Watching his family and flooding from afar

While many of his family's belongings were lost in the flooding, everyone got out safetly.
Rhodes athletics photo

Sometimes statistics matter little in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes winning isn’t always the only thing and losses aren’t the end of the world.

Sometimes you see the world differently when real life throws a curveball, and Zachary Stuart knows that as well as anyone. Stuart is a sophomore defensive back at Rhodes and watched from afar as flooding in Louisiana overwhelmed his hometown of Denham Springs, which is located a little over 11 miles outside of Baton Rouge.

Stuart was in school already because football camp was underway for the Lynx. So in terms of helping his family out, well, he was helpless.

Fortunately, his family, with only a handful of belongings in their possession, got out before the worst of the flood, which left more than 20,000 in need of rescue.

“It happened fast and at first I wasn’t sure what was even going on,” Stuart said. “The streets flooded in a matter of like 16 hours. My family was lucky to get out before the flooding, and they were one of the homes with flood insurance. It’s hard to find the words to describe what they went through. I’m glad they came out of it OK.”

The flooding didn’t attract major news coverage, and most of the updates Stuart received on the situation were courtesy of text messages from friends and Snapchat conversations.

To get an idea of just how much damage the water did, consider this: Stuart is 5-foot-9-inches tall; the water level inside his family’s home was nearly to his head.

“It was above my shoulders,” Stuart said.

Under that water were personal belongings that can never be recovered because they have been washed away by the ugly side of nature. So many other families experienced the same thing because as Stuart said, “The town was underwater.”

But Stuart’s family still had their lives, and it beats the alternative. When he goes home for holidays this year, he’ll be staying in an apartment where his family now lives.

“It’s going to be different,” Stuart said. “It’s never flooded like that before in our town. It’s still hard to believe it happened. I don’t think it’s really hit home yet for me.”

This wasn’t the first time Stuart has dealt with flooding in his life. He was a child when Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans. He was staying with his father at the time, and although he is too young to remember most of the details of the experience, he does remember one thing.

“The levy broke on my birthday,” Stuart said. “I just remember things being hectic and I was kind of like, ‘Hey, it’s my birthday.’ I also couldn’t get ahold of my mom at the time because of everything going on.”

Football helped him keep his focus during the flooding last month. It served as a distraction for him.

“It was an outlet for me,” Stuart said. “I’m having a great time playing here and I’m getting a good education, too. I’ve really focused on being more disciplined this year on the field.”

If there is a lesson to be learned from the flooding experience, though, it’s that there is always hope. Stuart talked about the glimmer of it that shined during the flooding.

“The high school football field was underwater but our logo was still showing,” Stuart said. “I thought that was pretty cool."

Warriors keep winning

Dayton Winn is tough to stop, and his 66-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game Saturday for Hendrix set the tone in the Warriors’ 42-14 win over Millsaps in SAA action.

The run turned out to be the second-longest in program history and helped fuel an offensive attack that cranked out 546 yards, including 152 from Winn, who put up 100 or more rushing yards in a game for the 21st time in his career.

Hendrix averaged 9.1 yards per play in its latest win and is averaging just over 8 yards per play (8.4) overall this season. The Warriors have scored 40 or more in every game and are cranking out close to 600 yards per game (583).

Winn has played a big part in the success, rushing for more than 300 yards and six touchdowns as the Warriors extended their regular-season win streak to five games.

Ethan Hoppe wasn’t bad either. He caught a career-high nine passes for 109 yards while Jake Falleur tied a school record with three pass break-ups. Deric Witherspoon tallied a career-high six tackles.

Hoppe is the team’s leading receiver this season with 17 catches for 225 yards. The three pass break-ups by Falleur were his first three of the season while Witherspoon pushed his tackle total to 10.

Tough day for the Bulldogs

Texas Lutheran is still searching for its first win of the year after falling 48-38 to nationally ranked Hardin-Simmons on Saturday.

Zach Galindo turned in a tremendous performance despite the loss, throwing for 265 yards and five touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Bulldogs from falling to 0-4.

Galindo is having a solid year despite the difficult opening stretch for Texas Lutheran. In four games, he has completed 72 of his 124 passes for 766 yards and nine touchdowns.

His primary target has been 2015 SCAC Newcomer of the Year Jekovan Holmes, who has caught five touchdown passes. He is well on his way to beating his reception total (45) from last season as he has already caught 31 passes this year.

As for Galindo, this is his first year as a starter after backing up Trenton White last year. He played in eight games after appearing in six games as a freshman.

The good news for the Bulldogs is they will have a break this Saturday before opening conference play Oct. 8 in a conference showdown at home.

Ward shines for Cowboys

Cory Ward rose to the occasion for Hardin-Simmons in its 48-38 win over Texas Lutheran on Saturday. The senior linebacker rang up 16 tackles and is well on his way to being named a first-team All-ASC selection for the second consecutive year.

The 16 tackles is a career-high, beating the total of 12 he racked up in a game against Mary Hardin-Baylor last season.

Ward is in his third season as a starter and has continued to grow as a player since arriving on campus as a freshman. He made 24 tackles his first year and came through with 62 as a sophomore. He finished with 77 tackles a year ago and ranks second on the team in tackles this season (29).

Sideline notes

Centre quarterback Devin Hayes threw for a career-high 421 yards and three touchdowns in the Colonels’ 49-27 win over Chicago on Saturday. Hayes rushed for two touchdowns as well. He leads the SAA in touchdown passes (11) and his passing yards total (1,331) is the 11th-best in the nation and his efforts have helped Centre get off to a 4-0 start this year.

Matt Gillien made plenty of big plays despite Southwestern’s 42-22 loss to UW-River Falls on Saturday. The talented wide receiver tied a career-high in receptions (14) and racked up 153 receiving yards for the Pirates. He also scored a touchdown. It marks the second consecutive year Gillien has caught 14 passes in a game against River Falls.

Easton Melancon and Shedrick Davis have become quite a combination for Louisiana College. Melancon threw for 414 yards and five touchdowns in a 58-28 win over Texas Lutheran two weeks ago. Eight of his 22 passes found the hands of Davis, who racked up 170 yards and two scores in the win. The Wildcats were off last week and sit at 2-1 on the year. Melancon has thrown for 845 yards and 10 scores while Davis has caught a team-best 22 passes for 360 yards and four touchdowns.

If you have a great story idea or notable accomplishments that deserve a mention in this column, feel free to reach out to me at brian.lester@d3sports.com. You can also follow on Twitter @BLester1993

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com and wrote Around the Great Lakes for D3football.com from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2014 columnist: Justin Goldberg
2013 columnist: Andee Djuric
2012 columnist: Kyle Robarts
2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen

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