‘The Air Show’ worthy of hype

Published 10:38 am Sunday, September 27, 2015

The fuel that drives the greatest air attack in the Miss-Lou is a soft-spoken young man whose toughness is just as admirable as his passing ability.

That young man, Desmond Hunter, is a senior quarterback for Wilkinson County, and according to Max Preps, Hunter is second in the nation with 2,436 passing yards on the season. Hunter is second to Glendale High School’s (Missouri) Alex Huston and trails him by 100 yards.

Wilkinson County’s air attack, or “The Air Show” as the Wildcats like to call it, proved to be as advertised Friday night in a 45-26 win against Ferriday. Hunter threw for 385 yards and totaled four touchdowns in the win, but more impressive than that, Hunter was the toughest player on the field Friday night.

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His task was simple, but frightening — get rid of the ball quickly with 6’9”, 280-pound Dare Rosenthal coming up the middle and long, athletic defensive ends Dantrieze Scott and Sam Johnson breathing down his neck. Against one of the most fierce defensive lines in the entire state of Louisiana, Hunter stepped into his throws, throwing his wide receivers open in the process.

He also exhibited that moxie you can’t teach. For many years, I’ve watched atmospheres at Melz Field swallow opponents whole. The bone-chilling band combined with the raucous fans hanging on the fence provides one of the best home field advantages in all of the area. But that didn’t phase Hunter, not even on Ferriday’s homecoming night. Hunter took his licks, but like a prizefighter, hung in the pocket and delivered punishment of his own — completing 27 of 44 passes.

While Hunter deserves the national attention he’s receiving, I have to acknowledge perhaps the best athlete on the field Friday night was Wildcats wide receiver Travion Jones. Jones, who was our 2014 All-Metro Basketball Player of the Year, came back from a shoulder injury one week prior and recorded 109 receiving yards and two touchdowns. But Jones’ performance didn’t stop there. Wilkinson County head coach Kenneth Brown elected to have Jones cover the 6’6” Ja’Shon Foster, and though Foster still had a productive night (149 yards and a touchdown), Jones forced Ferriday quarterback Ronald Williams to look toward the opposite side of the field throughout the night. Jones even recorded an interception, battling Foster for a ball, and reeling in the acrobatic interception.

Toward the end of the game, Ferriday defensive coordinator Charles Cothern Jr. looked at me and shook his head.

“This No. 5 (Jones), I’m telling you he’s the most underrated player in the Miss-Lou,” Cothern said. “I was watching film of him and going, ‘Wow.’”

Players like Hunter, Jones and wide receiver Juan Anthony, who is now eighth in the nation in receiving yards with 793, make this Wildcat team not only entertaining to watch, but a legitimate contender in 3A.

Perhaps the Wilkinson County victory was the best outcome for both teams Friday night.

The Trojans, who I still consider a favorite to win the state championship, had eight turnovers and committed 13 penalties in the loss. Quite frankly, Ferriday lacked a sense of urgency in the game against a talented Wildcat team. It seemed to be a result of these great big athletes believing everything they hear about them.

Yes, members of this Ferriday football team have gifts that no other team around here has. That’s evident with multiple SEC scholarship offers to players, but what the Trojans need to realize is because of that, they’re going to get the best from each and every team. Football isn’t a game for the privileged, and you can’t play like you own the game, no matter how good you are.

Look for the loss to ignite a fire in these players and give Ferriday head coach Dwight Woods a platform to regain his team’s focus. Don’t worry Trojan fans — Ferriday will be just fine down the road.

Undoubtedly, those who attended the Ferriday/Wilkinson County game Friday night saw two teams that will make playoff pushes. They also saw one of the most explosive passing attacks in the nation.

The Air Show might soon become the hunted because of the national recognition, and that’s OK. Wilkinson County might have the best Hunter of all.