MANDEVILLE – Outside of the Lakeshore High football family and friends, the refrain has been all too familiar.
“Lakeshore isn’t supposed to be here, they are going to get beat, they have not played anybody.”
For the past three seasons, the Titan senior class has heard the naysayers talk about how they don’t belong among the elite football programs in Class 4A.
Reaching the state championship game two years ago and state quarterfinals in 2018, the Titans, the top-ranked team in all of Class 4A, continue to make the naysayers look foolish and they will look to do it again in a state semifinal showdown against Warren Easton Friday night at Titan Coliseum.
“I really don’t understand why everyone still thinks we are not supposed to be here,” senior defensive tackle Zach Bernard said. “Because every year we show up and are contending and fighting for the respect we deserve. I feel like outside of our fanbase that we are disrespected as a team and a program and that motivates us. We play with a chip on our shoulder and it’s been one of our biggest motivations since I got on campus. Nobody thinks we are going to win and go far. It’s the ultimate fuel for us to go out there and just prove people wrong.”
Now 13-0 on the season, the Titans are coming off of a 57-0 quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Bastrop in which quarterback/defensive end Christian Westcott accounted for eight touchdowns. On the season, the senior has accumulated 3,594 yards of total offense and 65 touchdowns and also has an interception return for a score.
“I know for this senior class, including myself, we are trying to soak in everything that comes with this week,” Westcott said. “It’s our last home game in this place and if everything pans out the way you want it to, you only have two more weeks of football practice. We know how good we are and we know what we have done the last three years in this program. That’s all the really matters. We have proven it to people, even if they don’t accept it. It’s like what Zach said; we wear it as a big chip on our shoulder and prove everyone wrong.
“People ask me if it gets me angry and actually at this point, we just sit back and laugh at it. We just continue to win games, that’s all we care about. This senior class has been through all the highs and all the lows. The experience we have gotten these last three years is what we expect to do. Back in the summer we expected to do what we are doing. None of this has been surprising. All we want to do is win.”
Another one of the top players for the Titans, senior Jake Smiroldo, who leads the team with 30 catches and has five touchdown receptions, said he can’t wait for Friday night.
“Having gone through a week like this (state semifinals) before helps a whole lot,” he said. “A lot of our starters were not just part of that team, but played significant roles. That is huge. We are an emotional team, but are playing with a tremendous sense of confidence. We want to show everyone what we are all about. Emotions will only benefit us.
“I personally don’t feel like we are an underdog but I know a lot of my teammates have that sentiment. It makes me laugh, honestly; I mean we just take the approach of just having to go prove people wrong yet again. We just have to play our game.”