of Nebraska commit, Omarion Miller, only had two catches in last week’s win, but still managed to get over 100 yards receiving (116 to be exact). Both catches went for touchdowns. To finish things off, Miller caught the two successful two-point conversions on both touchdowns to finish the night with 16 points. 

Airline at Benton: ‘Do whatever it takes’

ON THE RUN – Greg Manning (3) has rushed for 235 yards and five touchdowns for Benton, which plays host to Airline in a big rivalry game tonight. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Airline was 1-9 last year. Airline is much better this year—but 0-3.

The Vikings know that. Not easy to swallow. Too many turnovers. Poor tackling.

Do that better and who knows?

Benton? 1-2. Special teams mistakes. Gave up two kickoff returns for touchdown in back-to-back games. Pass coverage problems. Like Airline, poor tackling. Fix that and who knows?

Some answers will come tonight when Airline and Benton meet at Mason-Newman Field in Tiger Stadium. An argument could be made that this is the best matchup tonight in the state of teams with a combined 1-5 record.

Benton’s Tigers are coming off a heartbreaking loss in New Orleans in a game they led by 18 points to Newman, 54-52. Yes, that many points.

“Mentally, I think we’re in a good place (after the loss),” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said. “Still some fatigue. We’re not the freshest we’ve ever been. We have a lot of guys who played a lot of snaps.”

Cramping was usually a problem for the other team, not for Benton. Friday night in New Orleans was a different story. But a match with Airline suddenly clears the cramping air.

“It’s a big rivalry game,” Moore said. “We have to do whatever it takes to win this game. Airline is not a typical 0-3 team. If it were a team that nobody thought was good, our kids would be in a different mindset. But this is Airline. It’s a lot easier to be focused.”

“If we eliminate turnovers and if we tackle, we’ll be fine; I don’t worry that much about intensity if we do that,” Airline head coach Justin Scogin said. “We’re 0-3, but the good thing is they understand what they’re doing wrong. They’ve stayed true to who I thought they were. I know they’ve never gotten to the point where they’ve said, ‘Man, we’re giving up.’ They’ve continued to compete.

“We’re tired of people telling us how good of an 0-3 team we are,” he said. “Our kids understand; they get it. This has been the best part—nobody’s giving up. It’s never fun to lose, but the process of the whole thing, learning how to win, is fun.” 

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Airline (0-3) at Benton (1-2), Mason-Newman Field at Tiger Stadium

Series: Airline 2-1

Last year: Benton 28, Airline 7

Last week: Airline lost to Northwood 35-28; Benton lost to Newman 54-52

Rankings: Benton is No. 5 in SBJ poll

Radio: Benton (The Light, 92.1 FM)

Notable: Tigers receiver Pearce Russell ranks third Caddo-Bossier with 18 receptions and 351 receiving yards … Benton is coming off a wild 54-52 loss to quarterback Arch Manning and Newman in Week 3 … Benton defeated Airline 28-7 last season and lost 31-28 in 2020.

Natchitoches Central (1-2) at Southwood (2-1), Lee Hedges Stadium

Series: Natchitoches 22-9

Last year: Natchitoches 37-6

Last week: Natchitoches lost to ASH 54-6; Southwood lost to Carroll 40-12

Rankings: none

Radio: Natchitoches (95.9 Kix Classic Country;

Notable: After starting the season 2-0 for the first time since 2006, the Cowboys fell to Carroll 40-12 in Week 3 … They hope to get back in the win column when they open District I-5A play against the Chiefs … Southwood coach Jesse Esters said the Cowboys will regroup and get back to the basics … “We had become distracted with the two wins that we didn’t perform well,” Esters said of last week’s loss … The Cowboys will be without three players tonight – workhorse running back Melvin Coleman, safety Jathon Skinner, and left guard Jayden Stevenson.

Calvary (1-2) at Wossman (2-1)

Series: First meeting

Last year: Did not play

Last week: Calvary lost to Byrd 14-7; Wossman beat Mentorship 67-0

Rankings: Calvary is No. 8 in LSWA 2A poll, No. 4 in SBJ poll

Radio: Calvary (Promise 90.7 FM)

Notable: So much for that quarterback competition. This week, Calvary Baptist Academy quarterback Bryce Carpenter, who had shared time with Abram Wardell, withdrew from the school and enrolled at Loyola College Prep … on the season, Carpenter has completed 39 percent of his passes (11-for-28) for one touchdown and one interception. He also added 29 rushing yards and a score. Wardell is 11-for-16 passing for three touchdowns and an interception … Barring a special reprieve, Carpenter won’t be eligible to play until Week 4 of his senior season.


Death Valley comes alive — again

My adopted state is wildly cherished Louisiana, but I’m from South Carolina.

Once dismissed from the East Coast, Louisiana was the only other state that would take me.

Deeply appreciate it.

That being said, we just want to make sure we’re all squared up and understand that while Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is often called Death Valley, the original Death Valley by a decade or so is in Clemson, S.C., in Pickens County, hard by the Seneca River.

Tiger Stadium’s pregame is awesome. Chills and all that. But it’s batting second behind the original Death Valley in Clemson, the best of the best.

The stadium opened in 1942 with 20,000 seats. In the late 1940s, the Presbyterian College coach, Lonnie McMillian, said it was so hot in Clemson that it was like playing in Death Valley, California. The Clemson coach, Frank Howard, who’d helped lay the sod for the new stadium, liked that. So he kept repeating it.

It caught on. It didn’t hurt that a huge cemetery was less than a fly pattern from the west sideline. And still is.

“Death Valley” caught on.

For a couple of reasons, it is hallowed ground to me.

The first college game I ever went to was South Carolina at Clemson, November, 1970. I clocked in at 10 years old. We stood on the north hill — the stadium wasn’t enclosed then — and watched Tommy Suggs lead the Gamecocks to victory, 38-32, in front of a sold-out crowd of 51,000, which included me.

Why those old teenagers and young men of 20 or so took me, I don’t know.

Lyn Moody, who taught me how to milk a cow and catch a grounder.

Hayes Barfield, the town mechanic who had a calendar in his garage of women in shorts holding carburetors; he taught me how to love … carburetors. And cylinders. Brake pads.

Rudy Huggins, the best left fielder I have ever seen; can still see him robbing a dude of a home run, flipping over the waist-high chain link fence that, during football season, was what separated fans from the field at about the 20-yard line.

And Wayne Baxley. We left from his house. I sat between him and Lyn up front, back when you could do that. With no seat belt.

Anyway, they let me go with them. How it felt, riding to a Big Game with guys I thought were actual grownups, I can’t describe because I’m no poet. We stopped for RC Colas and peanuts. We listened to Tammy Wynette on the AM radio. A four-hour trip today, longer back then. For me, heaven in an LTD.

I slept all the way home.

But I woke up to all those colors. All those people. My town was 750 people and I knew them all. I knew their dogs and cats. But back then before the Clemson-South Carolina game in 1970, I didn’t know there were that many people in the world.

The biggest thing was the roar of the crowd. Again, the roar of the crowd. Intoxicating. That was the thing. That was what hooked me. The roar. All those colors and all those people.

There were maybe two weeks when I was a teenager that I wanted to be the centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles. But that passed, and all I ever wanted to be was a sportswriter. I just wanted to figure out some way to be in the roar of the crowd.

A lot of times I wonder what I’d be doing today if those guys hadn’t taken me to that game. Other things like the Bookmobile and some priceless teachers and encouraging parents were a part of it, but that afternoon was the main thing that, in the back of my little-boy brain, made me want to be a sportswriter.

Saturday night, I went back to Death Valley again, for the first time in 52 years. Priceless. A lot has changed in a half century.

This time I was in the press box and radio booth. A 34-point underdog, Louisiana Tech trailed 13-6 at the half, but penalties and turnovers and Clemson happened, and the Bulldogs fell, 48-20. (But they covered the spread. So who’s the real winner?)

But during pregame, something happened that had never happened before. Clemson is in the middle of a $70 million stadium “enhancement” process. And if you’ve got $70 million to spare, it was worth it.

New video board. LED lights. Sound system. Ribbon boards. Saturday was the first night game in Death Valley with the new configuration.

The stadium went dark. (You can do that with LED lights, and turn them right back on. I know, right?!) Queen sang We Will Rock You. The new ribbon boards flashed between orange and white, the Clemson colors. The video board showed the players making their way to The Hill, where they’d run down (think of the old Joe Aillet Stadium hill) to the field. Fans lit their flashlights. The end zone video board, almost as long as the end zone, showed the players getting ready to touch “Howard’s Rock” and run into the stadium.

It was a thing. Chills and all that. And the first time for everybody, everybody being around 80,000 people.

But if you were 10, and you were standing on the hill behind the north end zone with some of your heroes, and it was your first college game, 1970 was better.

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Expect a football party when Haughton visits Many

RHODES RUNNER: Haughton’s Tyler Rhodes runs after getting the handoff from quarterback Colin Rains.

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Tonight in Many, Haughton has a home game on the road.

“Heard it’s an experience,” said Haughton head coach Jason Brotherton, whose 5A team known for its own interesting gameday experience is expecting a playoff atmosphere when the Bucs visit John W. Curtis Tiger Stadium at 7 o’clock.

“Heard about the Harley-Davidsons, the fireworks, the tailgating,” Brotherton, a Many gameday rookie, said. “We’re excited about that. Heard if you want to steal anything in Many, do it during a home football game. Sounds familiar; sounds like my kinda place.”

While Brotherton and the Bucs haven’t been there, they’ve “been there.”

“We have a unique (home) atmosphere too,” he said. “Many might even be a step up from us. But our guys are used to playing in big-game atmospheres.”

Both teams have playoff pedigrees. Many has won two Class 2A state titles in five title game appearances since 2013 and finished as runner-up last year. Haughton’s been a playoff regular for the last 25 years, including in every season since the Bucs have been in 5A.

“Our kids know Many’s good; they know Many’s not your typical 2A team,” Brotherton said. “Shoot, they’re gonna have more guys get scholarship offers for college on their team than we’ll have on ours, so we’re not gonna overlook them.

“There’s a lot of interest in the state in this game — how will the top team in Class 2A play against a 5A team. Our guys know that, and we always hope to represent 5A well.”

Many is fast and furious; the Tigers outscored their first two opponents, each in a higher classification, by a combined 88-10.

“We like playing in big games like this,” Brotherton said. “If you don’t find yourself playing in a big game, you must not be very good. Parkway is our biggest rival, and we’ve got them next week — another big game. So Friday night’s not going to be anything too out of the ordinary.”

Contact Teddy at

Haughton (2-0) at Many (2-0), John W. Curtis Tiger Stadium

Series: Haughton leads 6-2

Last year: Did not play

Last week: Haughton beat LaGrange 44-14; Many beat DeRidder 50-7

Rankings: Haughton is ranked 4th in the Journal Top 10; Many is No. 1 in LSWA 2A Top 10

Radio: none locally; 99.9 KTEZ FM, Many (

Notable: Last time they played was in 1969, won by Haughton 35-0 … Haughton Athletics’ Twitter, @HbucsAthletics, has named senior DL Hayden Ramey, 3.75 GPA, as its Scholar Athlete of the Week … Haughton QB Colin Rains is No. 5 in SBJ passing yardage: 358, 23-29-0, 5 TDs … Many QB Tackett Curtis is not much of a passer but is a special runner/safety/linebacker/return man; returned two punts for TDs this season and a third was wiped out by penalty … RB Jeremiah James is Many’s primary back, but look out for Jamarlyn Garner too, and others … defense returns 10 of 11 starters, including LB Keaton Montgomery and DB Tylen Singleton, from last year’s very good unit … Many coach Jess Curtis: “Playing some spread offenses earlier this season definitely helped us prepare and showed us some things we need to clean up. Third down on defense is a down we want to win. And then we want to control the time of possession on offense because Haughton likes to go up-tempo; we want to hang on to the ball.”

Loyola (0-2) at North DeSoto (2-0)

Series: Loyola leads 12-7

Last year: Did not play

Last week: Loyola lost to Logansport 44-42; North DeSoto beat Center, Texas 71-42

Rankings: None

Radio: none

Notable: Loyola has recovered more onside kicks (2) than it has fumble recoveries and interceptions combined (1) … Loyola will be trying to avoid its first 0-3 start since 2006 … Last week’s game against Logansport is the first time the Flyers have scored 42 points and lost since a 2007 playoff game against St. John’s-Plaquemine (46-44) … This is the first meeting between the Flyers and Griffins since 2014 … The previous 19 meetings were all as a district or playoff game.

Magnolia (0-2) at East Iberville (0-2)

Series: First meeting

Last year: First meeting

Last week: Magnolia lost to General Trass 49-18; East Iberville lost to East Feliciana 33-0

Rankings: none

Radio: none

Notable: Magnolia is looking for its first win since a 30-26 victory over Ringgold on Sept. 24, 2021 … despite scoring only one touchdown in their Week 1 loss to Lake Charles College Prep, the Mariners were able to get into the endzone three times last week … Magnolia quarterback Mark McCray – who ran for the Mariners’ only TD in Week 1 – threw two TDs last week (to DeAndre and DeVondre Johnson) … East Iberville is trying to break a three-game losing streak that started with last season’s final game.