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|Rebel nation flocks to Superdome|
An estimated 10,000 West Monroe High School fans converged on New Orleans last weekend to show support for a Rebels team that came to the Big Easy with an unblemished record of 13-0.
"Our fans have been great," West Monroe head coach Don Shows said. "To hear the roar again and the excitement in the community has been tremendous. They are certainly with this football team every step of the way."
The French Quarter, the famous historical district that defines the ambience of New Orleans, was abuzz with red and blue Rebel fans beginning early Saturday morning and until the 7 p.m. kickoff of the Class 5A state championship game against the Destrehan Wildcats.
Great football was something of a rumor in West Monroe before 1993. That was the year Dons Shows proved to the town that good football did not just have to happen on the other side of the river. It could be part of the fabric of West Monroe High School, too.
So it began a mass exodus in 1993 to play the same Destrehan Wildcats that the Rebels would face some 15 years later. This was something special.
From 1996-2002, the Rebels made the trek to New Orleans to play in the Class 5A state championship game every December. It became a part of the routine. It was what West Monroe people did every second weekend of December.
The shops in the French Quarter, from Decatur, to St. Charles, all the way down to Jackson Square and the walls of art, have been just as much a part of what defined West Monroe as anything at the Ark-La-Miss fair or Delta Fest.
Then came that dreadful stretch from 2006-2007 when West Monroe began a two-year hiatus from the championship round.
Sulphur and Acadiana came out of the stacked district 2-5A to push the Rebels from the ranks of the unbeaten in two straight seasons and prevent a chance at glory on the carpet of the Superdome floor.
That is why this one was so special. A return to New Orleans and a chance at gold had arrived back in West Monroe.
The famed "Rebel Store" had its biggest week of sales in two years as people prepared to show off their new West Monroe High School gear at the championship game.
Special T-shirts to commemorate the journey of the 2008 team were printed and could be seen around different places in the city days before the game was scheduled to kickoff.
With flags waving and colors shining bright, the Rebel fans stood behind their team until the final whistle blew. The team fought hard and came up short.
While fans might have drove home from south Louisiana sad in the moment, the smile brought back to this city by a football team that always gave their best, is a memory that will last for quite some time.