Lincoln High football coach Yusuf Shakir acknowledges the Trojans’ trip to New Orleans is important for two reasons.
First, Lincoln’s showdown against St. Paul’s School in the Superdome Friday night represents the Trojans’ season opener. It’s a game that can help set the tone for the remainder of the season for an experienced Lincoln team that expects to challenge for a Class 7A state title.
Secondly — and just as crucial in the big picture — the journey to the Big Easy is one that players, coaches and families can cherish and share for many years. It’s also an emotional opportunity for Shakir, who has family in New Orleans.
“It’s history for our kids and the program because we will be the first high school team from Florida to play in the Superdome,” Shakir said.
“It’s just something as a coach, and as a parent, you always try to give your kids the best and you want them to have the opportunity to be successful. A year from now, two years from now — the rest of their live — this is something they can talk about.”
The Trojans are one of four teams in the second annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic. They meet Covington (La.) St. Paul’s (0-1) in the first game of a doubleheader. Tampa Plant (1-0) faces Riveridge (La.) John Curtis Christian (1-0) in the second game.
Lincoln departed by charter bus on Thursday to New Orleans. The Trojans scheduled a pair of walk-through practices in the Superdome on Thursday night and Friday morning.
Andrew Sabolic, president of Lincoln’s football booster club, expects 300 to 500 fans to attend the game.
Two charter buses for fans are scheduled to leave Friday morning — fans had the choice to either spend one night or return home on one of the buses following the game. Lincoln’s band will attend the game and perform at halftime.
Shakir is excited to see how his team responds.
Tropical Storm Isaac forced Pensacola High to cancel its trip to Tallahassee last week for the season-opener against the Trojans.
St. Paul’s, upset in the opening round of the Louisiana 5A playoffs last year but was ranked No. 1 for most of the season, lost to John Curtis last week. Louisiana high schools are also permitted to hold preseason scrimmages in preparation for the regular season.
“We are healthy and the kids are excited,” Shakir said. “Again, this is a phenomenal opportunity; it takes our program to another level.”
Last year, John Curtis and three other Louisiana teams played in the inaugural Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic at the Superdome.
According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, each team was guaranteed $6,000, plus 15 percent each of all revenues once the expenses of the Superdome were covered. Traveling teams were guaranteed varying amounts for expenses.