Showdown in Shreveport: unbeatens NCHS, Byrd battle tonight

The Natchitoches Central High School football team has made big strides forward so far this season. Tonight, they’ll find out how they measure up against the best Class 5A program in northwest Louisiana, C.E. Byrd.

Having ditched a skid that dated back 11 games to 2019, the Chiefs are unbeaten through four games, as are the Yellow Jackets. Byrd reached the Division I state finals last December in Turpin Stadium and were knocked off by Catholic of Baton Rouge. This year’s team is ranked 10th in the Class 5A top 10 voting by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

But the upstart Chiefs have status in the LHSAA’s power points rankings. Natchitoches Central stands third in the state in Class 5A through four weeks, rated at 13.13 and trailing only Northshore and West Monroe.

Byrd is No. 2 among the dozen Division I (select schools, magnet and private schools) football teams in the LHSAA power rankings with a 14.25 total. Byrd has outscored its opponents 120-45, with a dominating district opener last Friday, 38-7 at Haughton.

The Yellow Jackets have routinely played in “big games” for years now. This will be the first time in years the NCHS football squad has taken the field in a high-stakes contest. The winner will join Captain Shreve as the top contenders for this year’s District 1-5A championship.

MATCHUP: Natchitoches Central Chiefs vs. C.E. Byrd Yellow Jackets

WHEN/WHERE: Tonight, 7 p.m., Lee Hedges Stadium, Shreveport

RADIO: 95.9 Kix Classic Country, play-by-play from Steve Graf. Pregame show 6:45.

LISTEN LIVE: KIX CLASSIC COUNTRY

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RECORDS: NCHS (4-0, 1-0), C.E. Byrd (4-0, 1-0)

LAST GAME: Natchitoches Central defeated Airline 28-7. Byrd beat Haughton 38-7.

NOTES: Natchitoches Central is off to a hot start at 4-0. The last time the Chiefs were 5-0 was 1984, nearly 40 years ago. NCHS has outscored its opponents 134-27.

The Chiefs are led by dynamic senior running back Caylin Demars, who was last week’s KTBS TV Griffin’s Game Ball winner as the area player of the week. He was spotlighted in Tuesday’s sportscasts on Channel 3.

Defensively, safety Justin Aaron and linebacker Logan Saucier hold down ringleader roles on the Chiefs defense. Tredarius Brown has grown into his new role, switching from offensive line to defensive line, and had a dominating game against Airline last week.

NCHS head coach James Wilkerson was an assistant coach at Byrd for 12 seasons before taking over the Chiefs’ program for the 2020 season.

The Chiefs will have their biggest challenge tonight taking on another undefeated district foe C.E. Byrd. The Yellow Jackets have a tough, physical football team. Longtime coach Mike Suggs retired at the end of last season after 23 years as head coach, building Byrd into a powerhouse. Stacy Bellow, former defensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets, was the pick to step in as head coach. Byrd will feature an offensive machine running the triple option, led by running back Mitchell Ramsey.

NCHS COACH JAMES WILKERSON SAYS: “We are going up against a very solid team with no weaknesses. They are well coached and are physical. We will be looking in a mirror every possession, and every play will mean something in the outcome. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge.”


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