McConathy, Seabaugh report new contributions in Senate District 31 race


Mike McConathy and Alan Seabaugh continue raising money to finance the final days of their Senate Dist. 31 contest.

Reports filed this week by each show a wide reach in their contributions appeal.

Candidates are required to report, within two business days, any contribution of $1,000 or more that is received within 20 days prior to the Oct. 14 vote.

Seabaugh’s campaign filed reports Monday and Tuesday, enumerating nine such.

McConathy’s campaign folded that requirement into a report not due until 10 days prior to the election. It covers Sept. 5-24 and lists 14 contributors giving $1,000 or more.

Seabaugh is an attorney and three-term state representative from Shreveport, McConathy a retired educator and NSU basketball coach from Natchitoches. Both are Republicans.

The district includes all or parts of 10 parishes from Caddo to Rapides.

Seabaugh $1,000 donors included:

Defiance Energy, Shreveport; Lifemark PAC, Southern Glazers Louisiana PAC, both Baton Rouge; Kirk Talbot, River Ridge; Thomas O’Neal, Choudrant; Altria Client Services, Richmond, VA.

Others and their sums included F.A. Bradford, Baton Rouge, $2,000; La. Motor Transport Assn., Baton Rouge, and Riverbirch LLC, Avondale, both $1,500.

McConathy’s report includes total finance information for the election period, a report not due until Oct. 4 and filed Wednesday.

The campaign reported $39,000 raised from Sept. 5-24. Spending the same period was $70,000. Starting balance was $151,000. Ending balance was $121,000.

Using the $1,000 threshold, contributions in the reporting period included:

Calvin Braxton, Charles P. Johnson, La Farmers Insurance, TTK Properties, all Natchitoches, $2,500; Mursimco Inc., S&S Cattle Co., both Natchitoches, $1,000;

Gregory, Chafin LLC, Karen Recchia, Rice & Kendig, all Shreveport, $2,500;

LA Chiropractors PAC, $1,000, and Southeast Cannibus Policy PAC, $2,500, both Baton Rouge;

Associated Branch Pilots, Metairie, and Domengeaux, Wright, Roy & Edwards, Lafayette, $2,500 and Robert Adley for Senate, Benton, $1,000.

Jim can be reached at

Tioga-Jena highlights Week 5 prep schedule

Tioga defensive linemen Brodi Goudeau (77) and Jaden Padgett (57) will be tested tonight by a stout Jena Giant offensive line and running game led by senior Zerrick Jones. (Photo by BRET H. MCCORMICK, Journal Sports)

By BRET H. MCCORMICK, Journal Sports

For the second straight week the Tioga Indians find themselves in a battle of undefeated teams.

Last week’s game at Marksville did not live up to the hype and was over at halftime before the Indians won 42-14. 

This week the Indians welcome Jena to The Reservation for a game that should provide a much more competitive contest. 

Tioga vs. Jena has developed into a good non-district rivalry for both teams. Jay Roark took over the Jena program in 2012. Three years later, Kevin Cook arrived at Tioga, and that was the year the two teams first played during this recent run of the rivalry.

The Indians and Giants have squared off six times over the past eight seasons – they didn’t play in 2017-18 – with each team going 3-3. The Giants have won the past two contests, however, winning 14-7 in 2021 and 22-6 last season. 

“It’s a good measuring stick for both teams,” Roark said.

“We just haven’t won it, and I’m sick of it,” Cook said of the past two matchups. “I want to win it. I’m tired of losing to Jay.” 

Cook said Jena presents “a bad matchup” for the Indians because of how big they are up front and how rugged they are in their running attack.

Senior Zerrick Jones leads the Giants with 755 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, and he’s averaging seven yards per carry. Cameron Koch (61-232) gets about 35 percent of the Giants’ rushes, but the bulk of the load is carried by Jones. 

“He’s clearly the guy for us,” Roark said. “We try to be as equal as we can be between our backs, but when we need a play he’s the guy that we look to. He’s gotten a lot stronger and is breaking some tackles this year.” 

The Giants don’t throw the ball often. Zach Barker has completed 12 of 34 passes for 279 yards and two TDs on the season, but when the Giants connect via the air, it usually ends in a big play. Jena is averaging over 23 yards per completion, and they have a couple of capable receivers in Zy Hunter (6-141-1) and Brayden Oakes (4-113-1).

“You’re not gonna trick ‘em,” Cook said. “They are super disciplined. Their kids play good technique. They do a great job of play-calling. They just do everything right. You’re dependent on catching some breaks.”

Tioga’s defense presents its own set of challenges for the Giants, however. The Indians’ secondary has picked off 12 passes on the season and returned seven of them for touchdowns, led by three each from senior free safety Ja’Corian Norris and senior cornerback Max Kadrmas. 

The Indians have pitched two shutouts in four games and given up just 42 points on the season, with 14 of those coming against the backups last week after building a 42-0 lead over Marksville. 

“We’re very aware of how good they are in the secondary,” Roark said. “They’ve got good corners and their safeties are really good, especially (Norris), obviously. We’re gonna have to be able to complete some passes. We know they’re gonna be keyed up on stopping Zerrick and the run game.”

Tioga’s offense hasn’t needed to be super productive because the defense has been so dominant. Junior Travis Adams has averaged nearly 110 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks after missing the first game due to illness, and sophomore Cace Malone has been steady in his first year as the starting quarterback.

The passing game features Norris and fellow seniors Josh Loyd and Bradley Riccardi, all of whom are capable of making big plays and waiting for their opportunities to do so offensively. 

Cook said he expects this game to be a great battle, one that could be decided by which team makes a mistake or gets a lucky break.

“Jena has been doing the same thing the same way for a really long time, and it works for them every year,” Cook said.

“They’re a tough team, and we’re aware of that,” Roark said. “It’s not gonna make or break us, but it’s one we really want to win.”

Alexandria Senior High and Pineville are both holding Homecoming festivities this week as the Trojans (2-2) host Green Oaks (1-3) and the Rebels (1-3) welcome Jonesboro-Hodge (2-2).

Menard (2-2) is the only other parish team playing at home this week, as the Eagles welcome Opelousas Catholic (1-3) to The Nest. 

Peabody (3-1), Buckeye (3-1), Bolton (0-4) and Northwood-Lena (0-4) all hit the road tonight. The Warhorses travel to Washington-Marion (1-3), the Panthers face Grant (2-2), the Bears play at Block (0-4) and the Gators will battle North Central (1-3).

Track tonight’s scores as they happen here, in real time – LIVE STREAM

Maybe you can’t be at the game tonight. Or you are in the stands, and you want to know how the other schools are doing.

We’ve got you covered, in real time, thanks to the High School Football Scoreboard.

Every local team’s game has the latest updated score for you, available simply by clicking on the Scoreboard graphic. You will see tonight’s menu of games and the current score as reported from the stadium.

It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s available to you from your phone, your laptop or your I-pad. Wherever you are, sitting in the stands at a game or sitting at home, you can get the scores you need right here throughout this high school football season.

(You can also bookmark this link so you can quickly access it all night and every week.)

Update: Statewide Burn Ban Modified, Agricultural burning may resume EXCEPT for standing sugarcane

Following consultation among the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFM), the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (GOHSEP), and the National Weather Service (NWS), the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has modified the burn ban order to rescind the prohibition on agricultural burning, EXCEPT for standing sugarcane, effective as of 5 p.m. on Sept. 27.

This modified burn ban order by LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM, allows agricultural burning, including but not limited to prescribed burning, to resume EXCEPT for standing sugarcane. The burning of sugarcane fields is allowed after harvest. LDAF will post updates regarding the burning of standing sugarcane once conditions improve.

The Office of Louisiana State Fire Marshal also modified the statewide burn ban re-issued on August 25 to renew and establish certain exceptions. The active burn ban order in effect as of August 25, 2023, at 12 p.m., which prohibits all private burning, with no limitations, pursuant to authority under R.S. 40:1602, is being modified in the following ways:

Provides for individual parishes to opt out of the statewide burn ban.
Provides for fire chiefs to resume granting burn permissions.
Provides for certain live fire training to resume with written permission from the SFM.

The SFM modified order goes into effect Friday, September 29, 2023, at 5 p.m. The status of this burn ban order will continue to be reconsidered on a weekly basis.

Please continue to abide by the burn bans that remain in place at this time. As government officials opt out of the statewide burn ban in their respective parishes, LDAF will reflect the updates on the Louisiana Burn Ban Map located at

LDAF’s Office of Forestry is tasked with responding to wildfires at any hour, and crews are hard at work throughout the state. In the event of an emergency that requires their assistance, you can call the LDAF 24-Hour Emergency Hotline at 1-855-452-5323 or dial 911.

Dozen arrests for impaired driving, nearly all first-time offenders

Recent Rapides OWI/DWI arrests. An arrest is an accusation, not a conviction.

September 21
Ryan Dasko Jr., 23, Alexandria — DWI 1st, operating under suspension for certain offenses, obstruction public passageway, contempt of court;

Jacob Gagnard, 20, Alexandria — OWI 2nd, open container, speeding, improper lane usage.

September 22
Jackson Gallant, 18, Ball — OWI 1st.

September 23
James Hammock , 55, Alexandria — OWI 1st, speeding, expired MVI;

Brook Laborde, 28, Marksville — OWI 1st, possession first 14;

Joshua Leblanc, 37, Denman Springs — OWI 1st, careless operation;

Carlos Boras-Aguirre, 37, Pineville — DWI 1st, no driver’s license in possession, lights and tail lamps.

September 24
Terrel Boyd, 28, Alexandria — OWI 1st, improper lane usage, driving under suspension/revocation;

Kevin Peters, 55, Alexandria — OWI 1st.

September 25
Christopher Johnson, 54, Forest Hill — OWI 1st, negligent injury 1st degree vehicular.

September 26
Heather Mirza, 40, Alexandria — OWI 1st.

September 27
Russell Veal, 39, Alexandria — DWI 1st, open container, marijuana possession, wrong way on one-way. 

Two jailed on Wednesday drug charges

Rapides felony drug arrests, which are accusations, not convictions.

September 27
Joshua Gray, 46, Alexandria — parole violation, possession fentanyl, carfentanyl 2-28 grams, bond $1,000;

Dwight Poole, 67, Boyce — possession CDS II < 2 grams, possession paraphernalia, contempt of court 2 counts, bond $13,000.

Remembering Veronica Tassin Clark

Services for Mrs. Veronica Tassin Clark will be held at Hixson Brothers of Alexandria with visitation on Friday September 29th, 2023 from 3pm-7pm. Visitation will resume on Saturday September 30th, 2023, at 11am until time of service at 2pm. Burial will be in Clear Creek Cemetery, Pollock.

Mrs. Clark, 42, of Alexandria passed from this life on Wednesday September 20th, 2023, at her residence. Veronica was a loving mother, grandmother, wife, sibling, and child. She enjoyed coloring, fishing, and spending time with her family and cooking for them.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Spc. Casey Clark; maternal grandparents, Aubrey and Billie Eskew; paternal grandparents, Lawrence and Lula Mae Tassin and father-in-law, Joseph Clark.

Those left to cherish her memory include one son, Chase Clark and wife Bailey (Casey and Cash) of Colfax; one daughter, Molly Smith and fiancé Kenneth Jr. (Kenneth III) of Dry Prong; parents Francis “Bambi” and Frances Tassin of Boyce; two brothers, Lawrence Tassin and wife Jamie of Jena, Brandon Tassin of Boyce; one sister, Jennifer Burch and husband Jacob of Dry Prong; in-laws, JoEllen and Gary Barton of Tioga; sister-in-law, Catherine Barton of Tioga; brother-in-law, Curtis Clark and wife Nicole of Tioga, and a great deal of extended family and friends.

Pallbearers honored to serve will be Brandon Tassin, Lawrence Tassin, Jacob Burch, Kirby Bonds, Slade Swan, and Joseph McLaughlin. Honorary pallbearer will be Joseph “Lil Joe” Tassin Jr.

District Attorney’s office carries $1.2 million balance, audit shows


The Rapides District Attorney’s office had an unassigned General Fund balance of $1.2 million as 2022 closed, according to an audit report released this month.

The office of DA J. Phillip Terrell Jr. had revenues of $6.1 million and expenses of $5.6 million. The operating surplus was added to a $628,000 fund balance on hand as the year began.

The audit notes that $703,000 in revenue was Title IV-D income, all of which went to statutory requirements – support enforcement, locating absent parents, establishing paternity, and obtaining family and child support.

The General Fund had $3.5 million intergovernmental income and $1.9 million from fees, commissions and fines.

Auditors are required to include compensation of the agency head. According to the report, Terrell’s base pay was $209,278. Assorted fringe benefits raised the total to about $248,000.

Auditors found no material weaknesses in the office’s accounting other than noting inadequate segregation of duties.

The DA response was that while recognizing the principles involved benefits of adding personnel don’t outweigh costs.

Auditors noted issues raised in the 2021 audit had been resolved.

They included multiple credit card invoices and receipts not available in a sampling check, credit card used for a personal expense (less than $400) and an incorrect lodging reimbursement of about $1,300.

Contact Jim at

Bus drivers need subs, School Board needs another $270k


School Board Supt. Jeff Powell wants to reduce the cost of using substitute bus drivers, but just as importantly wants  to reduce the anxiety created when a regular driver can’t run his/her route.

Powell told the board Finance Committee this month he proposes hiring 10-15 full-time sub drivers

They would report for work daily. If the driver call-ins didn’t require them all those not driving would work at the board’s bus facility.

The full-time subs would drive routes anywhere in the parish.

Powell asked the panel to add $270,000 to the bus salary account. He noted sub driver cost last year was $490,000.

About 30 sub drivers are used daily filling in absences among the 205 contracted drivers. 

Additionally, about $600,000 was spent on driver extra work — special routes, field trips, etc. Hiring five full time drivers in that area would cut into that cost.

Savings  in both categories are projected to cover the full-time subs expense. 

At a previous meeting the committee talked about stand-by drivers who would fill the breaches, keeping parents and schools from last-minute scrambling as driver shortages pinch the system

Stand-by drivers have stand-by pay, with or without driving. That dog wouldn’t hunt.

The superintendent noted a route efficiency study is under way as part of the steps to easing the transportation crunch.

The panel sent the matter to the Executive Committee as a proposed consent agenda item. 

LSUA’s Central Louisiana Economic Dashboard for September released  

The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business released its September 2023 issue of the Central Louisiana Economic Dashboard.

“Recent graduates are finding jobs in Central Louisiana,” said Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business. June’s 4.1% unemployment rate in the Alexandria metro area fell to 3.0% by July, with the number unemployed falling by 732. Natchitoches experienced a similar story, with June’s 5.6% unemployment rate falling to 4.2% in July, with the number unemployed falling by 252.

Although the Alexandria MSA remains the tightest labor market in the state, there are signs of rising long-term joblessness across the state. Initial or short-term unemployment claims were down -13% in July and -10% in August, but continued or longer-term unemployed claims have been trending up since early May.

Through the first eight months of 2023, consumer spending in central Louisiana has slowed but is still ahead of last year in nearly all jurisdictions, except Grant Parish. According to sales tax collections, vehicle sales in August were up just 1% in Rapides over the previous month, but down -1% for the year. Likewise, online consumer spending in central Louisiana slowed this summer, with August collections showing no growth over the previous month, while Rapides had a -3% decline over July collections. Nevertheless, consumer spending for the year is up online by 15% in Rapides and 16% for central Louisiana.

New business applications in Louisiana through July were down -4% compared to the same period last year. However, new business applications in Rapides, which includes data through August, were up 9% for the year. Through August, 305 new businesses were formed in Rapides in 2023 compared to 281 last year at this time.

The Central Louisiana Economic Dashboard is a service of the LSUA College of Business to help business and community leaders monitor the economic pulse of central Louisiana. To view the September 2023 CENLA Economic Dashboard, go online to

Written by Randall Dupont, Ph.D. | LSUA College of Business

Photo credit – LSUA Strategic Communications

Fond remembrances coming in for Bob Mahfouz

By BOB TOMPKINS, Journal Sports

Family members, former players and colleagues are fondly remembering Bob Mahfouz,

a legendary football coach at Holy Savior Menard High School, principal, sports official and businessman who died Tuesday morning following complications from Covid. He was 88.

“He was a wonderful brother in our close family,” said Theresa Slater, his youngest sister and one of 11 Mahfouz siblings, of whom only four are alive. “He was loved by so many. We are going to miss him dearly.”

Mahfouz began his coaching career after graduating from Southeastern Louisiana University, where he was a two-year letterman as a running back and defensive end, playing for head coach Stan Galloway.

In his first coaching stint at Reserve Leon Godchaux High School (now East St. John), he helped the team as an offensive and defensive coordinator win the Class AA state championship in 1958. He got his first coaching apprenticeship under legendary coach Joe Keller, the namesake for the school’s stadium.

From there, he became the head football coach at Menard for three seasons (1963-65), guiding the Eagles to the Class AA semifinals his last two seasons.

“Bob was my coach my senior year at Menard,” said Bobby Distefano, who also worked with him later as part of the school’s administration when Mahfouz was a coach and principal. “We had just one week of spring practice after he took the job and we finished 3-6, but he was voted Coach of the Year the next year for turning the team around so quickly.

“He was a great coach,” Distefano continued. “He worked with the line. He believed in defense. I’m glad I had the opportunity to play under him.”

Mahfouz returned to Southeastern for several years as a defensive coordinator, then had an exceptional run as head coach at Lafayette High, from 1972-79 – all winning seasons and four playoff appearances. In his final season at Lafayette High, he led the Lions to a 12-0 record before they got beat in the semifinals by St. Augustine at then USL’s Cajun Field. During that time, he coached four quarterbacks who would sign college scholarships: Donnie Perry (Louisiana Tech), Rex Henderson (LSU, Northwestern State), his son, Robbie Mahfouz (LSU, SLU), and Dwight Prudhomme (USL).

“I’m already missing him,” said his son, Robbie, a former USFL quarterback with Jacksonville and longtime high school coach who’s now a special education teacher. “I learned so much from him, he had such a wealth of information. I really enjoyed playing for him and coaching with him (in Bob’s second stint at Menard). That was special.”

Mahfouz spent several years in the sporting goods business and did part-time work for many years as a high school and college official before accepting the head football coaching job at Menard in 1985, where “he immediately resurrected the program,” said Distefano.

Dr. Chance DeWitt, a cardiothoracic surgeon in Lafayette, played three seasons (’86-88) under Mahfouz. “Brother, we had never seen anything like that before, but others told us what was coming. I loved that coach. I feel bad for the kids that missed out being coached by him. He was a maker of men.”

Mahfouz coached a few seasons of professional football with the Louisiana Rangers of the Indoor Professional Football League. He lost his wife, Babs, last year, and in July he sold the Bayview Yacht Club bar, a business he ran for many years from two locations, to Shy Tyler.

“He took me in as family,” said Tyler. “He kind of took me under his wing and made me feel like part of the family. I’ll never forget his advice. He told me, “I never looked at this as a job. I met many people, made many friends. As long as you don’t ever look at it as a job, you’ll be successful. That, and “Don’t ever let it take over your life. Always maintain a balance between family and business, and you’ll be all right.’”

The funeral service will be Monday at 10 a.m. in the chapel of Kramer Funeral Home, Alexandria, and the first visitation will be there Sunday from 4-8 p.m., with the rosary at 6:30 p.m.  Visitation will resume on Monday at 8:30 a.m. until the time of service.

There will also be a second visitation at Delhomme Funeral Home in Lafayette on Monday from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., and entombment will be at 3 p.m. at Calvary Catholic Cemetery Mausoleum in Lafayette.

Street closure for Pineville homecoming parade

It’s Homecoming Week in Pineville and today, Sept. 28 at 6 PM is the Pineville homecoming parade. The street closure will begin at 5:45 PM. The route begins at Main Street and Shamrock Street, will continue north on Main Street to Military, then Claiborne Street to Pineville High School.
Make sure to choose an alternate route for travel if this will impact your drive time. Be cautious of pedestrians on the parade route.

If you think the SEC is hated now, just wait until next year

The rest of the country despises the Southeastern Conference.

They can’t stand the league marketing slogan “It Just Means More.”

Yeah, more revenue generated than any other league to spend on more recruiting, more facilities and more marketing to build more programs in all men’s and women’s sports designed to steamroll everything in its way year after year.

Five league schools – Alabama, Auburn, Florida Georgia and LSU – have combined to have won the last 13 of 17 national football championships, including a current streak of four straight.

“The College Football Playoff selection is rigged,” SEC haters scream.

Five conference members have won the last 6 of 9 College World Series, including LSU in 2023, Ole Miss in 2022, Mississippi State in 2021 and Vanderbilt in 2019 after the COVID outbreak cancelled most of the 2020 baseball season.

“That’s easy to do when the SEC gets at three to four teams in the CWS every year because they get home field advantage in the regionals and Super Regionals,” seething SEC detractors complain.

If you think there’s now a sensory overload doomsday feeling the SEC wins just about everything now – more than 200 national championships since the first league expansion to 12 teams in 1991-92, then consider this next piece of information.

Five SEC schools won eight national championships in the 2022-23 academic year – Georgia (football), LSU (baseball and women’s basketball), Florida (men’s golf and men’s outdoor track), Arkansas (men’s and women’s indoor track) and Vanderbilt (women’s bowling).

Add the national titles won by Texas (women’s outdoor track and volleyball) and by Oklahoma (gymnastics and softball), which join the SEC a year from now, and the number jumps to 12 NCAA national team titles won this past school year by the future SEC family.

Which makes SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey extremely happy.

“If you look at the history of college football, we added two of the top five programs with (the best) winning percentage,” said Sankey, who attended the Arkansas at LSU game last weekend and met with the media prior to kickoff. “The crowds that they’ll attract when they play make me excited for the future.

“We have to prepare with the intensity of the competition. That’s not only in football, though. You look at the national championships this past spring that our future configuration won.

“It’s going to a remarkable level of competition in every sport.”

In the last 15 years, every SEC member except for Missouri has won a national championship in one of the 20 sports (9 men, 11 women) that the league sponsors. Thirteen league schools have captured national titles in multiple sports.

The SEC wheels of expansion have always turned slowly yet with deliberate purpose. 

It took the league 35 years to grow from 10 teams to 12 teams with the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina starting in the 1991-92 school year.

Twenty-one years would pass before the SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri in 2012 as the 13th and 14th schools. And now, we are in the final season in every sport before Oklahoma and Texas become the 15th and 16th SEC members starting in the 2024-25 school year.

Except for the 1992 expansion when the SEC actively sought Florida State and Texas, the league hasn’t had to shop for schools. As decades passed with the league gaining steam with TV contracts that provided unprecedented revenue and exposure that led to the birth of ESPN’s 24-hour-a-day SEC Network in August 2014, schools approached the SEC about joining the league.

There are a couple of things the SEC has always known when adding new members. The schools are usually the flagship universities in their respective states or they must be in a state connecting to a state or states that already have current SEC members.

Unlike the Big Ten which will add next year two new members (USC and UCLA) located three time zones away from the majority of the league, or the ACC will add three schools including Stanford and Cal, which are more than 2,700 miles from most current ACC numbers, all 16 teams in the new SEC reside in 12 states that somehow border each other.

“Being geographically sensible was very much on our mind,” Sankey said. “You want young student-athletes in class preparing themselves academically and preparing competitively and not on airplanes.

“We had a clarifying conversation (with SEC member presidents and chancellors) in June 2022. It was one of our chancellors who said, `We really know who we are. We have a sense of identity that fans and teams and people want to be a part of it. So, let’s just focus on our identity.’

“What happened this summer (which the Big Ten and ACC leap-frogging time zones to steal Pac 12 schools as new members) validates our decision to move the way we did when there was an opportunity with Oklahoma and Texas.

“We still should be thinking from a geographic standpoint. Interestingly enough, we don’t stretch schools further. Some of our teams will have reduced mileage in travel, and that’s pretty unique.”

The league is still hashing a conference football schedule beyond next season’s eight-game league slate, which includes Texas and Oklahoma each playing seven current SEC schools each besides playing themselves. LSU, after playing Oklahoma just three times in the history of both programs (all in the postseason), will host the Sooners for the first time in the regular season.

Sankey still would like a nine-game SEC schedule in the future with three permanent opponents and six rotating opponents. LSU’s likely three permanent opponents would be Alabama, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

“Are things going to change?” Sankey said. “Yes. How much change? We’re working through that. The conference controls the schedule and there are a variety of ways we’ve scheduled over time. Now, we’re at 16 teams, there are a lot of pieces.”

Just makes the chess match in every SEC sport more intriguing than any time in its 91-year history.

And the rest of the country can’t take much more of “It Just Means More.”

Contact Ron at

His size raises questions, but his performance raises eyebrows

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine/YouTube TV

I love the recruiting world and promoting players. There are the obvious Division 1 players, and then there are the sleepers who can excel at some level if given a chance to play college football.

Today I will talk about safety Jason Blackwell, a senior who stands 5-9, weighs 155 pounds and is already having a great year for his Alexandria Senior High School team. Blackwell fits that mold of a kid just needing a chance to play college ball who is a leader, a really good student, and a tough football player.

Yes, he is undersized. But not unappreciated by coaches and teammates, and he shows up fast on game tape.

Blackwell sees a lot of upside for the Trojans.

“This year’s Alexandria Senior High School team is more connected and has a lot of potential. We have a ways to go to being as good as we can be, but our time will come,” he said. “When it does, we can meet our goal, which is being state champions.”

It wasn’t long ago, in 2020, when ASH was in the state finals and was a two-point conversion away from being state champs. So don’t take that goal for granted.

Driving the motivation for Blackwell has been his position coach at ASH, Josh Mercer.

“He has always been in my ear pushing me. He is the type of coach that would be hard on you because he sees something in you,” said Blackwell. “Coach Mercer is honest with everything. He tells you your good and bad moments as a player and always sees room for improvement. Him pushing me the way he did allowed me to become the player that I am today.”

Blackwell says he is not the only Trojan to watch in the secondary.

“Some of the guys at the defensive back position to mention are Rylan Hall and  Jaden Lewis. I know they will do great things because of their hard work, willingness to work and willingness to push themselves for the person beside them.

“Rylan is a cornerback. Being his senior year, he has really stepped up being a leader and his work ethic is strong. Jaden, coming over from Menard High School,  pushed himself and made himself a player even considering the change of pace and amount of work we do here.

“And then there’s Ayden Walker (linebacker/athlete), and everyone knows Ayden is just different,” said Blackwell. “He is a big time player and a leader.”

There’s some family history that points toward Blackwell being a prospect.

“My uncle, Chris Gistorb, played high school and college football. He played at ASH, and went on to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.”

Blackwell has a GPA of 2.8, and a ACT score of 22. He would like to major in accounting.

He also runs track at ASH. Among his hobbies, he likes to work out, read and cook. So far he doesn’t have scholarship offers, but has been to UL-Lafayette for a game visit, and also took a visit to Northwestern State.

He will have plenty of football left to earn an offer from somebody after ASH makes a deep playoff run.

Contact Lee at

Brees, Augustus, Cormier headline 2024 LSHOF inductees

BREES SEES SUCCESS:  Quarterback Drew Brees, who shattered NFL records and led New Orleans to the Super Bowl title, heads into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame next year. (Photo courtesy New Orleans Saints)


Sports stars in Louisiana shine no brighter than Drew Brees.

But there’s plenty more glow, including Olympic gold, to go with Brees in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 announced Wednesday by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ NFL record-setting passer and Super Bowl XLIV MVP, brings incredible credentials. He’s not alone at the top of his game: joining him in the Class of 2024 are homegrown women’s basketball superstar Seimone Augustus, and Daniel Cormier, the Lafayette born-and-raised Olympic wrestler who became and remains one of the top figures in mixed martial arts.

They headline a star-studded nine-member group of 2024 competitors ballot inductees selected by a 40-member LSWA panel. Dates for next year’s Induction Celebration will be announced soon.

The Class of 2024 also includes 1992 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kevin Jackson, a former LSU All-American, along with Perry Clark, who guided Tulane basketball to unprecedented success in the 1990s, and McNeese football great Kerry Joseph, who had a 19-year pro career.

Also elected for induction next year are high school football coach Frank Monica, who won state titles at three different south Louisiana schools, and Ray Sibille, a Breeders’ Cup-winning thoroughbred jockey from Sunset who ranks among the nation’s elite riders.

The class also includes Grambling’s Wilbert Ellis, who becomes the second-ever recipient of the Louisiana Sports Ambassador Award. During his 43-year baseball coaching career and since, Ellis has made local, statewide and national impact not only in his sports field but also in other endeavors.

Appropriately, they will be enshrined in an Olympic year. Augustus helped Team USA win three Olympic gold medals, coupled with Jackson becoming the first Black man in the world to capture gold in wrestling. Jackson was Cormier’s coach when the future MMA star made the USA wrestling team for the 2004 and 2008 Games.

The Ambassador Award was created by the Hall’s parent organization, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, and was first presented to network broadcaster Tim Brando of Shreveport as part of the LSHOF Class of 2020. The award honors long-term exemplary contributions to the perception of Louisiana by an individual who has ties to the state’s sports landscape. The Ambassador Award carries membership in the Hall of Fame. The award is not presented annually, but occasionally, as the Selection Committee chooses, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.

Brees was a 13-time Pro Bowl pick in a 20-year career. He was a two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the 2006 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, a Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and an Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. Brees led the Saints to three NFC championship games (2006, 2009, 2018) after the franchise had none in its first 39 years of existence. They claimed their only Vince Lombardi trophy with a 31-17 win over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV as he earned MVP honors.

Brees once held NFL passing records for yards (80,358), TDs (571), completions (7,142) and attempts (10,551) – all marks that have been surpassed by Tom Brady, who played in 48 more games than Brees.

Augustus played point guard/forward while starring at high school, college and professional levels. The Baton Rouge native was part of three gold medal-winning USA Olympic teams and four WNBA title teams.

Foreshadowing her incredible career, Augustus was on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Women as a high school freshman. At LSU, Augustus was the USBWA National Freshman of the Year in 2003 and swept National Player of the Year awards (Wade, Naismith, Wooden and Honda) in 2005 and 2006.

She was the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2006 by the Minnesota Lynx and was its Rookie of the Year in 2006. She won WNBA titles with the Lynx in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The 2011 finals MVP, she made the WNBA’s 20th anniversary and 25th anniversary teams.

Cormier is revered as one of the most heralded wrestlers and mixed martial artists ever. He first made a name for himself as a wrestler at Lafayette’s Northside High, winning three consecutive LHSAA Division I state titles (1995-97). Following collegiate and international success, he transitioned to mixed martial arts and, after a transcendent career, is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame (2022) and is a combat sports analyst with ESPN and is a commentator for UFC events.

Ticket information is available at

Local high school football standings

Updated high school football standings for Rapides Parish teams through four weeks.


District   2-5A Dist. All PF-PA
Ruston 0-0 4-0 111-70
West Monroe 0-0 4-0 122-43
Wet Ouachita 0-0 4-0 113-31
ASH 0-0 2-2 124-123
Ouachita 0-0 1-3 64-119
Pineville 0-0 1-3 40-88
District 2-4A Dist. All PF-PA
Franklin   Parish 0-0 4-0 187-64
Neville 0-0 4-0 153-64
Tioga 0-0 4-0 169-42
Peabody 0-0 3-1 121-62
Grant 0-0 2-2 140-86
District   2-3A Dist. All PF-PA
Bunkie 0-0 4-0 175-24
Jena 0-0 4-0 118-72
Buckeye 0-0 3-1 180-108
Marksville 0-0 3-1 111-115
Caldwell Parish 0-0 2-2 106-114
Bolton 0-0 0-4 12-216
District 4-2A Dist. All PF-PA
Oakdale 0-0 4-0 135-70
Menard 0-0 2-2 66-67
Rosepine 0-0 2-2 38-118
Avoyelles 0-0 0-4 62-147
Pickering 0-0 0-4 12-207
District   3-1A Dist. All PF-PA
St.   Mary’s 0-0 4-0 112-55
LaSalle 0-0 3-1 157-56
Logansport 0-0 3-1 124-98
Montgomery 0-0 1-3 83-166
Northwood-Lena 0-0 0-4 64-148


Photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN, Journal Sports

Gearing up for Sunday’s start to archery season

Some of the year’s hottest weather in Louisiana occurs during the oppressive days of August and September. Fall is officially here but you wouldn’t know it by glancing at the thermometer with daytime temperatures in the high 90s.

There will be one group of folks with an eye on the calendar. You’ll see them out in their back yards, sitting on make-do elevated platforms, slinging arrows at targets. They’re Louisiana’s bow hunters and they’re doing what they have to do to get ready for the upcoming bow season which begins this Sunday, October 1.

They’ll be getting in condition for what one bowhunter told me is the “short” game. In golf, it’s the accuracy of the putter that usually separates the hackers from the experts. In bow hunting, the archer’s bow is his putter. He can’t expect to score a “birdie” (or would that be a “buckie”?) if he’s not proficient at shooting accurately from within the range of a bow, which is usually 35 yards or closer. Any deer outside that range is a deer to be watched, not shot at.

Thus, becoming proficient with his archery equipment within ethical ranges is a must, and like in golf, there is no substitute for practice, practice and more practice, even if sweat is dripping off your nose and you’re flirting with heat stroke.

A bowhunter knows that the deer he’ll be after are quite adaptable creatures. You can cut their woods and they simply move over to an adjoining tract, returning to the clear cut when they’re hungry to feast on succulent new growth that explodes when the forest canopy is opened.

One factor of nature that takes deer longer to adapt to is weather changes. During years of drought, especially in growing season, fewer fawns are born, which impacts the deer situation years down the road. Fewer fawns born this year translate to fewer adult animals to hunt the next couple of seasons.

Another problem not just bowhunters but all deer hunters have faced over the past few years has been milder than normal winters. This situation means that in general, deer have more to eat because succulent plant growth on which they feed lasts on into winter when in normal years, deer are moving about looking for something to eat.

During warm weather when the rut is going on, bucks still chase and breed does, but most of the activity is at night when temperatures are more comfortable. Frustrated hunters hunker down over scrape lines and food plots only to be disappointed.

However, Mother Nature is an equalizer. Granted, the past few winters have been milder and frankly, we’re due for a change. We may not get it, but darn it, we’re due.

It will be interesting to see just how the conditions of last deer season that favored deer and negatively impacted deer hunters will have a bearing on the upcoming deer season. Weather that was too warm and a bumper crop of wildlife foods throughout season meant that deer didn’t have to move about to find succulent forage. Thus, fewer were harvested. I’m no wildlife biologist but if I had to wager a guess, I’d think that we should have a better season this year.

Why do I think that? Over most of the state, the deer harvest was down last season, which means that more than a few wise old bucks lived to get another year older. With another year of age, this translates out to another year of growing antler mass, the exception being a deer that is past his prime and is basically going downhill.

With the odds hopefully being more in the hunter’s favor this season than last, those hunters who begin their seasons early have a better chance to collect their venison. No group of hunters in the state begins their season earlier than bow hunters. The first day of October is opening day for the majority of the state although some areas opened as early as mid-September. (Check current regulations for exact dates and areas.)

If you’re a serious bow hunter, you’ve already been out there, slinging arrows at paper targets and tweaking your bow so that when the deer you’re looking for steps out, you’ll be ready.

Contact Glynn at

Louisiana composer to hold concert on October 5

In conjunction with the 36th September Competition, AMoA welcomes composer, Dylan Trần, to perform an original musical score based on the work of 2017-2019 Louisiana Poet Laureate, Jack Bedell, alongside local high school choirs from ASH, Pineville, and Bolton High Schools. This will be the premiere of this work by Dylan, originally of Alexandria. The concert will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 pm at the City of Alexandria Amphitheater located just behind the museum on Murray Street.

The deadline to register is Thursday, Oct. 5 by 11:59 am. Register online at

Dylan Trần (he/they) (1994—) is a multi-media artist based out of New Orleans. Praised for “an entirely refreshing and distinct compositional voice” (CAI), Dylan views music as a form of world-building, poignantly evoking nuanced atmospheres within an intimately expressive writing style. Unrestrained by genre, Dylan’s work explores many themes: mental health, generational trauma, inner child work, diasporas, identity, class, gender, family dynamics, redefining home, fostering joy, and more. Outside of concert music, Dylan is passionate about building community, film scoring, eating, languages, film and TV, DEI, education, travel, skateboarding, frisbee, photography, videography, new experiences, nature, and spending time with family and friends. Dylan’s music has been performed across the country and in Europe.

Follow Dylan on Instagram at @dylantranmusic.

Lyon to speak at Oct. 2 Christ, Church, Culture event

Dr. Larry Lyon, from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, will be the speaker at Louisiana Christian University’s second Christ, Church, Culture (C3) event of the fall semester on Oct. 2.

Lyon will be speaking on “Faith and Sexuality: Understanding our Cultural Moment.” The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Guinn Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

Lyon serves as the NOBTS senior vice president for business administration and is an associate professor of ethics.

Lyon’s academic interests rest primarily in the areas of Christ and culture, public theology, and Christian ethics. He is interested in how Christians participate in the life of the church and the life of the state while being fervent witnesses to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life. Lyon believes that Christians have the strong ability to demonstrate what is possible for human flourishing by modeling Christ-likeness in all the realms of a person’s vocation. 

He and his wife, Stephanie, who also serves NOBTS as the Women’s Life Coordinator, have three daughters. The Lyon family church membership is with First Baptist New Orleans. 

LCU typically holds three C3 events each semester. The purpose of these events is to lovingly challenge the troubling culture we live in with the biblical truth and love of Christ. Previous speakers have addressed critical race theory, human sexuality, abortion, and many other hot-button issues.

Two face multiple charges

Rapides felony arrests, which are accusations not convictions. 

September 26
Ricky Brence, 42, Lecompte — criminal conspiracy 2 counts, monetary instrument abuse, use/possession of counterfeit or forged monetary instrument, burglary, contempt of court 5 counts, $32,000 bond;

Keyon Williams, 28, Alexandria — illegal use of weapon/dangerous instrumentality, possession marijuana, contempt of court 2 counts, $28,000 bond. 

Alexandria man faces $120k bond on drug charges

Rapides felony drug arrests, which are accusations not convictions. 

September 26
Audrey Freitas, 37, Leesville — possession fentanyl, carfentanyl < 2 grams, possession paraphernalia, $500 bond;

William Jones, 32, no address listed — possession, manufacture, distribution, dispense possession with intent CDS II 28 grams or more or analogues, possession drugs in presence of person under 17, obstruction of justice evidence tampering, speeding, $100 bond;

Demichael Liggins, 30, Alexandria — parole violation, violation protective order non-violent, possession/possession with intent CDS 3 and 4, possession fentanyl, carfentanyl < 2 grams, possession paraphernalia, contempt of court, $10,500 bond;

James Mims, 33, Alexandria — possession/possession with intent CDS II 28 grams or more, drugs in presence of person under 17, obstruction of justice evidence tampering, contempt 2 counts, $120,000 bond;

Heather Mirza, 40, Alexandria — possession CDS III, $2.500 bond;

Charles Smith Jr., 41, Alexandria — possession CDS II < 2 grams 3 counts, contempt of court, $6,000.