LAFAYETTE — They had just come off the field after a grueling practice — one Lafayette Christian Academy football coach Derek Landry said frustrated him immensely.

“I tell you what, Brister,” Landry said, “no matter how mad I am at the world, you can always make me smile.”

“Brister” is Josh Brister, a 6-foot-5 giant on the Knights offensive line for the Knights who admits he is “a little goofy.”

Running back Jeremy Joseph said Landry isn’t the only one Brister made smile after practice.

“That guy is a character,” Joseph said. “He’s crazy, and funny, but he is a leader and he expects the most out of us.”

Landry said Brister never complains about anything, has great work ethic and is a great mentor to the younger linemen. Brister said he has no reservations about jumping in the huddle and asserting himself when the situation calls for a vocal leader.

“I just want to push others to get better,” he said. “If they don’t want to get better, they can just leave.”

Not many Class 1A football players are like Brister. His massive frame towers over nearly everyone in the district. Landry said some players match Brister’s size, but none are as strong and none move as gracefully as him.

“They’ve got other teams that have big kids, but they can’t move like him,” Landry said. “They have big kids that are strong, but play like they’re stuck in concrete. Josh is big, fast, strong and moves like a ballerina. He plays on his toes and has light feet. We can run outside because he is quick enough to hook ends and get up linebackers.”

Landry said Brister is a weapon in his offense and said he knows if he needs a couple tough yards, he can “hitch the wagon” to the big man. Brister said he’s never thought of himself as a weapon, but he keeps hearing it and, well, he’s enjoying it.

“I think it is a pretty cool thing,” Brister said. “It makes me want to keep working and getting better at it so that people don’t think they’re wrong about me.”

Several of his teammates, like quarterback Regan Miller, have played with Brister since sixth grade. Miller said that long-term camaraderie has formed an invaluable connection between left tackle and quarterback.

“He has been here through it all,” Miller said. “I know that he always has my blind side and he’s a great lineman, but we know him more as a brother than as a lineman. We can always count him.”

Brister emphatically expressed his desire to play college football. Landry said Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech have all shown interest in the senior, as well as bigger program like Baylor.

Brister said he’s not looking ahead just yet, however. He said the team was not satisfied with its performance last year, and they are looking to take that next step into becoming a perennial state power.

“None of us were happy with the amount of success we had last year,” Brister said. “We are hungry. We’re getting better, and we’re driving those younger guys to get better. We want to set a standard. We are making tradition.”