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:
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
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.