How E.D. White earned trip to play in its first LHSAA football state championship since 1981
Riley Albert is living out his best dreams this week.
The senior offensive lineman from E.D. White Catholic is still practicing with his teammates in December as they prepare for the LHSAA Division II state championship game against University Lab at 7 p.m. on Friday from Cajun Field in Lafayette. The game can be heard on the radio at 97.7-FM.
E.D. White hasn’t played for a state championship since 1981.
“I’ve always dreamed about it,” said Albert, who plays right tackle. “I didn’t think it would ever happen, but now that we’re here, it’s better than I ever thought it could be. It’s a dream come true.”
E.D. White (10-0) has won two state championships, in 1968 and 1969. It finished as state runner-up in 1981.
E.D. White coach Kyle Lasseigne, who is a 1988 graduate of the school, led the Cardinals to the semifinals two times (2009, 2020) before finally breaking through to make the state championship this season.
“Win or lose, I just want to go represent us well,” Lasseigne said. “It’s because of those guys. It’s because of the people that came before us. It’s because of the years of not being in the state championship. When you’ve got this opportunity, at least you want to walk away from it going we gave it everything we had. I think that’s all we really can ask for.”
Lasseigne said the E.D. White players worked hard throughout the year to put themselves in a position to win a state championship. He recalled the early morning workouts in the summer, 7-on-7 drills and grueling fall camp practices in extreme south Louisiana heat that got them ready.
“I think our kids believe in the process. They brought into it and showed up every day ready to work,” Lasseigne said. “In this day and age, it’s really a tough thing for teenagers to do. It’s not only been the most successful season I’ve had a coach, but it’s also been the most enjoyable, not because of the wins, but because of the everyday experiences I’ve had with the kids and how great they are.”
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Senior defensive back Ethan Lee said he had a feeling something special would happen this season.
“We came out and worked every single day,” Lee said. “Nobody really believed in us and expected us to be in this position. We all knew as a team that we could do it. We all knew as brothers what each other is capable of. We just stuck together and did it.”
Senior receiver Peyton McGoey said E.D. White had success despite being an underdog in many of its games, including a Division II semifinal showdown against two-time defending state champion St. Thomas More and five-star quarterback Walker Howard. The Cardinals won 31-21 to advance to the Division II final.
“Being the underdog, it just makes us want to work harder to come out on top and bring the state championship home,” McGoey said. “That’s just motivation to us. Nobody thinks we’re going to do it but we’re going to go out there and do it.”
Lasseigne said the Cardinals will stick to their normal game plan against University. They want to control the clock with their running game and play aggressive defense.
“There’s no reason to go this far and not go give a great effort on Friday. That’s the plan. I want our kids to be loose,” Lasseigne said. “I want them to enjoy this whole experience. When it’s game time, I want us to play hard like we have all season. We’ve got to focus on why we are here. This opportunity doesn’t come by every year. If we just waste away this opportunity, shame on us. We’ve got to take advantage of this opportunity because you never know when it’s going to come back.”
Lee said he knows the entire Houma and Thibodaux areas will be rooting for E.D. White. No school from Houma or Thibodaux has won a state football championship since 1991, when Thibodaux and South Terrebonne had victories in the Superdome in New Orleans on the same night.
“It’s really important to our community,” Lee said. “Everybody has been struggling through (Hurricane Ida) and trying to get back to normal. Everybody just wants to come out and watch us play and come home with a win. We want to do it for them.”
Reach Chris Singleton at 985-857-2213 or email@example.com and on Twitter @courierchris.