ZACHARY – When the high school state football playoff began four weeks ago, the hopes were as high as they’d been in quite some time.
Class 5A, Division I, Division III – schools from Shreveport-Bossier City were considered contenders to win it all. In 5A, two schools were thought to have legitimate chances.
When the final horn sounded on Parkway’s 41-27 loss in a 5A semifinal, it closed the book on city schools. Not only will there be no championship, not a single team advanced to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Friday, the Panthers seemed to run into a player, Zachary quarterback Lindsey Scott, that simply won’t be denied. One week after collecting seven touchdowns in a quarterfinal, Scott had four – and 260 rushing yards – against Parkway.
The see-saw affair was a one-possession game until Zachary’s final touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Parkway (12-2) represented Bossier City well, but it wasn’t meant to be.
District 1-5A was billed as one of the best leagues in the state. If not the best.
The coaches believed it, the players believed it, and the media did, too.
Airline and Haughton made first-round exits. In the next three weeks, the three teams that tied for the district title went out one by one.
Byrd was the first to go. The No. 4 Yellow Jackets (10-2) were ousted at home when they gave up 47 to No. 13 Landry-Walker in the second round.
The last public school to win a state title remains Captain Shreve more than four decades ago.
Last week, Evangel was eliminated.
The Eagles opted to play up to 5A during the regular season and Division I, the top private-school segment, in the postseason.
Evangel led 21-0 at the half and looked well on its way to the Dome. However, the Eagles fumbled the ball while attempting to run out the clock in the final minute. Capital of Baton Rouge scored to tie the game and prevailed in overtime to hand the school on Broadacres Road one of its most gutting defeats ever.
Calvary Baptist Academy offered one of the most surprising exits by a local school. The two-time defending state champion Cavaliers, seeded sixth, were walloped in the quarterfinals, 28-7, by No. 3 Notre Dame.
With St. Mary’s loss in the Dome on Friday, Haynesville is left to carry the torch for the area’s football hopes. Friday, David Franklin rallied his Claiborne Parish bunch to a victory against Arcadia to earn a spot in the Class 1A championship game in New Orleans.
Following the loss to Zachary, Parkway head coach David Feaster tried to make sense of the title drought by local public schools.
“I don’t know,” he said. “From our point of view, we feel like we’re building.”
The Panthers certainly are. In their last two trips to the postseason (they were ineligible last year), Feaster had led them to the title game (2013) and the semis.
A pair of near misses will haunt Parkway’s Class of 2015.
The Panthers turned the ball over on down twice inside Zachary’s 2-yard line.
“They were just better than us on the goal line,” Feaster said. “Against a team like that, you almost have to be perfect, especially down there.”
With Parkway alum Brandon Harris and Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen (Panthers receiver C.J. Morgan is a Bulldogs signee) in attendance, Friday’s matchup didn’t disappoint.
As a desperate Parkway moved toward Zachary’s end zone trying to make it a one-score game in the final minute, sophomore wide receiver Terrace Marshall, clearly only able to put his weight on one leg, stayed in the game and fought until the end.
Like the past 42 years, it just wasn’t meant to be for a local city school.
I’m not sure if legendary head coach Lee Hedges and the ’73 Shreve crew take a page out of the 1972 Miami Dolphins book and pop champagne when the final public school is eliminated, but even that group would probably like to see one of those trophies travel to Caddo or Bossier Parish once again.
It’s been too long.