Sterlington senior duo headed back to the Superdome after plowing through Church Point 38-0

Emely Hernandez
Monroe News-Star

Jacob Green and Luke Handy made it to the Superdome their freshman year in 2018. 

They're making their way back to New Orleans this season, too. 

No. 1 Sterlington (14-0) blanked previously unbeaten No. 5 Church Point 38-0 in a LHSAA Class 3A semifinal Friday. 

With less than 3 minutes left, players on the Panthers' sideline began to celebrate the win over the Bears (13-1). Among them, were Green and Handy.

Green and Handy met in the fifth grade. Growing up, Green played soccer and Handy spent every waking moment trying to convince him to play football. It worked.

Their freshman year, Sterlington made it to the Class 3A championship game but  fell 59-47 to Eunice. The Panthers' kicker was injured, but that was the opening for Green to start his football career. 

"You kind of overlook it as a freshman because you're just a freshman on the team," Handy said. "Now that you're playing every snap, you're going to be in the game, its going to be a completely different atmosphere." 

Panther Luke Handy(12) stops Bear running back Jalen Reese(8) for a short gain

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Since then, Green has been the kicker for the Panthers, with his childhood friend and now teammate playing strong safety. Handy said every time Green does something good in a game, he reminds him that he is the reason he quit soccer to pursue football. 

"I owe it all to him," Green said. "He basically handed my career to me. ... I couldn't have asked for a better friend."  

In 2002 and '03, the Panthers suffered the same fate they did in 2018 — a championship berth resulting in no ring. Sterlington coach Lee Doty said what made the difference this time was chemistry.

"These kids really love each other, from the seniors to the freshman," Doty said. "It's just the best team I've ever coached."

The brotherhood can be seen in the relationship between Handy and Green.

On Friday, Handy led a shutout effort from the defense. He also took snaps on punt returns. In the first quarter, his 7-yard run set the tone for a touchdown on the next drive. 

Green has been able to perfect his craft, to the point where he has been dubbed "Mr. Automatic." 

Green lined up for three extra points — all were good. After being put in a fourth-and-15 at the Church Point 20-yard line, Green made a career-long field goal of 31 yards. He had the opportunity to do it again but missed a 46-yard kick to end the half. 

The Panthers will play Union Parish (11-3) in the championship game on Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m.. , Sterlington  defeated the Farmers 28-12 in the regular season. 

"I can promise you one thing, it's going to be a different outcome than freshman year," Green said. "Freshman year I was scared, I was nervous, I was playing on the biggest stage in the state. Now I'm mature, I'm confident and the guys are just — we're a state championship type team."