Franklin Parish football coach Whitney McCartney is very familiar with the Patriots’ season-opening opponent Friday.
Franklin Parish plays at Jena. McCartney was the offensive coordinator and strength coach at Jena three years ago before taking the head coaching job at Franklin Parish.
‘They are very physical,” McCartney said of the Giants, who dress out around 70 players. “Trelon Jones is big and fast. The Jackson brothers (Jordan and Cameron) at quarterback and wide receiver can light you up. And they are huge up from. It’s a big test for us.”
Franklin Parish competed in its first Bayou Jamboree Friday, falling to Ouachita Christian 27-0.
“We saw things we already knew,” McCartney said. “We lost two starters to grades early in the week after a glitch in the system was found. Ouachita Christian is a very good team. After watching the film, we did some things that made them look even better. But those mistakes are fixable.”
Ouachita Christian piled up 261 total yards (165 rushing, 96 passing). Hunter Herring completed 6-of-10 passes to four different receivers for 96 yards and a touchdown, and Dillon Dougan rushed seven times for 80 yards and a score.
“Hunter Herring was our backup quarterback the past two years, and he’s doing a good job,” OCS coach Steven Fitzhugh said. “He’s athletic and competitive. It’s easy to make the 7-on-7 throws when nobody’s rushing you. Hunter did a great job of handling himself today.”
OCS turned the ball over on its first offensive series, but struck quickly on its second possession.
Taking over at its own 34 after a Franklin Parish punt, the Eagles retreated 10 yards on a holding penalty. Eli Extine then nabbed an 18-yard reception off the ricochet before Dougan’s 58-yard sprint put the Eagles up 6-0 midway through the first half.
“It’s great to have Dillon Dougan back after he missed most of last year,” Fitzhugh said.
Grant Mashaw’s tackle for a five-yard loss led to the Patriots’ second straight empty possession.
A low snap on the punt enabled OCS to begin its third series with a short field at the 20.
Benefitting from a pass interference flag, the Eagles cashed in three plays later with Eli Extine doing the honors from four yards out. Samuel Harrell’s extra point made it 13-0 with 3:30 to play in the half.
FPHS opened the second half on offense and crossed midfield for the first time on the third play from scrimmage. On third-and-seven from the 28, Jalen Heckard kept for 29 yards on the option and a first down at the OCS 43.
Things quickly came unraveled for the Patriots from there. Kade Woods sacked Heckard for a loss of five on first down, Chris Holyfield stopped a running play for minus one, and Aidan Ham recovered a fumble near midfield.
Missing 23 seniors from last season, the Patriots’ inexperience was evident.
“We are going through some growing pains,” McCartney said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. You can’t turn the football over and have a lot of penalties against a good football team. We didn’t make the blocks we had made all week in practice. Regardless of whether you are a freshman or a senior, you still have to make plays.”
Setting up at the minus-49 after the turnover, the Eagles were back in the end zone three plays later.
Extine’s 16-yard reception preceded Herring’s best pass of the afternoon. Rolling to his right, Herring delivered a perfectly-placed ball between Barham White’s numbers for a 32-yard TD strike and a 20-0 OCS lead.
Greg Bailey’s 15-yard run helped the Patriots advance to the OCS 43 on its next offensive trip before the Eagles reclaimed the rock on Will Fitzhugh’s fumble recovery.
OCS then proceeded 57 yards on seven plays. Herring carried twice for 28 yards to spark the drive, leading to sophomore Thomas Culp’s nine-yard TD jaunt with 1:46 remaining.
“We had some sophomores step up and make some big plays today,” Fitzhugh said. “I felt like we executed a little better this week than last week. That’s what we want to do — get better every week. We played with a lot of effort and hustle. We had some mistakes, but it was little things we can fix.”
OCS addressed one small — make that major — detail from its previous scrimmage against Calvary Baptist.
“The snap is one of those things you never notice until you get a bad one,” Fitzhugh said. “We didn’t have any bad snaps, which wasn’t the case last week. That was a big plus for us today.”
McCartney is looking for the Patriots to make some corrections of their own with the season opener approaching.
“We just have to get back to work and see what we can do,” McCartney said.
Franklin Parish opens the regular season Friday at Jena.
OCS will play its first game on its new turf field Friday night vs. Arcadia.
“They are getting ready to put the logos on,” Fitzhugh said. “The field will be good to go.”
Notes: The on field game time temperature at kickoff was 121 degrees. … Players of the Game were Eli Externe for OCS and Troy Meadows for Franklin Parish.