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LHSAA football preview: Delta Charter, Ferriday High play at home; Vidalia High on road

FERRIDAY — The Ferriday High School Trojans begin defense of its LHSAA Class 2A State championship Friday at 7 p.m. when they play host to the Sicily Island High School Tigers at Melz Field.

Ferriday got ready for its 2020 regular season when it played a scrimmage game last Friday at Bastrop High School. Stanley Smith, Trojans head coach, said there were some things he was pleased with, but there were also some things that need to be worked on in practices this week.

“We competed hard. We’ve got to clean up our blocking assignments and we had a couple of turnovers. We’ve got to do a better job protecting the ball and tackling,” Smith said. “Defensively, we only gave up a tipped ball for a touchdown. Offensively, we did well running the ball. But we’ve got to block better.”

Smith said the Trojans have been focusing on getting better on reads on offense and tackling on defense.

Smith said that he hasn’t seen any film on the Tigers and added he knows that Sicily Island will be a tough and hard-nosed group.

“They’ve be coming here looking to take a victory,” Smith said.

Standouts to keep an eye on for Ferriday are senior running back/linebacker Kobe Johnson, senior tight end/defensive end Blake Tarver, senior wide receiver Elijah White, senior running back Daminiya Milligan and senior defensive end Kylyn Lewis. Smith noted that the defensive line is a question mark even though the Trojans have a good group returning.

The lack of fans in attendance will be different for the season opener at Melz Field.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, 660 fans will be in attendance at 25% capacity at Melz Field.

“It’s going to be kind of different with the COVID-19 restrictions,” Smith said. “I know the fans want to come out but we have to be disciplined.”

Vidalia at West Ouachita

VIDALIA — The Vidalia High School Vikings will start their 2020 season on the road when they travel to West Monroe, Louisaina, to take on the LHSAA Class 5A West Ouachita High School Chiefs Friday at 7 p.m.

This will be Michael Norris’ first-ever game as a head football coach when he leads Vidalia on the field. Last Friday night, the Vikings hosted a jamboree game against the Class 3A Jena High School Giants.

“They got up there and competed. We saw some things we needed to see. We’re a young team and we played a lot of sophomores and freshmen,” Norris said. “ We put some things on film that need to be corrected. Better than anything else, we came out with no injuries.”

Norris said that he was pleased with the team’s fight and competitiveness against a good Jena team. He added that during practices this week, the Vikings worked on fixing the mistakes they made during their scrimmage game.

“Executing on offense. On defense, getting after the ball. We got to put some freshmen out there who competed. They didn’t run away from anybody.”

This young Vidalia team will be put to the test against a West Ouachita team that went 6-5 last year and made the Class 5A playoffs. When these two teams face each other last year at Vidalia, West Ouachita needed a 21-point fourth quarter to pull away for a 45-12 win.

“They’re were senior-heavy last year. They’re a little bit younger this team. They’re a 5A team. They’ve got some big dudes up front. They’ve got some good athletes,” Norris said. “Coach (Matt) Middleton does a good job preparing his guys. They’re coached well. It’s going to be a good opportunity for our guys to go up there and see what we can do.”

When asked who needs to step up for Vidalia to pull the upset, Norris said, “the Viking offense and the Viking defense are going to go out there and work hard. There’s not a single position out there that’s better than the other. We’re going to go out there and work hard.”

Jonesboro-Hodge at Delta Charter

FERRIDAY — The Delta Charter School Storm will be at home to start its 2020 season when it takes on the LHSAA Class 2A Jonesboro-Hodge High School Tigers Friday with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

Delta Charter played host to LHSAA newcomer River Oaks School out of Monroe, Louisiana, for a scrimmage game last Friday night.

“I thought we played pretty well. We played physical. We ran the ball well. Defense played tough,” said Blake Wheeler, Storm head coach. “We wore down some as the game went along. We had some penalties that we need to work on. Overall, I got a good feel for our team.”

Wheeler said the Storm worked on eliminating penalties and bing more sound defensively during practices this week.

“Jonesboro-Hodge has a lot of good athletes. Defensively, executing our scheme and our assignments,” Wheeler said.

The Storm will not only look to begin this season with a victory, but it will also be looking to avenge last year’s 52-26 loss at Jonesboro-Hodge.

“I know that they’ve got some good players at the skill position. They’re big up front. Coach (Terrance) Blankenship has a good pulse for their team,” Wheeler said. “They’re real aggressive on defense. We need to try our best to have as clean of a game as possible. Against a team like Jonesboro-Hodge, if you turn the ball over, they will make you play.”

Wheeler said that several positions and a few players will have to step up for the Storm to upset the Tigers on the road.

“Offensively, besides our offensive line, Tre Griffin and KJ Hollins, our quarterback. They’re going to have to take a little bit of punishment to keep the ball moving,” Wheeler said. “Defense, our defensive line needs to play physical and plug the gaps. Linebackers need to run downhill and stop the run. Make open-field tackles. We have some young players in our secondary. It’ll be a test for us for sure.”

Block at Grant

JONESVILLE — The Block High School Bears will travel to Dry Prong, Louisiana, to take on the LHSAA Class 3A Grant High School Cougars Friday at 7 p.m.

Grant picked up its only win of the season last year when the Cougars went on the road and defeated Block 27-14.

“Practice is going pretty good. We have a lot of first-time players. We’re working on defensive assignments. Grant is a 3A school. They’ve going to have the numbers on us. We’re just going to try to play tough and play fast.” Block head coach Benny Vault Jr. said.

Vault said the keys to victory will be protecting the ball and staying healthy. He added that the Bears’ football program has improved since over the past year.

“We’ve grown a lot since last year. We’ve had a pretty good offseason, Vault said. “We’re introducing a new offense. It’s new to the players. It’s new to me. We’re going to throw it a little bit.”

Three standout players for the Bears are JR Curry, Zavion Green and Dexture Jefferson.

“We need Jefferson to be big offensively and defensively,” Vault said. “Our offensive line will dictate how well our game goes. Defensively, we’ll be able to run to the football. We’ve got some good athletes on defense.”