Bossier offensive lineman Jalen Davis still gets chills remembering the Bearkats’ win against North DeSoto.
The teams met in the final week last season. Bossier had already claimed at least a share of the 1-3A championship, but needed one more win for an outright title. The Bearkats got it and celebrated their first district championship since 2000.
“It felt amazing,” Davis said. “At the end of the game, the announcer said it was Bossier’s first championship in 11 years. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.”
Davis and his teammates will try to capture that special feeling again Friday night on the road in a winner-take-all matchup against North DeSoto (7-2, 2-0).
“Our kids are hungry,” North DeSoto coach Scott Abernathy said. “We definitely feel this game is basically going to be our first playoff game. We want to parlay it into success. For the winner, this game is a huge opportunity. We are both high enough in the power rankings to be playing for possibly multiple homes playoff games.”
Entering Friday, North DeSoto is No. 7 in the 2A power ratings. Bossier (6-3, 2-0) is also firmly in the playoffs at No. 11.
But Bossier coach Michael Concilio isn’t thinking ahead. He started Monday’s team meeting with a simple message: it’s all about winning another district championship.
“I haven’t even thought about Monday yet. It’s all about Friday,” he said “Every week we’ve been worried about our next game, nothing more.”
Last year, Bossier pulled out a one-point win, 14-13, after blocking a North DeSoto extra point late in the fourth quarter. Then, when the Griffins got the ball back, the Bearkats forced and recovered a fumble to wrap up a championship.
“It was a really tough contest,” Concilio said. “This year, it’s a little different. Both teams are coming in 2-0 and on the same podium. Coach Abernathy does a great job getting his kids ready, and they will be motivated. We look for it to be a tight ballgame again.”
Davis remembers that 2011 game as a physical battle against a strong, fast North DeSoto defense. He expects more of the same this season.
“It came down to that one point, and we aren’t expecting anything different from them this year,” Davis said. “It’s going to be just as tough. We are going to come with it; they are going to come with it. It’s really going to be a fun game.”
The Griffins have entered their final game of the regular season with at least a share of the district championship on the line in all five seasons under Abernathy.
“At the beginning of every year, we state our goals, and that begins with going undefeated and winning a state championship,” Abernathy said. “If you don’t set your goals high, it’s hard to know your true potential. Expecting to play for district championships is a part of that.”
The atmosphere of Friday’s regular-season finale will also help prepare the teams for postseason play.
“We have a good setup, with playing 5A teams and other talented teams like Winnfield in the middle of the season, then we get into district and play solid compeition there as well,” Abernathy said. “It’s like a stepping stone to the playoffs.”
Both teams have powerful running games. North DeSoto’s attack features Aurren Cooksey, who topped 1,000 yards for the season last week, Enone Thompson and Assuntay Cleaver.
For Bossier to win its first back-to-back district championships since it won 1-4A in 1999-2000, the Bearkats will have to minimize mistakes and keep the Griffins rushing game from taking over.
“We have to hold on to that ball and make some big plays,” Concilio said. “We need to get our defense off the field. Any kind of ball control will help.”
At Bossier, Jaquarius Tutt and quarterback Samuel Dudley lead the way.
“They are always very athletic, and their quarterback is a phenomenal player,” Abernathy said. “We will have to control his ability to run and throw the ball. He’s a huge, integral part of what they do. We will have to contain him.”
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.