Roland Eveland was so excited that he forgot to grab his coat.
The then Carencro offensive coordinator had just witnessed the Bears take down a powerful Neville team in the 1992 Class 5A championship game. In his excitement, Eveland rushed out of the coaches box inside the Superdome, found his young son and began taking part in the joyous celebration.
“We won the game, and it had happened so quick,” Eveland said. “All of us coaches in the box were getting prepared for another overtime, and it just hit us that oh my God we won.
“So I raced down to celebrate with the team. My son was in the elevator. He was four or five at the time and I carried him around. But I had left my coat and stuff in the press box, and I had to go back up there and get my stuff. That’s why I am in the back of the championship photo because I had to run back down to make the photo.”
Memories of Carencro’s first, and only, state championship have resurfaced this week for Eveland, now the program’s head coach, and for its former starting quarterback Kevin Faulk, who now serves as the Bears offensive coordinator.
That’s due to the fact that Carencro travels to Bill Ruple Stadium in Monroe on Friday night to take on defending state champion Neville in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
That 1992 championship game helped launch the Bears program as one of Acadiana’s premier programs and gave Lafayette Parish its first state title in football. Before the 1991 season, Carencro had suffered six straight losing seasons and before the state title season of 1992, the Bears had never won a playoff game.
Carencro had come extremely close to tasting playoff victory in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs as the team lost in double overtime at Neville. That defeat would ultimately serve as catalyst for the Bears championship season a year later.
“We felt we had a really good football team my freshman year,” said Faulk, who was a starting safety in 1991. “To go up there and lose that game in that way, we really felt like we let one slip away.”
With strength and conditioning being a focus during summer and fall camp, Mac Barousee’s team which featured the sensational backfield of Faulk, all-state running back Ernest Lazard and Derrick Beavers, rolled to a 9-1 regular-season record in 1992.
The team’s only blemish that season was a 24-10 loss to Catholic of Baton Rouge, which was led by future Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer and Pro Bowl running back Warrick Dunn.
Carencro took care of business in the playoffs easily as the team dominated St. Augustine 34-7 in the quarterfinals and beat Glen Oaks 32-18 in the semifinals. But none of those lopsided victories would have happened if it wasn’t for a comeback victory in the second round against Shaw.
Carencro was down by double digits in the second half before rallying for the 25-21 victory.
“That was one of those games that you were on your toes for the whole game,” Faulk said. “You never knew what was going to happen. It was one of those games that you wanted to see every play.”
Despite being on a roll heading into the championship game, Carencro was the underdog. Neville, led by famed coach Charlie Brown, had history on its side. The Tigers had at that time played in 10 state championship games, taking home the title seven times. One of those losses came in 1991 in the first Class 5A title game, an overtime loss to Thibodaux.
“Everybody had always pushed southwest Louisiana around in the playoffs,” said Eveland, who was going to graduate school at McNeese State at the time. “We had a really good team that year and we felt confident.”
Added Faulk, “To come back the following year in the state championship game and go up against that same team that beat us the year before was special. We were thankful for the opportunity to go against the same team that had beat us the year before.”
Faulk made the best of that second opportunity as the future LSU star and three-time Super Bowl champion would score two touchdowns in the game, a 37-yard rushing score on a designed bootleg and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chad Arnaud. Faulk was named MVP of the title game.
“We ran a bootleg early in the game, and it worked,” Eveland said. “We then hit the post on one. We ran the same bootleg later, and Kevin ran it for a long score. I had Kevin Faulk as my quarterback. We could do anything.”
Added Faulk, “We weren’t a throwing team. We were a running team, and that really sparked us. To get a couple play-action passes going against that defense, to have them thinking that they can actually can throw the ball that really helped us out.”
As good as Faulk was that night, it was his backfield mate Lazard who came up with the game-tying and game-winning scores. Lazard had a 30-yard touchdown run with 2:11 left in the game, and then scored the TD in overtime.
“In the team’s highlight film, Lazard was asked a question and what was your greatest memory of 1992 football season and he said, ‘Me breaking a run for 80 yards and scoring the winning TD against Neville’. Of course it wasn’t that long, but it still makes the hair stand up on my neck.”
Despite all the offensive highlights, what ultimately decided the game was a play on special teams. All-state defensive tackle Joe Bellow partially block Neville’s extra point attempt giving the Bears a 28-27 overtime win.
“We went in overtime and we ran sweep off tackle for 6 yards, and then scored on a zone play,” Eveland said. “The next series they got the ball, and it took them four plays to get in the end zone. Their kicker was an iffy kind of guy anyway, but our defensive line broke through and blocked it.”
The Bears celebration started in New Orleans and reached all the way back home in Carencro.
“The night of the game pretty much everyone from Carencro was still in New Orleans,” Faulk said. “We all partied together. I am pretty sure everybody followed everybody else home because when we got back the parking lot was just full of people and fans ready to cheer us on.”
That victory in the Superdome vaulted the Bears to regional prominence as the Bears claimed numerous district titles and produced dozens of college recruits.
Carencro returned to the state championship game in 1996 and 2011, both occasions falling to another Monroe-area powerhouse in the Don Shows-coached West Monroe Rebels.
Neville meanwhile won the Class 5A title in 1995 before dropping back down to 4A and playing for the title four times in a six-year span from 2009-14, winning it three times including last season.
As this year’s Bears team walks onto the field in Monroe Friday night, they will have a chance to add to the program’s legacy, which began 23 years ago.
“These kids playing now weren’t even alive back in 1992,” Eveland said. “We are getting way old.”
“I take a lot of pride in that season and still do to this day,” Faulk said. “That’s one of the reasons why I came back home to coach at Carencro. I always had a dream to help this program win another title.”