I can't hand them shiny trophies or whisk them away to Hollywood for the glamorous red-carpet treatment, but I've written this column to honor these parish athletes for their terrific play throughout the season.
All of the biggest stars in entertainment and in sports showed up for the ESPY Awards last week.
There, professional and collegiate athletes were honored for their great achievements during the sports year.
Well, I thought Ascension high-school athletes deserved the same recognition.
I can’t hand them shiny trophies or whisk them away to Hollywood for the glamorous red-carpet treatment, but I’ve written this column to honor these parish athletes for their terrific play throughout the season.
The first award is for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year. There are many players that could have earned this distinction.
Off of the top of my head, I can think of two freshmen softball players in St. Amant’s Alyssa Romano and Dutchtown’s Paige Patterson.
Ultimately, I decided to go with East Ascension football player Cameron Wire.
Prior to last season, Wire was strictly known for his exploits on the basketball court. As a football player, he was still a work in progress.
However, Wire seemed to flip the switch in 2016. He came out of nowhere to earn a starting job on the Spartans’ offensive line.
In addition to making the all-district and All-Parish teams, Wire became one of the hottest prospects in the area and received scholarship offers from powerhouses like Alabama and Florida State. He ultimately chose to make his verbal commitment to LSU over the summer.
He now heads into his senior season as one of the top offensive linemen in the state.
For Best Game, look no further than the classic the Ascension Catholic baseball team had against Central Catholic in the state semifinals.
The Bulldogs took a 4-0 lead against the defending Class 1A state champions, just to see Central Catholic storm back to tie the game.
The contest remained deadlocked after seven innings, creating bonus baseball.
After 11 tension-filled innings, the game finally came to a close when Central Catholic’s Mitchell Lemoine came up with a walkoff RBI single to punch their ticket to the title game.
The nod for Best Coach goes to St. Amant football’s David Oliver.
Oliver was one of the many residents of St. Amant that had their house flooded last August. Many players on his team suffered the same fate.
Despite dealing with the personal hardships, he was able to get his squad ready for the 2016 season, and they had the best year of any team in the parish.
The Gators went 9-1 during the regular season, finished as runner-up in District 5-5A and reached the state quarterfinals.
Best Comeback Athlete goes to Dutchtown football player Kyle Sarrazin.
Sarrazin came into 2016 hungry after being forced to miss almost all of 2015 with a serious knee injury.
He recovered beautifully, becoming a great anchor for the Griffins’ defensive line, on his way to being named all-district and All-Parish. He signed with Louisiana College.
Best Female Athlete goes to St. Amant’s Taylor Tidwell. Tidwell was the driving force behind both the Lady Gators’ volleyball and softball teams—both of which reached the state quarterfinals.
In volleyball, she was named All-State and the district’s MVP. In softball (where she’s committed to LSU) she made first-team All-District, All-Parish and All-State.
Best Male Athlete goes to St. Amant’s Briggs Bourgeois. Bourgeois was a standout in three sports for the Gators.
In football, he was All-State and district MVP. He also signed with Southern Miss.
In soccer, he was district MVP for the fourth straight season and the state’s Offensive MVP, and in baseball, he was a starter on a Gator squad that reached the second round of the playoffs.
The Best Moment would have to be when the St. Amant football team played their first home game at The Pit on Sept. 9. Just a few weeks earlier, the stadium was under water.
It was a great moment for the St. Amant community as they were able to come together and experience a little bit of normalcy in the face of so much strife and heartache.
The Best Upset was during the boy’s basketball regular season when Donaldsonville made a road trip to face two-time defending 3A champion University.
The Tigers were huge underdogs, but they weren’t intimidated. Ladarius Jackson hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave them a scintillating 81-78 victory.
University went on to finish the season as Division II runner-up.
The distinction of Best Team goes to the Ascension Catholic baseball squad.
The Bulldogs had a terrific regular season, and in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they dominated—winning by a combined score of 17-3.
This pushed them through to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005.
There, they played defending champion Central Catholic in the 11-inning marathon, falling just short of the championship game.
Nine of their players made the All-District 6-1A team.