- Feature Story
- George Becnel
- October 11, 2016 - 6:41pm
They were there for Tim Rebowe when he needed them most.
With Nicholls clinging to a 35-28 lead over Stephen F. Austin in double-overtime last Saturday in Thibodaux, the Colonels needed a defensive stop to win the game – and there they were. Of the 11 players on the field for the Nicholls defense, five were from the River Parishes.
There was Sully Laiche, the former Lutcher Bulldog on the defensive line. Linebackers Evan Veron of Riverside Academy and Allen Pittman from Destrehan were there as well. Helping to man the secondary was Jeff Hall of St. Charles Catholic and former East St. John Wildcat Ahmani Martin.
They weren’t just there – they were difference makers. On second-and-10 from the Nicholls 12-yard line, Lumberjacks running back Kijana Amous got the ball – and the River Parish guys did the rest.
“It was good to see Sully get in there and beat the block, get his hand in there and cause the fumble. Evan Veron was right there at the same time and he really knocked the ball away as it was coming out. Then Allen Pittman, a kid from Destrehan, was Johnny-on-the-spot to jump on it and seal the victory for us,” said Rebowe, a one-time Destrehan coach.
“I broke through the line and I saw (Amous) didn’t have it (the ball) high and tight like he’s supposed to. I decided I would try to make one of those plays and I punched the ball out and Veron came and finished him off and the ball fumbled out. Pittman was right there for the recovery,” Laiche said.
“We knew we had to get a stop, a turnover or something. I saw my guys take the ball out and I saw it and grabbed onto it and held onto it with all my life,” said Pittman.
It was a fitting end to seal the 35-28 triumph for the River Parish Colonels, who are now 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the Southland Conference.
Laiche ended the game with a total of 14 tackles. Pittman was second with 10.
The 14 tackles by a defensive lineman is the most in a single game that many long-time Colonel followers could recall.
“I never really expected on getting that many. Coach (Anthony Camp, the Colonels’ defensive line coach) just put me in the right position at practice. We studied the film and I just capitalized on every opportunity that I had,” said Laiche.
“He’s tough to block. He’s strong and quick. He gets in the backfield and he’s disruptive. He’s done a great job of getting to the ball carrier and he’s finishing the play once he’s there. He seems like he’s always around the ball,” Rebowe said of Laiche.
Laiche also always seems to be around the awards. Starting as a true freshman, he has garnered recognition on a several occasions through his first five games as a Colonel.
For his effort against the Lumberjacks, Laiche was named the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Week, the Southland Conference Player of the Week and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Defensive Player of the Week.
“I tend to hone that out,” Laiche said of individual honors. “I’m not there to be a star. I’m just there to help my man on the side of me. Coach (Camp) always talks about going to war with somebody and I’d pick anybody on that team to go to war with. That’s just other things that come with playing football. I’m not too worried about all the other stuff that comes with it.”
Pittman finished second behind Laiche with 10 tackles against SFA.
The effort of Laiche, Pittman and others just represents what River Parish players are all about, according to Rebowe.
“We all know about the area. It has good football players. They know how to compete. They all know how to win. They all come from good programs along that way,” the Nicholls coach said.
“It’s the best football in Louisiana in the River Parishes,” said Pittman.
They River Parish guys also know how to put a few fans in the seats. A crowd of 9,000 was in attendance for the Colonels’ Homecoming last Saturday. It might not seem like many to a lot of schools, but for Nicholls, it represented double the fans that had been showing up for games in recent years.
One of the people in the stands was Patrick Laiche, Sully’s father.
“I’m glad it’s happening. I’ve been hearing that the local college is going to recruit River Parish kids and Coach Rebowe is really the first one to recruit that many River Parish kids. I’m excited about that. Over the years, it’s been one or two here and there but it seems Coach Rebowe is really going out and getting the River Parish kids,” the elder Laiche said.
It wasn’t hard for the Laiche family to locate Thibodaux, since Nicholls is the alma mater of Sully’s mother, Amy.
“When we first started this recruiting process with him Nicholls was the first to offer. We always knew he had a gift and a talent for football and as the whole recruiting process went on and it came to the point where you had to make a decision, Nicholls was my alma mater, so I knew it would be great for him. He had a couple of his friends going there as well and family and friends is important to him as well, so I think that was a great fit for him,” Amy Laiche said.
While the crowds are getting larger at Guidry Stadium, it’s not so big to take away from making out the cheers intended for individual players, such as the cheers coming from the “Sully Laiche section.”
“That’s fun,” said Patrick Laiche. “That’s all River Parish football fans since Sully was in the eighth grade. A lot of the fans, they saw Sully play at the high school level and Sully is no stranger to those fans.”
It was a fun time that extended into the next week for Amy, who is an assistant principal at Lutcher High.
“It’s breathtaking,” Amy Laiche said. “I walked around work all day (on Monday) with my head held up so high and so proud of him, all day long.”
It’s a sense of unity that Sully Laiche and friends had in mind all along.
“Me and Veron and everybody, we talked about, ‘hey, look, we all have offers from Nicholls, how about we go help them out.’ That’s pretty much what we are doing. It’s all coming together and we are turning this program around.”