Lumberjacks battle Tigers for share of district title

Published 9:01 am Friday, November 2, 2012

By Jim Henderson

Contributing Writer

The Bogalusa Lumberjacks and the Independence Tigers will square off Friday at Tiger Stadium in a contest that will have playoff implications.

The Lumberjacks (6-2, 3-1) are currently rated at 22.5 in the Class 3A LHSAA power rankings and a win over the Tigers could give Bogalusa a chance to host their first-round playoff opponent on Nov. 9. A loss would put the Lumberjacks on the road for their first postseason appearance. A win also would give Bogalusa a share of the District 8-3A title.

Independence (5-4, 2-2) desperately needs a victory to stay alive in the playoff hunt. A loss would eliminate the Tigers from the postseason, which hasn’t occurred since the 1986 campaign.

“We are going to stick with our game plan and run our spread offense against Independence,” said Bogalusa coach Craig Jones. “What you see on film its all a power game they (Independence) like to run. They sweep to the left and they sweep to the right. They put players in the best position to make plays and they execute to the fullest.”

The Lumberjacks are led by senior Brian Williams (6-3, 200) who has been a threat both rushing and passing the football. His favorite target is senior Trevonne Mingo (6-1, 170) who leads the team in receptions and touchdowns scored.

Junior Darrin Holmes (5-7, 190) leads the ground game rushing for nearly 500 yards this season.

Defensively, the Lumberjacks held Albany scoreless in last week’s 54-0 win and gave up one touchdown in the 14-7 victory over Amite to start a two-game winning streak.

Bogalusa is led by junior defensive tackle Jalen Graves (6-1, 250) who constantly is double-team by the opponents’ offensive line. Senior linebacker Demarcus Powell (5-10, 185) has been the run stuffer for the Lumberjacks and senior free safety Dayshawn Harris (5-10, 175) leads the secondary.

Independence was defeated by Jewell Sumner 23-0 last week, marking the first time a Tiger football team has been shut out in four years.

Indy runs a spread offense that features four to five wide outs. Senior quarterback Oscar Briggs (6-0, 195) is accurate with the short pass. The three-year starter has completed 47-of-99 passes for 769 yards and eight touchdowns.

Briggs has three capable receivers in junior Davon Steptoe (6-2, 195), senior Jacontio Day (5-9, 170) and Lionel Butler (5-10, 180). Steptoe leads the team with 18 catches for 307 yards and two TDs.

The Tigers like to establish the ground attack led by junior Shannon Gage (5-9, 235) who has gained 1,007 yards on 160 attempts and has scored 10 touchdowns.

“We want to try to spread the field when we can and try to have enough success running the football so we keep defenses off balance with the pass,” said Independence coach Keith Carona, who enters his 12th year at the helm.

Carona knows his team will have a significant battle up front against the Lumberjacks.

“They (Bogalusa) have put together their best defensive team since coach Jones arrived,” said Carona. “They are big and very athletic on both their offensive and defensive lines. The quarterback is a one-man wrecking crew in Williams, but he has a lot of weapons at the running back and wide receiver positions.”

The Lumberjacks’ last appearance in the playoffs was in 2010, where they lost to eventual champion Parkview Baptist in the regional round. Bogalusa has not beaten Independence since the 2006 season.

The Tigers defeated the Lumberjacks 50-26 in last year’s meeting.