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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Brad Bradshaw Part II

Apparently Mr. Brad Bradshaw had plenty of time for the AP's national columnist, Jim Litke, this week.

We'll have a column from Litke in Friday's paper on Bastrop.

I guess Bradshaw is one of those guys who likes to play up to the national media but disregard the locals. That's fine. But when Bastrop goes back to being 6-4, 5-5, don't start griping about a lack of coverage.

As for Litke's feel-good story in Bastrop, call me cynical, but I don't feel real good about any teams that bolstered themselves with Katrina kids. Personally, I would like for New Orleans' rebuilding to come along so well that all that called New Orleans home would be able to call it home again.

Bastrop against Minden

I talked to Bastrop coach Brad Bradshaw on Wednesday, and he was rather short with his answers. Apparently he feels he has been mistreated by the media after his program was penalized by the LHSAA for student transfer problems.
I understand he may feel beseiged. What he needs to understand is that he doesn't work for himself. Not allowing students to be interviewed following a game - as happened after the Ruston-Bastrop game if not every week - doesn't hurt the newspaper. We will have a story.
School is a time for learning, and learning to deal with people in various aspects of life is part of that. Students shouldn't be shielded from life.
Furthermore, he is a public image for Bastrop High and even the town of Bastrop. Wrong or not, people who hear about the Bastrop football team will, at least in part, transfer their feelings to the town and school.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Loyola athletes

I saw Loyola and Airline play a doubleheader of basketball on Tuesday, and the Flyers (boys and girls) have some athletes. That's not been unusual for the girls, but the boys were more athletic than I've seen them in seven years.
Back to the girls, Ashley Jackson may be the best individual player in the city. I haven't seen everybody yet, but she seems fully healed from her knee injury. Her dad Willie Jackson, who coaches the Loyola boys, isn't sure she is completely confident in the strength of her knee yet, but that will come. She was in some decent collisions against Airline, so that should help her relax.

Too big for little schools?

Joe McKnight might be one of the best high school football players I've ever seen. Or he could be completely overrated.

There's really no way to tell, with the way John Curtis has steamrolled through the playoffs, including its 47-6 win over Homer in the quarterfinals last week. In that game, against what was a pretty talented 2A Homer squad, McKnight scored three TDs on just six touches.

He would have had a fourth score on seven attempts, but his touchdown pass was nullified by a false start penalty (for what it's worth, I didn't see the false start).

Here's what I want to know: why put small-town teams through this sort of lopsided justice? Who is the LHSAA really punishing?

I know I'm new to the state and all, but maybe the LHSAA should consider bumping those private school powers, including Evangel, back into Class 5A. Those schools are better equipped to deal with those sort of powers, and trust me, West Monroe isn't going to go away just because John Curtis can take in athletes from almost anywhere.

After Springhill beat Kinder in a tight, well-played game in the second round of the playoffs, Kinder coach Jeff Wainwright reflected on the true meaning of the evening: "This is what 2A football is all about. All you can ask for is getting to Curtis these days."

Springhill lost last week, avoiding a semifinal matchup with Curtis, but Wainwright was right: for those 1A and 2A schools filled with kids whose football futures will go no further than Friday nights, Evangel, Calvary and John Curtis are brutal, unscalable obstacles.

Maybe it's time they move up.

Ronnie Alexander

The story always was that Ronnie Alexander didn't want to be the head coach at Evangel. He seemed happy as defensive coordinator, and it paid off with championship after championship for the Eagles football team.
In Thursday's edition of The Times, I'll have a lengthy feature on Alexander about his year at the helm. I've also talked to Pat Collins, who hired him at Northeast Louisiana, and Jerry Arledge, who he worked for at Northwestern State. Both have great respect for the Evangel coach, and so do I.
When Dennis Dunn left, I wasn't certain how Alexander would be to communicate with, but he has been great.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tide opponent not lacking for motive

If you remember some hoopla earlier this year about some school being penalized for some Hurricane Katrina transfers, that team is in the radar of some northwest Louisiana fans this week.
Minden plays that team and its transfers, who helped the Rams win a 4A state championship last year before the LHSAA took it away. Now, Bastrop wants to make sure it wins another to cement itself as an outstanding team, and Minden stands in the way.
The Tide is not a non-factor in this game, because of its speed and athleticism. There are Minden fans posting some pretty brave comments around the internet, but Bastrop doesn't need any more motivation. This is the semifinal round of the playoffs.
That should be plenty.

Not that anyone asked

It's coming to the time of year when a personal pet peeve of mine is exposed - high school all-star selections.

Mercifully, I wasn't a voting member when the LSWA rolled out an all-state team with FOUR players at quarterback.

I am a purist. I like my all-star teams with 11 players on offense and 11 on defense. If you want to replace a tight end with another wide receiver, have at it. If you want to use three running backs and take out the tight end, I'm OK.

Where I'm not OK is not making a decision, a hard decision, and then putting multiple players at a position. It's a joke and demeans the team.

Not that anyone has asked. But don't expect to see any of our Times teams with FOUR quarterbacks anytime soon.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Semifinal chances

Two teams remain, and I think neither game (Evangel at Kentwood or Minden at Bastrop) is a gimme.
Let's take Evangel first. The Eagles could be getting a little too much confidence after a 42-6 win over Calvary. I think they and many of their fans have given the numbers on the scoreboard a little too much importance in predicting future outcomes.
Evangel's trump card is its defense, which has to be one of the quickest lines in the state. Kentwood can't throw the ball well enough to be considered much of a threat, but don't count out a traditional power playing at home.
As for Minden, the Tide has speed and more speed. Speed kills, and Bastrop will have to play well to have the easy time many think the Rams will have.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

And then there were two

Well, with two weeks of the playoffs remaining there are but two northwest Louisiana teams still standing - Evangel and Minden.

Unless Minden upsets defending state 4A champion Bastrop on Friday, that number will be either one or none depending on the Evangel-Kentwood game.

I've thought all along this wasn't a very strong year for the area. That much is being proven out in the playoffs.

Still, Evangel figures to be a state championship team. And, if Minden wins on Friday, then there's a chance for two state champions from the area.

This is all cyclical. Hopefully, the future will be brighter.

Friday, November 24, 2006

ECA-Calvary tickets

If you want one, get there early. Athletic director Dan Newman tells me there will be up to 1,200 allowed for standing room, so it will be packed. Nobody else is playing in town, and this is a big rematch anyway. Some advice parking along Broadacres, but that is up to the individual driver. It makes it easier to get out, but you are taking a risk by parking on the street. Have funa, and enjoy the game.

Fair Park basketball

Looks like the Indians are not too far from where they left off. Fair Park won the Thanksgiving Classic, the first early test for many of the good teams in the Shreveport area. Huntington, which has size and athletes, was also in the tournament. Morris Claiborne is playing well early, continuing the good year he had on the football field.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Playoff picks

OK, there's no line on high school football games. But I'll give you some picks anway for games involving area teams.

Class 5A - Ruston vs. Catholic Baton Rouge. Isn't this about the time Catholic usually falls flat? And who would have thought Ruston would have outlasted West Monroe in the playoffs. Still, the road can be tough, I'll go with Catholic.

Class 4A - Neville at Minden. Minden's unbeaten. The winner of this one, though, likely gets Bastrop next. Neville has a win over Ruston and has scored 50 twice this season so Minden may want to avoid a shootout. I'll go with Neville.

Class 3A
Oh, that's right, we don't have anyone in 3A.

Class 2A
John Curtis vs. Homer. It would be the stuff of legend if Homer were to win this one. I'll take John Curtis.

Springhill at Clinton. It's a long trip for Springhill. Clinton doesn't overwhelm me. Give me Springhill in this one.

Class 1A
Calvary at Evangel. I know Calvary lost by one and should have won the game during the regular season. This is the postseason. Until somebody knocks off Evangel, I'll go with Evangel.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Texas playoff game

If you read about the Texas High-Highland Park footbal playoff game in The Times today, you already know there will be a Class 4A Texas prep playoff game at Independence Stadium on Friday.
But here are some more details unearthed by the Dallas Morning News. The two coaches played a game to determine where the game would be played. One coach named a town, and the other had to guess if the zip code was an odd or even number. Via that game, the game ended up in Shreveport.
Funny how things work sometimes? Not everything is decided by computers yet!
If you want a long weekend of football, the 1 p.m. contest could be fun to watch. Both teams are unbeaten.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Like father...

As I sat and watched Huntington play the Woodlawn boys basketball team on Monday in Booker T. Washington's new gymnasium, I knew I recognized the face in the No. 3 Raiders jersey.
It was Kyles Jones, son of Huntington coach Mack Jones. I guess I'm getting old, but I remember what must have been a second-grader running around the Woodlawn gym when Jones coached there.
He was definitely a coach's son, taking the ball on the break and passing to a teammate rather than forcing a shot. Good going, Kyle.

Countdown to the big game

Four point five days until the Eagles and Cavaliers get back together. It will be only the third game in the series, but it's already an exciting rivalry in the eyes of fans.
Imagine this game in 10 years, if both programs continue to excel and the classification remains compatible.
As of this point, I'd say I wish the game were being played at Lee Hedges Stadium. Evangel's stadium does not have enough capacity, but Independence Stadium is too large. The schools should work something out with Caddo Parish and play this game at Hedges.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Familiar face

In this week's Sports Illustrated, Louisiana high school football fans will see a familiar face - running back/defensive back Joe McKnight of John Curtis High School in River Ridge.

Fans in the area are familiar with McKnight on a couple of fronts. Last year after Hurricane Katrina hit, McKnight evacuated to Shreveport and played a couple of games with the Evangel Eagles before moving back to New Orleans and finishing the year with John Curtis. In doing so, McKnight became one of the few players (if not the only) in state history to play on two state championship football teams in the same season.

If Shreveporters missed his games with Evangel, they saw his highlight-film game in the state Class 2A championship at Independence Stadium.

McKnight will be back in the area again on Friday night when John Curtis plays at Homer.

If you haven't seen McKnight play, he's worth the price of admission. If you need to be convinced, pick up a copy of Sports Illustrated.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mild surprise

Any other year a West Monroe exit in the second round of the football playoffs would have been a great surprise.

Not this year.

For whatever reason, the Rebels looked vulnerable this year. Maybe it was the turnovers on offense. Maybe it was letting inferior teams hang around with them. But there was something that suggested this wasn't a great West Monroe team.

On Friday night, the Rebels looked the part in a 21-14 loss to Sulphur.

The Rebels will still have some of the state's top prospects in Will Blackwell and Luther Davis. What they won't have is a trip to the Superdome for the state championships.

So if you thought Class 5A was wide open, now you KNOW it's wide open.

I respect Ronnie Alexander, but ...

What the Eagles did Friday night at Haynesville was absolutely uncalled for. I will stop short of calling head coach Ronnie Alexander classless or any thing else, because that's not for me to judge, but there was absolutely nothing good that was going to come from Evangel throwing the ball with less than two minutes to go and up 43-0.

Not that the Evangelites care, but this will not make anyone sad if Calvary takes them out next week. I wonder what Doug Pederson would do if he had the chance to run it up Friday?

In college, it's different, the kids are definitely more mature. And in the NFL .. no problem.

But in high school, give me a break. Take the 43-0 win and go home.

Don't give the state another reason to dislike your program.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Acadiana vs. Byrd

Acadiana's John Dean breaks through the line and goes 65 yards for a 42-8 Rams lead. Just over three minutes remain.

Byrd catches Acadiana off guard with an onside kick attempt, but no Jackets player can recover the ball before it goes out of bounds. Acadiana responds by driving half the field for a 35-8 lead with 6:15 to play.

The Rams score midway through the third to make it 28-0, but Byrd finally gets on the board with a 12-yard John Martin Anthony run just before the end of the third.

After three periods, Acadiana leads, 28-8.

Acadiana scores again before halftime. Byrd fumbles with under a minute to play, but the Rams don't sit on the ball. A 20-yard pass sets up a 38-yard pass to Kip Jacob, who appeared covered at the Byrd 2 but came down with the ball and stepped across the line for a 21-0 lead with 3.9 seconds to play before intermission.

Acadiana solidified its control of the game with just over a minute on the first half clock. Jordan Figaro took off for 29 yards on the ground, and Kip Jacob caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Johnathan Morvant for a 14-0 lead.

Acadiana scores first. Just when Byrd had gained solid field position due to a short punt, Rams defender Wilfred Journet caused and recovered a fumble, picked it up and ran 52 yards all by himself. Acadiana, 7-0.

No score after a quarter. Byrd held on a Acadiana 4th-and-2 at the Yellow Jackets 13. The Jackets are going the other way now and just crossed midfield. Justan Gibson is running with authority. This game looks pretty even to me.

The Yellow Jackets and Rams are on the field warming up. The Jackets are wearing all purple tonight, and the temperature is not bad at all.

My first impression concerning Acadiana is that it does not look particularly large. That's good news for the smallish Jackets.

In my opinion, Byrd's best hopes tonight lie in: overconfident Rams who remember last year's 49-6 Acadiana win, also in the second round; Byrd's wing-T, which many teams no longer play against; Byrd's growing confidence that I think began with a solid effort (34-24 loss) against West Monroe.

We'll see, and, if this computer continues to cooperate, you can follow the game right here.

Players of the Year

Help us out!

We are getting ready to pick The Times All-Area Football Team and The Times All-City Football Team.

Who do you think should take the top awards? Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for the city (Caddo and Bossier parishes, including Plain Dealing and North Caddo), and the same awards for the area (outside Caddo and Bossier, south to Natchitoches and Sabine parishes and east to Lincoln Parish).

Go to prepsbeat.com and vote on the first award we're asking you about, and thanks for the help.

Thanksgiving Classic

Booker T. Washington has a new gym, and the annual Thanksgiving Classic will be played in it next week. It's always a fun tournament with packed stands, and playing in a new facility should bring out big crowds to see the gym. Now, if I could just get the coaches to send me a schedule!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hold out players?

So if you're Minden coach David Feaster, what do you do with Codera Drew this weekend. The RB/DB has an injury and is questionnable for the second-round playoff game against Sam Houston. It's a legitimate injury, but if it were just something that might use some rest what would you do?

Would you hold out a key player in order to have him completely healthy for a quarterfinal game? Or do you play him because you're not guaranteed of getting to the quarterfinals?

It's an interesting question.

Districting misery

Tommy Henry isn't often stymied, but who to include in District 1-3A has done it to him.

I've heard conversation of Vidalia being included, and that's a school all the way over by the Mississippi River. There's no way BTW, North DeSoto and Green Oaks should have to go that far for a district game. And there's no way Vidalia should have to come this far.

The simple solution is either adding the three Shreveport-area schools to the Monroe schools, or adding Winnfield to the Shreveport-area schools.

I think there's too much concern with backroads driving and one school driving past another to play a district game. Is that important? Yes. Should it be an unbreakable principle? No.

Do what works.

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This is your home for insider news and notes about high school sports in northwest Louisiana. For more, check out www.prepsbeat.com