Ready for some football?

Lafourche council rolls millage forward to benefit elderly
August 21, 2014
Trojans ready to roar in 2014
August 26, 2014
Lafourche council rolls millage forward to benefit elderly
August 21, 2014
Trojans ready to roar in 2014
August 26, 2014

The gentle hum of a lawn mower is all that can be heard in the distance as the sun makes its first morning appearance in the already warm August sky in Louisiana.

“Screech,” shouts a whistle – its voice echoing in the damp, humid air.

Almost immediately after the sharp sound, a band of more than 60 titans emerge from the foggy air.

Alas, football season is here.

With the sun now fully awake, the heat is becoming a real factor on this day.

Its piercing ferocity is blazing the player’s spirits.

They need breaks virtually every 10-15 minutes.

But none of that matters – they carry forward until the day is done.

Because the first game on the schedule is forthcoming, and our local players want to be ready for action.

There’s just nothing like prep football along the Bayous of South Louisiana – its unrivaled among any place I’ve ever visited in the country.

Every game is a rivalry game played among players who have known their opponents for most of their lives.

South Lafourche vs. Central Lafourche. H.L. Bourgeois vs. Terrebonne. E.D. White vs. Vandebilt – the list could go on and on.

Off the field, the banter and decorum is friendly – most teenagers across rival schools are friends away from competition.

But on the field, everyone battles for regional supremacy. The pads pop a little harder in our area, and the hits just have a little more meaning to them – everyone wants to call themselves the best that our area has to offer.

As a gentleman from Ruston once told me – “Dem boys down there just love to play some football!”

Away from the actual game itself, our communities do their part to make the high school season special.

Our community’s teams receive crowd support unrivaled by most other places in Louisiana.

They show up early, leave late and do anything they can to make sure the atmosphere is as “big-time” as humanly possible.

Multiple schools around the Houma-Thibodaux area have tailgate parties where visitors can enjoy the best that Louisiana barbecue has to offer on a given night.

Indeed, Friday night lights is an all day affair within the Tri-parishes – one that is truly special.

But the best part about the prep game is the pageantry and legendry that could be on display any given night on the hallowed fields within our area.

At any given moment and on any given play, history could make its mark, and the end result could be a game that we are talking about for decades.

It sounds silly to hint that the actions of our 17-year-old men could have such a long-standing impact on the ways that we converse in day-to-day life.

But to this day, my South Lafourche brethren talk about the infamous 1977 Class 4A State Championship game when Scott Bouzigard caught a tipped pass from little-known quarterback Bobby Hebert to score the game-winning touchdown.

Sure, the story has become myth – the characters and feats a bit exaggerated.

But the mere mention of the word “tip” in the South Lafourche community can ignite a riot of conversation amongst an entire community.

Likewise, over in Terrebonne Parish, they will forever talk about the night when Tigers’ quarterback Mike Williams overcame injury, exhaustion and cramps and everything else to lead the Tigers past Mandeville in the opening round of the Class 5A State Playoffs.

Williams’ efforts were nothing short of heroic. He’d hobble onto the field, lead the Tigers into the end zone and then hobble back to the sidelines and lie on the sidelines in exhaustion.

Possibly my favorite photo of all-time as a sports reporter in this area shows Williams lying on the field – completely gassed. One of his arms sits above his helmet, while the other holds a Gatorade bottle, which he used to try and regain hydration and cease his cramps.

Or how about my personal favorite – the night in 2010 when Vandebilt senior quarterback T.J. Cantrelle helped the Terriers overcome a 10-point deficit with three minutes to play to beat rival E.D. White.

Cantrelle wasn’t even supposed to play that night after injuring himself playing kickball in P.E. class just two weeks earlier – an injury doctors said had a four-to-six-week recovery frame.

Using grit, toughness and an unquestioned faith in God, Cantrelle did play and led the Terriers to two late touchdown drives to secure the win.

The last touchdown came on an 18-yard touchdown pass with less than 10 seconds to play – a feat that sent the senior leader and many of his classmates into tears of joy and emotion.

No more than a few weeks after the tear-jerking victory, Cantrelle and three of his classmates were killed in a tragic car accident just outside of Houma.

His determination and grit are a testament to the character of all four teenagers involved in that terrible accident.

They are all sorely missed and will be remembered in the minds and hearts of the entire Tri-parish community forever.

There’s not a single night in the prep football season where I don’t think about those young men and women from Vandebilt and remember the impact that they left on our community.

Stories like that make the high school game unique.

You just don’t find local tales like that in any other sport in the world.

Good luck to all of our 11 teams in the 2014 season.

Go out and make memories that’ll last a lifetime!