Bearcats portray maturity, class in defeat

By Malcolm Butler

During my 20-plus years as a collegiate administrator — mainly in the communications field — I’ve been witness to hundreds of post-game press conferences.

Most of them involving Louisiana Tech but many involving opponents. I’ve seen a lot of tough press conferences following heartbreaking losses.

On Friday night in New Orleans, I was witness to one following Ruston’s 17-10 loss to Destrehan in the Non-Select Division I State Title game at the Ceasar’s Superdome in New Orleans.

And man was I impressed.

Head coach Jerrod Baugh and his Bearcats have represented Ruston with class all season long. And let’s be honest, it’s easy to hold your head high and say all the right things when you are winning.

It’s a helluva lot harder when you finish second, especially in a game with the state title on the line.

Just minutes after watching Destrehan hold up the state title trophy on the field, Baugh and four Bearcats — RJ Brown, Dyson Fields, Jadon Mayfield and Jamious Blackmon –took the podium to answer all of the questions that no one really wants to have to address after a heartbreaking loss.

I’ve seen these turn ugly before. I’ve seen players simply not have answers … or at least not want to share them.

When you have left everything on the field starting with spring ball through summer conditioning and into the fall, it’s hard to be the bigger man when you come up just short of your ultimate goal. It’s understandable.

But on Friday night Brown, Blackmon, Fields and Mayfield were simply awesome in defeat. They weren’t lengthy with their answers, but they were precise and they were classy. They displayed a lot of maturity.

Fields congratulated Destrehan for the state title. Blackmon thanked his coaches. Brown touted his teammates that will return next year. And Mayfield praised this year’s group for all their hard work.

They all held their heads high in a very difficult time and said all the right things. These young men handled a tough situation in a first-class manner, three of them having played their last game in a Bearcat uniform.

And no one should be surprised to be honest.

Baugh may have said it best in his closing remarks.

“Losing one football game doesn’t define who they are as a person,” he said. “We’re going to hurt for a while – it hurts whenever you put in that kind of work. But at the end of the day, losing a football game can’t change who we are. I know who these kids are. They’re great people.”

They showed that in a very difficult setting on Friday night.