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|Franklin Parish played the best|
Franklin Parish head football coach Barry Sebren had high expectations going into the 2011 football season, his eighth at the Winnsboro school.
That may be one reason finishing 7-5 was something, at first, he felt a little disappointed about soon after the final game. But when he looked at the whole picture, and the fact two of his teams' opponents won state championships, there was a lot more to pleased about in the end.
"You know, I looked at our body of work this year and said to myself, 'Don't beat
yourself up too bad,'" Sebren said. "The two state champions (Neville and Ouachita Christian) were both No. 1 seeds and OCS was more like Evangel or Calvary this year than a typical 1A champion."
Franklin Parish fell to OCS 42-30 in their season-opener.
Folks in Mangham can tell you how good OCS. The Eagles were the only team to beat the Dragons this season, defeating Mangham 54-0 in the Class A semifinals.
OCS limited the high-flying Dragon offense to 179 total yards. They held standout Shaquille Ausberry to 99 rushing yards, Ausberry usually had that in the first half.
As a matter of fact, OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh told me that Franklin Parish was the only team that had a running back rush for 100 yards against them all year.
Noble Johnson, who shared co-offensive MVP honors in District 2-4A with Neville quarterback John Diarse, finished with 140 yards against the Eagles. Franklin Parish had 389 yards in total offense against OCS.
Neville defeated Karr for the Class 4A championship. The Tigers defeated Franklin parish 43-6 in the District 2-4A contest.
Five of the last seven Class 4A state championships have come from District 2-4A.
Bastrop was ineligible for the playoffs after finishing 6-4, including a season-ending 30-24 win over the Patriots because of a fight against Carroll during the season. The Rams scored 16 points in the final period to beat the Patriots.
Bastrop's Denzel Devall, a 6-2, 240-pound senior linebacker was the defensive MVP, and received a visit earlier this month from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, committing to the Crimson Tide.
Saban has also paid visits to Diarse, who is just a junior and will probably be considered among the top two or three players in the state next year.
"That kid can break a defensive player's ankle," Sebren said.
Franklin Parish won its first-ever playoff game this season (since changing from Winnsboro High to Franklin Parish in 2004), defeating No. 15 St. Michael's 56-35 in Baton Rouge. The Patriots, who were seeded No. 18, lost to St. Thomas More 52-8 in the second round. St. Thomas More lost to Karr 35-31 in the quarterfinals.
It's a feat that didn't look possible five or six years ago, but you have to admire how Sebren built up the Patriot football program and made the players begin believing they could compete in such a tough league.
"We lost to St. Thomas More, the No. 2 seed, whose head coach (Jim Hightower) is the third-winningest coach in Louisiana history behind J.T. Curtis and Red Franklin," Sebren said. "Vic (Dalrymple) at Oak Grove is the fifth-winningest coach in Louisiana history, with Oak Grove being one of our losses. Bastrop needed a miracle to beat us, but they are still Bastrop. Sadly, we left three games on the field that we coulda, shoulda and woulda won. Those games make the difference between good and great."
While losing Johnson, running back Marquise Hillman, defensive lineman Adrian Jordan and wide receiver Henry Wesley, Sebren has a big junior class returning.
We will return 19 juniors, largest since I have been here," Sebren said. "It could be a good year."
But don't measure it by wins and losses. Not with the district the Patriots compete in or the schedule they play. But you can bet they will compete.
And I wouldn't be surprised to see them surprise even more people next season.
It's been tough changing the mindset at Franklin Parish of being able to compete with the big boys.
But Sebren and his staff seemed to have gotten over that hump this season. A commitment by the players during the offseason and next year can change that coulda, woulda, shoulda to can, will and did.
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