Herb Edwards' family members make themselves heard.
As the Southern senior tailback prepares for his next game, they talk to him. They pretty much make demands.
“You’ve got to win for us. You’ve got to win,” they tell him.
Such is the annual routine. As Thanksgiving nears, Edwards’ family and friends become louder and louder.
It’s Bayou Classic week, pitting Southern against Grambling for the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Western Division title in a rivalry unlike any other this football-crazed state has to offer.
"I'll go home and (I'm) getting threats by old men and old women," Edwards said.
Jokingly impersonating one of them with a raspy voice, he continues: “ ‘You better win this. You better bring it back to the yard.’ ... It just means a lot."
“This game means a lot of the players on this team and the players on their team,” senior cornerback Danny Johnson said. “It’s like the Super Bowl for everybody. Everybody wants to see this game.”
Johnson’s sentiment is echoed by many of Southern’s star seniors.
This week marks the final Bayou Classic week for many Jaguars, closing a chapter many Southern players and their families cherished for years.
“It’s a personal game, just for the city itself,” said Edwards, a New Orleans native who graduated from St. Augustine but also lived in Atlanta during his childhood.
“It’s a great experience for the city to bring everybody together in a positive way.”
Some Southern players have parents or relatives who are former Jaguars. Senior defensive lineman Aaron Tiller traveled from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, to watch his older brother, Trae, play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
All of that makes Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff much, much sweeter.
“Yeah, man, especially with what’s on the line,” Tiller said. “We look forward to playing it all year. Fans are excited. We’re excited. It’s the biggest game of the year.”
Johnson added: “It’s pretty special for me, especially because it’s my last one. That’s a big game for us. ... A lot of people are going to be there, probably a sellout crowd. That’s the games we come to Southern and go to Grambling for — and that's what everyone wants to see.”
Southern’s all-time leading passer, quarterback Austin Howard, agrees.
This game is special. It's the last go-round for a four-year starter from Edgard and West St. John High School — a short, 30-minute drive away from the Superdome.
“Everything’s on the line,” Howard said.
“And we don’t plan on losing,” Tiller said.