Home > Lions, Bearcats square off | USA Today High School Sports

Lions, Bearcats square off | USA Today High School Sports

Ruston won Friday's conference game against Alexandria by a score of 57-56.

Ruston won Friday’s conference game against Alexandria by a score of 57-56.

Rest is nowhere to be found in District 2-5A; Ruston and Ouachita experience that firsthand this week.

One week after pulling off an emotional comeback win on the road against Alexandria, the Bearcats take to the road again to meet yet another potent offense: the Ouachita Lions.

“Starting with the quarterback they have (Devion Warren), he’s an unbelievable athlete and makes a lot of plays,” Ruston coach Brad Laird said. “(Gabe Lewis) is a good running back, again, makes a lot of plays. They try to get the ball in (Desmond Jones)’s hands whether it’s speed sweeps, returns, he’s dynamic. You see them on film and you see a typical Ouachita team offensively that’s capable of making a lot of plays athletically.

“They give you a lot of different formations, a lot of different looks, a lot of things to prepare for, but more so who they have doing it. It’s one thing to have a scheme, but they have the players to do it with. We’ll have to be in the right place, be sound tackling in space and not give up the big plays.”

Coming off of a season-high 57 points, Ouachita coach Jeff Fitzgerald is impressed with the Ruston offense, as well.

“They are explosive,” he said. “They’re going to make you defend both the run and the pass.”

Both teams enter the game with 2-1 district records, both teams losing to West Monroe and beating Alexandria. The teams are also similar in their power points standings, where Ouachita enters the game at No. 9 and Ruston at No. 10. Given the small margin between the two and teams below them in the rankings – Airline, St. Amant, Natchitoches Central, etc. – a loss in this game could jeopardize a home first-round playoff game.

“It’s a huge game,” Fitzgerald said. “You have to treat it that way and you have to make sure your kids know the situation and treat it that way as far as caliber football programs.

“We have been through some wars this year. It’s familiar territory and we expect it to be another hard-fought battle Friday night. We know Ruston’s hungry: they need the points and we need the points.”

Laird recognized the obvious playoff implications of the game, but was more concerned with striking the balance between riding the wave from the emotional win last week and getting better from it.

“It’s big for the morale of our kids, to win and win like that, and to continue with the momentum into our next football game,” Laird said. “You want to carry the momentum, but you have to correct the mistakes.”

Follow Brett on Twitter, @BHudsonTNS.

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