As summer rolls on, high school football teams across Louisiana are fighting the heat and putting in work with hopes of reaching the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in December to play for a state title.
It’s no different at Livonia High School. Last year, the Wildcats made it within a game of the Class 3A state title game but had their season end unceremoniously with a 49-6 loss to eventual champion Parkview Baptist.
Heading into 2013, coach David Brewerton wants to get over the semifinal hump.
“With the season that we had last year, there are pressures that come into this season,” he said. “Everybody wants to see a follow-up of that. We won’t shy away from that pressure.”
Livonia returns an experienced team, including nine starters on defense. None is more important than a pair of seniors: linebacker Russell Farris and defensive back Darius Hammond.
Farris led the Wildcats last season with 160 tackles, including 12 for loss. Hammond was right behind with 90 tackles and a team-high seven interceptions. Both were named to the District 5-3A first team.
In addition to their defensive prowess, both made the 5-3A first team on offense — Farris at running back and Hammond at receiver.
“Those two guys are true game changers,” Brewerton said.
“The rest of our team definitely feeds off those two, and they are fun to watch. The experience level they bring to the table adds a tremendous aspect to our program.”
While the personal awards are nice, Farris and Hammond want to make one last run at a state title.
“Every year, we want to progress,” said Hammond, an all-state honorable mention selection. “Our goal is to make it to the state championship. We were one game away last season, and we hear about that a lot.”
“We want to finish the season off with a win,” Farris said. “As seniors, we have to lead all the younger guys to help them step up, and hopefully we can make it there.”
Farris and Hammond have been winning on the same field since they were 9 years old and playing for the Raiders, a local recreational league team.
“We have been together for a really long time,” Farris said. “When he makes a play, I feel like I just made a play. And between us, we have made a lot of plays.”
Those flawlessly flowed into the high school level, where they continued to share the field together as starters since their freshman season.
“We have a strong relationship,” Hammond said. “I trust him more than anybody on the field because I know what he can do and he knows what I can do.”
Thanks to their long history, Hammond and Farris have formed a strong bond on the field, making it much easier for Brewerton to coach his defense.
“What’s different about those two guys than others is that they know each other’s tendencies and have a high football IQ,” he said. “They can make plays that others aren’t able to make because they understand the game so well.”
But there is always room for improvement and, as seniors, Brewerton would like Farris and Hammond to become more vocal leaders. That’s something Hammond in particular has been focusing on during summer workouts because he’s sidelined with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in the spring game.
“I used to be the quiet one and just did my talking with my play,” said Hammond, who is expected to be healthy by the start of the season. “But as a senior, I need to speak up a little more.”
Even after they play their final games at Livonia, it may not be the final time they’re on a football field together. Both have been offered a scholarship to play at Southeastern Louisiana.
But if their college careers do force them apart, Farris knows he has a lifelong friend.
“We have been together since we were 9 years old,” he said. “We’re pretty good together, and I think, even when we’re not teammates, we’ll still be friends.”