Memorable Bearcat season to culminate in title game

Photo Credit: Reggie McLeroy

The night was warm on Wednesday as practice wrapped up at James Field at “Hoss” Garrett Stadium.

The top ranked Ruston Bearcat football team was on the middle of the field taking a knee and listening to head coach Jerrod Baugh address the team first, and then seniors who individually addressed the entire crew after wrapping up their final midweek practice as Bearcats.

“It’s really special to dictate when you know it’s going to be your last practice as a high school football player,” Baugh said. “Very seldom at any level do you know when those last practices are. They’ve been able to dictate that, and we had an opportunity after practice where those seniors stood up and shared some really nice things. That’s good to see.”

It was a memorable final practice for a senior class that now has the chance to win Ruston its first state title game in 32 years tonight in the Superdome in New Orleans against the No. 3 Destrehan Wildcats, a team that has knocked Ruston out of the playoffs for two years in a row in the quarterfinals.

All week long, the Ruston and Lincoln Parish community has shown tremendous support through signs, Bearcat apparel, and decorated cars. On Thursday morning, downtown Ruston was a sea of red and white, cheering the Bearcat buses as they headed south.

“The support has been very good,” Baugh said. “The community has reached out to see about doing a lot of different things. These kids have absolutely earned. I appreciate the community and the schools; not just ours, but others in our school district to show support. Everybody realizes how special this is, and it’s been really good to see. The kids feel that, and I feel like we’ll have a really big turnout down in New Orleans.”

Ruston took care of defending state champion Zachary at home in the semifinals last week 37-22, while Destrehan is undefeated on this season and most recently beating Westgate 21-6 in the semifinals.

“They’re a really good football team,” Baugh said. “Our kids are very familiar with them, particularly the senior class. They’ve ended our season the last couple of years. That’s the unspoken part about this that’s important to them: yes, it is a state championship game, but our guys have a chip on their shoulders about how the last two years have ended, and this could end two things at once. They feel that, and I think it will give us a little extra motivation.”

Ruston plays in its first state championship game since 1998 with a chance to win the first title since 1990. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on Z107.5 FM or streamed at Licensing issues will prevent the Bearcat Nation Network from providing a live video feed.


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