SHREVEPORT — By the time Manny Miles and the East offense got rolling Saturday, the deficit was too big.
The East scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns and had chances at more, but the West cruised to a 24-14 win in the Louisiana High School Coaches Association All-Star game at Independence Stadium.
The West scored the first 24 points, the last touchdown coming early in the fourth quarter, but University High’s Miles finally found his groove in the last quarter.
He led a 65-yard drive capped by Hahnville’s Rickey Preston scoring on a 13-yard run. The son of LSU coach Les Miles then found West Feliciana receiver Jazz Ferguson, an LSU commitment, for a 31-yard score, the latter coming with 2:24 left.
But the onside kick failed, and even though Miles guided the East inside the 40-yard line, West defensive end Nate Link of Notre Dame recorded his fourth sack to effectively squash the East’s attempted comeback.
“Offense is a tricky thing when you come together like this because you don’t have a lot of time to mesh everything,” Miles said. “We came out sluggish and had to get used to each other, but once everything started clicking ... I wished we could have played four quarters starting with the third quarter because it would have been a lot different.
“The (West) defensive line did a great job because I know it’s hard to get by our offensive line. I wasn’t expecting to run as much as I did, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Miles, the only quarterback on the East’s roster, threw for 177 yards on 21-of-30 passing.
Ferguson’s touchdown grab came when he outjumped a West defender.
“I’ve been doing that through high school, but it’s a great experience to do that in an All-Star game,” Ferguson said. “We didn’t do great at first and weren’t communicating, but we know how to play ball and relied on one another.”
The West defense sacked Miles eight times, and Link’s four sacks earned him the West most valuable player.
“It was amazing, and I enjoyed the opportunity of it, and I want to thank God for it,” Link said. “I was having fun, cutting loose and letting everything go in my last high school football game.
“(The defensive line) all worked together, and we jelled as a team this week. This is a memory I’ll never forget.”
Preston received the East honor by rushing for 67 yards and catching two passes for 16 yards.
“It was fun because I got to meet new people, and I can’t explain how good these athletes are. It made my year,” said Preston, a Nebraska commitment. “I really didn’t expect to win the (MVP). I just wanted to play well in my last high school game.”
The East committed two turnovers, both in the first half, and the West capitalized early when Notre Dame quarterback Brad Stoma found Byrd tight end Michael Dunman for a 3-yard score.
West place-kicker Thomas O’Dawd of St. Louis Catholic missed a 29-yarder but responded with a 46-yard field goal just before the half to give the West a 10-0 edge. The field goal was set up by a 42-yard pass from Stoma to Comeaux receiver Hunter Register.
The other West QB, Thibodaux’s Peyton Bonvillian, engineered a 26-yard drive capped by a 3-yard dive for a 17-0 lead late in the third quarter.
The West tacked on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Stoma to St. Louis’ Dekeinen Francois for the 24-0 advantage on the next possession. Returner Donald Stokes of Carencro took a punt 57 yards to the East 18-yard line to put the West in scoring position.
Stoma threw for 67 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-10 passing. Bonvillian threw for 94 yards on 10-of-16 passing with an interception. East defensive lineman Javahn Ferguson of Southern Lab intercepted a pass intended for LSU commitment and tight end Bry’Keithon Mouton of Acadiana.
Other standouts include Haynesville’s James Jackson (25 yards rushing, 31 receiving for West); Mouton (39 rushing, 11 receiving for West); Fontainebleau’s Hunter Bastion (eight catches for 47 yards for East); Ouachita’s Carlos Robinson, Jr. (44 receiving for East); Archbishop Hannan’s Daniel Hollander (50 receiving).