Lyons: Riverside Rebels revel in championship season
Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Riverside Academy baseball coach Frank Cazeaux has no idea what happened Saturday evening.
Oh sure he knows his team won the Division III state championship, taking a 2-0 win over No. 2 seed Ouachita Christian in Sulphur.
He knows there’s a new golden trophy now sitting in the school hallway, and his phone is overflowing with text messages and voicemails from friends and fellow coaches who want to congratulate him.
But Monday morning, the 33-year veteran coach had to watch a cell phone video of the final out and the ensuing celebration to see how it all went down. He watched it three times.
“I don’t remember any of this,” Cazeaux said. “I was like The Rain Man out there.”
Cazeaux missed a spectacularly executed dog pile by the Riverside Academy baseball players, who performed the traditional pileup on the mound of Field 37 at McMurry Park.
Mason Vicknair, who had done a masterful job on that mound for the Rebels, holding Ouachita Christian to seven hits and striking out six, was on the bottom.
“Once everybody joined in I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I was just trying to get everyone off me.”
“I just wanted to spear the first person I saw,” said Shaine Tregre.
No one was stopping center fielder Dane Edler, who went airborne to jump on top of the pile.
“Yeah, he landed on me,” said Connor Poche. “It hurt.”
“I got hit with a knee,” said Trey Catoire.
“An elbow,” said Colton Duhon.
Jordan Loving, meanwhile, was in the back, trying to stuff the game ball in his back pocket for safekeeping.
“It wouldn’t go,” he said. “By the time I just gave up, everybody was on the field and I got tackled. It all happened so fast,”
The coaches, meanwhile, gathered in a hopping group hug for several moments.
But Cazeaux doesn’t remember that either.
“Where were we?” he asked, watching the video again, then laughing when he saw the group hop through the frame together.
After unpiling the pile, the Rebels gathered on the mound again (upright this time) to get their rewards.
Vicknair got the game’s Most Valuable Player award, then the team swarmed forward to get the state championship trophy (which later would barely survive a stop at McDonald’s on the way home).
It was Riverside’s third baseball state championship trophy and the school’s second state championship trophy this school year.
This one is special, though.
“I was confident,” said Cazeaux, who won a previous title as the head coach at Rummel in 1997.
“I just wasn’t too sure if the kids knew what we were about to get into. Sure enough, they did what they were supposed to do. They did an outstanding job. I knew, having Mason on the mound, he wasn’t going to leave anything out there. I knew Jordan Loving wasn’t going to leave anything out there.”
Cazeaux can also thank the football team just a little. The Rebels also won the Division III football championship in December.
Several baseball players were on the Superdome carpet for that one too and they’re still pinching themselves.
“You couldn’t ask for a better senior year,” said Zack Breaud. We definitely had a great year in sports.”
“You certainly can’t ask for more,” said Loving, the junior who was the quarterback of the football team and the game MVP in the Dome. He pitched a 5-hitter in Thursday’s 7-2 semifinal victory over Opelousas Catholic. “It’s amazing to win two championships. I’m ready to go win another one.”
“It gave you a taste for it,” said Trey Catoire, who had an interception return for a touchdown in the football championship game and played outfield Saturday. “It makes you hungry for more.”
Riverside assistant coach Johnny Owen has been starving.
Long before any of these Riverside Rebels were even a gleam in their parents’ eyes, Owen was the baseball coach at East St. John High School and led the Wildcats to a state title.
They remain the state’s only baseball team to finish unbeaten at 28-0.
“It feels just as good,” Owen said. “You’re just happy for the kids.”
Lori Lyons is sports editor at L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545 or email@example.com.