Practicing for Sunday’s upcoming Red Stick Bowl has turned into a minitour of local high schools, but intensity remained high Wednesday afternoon.
The day’s practice, originally scheduled for Parkview Baptist, was moved to the Woodlawn High gym thanks to an afternoon rainstorm. It was the second time in three days that practice had to be moved on short notice.
Monday’s workout, originally slated for BREC’s Independence Park, was rerouted to Parkview. Thursday’s shell workout will take place at Catholic High, but the transitions have been smooth, bowl co-director Barrett Murphy said.
“I can’t say enough about the help we’ve received from BREC, Parkview, Woodlawn and Catholic High,” he said. “It’s made our practices happen.”
Scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff Sunday at Olympia Field, the game will pit squads of Baton Rouge area seniors against each other. Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano is head coach of the Black Knights squad, which will take on the Rattlers.
“I was a little overwhelmed at first, but the kids are the ones that have gotten me to relax,” Distefano said. “Not only are they great players, but they’re great kids.”
Distefano mentioned that all members of the Black Knights have been working hard. One player, fullback Anthony Nelson of Belaire, has been one of the leaders on the field but almost didn’t show up.
“He wasn’t initially selected,” Distefano said. “We had another kid drop out so we called him on Sunday. He must have been around the corner because he showed up in five minutes.
“He’s been a ball of energy for four days now. He’s been a joy to coach.”
Other offensive notables included Catholic quarterback Ian Brian, and wide receivers Averee York of Dutchtown and Rae’Quan Powell of McKinley.
On defense, linemen Elliot Turner of St. Amant and Vondero Weir of U-High have stood out. Defensive backs Brennan Boudreaux of U-High and Randy Ingram of Albany have also made their mark.
“It’s fun seeing the kids you compete against or have read about during the season,” Distefano said.
One of those is offensive lineman Joseph Carter of Belaire, who said he had received a scholarship offer from Grambling on Tuesday. Carter said he was proud of the strides Belaire made during his senior season.
“We started off the way we wanted, but toward the middle I think we underestimated some teams,” Carter said of the Bengals 5-5 season. “It is an improvement because Belaire hadn’t won five games in 11 seasons. I think next year will be better.”
McKinley’s Tyler Smith and Broadmoor’s Jamil Abdul-Aziz, also offensive linemen, said the experience has been memorable. Lining up with the best local competition and playing for one goal has brought out their best.
“I love the competition,” Abdul-Aziz said. “I play at a high level, and I like the intensity level that these players bring. I look forward to the competition every day.”
Smith offered similar sentiments and was appreciative of the chance to play.
“It’s a wonderful thing to end my season here,” Smith said. “I didn’t think I would make this game, so it’s been a good accomplishment.”