Parkview Baptist’s defensive backfield always seems to find itself caught in the middle of something.
Andre Davis, Manny Mukes and Austin Suits have no problem with that. The three seniors vow to be ready for any challenge, including the ones Livonia High will provide in a Class 3A semifinal game.
“Just watching them progress has been real interesting,” PBS coach Kenny Guillot said. “They’ve gone from being pretty good, to good and now I think they’re real good.
“Austin is filling the alley as a free safety. Manny is so steady. Andre had two interceptions last week. They continue to improve.”
Guillot and the top-seeded Eagles (11-0) expect their secondary to be in the thick of the action again this week when they host No. 5 Livonia (11-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
PBS’ defensive backfield enjoyed perhaps its best game of the season, intercepting four passes during a 62-21 road win over No. 9 North DeSoto in the quarterfinals.
Mukes set the tone early with an interception on NDHS’ first scrimmage play. He has 40 tackles, five interceptions and nine pass break-ups for the season.
Davis had his first two interceptions of the year, returning one 40 yards for a TD as the Eagles raced out to a 35-0 first-quarter lead. Davis adds 30 tackles and four pass break-ups.
The trio said the Eagles entered the game with a little extra motivation, citing a Shreveport Times article in which quotes attributed to North DeSoto questioned their athleticism. Mukes says such comments are nothing new.
“That stuff makes us come out and practice harder during the week,” Mukes said. “It gives us a little chip on our shoulder for games. We’ve gotten a lot closer and have a lot better chemistry since the season started.”
Parkview defensive coordinator Jay Mayet was impressed by the way the Eagles defensive backs handled the sitiation.
“(North DeSoto) said they felt like they could throw on us,” Mayet said. “They ran a total of nine plays in pregame and seven of them were pass plays. It wasn’t anything we didn’t prepare for.”
Still, the Eagles have had their share of detractors, most notably after the Eagles gave up a ton of points and passing yards in a 53-39 win over another team now in the semifinals, District 6-3A rival East Feliciana. PBS also had to rally for a 32-28 win over Brusly in the regional playoff round.
The game with East Feliciana was notable because it prompted a change in the Eagles’ alignment. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Mukes was solid at cornerback as a two-year starter. Davis (5-11, 170) was improving as a first-year starter at cornerback.
A key move was shifting Suits (6-0, 200) from rover, a linebacker-hybrid position, to free safety after the EFHS game. Tee Sparrow moved from free safety back to the rover position he played previously. Suits has 56 tackles, six pass break-ups and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a TD.
Suits is considered to be the Eagles best athlete. He was primarily a receiver last year and now plays that role and safety, along with returning kicks and punts.
“We started off slow, but we bonded and came together,” Suits said. “During the spring and summer, it was really different for me.
“As a receiver, you know what the play call is, but on defense you don’t. I had to adjust to that. The challenge is developing a game plan and figuring out what the other team is going to do. I like that part.”
Davis was primarily a running back and also battled injuries a year ago before finding a home in the secondary. Mayet said Davis was timed at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a University of Louisiana at Lafayette summer camp, making him the fastest PBS player.
“I was OK with the move (to defense),” Davis said. “I wanted to be wherever I could help the team.
“On offense, there’s a certain play, and you know what you have to do. Defense is not as exact. You have to make sure you’re in the right place.”
Mukes expects the Eagles to approach the semifinal challenge in two ways. He said the Eagles are motivated by last year’s semifinal loss to St. Charles Catholic and that Livonia, a first-time semifinalist, has motivation, too.
“(Livonia) are going to come out playing real hard with something to prove,” Mukes said. “They’re unique because they run the ball good. And when they throw it, it’s not just short passes. They throw it down the field. We’ve motivated too and we’ve got to be ready.”