It is one day early but the West Monroe versus Ouachita matchup will be its usual fall fun on Thursday at 7:30 p.m on Don Shows Field at Rebel Stadium. West Monroe (8-0) has dominated the yearly series that began in 1953 and the Rebels have won each game since 1995.
Ouachita game close in 2015 at Rebel Stadium and will try to recreate that magic under head coach Jeff Fitzgerald who has led Ouachita to the playoffs in each of his five seasons on Millhaven Road.
“I can promise you it is nothing that I have done,” Fitzgerald said. “But it is about the kids and what they have been able to put together. You can take previous years and through them out the window. This is a completely different Ouachita team. This is a completely different West Monroe team. Coach (Jerry) Arledge and those guys do a tremendous job and I know they are going to have their team fired up, and geeked up. But, who knows, this could be the year.”
Arledge agreed that the past success over the Lions will not be vocal point of the 2017 battle which will have huge district championship implications.
“I really don’t think (the streak) enters into it,” Arledge said. “That is the way we approach it. (Ouachita) is very talented. Good quarterback. They block extremely well. It will be a battle.”
Ouachita (5-3) is led by quarterback Jabari Johnson. Johnson is a senior who will play defensive back in college and is currently verbally committed to ULM. Johnson moved from defense to offense this season as a need filled for Ouachita.
Johnson has 997 yards and 13 touchdowns on 57-of-105 passes. Senior wideout Josh Newton has 20 receptions for 519 yards and eight touchdowns. It is not just an air raid offense, Johnson has 573 yards and six scores rushing. Junior running back Dylan Roberts has over 600 yards rushing for Ouachita this season.
West Monroe senior quarterback Slade Bolden has been everything the hype said he would be. The Alabama commit has led the team in rushing with 798 yards rushing and 1,044 yards passing with 24 total touchdowns.
“I don’t know if you can stop him, but you have to contain him,” Fitzgerald said of Bolden. “And he has a great team around him. West Monroe is a great team.”
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