Vandebilt played a second-round playoff game on Friday without its starting quarterback.
But aside from a few hiccups early in the game, the Terriers handled that situation in stride.
Because adversity is nothing new to this team.
From the first snap of the season to the last, Vandebilt has been through a lot — adjusting to a first-year head coach and several challenges throughout the year.
Coach Lance Ledet said multiple times this year that the fight in his team made him proud. Never was that fight more apparent than on Friday when the Terriers scored a late-game, last-second touchdown for pride in the final seconds of the game.
“The credit goes to the kids,” Ledet said. “They’ve stayed committed and they’ve stuck it out. It took us a little while to get going, but the kids were focused and committed and we’re so proud of how hard they’ve worked to keep s going forward.”
Vandebilt’s ability to handle adversity started all the way back to last season.
The Andrew Robison situation dominated the team’s season, and coach Jeremy Atwell ended up being relieved of his duties after 2018.
Ledet was hired, but still had obligations to Brother Martin. The Terriers bypassed spring football, opting instead to add extra practices to the front-end of their end-of-summer camp.
Did the team benefit from the extra work?
We’ll never know.
It rained on the Terriers just about every chance the team had to get on the field.
“We’re going to be the best basketball team in the state of Louisiana,” Ledet said with a laugh earlier this season — a joke he made to illustrate how many days the Terriers were rained out of practice and forced inside.
The disadvantage Vandebilt had is its infrastructure.
The Terriers are one of the few local teams not blessed with a turf field.
When it rains during the week, natural grass practice fields water log. Teams with turf fields can get on the turf and get work.
The Terriers couldn’t.
Ledet said the team lost hours and hours of time.
“It’s frustrating,” Ledet said earlier this season. “I love the grass field on Friday nights. But the advantage of the turf is from Monday-to-Thursday. You’re able to do so much more as long as there’s no lightning. That’s where those teams get an edge and an advantage.”
Vandebilt started its season slow.
They started 1-3 and were non-competitive in losses against Westgate and Dutchtown.
In the team’s next two games, they won, but struggled at times. They beat Welsh, despite multiple turnovers, then followed the same script in a win against South Lafourche.
But the team then started to find its stride.
In the back-end of district play, Vandebilt started to play its best ball — picking up steam.
They walloped Ellender 29-0, then overcame a slow first half to beat South Terrebonne 31-9.
That set the stage for a showdown district game with Assumption — a game that Vandebilt forced overtime, then could have won if not for a late-game pass interference call.
But it went for naught, which set up the Terriers to earn the No. 11 seed, and a date with Hannan.
They won that game, then earned the home tilt with University Lab.
In the Hannan game, quarterback Gavin Daigle went down with an injury — an ailment that would sideline him for the rest of his season. But the team battled back, rallied late and secured the win.
Against University, it was too much for the team to overcome and the Terriers lost to the formidable foe.
But they played a strong second half and finished the game with a bang — the short touchdown.
That’s just the way it’s been all season for Vandebilt — competing through tension and learning to find comfort in uncomfortable positions.