Although Salmen and Northshore high schools aren’t district opponents, there may be no bigger football rivalry these days in Slidell.
On Friday night at Spartan Stadium, the latest installment of the series was Advantage: Northshore.
The Panthers, after years of struggling against their crosstown rival, won their sixth of the past eight matchups against the Spartans. The final score was 12-7, but as is customary when these teams meet, nothing was decided until the final moments.
Tyler Powell took a short pass from Walter Harris III deep in Northshore’s own territory and raced up the left sideline 78 yards for the winning score. The PAT failed, but the touchdown gave Northshore (1-1) the lead with 2:23 remaining.
“It was a designed play — a throwback pass,” Powell said of his longest touchdown reception in his high school career. “We knew we would bounce back.”
The game was not much on glitz, with Northshore fumbling three times (losing two) and the Panthers intercepting Salmen (0-2) three times. But when the plays mattered most late in the game, both teams began to pick up their play.
Salmen’s James Duplessis busted off several long runs in the second half to keep the Spartans threatening. But again, a pick by Kemon Smith with 31.4 seconds to go sealed the win for Northshore.
“It was ugly, but we’ll take it,” Northshore coach Mike Bourg said. “We’re not finishing drives, but we will.”
Salmen’s offense couldn’t do much of anything in the first half, but Northshore did mount a drive that reached the Salmen 30-yard line in the first quarter. An interception by Salmen’s De’Shaun Short in the end zone ended the threat, and the Spartans took over again.
That possession didn’t get far, either: Northshore’s Tahj Clements picked off Salmen quarterback Robert Hayes Jr. and returned the ball to the right corner of the end zone to put the Panthers up 6-0. The ensuing PAT was blocked.
The Spartans got to midfield with only seconds remaining in the first quarter, but Jeremiah McDonald grabbed the Panthers’ second interception of the period, which ended the first quarter.
Salmen got to the Northshore 22 midway through the second quarter, but the Panthers defense held on fourth down and took over again — spoiling the home team’s best scoring chance to that point.
Matt Harvey finished with 13 rushes for 92 yards to lead Northshore.