Ascension Episcopal School linebacker Quinn Adams already knows where the topic of conversation will gravitate toward when his senior class meets for its first reunion.
Whether it’s five or 10 years from now, Adams is convinced they’ll reminisce about the growth of the school’s six-year-old football program during their senior year, and in particular, one special November evening in Lake Charles.
Expected to take center stage will be the events of last Friday, where a hearty exchange over Ascension Episcopal’s first state playoff victory — a 21-16 win over Hamilton Christian — will undoubtedly resume and bring back indelible memories that signaled the program’s statewide arrival.
“We’ll be able to say we were the first team from this school to ever do that,” Adams said. “When the horn rang, we were on the side of the scoreboard we knew we could be on. It was amazing to know we just made history for our school.”
No. 13 Ascension Episcopal (8-3) takes the next step in its distinguished season Friday by hosting the school’s first playoff game when the Blue Gators entertain No. 5 Southern Lab (6-5) in a Division IV quarterfinal in front of what’s expected to be a capacity crowd.
“It’s been so exciting at school this year,” AES coach Michael Desormeaux said. “Our volleyball team just finished second at state. Success breeds success, and it’s good for the whole school.”
Desormeaux, a former quarterback at Catholic-New Iberia and Louisiana-Lafayette, brought his trademark passion for winning, along with a road map on how to get there two years ago, inheriting a program that was 1-9 before his arrival.
“We were blessed when coach Mike came to us out of all the schools he could have gone to,” Adams said. “He’s made us the team we are today with the weight training and conditioning. We couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff.”
In his own perfect world, Desormeaux would have liked a district championship and postseason success by now but recognized the steps required before the program could truly come of age.
Given the finish to a 5-6 season — three straight losses, including a 41-14 playoff setback at Ascension Catholic — nothing suggested the Blue Gators were on the cusp of such a breakthrough this year.
There were only seven seniors to replace for a team on which 13 starters returned, but that didn’t mask the makeup of AES’ roster, which included five seniors and eight juniors.
“We knew we were going to be one of the better teams in the district,” said senior Brennan Ducote, the team’s second-leading receiver with 34 catches for 651 yards and six TDs. “Last year we were getting used to the coaches and the offense. Everybody kind of grew up a bit this year and played like they were capable.”
Quarterback Jake Arceneaux and running back Ja’Ceiry Linzer — both juniors — have provided AES with a potent 1-2 punch with 1,666 yards and 18 TDs passing and 1,678 yards and 28 TDs rushing.
Linebacker Andre Roth tops the Gators with 124.5 tackles through the regular season, followed by end Peyton Adams and Quinn Adams both with 56.5 stops.
AES’ 5-1 start this season featured a signature 35-18 win over Hanson Memorial in District 7-1 play. The Gators overcame a 28-21 setback to Central Catholic with two straight wins, setting up a chance for the league crown at reigning state champion Vermilion Catholic, a game the Eagles won 46-28.
“It’s part of growing up and taking the steps you have to take to become the program you want to be,” Desormeaux said. “I was proud of the way they fought.”
That manifested itself again a week later when AES jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, trailed by a point before taking a 21-14 halftime lead.
AES’ defense held firm in the second half and limited Hamilton Christian — the state’s No. 4 seed and District 4-1A champion — to its second-lowest point total of the year.
“Everyone’s got each other’s back ,and we fight for each other and that has a lot to do with it,” Quinn Adams said. “We’ve become such great teammates and friends. We’re fighting for every game we can stay together.”