For a trio of St. Thomas More Cougars, a shot at redemption comes this Friday in New Orleans.
Junior Connor Latiolais, junior Quentin Olivier and sophomore Blake St Cyr are all key players for the STM boys soccer team that has reached the Division II championship game.
No. 1 St. Thomas More (18-6-6) plays No. 6 Holy Cross (15-5-8) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
For Latiolais, Olivier and St. Cyr, Friday’s game gives them another opportunity to hoist a state championship trophy in New Orleans.
That’s because all three were members of STM’s football team that lost 24-21 to Parkview Baptist in the Division II title game Dec. 4 inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“It has just been a great year for STM athletics,” said Latiolais, who was a part-time starter at outside linebacker for the football team. “It has been real fun for me playing now for two state championships. I would have never thought that I would have the chance to play for two state titles in the same school year.”
“It is probably the greatest feeling I have had in a long time,” added Olivier, who was a starting outside linebacker-safety last season. “Playing in the state championship game for football was a great experience. Everybody played at a whole another level to get there. I can’t wait to see what this team can do this Friday.”
With the football season extended further than normal because of the Cougars deep playoff run, that meant the trio had to miss out during camp and the early portion of the regular season.
How did the players deal with that?
Pretty simple. The trio just took it one sport at a time.
“During football season, I was just focused on football,” Latiolais said. “During the season coach (Casey) Friend would tell us to just focus on football right now and go win a state title. And then when we were done with that just come back to soccer and help us win one.”
Despite physically adjusting to the increased amount of conditioning that comes with soccer, the trio eased back into the team and helped STM lock up a district title, the top seed in the bracket and now a state title game appearance.
For St Cyr, who is a backup on both teams, just to have this chance again is significant and meaningful.
“It is a pretty incredible feeling,” St. Cyr said. “To have the opportunity to do it in both sports, even though I am not a starter, it is still a great feeling being part of two successful teams.”
Being part of multiple teams, successful or not, is fact of life for athletes at STM. In an era where student-athletes focus on one sport, the one that will likely help them earn a college scholarship offer, STM’s policy harkens back to a different time.
“Coming from middle school, I played every sport I could my eighth-grade year,” said Olivier, who also plays on the Cougars state-title winning baseball team. “At STM, they want you to at least play two different sports. It keeps you active all year, and it really helps you stay out of trouble. The school wants to keep you active and share the athletic talent between all the sports.”
What about returning home from New Orleans this time with a state title in tow?
“It would mean everything to us,” Olivier said. “I would be honored to just get a goal or an assist in the game. I really can’t wait.”