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Neville goes for third title in four years


12:00 AM, Dec. 05, 2012 EST

The 2011 Neville Tigers celebrate the Class 4A state title after beating Edna Karr 27-6 on Dec. 9, 2011, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Neville returns to face Karr for the 2012 4A title. / News-Star File

The Neville football team moved practice into the gym Tuesday because of rainy weather, but then again, the Tigers are used to playing inside.

The Tigers will step into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Friday for the third time in four seasons after winning titles in 2009 and 2011.

Neville has won consecutive state football titles twice (1961 and 1962; 1983 and 1984), but only one other Neville era has three state titles in four years.

Bill Ruple led Neville to titles in 1959, 1961 and 1962 after appearing in the 1958 title game.

"I talked with a couple of the guys at Saturday workouts -- John Diarse, Hootie (Laurence Jones), a couple of seniors -- we thought about the fun and the atmosphere and a third chance of getting a ring," said senior running back Salarrious Jones.

"We congratulate everybody that has done it before us, and we hope this team right here can do it. The history is mentioned (some), and we love the history of the team and the school. We try to find a way to win."

The Tigers have 10 state titles in 14 appearances before this season.

Only two stretches in Tiger history are more prolific in terms of consecutive state title appearances. Aside from Bill Ruple's stretch (1958-62), coach Charlie Brown appeared in three straight title games from 1982-84, winning in 1983 and 1984.

Neville coach Mickey McCarty said he believes it's important to discuss the school's history on occasion.

"The thing about Neville's history, we have a history book to go back through the years," McCarty said. "Those two other times have been the only times Neville has gone back to back (1961-62 and 1983-84).

"So just to have this opportunity is special."

John Diarse is the only current senior McCarty can remember playing in the 2009 title game, but almost all of the senior class contributed to the 2011 championship.

Three student managers are also making return trips. Seniors Tommy Bradley and Alaric Fricke were with the team in 2009 and 2011 while senior Darian Bethea was part of the 2011 title.

Senior defensive back Demon Baker said this class isn't done making its mark on the Neville history books.

"The history will be brought every now and then, but we want to add another accolade to that," Baker said. "We've got to make it happen down there. We want another sign in the end zone."

Edna Karr of New Orleans, who is making its third straight title game appearance after losing in 2010 and 2011, has a little history with Neville.

The Tigers bested the Wildcats 27-6 in 2011, and a lot of the key players on both sides return.

Senior offensive lineman Dempsey Fuller said the Neville line will enjoy the challenge against a monstrous Karr defensive line.

"I just think it's destiny," Fuller said about meeting Karr again. "I'm one of those guys that believes in fate, and I wouldn't want it any other way than to meet Karr again.

"They are one of the major powers in the trenches, and I think ours is too."

Neville, the No. 1 team (13-0) in Class 4A, will meet No. 2 Karr (13-0) at 8 p.m. Friday.

Fans can still buy tickets at Neville's ticket office Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

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1 Richwood High School
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15-3-0
2 Ruston High School
Ruston, LA
15-7-0
3 Wossman High School
Monroe, LA
16-2-0
4 Neville High School
Monroe, LA
12-2-0
5 Farmerville High School
Farmerville, LA
0-0-0

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