There have been plenty of outstanding football players throughout the history of prep football in St. Tammany Parish.
From Reggie Cooper of Slidell High, to Dwayne Woods of Salmen, to Michael Mauti of Mandeville and Devin Brumfield of Covington, to name a few, the parish has produced some stars.
Another player will undoubtedly see his name added to the list very soon.
While his school is only 10 years old, Lakeshore High’s Jacob Bernard is widely considered the best football player in the brief history of the Titans' program and one of the best all-around players in parish history. He will wrap up his prep football career this fall.
Bernard, who also played soccer and baseball, will have lettered for four years for the Lakeshore football team. He helped the Titans reach the Class 4A title game last season.
“Dynamic,” Lakeshore head coach Craig Jones said of his star senior. “Jacob Bernard is a dynamic football player that can play every position. If we wanted to line him up to go get the quarterback as a defensive end, he could go do it.
“We knew of Jacob and watched him in junior high (at Monteleone). We knew he was good. But as a freshman, we started him actually on defense, and I don’t know whether or not we truly gave him an opportunity to show his skill set. He made the move to receiver as a sophomore, and that’s when he took off.”
Jones said he can remember the exact moments when he realized how good Bernard truly was.
“He was a punter as a freshman, and our deep snapper launched it about 6 yards over his head,” Jones said. “He jumped up and grabbed it with one hand and hit a 45-yard punt. I was like, ‘this kid has it within himself.’
"Then the first play of the jamboree his sophomore year, we throw it to him for a 55-yard score, and he makes a juggling catch for a touchdown. You knew he could be special, and he has proven to be special," Jones said.
Jones also described Bernard's drive to compete.
“He’s the most competitive person I’ve seen in quite a while. He lives for the competition.
"The most impressive thing about Jacob was after we lost to Edna Karr in the state championship on a Saturday, the following Tuesday he starts for our soccer team and scores two goals. He loves to compete and go out and play. You can’t say that about every kid.”
Facing double and triple coverage throughout the 2018 regular season, Bernard still hauled in 32 passes for 761 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed for 356 yards on 43 carries and 11 more touchdowns. He has a punt and kickoff return for a touchdown.
In the regular season, in which the Titans went 10-0 for a second consecutive year, Bernard averaged a touchdown every 3.52 times he touched the ball (88 touches, 25 touchdowns).
Perhaps more important to Jones is the fact that his star player is as good a person off the field as he is on the field.
“He’s a great kid,” Jones said. “He is always going to keep you on your toes at practice. He’s a good kid in the locker room, the weight room and a good student. He’s the type of kid that you want to have the spotlight on to highlight your program.”
Bernard’s teammates echoed their head coach's sentiments.
“He influences the people around him to become better each and every day,” Lakeshore senior quarterback Parker Orvin said. “He has your back no matter what and would go to war with anybody because he fears nothing.”
Junior defensive end Christian Westcott, who has been friends with Bernard for over a decade, said Bernard is one of the most competitive and nicest people you will ever meet.
“Whether it is the baseball field, the football field or just in the classroom, Jacob Bernard is someone you want on your side,” he said. “He is all about winning and doing whatever is needed to help his team accomplish that. He’s the guy you love playing with and hate playing against.
“Off the field he’s always the one making people smile and constantly has you laughing and in a good mood. I’m truly glad that I can call Jacob Bernard my friend. He’s truly left his mark already on this parish and state, and there is still more to come.”