Southern and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have met just once on a football field — in 2009 at Cajun Field in Lafayette.
Dewayne Houston was an offensive lineman at Northside High School when he watched that game from the stands. When the Jaguars and Ragin’ Cajuns meet again Saturday night at Cajun Field, Houston will be playing for Southern.
“Just thinking back to the day that I was in the stands when they played,” Houston said, “I never thought I’d be on the field the next time they played each other.”
Houston said the hometown Cajuns didn’t recruit him as early as the Jaguars did.
“Southern got to me,” Houston said, “By the time (the Cajuns) talked to me, I already accepted Southern.”
Houston said he knows what to accept from the raucous crowd in Lafayette, having attended a few Cajuns home games besides the one against Southern.
He’s also familiar with the stadium, having played in a couple of jamborees while at Northshore.
He said he expects to have “about 10 family and friends” in the stands along with “a lot of people I know back home.”
Jaguars wide receiver Randall Menard is from nearby Breaux Bridge and also expects a support group to be on hand.
“My whole family is going to be there tailgating,” said Menard, who has two cousins playing for UL-Lafayette: junior linebacker Tyren Alexander and senior safety Trevence Patt.
“When I get back home, I’ve got to show them what I got,” Menard said. “I can’t let my team down. I’ve got to carry them.”
Menard added that he has to contain his emotions.
“I’ve just got to stay humble and not get complacent,” he said.
Two other Southern players will be experiencing homecomings, though different ones. Freshman defensive lineman Isayah Wiltz played at Breaux Bridge High School. And defensive lineman Leo Jones, who’s from White Castle, is a transfer from UL-Lafayette.
Jaguars associate head coach/running backs coach Elvis Joseph played three seasons for the Cajuns before transferring to Southern for his senior season.
Coach Dawson Odums said he’s going to wait as long as he can to decide which place-kicker, Matt Hill or Kyle Yonke, to use Saturday.
Hill is trying work his way back from a hip injury, and Yonke joined the team less than two weeks ago after starter Greg Pittman had knee surgery.
Odums said the kicker that splits the uprights most consistently in practice will likely get the job, though he does have another way of evaluating them.
“I’ll look them in the eyes,” Odums said, “and whichever ones doesn’t pass out will be the one that’s going to kick.”
Southern received a reserved ticket allotment of 1,000 for Saturday’s game and sold out in 45 minutes after making them available on Fan Day on Aug. 16.
The Jaguars, who play their home opener against Central Methodist on Sept. 6., will put single-game tickets to home games on sale Tuesday.
The Southern-UL-Lafayette game won’t be televised, but will be available on the ESPN 3 platform. Kickoff is 6 p.m.
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