BATON ROUGE, La. --- With Redemptorist and Parkview set to battle for the District 7-3A title on Thursday night, it felt like half of Baton Rouge was crammed into the stadium at PBS.
The stands were packed on one side with Eagles and the other with Wolves. News cameras crowded along the sidelines, and both endzones were lined with seat-less spectators.
When Redemptorist starting running back Jeremy Hill came out of the locker room for warmups, fans screamed for No. 27.
“I spotted him right away,” Hill said. “Jarvis had told me he was going to drive in to watch the game and cheer for me and La’el (Collins), but to know he actually showed up and really supported us was pretty cool.”
Landry, wearing a Lutcher purple and gold letterman jacket that stood out like a sore thumb, seemed more nervous than Hill as he paced behind the endzone before kickoff.
“I don’t know if I should have even told Jeremy I was coming, because now he’s going to have one more thing on his mind,” he said.
He then quickly changed his tune.
“I had to tell him though. It’s like, ‘Hey man we are here for you, so make sure you do your thing.’”
That wasn’t the only person Landry made the 40-minute drive to see, and Landry wasn’t the only future LSU player to make a trip into town.
Hill and teammate La’el Collins – LSU’s first two commitments to the current class and a pair ranked among the top 10 prospects nationally at their position – were able to round up five of LSU’s 17 commitments into one spot on the final weekend of the regular season in Louisiana high school football – an impressive feat to say the least.
If anyone wondered why the tight-knit group of Louisiana born commitments called themselves “The Fam,” wonder no more.
“I felt like it was important to be here and show love for guys who have meant a lot to me over the past couple of years,” Hilliard said. “We had talked about getting out to watch each other if we ever have games that aren’t on Fridays, so when I saw this matchup it was a no-brainer.
“These two guys are killing it on the high school level, and we expect to bring that right away next year at LSU. It’s just fun to watch it all play out.”
To call their senior campaigns anything but spectacular would come across as misinformed.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Hill starts at running back and returns punts. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Collins leads the way at left tackle and doubles as a defensive lineman. Together they form one of the best 1-2 punches in Louisiana.
Two weeks ago Hill broke the Redemptorist school rushing record with 4,853 yards for his career, and on Thursday he closed out a dynamic senior season with a 160-yard effort on 30 carries.
The end result – a small blip on the bigger picture - was disappointment: a fumble by Hill on a bad exchange with 42 seconds left on the clock and Redemptorist pressing at the Parkview 5-yard line. The Eagles kneeled out the game and secured a 9-7 win.
“It was a tough way to end it, but I’m still proud of some things we have accomplished,” Hill said. “I hope we can bounce back in the playoffs and finish strong, and after that I am focused on closing out and getting with those guys over at LSU.”
As the night played out, the bond between LSU’s current commitments became more and more clear.
Hilliard raved about the possibilities of a future spent running behind the blocking of Collins. Landry’s bread and butter was that fans were sleeping on Hill. Martin, seemingly unconcerned with the distant future, raised questions about names still on the board.
“How can we get Odell into this class?” he asked Landry. “I’m calling him a couple of times a week as it is.”
Landry just smiled.
“Give it some time,” he said.
To take it to the recruiting twilight zone, Landry’s cell phone began buzzing midway through the second half.
It was O.P. Walker defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, a sixth member of LSU’s 2011 class. After a 10-minute conversation, Landry hung up the phone and rejoined Martin and Hilliard.
“He was mad that he isn’t here at the game,” Landry said. “Freak will get like that, because he loves watching everyone play.
“Sometimes he will call me on Saturday and say, ‘I came and sat through your whole game last night. You never saw me, but I was watching you.’ It’s pretty funny.”
In a year stacked with homegrown talent considered must-keeps, the bond between a group like The Fam couldn’t have come at a better time.