It all started 10 seasons ago with a 31-7 semifinal victory over Hahnville.
Prior to that point Acadiana, under legendary coach Bill Dotson, was regarded as one of the area’s most successful programs that had encountered difficulty in crossing the semifinal hurdle to reach the state championship game.
The Wrecking Rams lost in three cracks at the semifinals in 1977, 2001 and 2002 before finally breaking through three years later at home in convincing fashion against Hahnville.
“My family went to Acadiana and my dad played football there and was part of a team that went to the semifinals,” said former Acadiana and LSU place-kicker Drew Alleman. “When I went there, my dad said Acadiana just couldn’t get past the semifinals. It was like there was a curse and we just couldn’t get past it.”
A week later, in freezing temperatures at Shreveport’s Independence Stadium, Acadiana fell 28-7 to West Monroe in the state championship game, but that season-ending setback put into motion one of the state’s more impressive stretches by any program.
When No. 15 Acadiana (10-4) returns to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face No. 4 Destrehan (14-0) in Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game at 7 p.m., it will represent the Rams’ sixth state-title appearance this decade.
Acadiana won its first state crown in 2006 added another in 2010 and again last year in record-breaking fashion with a 77-41 triumph over Parkway.
“Bill laid a real good foundation,” said Acadiana coach Ted Davidson, who has been at the school 33 years, the last 11 as head coach. “You try to stay consistent and when you do get those special guys that come through, you feel you have an opportunity to go all the way.”
Davidson said the 2005 team’s ability advance to the state final, a team with former LSU and Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Jacob Cutrera, served as a springboard for the program.
“I’ve told those guys I’ve seen on that team they kind of broke that barrier as far as getting to the final,” he said. “They got us over the hump. I guess it’s an imaginary hump that’s there. Some programs fight for a long time to get over it and once you there it’s not easier, but the mental part of it’s a little different.”
Acadiana went on to make three straight state-championship appearances, the last two returning to the Superdome after the iconic venue was restored to its previous state following Hurricane Katrina.
The Rams held on in 2006 for a 20-18 home semifinal win over Catholic High and faced district foe Sulphur in a game that inevitably was decided on Alleman’s right foot.
Alleman tied the game with less than three minutes to go with a 42-yard field goal and followed with four seconds remaining with a 32-yarder for a 13-10 triumph and school’s initial state crown.
“I think going back to the state championship game we weren’t excited with just being there,” said Alleman, now a Baton Rouge-based financial planner. “We wanted something more.”
Led by former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, Destrehan handed Acadiana a 41-21 loss in the ’07 title game but the third successive title-game appearance stamped the Rams as one of the state’s an up-and-coming programs.
“The expectations have risen in the last few years,” Davidson said. “When kids play football, they pretty much expect to be successful. We kind of point toward the playoffs every year and take a lot of pride in how we do there.”
Acadiana overcame two straight quarterfinal defeats and returned to the title game in 2010 under the most adverse of circumstances.
The Rams were forced to forfeit four victories because of the use of an ineligible player which left them in jeopardy of not qualifying for the playoffs.
Acadiana managed to get into postseason play with a No. 27 seed and 5-5 record and proceeded to blitz its way to four straight victories by an average of 39 points and took down mighty West Monroe 21-14 in the championship game.
A year after piling up state records in points scored (77) and rushing yards (634), Acadiana has positioned itself after a 2-4 start to achieve another first for the program — win back-to-back state titles.
“We challenge our seniors that whatever happened last year goes on the record of that senior class,” Davidson said. “This is their team and they take ownership. We challenge them to make their mark and ask them how they want to be remembered.”