Salmen, Thomas Jefferson open seasons with big wins Thursday

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It was not that long ago that Salmen won three state championships under Bill Stubbs. While the Spartans have enjoyed some success since, they have not been at the same level.

The Spartans are an improved team that could be heading for good things in 2017.

Eddie Smith booted a game-winning 35-yard field goal with 32 seconds left to lift Salmen to a 23-21 road victory over Madison Prep in a game delayed by bad weather for over an hour at Memorial Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Smith, who starts at wide receiver, also scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass from LJ Leonard, who also connected with Antonio Marquez on a 47-yard touchdown pass. Aaron Williams returned a fumble 43 yards for a score.

Tyrese Walker starred for Madison Prep, rushing 26 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns and he had a 74-yard punt return.

Salmen coach Jerry Leonard was not surprised that his team persevered.

“I knew it would be a tough game going in and I know they are a great program but we felt like we had things working in the offseasons with this group that they were coming together,” Leonard said. “We feel they are a group with a lot of grit and they showed it. We were down the whole game, fought back, made plays and found a way to win. That tells you they have heart and character.”

Salmen had bus trouble coming home, making it an even longer night and morning, but the trip was worth it.

“It was a long night,” Leonard said. “We rolled in at 3:30 a.m. It was worth it, though. No one is complaining about lightning or breakdowns when you win.”

Both teams return to action next Friday night with the Spartans hosting Northshore next Friday night in the battle of Slidell at 7 p.m while Madison Prep hosts Scotlandville, also at 7 p.m.

“Everyone talks about their marquee kids but they are good overall,” Leonard said. “We saw them in 7-on-7 and they are skilled. They are on the upswing. It will be a good test for both sides, a fun matchup which we look forward to.”

In the annual Magnet Bowl, Thomas Jefferson gained revenge, taking control from the start in a convincing 29-7 victory over Haynes at Joe Yenni Stadium in the season opener for both teams. Haynes had beaten Thomas Jefferson 29-12 in 2016.

Darnevin Camille rushed 16 times for 160 yards and a touchdown of 69 yards while quarterback Arien Williams ran for one score and passed for another. Williams hit Kevin Stevenson on a 78-yard touchdown pass.

Jaguars coach Kevin Kelly was happy with the win but feels his team has to learn from some mistakes.

“It was our first whole, complete game and we struggled through it,” Kelly said. “It is a big rivalry. We made a lot of mental mistakes, an extraordinary amount of mistakes. We have to work on that. Overall, we got through it and won the game. We’re young but they are very young. The kind of game we saw was expected. We knew we could run the ball on them and we did, shortening the game.”

The only Haynes score was a 30-yard touchdown pas from Zachary Bott to Joshua Christoffersen.

Each team struggled in the turnover department, with the Yellow Jackets committing four while the Jaguars turned it over three times.

Thomas Jefferson returns to action next Thursday night against Newman at 6:30 p.m. at Hoss Memtsas Stadium while Haynes hosts Riverdale at 6:30 p.m. at Joe Yenni Stadium.

“We have to step it up against Newman,” Kelly said. “If we play the same, we will lose because they are very good. We have to execute better. We expect improvement. We look forward to the challenge.”

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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