AMITE, LA (WAFB) - By Johnny Lombardi
Coming off three consecutive postseason heartbreaks, the storylines for the 2017 Amite football team could not be more obvious. Warriors head coach Zephaniah Powell says the team is using those experiences to learn and realizes their community is ready for this year to finally be the year.
"Our community is hungry," said Powell. "We hear it, we feel it, there's pressure there, and there are expectations."
The Amite story goes back three years, where a talented Warriors team got blown out by Livonia in the 2015 state championship game.
Two years ago, with Amite seemingly on their way back to the Superdome, the Warriors were controversially disqualified from their semifinal appearance after a brawl against Bogalusa at the end of their blowout victory.
A year later, Amite made their redemption trip back to The Dome, only to fall four points against Lutcher in the 3A state championship.
Fast forward to this year, where Powell and his staff have the challenge to replace the dynamic offensive duo of Elijah Walker and Devonta Smith. Powell believes that the Warriors have "some of the best skill guys in the state of Louisiana" to fill those voids.
On defense, Amite will be anchored by junior defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher, the No. 1 nationally ranked player in the class of 2019.
But there is one secret ingredient being used by Powell: history. The coaching staff has been showing players video footage from Amite state championships in the past, hoping to motivate them to take the final step this time around.
"The last state championship was in 2004," said Powell. "That team was unbelievable."
"We actually show our kids the state championship games from '94, '99 and 2004. Our kids, our community, and our school shouldn't want anything less. It's a state championship in our area or nothing else," Powell said.
For Amite to finish their journey back to The Dome for the third time in four years, the Warriors will have to roll through unfamiliar territory due to playing in a new district this season.