It’s not often that you have the chance to make school history, but that is the opportunity the Lakeshore football team has Friday night.
Led by its 24 seniors, the Titans, who are only in their ninth-year of existence, will welcome Rayne to their Mandeville campus for a Class 4A state semifinal showdown. A Lakeshore victory would secure the its first trip to the state championship game and coach Craig Jones.
“Watching these seniors four years ago win the parish junior high title at Monteleone against William Pitcher and Devin Brumfield and the kids that went to Covington, I knew that we were going to be getting a good crop of kids,” Jones said. “I could have never predicted an undefeated season and a berth in the state semifinals, but I’m definitely happy it has turned out like this. We had a really good group of kids coming in.”
To watch the Titans senior class grow into 11 of their 22 starter on the current roster, Jones said is just a sign of the maturity of the class of 2018.
“The other thing that I love about this group is that they decided very early on that their focus was going to be football only,” he said. “They came to me and wanted to meet as a senior group back in April. They wanted to go over some ideas to make this team their own. We pretty much implemented almost all of them. That’s a huge sign of maturity and experience that they would have the foresight to think about those things even before spring practice began.
“I trust them. They handle and take care of the locker room. If things get unfocused at any time, it’s typically a senior that will snap everyone back in line. They keep everything in check.
"The other thing is that they helped embrace the incoming freshmen to keep things going and the program running well. It wasn’t just on the field football stuff. I knew we could be good, but when that happened I knew we had a special group because they weren’t thinking about themselves or their stats. They were thinking about the program and their legacy.”
That legacy has the chance to become even stronger Friday night as No. 2 Lakeshore takes on 11th-seeded Rayne, which ended Lakeshore’s season a year ago with a 49-18 defeat in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s been an amazing season,” Jones said. “Getting into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and being 10-0 was great. But, when 10-0 became something that we just couldn’t ignore because everybody was talking about it, we finally just embraced it and said define your legacy. This entire team, including the seniors has the ability to define how they are going to be remembered. You get to decide what you put into it. They have done a fantastic job doing just that.”