Prep athletics unify community

This week is our annual Prep Football Preview Guide, which highlights all 11 high school teams in the area and details the players who will be making things happen on the field this season.

Friday nights in the fall are among the best times of the year.

They are a time for passion and community pride.

There is no better sense of community unity than watching folks gather together to support the youth within the community.

The Houma-Thibodaux area is blessed with a strong support system for prep athletics, and it’s a support that shouldn’t ever be taken for granted.

People here love high school sports, and they dedicate their time and money to making sure that they are well-attended.

We take it for granted, because that’s sort-of the way things have always been. But one can rest assured that the high attendance numbers we see in this area aren’t seen everywhere in Louisiana.

In some places, high school athletes play their athletic competitions in near-empty gyms or playing fields. The community support just isn’t there – even when the games are significant in terms of postseason implications.

It’s hard for us to imagine, but not every place in the state has the same pride and passion for high school sports that we do here.

And that’s a shame, because they are one of the rare things in today’s world that remain pure. They pull communities together and unite people in the name of a common cause and victory.

They create memories that last a lifetime, too.

High school sports have a rare way to stick in our minds. They quickly become like myths – stories that get told and retold so many times that the details often get slightly skewed or stretched.

Everyone has heard a few of these local tales. In an area as talent-rich and sports-heavy as this one, there’s pretty much that one story that can be told about every school.

If in extreme southern Lafourche Parish, those folks will tell you about the time the South Lafourche Tarpons played in the State Championship Game in the 1970s.

The Tarpons were down late in the game, but won after a pass was deflected by the defense into the hands of tight-end Scott Bouzigard.

The quarterback was a talented kid. Folks there called him Bobby J.

He later blossomed into quite a player. Many locally have heard of him. His name is Bobby Hebert.

On that night on that football field, the Cajun Cannon was born.

In Central Lafourche, folks can talk all about Tommy Hodson and how he was arguably the best quarterback in school history.

Thibodaux natives have also had their share of storybook endings, including in the early 1990s when coach Dennis Lorio led the team to the 1991 state title.

South Terrebonne has won state titles, too, and they’re happy to share those memories to anyone who’s willing to listen.

Likewise, similar tales of excellence can be told at E.D. White, Ellender, H.L. Bourgeois and Terrebonne.

Houma Christian and Covenant Christian are virtually babies to the action – each in the infancy stages of their programs. But even they have both made the postseason and are enjoying success.

So with the start of another football season now here, the question isn’t whether or not memories will be made, but is instead where and when.

Every prep football season proves unique in its own way, but they’re all fun because they highlight the true spirit of athletics.

They are a proud time for our community, because they allow young people a chance to showcase their skills for a positive cause. If good enough, often, they can even parlay their athletic success into a college education.

It’s a 15-week stretch that we look forward to annually, because it gives us a chance to better connect with readers and spend time with our neighbors.

So best of luck to all of the local teams in 2016.

And thanks to all of the players and coaches for their hard work and dedication to excellence.

Also thanks to those who support the student-athletes.

Thank you for investing in the area’s youth. •