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Glory Days: W.E. NOLA

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A true freshman on the Texas A&M football team has an inspiring, powerful story. Don't miss this piece.

Warren Easton High School - or "W.E." as it is known by locals - sits in the heart of New Orleans. Warren Easton is the oldest public high school in Louisiana and counts Master P and Trombone Shorty as alumni. And Lee Harvey Oswald, but that's neither here nor there.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina pounded the high school so badly that it nearly shuttered its doors for good. The damage from the hurricane was so pronounced that the school closed for one year while many of the residents of the surrounding community fled to Texas, Mississippi, and elsewhere to survive. As the city recovered, the renowned spirit and resilience of New Orleans shown through as the community rallied to keep W.E. alive.

"Glory Days: W.E. NOLA" is a short film about the school's football team and their 2014 run to the state title game. The context and framing around the story is the school and community's recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

2014 was an unprecedented season for Warren Easton. The team was led by quarterback Deshawn Capers-Smith - winner of the Louisiana Mr. Football award. Capers-Smith nearly took the school to its first state championship since WWII. Ultimately, W.E. came up just short against Neville - a high school power that SEC diehards are familiar with - in the Superdome.

Shortly after the season, Capers-Smith committed to Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M to play cornerback.

The story of Warren Easton's 2014 football team is remarkable. The trip to State was only the second time many of these kids had ever been to the Superdome. The first time? The 1.5 mile bus trip when they were six or seven years old from Warren Easton to the dome during Hurricane Katrina.

I had the opportunity to speak with the director of "W.E. NOLA", Colin Barnicle, about a number of things ranging from what high school sports mean for Americana, to New Orleans, to the makeup and character of Deshawn Capers-Smith.

In the film, you'll get a great picture of the type of young man that Aggieland is getting in Deshawn Capers-Smith. It's possible that one of the best quarterbacks on the A&M roster is currently preparing to play cornerback. How's this for a senior year in Louisiana high school football:

  • 3,379 passing yards
  • 47 passing TDs to 1 INT
  • 1,138 rushing yards
  • 21 rushing TDs
It's beyond me that Capers-Smith wasn't offered by the perpetually QB-barren LSU Tigers with his blue chip, five star WR teammate Tyron Johnson. Instead, he's coming to College Station where there is a decent chance he'll never get to play quarterback.

Beyond Capers-Smith's athletic ability is the character of a fine young man. In talking with Colin Barnicle, the Texas A&M family is getting a remarkably humble, mature, stand-up guy. The kid they call "Lefty Jr." has seen more obstacles and challenges be overcome by age 18 than most see in a lifetime. Capers-Smith is the kind of guy that has the humility to embrace a major position change if it means helping the team win football games.

I urge you to watch the film. It captures the greatness of high school football, pep rallies, and community - all with a twist that is uniquely New Orleans. For the players on the 2014 Warren Easton football team, they don't have many memories of what New Orleans was like before Katrina. Their whole lives, they've listened to the previous generations get nostalgic about how great New Orleans was.

In "W.E. NOLA", we get a glimpse of a generation hell bent on showing you how great New Orleans is while writing their own history. It helps put distance between them and Katrina. This is a story of resilience, redemption, and how a simple game like football can unite a community. I hope you dig it as much as I did.

Gig 'em, Deshawn.

Check out the great images. Deshawn Capers-Smith is #1.
All images credit: Nick Strini/Colin Barnicle

Special thanks to:

- Christopher Isenberg, Executive Producer, Victory Journal

- Colin Barnicle, Director

- Madeline Peters, Public Relations

Be sure to check out more of their great projects at victoryjournal.com and prospectproduction.com