Many future college football stars cut their teeth on the field of Rams Stadium as part of the Bastrop High School football program.
From wide receiver Reuben Randle (LSU/New York Giants) to Randall Mackey (Ole Miss) to Denzel Duvall (University of Alabama) among others got their start in the red and blue.
Football fans that make it out to Rams Stadium Thursday for the 7 p.m. District 2-4A showdown between Bastrop (6-3, 2-1) and West Ouachita (7-2, 1-2) will see the next generation of top talent on display.
That includes West Ouachita senior running back Joseph Tassin who has rushed for 1,324 yards and 19 touchdowns on 197 carries this season, ranking him No. 16 at the end of last week in the state for rushing yards.
Tassin is one of 19 seniors that has stuck with the program over the past four years of struggles and is reaping the benefits of sticking it out.
West Ouachita still has two major goals in front of them this week the team would like to add to the turnaround: earning a first-round playoff home game and ending the current nine-game losing streak against Bastrop.
“It would mean a lot to us, and be something we have not been able to do before (beating Bastrop),” Tassin said. “To do that we have to stay on the field as an offense and move the football.”
Bastrop features one of the best passing offenses in the state behind seniors Christian Doaty (quarterback) and Isaiah Graham (wide receiver).
Doaty has 2,171 yards and 29 touchdowns on 140-of-231 passing this season and ended last week No. 9 in the state. Graham has 36 passes for 894 yards and 17 touchdowns this season ranking him No. 11 in the state.
“You know those guys will be the next great college prospects out of Bastrop,” West Ouachita head coach Joey Pender said. “They are not just extremely talented but very well coached too. Our guys on our team are doing a good job too. I have been proud of the way our seniors have led us on and off the field. All the credit goes to them and what they have done this year. Like I tell them all the time ‘the credit goes to the guy in the ring’ and they have been the one battling every Friday night, and I know it will be another battle this week.”
The contrast in styles may be the biggest struggle of the game, with each attempting to impose their will on the other.
“It is contrasting styles, but it is football at the end of the day,” Bastrop head coach Thomas Bachman said. “We know that West Ouachita will be out to limit possessions and slow the game down, we know it is something they want to do. You can’t waste any possessions, we have to start fast and I think special teams will play a huge part of the game.”
Graham is currently one of the top receivers in school history statistically and has already garnered offers from Arkansas, TCU and Tulsa.
Bachman, himself a former college wide receiver at Texas Tech, said that Graham possesses intangibles that make him an elite talent.
“He loves the details, he soaks up everything the coaches tell him,” Bachman said. “He shows up every day for practice with a smile on his face. Not every player loves practice too. And for as good of a player as he is, he is one thousand times better of a kid.”
Connect with Cody Futrell on Twitter @cfutrellTNS
Thursday night prep games
Alexandria at Ouachita
Delhi at St. Frederick
Sterlington at Oak Grove
Tensas at Ouachita Christian
West Ouachita at Bastrop
West Ouachita (7-2, 1-2) at Bastrop (6-3, 2-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Rams Stadium; KRLQ 94.9 FM (West Ouachita), KYMM 92.3 FM (Bastrop)
Who/What to Watch: West Ouachita — RB Joseph Tassin has rushed for 1,324 yards and 19 touchdowns on 197 carries this season. Bastrop — QB Christian Doaty has 2,171 yards and 29 touchdowns on 140-of-231 passing this season.
Get in the Game: Bastrop has won nine straight against West Ouachita.