It’s football time again in the Ark-La-Tex. And, one of the marquee sporting events in the region is set to take place from September 10-12 at Shreveport’s Independence Stadium. The 2015 Lander’s Dodge High School Football Showcase will feature some of the south’s top football players and programs through the three-day, seven-game event.
The showcase kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. with the St. Thomas More Cougars out of Lafayette taking on the El Dorado, Ark. Wildcats. Both teams have participated in the Battle on the Border previously. STM head coach Jim Hightower is second only to John Curtis Christian coach J.T. Curtis on Louisiana’s all-time win list among coaches. El Dorado has won nine Arkansas state football titles, including four in the last six years in Class 6A.
Speaking of J.T. Curtis and the JCC Patriots, they will play the Shades Valley Mounties in the 6 p.m. game on Friday, Sept. 11. J.T. Curtis, who is the all-time winningest coach in Louisiana football history with 530 wins, was recently inducted into the National Federation of High School’s Hall of Fame. The Patriots, who have won 26 state titles but lost, 17-14, to Jesuit in the Division I finals last year, have one of the top offensive lineman prospects in the country in 6’7”, 300 lb. tackle Willie Allen opening holes for their veer offense.
In the 2014 Battle on the Border, Shades Valley, which hails from Birmingham, Ala., had a huge 39-21 win over the Acadiana Wrecking Rams. Acadiana would go on to win the Class 5A title in Louisiana, while the Mounties finished 9-3, losing out in the second round of playoffs.
The 8 p.m. game on Sept. 12 features a powerhouse matchup between the West Monroe Rebels and the Lufkin Panthers. The Rebels upset No. 1-seed Byrd before losing to Destrehan in the Class 5A state playoffs a year ago. Lufkin posted a 6-5 record in 2014, losing a rematch against the Longview Lobos, 43-42, in the first round of the Texas UIL 5A, Div. 1 playoffs.
Four games are on the docket for Saturday, Sept. 12 beginning at 11 a.m. with the Parkway Panthers versus the Gladewater, Texas Bears. The Panthers feature a high-powered offense led by Louisiana Tech commitment, quarterback Keondre Wudtee. The 6’4”, 181 lb. Wudtee has one of ESPN’s 300 top players to throw the ball to in receiver C.J. Morgan. Morgan, who is committed to Mississippi State, is a two-way player for the Panthers but is listed as a cornerback on most recruiting lists.
Gladewater will be making its second appearance in the Battle on the Border. The Bears lost, 42-21, to St. Thomas More in the 2014 Battle on the Border. Gladewater wouldn’t lose again until the third round of the UIL 4A Div. 2 playoffs when it fell to eventual state champion Gilmer, 41-35.
Warren Easton, one of the oldest public schools in New Orleans, will be making its first appearance in the showcase when the Eagles face off against the Evangel Eagles at 2 p.m. Warren Easton had one of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation last year in Tyron Johnson, who’s now at LSU, and again this year the Eagles feature a top pass catcher in Clyde Leflore-Chriss. Evangel participated in the inaugural Battle on the Border and makes its return in 2015. Wide receiver Corey Henderson, a Tennessee commitment, hopes to help the Eagles fare better this time around.
Also making their first appearance in the showcase is the Maumelle, Ark. Hornets, who will battle the defending Class 4A State Champion Neville Tigers at 5 p.m. The Tigers from Monroe are expected to be one of the top teams in the state, and feature one of the country’s top defensive lineman prospects in 6’3”, 305 lb., tackle Rashard Lawrence.
The showcase finale is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. and features two perennial powerhouse programs in the Longview, Texas Lobos and the Byrd Yellow Jackets. The two schools combined records over the last two seasons are 43-8, including a perfect 6-0 (Byrd 4-0, Longview 2-0) in Battle on Border games.
Despite the recent rumblings about Shreveport not being a good sports town, the Lander’s Dodge Battle on the Border High School Football Showcase is a premier local sports event. Tickets for the Battle on the Border start at $10 for advanced general admission, and one ticket is good for all seven games.
It’s football time again fans!