ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Gators or Spartans? The line has been drawn in Ascension Parish.
"If you talk to anyone across the state of Louisiana, they tell you the hottest rivalry in the state of Louisiana is definitely the St. Amant Gators and the East Ascension Spartans," said St. Amant booster president James Leblanc.
The match-up between St. Amant and East Ascension high schools is one of the biggest games in the high school football season every year. However, their competition starts long before Friday night.
In a huge pep rally, both schools scream for bragging rights in an annual shout out. Each school is given three chances to scream and cheer the loudest. A sound meter declares the winner.
"This is just an opportunity for them to come together as a school, and as friends and have a good time," said EA Booster Club president Jennia Baye.
The event also raises money for both schools and their sports programs. This year, each school will receive about $10,000.
However, in a competition to be the loudest, it was a quiet moment that revealed what was really important.
A moment of silence honored slain St. Amant student T.J. Toups and Kevin Shillings, the voice of the Gators.
Toups was stabbed to death Saturday, just hours before the school's homecoming dance. The case left many in the parish stunned.
Shillings, a fixture for St. Amant football, passed away Sunday after a brief illness.
"Today we want to love on the Toups family. We want to love on the voice of the Gators, Kevin Shillings," said Leblanc. "The biggest game of the year and we lost two of our own. So this is about them."
Starting the game with such a loss, it seems fitting that St. Amant won the shout out. But, Leblanc said the whole gathering leaves the community a little closer.