Louisiana football teams beat each other up in early season contests

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Go ahead and try to figure this one out.

Folks in Louisiana can debate which football team is better this season &045; Vidalia, Ferriday or Block &045; and for the first time in a couple seasons may have a valid argument. The past two seasons it’s been all Vidalia, part of a 20-game win streak in the regular season.

When Vidalia’s streak got in Week 1 at Jonesville but Block lost to Ferriday on Friday night, that didn’t solve much. Well, until Week 10 when Ferriday and Vidalia square off at Melz Field.

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So for now, this much is known &045; all three may be about as even as possible since each has made its share of early-season mistakes after Ferriday topped Block on Friday, 25-13.

&uot;We played hard, but it’s frustrating to me to stand out there and watch the penalties,&uot; Block head coach Chad Harkins said. &uot;I know they’re not trying to make penalties, and I know they’re frustrated, too. I really feel like this is a loss for us, but I don’t think you’ll see the Block-Ferriday the way it used to be. We can play with those guys and beat those guys.&uot;

And Ferriday really can’t say it was mistake-free, either, on Friday night. The Trojans struggled to find consistency on the offensive end behind quarterback Scotty Cage and new players at the skill positions but were on the receiving end of two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

The Trojans could have had another in the fourth quarter when a Matt Johnson pass landed in the hands of a Trojan defender, but an inadvertent whistle just after Johnson released it blew the play dead and allowed the Bears to replay the down.

&uot;It wasn’t all bad,&uot; FHS head coach James McFarland said. &uot;I think we played well in spots. Offensively, we played well in spots. When we had to get yards, we got it. But there’s a bunch of things we need to work on.&uot;

The truth is both teams played well in spurts, mixing in solid drives with mistake-prone possessions or holding tight on defense on plays following others giving up big yardage. The Trojans’ offense scored two touchdowns thanks in part to 92 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Montario Tennessee, the younger brother of the Trojans’ hero from the game who returned an interception for a touchdown late to seal it.

&uot;We’ve got to get a little better moving the ball, but we’ll be all right,&uot; Montago Tennessee said. &uot;My brother ran the ball well. We couldn’t lose. Whatever it took, we had to do it. We weren’t going 0-2 again. We had to step up, and that’s what we did.&uot;

Vidalia got back on track Friday with a 51-12 hammering of hapless Newellton, a school rumored to be dropping football following season’s end. School officials also considered shutting the school down earlier this year before backing off.

The Vikings made for last week’s 18-0 loss to Block with the 51-point performance, something they were accustomed to last season.

MISTAKES, MISTAKES &045; For a team that seems to pass about once every presidential election, the Block Bears sure did surprise people Friday with pass attempts on their first three plays from scrimmage.

That plan was quickly scrapped when on the third pass Matthew Smith picked off a Johnson pass and returned it for a touchdown.

So the Bears went back to their trademark offense and didn’t pass it again until the second half. But there were still problems, including five false start penalties in the first half.

And they were all at the worst times &045; just after a first down or a big gain.

&uot;Mentally, we didn’t stay in the game,&uot; Harkins said. &uot;If we do the things we’re supposed to do, we win this game. I’m sure Ferriday will disagree with me. If you watch the film, we’ve got 14-year-olds. We didn’t have that experience, and it showed tonight.

&uot;If you take away the mistakes, you have a different ball game. And I don’t think you have a close ball game, to be honest with you.&uot;

McFarland can lament over the same thing. The Trojans lost two fumbles in the second half and had a bad snap in shotgun go wild, a play that went for a 13-yard loss.

&uot;We’re not where we want to be on offense,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;We’re fumbling the ball too much. There are so many things we’ve got to go back and work on, which we will.&uot;

KIDS &045; Vidalia’s commanding __ defeat of Newellton Friday night wasn’t exactly a riveting game for the casual fan. But for the coaches on both sides of the field, it was a time to watch and get a brief glimpse of the future.

Vidalia played its backups for part of the second quarter and nearly all of the second half.

On the other side of the ball, Newellton head coach Carl Washington said that his young team is improving every time out.

&uot;This is the only way they’re going to learn, by being out there,&uot;Washington said.

Viking freshman quarterback Brandon Hawkins, the backup, showed some of his promise leading the Viking offense for much of the game.

&uot;Brandon did real good, and he’s still got three more years,&uot; Vidalia quarterback Brett Hinson said.

KEY INJURY &045; Some teams are looking better on the injury front, but Jefferson County fell victim to the injury bug Friday night in a surprising loss to Velma Jackson Friday.

Running back Ernest Havard left the game with what was later determined as a broken fibula and tibula during the 14-12 loss.

Havard, one of the area’s more complete backs, will likely miss the remainder of the season. He starred on both sides of the ball last year for the Tigers by also playing linebacker, but coaches had refrained a bit from

playing him there and instead put him in in some situations at safety.