Gators defensive lineman sets tone with approach to game
By William Weathers
Special to The Advocate
September 23, 2012
St. Amant senior defensive lineman Nic Bickham is a little fuzzy on the origin but is certain of one constant that’s helped define him during a distinguished athletic career.
“Anything that I’ve done from 13 years of Little League baseball to football,” Bickham said, “is that I’ve always been a voice.”
When St. Amant’s defense took the field for its first series last week against Lafayette High, it was easy to detect Bickham — and it had little to do with his noticeable 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame.
It was the all-out enthusiasm Bickham brought to the field, the style which he played with, and the manner his teammates fed off his intensity and leadership.
“He’s done a great job setting the example from a work ethic standpoint and enthusiasm,” St. Amant coach David Oliver said. “He comes to play every day, and people have to match his intensity.”
St. Amant beat Lafayette 51-7 to improve to 2-0, but it was the method it used that might have caught the attention of some observers as the Gators head into Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Glen Oaks.
While the offense was efficient and displayed a big-play capability behind running back Trey Washington’s 238 yards and four touchdowns, it was a suffocating defense that was equally impressive against a formidable opponent.
Lafayette brought in an undefeated team, including a win over current No. 10 New Iberia, and a high-powered offense averaging 37 points and nearly 400 yards per game. The Lions left The Pit with only a 41-yard touchdown run as part of a 214-yard effort, eight plays that resulted in negative gains, three turnovers and no pass completions.
“We decided in the offseason that if we practiced hard and were physical, it’s going to carry over into games,” Bickham said.
“The biggest thing this year is our defense is built on being physical. We like to punch people in the mouth.”
With seven starters returning, the nucleus was in place for St. Amant’s defense to continue making strides from a year ago.
At the heart of the heightened expectations was Bickham, a year removed from playing offensive guard. He earned first team All-District 5-5A honors and was an All-Metro selection, registering 71 tackles, 14 quarterback hurries and 11 tackles behind the line.
Thus far Bickham, regarded for his pass-rush skills and physical play, has registered five tackles, four hurries and two stops behind the line.
“We decided we needed more athleticism on the defensive line, and we made him the anchor of that unit,” Oliver said. “We wanted to get some guys that could run and build up that part of the defense, and he’s done a great job with that.”
St. Amant determined the foundation of its leadership for the 2012 season when it voted permanent team captains in December. The results revealed little surprise. Bickham was among the top three vote- getters, along offensive tackle D.J. Mickens and linebacker Dylan Guedry.
With such distinction from his peers came the responsibility Bickham embraced from a young age and looked forward to helping St. Amant improve on three straight 5-5 seasons and reach postseason play for the first time since 2005.
“It’s a very big honor,” Bickham said. “We have 130 people (32 seniors) on our team. I’m trying to lead the team to a good season. It’s completely different than last year. I always sat in the back seat and let the seniors do their thing. I was vocal last year, but personally I like other people to shine before I do.”
Bickham’s credentials were also bolstered this summer when he realized a goal of playing college football. After taking part in Louisiana Tech’s summer camp he was extended a football scholarship, matching earlier overtures from Memphis and McNeese State, and subsequently committed to the Bulldogs — who like St. Amant — is off to a promising 2-0 start.
“It was my dream to be somebody that could play on Saturday,” Bickham said. “Before I could get to the point, I knew there was work I had to do. I realized I was a St. Amant Gator first, and realized what that name meant.
“I’ve been working hard and I can’t just attribute my success to just me,” Bickham said.
“My teammates helped make me into something and helped me get where I am now
along with my coaches and family. It’s made a dream a reality.”