Playoff battles and title runs are synonymous with the Parkview Baptist football program. And the Eagles’ senior class is willing to do whatever it takes to preserve that reputation.
Senior leaders like linebacker Brody Burkhalter and nose tackle Tom Bove aren’t ready to close the book on their Parkview careers, something they remind their younger teammates of on a regular basis.
“You have to be in a different gear in the playoffs because you’re not guaranteed next week,” Bove said.
“We preach that there’s no tomorrow; so for us seniors, any play could be our last and any game could be our last.”
Desperate for an offensive spark against Notre Dame last week, the Eagles turned to their defensive leaders for a push into the quarterfinals. Burkhalter ran for a touchdown and converted a critical fourth-and-2 that set up the go-ahead score in the Eagles’ 28-13 win.
Bove provided the lead blocking for Burkhalter in the Eagles’ “Nasty” formation, a heavy, power running set designed to control the clock and create leverage along the line of scrimmage.
“Running the ball on offense is something you dream of as a kid,” Burkhalter said. “When we get in the red zone Tom and I always strap up and stand next to the coaches waiting for them to call us in.”
But Burkhalter and Bove have made their biggest impact on the PBS defense, which has surrendered an average of 14 points during a seven-game win streak.
Burkhalter has flourished this season in his new role at strong outside linebacker. He recorded 12 tackles and an interception in a first-round win against Loyola Prep, leading a PBS defense that’s held both of its playoff opponents under 270 yards.
“He’s just a great football player,” PBS coach Kenny Guillot said about Burkhalter. “He’s returned punts and kickoffs for us, and he’s intercepted passes for touchdowns. He’s a good tight end and running back when we need him. He’s made tremendous contributions to our program.”
Burkhalter credits much of his success to Bove, the 6-foot, 260-pound nose tackle who anchors the Eagles defense. From week to week Bove takes on a steady dose of double teams, opening gaps and opportunities for other defenders.
“It’s great having guys of such caliber in front of me taking on blocks,” Burkhalter said. “Even when he’s double teamed Tom still gets in the backfield a lot. There’s no one I’d rather have playing in front of me.”
The 11th-seeded Eagles return home Friday for a quarterfinals matchup with No. 14 Port Allen (10-2).
Burkhalter, Bove and the rest of the PBS defense must find a way to contain Pelicans quarterback Darian Claiborne, who sparked Port Allen’s 14-13 upset of No. 3 Loranger with a 73-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Claiborne is the only Port Allen player ever to throw and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
“It’s a big week for our defensive ends to stay outside and keep him in the pocket,” Bove said. “There are no big hits this week. You have to break down, grab a hold of him and wait for somebody else to get him.”