Sterlington at West Ouachita, Friday, 7 p.m.
After three days of rain spawned by Hurricane Harvey, Friday night is expected to be a great evening to watch football. Sterlington and West Ouachita ring in the new season at 7 p.m. in Cadeville. Radio station 92.7 FM will carry all Sterlington football games this season, with Jimmy Guthrie and William Handy in the booth, and Chris Sturdivant as sideline commentator.
Both teams have new head coaches, though neither is new to being a head coach.
Promoting from within, Sterlington hired Lee Doty when Jason Thompson moved into an assistant principal's position after guiding the Panthers to their first state football title last season. Doty has 17 years of experience as a head coach, including two seasons (2014, 2015) at Natchitoches St. Mary's and 17 years in Mississippi.
Matt Middleton was hired as West Ouachita's new Chief when Joey Pender retired. A former West Monroe wide receiver, Middleton has held head coaching positions at Cenla Christian (now University Christian of Cenla), Caldwell Parish and Prairie View. His career also includes several stops at the college level with a stint as offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Middleton has installed a fast-paced, spread system.
"They run some quick screens and out routes — a lot of quick, short stuff," Doty said. "They have a great scheme."
Quarterback Peyton Porter will make his first varsity start Friday night. Among the Chiefs' other weapons are tailback Kalib Nolan and wide receivers Jacob Holland and Luke Honeycutt.
Left tackle Mitchell McKee is the pillar of an offensive line which averages 230 pounds per man.
"They have some big, good-looking linemen," Doty said. "It's going to be tough on us."
Defensively, the Chiefs are led by linebacker Montana King and safety Kam Harris.
West Ouachita dropped a 21-0 decision to Union Parish in Saturday night's Eddie G. Robinson Classic jamboree at Grambling.
Doty says the Panthers caught a break on the weather this week.
"We've been real fortunate to be able to get on the field every day," Doty said prior to Thursday's walk-through. "We may not have been able to stay out there as long as we would have liked, but we were able to get outside every day this week. That's the advantage of having a turf field."
Sterlington is coming off of a 30-0 Bayou Jamb victory over St. Frederick, but the Class 4A Chiefs present an entirely different set of challenges.
"We are playing four quarters against a quality opponent. I am anxious to see where we are," Doty said. "The kids are excited about playing a big school at their place. We, as coaches, are excited, too. It's going to be a big test for us."
Tailback C.J. Colvin was named as Sterlington's Outstanding Player in the Bayou Jamb after carrying six times for 68 yards, highlighted by a 45-yard touchdown burst.
Quarterback Carson Clowers completed 2-of-3 passes — both for touchdowns. Fullback Austin Dupree and tight end Brooks Rushworth were on the receiving end of the TD passes, which covered 30 and 29 yards, respectively.
Ends Tanner Coley and Chandler Moncrief and linebackers Dawson Snell and Chase Carter pace the Panthers defensively.
A two-game homestand awaits the Panthers, with dates against Ouachita Christian (Sept. 8) and Oak Grove (Sept. 15).