Two weeks to prepare for the biggest moment in high school football players' lives can result in some anxious moments.
Ascension Catholic’s own football coach, 27-year-old Drey Trosclair, figures to have a little anxiety of his own.
The Bulldogs, after all, are playing for the Division IV state championship at 3:30 p.m. Thursday when they face Lafayette Christian in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
What's more, a stunning turn of events Wednesday morning forced Trosclair and Ascension Catholic to regroup and adjust on the fly.
Brothers Jamar and Dorian Barber were injured in a car crash on La. 308 en route to school Wednesday morning. Trosclair said their car hydroplaned and slid off the road and struck a fire hydrant.
All three family members in the car were taken to Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.
“We don’t have a full report on their injuries, but the most important thing is we know they are going to be OK,” Trosclair said. “We thank God for that. The best-case scenario would be for them to possibly be on the sidelines with us, but we don’t know if that will be possible."
Jamar Barber is a starter at running back/defensive back for the Bulldogs. He is one of two running backs with more than 1,600 yards rushing. Dorian Barber is a backup who plays special teams and takes snaps at running back, linebacker and other positions.
“This is not something you would ever plan for. But we feel like we have a pretty good (plan)," Trosclair said. "We’ll slide guys over from other positions who have played those roles, or similar roles before. We’ll adjust and do whatever works. Our guys obviously want to win it for them. We’re confident … as confident as we were before all this happened.”
Sixth-seeded Ascension Catholic (11-2) is looking to secure the school’s first state title since 1992.
Fourth-seeded Lafayette Christian (12-1) is led by second-year coach Trev Faulk, the former LSU and NFL linebacker.
“In my experience in life, I’m a dreamer,” Faulk said. “I’m a believer, and I work. I’m not saying we came in expecting to be in the Dome in two years. We thought we had a shot to be pretty good, pretty quickly and here we are.”
LCA has established school milestones along the way, winning the school’s first playoff game en route to its initial trip to the Superdome.
They’ve done so with converted wide receiver Errol Rogers Jr. moving to quarterback five weeks ago when senior Zachary Clement suffered a knee injury three plays into a 10-9 loss to Vermilion Catholic.
Faulk said while Rogers adjusted to his new position, the Knights’ production shifted to other players, namely sophomore running back Logan Gabriel, who has carried 128 times for 860 yards and 14 TDs.
Rogers has accounted for more than 1,000 yards of offense and nine TDs.
One of the biggest challenges awaiting ACHS is whether the Bulldogs can unleash their high-powered running game (310 yards per game) against a defense that has allowed 95 yards per game and four rushing TDs all season.
Sophomore running back Jai Williams (1,628 yards, 21 TDs) will trigger the Bulldogs' attack with quarterback John Mire getting his sixth start in place of injured Kevin “Bubba” Gautreaux.
Trosclair said Gautreaux will start at linebacker for a defense that has 103 tackles for losses, 29 sacks and 16 interceptions.
“These two teams are very similar to one another,” Trosclair said. “This is a true state championship where the two best teams are playing. I think both teams are evenly matched.”