With all of the great high school players that have spent their Friday nights suiting up for River Parish Football, who was the best? That would be a tremendous debate. Players like Terry Robiskie, A.J. Duhe, Ed Reed, Louis Lipps, LaRon Landry, and Lionel Washington are names from the past that not only left their mark in the River Parishes, but went on to great college and professional careers.
This website began just prior to the 2010 season, so for (this) argument's sake, we will include only those players that we covered first hand over the past seven seasons. Granted a much smaller sample size, but the debate is still immense (please see my Twitter account for reference). The great thing about these type lists is that everyone can have their own. This just happens to be mine:
1. Jarvis Landry (Lutcher, WR/LB/DB, Class of 2011)
Our first year of extensive coverage of River Parish Football, was Jarvis Landry's senior season. Even before that season, Landry was a 5-star recruit, LSU-commit, and considered one of the top wide receivers in the nation. In the games we covered Landry was as advertised as a receiver, but what stood out to me was his play on defense. Listed as a defensive back, he played linebacker as well and put the “ding” in Craig Zeringue's famed defensive unit affectionately known as the “dingoes.”
You can make arguments on who goes where in the hierarchy of the top players from River Parish Football since 2010, but in my opinion, Landry is the clear-cut No.1.
Landry's 288 receptions for the Miami Dolphins is tied with his former LSU teammate Odell Beckham, Jr. as the most after three years in NFL history. Landry will host his third annual Jarvis Landry GiveBack Event this Friday at Lutcher.
2. D'haquille Williams (East St. John, WR, Class of 2011)
I have covered high school football since 1988 in a wide range of the country. When I worked in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania I covered Raghib Ismail. While I worked in Findaly/Toledo, Ohio it was Charles Woodson. Then during a three year stint in Mobile, Alabama I saw the development of a young wide receiver named Julio Jones. D'haquille was every bit as talented as those players.
The proverbial phrase “a man amongst boys” was very appropriate when describing Williams play for the Wildcats. His ability to go up for the “jump ball” was as good as Jones and that's the best I've ever seen.
He finished his senior season at East St. John as a 5-star wide receiver with close to 1,500 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns, many of which were highlight-reel worthy.
Following a collegiate career where he was the No.1 rated JUCO receiver at Mississippi Gulf Coast and a year-and-a-half at Auburn, Williams signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Rams.
After being cut by the Rams just prior to the 2016 regular season, Williams is now in his rookie season for the Edmonton Eskimos and like he did at Auburn, sparkled in his debut with 4 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.
3. Sully Laiche (Lutcher, DT, Class of 2016)
A force defensively since his freshman year, there was no player I've covered that impacted a game more from the nose tackle position like Sully Laiche.
Last week at the Manning Passing Academy I was having a conversation about all the great River Parish players that are excelling at Nicholls State, and I said, Sully used to intimidate opposing centers into making bad snaps (not exactly how I phrased it), and someone there said, “He did it to me.” And he wasn't kidding.
The first time I mic'd up a RPF coach was Robert Valdez for a 2014 West St John vs Lutcher fall scrimmage game. A good portion of that story was Valdez screaming that he had no one to stop 55 (Laiche). “55 is a monster,” said Valdez.
He could sack the quarterback, take on double teams, and fills gaps at opportune times like a game-saving tackle in the 2015 3A State Semifinals. It was fitting that he ended his career helping the Bulldogs to the 3A State Championship.
Like pitchers in baseball are now purely recruited on how fast they throw, I was amazed how major schools missed out on Laiche just because of his measurables.
Nicholls State and River Parish alum Tim Rebowe became the thankful beneficiary of the oversight. Laiche was named a FCS First-Team Freshman All-American after finishing 12th in the nation with 9.5 sacks in his first season with the Colonels.
4. Lowell Narcisse (St. James, QB, Class of 2017)
Thanks to a pair of ACL tears we will never know just how good of a high school quarterback Lowell Narcisse could have been. But from what we saw in his first two seasons was enough to make me believe that he would have put up astronomical career numbers. As it was, he was still one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.
He led a Wildcats team that had not won a game in close to three years to back-to-back state quarterfinal appearances as a freshman and sophomore. After tearing his ACL in the spring game before his junior season, he made an unexpected return late in the 2015 season, and helped St. James into the 3A State Finals.
In an injury-shortened prep career, Narcisse accounted for 99 touchdowns in 30 games (13 in 2013, 13 in 2014, 4 in 2015). His last full season, Narcisse threw for over 3,100 passing yards, rushed for over 1500 yards, and accounted for 60 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Narcisse was an early enrollee at LSU where he was impressive during spring practice.
5. Evan Veron (Riverside, LB, Class of 2017)
Early in the 2013 season a theme began to develop when our RPF videographers would return from Riverside games on Friday nights. I would always ask them what were the top plays of the game. Time after time they would include a young Rebels linebacker recovering a fumble, or making a tackle for a safety. Somehow Evan Veron always seemed to be at the right place making a key play.
As I began to watch more closely, I saw that it was no accident that Veron repeatedly wound up on the highlights. He was a beast. He was intense. He was intimidating. His sophomore season he closed out a spectacular performance against 2A No.1 ranked Newman with an interception in the end zone to seal the win. Two years later when we had Newman coach Nelson Stewart mic'd up for our All-Access Replay show, Stewart called a Veron interception moments before the snap.
Out of a series of tremendous plays I saw Veron make, nothing was more impressive than what I witnessed in the Divison III State Championship, his final high school game. He had already played a sensational game, forcing fumbles, making tackles, basically wreaking havoc as usual when in the second half he made a bone-jarring tackle right in front of where I was shooting highlights from the Riverside sidelines. Veron epitomized toughness and was slow to get up from the hit, and reluctantly came out of the game with what appeared to be a shoulder stinger. He missed a total of one play. Upon returning to the game on the same series, he immediately recorded a tackle-for-loss. He was that type of player.
Like Laiche, no major college offers came Veron's way. It's what made me say when both Veron and Laiche joined RPF defensive stars at Nicholls State like Ahmani Martin, Allen Pittman, Jeff Hall, and Aquindas Steib it wasn't a matter of if the Colonels would win a Southland Conference title, but how many. Georgia found out firsthand how talented both Veron and Laiche were in a near upset in last year's season opener.
More Top 5 lists to come
So the debate is on. No Destrehan players on the Top 5 Players list? Where in the world is Lutcher's All-Time leading rusher Daniel Taylor? Those questions will be answered over the next few weeks in some upcoming Top 5 lists. Your feedback is welcome. You can email your suggestions at email@example.com or at Twitter @Erichonsports. Keep in mind, the lists include players from the RPF-dot-com era which started in the 2010 season. Here are some of the Top 5's that will be coming soon:
Top 5 Quarterbacks
Top 5 Running Backs
Top 5 Wide Receivers
Top 5 Defensive Lineman
Top 5 Linebackers
Top 5 Defensive Backs