Benefit concert to save birthplace of jazz to be held Thursday night at Joy Theater

RETURN TO FLIGHT- The Eagle Saloon Initiative aims to raise funds for renovating the unused New Orleans landmark located on the 400 block of South Rampart Street that is credited as the birthplace of jazz music. (From

By Jesse Brooks

On Thursday, December 28, a group known as The Eagle Saloon Initiative is hosting a benefit concert at the Joy Theater in New Orleans to raise funds for the planned renovations of a building that many historians credit crucial site in the development of jazz music.

It was in between the years of 1900-1907, Charles “Buddy” Bolden and his band performed in halls on the 400 block of Rampart street in Downtown New Orleans, then known as “Back of Town.”

Witnesses and critics say the cornetist introduced a loud improvisational style to ragtime music, also adding elements of the blues and African-American gospel to the performances. Though some parts of Bolden’s life are well documented, his musical development and upbringing remains somewhat of a mystery. Though he was rumored to have made audio recordings, none of them have been discovered. Bolden also suffered from mental illness and was institutionalized for the remainder of his life by the time he was 30 years old.

Bolden band.gif
The Bolden Band around 1905 (top: Jimmy Johnson (bass), Bolden (cornet), Willy Cornish (valve trombone), Willy Warner (clarinet); bottom: Brock Mumford (guitar), Frank Lewis (clarinet). From Wikipedia.

The level of myth around Bolden makes his life and contribution to jazz comparable to Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson, who is highly credited with the early development of rock-n-roll. Now, The Eagle Saloon Initiative hopes to bring historic legend into our breathing present.

Headlining Thursday’s concert is the The Perdido Street Legacy Band, featuring an all-star city lineup of musicians including: Donald Harrison, Delfeayo Marsalis, Germaine Bazzle, Charlie Gabriel, Sasha Masakowski, James Andrews, Detroit Brooks, Brandon Lewis, Joe Dyson, Sullivan Fortner, John Michael Bradford, Jasen Weaver and Bolden’s great-grandson Big Sam Williams. Dr Michael White & The Liberty Jazz Band are scheduled as the opening act.

The Initative, a collaboration with The New Orleans Music Hall-of-Fame, has a goal of raising enough funds to return the saloon to its former glory as a live music venue, and add a musuem space and youth education center on the second and third floors. If accomplished, not only will a building built in 1850 be credited as the ground floor for Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and others, it will be the producer of the future generations of New Orleans musicians.

Doors for the show open at 8 p.m. with a show start time at 9 p.m. on Thursday night, and ticket prices range from $30-$150. They are available for purchase at All ages are welcome to attend.


OFA Boys win back-to-back games going into holiday break

Junior Jacket shooting guard La’Vell Scott scored 25 points in the 58-57 overtime win over Jackson Academy at home. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

After experiencing their first loss of the season to conference opponent Jackson Prep last week, Oak Forest Academy boys basketball bounced back by picking up consecutive wins before the team takes off for the holiday break.

The Yellow Jackets are now 10-1 overall following an overtime win over Jackson Academy 58-57 on Thursday, December 21, and a 64-35 road contest with Centreville Academy on Friday, December 22.

“Winning these two before break was huge, we believe,” said OFA Coach Curtis Matherne. “The guys’ confidence is back after winning these two when they were down about losing to Prep. We’re glad to end the first half of our schedule on a positive note.”

In the battle with conference opponent Jackson Academy, OFA ended the first quarter with a 10-6 lead by sharing the ball on offense. Tucker Miller and Carter Blanchard combined to score the first six Jacket points of the night as a result of team ball movement. OFA built on an early lead as Forwards Chris Backa and Braxten McGovern hit back-to-back buckets to go up 14-7 at the 6:44 mark in the second quarter.

OFA ended the first half on a 10-5 run with junior shooting guard La’Vell Scott earning all of the Jacket points during the stretch. OFA would lead 24-14 at the half.

The Raiders opened the second half on 12-3 run to tie the game for the first time at 27-27. Scott ended the Jackets’ drought with a 3-pointer, but the Raiders returned a make from beyond the arc of their own to hold a 33-30 lead with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter.

Going into the final period, OFA would find themselves down 34-30.
Setting the tone by making a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, senior point guard Janero Porter kept things calm as the two teams continued to trade late leads.

“Janero Porter is one of the best pure point guards I’ve seen,” Matherne said. “His energy on defense, basketball IQ and getting teammates involved…he’s having an absolute monster senior year.”

Porter, who scored 16 points total, made his last nine consecutive free throw attempts, including two that cut JA’s lead to 48-46 with :11.5 left to play. The Jackets would force a turnover on the next possession, and a goaltending call on Scott’s layup forced overtime with both teams tied at 48-48.

Running out of time and trailing, Blanchard scored on a put back to move OFA closer, down 57-56 with :23.6 left in overtime. After the Raiders inbounded, Porter made a steal, missed the layup but Scott was fouled on the clean up attempt. Scott’s two free throws would result in the 58-57 winning score, and bring his personal total up to 25 points.

The next night on the road, Porter led the Jackets with 12 points against Centreville. Scott also had 11 points while Jon Jovi chipped in 10.

OFA returns to action on with back-to-back home games starting Thursday, January 4 against Adams County, and conference opponent Madison-Ridgeland Academy on January 5.

Independence boys move past St. Helena in rematch

DSC_1854AHEAD OF THE PACK- Tiger guard Michael Otkins streaks down the court to score on a fast break assisted by forward Melvin Baker. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

GREENSBURG- Fresh off of finishing as Runners Up in the Tangipahoa Parish Tournament, Independence boys basketball (8-2) dismantled St. Helena (5-6) with a final score of 61-45 on Monday, December 18.
Though the Hawks were the first to hand them a loss this season, Independence held the edge in the second meeting between the two teams by producing more scoring runs with a balanced offensive attack.
Senior forward Melvin Baker, who led all scorers with 22 points, capped off a 7-3 scoring run for the Tigers with a slam dunk to open the game. Senior Hawks forward Troy Hurst responded with a couple of buckets of his own to cut into the Tigers’ 15-12 lead at 4:06 in the first quarter, but Independence would stay on top after back-to-back 3-pointers from Kelvin Barnes and Jaden Howard to keep the Tigers on top 21-17 at the end of the opening period.
The Tigers went on a 7-0 scoring run to open the second quarter, and looked to hold the momentum for the remainder of the first half. Hawks guard Kedron Martin killed the run by hitting an open 3-pt. shot with 3:51 left in the second quarter to leave the Tigers’ lead at 28-20.
The Tigers ended the first half on an 8-0 run in a sequence that included: a pair of fouls shots from De’Angelo Gaines, a Baker rebound turned into fast break assist to Michael Otkins and back-to-back buckets by Baker just outside the paint.

DSC_1864Senior Tigers Forward Melvin Baker led all scorers with 22 points. Photo by Matthew Roy. 

“We came into the night without our starting point guard, who had a death in the family, so that put one of our wing guys up top and got him off the bench early,” said Tigers Coach Ace Misita explaining the lineup of shooters on the floor for the first half. “That actually improved our shooting from up top. Jaden Howard is our best shooter and he hit a couple early.”
The Hawks attempted to rally in the second half as a steal-and-score by Martin capped a 6-2 run to cut into a 38-26 deficit. However, Gaines singlehandedly put the Tigers on a 10-0 run in response with a pair of foul shots, two 3-pointers and a put back. Gaines finished the night with 18 points total.

DSC_1909Tiger guard De’Angelo Gaines scored 18 points in the 61-45 win over St. Helena. Photo by Matthew Roy. 

“Gaines brings us shooting and he’s long and can get to the rim,” Misita said. “Defensively, he is our heart and soul. He was in the back of that 1-3-1 zone working his tail off. He doesn’t complain. He just works and works. He’s really the anchor of our defense.”
The Hawks went on another run in the fourth quarter to come within 55-40 with 3:43 in regulation, but Baker put those dreams to rest by slamming down a score on a cleanup at the two minute mark to put the Tigers up 57-40. Despite the last ditch fight in the Hawks, the hole was to deep to dig out of.

Martin led the Hawks in scoring with a total of 19 points. Photo by Matthew Roy. 

Both teams are headed into the winter break with hopes of starting January off on a good note. The Hawks will look to get back to .500 on Monday, January 8 in a road game with Mentorship Academy, and the Tigers will kickoff District 9-2A at home against Northlake Christian on Tuesday, January 9.

Local Tangi and St. Helena football preps rack up 2A postseason honors

JUNIORS- DL Ishmael Sopsher (91) and WR Devonta Lee (7) of the Amite Warriors. Photo by Jesse Brooks

By Jesse Brooks

Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parish have continued to show their prominence in the football world as individual players are racking up on postseason awards.

A total of seven players from District 9-2A were selected to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s All-State selections in Class 2A. On offense, Independence’s Anthony McClain was selected as one of three running backs, and junior Devonta Lee from Amite was named as a wide receiver.

St. Helena placed three selections on the 2A All-State Defense including: defensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence, linebacker Aaron Hurst and defensive back Demetrius Brown. Junior defensive lineman Ishmael Sopsher was the lone selection for Amite.

Also, named in the All-State selections from District 9-2A was offensive lineman Brenden Kelley from Pine HS in Washington Parish.

St. Helena Senior ATH Troy Hurst

Tangipahoa and St. Helena were represented furthermore in All-District 9-2A honors.

Amite ran the table on the major awards. Zephaniah Powell was awarded Coach of the Year, an honor he received in Class 3A last season. Lee was named Offensive MVP. Sopsher was selected Defensive MVP.

On offense the two parishes collected 12 names to the First Team:

QB Kade Bleakley / St. Thomas Aquinas

ATH Cam Henderson / Amite

RB Anthony McClain / Independence

OL O’Cyrus Torrence / St. Helena

OL Alex Self / St. Helena

OL Chris Miceli / Independence

FB/TE Donald Drake / Independence

WR Adam Hetzinger / St. Thomas Aquinas

WR Troy Hurst / St. Helena

WR Devonta Lee / Amite

The two parishes finished with a total of 11 players selected to the First Team Defense:

LB Aaron Hurst / St. Helena

LB Stephan Jackson / Independence

LB Quadry Jackson / Amite

DL Ishmael Sopsher / Amite

DL O’Cyrus Torrence / St. Helena

ATH Tyrus Wheat / Amite

DB Devonta Lee / Amite

DB Michael Otkins / Independence

DB Demetrius Brown / St. Helena

DB Myron Smith / St. Helena

PR/KR Troy Hurst / St. Helena

St. Helena Senior RB Aaron Hurst

Second team selections included:

RB Aaron Hurst / St. Helena

OL Brent Muse / St. Helena

OL John Rogers / Amite

OL Jacob Becerra / STA

DL Jermaine Singleton / Independence

DB Jadarius Jackson / Amite

DB Deonandre Gordon / Amite

DB Matthew Claiborne / St. Helena

PR/KR Cam Henderson / Amite

Jackson Prep hands OFA Boys first loss of the season

TOP PERFORMER- Senior Jacket point guard Janero Porter scored 14 points in the 43-40 road loss to Jackson Prep. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

JACKSON, Miss- Despite late game heroics by senior point guard Janero Porter, Oak Forest Academy boys basketball (8-1) experienced their first loss of the season on the road to conference opponent Jackson Prep (6-2) on Friday, December 15.
The Yellow Jackets led for a majority of the contest until they began to swap leads with the Patriots in the fourth quarter. With about 4:56 left in regulation, Prep went on a 5-0 run to capture a 37-33 lead. Porter, who scored 14 points total in the game, was able to cut into the deficit 37-36 by knocking down two foul shots after getting hit on a drive. Prep responded with back-to-back fast break layups to extend the lead 41-38 inside three minutes to go. Porter came back with two buckets of his own on consecutive possessions, pulling OFA within 41-40 with 2:22 remaining.
OFA had an opportunity to take the lead at the foul line, but they missed two shots from the stripe down the stretch. After Prep got another bucket to fall in inside of a minute, OFA had one last chance to tie the game with a shot beyond the arc after calling timeout with 13.8 seconds left to go. Shooting guard La’Vell Scott’s attempt would fall short while blanketed by the Patriot defense.
The first half was a different story for OFA as they ended with a 25-18 lead. Porter and Scott’s scoring, and Porter’s steals, helped launch a 9-2 run to open the game. With 3:27 to go in the first quarter, Porter sank a 3-pointer. OFA was up as much as 14-4 with 1:24 in the first quarter when Porter assisted on a 3-pt. make by Scott.
OFA started the second quarter on a 8-3 run that was kicked off by Chris Backa splitting a pair at the line and Jon Jovi nailing a 3-pointer from the wing. OFA held a 22-14 lead at 2:24 in the second quarter following Porter’s bucket in traffic and the foul shot after, and McGovern splitting a pair at the line a possession later.
Just before intermission, Porter set up the offense and assisted Scott who hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Prep opened the second half with tougher defense and launching a 6-0 scoring run. Near the end of the third quarter Scott connected on a layup and Backa produced two blocks and a put back to give OFA a 31-29 lead going into the fourth quarter. However, turnovers and missed free throws resulted in missed opportunities for the Jackets in the final period.
Scott led the Jackets in scoring with 17 points.
OFA will return to action on Thursday, December 21 when they face conference opponent Jackson Academy at home. The Raiders hold a 6-2 record overall.

REPORT: No. 6 Independence Tigers maul Bogalusa at home

THROW IT DOWN- Senior Tiger forward Melvin Baker (23) throws down his third dunk of the night in their 66-32 win over Bogalusa. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

Independence boys basketball (5-1) showed every reason why they were handed a No. 6 power ranking in Class 2A by the LHSAA on Tuesday, December 12 as they handled Bogalusa at home with a final score of 66-41.
The Tigers held Bogalusa into a scoreless second quarter, resulting in a 48-5 halftime score that was too deep for the Lumberjacks to climb out of.
The Tigers opened the game on a 13-5 run that included two alley oops to forward Melvin Baker and a steal and score by De’Angelo Gaines. The two players served as a one-two punch for a majority of the first half as Gaines sank a 3-pointer and Baker hit back-to-back jumpers in the lane under five minutes remaining in the first half. At 2:55 in the second quarter Baker landed his third dunk of the night to extend the lead to 35-5.
“(Baker) brings leadership,” Tigers Coach Ace Misita said. “There aren’t too many guys that get three or four dunks a game and don’t say a word. He does his talking with his points.”
After a 13 point first half, Baker sat for the remainder of the night for rest with the game well in hand.
Bogalusa showed more life in the second half and cut into the deficit 64-32 after a 3-pointer from Chance Turner, but time was not on their side as there was less than four minutes left in regulation. Despite a run from the Lumberjacks, the Tigers came away with a 66-41 final score.

DSC_1632 2.JPG
HIGH POINT MAN- Tiger guard De’Angelo Gaines (12) led all scorers on Tuesday night with 19 points. Photo by Matthew Roy.

“When we play the brand of basketball we are capable of playing we can play with anybody,” Misita said. “We have holes in are game teams can take advantage of and we have to clean that up. We’re just looking game by game.”
Gaines led the Tigers in scoring with 19 points that included two 3-pointers. Genard Perry also contributed 11 points total.
The Tigers will face Kentwood on Thursday in the opening round of the Tangipahoa Parish Tournament.

REPORT: OFA Boys cruise past Silliman in rematch at home


LEAD THE BREAK – Senior Point guard Janero Porter leads a fast break for Oak Forest after a steal. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

AMITE- Oak Forest Academy boys basketball reached 7-0 overall on Monday, December 11 as they turned in a dominant 63-32 victory over Silliman Institute in a regular season rematch at home.
Senior point guard Janero Porter provided the early spark on defense for the Jackets by disrupting Silliman’s backcourt to earn five first quarter steals. The takeaways helped OFA hold the 11-7 edge at the close of the first quarter. During the sequence, the Jackets also showed balance in their scoring as their early lead consisted of a 3-pointer made by La’Vell Scott, a bucket in post traffic by Braxten McGovern and Chris Backa scoring on a feed on the block.
“Janero is providing a huge spark for us defensively,” said OFA head coach Curtis Matherne. “We stayed in one of our 22 packages. It’s really aggressive in the corners and kind of allows our top tier guy to make plays on the sideline and he played it to pure perfection.”
OFA later closed out the first half on a 9-2 run. The starting backcourt of Scott and Porter remained active on both sides of the ball as Scott assisted McGovern on a fast break and nailed a 3-pt. shot a possession later. Porter also sank a jumper in the lane inside the final minute of the first half.
Coming out of intermission, OFA went on a 14-3 run, initiated by a thunderous dunk from Backa, to start the third quarter. Porter also had a steal and score at the end of the run. After Scott made good on another 3-point shot, McGovern made a shot at the foul line after getting a bucket to fall, extending the Jacket lead to 51-22 with 1:21 left before the fourth quarter.
Scott, who has finished as OFA’s leading scorer six out of their seven games this season, shook off a sluggish start to lead all scorers with 21 points. McGovern was second in scoring with 14 points and Backa also had 12. Porter’s nine points led him to be just shy of a double-double as he totaled 10 steals.
“I was missing a lot of easy shots that I normally make, but I picked it up in the second half,” Scott said in postgame. “I’ll do whatever I need to do to help my team win.”
OFA guard La’Vell Scott

Matherne said that they were able to run some sets for Scott in the second half that helped free up his shot from outside to jump start his offensive game.
Matherne also said that he like the state his team is in now that it’s crucial part of the season.
“Conference starts for us Friday and after that we’ll have a conference game once or twice a week and a non-conference game once a week,” Matherne said. “It’s go time from here until March.”
This Friday OFA will travel to Mississippi to face Jackson Prep who currently hold a 5-2 overall record.

REPORT: St. Helena finishes season as Class 2A Runners Up

DSC_0154 2RUNNERS UP- After only losing two regular season games and defeating Amite in a rematch in the quarterfinals, the St. Helena Hawks appeared the LHSAA 2A State Championship where they were defeated by top-seeded Welsh 38-26. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

The St. Helena Hawks have finished their season as the LHSAA 2A State Championship Runners Up as their second half comeback campaign was not enough to overcome top-seeded Welsh in last Friday’s 38-26 loss at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The Hawks were placed into a significant hole early on as their offense lost three fumbles, major factors that contributed to Welsh’s outburst of 28 unanswered points in the second quarter. At halftime, the Hawks were down 31-0.
“We made some mistakes and they capitalized off of them,” Hawks head coach Brandon Brown said. “It’s just part of the game. However, I am very proud of these guys.”
As the Greyhound defense did their part to hold the St. Helena run game in check, notably absent from the Hawks’ offense was senior running back Aaron Hurst, who suffered a broken bone in his neck against Ferriday in the Semifinal win.
“I think it (injuries) did play a part in it,” Brown said in postgame. “You’re talking about a guy who is pretty much the heart and soul of our team on offense and defense.”
Troy Hurst, who rushed 10 times for 63 yards and two touchdowns, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“We were just competing for him,” an emotional Hurst spoke of his injured cousin. “We just wanted to win.”

DSC_0141 2.jpgDO IT AGAIN- Hawks receiver Frednando Muse catches a touchdown in the state championship a week after his game winner at Ferriday. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

The Hawks looked like a different team coming out of half time, holding Welsh to only one more score for the rest of regulation, and scoring on opening drive of the second half.
The Hawks never earned a first down until Hurst gained 15 yards on a run after the intermission. Then Hurst lined up under center and completed a 32-yard pass to Devin Taylor. Hurst capped off the drive with a one-yard run with 9:02 left in the third quarter to finish a drive that lasted eight plays, 75 yards and three first downs.

DSC_0128 2FLIGHT LEADER- Senior Troy Hurst rushed for 63 yard on 10 carries in the 38-16 2A State Championship loss to Welsh. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

The Hawks would get their second touchdown early in the final quarter as Frednando Muse jumped up to grab a deep pass from senior quarterback Ricky Travis.
The Hawks continued to make a run by cutting the deficit 38-20 as Travis connected deep again to Hurst with 6:14 left to play.
Travis continued his arial attack even later in the fourth quarter by completing a 40-yard pass to Taylor. Hurst finished the drive with 1:58 remaining on a 7-yard touchdown run.
Despite their best efforts, time simply ran out on the Hawks’ comeback campaign.
“In the locker room I told my coaches that we could not let our kids down,” Brown said. “They went out in the second half and gave everything they had. We just fell a little short.”

DSC_0132 2.jpgIN THE AIR- Hawks Quarterback Ricky Travis threw for 230 yards and completed 12-of-25 passes. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

As the run game was challenged, Travis produced one of the best arial games of his career. He finished completing 12-of-25 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor made five catches for 146 yards, and Hurst had two catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Currently, the Hawks expect to return nine seniors next season.

REPORT: Kentwood finishes season as Class 1A Runners Up

fullsizeoutput_3b0By Jesse Brooks

The Kentwood Kangaroo football season came to an end last Thursday, December 7 as they lost to top-seeded West St. John 20-14 in the LHSAA 1A State Championship. The game was the first loss for the Roos since they fell 21-14 to Loranger in the season opener.
Much of the game was a defensive battle hinging on which team would break first. A stout run defense for the Rams turned out to be a key to victory over the Roos.
“I think the penalties and sloppiness did us in,” said Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster. “Not even the turnovers. We have them on the goal line and we get a five-yard penalty. You can’t have that. I think this was our sloppiest game all year and we picked the wrong game to be sloppy.”
Down 20-14 in the fourth quarter, Kentwood could have taken the lead on any of their final four drives before the end of regulation. On their third drive, a 42-yard keeper by quarterback Larenz Morris got the Roos inside the red zone, but he was later picked off near the goal line by Ram defensive back Trenton Grow.
Despite the costly turnover, the Roos defense rallied to force a quick punt. When the offense took the field on their own 47-yard line with 1:20 left to play, Trey Palmer caught a pass that would have set up the offense on the 11-yard line. However, an ineligible man downfield call negated the opportunity. On the following play, Morris’ pass was picked off to seal the victory for the Rams.
In total, Kentwood collected 18 penalty calls for 95 yards. By comparison, the Rams only committed five penalties for 37 yards. The penalties tell an unfortunate story for the Roos despite out-gaining West St. John 254 to 224 yard of total offense.
The Roos, a young junior led team, also experienced a rough start to the game as Morris threw an interception on their first possession that would set up the Rams’ first touchdown.
However, the Roos did have moments of brilliance after getting settled on the big stage. On their scoring drive, Morris completed a pass over 40 yards down the sideline to Raddarian Robbins to get the Roos inside the five-yard line. Despite a penalty that would push them back, the Roos got on the board on fourth-and-goal when Morris rolled right and completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Robbins at the start of the second quarter to tie the game 7-7.
The Roos nearly went up by two scores, but that opportunity was missed as Palmer dropped a sure touchdown pass on a deep slant a possession later. Instead of creating a comfortable lead, the Roos were back in the hole as Morris went on to throw a pick six with 8:15 left to go in the second quarter.
The Rams jumped ahead 20-7 soon after the intermission as running back Kylan Duhe capped off a drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Duhe, who totaled 120 yards on the ground on 29 carries and two touchdowns, was given the Outstanding Player Award for West St. John.
Morris was named for the Outstanding Player Award to represent the Roos postgame. He completed 8-of-26 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the air while rushing for 91 yards. Robbins was the top receiver with five catches for 69 yards. Palmer had one catch for 16 yards, a touchdown reception to cut the Rams’ lead to 20-14 with 5:17 left in the third quarter.
Larry Carter finished with 39 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The championship appearance was the second one for Kentwood in three seasons. In 2015, the Roos defeated Haynesville 40-7 to bring home the title.
The Roos are expected to return 11 seniors next season.

Dramatic finish lands St. Helena in 2A title game for first time since 2004


LEADING THE FLOCK- Senior quarterback Ricky Travis rushes around the edge for a gain in SHCCA’s Semifinal win over Ferriday 12-6. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

As if it were scripted in classic sports cinema, the sixth seeded St. Helena Hawks, lined up inside the 5-yard line, were granted one final play with no time left on the clock for a chance to defeat No. 2 Ferriday in the Semifinal round of the LHSAA 2A postseason. Senior quarterback Ricky Travis had to make a split decision to as he was hit and going down on the final snap. Ferriday’s defense, committed to a possible keeper by Travis, and left a wide open Frednando Muse as the ball dropped into his hands for the 12-6 win that will allow the Hawks to compete for the Class 2A Championship.
“Ferriday has two great defensive players that are LSU commits,” St. Helena head coach Brandon Brown said. “But really it was up to our kids. They were checking at the line of scrimmage. We have a four-year starter in Ricky Travis. We got up to the line. Saw where they were at, and made the adjustments.”
Those kind of instincts gave the Hawks an offensive edge against a Ferriday team led by defensive linemen Dantrieze Scott and Dare Rosenthal.

The Hawks were the first team to score in the game after senior running back Aaron Hurst ripped a long run that would set up a pitch out of a power formation to senior running back Jeremy Griffin who scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run.
On the next Ferriday possession, Aaron Hurst suffered a broken bone in his neck making a tackle as a linebacker. Hurst was airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center where he had surgery Saturday morning. According to Brown, Hurst, a senior with recent interest from LSU, has feeling in his extremities and is expected to make a full recovery.
Despite the absence of one of their best weapons on both sides of the ball, the Hawks displayed incredible pursuit on defense for the majority of the remaining three quarters. The Hawks were able to maintain a 6-0 edge all the way until the 7:14 mark in the third quarter when a runner punched in a score for Ferriday to tie the game at 6-6.
The Hawks defense caused and earned two turnovers in the fourth quarter, the second one would set up the final and game winning drive. With about a minute and a half left in regulation, the Hawks took a gamble by going for a fourth-and-6 around midfield. After the snap, Travis scrambled out of a pass formation and threaded the needle between two defenders to hit Michael Martin between the numbers for the first down.
Though the Hawks would go for three straight incomplete passes as time rolled off the clock, Ferriday was hit with a pass inference call on the last play of the game that would set up the Hawks’ last play inside the five for the game winner.
“This was the challenge for our kids,” said Brown. “Last year, we were in the semifinals. The only way to be better than we were last year is to go to the dome and that’s exactly what we did.”
In the last three out of the five years Brown has served as head coach, the Hawks have made the playoffs and advanced a step further in progress each time. Now they will face a top-seeded Welsh team led by gunslinger quarterback Zach Haynes.
The Hawks will look to slowdown the Greyhounds on Friday, December 8 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for the LHSAA 2 State Championship at noon.