Sicily Island fields first high school football team in 12 years
SICILY ISLAND — For Cody Seals, the opportunity to play high school football came better late than never.
Seals, a senior linebacker at Sicily Island High School, suited up for the Tigers in their opening junior varsity game against Wossman High School Monday evening.
Normally, that wouldn’t be considered out of the ordinary in Louisiana. But prior to Monday, Seals hadn’t played football since eighth grade — and Sicily Island hadn’t fielded a high school team since 2001. The Tigers lost, 30-0, but Seals said it was nice just being able to play for his high school.
“It’s pretty difficult waiting four years to play,” Seals said. “The school used to be big for football, so it’s exciting to get it back up.”
Sicily Island head basketball coach Curtis Shavers coached football prior to the program being shut down in the early 2000s. He said the issue was always a lack of numbers, but over the summer, the ball got rolling to start the school’s high school program back up.
“Coach (Damon) Price felt there were enough kids interested, and the community started getting behind him and making a good push to reestablish the program,” Shavers said.
Price, who coached junior high football at Sicily Island the last two years, said the school recently consolidated into a grades 7-12 school, which finally gave them a big enough pool of athletes to start the football program back up.
“It’s really special,” Price said of bringing high school football back to Sicily Island.
“I was telling the kids, I was on the team in 1991 that made it to the state semifinals. We got beat on our own field, and I haven’t forgotten about it. Everyone on the team has relatives that played here. Football runs deep (in Sicily Island).”
As required by Louisiana High School Athletic Association regulations, a school can only compete against junior varsity competition for its first two seasons before being eligible to play varsity football.
“Those two years will get us ready,” Price said.
Shavers said getting football back in Sicily Island would keep interested athletes from moving on to greener pastures.
“Before, there was no opportunity to play football unless they transferred out,” Shavers said. “We lost a number of quality athletes to Block (High School) — kids that wanted to play football.”
Seals said he stayed at Sicily Island despite his desire to play football out of loyalty to the school.
“I never considered (transferring),” Seals said. “I grew up here and never wanted to leave. I could have gone to Vidalia or Jonesville, but I wanted to stay here.”
And now, his loyalty has been rewarded, as Seals is finally getting to play under the bright lights at Joe Raymond Peace Stadium. It was a long time coming, but at least one coach said he saw this moment coming for the Sicily Island student-athletes.
“In all honesty, I thought this day would come,” Shavers said. “The community always wanted (football) back, and we finally got the right people to get it done.”