For some teams, the opening weekend of the high school football season is a chance to start anew. For powers Parkview Baptist and White Castle, it’s a chance to pick up right where the previous season left off.
Parkview and White Castle begin their quests at a repeat when the defending state champions hit the road Friday night to play up in classification.
Parkview travels Class 5A Mandeville in its first game since celebrating the school’s third 3A championship. White Castle, which upset Ouachita Christian in last year’s 1A title game, will be in Baton Rouge to face Glen Oaks on the turf at Louisiana Leadership Institute.
Glen Oaks is down to 3A this year from 4A.
“It took us five years,” White Castle coach Ferrante Dominique said of winning state. “Now that we’re there, we just want to achieve more success.”
Dominique enters his sixth season at White Castle with all-state running back Tyre Bracken leading 12 returning starters.
Glen Oaks has rarely faced an foe from the state’s smallest classification, but coach Landry Williams isn’t worried about the Panthers taking their opponent lightly. They’ve seen the film. They’ve read the headlines.
“Those guys have that state-championship taste in their mouth,” Williams said. “I don’t think they’re going to be willing to give it up easily.”
White Castle’s championship run last year gave the Iberville Parish school its first state title in 11-man football. Parkview continued a dominant, decade-long stretch, capped by the juggernaut’s fourth trip to the 3A final. But the Bulldogs and Eagles share more than the rings they wear.
Parkview enters 2011 on a nine-game winning streak having gone unbeaten in district play last season. White Castle is on an 11-game tear.
Both teams are ranked No. 1 in the state polls.
While Parkview has a predistrict schedule featuring four games against 5A opponents, WCHS begins a nondistrict slate that includes two 3A opponents as well as two 2A foes.
Both teams like competition.
“Playing the schedule we’re playing,” Parkview coach Kenny Guillot said, “our kids know that they’re going to have to go out and play hard every week.”
“We just want to get out of the preseason good and healthy and pick up a couple of wins and be ready for district,” he said. “It’s all about Week 10.”
The matchup with Glen Oaks pits Bracken opposite Johnta Hebert, a big-play machine in his own right. Hebert, a 1,000-yard rusher last year, returned the opening kick of last week’s jamboree for a TD. He is north Baton Rouge’s version of Bracken, who ran for 235 yards against Ouachita Christian in the 1A final.
“They have real similar size and similar running styles,” Williams said. “They’re both undersized, but they’re probably two of the most productive running backs in the state of Louisiana.”
The early test at Mandeville has Parkview without two of its biggest playmakers.
Fullback Brandon Johnson, last year’s leading rusher, suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first day of fall practice. Quarterback Brennan Bozeman, one of 11 returning starters, will miss early season action with a hand injury.
Hezekiah Randolph slides from running back to fill Johnson’s role. Cole Wilson steps in for Bozeman behind center.
As far as a repeat goes, Guillot said it’s never the focus.
“Our goal is always just to go deep in the playoffs because you don’t want to put undo expectations on your players,” he said. “We hope to make the playoffs and hope to make a deep run and you never know.”
CENTRAL PRIVATE AT SILLIMAN INSTITUTE: In the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, Central Private travels to face rival Silliman on Friday in the District 6-2A opener for both.
Silliman (1-1) got to the .500 mark with a 50-14 rout of Amite School Center last week. Central Private (0-2) lost to the Baton Rouge Patriots, 42-41, to remain winless.