Big-game settings are nothing new for a group of Barbe Bucs who have been in the spotlight since reaching the 2008 Little League World Series with South Lake Charles.
Seven Bucs — Jake Lee, Nick Abshire, Hunter Self, Gunner Leger, Beau Jordan, Kennon Fontenot and Trey Quinn — who made it to Williamsport, Pa., will be on center stage again this weekend when the Bucs face Archbishop Rummel Saturday night in the Class 5A state championship football game.
Fontenot, Abshire, Leger, Quinn and Jordan were all on the Barbe baseball team that won a state championship last spring — by beating Rummel 3-2 in the title game.
Leger was the starting pitcher for Barbe.
“I wasn’t really nervous, just anxious,” Leger said. “It was a fun thing to be a part of. After the first pitch and inning, everything calmed down.”
Leger said he has more appreciation for his accomplishments now.
“In Little League, you are just playing the games in awe because you are famous for that week,” he said. “Now, you appreciate things more as you get older.”
Leger said Barbe’s wild 49-48 comeback win over West Monroe in last week’s semifinal game ranks among his career highlights.
“The Little League (Southwest Regional championship) game we won in Texas was pretty awesome, then the West Monroe game would be after that.”
Linebacker Beau Jordan said the U.S. championship game at the LLWS was the most exciting with last week being the most emotional.
“It was a great atmosphere for that baseball game; it felt great being out there with my team,” he said. “There were thousands of people there, probably a million were watching on TV. Friday night, at the end, I started crying on the sideline. I went up to Nick and spit some words out. I don’t even know what I said, but we were both emotional.”
Jordan said it is easier to handle the big-game setting now.
“I know how to handle myself under pressure,” he said. “Football is a little easier, you have 11 people out there. Baseball is more nerve-racking. I just try to stay focused on what we have to do. It is a business trip. I just try to do my part. We usually win.”
Abshire, a defensive back, said the championship baseball team was similar to the football squad.
“Everybody contributes, whether it is the practice team or starters,” he said. “We just love each other and play every game for each other. (The baseball championship) was awesome. I did not play too much, but we worked hard every day just like this football team does. Both programs are great in their own way. It would be awesome to win in football for all of the players at Barbe that have not gotten the chance to have this experience in the past.”
Lee, a defensive tackle, said chemistry is key to the Bucs’ success.
“It is like a family,” he said. “We are real close and can talk about whatever we want to with each other.”
Quinn, a wide receiver, said all of the big-game experience makes things easier now.
“By being in these situations before, I am able to relax,” he said. “It just comes natural now. You think less about the crowd and their reactions and more about just making the plays.”
Leger said being able to compete alongside lifelong friends has been the best part of this latest campaign for a championship.
“The camaraderie is the best part,” he said. “We have good chemistry. We have played together since we were 5 or 6 and would do anything for each other.”