Some questions just beg to be answered.
Why is the sky blue?
When a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it really make it sound?
If you follow high school football in Louisiana, here’s another one for you. Why did 0-10 East Iberville go to the Class 1A playoffs?
The answer is — because the Tigers could. And because coach John Young believes it’s one way to help build a football program at the St. Gabriel-based school.
“There was never any thought about not going (to the playoffs),” Young said. “Most of our kids haven’t played a lot of football. Just the experience of playing another game is something we hope they can learn from.”
Right now you’re probably thinking this guy is nuts. The Tigers were seeded No. 23 on the 1A nonselect playoff bracket and drove up near Shreveport to play Logansport and lost 48-0.
EIHS scored just 26 points all season and gave up 572, counting the playoff loss. Those facts don’t keep Young, a Ruston native and a former LSU lineman, from counting the positives.
“On our first drive we drove to their 20 and couldn’t score,” Young said. “It was 7-0 after the first quarter and 28-0 at the half. We only brought 15 players, so I’m pleased with the effort.”
East Iberville was formed when smaller Class B-C schools were consolidated in the early 1990s. The school is known more for basketball and track. There have been a few modestly successful seasons, but it’s fair to say football has found its niche.
Based on sheer numbers, the odds are against the Tigers. East Iberville has 31 boys in grades 9-12. Also eligible to play at the school are 28 boys who attend the St. Gabiel branch of the Iberville Math and Sciences Academy.
When Young got to school Friday morning he was greeted with some unsettling news. One player came into his office and quit the team. Three others submitted excuses for why they could not travel with the team.
Young, who is also the school’s athletic director, is determined to build a program in an area that had no middle school program until last season. Youth football participation also is limited.
“The parish (Iberville Parish School System) gave us $15,000 to start a middle school program last year and we were fortunate to get that,” Young said. “It’s a little crazy because our seventh-eighth grade team has some guys who are bigger than our high school players.”
Young is happy to report that the EIHS middle school team finished 3-4 this fall, making huge strides in its second season. Young and assistant coaches Solomon Lee and Cleo Johnigan have their eyes on other possibilities.
“There are kids on our campus who play other sports, but don’t do football,” Young said. “We need to get those guys involved.”
Lee, a former LSU teammate who coached at Jackson and St. Helena Central, provides support. So does Johnigan, who came in at midseason from Capitol. Before that, Johnigan helped make a school with similar demographics and sports history, Pointe Coupee Central, a winner.
Young joked that it was easy to keep track of players at Logansport. “There were 11 on the field and we knew four behind us,” Young noted.
Some would call East Iberville’s battle to build a successful program a futile one. The Tigers might be best suited for eight-man football, but that option is one the Louisiana High School Athletic Association isn’t likely to pass.
Don’t ask Young to take a pass on the Tigers.
“This can be done,” Young said. “We’re not giving up.”