Bearcat family ties in the pursuit of a title

(L-R: Lander Smith, Matt Garrett, Joshua Colvin)
Special thanks to Reggie McLeroy and Lee Garrett for photos

The Lincoln Parish Journal reached out to various Bearcat alums that competed for the state championship when they wore the Ruston jersey in the Superdome. Here is what these fathers had to say as they get ready to watch their sons compete for a state title tomorrow night on a special Ruston team.

Father, Lee Garrett, Free safety, ’86 team – son, Matt Garrett, Wide Receiver and Holder

“Matt grew up watching Ruston Football and hearing all the stories about our past winning seasons from back in the 40’s on through the 80’s. Anyone who has been a part of those seasons knows how special that time is and how truly difficult it is to get there.  That experience is what I have always wanted for him and the entire team and coaching staff. We shared a tearful hug after the game Friday night and I couldn’t help but think about how my father was able to watch my brother and me play in this game in ‘84 and ‘86, and this Friday night I get to do the same with my son. Such a legacy is valued because it allows our community to share in the common values which have made RHS such a sacred institution, “Firmly Founded”. One more game, Go Cats!”

Father, Hunter Smith, Quarterback, ’98 team – son, Lander Smith, Fullback

“As a father, it’s one thing, but it’s really more of a Ruston High community supporter. I try not to just focus just on my son’s opportunity to play in the game, but rather, the opportunity for him to be part of something bigger than himself. It’s a 100-year old fraternity that he’ll get to be part of forever. That to me is probably the most special thing I could ask for. Not so much the wins and losses, but the relationships that are fostered with the coaching staff and other players. The impact that these coaches will have on the kids in just one year; it’s almost irreplaceable. To watch the torch get passed to this group of kids in this time in this community; that’s what I’m most excited about. As a dad, former football player and former coach, I want to tell him to just soak it all up. Every moment. You never know if you’ll get back there. We all grew up in this community dreaming about having our chance. I keep telling him that his chance is here. When the clock ticks, and it’s time to go, let the emotion go to your side and get back to what the team does best: focus and execute. When you get to watch your kid play, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Father, Toby Nations, Linebacker, ’90 team – son, Sam Nations, Offensive line

“This juices up a lot of memories for me and the teammates that used to play with me. There’s so much pride, not just because your son is out there, but you know how they feel. They don’t quite realize it yet, but here I am at 49, and we still talk about this stuff all the time and how much fun we had and the experience that we had. I’m so thrilled my kid gets to be a part of it, and one day, we can sit back and talk about both of our experiences. He doesn’t have to hear it from my perspective; he’ll have his own perspective now. It’s a good deal for the community and for our family. I’m tickled to death, not just for our kids on the field, but the ones throwing the football around that are planting seeds and helping the community.”

Father, Mike Skipper, Offensive line, ’82, ’84 team – son Mason Skipper, Offensive line

It’s really amazing to be able to watch it. I graduated in 1986, so I had the opportunity to see a lot during the eighties. I’ve seen the progression, and to see us finally get back to where we were, and to have my son be a real special part of that, it’s heartfelt. They’ve taken a lot of strides and gotten a lot of monkeys off their backs. Now, they just have to finish the deal. They’ve heard all the stories from us older guys, and that’s our history. Now, they’re making their history, and that’s what’s so amazing about it. I want Mason to stay focused on what he does. There will be a lot going on around, and I want him and all the players and coaches to stay focused on what they do, and it will end the way that it should.”

Father, Rod Colvin, Defensive/Offensive line, ’84 team – son Joshua Colvin, Offensive line

“Playing on a team going for a state championship is a dream. The atmosphere in the Superdome and in the community was exceptional. He’s playing on an elite football team. I’m very proud of Josh. He’s been playing football since he was seven, and he was in a group that we knew was going to special all the way back in the fifth grade. We knew if this group stayed together, they’d be a special bunch, and they have. I’ve never seen a senior class more grown up and mature than this one. They bond really well; no clowning, fussing, or picking on anybody. They’re a tight group of kids.”

Father, Mikie Reeves, ’90, Defensive line – son Michael Reeves, Defensive back

“I want him to enjoy the experience. Nobody can explain to you what it’s like until you actually go. I’m super happy for those guys. They’ve worked hard, and they’ve earned it; all the kids on the team. I want him to pay attention to the game and keep the kids up and forget about a bad play and move onto the next one. If we play Ruston football, we win the game. I’m very proud of this program, and I think a lot of all of those kids.