By Ethan Colbert
Prior to Friday night’s game against Mark Twain High School, it had been 1,764 days since a Louisiana High School football team has left a football field as the victors of a game.
The program’s last victory was a 56-0 thrashing of the Highland Cougars on October 25, 2013, according to records with the Missouri State High School Activities Association.
That streak, which is edging its way to becoming the longest losing streak in MSHSAA’s history, was nearly snapped Friday evening as the Bulldogs traded touchdowns with the Tigers for much of the first half before falling to the Tigers by a final score of 54-34.
The Tigers were the first team to score thanks to the legs of Mark Twain’s Jace Barton, who would end the game with two rushing touchdowns.
In a post-game interview first year head coach Joe Calhoun acknowledged that the Tigers rushing attack alongside the contributing factor of the heat — it was 94 degrees at the time of kick-off — wore down the Bulldog defense.
“We let up in the second half,” Calhoun said. “We are just not in shape to play in this kind of weather and it showed. That is something that we have got to fix.”
Despite their struggles to contain the Tigers rushing attack, the Bulldog offense was able to keep pace with their counterparts courtesy of the electrifying play of Derek Richards, who in his football debut recorded a 61-yard touchdown reception and a 28-yard touchdown run. Richards would also return a kickoff for a touchdown to start the second half.
Richards was aided by the play of junior wide receiver Cody Love, who had two caught two passes from quarterback Cameron Henderson, a junior at LHS, for touchdowns.
While their passing attack thrilled the legions of spectators who traveled to rural Ralls County for the game, Calhoun said in his post-game interview that the Bulldogs need to be more balanced in their offensive approach.
“We didn’t run the ball as well as we needed to,” Calhoun said. “We didn’t have a consistent attack offensively and that starts up front. We need to fix that stuff.”
In the team’s post-game huddle, Calhoun stressed to his team that the issues that plagued the Bulldogs in their season opener can be fixed. He also said that the program’s elusive, long-sought victory will come.
“We didn’t get this win, but there are other wins waiting for this team,” Calhoun said.
In his post-game interview, Calhoun declined to comment on whether that win will come this Friday, when the Bulldogs take on the Van-Far Indians at Van-Far’s campus. Kick-off for that game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“I am not going to pick a team out, but I was talking about was us,” Calhoun said in his interview. “I was saying that we are going to get better and better as a football team.”