Gators make playoffs for second consecutive year, but end season to cross river rivals

Coach Brandon Helms gives Tevin Hickman a pep talk on the sidelines. Photos by Ethan Smith

Red River 41/Lakeview 6

For the first time in over a decade, the Lakeview Gators made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. This year as the 25-seed, the Gators faced off against their biggest rival, the Red River Bulldogs, who were the eight seeded team. In fact, the last playoff win for the Gators came against the Bulldogs in 2014.

Earlier in the year, Red River handled Lakeview 50-20. As one of the most talented teams in the state, it was up to the Gators to change things last Friday. Red River returned the opening kickoff to the Lakeview 39. Immediately, the Bulldogs capitalized and scored on their first play, a 39-yard passing touchdown. With just 16 seconds knocked off the clock, the Bulldogs were up 7-0. Lakeview poorly fielded the kickoff and instead of letting the ball roll to the end zone, the Gators halted its path at the 4-yard line, giving terrible field position to start the drive.


#32 Mykel Slaughter sets up on the line.

Lakeview kicked off with a nice 6-yard run, but then got nowhere and was forced to punt just a mere 20 yards to the 26. Red River got a nice pass over the middle to the 10-yard line to start their drive. Then Lakeview showed its first sign of life. Derrick Rock, who was named the Natchitoches Times All-Parish Team Defensive MVP, made his way to the backfield and got a sack for the Gators. But sadly, just two plays later, the Bulldogs were in the end zone again with a 4 yard run to push the lead to 14-0.

Lakeview’s special team woes were to continue, as the Gators muffed the kickoff and Red River recovered at the 32. Once again the Bulldogs only needed one play to find the end zone, a 32-yard screen pass touchdown to push the lead 21-0 with 7:19 left in the first. The Gators safely recovered the kickoff at the 26-yard line, but wound up with a total of negative-4 yards in three plays and were forced to punt again.

The Gators set up a play against the Bulldogs.

Red River brought the ball in at the 48, their worst field position so far. They fired off a 38-yard pass, but Tevin Hickman stopped the Bulldogs from scoring on that play. He couldn’t do the same on the next play and as the PAT sailed through the uprights, Red River went up 28-0 and never looked back.

Kain Custis, left, and Derrick Rock block on a play.

It was 34-0 at the end of the first quarter, and the game was all but over. Lakeview found the end zone with two minutes remaining in the game as Hickman ran it in, scoring his 11th touchdown on the year. It was too little, too late. Red River walked away victorious, 41-6. Yes, sadly, this is the end of a wild season for Lakeview.

They finished with a final record of 2-5. A whole new team will headline next season, and preparation for next year has already begun. So until next time, Go Gators!