Players ready for U.S. Army Red Stick all-star game

With talented players on both sides, anything can happen when the Rough Riders battle the Black Knights in the 11th annual U.S. Army Red Stick Bowl.

Both 45-man all-star teams feature solid quarterbacks, outstanding running backs, speedy defenders and sturdy linemen.

The teams square off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Denham Springs High School.

This is the sixth Red Stick Bowl in which the team names are Rough Riders and Black Knights.

The Black Knights, who won 31-16 in 2011, have a 3-2 series lead.

“We’re excited with our talent level,” Black Knights coach David Oliver of St. Amant said. “They’re the best of the best from each school. They’ve really picked things up. They’re playing fast. We’re teaching scheme more than anything. We know they can play football.”

“It’s going to be fun watching and coaching the game,” Rough Riders coach Guy Blanchard of Port Allen said. “I think our kids feel like they’re the underdogs. I think it’s going to be a pretty good game. Hopefully we can stick with them. There’s only so much you can do offensively and defensively in a week.”

“I really don’t have any expectations for the score of the game,” Oliver said.

The winning team has scored 30 or more points the past three years. There also have been four shutouts in the 10 games.

“I think the teams are even, and the games have been close the last three years,” Black Knights coordinator Fred Allen said.

“Usually the game is decided in the last minute.”

Quarterbacks for the Rough Riders include Central’s Brett Courville, Pointe Coupee Central’s Kevin Bourgeois, Zach Borne of Denham Springs and if needed Darian Claiborne of Port Allen.

“My team ran a spread offense in high school, and we’re running a multiple offense here,” Bourgeois said. “The offense really came around this week in practice. Hopefully, I’ll do well, and I’m excited about the game. Brett Courville is a good player and good leader, too.”

“All the quarterbacks will get a chance,” Blanchard said. “In the end, we’ll go with who has the hot hand. I like our quarterbacks.”

Quarterbacks for the Black Knights include Ruston Matherne of Lutcher, Deonte Shorts of Southern Lab and Jay Christophe of Brusly has a wildcat package.

The Black Knights run a spread offense and Lutcher’s Dwain Jenkins is the offensive coordinator, so Matherne knows the system the best.

“Ruston Matherne is a good athlete and also good with his feet,” Oliver said. “Where he’s really good is with his eyes and seeing the field. Mentally, he’s doing a great job.

“Deonte Shorts has his high school receiver Marquise Ricard with him. He’s an athletic quarterback and a very accurate passer. I think he has a bright future.”

“The Black Knights have some tremendous football players,” Blanchard said.

“There’s a reason they’re all-stars. We think we can compete.”

Linemen to watch for the Rough Raiders include Tevin Lawson (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) of Denham Springs, Tanzel Smart (6-2, 280) of Scotlandville, Corey Grinner (6-2, 325) of Zachary and Wade Wheat (6-4, 265) of Springfield. Lawson is an LSU football commitment.

“Tanzel Smart is a special athlete,” Blanchard said. “He’s big, and he can move. I like the group we’ve got on the line, and they’re fun. They’re excited about being here and playing hard.”

Running backs for the Black Knights include Parkview Baptist’s Hezekiah Randolph, Catholic’s Khalil Thomas and St. Amant’s Trey Washington. Running backs for the Rough Riders include Walker’s Carlton Perkins, Livonia’s Marius Beauvais and Loranger’s Miguel Toefield.

Two players were selected as athletes for each team. Livonia’s Tyrus Georgetown and Borne are the athletes for the Rough Riders. Christophe and Plaquemine’s Hakeem Deggs are the athletes for the Black Knights.