When the Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams made the state championship game for the first time in the program’s history in 2005, I remember hearing a few whispers from critics that it was due to a reduced field in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
With that game having to be in Shreveport that year, some Rams’ fans wondered if Acadiana High would ever actually make that treasured trip to the Superdome Classic.
No one — from the program’s biggest naysayer to its most loyal fan — could possibly have predicted the ride coach Ted Davidson was about to take the Wreckin’ Ram program on beginning with that freezing cold night at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.
The Rams lost to West Monroe 28-7 in that 2005 Class 5A state final.
Instead of being the end, however, it’s very much proven to be the beginning.
On Saturday evening in the Superdome, Acadiana High will be making its sixth trip to the state finals in the past 10 seasons.
In fact, Rams’ play-by-play radio broadcaster James P. Bitterman said he recently created a Class 5A success chart, giving six points to the state champion, five points to the state runner-up, four points to the semifinalists and so on.
And with Acadiana beating Zachary last week and West Monroe losing to Destrehan, the Wreckin’ Rams have actually accumulated the most points, supporting the claim that Acadiana has been Class 5A’s most successful program over the last decade.
That’s a long way from the program that went to Shreveport in 2005 wondering if it would ever happen again.
“That is amazing,” said LHSAA Hall of Fame coach Carroll Delahoussaye of St. Martinville. “You’re talking 10 years and that (West Monroe) was the elite 5A program in the state. It’s so fun to see a program like that have that kind of success. It’s good to see it in your backyard.
“It’s even better because Ted is such a great guy. I’ve never met anyone who’s ever said anything bad about Ted. He’s done a tremendous job and he’s really got a good mixture of young and older guys on his staff.”
As dominant as the Rams have been over the past decade, this trip may just be the most impressive of them all. No, this isn’t the best team Davidson’s taken to the state finals. Some would argue that it might be the worst on the list after all the struggles the Rams faced throughout the season.
(For the record, while there’s an argument to be made there, the brutal early-season schedule would also have to be considered.)
Either way, that’s the whole point. Most programs will never make the state finals. Many of the ones who do only get that far with a once-in-a-decade type team when all the pieces fall into place.
A special few can somehow get that far even on what some consider a bit of a down year. That’s John Curtis-type stuff.
The Rams were truly great a year ago. Sure, they lost an early-season game to longtime powerhouse Neville in one of those turnover-filled contests, but never lost again all the way to dominating Parkway 77-41 in the state finals.
The road to the finals this year was anything but smooth. Some wondered at each sharp curve if a dead end was soon to come. But somehow Davidson and his staff kept the ship afloat long enough to get to the state playoffs with a bit of momentum after moving linebacker Kevin Moore to quarterback in week 10 and it produced a 42-13 win.
Amazingly, the Rams haven’t lost since.
“After we won it in 1981, I didn’t expect nearly as much from the 1982 team,” Delahoussaye said. “We had some players coming back, but we weren’t as talented. That 1982 went undefeated. The kids learn. They expect it out of themselves. Once you get to that point, you’ve got half the battle won right there.”
It indeed is that positive mindset that does the trick for the Rams, according for former Acadiana High assistant Scott McCullough, who now coaches at Ascension Episcopal.
“It’s really just about getting to the playoffs,” McCullough said. “It shouldn’t be that way, but sometimes it’s like you just wanted to get the regular season out of the way and get to the playoffs. There’s just a feeling that once the playoffs get here, everything will be fine.
“It’s totally a mindset. Other teams start the playoffs thinking they would like to get to the finals. Acadiana starts the playoffs thinking they’re going to get to the finals.”
While the Rams’ turnover problems have been well-documented this season, McCullough said this isn’t the only flawed regular season Acadiana has endured.
“This season reminds me a lot of the 2007 season,” he said.
In its final three games of the regular season that year, the defending 5A champions lost to Comeaux 46-36, Sulphur 37-7 and St. Thomas More 27-24 to enter the postseason on a three-game losing streak.
The Rams didn’t lose again until the state finals, ironically against Destrehan 41-21, the very same program Acadiana handled 35-7 in the semifinals a year ago and the Rams will play again at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Superdome in search of their fourth overall state championship.
“It really has been an incredible run,” McCullough said. “Ted’s done a tremendous job. And the thing that’s really made them tough is that the defense is outstanding now. That’s something that’s evolved over the years. They have a great defensive staff right now. Those guys are doing a great job.”