In about two weeks, high school football teams in the Houma-Thibodaux area will begin practicing for the 2016 season.
Mark me down as one of the folks most excited about the end of the summer being near.
Look, I respect summer break and everything it represents for a student. It’s a time for much-needed rest and relaxation. I get that. The months of June and July are times where I made countless memories as a kid, so I totally understand how special the break is and why students relish those months.
But as the sports editor of a community newspaper, my world just about shuts down over the summer.
Sure, there are some summer league games while school is out, but it’s just not quite the same. I’m a sports brat. I’m spoiled. I need varsity action to get my fix.
But the calendar is about to turn back over, and the 2016-17 athletic year is about to begin.
And that has me excited about football – especially on the prep level.
High school football is awesome in the Houma-Thibodaux area because there’s so much passion for the games within the community.
People here love Friday nights, and they support the young men who dedicate their blood, sweat and tears to the gridiron.
They dedicate their time and fill local stadiums to the brim during the season, which energizes the community’s youth and brings out the best in their abilities.
So with all of that said, it’s never too early to look ahead at what’s to come. I spent some time studying local teams’ schedules this week and I’ve mapped out seven can’t-miss games for sports fans in 2016.
Enjoy. I know for sure that I will.
Can’t we just fast forward to the fall already?
Sorry kids, but I’m glad summer can’t last forever.
Can’t Miss Game 1
Thibodaux at St. Charles Catholic
Thibodaux has been the best local football team for the past several seasons. But St. Charles Catholic is one of the best teams in the entire state of Louisiana. That recipe didn’t bode well for the Tigers last year, who opened their season by getting a 31-0 butt whooping from the Comets in Tiger Stadium. But Thibodaux has more returning players this year than they did last year, and many are expecting big-time things from the District 7-5A power. Will it be enough to dethrone St. Charles Catholic in their home stadium? Eh, maybe, maybe not. But it surely will be worth a close look. We definitely don’t expect another 31-0 game. This one should be much closer on the ol’ scoreboard.
Can’t Miss Game 2
Vandebilt at E.D. White
Also in Week 1 is the annual thriller between E.D. White and Vandebilt Catholic. Man, this game is always a blast. It’s the epitome of a friendly rivalry between two of the best schools in the area. What makes this game so fun is how similar the schools are. They’re the area’s only two Catholic high schools, and each year, the teams are similar in talent and skill. Last year, E.D. White trumped the Terriers 34-14, but this year, Vandebilt is expected to be back in a big way.
Can’t Miss Game 3
Central Lafourche at South Lafourche
This one speaks for itself. It’s like water vs. oil. It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys. The two programs form one of the most heated rivalries in the area, and it’s a battle always worth the price of admission. Last year, South Lafourche went into Mathews and beat the Trojans 27-21, stopping Central Lafourche inside their own 10-yard-line as time expired. This time, the teams will lock horns in Galliano – a place that’s haunted Central Lafourche in years past. This one is always fun. This year should be no different.
Can’t Miss Game 4
Ellender at South Terrebonne
It’s always fun when Ellender takes on South Terrebonne because the two are cross-town rivals and are so close in proximity that they share a stadium. But this year’s contest will have a little added spice because it will mark a new chapter in the local rivalry – one that has impacts on both schools. Ellender hired David McCormick as its head coach this spring. Prior to taking over the Patriots’ program, McCormick was a long-time, beloved assistant coach at South Terrebonne. Seeing McCormick face off against his old team will be both interesting and awkward. With both teams expecting to still be in playoff contention by late-October, it ought to be fun to see how this game shakes out.
Can’t Miss Game 5
H.L. Bourgeois vs. Terrebonne
H.L. Bourgeois finished one – maybe two – wins short of the playoffs last season under first-year coach Carey Melvin. One of the games the team wishes it had back was a season-ending defeat against Terrebonne. The Tigers beat the Braves 14-13 last year – one of the hardest fought, closest games of the year. For Terrebonne, the win was a positive ending to a tough 2015. For the Braves, it was a harsh ending to a successful 5-5 campaign under Melvin. This year, the teams will again lock horns to end the regular season, and we expect another thriller. •
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