The Northwestern State football team has to replace a productive senior class of 2019, one that included a record-setting quarterback and four-year starters along the offensive line and in the defensive backfield.
That process kicks into gear Thursday at 3:45 p.m. when the Demons hold the first of 15 spring practices inside Turpin Stadium.
“When you start back in January, you’re gearing yourself up for the 2020 season, but there are phases you go through,” said Brad Laird, whose third season at the helm of his alma mater begins Sept. 3 when Northwestern State hosts Incarnate Word.
“The phase we start Thursday, spring practice, is always an exciting time. You’ve been through the offseason, and now you get to get out there and play some football and see what this team is all about. That is what excites us as a coaching staff and players. The players work so hard during the offseason to go out and put a football in their hands and play and practice for the next 15 days.”
The Demons’ spring schedule starts with a 22-period practice Thursday and runs through the 31st annual Joe Delaney Bowl at 12 p.m. March 21. The Demons will hold two spring scrimmages – at 10 a.m. March 7 and 14.
Among the 22 seniors who must be replaced are quarterback Shelton Eppler, who rewrote most of Northwestern State’s single-season and career passing records in his two seasons as a Demon, 100-catch receiver Quan Shorts, standout offensive linemen Dustin Burns, Jonathan Hubbard and Chris Zirkle and defensive backfield staples Nick Forde and Ryan Reed.
“It’s always exciting when you have competition,” Laird said. “One of our goals as a coaching staff is to identify who the starters are, identify the depth, identify the guys we can count on to play significant snaps. I’m excited about the three (quarterbacks) who will battle for that spot. Will we get everything answered in those 15 practices? That’s yet to be determined. We’ll see where we are after Day 1 going into Day 2 just like we’ll see where we are after practice 15 going into the summer.”
Thursday marks the first time Laird and his staff will see several of their 2020 signees in action as mid-year junior college signees have been on campus since classes resumed in January.
“It’s a combination of some of those older guys we brought in after we identified our needs combined with guys who may have been waiting in the background for a couple of years who will get that opportunity to showcase what they can do,” Laird said. “They should have the opportunity to play. That’s what we look forward to, guys who will step up in all three phases.
“We’ve talked offensively, and we’ve talked defensively, but who are the guys who will step up on special teams? We’ve got to find 11 guys for each special teams unit that will win football games for us. We’ll look at that very hard this spring. After reflecting on the 2019 season, we have to be better on special teams. We are going to be the most physical team. We have to be physical on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We need to find who will be physical when it’s fourth-and-1 or third-and-2. Who can we count on to make plays?”
2020 Spring Football Schedule – Date Time
Feb. 27 3:45 p.m. Feb. 28 2:45 p.m. Feb. 29 10 a.m. March 3 3:45 p.m. March 5 3:45 p.m. March 6 2:45 p.m. March 7 10 a.m. (Scrimmage 1) March 10 3:45 p.m. March 12 3:45 p.m. March 13 2:45 p.m. March 14 10 a.m. (Scrimmage 2) March 17 3:45 p.m. March 19 3:45 p.m. March 20 2:45 p.m. March 21 12 p.m. (31st annual Joe Delaney Bowl)
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
Students at Natchitoches Magnet School received Terrific Kid certificates from the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club for the month of February recognizing them for their character development, self-esteem and perseverance.
Pictured are Adrienne Duruisseau, Xane Jones, Jaylei Babers, Tra’Miyaa Jones, Gracie Anable, Lydia Mogridge, Levi Aton, Dalton Conant, Dylan Torres, Charity Marshall, Austin Carter, Wesley Johnson, Morgan Robinson, Hunter Goings, Wyatt Laning and Jamal Barnes.
Natashia Jackson stands alone atop the Southland Conference indoor 400 meter record book.
When it comes to Southland Conference Indoor Track and Field Athletes of the Week, she has company.
Jackson and teammate Lauren Clarke swept the final weekly honors ahead of the conference championships awarded by the conference Wednesday.
Jackson, Northwestern State’s do-it-all senior, rewrote the conference’s indoor 400 meter record for the second straight week, clocking a 53.43 at the Texas Tech Matador Qualifier to earn her second consecutive and third overall weekly honor of the 2020 season. Jackson’s mark stands 31st nationally after being converted for altitude to a 53.54.
Clarke, a sophomore from Houston, established a pair of personal bests at the Texas A&M Invitational to nab her first SLC Indoor Field Athlete of the Week award.
She delivered the 20th-longest triple jump in the nation and the longest by an SLC competitor this season (42-11.75) to win the event and finished second in the high jump with a mark of 5-8.75 that sits fourth in the conference and 47th nationally.
The Lady Demons and Demons will compete in the Southland Conference Indoor Championships March 1-2 in Birmingham, Alabama.
The East Natchitoches School of Fine Arts is in full swing. Students are busy taking private and group classes in art, keyboard, piano, voice, flute, viola, guitar, drama, dance, and drums. The largest group class is the art class of eleven students taught by Natchitoches Parish School district art teacher, Erin Parrish. Nine private drum lessons are taught by Northwestern State upper classman, Mr. Chris Ball. All other classes are taught by Northwestern State including: Jonathon Andino (viola), David Paz (piano & keyboard), Sarah Holoubek (dance), Sidney Gilder (drama), Herbie Brewton (guitar), and MiKayla Richarsdson (voice and flute).
Director and Natchitoches Parish music teacher, Danny R. Von Kanel says, “I am so excited about this years talent. With a number returning students, we are seeing an uptick in the quality of talent compared to past years. With well over $11,000.00 raised to fund the school, the financial resources are there to fund the year. In addition, I can’t say enough about the Natchitoches business community for believing in us and making it possible for students across the district to experience the arts. Thank you!”
Principal of the East Natchitoches Elementary School is Chrystal Davis. Superintendent of the Natchitoches Parish public school district is Mr. Dale Skinner.
Picture are Drama teacher Sidney Gilder, Daryl Walker, Jacob Hypes, Anna Taylor, Blakely Ridley, Belcy Lopez, Journey Ashlock, Kylon Payton, LaGordian Brown, Lathan Johnson, Barbara Clark, Mary Harvey, Allysa Sibley, Ella Fuitt, Gennaya Gibson, Jayden Harp, Jayda Russell, Cameron McDaniel, Journey Arthor, Drums teacher Chris Ball, Jake Broadway, Flute Teacher MiKayla Richardson, Desiree Edwards, Voice teacher MiKayla, Katie Rodriguez, Keyboard teacher David Paz, and Se’Niya Thomas.
The Ho Minti Society, Inc., a nonprofit that encourages the vitality of traditional Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb arts and heritage, is launching its 2020 Indigenous Arts and Crafts Series with a workshop on brick stitch beading. The event is co-sponsored by Northwestern State University Anthropology and American Indian Programs, and hosted by the Williamson Museum. The workshop will be Feb. 29 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Williamson Museum, Kyser Hall 208.
“Native American arts and crafts are living arts,” Ho Minti President Rhonda Gauthier explained. “Working with beads, leather, wood, fabric, animal parts and other natural or synthetic materials, Native artists use traditional skills and techniques to create works of incredible beauty. Each Native American community has its own family traditions reflected in decorative details which are transmitted and used with respect.”
The technique for this first workshop is called brick stitch and requires weaving together tiny seed beads in a staggered pattern. It can be used to create diamond- or triangle-shaped objects. Dr. Rebecca Riall, an anthropologist and attorney on the NSU faculty, will teach the workshop.
“For Native people, learning traditional techniques from our elders is a time not just to learn about art, but to learn life lessons, laugh and think about our community,” Riall said.
“The greatest art is learned by listening to your elders,” said Jason “Big Jake” Rivers, a founding Ho Minti board member and Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb council member.
Future workshops will include traditional basket making, leather bags and more.
“We need to keep our cultures alive,” said Ho Minti Treasurer Pam Cartinez.
“Ho Minti Society is using workshops to share Native American living arts with Native and non-Native peoples,” Gauthier added.
Registration is required by emailing Gauthier at firstname.lastname@example.org. Children over 12 are permitted if accompanied by an adult. Space is limited. Materials are provided at no cost. However, those with nickel allergies may wish to bring one pair of hypoallergenic earwires.
“Ho Minti” means “y’all come” in Choctaw and reflects the nonprofit’s commitment to coming together to share and support American Indian ways of knowing and doing.
Rotarian with the Program Mike Newton introduced Warren Morris, former member of the LSU 1996 College World Series Championship team and MLB baseball player at the Feb. 25 Rotary Club of Natchitoches meeting. Warren shared many inspirational stories about his experiences as a college and major league baseball player and is proud to be from Alexandria, LA.
Pictured from left are President David Guillet, Morris, and Newton (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).
Recently, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center received a national spotlight for its rural health programs and services. Kirk Soileau, Chief Executive Officer, was asked to present the hospital’s many successes at the 33rd Annual American Hospital Association Rural Healthcare Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
“It is always a pleasure to share our success with other hospitals,” Soileau noted. “We’ve found so many innovative ways to improve care in our community. For example, we created a Primary Care Clinic that is open seven-days-a-week, year-round that accepts Medicaid. We are seeing on average a 20 percent increase in patient volume at our Primary Care Clinic each month. So instead of waiting until someone is seriously ill and in need of emergency care, our goal is to get folks to come to the clinic when illnesses first start. This means treating upper respiratory illnesses before the condition worsens and possibly turns into pneumonia, or getting folks immunizations and flu shots, or helping those with chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure better control their numbers. We are seeing such a great response. Our model can work in other communities across the nation and have the same positive impact on health that we are seeing in Natchitoches,” Soileau said.
Soileau also shared other innovative programs such as how NRMC is growing its specialist network, reaching out into the community to address population health issues, addressing reimbursement challenges, and growing services that the local community wants and needs like Wound Care, access to specialty care and more.
After presenting at the AHA national rural health meeting, NRMC’s innovation work was highlighted at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. Soileau also participated in a podcast about rural health which can be heard on www.nrmchospital.org/tv-radio-spots/
About Natchitoches Regional Medical Center Natchitoches Regional Medical Center began as a community hospital in 1955 and has grown into a 216-bed healthcare system with 750 Associates and more than 100 active and consulting physicians on its medical staff. The system is comprised of the 96-bed acute care facility, a skilled nursing home, assisted living complex, and an extensive network of clinics throughout the parish. NRMC is an affiliate of Christus Health.
Chee Chee Bay Water System in North Natchitoches Parish has issued a Boil Advisory until further notice. This is due to a water mail break which is resulting in low pressure system wide. For more information, customers may call 318-663-1148.
DESCRIPTION: Assists the Information Services Manager for all computer support, software, hardware, and networking City wide.
SKILLS: Have the knowledge of proper operation, use, and application of a variety of client computer systems and technologies such as MS Windows and AS400; Understand the principles of computer technology, hardware operating systems, client-server technologies and local area networks; Have the skill to back-up and restore, participate and apply PC security, antivirus, client imaging, and performance monitoring applications. CompTIA A+ or MCTS desirable.
CONTACT: Human Resources Department at 1400 Sabine Street or Post Office Box 37, Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037.
Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall located at 700 Second Street, Natchitoches, LA, or may be downloaded at www.natchitochesla.gov
Applications will be accepted through March 12, 2020.
THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
NATCHITOCHES: Lorraine Martin Dorris December 28, 1948 – February 24, 2020 Visitation: Saturday, February 29 from 10-11 am at Summerfield Baptist Church located at 171 Summerfield Road, Summerfield Community Service: Saturday, February 29 at 2 pm at Summerfield Baptist Church near Colfax
Jerry Larpenter August 13, 1930 – February 21, 2020 Service: Tuesday, March 3 at 2 pm at Friendship Church of the Nazarene in Robeline
Will Smith March 26, 1951 – February 21, 2020 Arrangements TBA
Steve Wiggins May 14, 1948 – February 21, 2020 Visitation: Thursday, February 27 from 3:30-5:30 pm at Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches
Crawford Ficklin, Jr. February 23, 2020 Service: Saturday, February 29 at 11 am at the First United Methodist Church, located at 411 Second Street in Natchitoches
Mary Jane Jackson Parker February 22, 2020 Service: Saturday, February 29 at 9 am at Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, located at 318 North Street in Natchitoches
Anna Lou Evans Beasley February 7, 1918 – February 18, 2020 Service: Saturday, February 29 at 2 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home in Natchitoches Interment: Weaver Cemetery in Flora
Cleveland Lewis February 15, 2020 Arrangements TBA
WINN PARISH: Dr. William “Bill” Robertson November 13, 1952 – February 24, 2020 Visitation: Thursday, February 27 beginning at 5 pm at Fellowship Baptist Church in Jena Service: Friday, February 28, 2020 at 10:00AM at the church under direction of Kinner & Stevens Funeral Home
James Cecil “Gabby” Freeman Sr. August 13, 1930 – February 24, 2020 Visitation: Thursday, February 27 from 5-9 pm and Friday, February 28 from 10-11 am at Northside Baptist Church in Montgomery Service: Friday, February 28 at 11 am at Northside Baptist Church
The Natchitoches Parish School Board held the interviews of the 14 candidates/applicants on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the week of February 17, 2020.
The Natchitoches Parish School Board will narrow the field of candidates during a special call meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The Natchitoches Parish Journal will stream this meeting LIVE.
A meet and greet has been set for March 10, 2020 to allow the public to have a face to face and ask questions.
The Natchitoches Parish Journal is providing the video of each candidates in the order they appeared before the full Natchitoches Parish School Board. Each of their applications is available below the Videos. This click the link to view.
The interviews were open to the public.
NPSB MEMBERS: Reba Phelps, Emile Metoyer, Steven Harris, Beverly Broadway, Katrina Willis, Dorothy McGaskey, Tankia Palmer, Billy Benefield, Rhonda Guidroz, Russ Danzy and Eugene Garner.
Superintendent Candidates Video and Application are here for your review:
VIDEO: Billy Benefield explains the interview process
APPLICATIONS: Just click the link below to view that candidates application.