By Malcolm Butler
The Mangham Dragons advanced to the semifinals of the Non-Select School Division IV playoffs last year before falling to Homer.
If Thursday night’s jamboree showing against Cedar Creek is any indication, the Dragons may be back in 2023.
Mangham made big plays on the ground and through the air in its 33-0 win over the Cougars in the second game of the 2023 Bayou Jamb at Rebel Stadium in West Monroe.
It was a match-up of a veteran Mangham team against a young Cougars squad.
When the Dragons weren’t pounding away with Isaiah McFarland on the ground, they were utilizing a quick hit passing game and turning five yards gains into 85-yard TDs. It was a tough night on the scoreboard for Creek, but one Creek head coach William Parkerson is confident his team will learn from.
“It’s hard to tell,” said Parkerson, when asked where the Cougars took steps forward from last week’s scrimmage at Lakeside. “That was a huge step up in competition from last week. I am sure we got better. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.
“We fought. We put a couple of drives together, but we just couldn’t come up with the play that we needed to in order to punch one in. We will get back to work and get ready for Glenbrook.”
McFarland scored on a one-yard dive with 10:21 to play in the first half to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead.
Creek QB Ladd Thompson gave Cougar fans something to cheer about with a 26-yard gain on a keeper on the first offensive play from scrimmage. However, the Creek drive stalled, forcing a punt.
Following the punt, Mangham struck quickly. A quick pass to the flat turned into an 85-yard TD pass as the Cougars missed a tackle and Lane Almond raced the distance for the score a 14-0 lead. The Dragons were off and running.
“Like I told our guys, we won’t play a team as big and as athletic as Mangham the rest of the year,” said Parkerson.
Almond struck again in the first half, taking another short pass, breaking some tackles and racing 36-yards for his second receiving score of the night. The final score of the first half came on the last play as Creek fumbled on a pitch play, Mangham recovered and rumbled 52 yards to paydirt.
It was a tough learning experience for a young Creek team.
“We learned we got to bring it,” said Parkerson. “We have to strap it up and bring it.”
The Cougars opened the second half with a nice drive. Noah Durrett gained eight yards, Thompson added 11 and then Gray Worthey hit the hole up the middle for 19 more to give the Cougars the ball on the Dragons 30. Two more Durrett runs picked up another Creek first down before the drive ultimately stalled.
Thompson totaled 38 yards on the ground on the night.
“He had a couple of good runs,” said Parkerson. “He will get better with it, with reading it with a couple of live bullets. It will take a little time, but every live chance he gets he will get better.”
Thompson completed just 1 of 9 passes for 12 yards but was under heavy pressure most of the night against the Mangham pass rush.
Creek played without starting center Brett Johnson, who was injured in last week’s scrimmage against Lakeside. With Johnson sidelined for a while, the Creek offensive line is trying to build chemistry.
“I don’t if any of the five have played a meaningful snap before,” said Parkerson. “So they are babies and they have to grow up. And we need them to grow up fast. I have faith they will do that.”
Worthey added 36 yards on the ground. James Meyers caught the only pass of the night for Creek.
Meyers, Thompson and Durrett led the Creek defense with five tackles each.
Cedar Creek hosts Glenbrook in the regular season opener Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at Cougar Stadium.
“We will look a lot better next week,” said Parkerson. “I promise you that.”