Burford Column: Keep an eye on the little guy

By By Rhett Manuel / American Press

Step aside, big guys.

It’s the year of the small and mid-sized school in Southwest Louisiana high school football.

Take a glance at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association football rankings and you’ll find plenty of Class 1A, Class

2A and Class 3A representatives from the area, but few to be found from Classes 4A and 5A.

In 3A alone, Iowa, South Beauregard and Jennings are all ranked in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association top 10 poll. In

2A, Welsh, Vinton and Kinder make up three of the top six teams. And in 1A, Basile and East Beauregard are both in the top

eight, while Oberlin sits just outside the top 10.

Move over to 4A, and DeRidder is the lone area team with a top-10 ranking. In 5A, the Lake Area is represented by Barbe at

No. 8.

Of course, the season is far from over. We’ve played six games and have four more guaranteed.

But to this point the bigger schools in the area just haven’t performed on the same level as their smaller counterparts.

For one, there are simply fewer schools

representing Southwest Louisiana in 4A and 5A. Some of those schools

are adjusting

to first-year coaches. There are growing pains, and that’s to be

expected. Others set up difficult schedules and their records

and rankings don’t represent what they’ve gained from the

experience of challenging themselves with quality opponents.

Either way, they simply aren’t represented in the rankings the way the Lake Area’s small schools are.

And when it comes to a cheering

interest, size shouldn’t matter. Unless someone’s school of choice has a

rivalry with one

of these smaller schools excelling this season, they should

support them. In a year with more championships available than

ever at the state level, Lake Area football fans should be

supporting their schools at every level in hopes that local teams

can make an appearance in as many games as possible in the

Superdome come December.

The 2A ranks are among the most

intriguing. Welsh, Vinton and Kinder all have 5-1 records, but they also

all face each other

in District 4. That means not all of the great games in the area

involve Barbe, Sulphur, or Washington-Marion. Many games

pit two dangerous smaller-school programs with impressive records

against each other in tilts that have serious playoff implications.

This isn’t to say Barbe won’t be in the Dome or that another 4A or 5A school can’t sneak in. But once the dust settles, there

should be plenty of 1A, 2A and 3A schools still fighting while some of the big guys sit at home.

These schools are also home to some

explosive athletes who make 1A games just as fun to watch as 5A battles.

Basile’s Kendrick

Caeser, Kinder’s Welles Cooley and Khalil LeBlanc and Iowa’s Chaz

Key are just a few of the kids making a case for the public

to pay attention to smaller schools.

So keep an eye on the little guys. When the playoffs roll around, you’ll want to know a little bit about them as they represent

Southwest Louisiana on the big stage.

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Albert Burford covers high school sports for the American Press. Email him at aburford@americanpress.com