Haynesville plays for another title today

Haynesville plays for another title today


Haynesville plays for another title today


Haynesville shredded nearly every opponent on its way to a 13-0 record, including Class 3A title participant Union (37-14), 3A quarterfinalist North Webster (41-13), Division IV Cedar Creek (33-0) and Class 1A semifinalist Kentwood (31-14 on the road).

But for the 2013 Golden Tornado to be considered among the best in program history, coach David Franklin said they would need to hang a team photo in the bowels of Red Franklin-Memorial Stadium.

The No. 1 Tors will get that opportunity when they take on No. 2 Mangham (11-2) for the Class 1A state championship Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

“You can’t say they’re good until they put a picture up there on the wall — then you can compare,” Franklin said. “All these teams are good.

“This one (2000 champs) was pretty good. They had 11 shutouts.”

But before Haynesville can even think about the program’s 16th football title in its 23rd championship appearance (most by a public school), the Tors face a red-hot Mangham team that ripped West St. John 56-24 in the semifinals.

The Dragons, who are playing in their first title since 1995 (33-32 loss to Logansport), have their own impressive wins. The program won its only title in 1956 (Class B).

Mangham used a physical ground game to beat 3A Richwood (49-14), 2A Oak Grove (42-37), Division IV championship participant St. Frederick (45-3) and 1A reigning champion Ouachita Christian (28-21).

Running back Kemme Weeks rushed for nearly 1,900 yards and 24 touchdowns while Franklin said defensive lineman Trey Criff is the Dragons’ best player.

“They’ve got more than just Weeks — they’ve got lots of backs to carry the ball,” Franklin said. “They’re a lot like us in that they play disclipined football and play with class.

“We have to play better up front than we did against Kentwood because Mangham has a better line than Kentwood.”

All but one Tor starter will be making the return trip to the Dome after Haynesville lost to Ouachita Christian in 2012.

Quarterback/safety Jerrell Jackson said he has family members that have won titles from 1971-2009 as Tors, and the senior doesn’t want to be left out of the championship club before he jets off to San Diego State.

“My family is telling me not to worry about last year because they’ve been in that situation before and ended up going back to the Dome,” Jackson said. “We’re just so focused after the loss last year, and the next week we were in the weight room.

“When I look at those pictures (in Memorial Stadium), those guys have kids playing on this team right now. I want to sit down one day and tell my kids I left Haynesville as a champion.”

Jackson splits time with Kendrick Jackson at quarterback, but the Haynesville offense is predicated on long, grinding drives.

Senior running back CaVontae Critton leads the way with 1,009 yards — averaging better than 13 yards per carry. But both Jacksons, Tyus Early and Keshawn Harris are among the legion of ballcarriers that run behind a physical line.

“Defenses can’t just focus on me or CaVontae, and that helps out a lot,” Jerrell Jackson said. “It felt good to play four quarters against Kentwood (only the second time this season), but I wouldn’t mind not playing the fourth quarter Friday.”

Haynesville and Mangham are small towns that pride themselves on high school football, and Franklin doesn’t doubt that atmosphere will carry to the Dome.

With expectations piling on in Haynesville all season, Franklin said he’s glad to get to New Orleans and play the game.

“There’s a lot of pressure on these kids and the staff — pressure to finish,” Franklin said. “It makes it tough, and the kids have gone through some tough expectations that concern me.

“Mangham’s got a lot of good football players, and we have to be more physical than they are. But I want these kids to slow it down and enjoy the experience as well because it doesn’t happen that often.”

Mangham is an emerging program, making a 2011 semifinals run under current coach Tommy Tharp after Bo Meeks (Airline) led the Dragons to the 2008 quarterfinals. The Dragons were a No. 4 seed in 2012 before Plain Dealing pulled a first-round upset.


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