It was tough going early for Ferriday senior running back Ja’Quarius Davis.
Two bouts of COVID-19 left Ferriday High’s football team without a lot of preseason practice time.
And the lack of a passing game early for the Trojans put a bigger load on the 5-foot-1, 150-pounder.
“I knew I had to do more,” Davis said.
The Trojans dropped their first six games, with Davis missing the last two games of that streak because of COVID contact.
He returned in a big way the following week, rushing for 341 yards on 14 attempts and three touchdowns as the Trojans celebratied Homecoming with a 32-22 victory over Madison.
Davis scored the first of three touchdowns from 65 yards out and ran in the conversion to tie the game at 8-8.
While Davis was more than efficient on the ground, Ferriday coach Stanley Smith went with sidearm quarterback Jytavis Holmes and moved Sharone Finister to wide receiver.
Holmes was scheduled to be the starter, but has been unable to play for disciplinary reasons.
Davis scored his third TD of the night on a 75-yard scamper with 11:02 remaining in the game and Dylan Boxley ran in the conversion.
Ferriday’s defense stopped Marshall on fourth-and-goal from the Trojan 1-yard line. On the next play, Davis broke loose and zig-zagged across the field three times before being brought down inside the Madison 5-yard line.
Against Vidalia two weeks later, Davis finished with 248 yards on 23 carries in a 48-34 win that ended the Trojans’ season at 2-7.
Davis finished the season with 1,179 yards on 126 carries with 12 touchdowns to earn All-Parish Player of the Year honors.
“Our season wasn’t the best, but I still enjoyed playing,” Davis said. “In those games against Madison and Vidalia it felt like I was in a zone. Our team started coming together at the end.”
Davis bided his time, playing behind 2020 All-Parish Player of the Year D’aminya Milligan at running back.
“This year was a great learning year,” Davis said. “I learned a lot about football and life.”
Davis hopes to continue playing football at the next level.
“I need to work on my vision, increase my speed and get my weight up,” he said. “I would love to continue playing football.”
While Ferriday got off to a slow start, Delta Charter posted an impressive season-opening 28-14 win over D’Arbonne Woods in Farmerville.
D’Arbonne Woods was the Class 2A surprise team of the year under first-year coach Tommy Tharp who led the Timberwolves to a 6-4 record, including a win over Jonesboro-Hodge.
D’Arbonne Woods, which had experienced several straight losing seasons, lost to Franklin in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“We certainly didn’t expect them to be the team theybecame,” said Delta Charter head coach Blake Wheeler. “I knew coming in that Tommy was going to have them prepared and ready. It was a a heckuva game, very hard-fought. It wasn’t decided until the end. It was one of those games your kids enjoy playing in and you enjoy coaching.”
Delta Charter finished the season at 6-5, falling to Basile in the second round of the playoffs after receiving a bye.
The Storm posted wins over D’Arbonne Woods, Delhi and River Oaks to start out 3-0 for the first time in its history.
Delta Charter fell to Oak Grove in its fourth game before defeating Sicily Island and Tensas. The final win came against Beekman, with losses to Ouachita Christian, Cedar Creek and St. Frederick at the end of the regular season.
“We won the games we thought we were going to win, and struggled in the games we thought we would struggle in,” said Wheeler, the 2021 All-Parish Coach of the Year. “We were playing against some top-notch teams.”
Delta Charter fell to Basile 26-14.
“We went and watched them play against Magnolia (School of Excellence) and they were a really physical team,” Wheeler said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight. But you have to be in it to win it, and our kids fought hard and played hard.”
Wheeler is excited to see Delta Charter moved from District 2-1A to District 4-2A for the next two years.
The Storm goes from playing the likes Cedar Creek, Ouachita Christian, River Oaks and St. Frederick to a district which now includes Block, Delhi, Delhi Charter, Sicily Island and Tensas.
The Storm went 4-0 against the teams they played now in their district this past season.
Oak Grove moved into Vidalia and Ferriday’s district, which will include General Trass, Mangham, Madison, Rayville and Beekman Charter, which will not compete in football in district.
“Now I’m smiling,” Wheeler said. “Every game we have right now is a winnable game, not just district, but non-district.”
At quarterback on the 2021 All-Parish team is Delta Charter sophomore Juvari Singleton.
Singleton completed 46-of-85 passes for 514 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for 1,218 yards on 205 carries with 13 TDs.
Joining Davis in the backfield is Delta Charter senior Payten Roberts.
Roberts rushed for 857 yards on 124 carries, scoring 10 TDs. He caught 11 passes for 68 yards. Roberts also had 89 tackles to lead the Storm.
The offensive line consists of Vidalia High senior Gabe Bourke, Delta Charter senior Chase McGraw, Vidalia junior offensive lineman Brendan McMillan, Delta Charter junior Aidan Ferguson, Ferriday sophomore offensive lineman Maurice Smith and Ferriday freshman Kylyn Davis.
Delta Charter senior Jared Barron is the tight end.
Barron caught 14 passes for 269 yards with six touchdowns.
The wide receivers are Vidalia junior Chris Brooks and Ferriday senior Dylan Boxley.
The defensive front consists of Delta Charter senior Curtis Bullitts, Vidalia sophomore Joshua Davis, Delta Charter junior Robert Doss and Vidalia junior Devin Jackson.
Davis had four tackles and 10 assists.
Bullitts had 39 solo tackles and 42 assists for 81 total tackles. Doss had 28 solo tackles and 22 assists for 50 total.
Linebackers are Vidalia senior Nickaloes Banks, Vidalia sophomore Kabari Davis and Vidalia senior Traveon Hill.
Banks led the Vikings with 54 solo tackles and 42 assists with two tackles for losses.
Kabari Davis had 40 solo tackles and 35 assists, two sacks and two tackles for losses.
Defensive backs are Vidalia junior Sema’J Hayes, Delta Charter sophomore Davis Cooper. Delta Charter senior Jestin Garrison and Ferriday senior Sharone Finister
Hayes and Finister both also quarterbacked their respective teams. Cooper had 43 solo tackles and 42 assists for 85 tackles.
Hayes had 13 solo tackles and 10 assists with one interception and two pass deflections.
Garrison had two interceptions and finished the season with 26 tackles.