This one was for the whole Jesuit family.
It was for everyone who had ever worn the blue and white.
It was for all the alumni who had starved for the past 54 years, waiting for a state championship.
It was for guys like Bill Murphy, the former coach who led the team to its previous state championship appearance in the Superdome back in 1978 but came away empty.
It was for the guys who played on the team back in 1960 that brought the school its last state championship trophy, the rusty one that sits tucked away in a corner in the trophy case.
This was for guys like Chris Markey, a former Mr. Football who went on to play at UCLA. Guys like Corey Hilliard and Chris Brown, Jesuit alums who made it to the NFL. And Johnny Giavotella, a former multisport athlete at Jesuit whose Royals played in the World Series this fall, but never got a chance to play on the biggest state in Louisiana high school sports.
It was for The Gizzard — the nickname for Jesuit’s rowdy student section — that finally got a chance to sing “We Are The Champions” after a victory against the team that sings it almost every year.
For several minutes, the Superdome was converted into one giant birdcage, filled with singing Blue Jays from the past and present.
High above the crowd was the scoreboard that told the story of why everyone was celebrating.
Jesuit 17, John Curtis 14.
Others, like running back Charles Jackson, cried.
“I just couldn’t keep it together,” he said. “I have been battling with these guys for three years, and we were finally able to do it.”
Jackson earned Most Outstanding Player honors after rushing for 142 yards.
During the postgame news conference, he sat next to his coach, Mark Songy, who took over the program at the last minute in July, just shortly before fall practice was set to begin.
This one was for Wayde Keiser, whom Songy replaced.
Keiser, a 1978 grad, is part of that Jesuit family. He stepped down only because his real family was even more important than his Blue Jays one.
It is Songy’s second stint in charge of the Blue Jays after coaching the team in the early ’90s, before any of the players on this team were born.
This was for some of those players as well, the ones who fell just short of reaching the title game.
“Ever since I came here to work in 1990, this community has been great to me and my family,” Songy said. “They have always been extremely supportive, from the administration on down. Players I don’t even know who played here in the ’50s and ’60s up to players that played a year ago, they embraced their football team. They love the program, and they are excited about this and I just want to share it with them.”
Many of them were there to join in.
The visitors’ side of the Dome was a sea of white T-shirts, there to support a Blue Jays team that many didn’t believe would be the last team standing when the season began.
But Murphy, whose Jesuit team lost to St. Augustine in the very same building 36 years ago, made sure the players believed. He came back and spoke to the team Thursday night at a pep rally.
“He just told us, ‘You just have to believe you can win it,’ ” senior defensive back Dillon Knight said. “Make sure we had no regrets.”
Knight didn’t want to lose to Curtis in the first-ever meeting between the schools. His dad, Vinson, a former player at E.D. White, lost to Curtis in the 1981 title game.
“He has been telling me all week to get out there and have a different outcome,” Knight said.
And they did.
It was sealed just seconds after the clock struck midnight, when his teammate, Jakiari Wiley, broke up a pass on fourth down with a minute left.
Then the Blue Jays got in victory formation and quarterback Trey LaForge took a knee.
Former Blue Jays quarterback Anthony Scelfo, now a Jesuit assistant, made sure LaForge got this long-awaited victory formation right.
“Straight down, Trey! Straight down Trey!” he yelled from the sideline.
Even in victory formation, defensive lineman Hunter Robert couldn’t believe what was happening.
“It’s not over until I see those four zeroes on the clock,” he said. “The clock hit zero, and I still couldn’t believe it.”
Neither could LaForge, who tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Kalija Lipscomb.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” LaForge said. “This is the kind of stuff you dream about when you are 4 years old playing at the playground.”
It’s the kind of stuff that Jesuit fans have dreamed about far longer than that.
Now, they don’t have to dream anymore.
“One of our coaches said playing in the Dome and winning a state championship is one of the best feelings you will ever have — other than getting married and having kids,” Robert said. “So I can’t wait to see how that feels. Because this feels amazing.”
The Jesuit family would agree.