First-year Cedar Creek head football coach William Parkerson should get a good gauge on his team Friday night as his Cougars take on Mangham in the second game of the rescheduled Bayou Jamb 2023 at West Monroe High School.
Parkerson, who had served at Cedar Creek as both an offensive coordinator (2017-18) and defensive coordinator (2011-2017) for the Cougars, said during the Bayou Jamb press conference on Monday at the WMHS Don Shows Fieldhouse that he’s going into the game simply looking to see where his team stands one week out from the start of regular-season play.
Cedar Creek will open the regular season on Sept. 1 with a home game against the Glenbrook Apaches.
“We didn’t do a full game plan or anything like that,” Parkerson said of his approach to the Bayou Jamb game against Mangham. “We’re just going to do what we do and see how we do.”
Parkerson expects his Cougars to face plenty of physicality from the Dragons.
“We’re going to see a couple of teams like that this year, so it’s going to be good to get a look at that kind of team,” Parkerson said. “Buckle up and get ready for a fistfight.”
Parkerson said facing a tough team like Mangham can only be a good thing heading into the start of a new season that made it to the Division IV Nonselect School semifinals.
“Let’s face a challenge and see where we are,’ Parkerson said. “We want to be a physical football team, so let’s go face a physical football team and see how we stack up with them.”
Starting center Brett Johnson attended the Bayou Jamb press conference but is highly unlikely to see action in the jamboree itself after injuring his left leg
Parkerson said they would find out more about the injury later Monday. Johnson was slated to undergo an MRI later Monday afternoon to determine the extent of the injury.
But even with a short-handed offensive line against a tough defensive line like Mangham, Parkerson is offering any excuses.
“This is a message to the guys — opportunities are available,” Parkerson said. “Next man up. Let’s see what happens.
“We’re not going to back down. We’re not going to cower. So let’s see where we are.”
Cedar Creek and Mangham were originally slated to play at 3 p.m. Saturday, but Bayou Jamb officials announced on Sunday they would not play afternoon games in what are expected to be temperatures in the range of 108 degrees and instead moved the Cougars-Dragons contest to 8 p.m. on Thursday.
“I love the fact the temperatures will be cooler than they would have been at 1 p.m. and that we’ll get an extra couple days to prepare for the regular-season opener,” Parkerson said. “That’s going to really end up being a huge benefit.
In the Bayou Jamb, the Cougars won’t be facing the best rusher in the state, as Mangham’s Jaylen Williams was last year when he was voted the 2022 Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year after a record-breaking performance that helped lead the Dragons to an appearance in the state semifinals
Williams rushed for a state-best 2,844 yards last season, averaging nearly 11 yards per carry while scoring 44 touchdowns.
But the Dragons do return senior quarterback Austin Lively, who was named the District 2-2A Offensive MVP as a junior.
Mangham head coach Scott Wilcher said his team does head into the Bayou Jamb with a new attitude they Dragons have worked on over the summer.
“We had a great summer but we did things differently after two straight losses in the semifinals,” said Wilcher. “Maybe we just weren’t mentally tough enough to get to that next stage we want to get to, and that’s the state championship.
“The guys really bought into the changes we made over the summer heading into the fall. They’re really good kids and are excited. We’re young. We’ll be playing 12 or 13 sophomores, but our seniors have been great leaders and run the locker room, and we appreciate that.”
Wilcher used Parkerson as an age-measuring stick during the press conference.
“Can I tell you how old I am?,” Wilcher asked. “I coached against Coach Parkerson’s dad when he was at West Feliciana. I think it was 1994. We had ‘Booger’ MacFarland on that Winnsboro team and I take all the credit for Booger’s strengths.
“That was my first year of coaching.”