Noah Melancon doesn’t have to think hard in order to remember what it was like when the Acadiana High Wreckin’ Rams last played in the Class 5A finals in 2010.
Melancon remembers how much brighter the lights were, how many more people were in the stands screaming at the top of their lungs and how the overall experience was like no other Friday night he had ever experienced.
It’s easy for Melancon to remember because he was among the many screaming Rams fans as he supported his teammates from the stands.
“I was on the freshman team and I didn’t get to dress varsity that year, so I watch my teammates play for the state championship from the stands,” Melancon said. “When they won the state championship, it was just an awesome experience. I mean it was an amazing feeling and to be able to be there and share that moment with the Acadiana High family was unbelievable.”
It was at that moment watching his friends, fellow teammates and coaches jumping for joy in celebration of their accomplishment that Melancon vowed to experience that same feeling before his career was over.
“The moment they won it, that’s when it hit me that I wanted to go to the Dome at some point in my career,” Melancon said. “I wanted to experience that moment from the sidelines and feel the same thing they were feeling throughout that moment.”
And for Melancon, he didn’t even have to be playing in the game.
“For me, being a part of this football program is special in itself,” said Melancon, who didn’t begin playing football until he was in eighth grade. “I’m honestly just happy to be a part of the team. So, all I wanted was to be on the field, whether I was getting playing time or not. I just wanted to get back there, be on the sidelines and experience that moment with my teammates.”
At 8 p.m.Today in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Melancon will get just what he has longed for as the Rams will face Parkway for the Class 5A state championship.
Not only will Melancon be on the sidelines, but he will actually get a lot of playing time as the Rams’ starting linebacker.
“It is just unbelievable to think that not only are we going to be playing in the Dome and for the state championship, but I’m actually going to be starting,” Melancon said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play football for Acadiana High, so it was enough just to be a part of the team. So to be a starter in the game is very surprising to me, because that is not something I ever would have expected.”
The 5-11, 185-pound Melancon, who has made a name for himself with his work ethic and speed, is one of the most reliable defenders on the Rams defensive unit.
“Noah brings stability to our defense,” Wreckin’ Rams head coach Ted Davidson said. “He’s a steady player, who is a great leader for a relatively young linebacker corps. He took his lumps last year as a junior when we threw him out there, but he gained some valuable experience.”
Melancon, who believes earning playing time on the football field at Acadiana High, is one of the most difficult things to do, credit his coaches and teammates for his success both on and off the football field.
“It is very hard to get playing time here because we have so much talent at Acadiana High,” Melancon said. “When you are going up against so many talented players on a daily basis in practice, it is extremely hard trying to separate yourself from them. I couldn’t be where I am today without them and our coaches.”
Aside from his speed, Davidson loves the tenacity and physical nature that Melancon plays with week to week.
“Noah is a physical player,” Davidson said. “He’s an extremely versatile player who runs well and is valuable to our defense against both the run and the pass. He’s not a real big kid, but he’ll come up and hit you.”
According to Melancon, the biggest difference between the player he is today compared to when he first arrived at Acadiana High is that he is physically stronger.
“My freshman and sophomore years I really lacked a lot of strength,” Melancon said. “But I’m very fast, so a lot of the things that I lack I’m able to make up for with my speed.”
As his high school football career is set to come to an end on Saturday, Melancon admits win or lose this season and his career have been a success.
“We know that if we don’t win that we aren’t going to get the attention that we would have received had we won,” Melancon said. “But the season definitely will not have been a failure. A lot of teams don’t get the opportunity to make it this far, so we have been successful. But the brotherhood that is Acadiana High football is what’s important. We have this great bond and I’m just happy I can share this final experience with all of my brothers. Saturday is going to be a moment that I will never forget.”