By Dwain Spillman Jr., Journal Sports
NATCHITOCHES — The 2022 edition of the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center’s High School Football Jamboree was disappointing for some, not so much for others.
Natchitoches Central fell to Loyola, 7-6, while St. Mary’s opened Friday’s jam session at Northwestern State’s Turpin Stadium with a 24-6 win in the annual clash against parish rival Lakeview.
“I have to be honest, I’m a little disappointed with our performance,” said Chiefs’ head coach James Wilkerson. “We made a lot of mistakes, and we just have a lot to clean up.”
The Chiefs mustered barely 20 offensive plays during two halves of football. After a scoreless first 15 minutes, the huge bright spot for the Chiefs came on a 70-yard catch and run when quarterback Adam Guillet connected with Cameron Davis to give the Chiefs the lead at 6-0 with just seven minutes left to play. The extra point failed.
The Flyers answered on their next drive, marching 68 yards down the field and scoring on a fourth-and-one situation. Loyola converted the point to grab the 7-6 advantage.
NCHS reached the Flyer 28-yard line on its final offensive possession, but a 45-yard field goal attempt fell just short on fourth down with 1:11 remaining.
“The regular season starts next week, and we have got a lot to do,” Wilkerson concluded. “We just have to perform on the field like we have been taught and coached in practice. I am not necessarily concerned with a win or a loss tonight. We just have to recognize that everyone has a job to do, and we must do it like we have worked on.”
In the jamboree opener, St. Mary’s tallied more than 200 yards of offense with 185 of those yards coming through the air via quarterback Adam Parker in just two 15-minute sessions of gridiron action.
The Tiger defense stifled any hopes of a Gator comeback in the second half.
St. Mary’s started the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run by Joseph Metoyer with six minutes left in the first half
But Lakeview wasn’t going away quietly, answering with an 82-yard touchdown pass from quarterback C.J. Jones to receiver Kylin Collins to close the gap to 7-6.
Touchdowns by St. Mary’s receiver Ethan Busby and a quarterback keeper from three yards out by Parker at the end of the first half put the Tigers up 21-6 at the break. A lone 34-yard field goal by Payne Williams was the only score in the second session.
“I was very pleased with our offensive production in the first half,” said St. Mary’s head coach Aaron York. “Our defense played extremely well in the second half. I mean it was just lights out on defense.”
The Gators did not go down without a fight. The offense showed great potential but penalties and other miscues stalled drives.
“It’s all about going back to work this week and getting ready for D’Arbonne Woods (Charter),” said Lakeview head coach Brandon Helms said. “The thing we were concerned about coming into tonight — conditioning and tackling — really came to the forefront. We know what we need to work on, and it’s time to get back to work.”
The regular season kicks off next week with NCHS getting another taste of Shreveport by welcoming Woodlawn, a rematch of a 34-0 Chiefs victory from this past season.
Lakeview hosts D’Arbonne Woods Charter while St. Mary’s heads south to Abbeville as all three parish schools play on Friday.
Note: Listen all of the Natchitoches Central Games each Friday night on 95.9 Kix Classic Country