Local battles on the gridiron simply for love of the game

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 3, 2010



LAPLACE – One would think that finding men over the age of 23 to suit up and play full contact football for nothing in return would be a daunting task, but LaPlace resident Billy Hogan will tell you that it is not quite as hard as it seems.

Hogan, 27, is one of about 44 area men who make up the River Parish Wolfpack, a non-profit minor league football franchise of the Premier South Football League, which consists of a group of about 18 teams from across Louisiana and the Gulf South.

“It all comes down to the love of the game,” Hogan said. “That feeling is hard to shake for some of these guys. This league gives us hope that one day we could possibly move on into a professional league and get paid to go out and play.”

Hogan said the team is compiled mostly of guys out of St. John and the River Parishes, an area he describes as being “full of football talent.”

“Most of these guys had great high school football careers at East St. John, West St. John, Lutcher and schools in Baton Rouge and just want to keep playing,” Hogan said. “Some of our coaches and team officials have even made it to the NFL level.”

Hogan, who is the place kicker for the Wolfpack, said he grew up in Garyville and played his junior and senior years at East St. John High School, where he earned all-district and all-metro honors in 1999.

After graduation, Hogan said he was recruited to play at Northwest Missouri State of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. He spent about a year with the team before heading back home to enroll at Southeastern.

“After high school I was in a different place,” Hogan said. “I was never focused enough to play and lost sight of what was important. It is something that was very hard to get over.”

Upon returning home, Hogan became employed as a truck driver, where he hooked up with current Wolfpack team President William Primus. He said Primus, a former football player for Alcee Fortier High School in New Orleans, was the one who spurred the idea of jumping into the PSFL.

“This area loves football,” Hogan said of the River Parishes. “This team and this league gives them another opportunity to enjoy real games in the NFL offseason. We are a true brotherhood – we are like a biker gang with helmets and pads.”

Hogan said no one in the organization gets any compensation for being in the league. He said each team member must pay an entry fee and also sign a waiver to play. The team practices twice a week on borrowed playgrounds throughout the area.

“We don’t have a home field in the area yet,” Hogan said. “We are looking to have something settled within the next few months. All of our preseason games and our first few regular season games are being played on the road.”

The Wolfpack will open their season May 22 in Pensacola. The first scheduled home game is set for June 5 against the Gulf Coast Pirates.