It’s tough to imagine Captain Shreve coach Bryant Sepulvado, 40, as a 4-year-old the last time the Gators were undefeated at this point in a season.
Second-year Natchitoches Central coach James Wilkerson, 38, was a 13-year-old Dequincy seventh-grader in 1996, the last time NCHS was 6-0. Both dreamed of becoming a head coach, but neither could fathom that their futures would converge Friday night with so much on the line.
With Florida State assistant coach David Johnson looking on, Shreve was able to get the upper hand in District 1-5A with a 31-20 victory.
The Gators went 9-0 in 1985 before losing the last two games, and Natchitoches was 7-0 in 1996 before losing to Byrd and finishing 9-1, according to Shreveport statistician Lee Hiller.
The last time two Shreveport-Bossier teams that were undefeated played each other in the seventh week came in 2013 when Byrd was 7-0 and Parkway was 6-0 after having one game canceled.
The Gators (7-0, 4-0) came in ranked No. 1 in the LHSAA Power Ratings, while NCHS (6-1, 3-1) was No. 8. Shreve won thanks to a pair of touchdowns from quarterback Kenyon Terrell, one from Matt Hall and a clincher from four-star recruit Kendrick Law Jr. in the closing minutes.
“It feels great, but everybody has been uplifting me,” Terrell said. “I may make a bad play, but somebody has my back.”
Shreve built a 24-0 lead then held on as NCHS stormed back behind quarterback Brian Young.
Neither squad is loaded with next-level talent. Law is the only player on either team who is being highly recruited. Gator defensive lineman Ckelby Givens has a Southern offer, while a few of his teammates are attracting Division II or III looks.
NCHS running back Caylin Demars and lineman Carey Johnson also have some small college offers.
But what both teams do have is a bunch of athletes who have bought into systems – something easier talked about than actually accomplishing.
“We’ve had successful teams in the past, but everyone didn’t have the full buy-in like this team has had since January,” Sepulvado said. “The kids are locked-in and the success we’ve had the past few years has helped. The team believes it can do it.”
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