Lyons: School year filled with special memories for St. John athletes

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 27, 2017

It’s the last weekend in May.

Teachers and students alike are celebrating the end of another school year and trying to reset their body clocks to sleep past dawn.

It’s also a time for reflection.

Some students are tucking away their mortar boards and diplomas before they go off to Florida for Senior Trip.

At some houses, the athletes are looking for new places to put their trophies and medals and frames for the certificates. A few are still getting used to that new ring on their finger.

If you moms are anything like me, you’re scrambling to put those final touches on the school year scrapbooks — you know, the ones where you’re supposed to mark how tall your kid was on the first day of school, then memorialize all the milestones since August.

Like me, you probably meant to keep up all year. Like me, maybe you didn’t.

I’m here to help.

The 2016-17 school year was a doozy for St. John the Baptist Parish athletics, one that will be remembered for many different reasons.

It was the year of “The Other Flood.”

Before things could even get started, Mother Nature brought the ultimate rain delay, flooding much of the Baton Rouge area and surrounding parishes with a torrential three-day rainstorm.

Some Ascension Parish schools were devastated by flooding and their students displaced like ours were not long ago. Some still are. Even now some residents still aren’t in their homes (including my own sister and nephew).

While St. John the Baptist Parish was spared this time, St. James Parish had a close call. In an amazing show of sportsmanship, the St. James football team made its way across the bridge to Lutcher to help sandbag homes and businesses, saving several.

It was the year of “The Split,” the first year public and private schools played for separate championships, not just in football, but also in baseball, basketball and softball.

It was the year Riverside Academy won two state championships, one in football and another in baseball — but not one in basketball.

Go figure.

It was the school’s first LHSAA football title and its third in baseball. It has won five in basketball.

It was the year St. Charles Catholic made some improbable runs in the playoffs.

Despite losing 20 of 22 starters from last year, Frank Monica’s football team reached the Division III championship game only to lose to archrival, Riverside.

The softball team, which had lost six senior players off of arguably one of the best teams coach Ty Monica had fielded, won the District 12-2A title and reached the State Tournament in Sulphur for the 10th time.

The baseball team, which lost all but one starter from last year, reached the State Tournament and lost in the semifinals.

It also was the year the Comets mourned the loss of one of their own.

Senior soccer player Evan Simoneaux died in a car wreck just weeks after being hailed as L’OBSERVATEUR’s Defensive Soccer Player of the Year.

It was the year the East St. John High girls basketball team relived its former glory.

After not making the playoffs three of the last six seasons, coach Stasha Thomas-James’ Lady Wildcats earned their first home playoff game since 2006, then won their first playoff game, reached their first Final Four and the semifinals for the first time since 2004.

It was the year of track scholarships at West St. John.

Sprinter Austin Alexander received a track scholarship to Southern Arkansas and hurdler Marcus Boudoin signed to run track for the University of New Orleans.

Two football players, Jamal Walters and Wonzell Dumas also signed with colleges.

Certainly there were other accomplishments, both large and small, for the area’s student-athletes and coaches.

These are the memories they will cherish and relive years from now at those 10- and 20-year reunions and when they dust off those scrapbooks full of clippings and awards mom put aside for safekeeping.

Just as soon as she finishes them.

Lori Lyons is sports editor at L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545 or