Alright, OK, I’ll admit it — I’m guilty of hyperbole from time to time.
You get it, though, right? Sometimes it’s just easy to get caught up in the moment. You see a great game, and heck that might be the greatest one you’ve ever seen… eh, maybe within the last week on second thought. As time passes and emotions are detached, clarity always sets in.
That’s why I feel confident in saying this has been the craziest football season I’ve seen in the high school ranks.
I won’t make that declaration for college football — there’s still a ways to go before topping that wild 2007 football season — but this high school season has given us multiple “game of the year” candidates and historic results.
Let’s focus on that “game of the year” tagline for a minute. In the first game of the season, I was on Neville’s sideline when running back A.J. Allen recorded a 97-yard kickoff return, swift 70-yard touchdown run and clutch 62-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-19 with 1:50 remaining in the game.
If Neville doesn’t convert, Ruston likely hangs on to win, 24-20. You could make the argument the Bearcats deserved to win that game, but Allen was the best player on the field and prevented Ruston from being a perfect 9-0 this season.
After the game, I visited with Aaron Dietrich, Gene Ponti and Clay Parker on “The Locker Room” show at Surge Entertainment Saturday morning when I declared that, as you guessed it, the “game of the year.”
In short, I would go on to say this three more times this year. It’s now become a running gag, but I assure you there’s little to no exaggeration. One game has topped the next this season.
Heck, weeks later St. Thomas More quarterback Walker Howard delivered the goods with a fourth down conversion to beat Neville, then Ruston outlasted Ouachita in double overtime, and finally, perhaps the real game of the year involved Ouachita snapping its losing streak to West Monroe in yet another double overtime game.
There were so many great elements and storylines with that upset. Of course, it being the first time the Lions defeated West Monroe since 1994 tops them all, but the history of Garvin’s decade-long tenure at West Monroe followed by, as he put, his demotion before finding his way with Ruston and being named Ouachita’s head coach is all equally compelling.
Not to mention, the absurdity of Garvin getting an immediate redo after a failed fake PAT in double overtime cost him sleep one-week prior.
Garvin made a promise to himself to never do that again and put the ball in the hands of his playmaker, and one week later, he got his chance against the Rebels.
It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
And longtime readers understand the historical value of that Ouachita victory against West Monroe.
Not only did it break a 100-game win streak in the district that dated all the way back to 2002, but it also puts the Rebels on the verge of not winning the district title for the first time since 1995.
And oh by the way, that was the last time Neville beat West Monroe prior to the Tigers’ 28-7 victory earlier this year.
So is it truly the craziest football season? I think it has to contend with some of those great seasons from the 1990s.
I can tell you from being here the last six years that it’s easily the wildest season I’ve covered.
Because of how good our schools traditionally are, I usually get to cover a lot of blowouts. That hasn’t been the case so far this year.
And that’s what has me equally excited about a postseason that pits West Monroe as an underdog, Neville as one of very few favorites in Class 4A and undefeated OCS and Sterlington squads looking to run the gauntlet unscathed. And Ouachita, good ol’ Ouachita, in year one under Garvin will likely enter the postseason as a Top 10 seed.
Maybe just maybe, we’ll get a couple of more “game of the years” along the way.