From the epic end of one season to the historic beginning of another – Friday night football is the ultimate equalizer for Live Oak High School in Watson, Louisiana.
Whereas the Eagles soared to new heights last year after hosting and winning their first playoff game in school history, this year’s younger bunch of players begins the season literally under the weather with thousands of homes damaged by unimaginable flooding and residents of Livingston Parish trying to repair and rebuild.
Live Oak Head Coach Brett Beard and his team have been practicing at night so that players can take care of responsibilities at home during the daylight hours.
It’s just hard to explain how much damage has occurred there
“It’s just hard to explain how much damage has occurred there,” Cox broadcaster Jeff Palermo said of Livingston Parish, “These kids and their parents want a little sense of normalcy and the best way to do that is with high school football on Friday nights.”
Palermo will be providing the play-by-play commentary during tonight’s Cox broadcast of the jamboree between Live Oak and Fontainebleau High School.
Typically Live Oak would be hosting the Fontainebleau Bulldogs, but the recent flooding initiated another game plan for Fontainebleau Head Coach Chris Blocker and his team. In fact, Blocker got home late Thursday night after helping Fontainebleau’s home field get ready to support an earlier than expected kickoff to the season.
“No doubt we said we would make it work,” Blocker noted while praising his coaches for doing a great job getting everything prepared.
Fontainebleau High School sits about an hour-and-a-half drive away from Live Oak, but recent events have shortened the distance between the two communities.
“Especially after an event like this these schools are definitely connected,” Palermo said. “I know Live Oak is truly appreciative of whatever Fontainebleau is able to do.”
It has been eleven years since Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area, and the Bulldogs have not forgotten what total devastation feels like. Perhaps that’s why they felt so compelled to do something to help their opponent.
“It’s very important that people understand that we do care,” Blocker said.
In just one week Fontainebleau was able to produce results.
Prior to the Varsity scrimmage, Blocker and his team will be presenting Live Oak with a check courtesy of proceeds raised after selling T-shirts to support the Eagles. Blocker, his wife Tammy, along with Fontainebleau principal Johnny Vitrano and teacher April Jerrell felt obliged to do something to help, and they weren’t the only ones.
“Hearing about that kind of sportsmanship and support shows that football is more than just a game,” Cox host Hayley Asaro said via email, noting that the people of New Orleans sprung into action upon hearing about the immense amount of flooding in the greater Baton Rouge area. “It’s about family, no matter what side of the ball you are on.”
“I am so lucky and proud to be a part of Fontainebleau High School and the St. Tammany Parish Public School System community,” Blocker said. “It’s not only a great school and system, but a very caring and loving community. These people rock when it comes to helping others.”
Meanwhile, Live Oak is alive with pride and passion, exemplifying life lessons to their fans. When equipped with the proper support, a community can rise above flood lines and any other obstacles, any time of day.
Of course, Friday nights belong to football and that everlasting spirit.
“It’s a team that’s going to play hard,” Palermo said of Live Oak. “They are going to use this disaster to try to be a shining light in the community.”
They are going to use this disaster to try to be a shining light in the community.
The Fontainebleau Bulldogs have their own Friday night character, as well.
“It’s a family event and that’s something we’re building as far as tradition is concerned,” Blocker said. “A tight-knit community can come out and enjoy a good game whether it be a win or a good competitive match.”
Fans can get their own fill by tuning into the Louisiana Farm Bureau Pre-Game Show on Cox, tonight at 6:30 pm. The game will be shown live on Cox4 stations in Acadiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans and on Cox Sports Television, and it will also be streamed live at coxhub.com/liveoakjamboree.
Replay of the game will be available on Cox local origination stations across the nation.