By Jennifer Villaume,
USAREC Baton Rouge Battalion
Jan 17, 2016
It wasn't the score that stood out at the 14th annual U.S. Army Red Stick Bowl Dec. 20 but the passion for the game displayed by players, coaches, educators, family members, friends, and fans in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The Rattlers won 28-21 over the Black Knights in the Army-sponsored event.
The teams are comprised of all-star high school football players from 48 schools in the region. It is Louisiana's biggest high school all-start football game and usually competitive.
Pre-game activities included the U.S. Army Strength in Action Zone, a Baton Rouge Battalion color guard, and ceremonial coin toss. The battalion also funded the game uniforms.
Central High School coach Ken Hilton and Plaquemine High School coach Paul Distefano both made it clear they wanted to win, but also emphasized how important this game was to their players.
"What a masterful job the coaches did in preparing the players for this game," said Lt. Col. Monica Washington, battalion commander. "They displayed tremendous intensity, dedication, motivation, and commitment to the players, and the game clearly demonstrated that they are the master of their craft."
"Great game, very competitive," said Distefano. "It's been a great experience. My kids had a great attitude all week and overall just a great experience."
Rivals before this game, players showed enthusiasm and support for their teammates, congratulating each other on their selections and bonding during one short week of practice.
"It's just about a group of guys coming together and bonding over one thing that we all enjoy doing, which is playing football and having fun doing it," Black Knights player Brennan Boudreaux said. "It is a privilege to have the word Army on the back of my jersey. It's an honor, really. They do enough just protecting us in order for us to play football and then providing us another game, so I'm very grateful for that."
Families and friends showed their passion, from the first team meeting to showing up in mass for the game.
Staff Sgt. Brittany Cruz said recruiters were passionate about the game.
"Never quit, never leave a fallen comrade, so in this instance that's what they're going to do, they're going to finish that game and work as a team." Cruz said. "It is exciting to see all the people around us so excited for this game and these great players."