Thirty years have passed since De La Salle last won a baseball state championship.
The guys on this year's team at 5300 St. Charles Ave. are trying to do something about that.
"Our biggest goal throughout these four years was to win a state championship to bring the tradition back," senior Stephen Klein said.
The Cavaliers are enjoying one of their most successful seasons in recent years, having reached the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs that begin Friday. De La Salle (29-7) will travel to Lafayette to play perennial power St. Thomas More in a best-of-three series. It's the first time the Cavaliers have played in the quarterfinals since 2006.
Rowland Skinner, in his fifth season as head coach, credits his experienced senior and junior classes for the team's success.
"I just am really impressed and proud of how far we have come," said Skinner, in his fifth season. "These guys have helped change the culture because De a Salle has a tradition. We talked about it when they stepped on campus from Day 1."
The 29 victories is believed to be the most in school history. In addition, De La Salle shared the district championship with St. Charles Catholic. Even more impressive is that the team won 29 games playing a schedule Skinner said is the toughest since he's been there.
It includes a 5-2 record against teams in the Catholic League: 2-0 against Jesuit; 2-0 against Shaw; 1-1 against Brother Martin and a loss to John Curtis. The Cavs also beat Skinner's alma mater St. Paul's, which is still playing in the Division I playoffs.
"There is nothing they haven't seen or experienced," Skinner said. "It's been really impressive how they have gone from 14-year-olds to now almost grown men and how they handle business. They get after it in practice. Everything we have preached for four years, now you are seeing the product of it."
The baseball team is De La Salle's latest boys program to join in on what has been a wave of success in recent years. The football team reached the state championship game in December. The basketball team won a state championship in 2017, the first since 1996. And the wrestling team won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017 and finished as runners-up in February.
"Each team is seeing the success of the other programs and they want a taste of that too," Skinner said. "It's a close-knit school."
In fact, five members of the wrestling team and four football players also play baseball. Ryan Hamrick and Jacques Juneau do all three sports.
"Baseball is getting there with the other teams," senior shortstop Collin Burns said. "The wrestling team won two state championships and that tradition spread to us. They taught us how to win. It's contagious."
Burns, a Tulane signee, is one of six seniors, joined by the versatile Klein, left fielder Hamrick, center fielder Austen Daliet, third baseman Jarred Hirstius and reserve Alex Ormond. Other regular starters are second baseman Gavin Freeman, pitcher/first baseman Corey Cook, right fielder Hunter Eason, first baseman Grant Goodbee, outfielder Ivan Paz and catcher Coedy Fonseca. Klein, a Loyola signee, and Fonseca were named to The New Orleans Advocate's All-Metro team in 2017.
Now the Cavaliers are two wins away from making it to the semifinals for the first time in three decades.
"It's been amazing," Klein said. "It's been eye-opening to everyone else in baseball in Louisiana. We are finally being able to bring the tradition back like 1988 like we wanted to. It was just hard work and dedication. I remember when we didn't even have a baseball locker room. Now everybody knows where we are."