SHREVEPORT — The return of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association All-Star football game didn’t happen a year ago.
The East and West squads practiced for three days, only to have weather conditions cancel the game. There was rain once again Friday, but organizers are vowing to play the game set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Independence Stadium.
Even though rain and cold temperatures forced the teams into an indoor practice facility Friday, spirits remained high for the first All-Louisiana LHSCA game since 2006.
“To be honest with you, these players have been great. I mean they’re the best players in the state. They have been great in every aspect of what we’ve done,” East coach Nick Saltaformaggio of Hahnville High said.
“Every one of them, are not only great football players, but they’re leaders, so it just comes natural to them. And to have so many stars on one field and not a single one of them show false bravado has just been great. I am loving the experience.”
The LHSCA game comes more than a year after the last Bayou Bowl all-star game that matched a Louisiana squad against a Houston area all-star team. Before the Bayou Bowl era the annual East-West game was played in conjunction with LHSCA all-star basketball and volleyball contests in July at LSU.
The sentiment from the players was they were honored to be among those chosen to play and represent their schools.
“It’s an honor to represent the state and my school in such a big game. You see guys that you have mutual respect for during the season, and now you’re playing with them,” East quarterback Manny Miles of University High said.
The chance to put rivalries aside and get to know players who competed for other schools also is a big part of the experience. For example, West Feliciana receiver Jazz Ferguson got the chance to know another Ferguson, Southern Lab’s Javahn Ferguson.
“Oh yes, it’s just an honor, you look at the list and you see all the best players in the state and to get to play with them,” East running back Houston Robert of Parkview Baptist said.
West offensive lineman Kevin Dotson of Plaquemine High added, “I like getting to know people I didn’t know before. They’re the best players in the state, and it’s cool to hang out with them.”
Like Saltaformaggio, West coach Bret Fuselier of Kinder gushed about the skill and focus his players displayed during practices that began on Wednesday. He delicately skirted questions about who the favorite might be.
“They came in and picked up everything we wanted to show them on offense, defense and special teams,” Fuselier said. “Our goal is to make sure the players have the best experience they can.
“Because this isn’t like a regular game where you get to watch film and practice a whole week it’s hard to say who the favorite is.
“I’d like to think it’s us. We’ll find out tomorrow.”