New Orleans, Louisiana 2021-10-13 21:30:00 –
Belaire and Istrouma have to play a lot this week, with the right to brag and the chance to win the title in District 7-4A.
However, the memory and influence of the three players who died in the off-season cast the shadow of any game. Or the season.
“It will never replace Steven Clark … it can’t be done,” said Berea coach Byron Wade. “Coaches understand this — every team has the most talented players, but your most valuable player is the guy who gets together. For us, it was Stephen. . “
Defensive Lineman / Tight End Clark died in a car accident in the summer. Lineman Rodrick Cook was the victim of gun violence, and a few months after being shot dead near his home in April, Istroma’s defensive back / receiver Travis Wright also died in a car accident in the summer. ..
Berea (4-1, 2-0) is off to a great start in five seasons. Istrouma (2-2, 1-1) will be the third varsity season since school reopened five years ago. Indians are running back on Le’Veon Moss, one of Louisiana’s top senior players.
However, their journey to victory and defeat usually involves illustrated play and sprinting in the wind, and there are also life lessons about death. It’s the kind of loss that teenagers rarely expect and are often unprepared to endure.
Each school respects the memory of lost teammates and shows their feelings in home games. Belaire has a banner with a picture of Clark on the scoreboard. Since 2020, a nearly life-sized cutout of uniformed lights and cooks has been placed near the Istrouma bench.
“Audiences just see what’s happening in the field and don’t know what’s really happening … the internal mechanics of who your kids and team are,” said Istrouma coach Jeremy Gradney. Told. “These were two captains. The two main elements of the program, the foundation. I can’t say Berea, but I think Stephen is the same.
“This is difficult. It’s consistent. We don’t forget, and those guys are with us every day and for every game. After the Liberty game, what do I do? I wondered if it was, but the people who set foot in their place are doing a great job … everything they can really do, that’s all you can ask. Day by day. “
Examples frozen in time
Clark was eager to play his first season at Berea this fall. He transferred from Glen Oaks after the year of freshman and played last season according to LHSAA rules.
At 6 feet-3,250 pounds, Clark was a physical being. But there were many more.
“I and Stephen have known each other since we were toddlers,” said Cameron Johnson, a receiver / linebacker at Berea. “He was always there for me … as he was for the team.
“My dad died in the year of my freshman, and Stephen was like a brother and father. He chased me and told me I needed discipline and concentration. . I do it for him now. “
Cook (6-4, 265) was an honor student who caught the eye of recruiters before his senior season.
Wright (6-0, 165) was also an honor student who had already received a scholarship offer from Monticello, Arkansas. He was preparing to play wide receiver and defensive back as a senior. Quarterback Laken Drick Self was excited about the possibility of an attack.
“Travis was my best friend … we spent hours together late in the afternoon and at night,” Self said. “We worked on a pass pattern to get the timing off. We talked about how theater works and what we wanted for this season.”
Moss was near Cook and Wright. That factor has made 4-star new hires more vocal leaders. Like Self, Moss remembers the light moment when Cook and Wright joked.
“I talk and talk more, especially with younger players,” Moss said. “Someone needs to show them and help guide them. I miss (Cook and Wright) very much. Now I also speak for them. That’s important to me.”
Running back / linebacker Jakeydrick Richard said the Istrouma game was the game Clark wanted to play.
“He will be very excited this season,” Richard said. “I think he’s watching over us and we’re proud.”
Unusual, common ground
When Istrouma was closed 10 years ago, many students from the area were sent to Belaire’s school. The students returned to Istrouma five years ago and formed an extraordinary bond.
The continued involvement of the three families who lost their sons is another.
Clark’s mother, Chikey Takeler, missed Berea’s match only once and spoke to the team before the match against Broadmore last week.
“I was surprised to see those players really involved with me while I was talking,” Keller said. “I did the same for them as I was doing for Stephen on the day of the match … I tried to hype them.
“I go to the game for two of us. I started taking him to the game when Steven was little. Now I’m following these other boys, his teammates. . “
Cook’s mother, Clanda Gibson, continues to serve as president of the Indian Booster Club. She will also escort one of the senior soccer players on the homecoming court this week.
“It’s important to do this as a family,” Gibson said. “Their kids … they just get brighter when they see our family.
“We have a bond with those players and each other. No one really understands what you are experiencing, as someone else is experiencing.”
Wright’s family hasn’t missed the match. His parents attend the Peplarly, visit with his teachers, and welcome players and coaches to their homes.
They are also looking forward to seeing a Florida teen who received his son’s heart by transplant.
“I think it’s a cure for us and them,” said Roosevelt, Wright’s father. “Soccer teams are coming, volleyball teams are coming. They sit in his room and go talk to us.
“They talk about Travis we didn’t know about, and we talk to them. One day it’s difficult, but I think it’s good for all of us. . “
Winning and loss: Football is framed by deaths, memories of team leaders for Belaire, Istrouma | High School Sports Source link Winning and loss: Football is framed by deaths, memories of team leaders for Belaire, Istrouma | High School Sports