SPORTS

Seven Westsiders take part in All-American Bowl

Tryve Brackin

Seven Iberville and West Baton Rouge Parish senior football players garnered the opportunity to take part in a special postseason all-star bowl thanks to former Dallas Cowboy scout Max Emfinger, who now lives in the parish.

Emfinger put together this year’s All-American Bowl Game Classic New Year’s Eve afternoon up at the Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium on Hooper Road in the BR area.

Emfinger, who is the brother-in-law of former school administrator and coach Frank Pasqua, has seen a lot of local high school football action the last couple of years since he lives so close and that has helped open the door for some of the Iberville-WBR Parish grid players to gain additional notice from college recruiters who attend such all-star games.

A handful of 2010 graduates played in his previous bowl game and seven got the opportunity last week to play at the local All-American Bowl. A total of 24 Baton Rouge Metro area seniors took part in the game.

Leading the cast of local seniors was White Castle High’s defensive back-quarterback Ronald Martin, who was the only LSU commitment to play in the contest. He was joined on the team by WCHS teammate and DB-LB Jonathan Roberts. Martin was a Class 1-A All-State First Team Athlete, while Roberts notched all-state Honorable Mention honors. Also playing was Plaquemine High offensive lineman Cody Nugent, a first-team 8-3A All-District player.

Two Brusly High standouts played in the contest. They were thousand-yard rushing RB Marlon Reed and linebacker Keith Washington Jr. Port Allen High’s RB Devin Payne and LB-Tight End Marcus Parker took part. Marcus is the son of former North Iberville High football mentor L.J. Parker.

Catholic BR QB Zack Oliver, a Northwestern University signee, joined Martin as a one of the better-known standouts in the bowl game. Joshua Robinson, a standout RB for state 4-A champion Franklinton, took part in the game. He is a Mississippi State commitment.

PS All-Parish football team listing is coming shortly. I am limiting the number of players recognized this year to add to the significance of honors bestowed.

This year my “Black and Blue” List is of its greatest importance to the team in many seasons. Key players went down to injury at Plaquemine and East Iberville, while St. John practically had its season go up in smoke with a plague of key talents going down and out. Even state champ White Castle High did not go without injury to a key player. Had QB-DB Ronald Martin been at top form throughout the state playoffs, the Bulldogs certainly would have won by larger scoring margins throughout the postseason. Martin bobbled through the playoffs on an injured ankle, playing below his normal form.

As a prelude to the listing, I want to note there is no doubt in my mind that St. John could have reached a long way into the state playoffs this season had they not lost a core group of talented players to injury for much of the season and their one playoff game.

State runner-up Ouachita Christian, state regional Block High, and bi-district West St. John (all of whom I saw lose to eventual state champ and local White Castle High) were teams the SJHS club I watched in the preseason (before injuries hit) could have played to the wire in the postseason. At full strength the Eagles could have beaten state semifinalist Oberlin by a couple of touchdowns and state quarterfinalist St. Edmund High by the same margin.

As WCHS marched to the state title, I got to see a lot of the Class 1-A gridiron talent this season and honestly think WCHS, a healthy St. John, state runner-up Ouachita Christian, and perhaps Block High and West St. John were the best overall Single A football teams I saw in action. And, not taking a single thing away from the state champion WCHS, the Bulldogs were the best of the best and proved so with their great march to the crown.