That is something they can always hang their hats on: They made Ascension Catholic football relevant again.

Things didn't go as Ascension Catholic had envisioned them heading into Thursday night's Division-IV state title game.

For a whole year, they were forced to play the "what if" game as they looked back on a 2017 championship matchup with Lafayette Christian that was lost with many of their best players sidelined with injuries.

They finally got their chance to rectify that heartbreaking defeat as they met the Knights in a championship rematch. This time, they were at full strength.

But things went sideways.

Lafayette scored on the first play of the game, and in the third quarter, they recovered an errant snap in the end zone that put them ahead 28-7. From then on, the game snowballed into a 56-7 blowout.

The first reaction to losing so emphatically on such a big stage is embarrassment and shame, but the Bulldogs have nothing to hang their heads over.

Thursday night clearly proved that Lafayette Christian was the best team in the state, and the Bulldogs certainly aren't the only team to be dealt a lopsided defeat by them.

They were outscoring their opponents by a ridiculous margin of 57-6 heading into the game. The only close contest they had all year was a 15-point victory over Southern Lab in the semifinals.

They're special, and when you make some uncharacteristic mistakes against them, things can get away from you in a hurry. That's what happened to the Bulldogs.

But one bad showing will not diminish what they have accomplished over these past two seasons. This has been one of the best runs in school history.

Head coach Drey Trosclair went out of his way after the game to laud his senior class. It is composed of some young men that are instrumental in what Trosclair has been able to build at Ascension Catholic over the past four years.

They were the foundation, and with every snap, they just continued to pile brick upon brick until they became a state championship contender.

They were freshmen during Trosclair's first year with the Bulldogs. They went 4-6 that season and missed the playoffs.

But the potential of this group was clear. It was obvious the best days were ahead of them.

The next year, they improved to 6-4 and reached the state quarterfinals.

When they became juniors, it was time for their breakout season. They put it all together and finished with an 8-2 record.

They steamrolled through the playoffs and reached the state title game for the first time in 25 years.

Unfortunately, they were dealt some tough luck with multiple starters getting injured. They walked away with a 10-0 loss.

They vowed to make it back to the dome and right that wrong in 2018, and that's exactly what they did.

The Bulldogs had even a better season as they went 9-1, which included a win over undefeated and top-ranked Kentwood, the eventual Class 1A state champion.

Again, they ripped through the postseason and punched their ticket to the state title game for a second straight year. That's something that hadn't been done since the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

It's tough to see such a wonderful season end the way it did. That 56-7 score certainly doesn't reflect how good this team is and how great they have been over the past two seasons.

But they can find solace in the progression and evolution of the program. That is the fruit of their labor.

That is something they can always hang their hats on: They made Ascension Catholic football relevant again. They brought the program back to those glory days when they were dominating Class 1A every year and looking look a shoe-in for a trip to the dome.

That transformation was made with their hard work. It was made with their blood, sweat and tears.

So as they move on, that's what they should look back to--not that December night in the dome when things went awry. That night does not define them.

What does define them is the fact that the program is at a much better place now than it was when they started out as freshmen.

Ascension Catholic will certainly miss those seniors: Jamar Barber, Mason Zeringue, Michael Medine, Alex Cedotal, John Mire, Andrew Landry, Rodney Blanchard, Jamil Truxillo, Alex Hebert, Parker Hales, John Broussard, Dillion Davis, Alex Gros, Jacob Matirne and Ethan Arceneaux.

It's now in the hands of the returning players to make sure their classmates can continue the excellence.