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Football: Cajun seniors dealing with 'sad time' in different ways

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Dec. 27, 2019

In seasons gone by, some never knew for sure when the end would come.

Would it be in the final game of the regular season on a team denied a bowl opportunity? Would be in the bowl itself? When, or when?

This year, though, there is no mistaking when things will finish for more than a dozen Ragin’ Cajuns seniors.

UL faces MAC-champion Miami (Ohio) in the Jan. 6 LendingTree Bowl at Mobile, ending a 14-game year for a now 10-3 team that also included a regular season-ending win over in-state rival UL Monroe at Cajun Field followed by a Sun Belt Conference championship game loss at now-No. 20 Appalachian State.

For some, avoidance of even thinking about the finish line nearing has been a necessity.

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“I’ve kind of been going one game at a time, just thinking, ‘I’ve got one more game,’ ” inside linebacker Jacques Boudreaux said.

“All the coaches tell me ‘we’re very proud of you guys and everything you’ve done,’ and I always tell them, ‘Man, we’ve got one more. Let’s go win it.’ ”

For several others, however, the matter has weighed on their mind for several weeks now.

“I’ve thought about it,” said All-American offensive lineman Kevin Dotson, who has a potential NFL career in front of him.

“I probably already went through my little sad time. I thought about at the ULM game. ‘This is the last time I’m gonna play on this field. … It’s the last time ever. This is last time I will play on this field in pads, ever.’ It just got of got to me.”

Receiver Bam Jackson knows the feeling.

Related: 'This season's been a blur' for UL receiver Bam Jackson

On Senior Night against ULM, he said, “I sat down in the corner in the end zone, and I was just looking around and just soaking it all in.”

Same thing when UL played App State in the title game.

“To think about where I came from, being here five years, having a torn ACL my true freshman year, bouncing back from that, progressing back to my old self, and with the new staff coming in and making me a better football player and a better person and a better man – it kind of hit me,” Jackson said.

When he arrived at UL from East St. John High in the Baton Rough area, Jackson was not sure if he’d make it through his whole college career at UL.

“My true freshman year,” he said, “I hated it out here.”

He had few friends. His injury kept him off the field. He went back home every weekend.

With time, however, the circle of those he was close to grew. Now he calls it a “band of brothers.”

“Now it’s like I can’t leave here,” Jackson said. “It’s grown on me. … When I go to my actual house, I’ll be like, ‘I’m ready to go back home.’ ”

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Home that, is, to Lafayette and the Acadiana area, where Jackson things much like Boudreaux does now.

“I kind of fell in love with this place,” said Boudreaux, a Holy Cross product from New Orleans who didn’t want to call Lafayette ‘home’ at first but could see himself living here now if circumstances presented themselves.

“The people, the culture, just everything, the energy around here, is positive and I really do enjoy that.”

For Boudreaux, the end will come when the bowl game finishes in New Orleans.

Until then, he’s trying not to ponder days beyond then.

Soon, though, he must.

“Obviously after this Jan. 6 game I’m not, we’re not, gonna have one more,” he said. “It will be the last time we ever wear that ‘Ragin’ Cajun,’ that vermilion and white.”

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That’s when Boudreaux can start to process it all, much one of the hometown Cajuns – safety Deuce Wallace, a St. Thomas More High product – will do too.

Unlike Dotson and other UL seniors who have postseason All-Star game obligations and possible pro games ahead of them – offensive lineman Robert Hunt, receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley, cornerback Michael Jacquet III, running back and return man Raymond Calais Jr. – this really is it for Wallace and some of the rest.

“It probably won’t hit me until it’s over, when I’m gonna try to go game plan, then there’s nothing to game plan for, for me,” Wallace said, turning reflective as he did.

“This is my passion. I love it. I love everything about it. Every aspect of the game. What it brings, what it does.

“There’s no telling how I’m gonna react,” Wallace added, “when the game’s over.”

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