Locals experienced a range of emotions in ‘08

Peter Silas Pasqua
Former LSU All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, an East Ascension alum celebrates the Tigers’ National Championship victory over Ohio State with running back Charles Scott in the Louisiana Superdome Jan. 7, 2008.

Former LSU All-American and current Kansas City Chief defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said he experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows during his senior season as a Tiger.

Ascension Parish sports fans could relate to the former East Ascension High standout in 2008. The year in athletics took local athletes, coaches and supporters on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, from the pain of tough losses to the indescribable joy of a state championship.

There were changes in the coaching staffs at the area schools and every team suffered a tough loss along the way, a number of them in the postseason.

But it was also a season of unprecedented success. A parish school reached at least the regionals in every sport, achieving many firsts along the way – from East Ascension’s boys’ basketball reaching the semifinals for the first time since 1988 to Donaldsonville’s girls’ basketball playing for their fourth state championship in a decade.

And as the final days of 2008 flew off the calendar, local athletes and teams leave us with one final emotion – the hope of more of the same in 2009.

1. Dorsey leads LSU to National Championship

Former East Ascension High School All-American Glenn Dorsey capped his career at LSU by helping the Tigers to a 38-24 victory over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game in the Louisiana Superdome Jan. 7.

The senior defensive tackle became the first player to win the Nagurski, Lombardi and Outland trophies in the same season and also received the Lott Trophy. Dorsey was also a consensus All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Against Ohio State, Dorsey capped his career with five tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.

Dorsey was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs on April 26 with the No. 5 overall pick and signed a five-year, $51 million contract, joining Andrew “Poncho” Glover and Nathan Black as Spartan alums to play in the NFL.

He recorded his first sack in the league on Nov. 8 against San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and finished his rookie season with 46 tackles and a sack.

2. Sheets starts All-Star game

Former St. Amant High School pitcher Ben Sheets was voted the National League starter for the 79th mid-season exhibition played at Yankee Stadium, the last at the sports cathedral.

Sheets, a four-time All-Star participated in a pre-game parade down Sixth Avenue from Bryant Park to Central Park and stood with MLB Hall of Famers on the mound during introductions before the game. He pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit, while striking out three in his one and only appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Sheets started the first game on Opening Day 2008 in a 4-3 win over the Cubs. In his second start of the 2008 season, Sheets threw only the second, complete-game shutout of his career, beating the San Francisco Giants 7-0 in a five-hit, eight-strikeout performance.

On October 30, 2008 Sheets filed for free agency.

Sheets was named the grand marshal of the Ascension Christmas Parade and led the procession Dec. 7.

3. EA returns to the Top 28

East Ascension returned to the Top 28 tournament for the first time in 20 years under head coach Kenny Almond, losing to Lafayette in the Class 5A semifinals 58-48.

The Spartans finished the season with a record of 37-3 after defeating Ruston, Mandeville and Dutchtown.

“We played our hardest all year,” senior guard Marlon Johnson said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity presented to us. We wish we could have gotten a couple more calls to go our way.

Sometimes that is how it is and you just have to play through it.”

Led by Johnson and fellow seniors Chris Thompson, Jamal Jackson and Brandon Smith, the Spartans won the District 6-5A championship with a 9-1 record.

Donaldsonville and Dutchtown also made the playoffs. The Tigers took second in District 7-2A and advanced to the regionals after defeating South Beuregard in Longville, where they fell to Class 2A finalist Ferriday. Dutchtown took third in District 6-5A garnering a 30th seed before falling to East Ascension in the Class 5A bi-district round.

4. Lady Tigers’ run ends in championship

Donaldsonville returned to the Top 28 seeking its fourth state title and first under head coach Butch Little. The Lady Tigers defeated Evangel Christian in Shreveport to advance to Hammond after defeating Livonia and Menard. There, they defeated Homer 67-59, before falling to former district foe John Curtis 73-42 in the Class 2A championship.

“Very simple,” Little said. “We didn’t play like what we have been playing. Give John Curtis credit for that. If it looks like we are crying it is not because it is over, it is because it happened. We don’t have anything to hold our heads about.”

Led by freshmen sensations Kendra Coleman and Kayla Mollere and junior post player Laneisha Stephens, Donaldsonville coasted to the District 7-2A championship undefeated and finished with an overall mark of 32-3.

Dutchtown also advanced to the Class 5A regionals after defeating Hammond where they fell to Denham Springs 53-34. The Lady Griffins led by District 6-5A MVP, freshmen Ka’Neisha Cobbins, won the district championship with a 9-1 mark and finished 25-10 overall.

5. St. Amant, ACHS Sulphur bound

St. Amant and Ascension Catholic advanced to the semifinals of the LHSAA Top 56 Fastpitch State Softball Tournament in Sulphur.

The Lady Gators defeated John Ehret and Chalmette before downing Denham Springs in Sulphur. St. Amant fell to Pineville 1-0 and finished the season 28-7-1.

Led by District 6-5A MVP, pitcher Amie Parent and fellow first-team All-State selection Kandace Boudreaux, the Lady Gators won the District 6-5A title for the seventh consecutive season with a 9-1 mark under head coach Scott Nielson.

The Lady Bulldogs defeated East Iberville and Archbishop Hannan to advance to the state tourney before ousting St. Joseph in Sulphur. Ascension Catholic fell to Ouachita Christian 5-4 and finished the season 28-12.

Led by District 9-1A MVP, pitcher Ashlyn Grisaffe and fellow first-team All-State selections Allison Falcon and Annie Ourso the Lady Bulldogs rolled through district for their second consecutive crown under first-year head coach Cliff Kliebert.

East Ascension and Dutchtown also returned to the postseason finishing with identical 7-3 district marks. .

The Lady Spartans defeated Walker before falling to Mandeville in the Class 5A regionals. East Ascension finished with a record of 28-9-2

The Lady Griffins defeated Thibodaux before being ousted by Ruston in the Class 5A regionals. Dutchtown finished with a record of 22-11.

6. Dutchtown, ACHS baseball quarterfinalists

Dutchtown and Ascension Catholic advanced to the quarterfinals in the baseball playoffs of their respective classes.

The Griffins defeated Lafayette and Brother Martin to advance to the Class 5A state tournament where they fell to Catholic 7-5 to finish the season 23-16.

Led by pitcher Dillon Day, outfielder Donnie White and infielder Justin Boudreaux, the Griffins took second-place honors in District 6-5A under first-year head coach Chris Schexnaydre after finishing 9-6 in district play.

The Bulldogs defeated Oak Grove and St. Edmund before being knocked out by St. Martin’s Episcopal 12-1 in the Class 1A quarterfinals to finish the season 16-14.

Led by pitcher Charles Caballero, infielder Taylor Marcello and outfielder Ross Noel, the Bulldogs coasted through District 9-1A play under head coach Todd Landry finishing with an 8-0 record and the league title.

East Ascension also made the postseason after earning the 6-5A title outright with a 10-5 district mark. The Spartans led by District MVP Dane Amedee fell in the Class 5A regionals 5-4 to Ponchatoula to finish 26-11 after defeating John Ehret in the first round.

7. St. Amant boys track runner-up

The St. Amant boys’ track team finished second to Catholic at the LHSAA Class 5A state track and field meet in April at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium under head coach Dwayne Thomassee despite only having seven compete. 

Brandon Morris won the triple jump and Wayne Douglas placed second in the event, while Josh Jordan won the javelin throw and Adam Hebert placed in three events. 

Donaldsonville’s boys placed third behind St. James and Episcopal in Class 2A.

Champlain Babin won the 300 hurdles and the relay team of Babin, Terrance Jackson, Jordan Rosemond and Justin Breaux won the 800 meter run.

Dutchtown’s girls took fourth behind Barbe, New Iberia and Fontainebleau.

Freshmen Raven Sims won the 100 meter dash and Maureen Gros placed second in the discus.

Dutchtown’s Paul Madere won the 110-hurdles and Kevin Saia won the shot put.

Donaldsonville’s Kacey Elphage also defeated her title in the 100 hurdles.

East Ascension’s Chris Thompson placed second in the high jump.

8. Griffins, Tigers football regionalists

Dutchtown and Donaldsonville both advanced to the football regional playoffs off their respective classes.

Dutchtown overcame replacing eight starters on defense to make the postseason for the fifth straight season under head coach Benny Saia.

The Griffins, led by district Offensive MVP Eddie Lacy, entered the final week of play with a share of the District 6-5A championship on the line and avenged its first loss of the season in the bi-district playoffs against Hahnville. Dutchtown’s season came to an end in Lake Charles at the hands of Barbe in the Class 5A regionals  and the Griffins finished 8-3.

Donaldsonville completed a perfect regular season and won its second consecutive District 7-2A championship making to the postseason for the fourth consecutive season under head coach Gary Adkins.

The Tigers, led by district Offensive MVP Bryant Dunn, advanced to the Class 2A regionals after defeating Westminister Christian before being ousted by Loyola Prep and finishing 9-1.

9. Lady Griffins unblemished in soccer

district

Dutchtown won the District 6-I championship outright with an undefeated 10-0 district mark.

Led by district offensive MVP Chelsea Cruthirds, the Lady Griffins failed to advance in the postseason losing to Northshore to finish the season 21-3-1.

East Ascension and St. Amant also made the playoffs.

The Lady Spartans defeated Natchitoches Central in the first round of the Division I playoffs before being ousted by C.E. Byrd in the regionals 2-1 to finish 14-9-5.

The Lady Gators fell to Fontainebleau in the first round 6-0 to finish 8-14-3.

10. Dutchtown,?EA advance to soccer

playoffs

Dutchtown and East Ascension both advanced to the Division I playoffs.

The Griffins advanced to the regionals with a victory over West Monroe before being ousted by top ranked Caddo to finish 14-11-4.

The Spartans fell to Northshore in the bi-district playoffs and finished 22-4-2 after winning the District 6-1 championship.

Lagnaippe: St. Amant’s Abbas Lyamoun wins the Class 5A state wrestling title in the 285-pound class, Dutchtown’s Spencer May wins the Division I state swimming title in the 100 butterfly, Gonzales awarded 2010 Dixie World Series, Lee, Waguespack win Canal Bank Bass Bash Classic.

Ben Sheets, 2008’s National League All-Star starting pitcher, signs his autograph on a baseball for a young fan before the Christmas Parade.