The 2020 football season has been one of many obstacles for Southwest Louisiana teams.
First, there was the coronavirus pandemic that wiped out spring practice and then the restrictions that limited summer practices.
When things looked like they would get back to normal, Hurricane Laura, a violent Category 4 storm, made landfall in Cameron Parish. And just when coaches and players started to pick up the pieces, Hurricane Delta, a destructive Category 2, made landfall just a few miles east of Laura just over a month later.
Now teams will try to restart again this week.
While most area schools have played at least one game, three schools are hoping to finally play for the first time in Sulphur, Westlake and Hamilton Christian.
Westlake was supposed to play Oakdale this week, but the Warriors had to cancel. But the Rams lucked out, East Feliciana, who the Rams were supposed to host last week, needed a new opponent and will host the Rams this week on Friday.
“We have to go there now, but we will do anything it takes to get a game in,” Westlake head coach John Richardson said. “They (Rams) were down after the game last week was canceled, but I feel like we are actually going to get to play this Friday, and I think that will make a lot of things better as far as morale.”
Guiding a team in recovery mode is nothing new for Richardson. He was the head coach at Vinton in 2005 when Hurricane Rita hit.
He even had to call plays from a man-lift because the press box at B.S. Walker Stadium was destroyed. Vinton struggled in 2005, but Richardson led the Lions to a 10-3 record and quarterfinal appearance in 2006.
“The future is brighter,” Richard said. “Getting through what is going on right now is tough.
“Things will get back to normal, even though it doesn’t seem like it at times. We just have to fight through adversity. This is an adverse situation for not only the football team but the community in general.”
Hamilton Christian will open the season Friday at Oberlin, the defending District 4-1A champ and Class 1A semifinalist a year ago.
“It looks like the sun is going to let us play,” Hamilton head coach Dexter Washington said. “This will be the first time that they have had anything normal.
“We will also open up school Thursday. The kids are excited. How much their bodies can handle it, I don’t know. We have fought a lot of adversity to get to this point and we have weathered that storm. We have prepared our kids to the best of our ability. The coaching staff I have is unbelievable.”
Washington said the players’ and parents’ desire to make the 2020 season happen despite the adversity has been inspiring.
“This is probably been one of the most rewarding times being a coach to watch kids and parents that have committed themselves to try to do something to give them an opportunity,” Washington said. “It is all for the love of the game.
“They want to experience some normality in their life. When you see the looks on these kids faces, it gives you extreme motivation.”
The Tors were supposed to open the season last week against defending Class 5A state champion Acadiana, but had to cancel because of Hurricane Delta.
Sulphur will get its belated opener Saturday when it hosts Lafayette at Matt Walker Memorial Stadium.