Since the announcement of West Monroe’s Week 3 matchup with Longview in the first Joe Delaney Memorial Classic in Shreveport, hype swirled in Ouachita Parish about two of the premier high school football programs in the nation clashing.
And finally, the matchup is here.
West Monroe players and coaches know good and well what awaits them Friday night in Shreveport — one of the best high school teams in the country.
After a 42-0 win against John Tyler on ESPN2 last week, the Lobos improved to 3-0 and currently rank as the No. 23 team in the nation, according to MaxPreps. Longview has won 19 games in a row and has a 33-2 record since 2017.
One reason why the Lobos have been so successful has been the play of quarterback Haynes King, who is the son of head coach John King. Haynes King threw two interceptions in the first half last week, but showed why he is the No. 1 dual threat quarterback by shaking John Tyler defenders en route to scores on the ground.
“I’m just ready to see how we match up against him,” said West Monroe safety Bradley Williams of the 5-star, Texas A&M commit. “He’s making some throws, and he’s got some great receivers too. They have really good blocking. They have good protection, and he has all the threats a major quarterback has. He’s a dual threat who runs right at a 4.4 (40-time), but that’s why we take angles.”
The entire West Monroe defense, which has allowed 7 combined points in the first two weeks, is itching to face one of the country’s top offenses. West Monroe punter and LSU 2021 commit Peyton Todd has settled into his outside linebacker role for the Rebels. LSU encouraged Todd to play defense so he could get used to big game situations, and Todd couldn’t ask for a much bigger one than Friday night.
“We all know this is going to be one of our biggest opponents of the season,” Todd said. “Their offensive line is really fast and athletic. Their quarterback is really athletic. Can run the ball and read the field with his eyes.”
In last week’s win against John Tyler, Longview suffocated its adversary with a shutout performance on defense. As a coach that’s been referred to as a defensive guru in the past, West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge can certainly appreciate that style of play. But he’s leaving the offensive game planning up to his offensive staff. Arledge has his hands full preparing for an offense that’s sure to give any defense in the country fits.
“We certainly work exceptionally hard on trying to find some tips and keys,” Arledge said. “They do a great job of mixing it up. They’re basically a 50/50 team (run/pass), which makes it even harder. Most of their passes are play-action, so it looks like a run play. That to me is the best pass of all.”
But the West Monroe Rebels are up to the challenge. Quarterback Lane Little will start for the third straight week, while Garrett Kahmann continues to rehab a slight tear in his labrum. Arledge said Kahmann is slowly working his way back into throwing and hopes to have him back by district play. In the meantime, this is Little’s team.
“Garrett has been getting rehab therapy every day, and he’s extremely motivated to get back,” Arledge said. “You’re always one play away from being a starter on Friday nights, and we have a lot of confidence in Lane. He’s a competitor. He’s a tough kid. He didn’t put quite enough air under the ball the other night, but it’s a big arena. He’ll do well Friday night.”
The Rebels will enter Friday’s matchup with impressive credentials of their own. West Monroe improved to 2-0 with a 24-0 victory against Byrd in Shreveport Friday night. The Rebels are 29-2 since 2017.
As the Rebels continue to figure out their offensive identity without Kahmann, West Monroe might have discovered its next star tailback. Derome Williams recorded 215 yards on the ground on 15 carries, including a 94-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that put the Rebels on top, 14-0.
“It was a rough first quarter, so when I broke for it, I had to push myself because I was tired,” Williams said. “My linemen, everybody just encouraged me to just keep running.”
Ol’ reliable Cayden Pierce, West Monroe’s Swiss Army knife, already made his mark before Williams’ long touchdown run. West Monroe’s H-back scored the first points for the Rebels on a 26-yard run early on in the first quarter.
The Rebels’ offense stalled in the second quarter but got back on track in the third when Pierce found pay dirt again. This time Pierce rumbled in from 13 yards out. Pierce finished with 65 rushing yards on nine carries.
A 36-yard Kade Pittard field goal capped the scoring for the Rebels.
Little completed two-of-seven passes for 28 yards and two interceptions in the win. Little added 30 yards on the ground.
Williams led the Rebels with two tackles for loss in the victory, while West Monroe’s defense limited Byrd’s offense to 158 yards total.