Players old and new found the news of the Swashbucklers’ demise sad.
As current players regrouped Thursday for practice, just hours after hearing the team had folded, they were upset at being blind-sided but said they know they still have a job to do.
“It was like a big slap in the face,” longtime wide receiver Sammy Knight said. “We had no idea this was coming. We didn’t know the team was in trouble.”
Knight quickly turned to the job at hand. The Bucs will be taken over by the Professional Indoor Football League and still have a chance at not only the playoffs but also a championship.
In their eight previous years the franchise never missed the postseason and won three league championships.
Now, they are wards of the league with the final third of the campaign left to play.
“It is good that we will finish the season,” Knight said. “We have been coming together and playing much better. It would have been really sad had we not been able to finish the year.”
The Bucs are 4-4 and coming off their biggest win of the season last weekend when they beat first-place Richmond 68-66 in double-overtime in what was the team’s last game in the Lake Charles Civic Center.
“That game there showed how good we can be,” Knight said. “We were feeling so good after last weekend. We felt good about how fast we were coming together and about how much better we have gotten. We felt like we could win every game left on the schedule and the playoffs.
“We still do.”
However, there will be momentum rode from that comeback as this Saturday’s contest with Alabama has been postponed. If it is played it will be tacked on to the end of the year and won’t be in Lake Charles.
“All year long we have been slapped in the face by something,” Knight said. “It was either the league and the schedule, being on the road for the three weeks during Contraband Days and now this.
“We are being tested, but as players we have come together through all this. We want to win and show everybody how good we are.”
The news was just as sad for Freddie Harrison. The former Bucs quarterback retired for a final time after last season. He had stayed away this season because he “didn’t want to get that itch back.”
Still, he will miss the team.
“This is a sad time,” said Harrison, who is the Washington-Marion High head football coach and also last man to quarterback the Bucs to a league championship. “They have meant a lot to a lot of people in this community. They will be missed.”
Harrison said it was more about what the Bucs brought to the community than the games that will be missed most.
“They did a lot of charity work for the area,” Harrison said. “They were a part of a lot of things going on in Lake Charles.”
Harrison said he will remember the good times, the victories and more importantly, the people he met through the team.
“I had great teammate and made great friends that will last forever,” he said. “That is what you think about most. It’s those relationships that keep you going.”
As for a pro football return, Harrison said he believes it is likely.
“This is a great football town and people will come to watch a team,” he said. “At least I surely hope so. It was great for me and it extended a few players’ careers and helped them along.
“The Swashbucklers were good for Lake Charles.”
As for Knight, he said he’s sad he won’t get one last home game to say good-bye.
“I was looking forward to Saturday night and playing in front of our crowd,” he said. “We wanted to put on a show for our fans before we hit the road.”
Instead, the Bucs have been sent packing early and into an uncertain future.