Home dates with Class 5A power Bossier City Parkway and Class 4A state finalist Neville highlight Bastrop High's 2013 regular season football schedule.
Bastrop opens the season at home against Shreveport Huntington on Friday, Sept. 6, before playing Shreveport Byrd on Sept. 13 at Independence Stadium.
Back on the road the following week, the Rams visit Pearl (Miss.).
In Week 4, the Rams return home against Parkway.
Closing out pre-district play against a pair of District 2-3A foes, the Rams visit Rayville on Oct. 4 and host Farmerville on Oct. 11 in Week 6.
Bastrop's District 2-4A schedule includes an Oct. 18 date against Franklin Parish in Winnsboro, back-to-back home games against Neville and Wossman on Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, and the regular season finale in Cadeville vs. West Ouachita on Nov. 8.
"I think it's a competitive schedule," Bastrop coach Thomas Bachman said. "Huntington, Parkway, Farmerville, Neville and Wossman — that's not a bad home lineup."
Bastrop's preseason agenda includes a scrimmage against Alexandria Senior High at Ram Stadium on Friday, Aug. 23.
For the fifth straight season, the Rams will compete in the Bayou Jamb at ULM on Saturday, Aug. 31, against an opponent to be determined.
In addition to the varsity schedule, the Rams have seven junior varsity games and a full slate of 10 freshmen games.
"We need to play games to keep the kids interested," Bachman said of the sub-varsity schedule. "We need to get into a routine of playing freshmen and JV games on Monday and varsity games on Friday."
Renewing an off-and-on series after a six-year absence, Huntington and Bastrop meet in the 2013 season opener. Last year, the Raiders finished 6-5, including a 3-2 mark in District 1-4A. Huntington qualified for the playoffs last season, losing to Vandebilt Catholic 38-6 in the first round.
Bastrop and Byrd will play in the nightcap on the first day of the Battle of the Border in Shreveport. Calvary Baptist and St. Thomas More collide in the opener of the Friday, Sept 13 double header. Saturday's schedule includes Parkway vs. Marshall (Texas), Neville vs. Acadiana and Longview (Texas) vs. Olive Branch (Miss.).
Byrd went 8-3 last season, en route to sharing the District 1-5A title with Parkway and Airline. The Yellow Jackets defeated Natchitoches Central 41-13 in the first round of the playoffs, before dropping a 38-21 verdict to eventual state runner-up Barbe in the regional round. Byrd was a state semifinalist in 2011.
The Pearl Pirates are coming off a 6-5 campaign.
Quarterback Brandon Harris and several other key players return from an explosive Parkway offense, which averaged 39.9 points per game in 2012. Coach David Feaster's Panthers turned out an 11-2 record and advanced to the quarterfinals where they lost to Barbe 45-35. Harris passed for 2,573 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 667 yards and 12 scores as a junior.
Page 2 of 2 - Rayville is the Rams' lone holdover pre-district opponent from the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. Coach Lent Bursey's Hornets are coming off of a disappointing 4-6 campaign, which included a 39-23 Week 5 loss at Bastrop. Rayville, however, won the last meeting at the Hornets' Nest in 2011, pulling out a 34-32 victory on Deleyoung Miller's 7-yard touchdown pass to Donovon Johnson with six seconds remaining.
Defending District 2-3A champion and 2012 state quarterfinalist Farmerville is striving to continue its momentum following a 10-3 season. Farmerville beat De La Salle 29-7 and Eunice 21-12 in the playoffs, before bowing out with a hard-fought 22-16 loss to East Feliciana.
Franklin Parish seeks to continue its rise following a 9-3 campaign, which included a 23-20 Week 9 victory at Ram Stadium en route to a runner-up finish in District 2-4A. Coach Kenneth Sebren's Patriots knocked off Assumption 19-14 in the first round of the playoffs, before coming out on the short end of a 20-15 heartbreaker in the regional round.
Four-time defending District 2-4A champion Neville has advanced to the finals three times over the past four seasons, winning state titles in 2009 and 2011. Neville went 13-1 last season, including a 43-23 victory over Bastrop, on its way to a state runner-up finish. Edna Karr bested the Tigers 29-22 in the state championship game. Quarterback John Diarse, Bastrop's long-time arch-nemesis, has now enrolled at LSU, but the Tigers' cupboard isn't bare. Heading the returnees is safety Laurence Jones, who has scholarship offers from LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Stanford, among others.
Wossman is seeking to regroup after missing the playoffs with a 4-6 record last season. Bastrop needed a 9-yard, fourth-and-goal pass from backup quarterback Christian Doaty to Jay Wilson with 5:38 remaining to overtake the Wildcats, 21-18, in Monroe.
West Ouachita went 2-8 with an 0-4 District 2-4A record last season.
Bastrop returns five starters on both sides of the ball from an 8-4 squad, which downed St. Michael the Archangel 66-34 and lost to Teurlings Catholic 42-21 in the playoffs.
Left tackle Rodney Jackson is the lone incumbent offensive lineman. Jamari Payne and Devin Brown return at wide receiver. Kevin Heard and Antwone Green, who rotated at running back, are also back for another year.
Full-time starters returning to the fold on defense include end Johnnie Marsaw, linebackers Chad Rawls and Kentreylus Hill-Pates, cornerback Mardarius Thompson and safety Lester Lee.
Bachman says the Rams will hold their first spring practice on Monday, May 6.