For competitive and social reasons, high school athletes are told to relish the chance to play in an all-star game.
The chance to make friends is one thing. For Khalil Thomas, Trenon Trosclair and Jeremy Arnold, the 11th Bayou Bowl also is a Southland Conference thing.
“We’ve only been together a couple of days, and I can already see the chemistry we have,” said Arnold, an offensive lineman from Holy Cross. “And I’ll definitely be keeping up with these guys. I think that will come naturally, since a bunch of us are going to compete in the same conference.”
Arnold is bound for Central Arkansas, while Catholic High’s Thomas (McNeese State) and Eunice’s Trosclair (Southeastern) are among the 11 Southland-bound players listed on the 35-player Louisiana roster. The Louisiana team squares off against a Texas squad from the Houston area at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown, Texas.
“So far, it’s really been great,” said Thomas, who will play running back. “I’m in it for the overall experience, and getting the Nike gear we were given is nice, too. We want to win and show how good Louisiana players are. That’s important to us.”
By Thursday, the three players were settling into their respective roles. The adjustment was bigger for Trosclair, a high school quarterback who is scheduled to play defensive back at Southeastern. In addition to playing safety, Trosclair also is seeing action at outside linebacker.
Of Louisiana’s Bayou Bowl players, Trosclair may have the best understanding of the game. His father, Eunice coach Paul Trosclair, coached in the Bayou Bowl five years ago.
“I was supposed to come and be one of the ball boys the year my dad coached, but it didn’t work out,” Trosclair said. “Since then, I’ve always wanted to play in it.
“The experience I’m getting from playing two positions on defense is going to help me at the next level. Considering the fact that I was a high school quarterback, it’s nice to be able to hit somebody instead of being hit.”
There have been other adjustments, too. Like wearing a helmet and shoulder pads for the first time in months in the sweltering heat. The trio said players have handled heat issues well.
Thomas and Arnold said the offense started coming around after just a couple of practices, adapting quickly to the plays of head coach Brett Lemoine, of Monroe’s Neville High. Arnold sees a camaraderie among the linemen. Thomas praised the play of two quarterbacks, St. Thomas More’s Brandon Bergeron and Brusly’s Jay Christophe.
“Their approaches are different,” Thomas explained. “Brandon Bergeron wants to do things over, just to see if he can find a better way to get it done. Jay Christophe comes up to the line and is on the money with whatever he needs to do. They talk and go over things, too, which is good.”
Trosclair said the defense, which is mandated to play a 4-3 alignment by all-star rules, also is progressing toward Saturday’s game.
“If we stay focused and concentrate on the things the coaches have taught us, we’ll be fine,” Arnold said. “We’re here to win.”
Bastrop receiver Jatavious Wilson (Central Arkansas), Archbishop Shaw receiver Kent Shelby II, St. Michael the Archangel receiver C.J. Okpalobi (Nicholls State), Franklinton kicker-punter Alex Herbert (Southeastern) are other skill players headed to Southland schools.
Eunice defensive lineman Kurt Viges (McNeese), E.D. White tight end Geoffrey Hebert (Nicholls), South Terrebonne offensive lineman Adam Ziepke and two Kentwood defensive linemen, Torandan Watson and Javari Nichols, are the other interior players with Southland destinations.
In addition to two practices, the Louisiana squad also made a trip to a Baytown-based water park on Thursday. The final practice for both teams is set for 10 a.m. Friday at Goose Creek Memorial High.