BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Episcopal's Travis Bourgeois enters his 18th season as the Knights' head coach, just as Sportsline Summer Camp begins its 18th year.
However, it's more recent history that has the focus of his senior football players.
"It's always good to play week 11, but playing week 12 just brings a little more to the table," said Bourgeois, whose team was 6-4 in 2016, but lost a Division III first round game to Catholic of New Iberia 31-14. "You know, they haven't won a first round playoff game, so that's been our slogan all year."
Episcopal last played in week 12 when seniors like quarterback Kade Edenfield and Chris Hatzis were eighth graders and the 2013 Knights had a first-round bye as the LHSAA's No. 1 seed in Division III. Bourgeois led his team to a 28-21 quarterfinal victory that year over St. Thomas Aquinas, but a loss to Archbishop Hannan in the semifinals started a string of four straight playoff setbacks.
Northlake Christian gave Episcopal an early exit from the playoffs when they were freshmen with a 27-21 first round victory in 2014 and a 42-21 loss to Newman in week 11 of 2015 extended the drought when they were sophomores.
"We've had some tough first round games and unfortunately, we've come out on the losing end, but it's a challenge to these seniors," Bourgeois added.
Episcopal is missing seven starters on defense, including its entire defensive line lost to graduation, but Bourgeois has plenty of experience on offense, especially at the skill positions. Besides Edenfield and Hatzis, a 5-foot-7 All-District running back, the Knights welcome back another senior running back, Caden Dickinson, and 6-foot-2 tight end Dawson Sharp, another senior who doubles as a linebacker on defense.
Another senior, Russell St. Romain, will handle punting and placekicking and Alec Escuder, a 6-foot-4 295-pound senior is one of two returning offensive linemen expected to keep the running game going and give Edenfield the protection he needs in the passing game.
There are a few new opponents on the Knights' schedule starting with the season opener against Class 4A St. Michael. The others come in back-to-back weeks in October, when Episcopal faces new district opponent Port Allen, which d ropped down from 3A, and a non-district game with 3A Baker.