The Jena Giants football team made history once again last Friday night as they defeated the Amite Warriors in the quarterfinal round of the LHSAA Div. III Non-Select playoffs.
Amite came into the game ranked #8 while Jena was ranked #1. It was Amite that beat Jena last year during the quarterfinals in Amite, but this year, the Giants’ revenge tour continued as they won the game 30-7 before a packed Guy Campbell Memorial Stadium.
The win not only made history as the first quarterfinal win in the school’s program, but it also propelled them into the semifinal round for the first time ever and leaves them just one win away from the state championship game in New Orleans December 8.
The Giants will face the Union Parish Farmers, ranked #4, this Friday night in Jena with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
“You have done what no other Jena team has ever done,” Head Coach Jay Roark excitedly told his team after the game Friday night. “Now, enjoy the moment and be here tomorrow (Saturday) as we get ready for Union. We are not done!”
Union Parish is no stranger to the Giants as they knocked Jena out of the playoffs in 2018 and 2021. They are also no strangers to semifinal games or visits to the Superdome in New Orleans while playing for state titles.
Both teams play similar styles of football, relying on a heavy ground attack with a mixture of passing. It should be a physical and exciting game that all of LaSalle Parish is eagerly awaiting.
The winner of the Jena-Union game will face the winner of the Sterlington Panthers, ranked #2, and the St. James Wildcats, ranked #3, in the LHSAA Div. III Non-Select State Championship game set for 3:30 p.m. at Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans on December 8.
During the postgame, on-field team meeting shortly after the final horn blew last Friday, Offensive Coordinator Whitney McCartney summarized to the team just how close they were to achieving their goal of playing in the Superdome for a state title.
“You are just four quarters away from the dome,” he screamed. “Just four more quarters and we are there!”
Union Parish has a large crowd that travels to games and officials are expecting one of the largest crowds ever to attend a football game in Jena this week.
They note that tickets to the game may be purchased throughout the week at the Jena High School main office and recommend fans arrive a little earlier than usual to accommodate for parking and the large crowd.
It should also be noted that the last time Union came to Jena for a football game was in 1993. During that time period, Jena and Union, known as the Farmerville Farmers back then, were in the same district and during 1992 Union beat Jena in Farmerville 49-0.
During 1993, Farmerville came to Jena where the Giants’ head coach was June Fowler with his brother Mack Fowler assisting. In the 1993 matchup, exactly 30 years ago, Jena won the game 46-16 despite many believing Farmerville would win.
The set up for Friday night’s matchup seems straight from a Hollywood script, as Union prepares to come back to Jena after beating Jena in 2021 in Farmerville.
This is an historic moment for all of LaSalle Parish as the first-ever semifinal football game will be held in Jena. It will be a game where the Giants have the opportunity to go where no parish football team has ever been – to the state championship game with the chance to win a state title.