State championship brings triumph amidst trials for Westgate HC Ryan Antoine

Beyond The Jersey

NEW ORLEANS, La (KLFY) – For the first time in program history, the Westgate Tigers are bringing home a state championship trophy to New Iberia.

During the celebration, Westgate head coach Ryan Antoine was hugging many of his players after what was an emotional game on so many levels.

It was a championship years in the making, culminating after a decade of Coach Antoine impacting the players Westgate has connected him to.

“Been watching these kids grow up,” Antoine says. “We have a New Iberia program that plays at Westgate, a youth program. So watching these kids grow up, you knew they had something a little different. They’re just buying into the culture, saying that we’re going to give 100 percent effort in everything that we do.”

It’s a culture that has been building for 10 years since Antoine was hired in 2012.

Some highs, some lows. But in the end, every mountaintop and valley paved the way to a historic night at the Superdome in 2021.

“Six years ago guys we were 0-10,” Antoine says. “We couldn’t win a game for nothing. We had to turn this whole culture around. Hats off to these guys for just coming in here and believing in what we were trying to do. We just feel like when you build a culture. And you base it off of love, anything can happen. Love never fails.”

The community of New Iberia packed the stands Friday night to show love to the Tigers.

But two of the most important fans couldn’t be there – Antoine’s mom and dad.

His mom had bleeding in her brain, having to be rushed to ICU on Wednesday, just two days before the state final.

“She comes to every single one of my games of my brother and I,” Antoine says. “She’s never missed a game when I was in pee-wee, when I was in high school, when I was in college and my dad as well.”

After the goal line stand to secure the win, Antoine immediately thought of his mom.

Though his parents weren’t there in person, they were there in spirit, inspiring the entire Westgate team.

“For them not to be at this game tonight, it was really touching and kind of had me off kilter for a litle while,” Antoine says. “For them to make that stop, it let me know that’s what it was all about. It was for her. Those kids played for her.”

The Tigers offensive line coach, Edwin Pierre Sr., was also in the hospital on Friday morning.

He was released just in time to get to the Dome and witness his son, starting center Edwin Pierre Jr., win a championship.

“And he said Coach I would never miss my son’s last game, and we’re gonna win a state championship,” Antoine says. “All those things were coming about and just letting us know it was faith.”

Through adversity on the field and adversity off the field, the bond within the team has remained.

“We’ve been through a lot with these kids,” Antoine says. “From them being suspended for whatever reason, grades, just guys going through a lot of emotional issues. Our kids come from a tough area. Knowing that those kids will be going on, but they’ll be going on as champions now. You gotta put something in front of their name now. You gotta put champion in front of them now. And they deserve that.”

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