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|Showdown for supremacy: Rebels, Lions play tonight|
One of the hottest rivalries in Ouachita Parish will be renewed this week as the Ouachita Lions head west of the river to battle the West Monroe Rebels when the Rebels and Lions meet Thursday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Officials on Wednesday decided to move the contest to 7 p.m. Thursday at West Monroe.
"They moved the game because there is a 30 percent chance of rain on Thursday and an 80 percent chance of rain on Friday, and they wanted to avoid the worst part of the weather," said West Monroe head coach Don Shows.
Both teams are coming off of two straight blowout victories in district play.
Last week, West Monroe hit the road for only the second time in the 2009 season and ran over the Airline Vikings, 35-6.
An Airline interception thrown by quarterback Conner Nichols set up the first Rebel touchdown as fullback Bubba Reeves plunged into the end zone on a 9-yard run with 3:48 to play in the first quarter. The score capped a seven-play, 52-yard drive. Cody Hollis followed with his first of five consecutive successful extra points to give West Monroe a 7-0 lead.
The game was a back-and-forth misadventure for the offenses on ensuing drives until West Monroe running back Tashadi Talton scored halfway through the second quarter on a 25-yard run to give West Monroe a 14-0 advantage.
Airline kept killing their own drives with penalties until Nichols scored on a 28-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The ensuing kickoff saw West Monroe lineman Dillon Day field a short kick and return it deep into Airline territory. Day reaggravated a hamstring injury on the run and is questionable for the West Monroe battle with Ouachita.
West Monroe didn't accomplish all it wanted at Airline, Shows said. The Rebels are still looking for balance and a consistent team effort in each phase of the game.
"We have some guys sulking around," Shows said. "It is all about them, it is real disappointing."
A scoreless third quarter saw West Monroe take the opening possession of the fourth deep into Airline territory. However, a fourth down pass which was good for a first down was negated thanks to a holding penalty. The Deion Fowler catch was wiped out and Turner was sacked on the next play to give the ball back to Airline.
In the fourth quarter, Turner found wide receiver Cody Stone for an impressive 85-yard strike to put the Vikings away.
Turner completed 5-of-6 pass attempts for 129 yards and one touchdown. He ran for a 27-yard score in the second quarter and has recorded eight rushing touchdowns on the season. West Monroe rushed for 174 yards overall.
The Rebel defense kept Airline to just 184 yards of total offense last week.
The coaches want to see a bit more fire and effort from some of their go-to players as a big rivalry game looms this week, Shows said.
Ouachita will enter the game after running over district 1-5A foe Natchitoches Central (0-5) by a score of 48-0 at Lions Stadium last week.
DeMarkus Sledge scored the first Ouachita touchdown against the Chiefs on a 30-yard touchdown run on Ouachita's third offensive possession.
Sledge ran for 153 yards on six carries to pace the Ouachita offense last week. Ricky McCarthy has also been a featured running back for Ouachita this season and will be a concern of the West Monroe defensive unit.
Ouachita lead 22-0 at halftime and the Lions kept the shutout going till the end.
"We had a slow start offensively against Natchitoches Central," Ouachita head coach John Carr said. "We put our defense in a bind early. We can certainly not afford to come out sluggish in that environment at West Monroe against a team of their caliber."
Ouachita coaches are concerned the atmosphere the Lions have recently played in has not prepared some of their first-year starters for the type of playoff atmosphere they will encounter at West Monroe.
"It will be interesting to see how they respond," Carr said. "If we have a sluggish start it will be a long night for us."
KLIP 105.3 FM and Rock 106.1 FM will both be carrying the contest on the radio beginning with a pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.