Neville at West Monroe - 2020Oct16

West Monroe Rebels beat cross-river rival Neville Tigers 24-7 2020-Oct16 at Don Shows Field at Rebel Stadium Photo by TOM MORRIS/The Ouachita Citizen. c.2020.TomMorrisPhotos.com. All Rights Reserved

Confession time — You’ll likely never hear me say, “This is going to be a really disappointing year on the prep football scene for Ouachita Parish.”

Teams are always in the hunt, and championships are typically won on an annual basis, so I’ll admit it’s hard for fans to truly decipher just how special a year is going to be.

But after making my rounds around campuses across the parish, I’ll go ahead and say it — fans should be chomping at the bit for the 2021 high school football season.

Every year we drop our Pigskin Preview, where we break down our local teams in depth, and in preparation for that, I do many interviews with players and coaches around the area around this time every year. The feeling I have right now is a little different than previous seasons. Every year you’ll have one or two schools that are just foaming at the mouth due to the potential their squads have, but this seems to be a common trend in the area this summer.

Perhaps it’s a direct result from having limited interactions last year thanks to COVID-19, but I’d like to think the hunger and excitement generates from the returning players to this area.

A big talking point in college football this summer has been the lack of star power returning. Can Spencer Rattler, Brock Purdy or Sam Howell truly be franchise quarterback material in the NFL?  The lack of household names returning to the sport is certainly a different beat from years passed when Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa were roaming the college football sphere. I’m happy to say that couldn’t be more different from the high school football scene this year.

Just look at the stars we have returning at every position in the parish. I’ll do you one better. If I were to make a Preseason All-Parish list, it would look something like this:

Offense

QB Brett Batteford, Neville

RB A.J. Allen, Neville

RB Amareya Greeley, Carroll

RB J’Keldrick Miller, Sterlington

WR Tristan Wiley, Ouachita Christian

WR Demardrick Blunt, Carroll

TE Tony Rivera, Sterlington 

OL Will Campbell, Neville

OL Andy Weatherford, Ouachita Christian  

OL Thatcher Moorhead, West Monroe

OL Payton Parks-Smith, Sterlington

OL Landon Sorrell, Neville

ATH Kohl Nolan, West Ouachita

K Jacob Green, Sterlington

P Landon Graves, Ouachita Christian 

Defense

DL Casey Cobb, Ouachita Christian

DL Caleb Scurfield, St. Frederick

DL Enyce Sledge, Neville

DL Brock Harvey, West Monroe

Hybrid Thomas Marsala, St. Frederick

LB Chauncey Lee, West Monroe

LB Henton Roberts, Neville

LB Luke Handy, Sterlington

LB Carmycah Glass, Ouachita

DB Lorenzell Dubose, Neville

DB Maurion Eleam, Neville  

DB Jaylen Kincaid, Ouachita  

DB Jadais Richard, West Monroe

DB Rayshawn Pleasant, West Monroe

And that’s leaving out players like Sterlington’s Caleb Andrews, Ouachita Christian’s Noah Lovelady, Wossman’s Zay Wooten, Neville’s Zalance Heard, West Monroe’s D'arrius Zeigler and so on and so forth. It should be noted I have yet to make it out to Richwood, Wossman and River Oaks for in-depth previews, so this is a working list.

Nitpitck the selections if you want, and trust me, folks will, even if this is far from an official list. It’s inevitable that certain big names are going to be left off when the room is this crowd. And that’s the point — Ouachita Parish is beaming with star power ahead of the 2021 season.

And even beyond that, if you look at the offensive lines, West Monroe returns 10 players with experience, Neville boasts multiple players with offers from monstrous programs like LSU and Texas and Ouachita Christian head coach Steven Fitzhugh is making all-time comparisons for his four starters that return up front.

Also, after Union broke through last year to capture a state championship berth, it feels like absolutely no one is talking about a Sterlington team that returns Miller, Parks-Smith, Handy, Foster and Cole Thompson.

Last year might’ve felt like a blur to most of you, and hopefully, our annual preview will help refresh your memory of how many breakout athletes return to the area next season. Be on the lookout for it next month, as it’s planned to be included in the Aug. 26 edition of The Ouachita Citizen.  

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.

(1) comment

Fanman

What about Tag Banks on def. as a senior

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