Will Fitzhugh

Will Fitzhugh catches the first touchdown pass on the new Steven Fitzhugh Field. 

A successful debut as a head coach, clutch defensive effort and several blowouts highlighted an eventful Week 1 in local LHSAA action.

As for Week 2, expect tighter matchups to go down to the wire. Without further ado, here’s the best storylines for more Friday Night Lights action.

Tiger Turnovers

A win is a win, but Neville’s 21-20 victory against Ruston was dicey to say the least.

The defense bailed the Tigers out of bad situations after four first-half interceptions and a high snap on a punt that gave Ruston the ball inside the red zone. Andrew Cagle’s scoop-and-score proved to be the game-winning play of a back-and-forth affair on Forsythe Avenue.  

All due respect to Ruston, but University is a different animal. And everybody knows it. The Cubs have a new head coach and lost many Power 5 athletes from last year’s 13-0 state championship team, but this team will still flood Bill Ruple Stadium with future college players.

Don’t panic yet, Tiger fans. It’s understandable quarterback Andrew Brister would struggle out of the gates with all of the time he missed this offseason rehabbing his leg injury. Let’s hope Brister’s worst days are behind him. After all, he still possesses an arm capable of shocking the state with an upset against a University team that many felt was the best in the state a season ago.

Ouachita Bounceback

Ouachita’s worst fears were realized in a 28-20 loss at home to Airline. After going up 14-0, one big swing in momentum provided the adversity a seasoned club could overcome. But Ouachita isn’t seasoned… yet. A young, talented and undersized Ouachita struggled to move the football in the second half, as Airline’s passing attack allowed the Vikings to outscore the Lions, 28-6, in the second half.

Now Ouachita faces a Richwood squad the Lions have pummeled in recent years (even in 2017 when Richwood made a trip to the Superdome). The last two seasons, Ouachita has outscored Richwood 76-8.

But Richwood is coming off of a big Week 1 win against Woodlawn-Shreveport. Marcus Yanez, former Ouachita defensive coordinator, had a strong debut as Richwood’s head coach. Ouachita will have more depth, but don’t assume the Rams will lie down like previous years. 

Here we go again

Ouachita Christian and Sterlington are red hot. OCS scorched Arcadia, 49-14, in Week 1 and Sterlington dismantled a Logansport team that hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2015, 43-7.

Go back a week further and the Eagles pummeled 4A Franklin Parish, while Sterlington outclassed Jena in the Bayou Jamb 2019 event. Last year, Sterlington kicked a game-winning field goal to beat OCS, 22-19. There’s no reason why this game shouldn’t be equally competitive in 2019.

OCS’ mission this year is to finish strong. Time and time again, the Eagles lost tight games down the stretch. In a way, last year’s 22-19 loss put the wheels in motion for what turned out to be a heartbreaking year for the Eagles. OCS can put those bad memories behind them with a win against a Sterlington team that’s still considered a favorite in Class 3A.

Sterlington and OCS should be playing significant football deep into November and hopefully into December. With two legitimate state championship contenders squaring off in Sterlington, expect fireworks.

Revenge for Mangham?

Andy Robinson and St. Frederick shook up the high school scene last year with a 38-8 stunner over Mangham.

It was Robinson’s second game as head coach for the Warriors, and it set the course for a 9-3 season. You better believe St. Frederick has a target on its back in Robinson’s second year as head coach, and one of those teams gunning for revenge will be Mangham.

The Dragons got the season going last week with a 34-26 win against Rosepine. A win against a talented Warriors squad will make a little more noise in Week 2, though.

Can Scott Wilcher make a similar impact this year in his second game as Mangham head coach?

West Ouachita QB Play

Due to the size upfront and talented backs available for the Chiefs, West Ouachita is a pain for any defense to slow down. But when the Chiefs get efficient quarterback play to go along with that hard-nosed rushing attack, defensive coordinators will have long nights on the opposing sideline. Just ask Bolton.

After Brendon Crawford came in for Brady Ryals, Crawford completed eight-of-nine passes for 88 yards. Now, that won’t light the football world on fire like Joe Burrow did this past weekend, but if West Ouachita can add an efficient passing element to its already potent offensive attack, head coach Matt Middleton’s team becomes much scarier moving forward.

Middleton hasn’t said whether Crawford or Ryals will start against Jonesboro-Hodge, but continued progression at the position could raise expectations.

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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