• Shreveporttimes.com • Weather • Calendar • Jobs • Cars • Real Estate • Apartments • Shopping • Classifieds • Dating

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Halfway home

We're halfway through football's regular season in the high schools. The second half starts on Thursday.

Here are some thoughts on the first half.

Parkway's Torian Linsdey is one of the top playmakers in the city. Lindsey has great speed and the move from wide receiver to running back has made him even more productive.

Calvary's offense is extremely explosive. The Cavaliers should make a deep playoff run.

Evangel is Evangel.

Ruston is the biggest disappointment in the area. But winless Southwood may be the biggest disappointment in the city.

You have to admire the work done at Haughton. The Bucs replace 18 starters and are 4-1 at the break.

UCP winning last week is the biggest surprise this season. When I saw UCP in August, I didn't see anyway that team would win a game this season. I figured this was a building year and maybe next year. Give Eric Clark credit for doing a good job there.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kudos to Haynesville officials

There was a very scary moment at the Haynesville-North DeSoto game.

At the end of the third quarter, North DeSoto's Cody Lockwood ran a sweep toward the North DeSoto sidelines, was caught in a crowd of tacklers and apparently hit his head on a pole or obstruction of some kind when he ran out of bounds.

Lockwood didn't get up. A stretcher was rolled out on the field, Lockwood was immobilized by medical personnel and taken to Homer Memorial hospital in an ambulance. The whole process -- very carefully done -- took about 15 minutes.

After the game, North DeSoto coach Jerry Byrd said Lockwood had feeling in his fingers and toes, always a good sign. I went by Homer Memorial after filing my game story and asked if I could speak to any members of Cody's family. I was told they were already gone, and he had been treated and released. They weren't able to give out Cody's name but he was the only player taken by ambulance from the game to Homer.

It was definitely a relief to me.

Many years ago, Times sports editor Scott Ferrell, who was then working for the Shreveport Journal, and I were covering a Green Oaks-Southwood game at Northwood Stadium. We were covering the game from the field because there was no room in the press box. There was a collision directly in front of us at midfield. Southwood defensive back Willie Burns didn't get up. He was paralyzed from the neck down.

Scott and I never want to see something like that again.

Thankfully, Lockwood's story apparently will have a happier ending. Injuries are part of football at all levels, even catastrophic ones, unfortunately. We've been lucky here since the Burns' injury in the 1980s. It looks like we've been lucky again.

The quick action of the medical personnel at Haynesville deserves praise, too.

First week of predictions went OK

Well, I guess I'll be predicting games in Week 6.

Friday night, in my first effort of the season, I got 15 of 20 games right. And that includes the fact that I accidentally picked Homer to beat Calvary. I know, I could say that about any game that I picked incorrectly now. But I really did mean to pick Calvary. Even so, it wouldn't be right to count it as a win now.

Even so, I said if I predicted 75 percent right I would pick again next week so I will. I did miss too badly. I picked both Lakeview and Lakeside to win, and they both were routed.

I covered the North DeSoto-Haynesville game, and I missed the pick on that badly, too. I thought a Class 3A team would beat a struggling 1A team. But Haynesville won 35-14. And that's two wins in a row for the Tors

Haynesville looked like Golden Tors teams of the past, rolling up almost 300 yards rushing. The Tors also appeared to have some speed and two hard running backs. They begin district play next week and I believe they should be favored to win the 1-1A title.

From the Observation Deck at Lee Hedges...

Ranked No. 6 in Class 5A a few weeks ago, Ruston could be worse than anyone could have expected.

I watched the Bearcats flail around on offense for the better part of three quarters against Byrd tonight - they had four first downs and just a bit over 100 yards. They weren't much better on defense, virtually allowing the Yellow Jackets to do whatever they wanted on the ground - Brittain White, for only 180 pounds, is a really tough between-the-tackles runner.

When Byrd took a 35-7 lead and starting inserting backups in the fourth quarter, Ruston made up a little ground with backup quarterback Ross Garbarino. Starter Nick Rome, a junior transfer from Calvary, watched the rest of the game from the sidelines.

Ruston coach Billy Laird hinted that Rome and Garbarino could be competing for the starting spot again in the coming week at practice. But, of course, the Bearcats have problems that go far beyond who's taking the snaps.

It's just hard to believe the Bearcats have fallen this far, this fast.

Other nuggets:
- To gloat a little bit, I was the only Times' staffer to pick UCP over Grambling and Plain Dealing over Arcadia. Apparently, I have some sort of gift for picking 1A football.
- Then again, the game I picked wrong this weekend, was the one I actually covered: Byrd-Ruston.
- On my Top 10 ballot this week, I think I'm going to swap out the No. 1 choice in 2A. It's something I've been thinking about for a week or so. Tonight's result cinched my decision.
- Wow. How troubled are those Vikings of Airline? I'm not picking them in any game for the rest of the season.
- On a lighter note, it's good to see how resilient those kids at Huntington are. Geez. Three straight wins. In retrospect, the LHSAA's decision to allow them to compete for postseason play could be huge now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Here's my picks for Week 5

It's time I joined the fray. Yes, I know, it's cheating to not pick high school games until Week 5. But here goes anyway. By the way, I'm not promising I'll be back for Week 6. If I get 75 percent or more right I'll be back. If not, I'm done for the regular season.

West Monroe over Airline
Byrd over Ruston
Huntington over Natchitoches Central
Bossier over Fair Park
Haughton over Minden
Parkway over Northwood
North DeSoto over Haynesville
Lakeview over Merryville
Evangel over Loyola
Lakeside over Farmerville
Springhill over North Caddo
Homer over Calvary
Mansfield over Logansport
Cedar Creek over Many
Plain Dealing over Arcadia
Oakdale over Ringgold
Delhi Charter over Sarepta
UCP over Grambling
Delhi over Bernice
St. Mary's over Oberlin

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Breaking Down the Ballot, Week 4

Below is a version of the Top 10 ballot I sent in this weekend to the LSWA. We haven't commented too much on these polls so far because, well, we didn't know much about the teams across the state through the first few weeks of the season.

Now heading into the fifth week of the season, we (I and the rest of the Times staff) have a little more to compare when poring over the weekend's results and putting together our lists of the state's best.

From here on out, I'll post my ballot here on PrepsBeat along with a brief explanation of why I voted the way I did. Of course, this is no exact science - I've seen only a handful of the teams on this list play this year.

So, save the scorn. I have my reasons for filling out the ballot in the manner I did but I'm only about, say, 5.5 percent sure that I'm right. Be patient. We'll all know for sure who's really the best in November.

Class 5A 1. Acadiana 2. West Monroe 3. Destrehan4 . St. Thomas More 5. Sulphur 6. Baton Rouge Catholic 7. Dutchtown 8. Barbe 9. Hahnville 10. Captain Shreve
Comment: Who knows if Shreve really belongs here? That win over Ruston the other week was diminished a bit by Huntington's victory in Ruston the following week. But the Gators are 4-0 for the first time in 22 years and they've looked good getting there. That is a good starting point. ... Oh, I'm one of four voters in the poll who have defending champ Acadiana ahead of West Monroe. My theory is, to quote Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair, "To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man."

Class 4A 1. Bastrop 2. Shaw 3. Teurlings 4. Franklinton 5. Zachary 6. Eunice 7. Northside 8. Washington-Marion 9. Vandebilt 10. Neville
Comment: I left Benton off the list because hardly anyone could have pictured them losing to Haughton before Friday. The Tigers can redeem themselves, of course. But right now I'm a little down on them because of that loss.

Class 3A 1. Notre Dame 2. Parkview Baptist 3. Redemptorist 4. Lutcher 5. Rayville 6. Westlake 7. Jennings 8. St. Charles 9. Cecilia 10. Independence
Comment: Not much to say here. It's a bad year for 3A schools in our area.

Class 2A 1. John Curtis 2. Evangel 3. Calvary Baptist 4. St. James 5. Donaldsonville 6. Homer 7. Clinton 8. St. John-Plaquemine 9. Port Barre 10. Springfield
Comment: OK, I had John Curtis on top before learning of its loss to Longview over the weekend. Now, to me, that's no big deal - Texas teams are better than Louisiana teams. That's just an inarguable fact to me, a native Texan. But if I could do it again, yes, Evangel would be No. 1. Though I have a sneaky suspicion Calvary might be a tad better right now.

Class 1A 1. Kentwood 2. Cedar Creek 3. Ouachita Christian 4. Oberlin 5. Hamilton Christian 6. Oak Grove 7. Desire Street 8. St. Edmund 9. South Plaquemines 10. Catholic-P.C.
Comment: Again, no comment here. Um, I think Britney Spears is from Kentwood

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hangin' in there

I talked to Plain Dealing coach Larry Moore tonight. His team is 0-4, but the Lions haven't played a single team in their classification this season.

Plain Dealing will finally play a Class 1A team on Friday against Arcadia.

His plan is to play bigger schools, tougher opponents and try to get better when district comes around.

It's a plan he's used in the past with success.

This year is a little different in that the Lions are young. Still, you have to admire Moore for taking the difficult approach.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hope in 2A?

After watching John Curtis lose at Longview on Saturday, there has to be hope at Evangel and Calvary that the Class 2A state title is indeed up for grabs.

Folks in the New Orleans area have said all season this isn't a great John Curtis team. But sometimes, teams can win on tradition and confidence in a coach.

Thus far, though, you could make the case that Evangel (with wins over Westgate and Texas High) and Calvary (with a win over Rayville) have been equally if not more impressive than Curtis thus far.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Evangel keeps rolling along

It's late in the fourth quarter, Evangel is holding a 28-7 lead over a clearly beaten Springhill team and the Eagles have the ball again.

Do the Eagles plug in reserves and get their backups some reps? No. Do they run a few dives into the line with star tailback CerDerrick Tyson and burn off the clock? No.

What they do is leave in Tyson and starting quarterback Dez Duron, throwing the ball on nine of their final 12 plays. Evangel added a field goal with 74 seconds left to push the score to 31-7.

Evangel coach John Bachman explained that he wanted to get his first-teamers a chance to get in a few more plays, especially since the Eagles were playing only their third game in the fourth week of the season.

"We had the opportunity to teach our kids," Bachman said. "You only get so many reps. As much as you want to play the younger kids, you've got to get the varsity ready."

And I believe him, though I can't think that reasoning will be enough for Springhill coach Joey Pesses and others down the road. "I'm not gonna get into that," Pesses said after the game.

Had I been the one on the sidelines - and goodness knows Evangel fans should be thankful I'm not, I would have probably elected to shut the offense down and run out the clock. It looked a little too questionable, at least to my eyes.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Looking ahead

Byrd is playing Southwood on Thursday night at Independence Stadium.

This is a game that Byrd will be favored to win. It is also a game that Southwood desperately needs to win to make its season relevant.

The Cowboys' program has slipped in recent years. An upset on Thursday might jump start the team. Another loss and the season will move closer toward slipping away.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Growing up in DeSoto

DeSoto Parish football teams are a combined 2-7 going into Week 4 of the season.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that Logansport, Mansfield and North DeSoto are all young teams with young players playing at key positions.

Yes, it's hard to take your lumps now. But down the road, there should be better days ahead for DeSoto Parish football.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hurting in 5A

How bad was last week for local Class 5A football teams going up against Monroe/Ruston area teams?

Check out these scores:

West Monroe 49, Ruston 7

Ouachita 41, Airline 0

The only bright spot for the area was Captain Shreve's 35-21 win over Ruston.

Here's the scary thing, Shreve may be the only local 5A team that will be able to compete with the Rustons, West Monroes and Ouachitas. The rest of the Shreveport 5A contingent all looks pretty close together with not a lot separating the teams.

The good news is it is still early and teams can still emerge. But last week seemed like more of the same from the past.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Week 3 Rundown

My thoughts after the third week of high school games in northwest Louisiana:

- Something is awry in Minden. The Crimson Tide got rolled in their rematch with Neville, 36-0, and might have lost star quarterback T.Q. Mims for the season with a shoulder injury. That loss assures that Minden will drop out of the Class 4A Top 10, and from the look of things, the Crimson Tide could be in for a long season.

- It's early, way early, but Calvary and Evangel could be headed for an undefeated showdown in the regular-season finale. Both teams again knocked off tough opponents Friday, with Calvary beating Rayville and Evangel getting the best of Texas High in Texarkana.

- The teams in DeSoto Parish - Logansport, Mansfield and North DeSoto - don't appear to be very good. Even Mansfield quarterback Lacedrick Lane - the area's passing leader in 2006 - is off to a rough start.

-I owe Captain Shreve something of an apology. After predicting a loss to Ruston in our PrepsBeat Pregame video show, the Gators went out and knocked off the state's sixth-ranked team in Class 5A. Kudos to the Ken Ivys. That's another reason why I rarely step foot in the casinos.

- I had a great time in Homer last night, even though the Pelicans easily handled Haynesville in the 100th year of their "Claiborne Parish Super Bowl." The crowd was great, the kids played hard and Homer's players and coaches were particularly gracious in victory.

I must mention, however, that Haynesville running backs Dextrell French and Richard Jones were a sight to behold. Those kids ran hard; they seemed intent on dishing out the most punishment possible.

- One last thing: If you've got ESPNU and you don't want to pay to watch LSU annihilate Middle Tennessee State, make sure to check out the game between Southlake (Texas) Carroll and Miami (Fla.) Northwestern. It's a rare matchup between the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 ranked high school teams. Should be a good one.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gigantic win for Gators

Wins like the one Captain Shreve got against Ruston on Thursday are the kind that can snowball into highly successful seasons.

The Gators looked unstoppable against the No. 6 Bearcats. At some points, you had to wonder why the Gators weren't the team ranked No. 6?

Shreve quarterback Marc Kimball is going to give Calvary quarterback Jake Booty a fight for The Times All-City team. Kimball may not be as agile as Booty, but his arm looks like it's stronger and more accurate on deep passes.

Calvary's Khiry Cooper and Evangel's Deleon Moss may be the two of the best receivers in this area, but Travis Anderson deserves mention as well. He made a sensational catch in the second half. Kimball lofted the ball out to the left side of the field, soaring the ball out there for Anderson to chase down - which he did. Racing down the Ruston sideline, he beat his man and dived to haul the pass in.

Shreve improves to 3-0 and can feed off this win through the rest of the season. The Gators are a confident bunch right now. I'd hate to be their next opponent (Natchitoches Central).

"We're going to get way better than this, way better," Anderson told me after the game. "Just watch and see."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Big win for Shreve

The Captain Shreve Gators' 35-21 win over Ruston tonight is a big one.

It's big because the Gators are moving back up to Class 5A. It's big because it's a win that gives Shreve confidence and a team with talent and confidence is a dangerous thing.

We're not a month into the season but Shreve looks like a contender in 5A.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Looking ahead to Thursday

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to which games are played on Thursday night locally.

You have just as much of a chance of getting a good game on a Thursday as you do a dog game.

Thus, the Thursday game that interests me the most is Ruston-Shreve. Ruston appears to be one of the strongest 5A teams in the state - a top-10 worthy team.

Shreve is moving back up from Class 4A and the Gators are 2-0. A win in this one could be a springboard to more success.

It should be interesting and certainly one worthy of attention.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mims, Booker back in action

So, quarterback T.Q. Mims and receiver Greg Booker will return to Minden's lineup in time for Friday's game against Neville.

Minden coach Alan Ensminger said as much tonight, when I called to check on the status of the Crimson Tide's All-Area twosome.

Mims and Booker were benched for last Friday's game against Springhill for disciplinary reasons, according to Ensminger. Not surprisingly, without the main cogs of their explosive offense, the Crimson Tide were upset 38-13 at Springhill.

You've got to wonder what effect sitting out last week's loss to the Lumberjacks will have on those two.

Will they be rusty, especially with only one game under their belts this season? Will they be extra motivated to prove their absence was the primary reason the Lumberjacks prevailed? Will they still be upset about this blemish on their records - both on and off the field?

Friday will provide a unique test of their resolve. They'd better be up for it. Neville has to be chomping at the bit for revenge after Minden knocked them out of the playoffs last fall.

PrepsBeat goes on the road

The Times' new PrepsBeat PreGame videos give us reporters an opportunity to travel across north Louisiana racking up miles. In shooting the video footage, it's a great chance to visit with coaches and hear what they have to say about their teams.

For example, out at Parkway, a great experiment is underway. In past seasons, Jim Gatlin had players on offense and defense. The lack of numbers prevented the Panthers from specializing on particular side.

That's not the case this season. Gatlin has enough kids to split them up between offensive and defensive assignments. Coaches are able to spend more time going over the specifics with players instead of them having to learn both offensive and defensive sets. It's worked so well that the Panthers are introducing some new wrinkles into their offense.

Out at Plain Dealing, coach Larry Moore and his kids were dealing with a monsoon on Monday. Sheets of rain pounded the football field and forced the team and coaches into their cramped weight room

Earlier on Tuesday, myself, Joel Anderson and photographer Doug Collier traveled to Homer and Haynesville to talk with coaches and players about the 100th anniversary of their big rivalry. Homer coach Glen Kyle and Haynesville coach David Franklin had plenty to say about the big game. Check www.shreveporttimes.com on Friday for the latest PrepsBeat PreGame videos to hear what they said about their teams and opponents.

Believe it or not, Red Franklin is still "coaching" up at Haynesville. The game has evolved through the decades, but coach Franklin is still there, working with the kids and assisting his son.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Polling place

The high school football polls will be in Tuesday's paper.

There figure to be some interesing battles. One is in Class 5A where defending state champion Acadiana and West Monroe are battling for the top spot.

The other is in 2A.

After talking with a prep observer from New Orleans, this may not be the greatest John Curtis team of all time. But 20-plus state championships will usually earn you the top spot.

Of note last week, though, was the way Calvary and Evangel handled what was supposed to be good competition. Calvary blitzed Southern Lab and Evangel did likewise to Westgate.

But it may not matter because Curtis may be No. 1 until it loses.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Big week in Claiborne Parish

It's a big week for high school football in Claiborne Parish with Homer playing Haynesville.

It's big not because of the records - Homer is 1-1 and Haynesville is 0-2.

It's big because this is a rivarly that will date back 100 years when the game is played Friday.

That's a lot of football, a lot of history and a lot of tradition.

We'll have a story on the rivalry later this week as well as our PrepsBeat Pregame show Area game of the week focused on the Homer-Haynesville game.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Looking back at Friday night

OK, I'm an idiot. Silly me, I thought Evangel would have its hands full with a Class 5A school, Westgate, that handled Breaux Bridge the previous week. This was never a contest as Evangel rolled to an easy win.

Calvary-Southern Lab was supposed to be interesting. It wasn't.

Evangel and Calvary are on a path to meet each other for a district title.

The Springhill-Minden outcome isn't all that surprising considering the suspensions of T.Q. Mims and Greg Booker for Minden.

Southwood may be in trouble this season. The Cowboys are 0-2 and haven't really been beaten badly in both games.

In about another week or two, things should start sorting themselves out.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Looking ahead to Friday night

The Byrd-Airline game intrigues me. I don't think either team is going deep in the playoffs, but I think that is one that could be an interesting matchup.

I think people around here may be underestimating the Westgate team that plays Evangel. Westgate defeated Breaux Bridge last week, that's a perennial Class 4A power. I think Evangel will have its hands full with Westage.

Southern Lab at Calvary also should be an interesting one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Doing the right thing

Kudos to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association executive committee for their ruling on Huntington's appeal.

They rightly ruled that penalties prohibiting competition for district and state honors would affect the students -- who weren't the problem in the violations Huntington committed.

The school was also helped by a proactive stance in removing Mike Green as head coach.

While no one wants to see someone lose a job -- and Green is still a teacher at Huntington -- the decision by principal Jerry Davis to move on without Green at the helm of Huntington football was not only a wise one, but one that helped keep his team playing meaningful games this season.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Still upbeat

I went out to Huntington High School's football practice today. I'll admit I didn't know what I would find there since the 82 violations and subsequent firing of head coach Mike Green today at the Caddo Parish School Board.

Here's what I found:

1) Rod Foppe has taken over on an interim basis. Foppe says he is more concerned at taking it week by week than looking down the road to having the "interim'' lifted off his title.
2) The players - at least the ones I talked to today - seem to like Foppe.
3) For the most part, the team has taken this latest hurdle in stride. Don't forget this is a team that lost its quarterback (Terence Winn) in a May shooting and now this.
4) The schedule maker did Huntington no favors by sending the Raiders to West Monroe to start the season.

All in all, though, I was surprised at how upbeat everyone seemed.

Of course, they're all still holding on to hope that the appeal that will be heard by the LHSAA today will be ruled in their favor giving the team a postseason chance.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Looking ahead to Week 2

With no Thursday games on the local schedule,let's take a sneak peek at Friday's games.

Airline's home opener with Byrd is a battle of unbeatens. Shreve is playing a Southwood team reeling from a loss to Calvary.

A Huntington team that is in disarray opens the season at, of all places, No.1-ranked West Monroe. That was a bad matchup before Mike Green's problems.

Ditto for Natchitoches Central at Ruston.

The worst matchup of all may be Bossier playing at UCP. This one will be ugly folks.

Evangel opens at home against Westgate.

Minden is at Springhill in what figures to be one of the better games in the area.

It's not a great week in prep football -- but it's not the worst either.