September 23, 2021
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

Beyond Belaire: Week 1

Belaire Senior Safety Avante Givens (right) preparing to break up a pass during practice.
Belaire Senior Safety Avante Givens (right) preparing to break up a pass during practice.

It’s 90F, but even with scattered clouds, it feels like it’s 110F in Baton Rouge. The trees are still green, it’s not even Labor Day yet, but it feels like autumn. Excitement is buzzing in the air, and you can tell it’s a new football season at Belaire High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Head Coach Byron Wade is entering his second season, and hopes are high as ever for this Belaire team. Over the last 6 seasons, Belaire has won 5 games, 2 coming last year during the pandemic-shortened season. The new goal: Win at least 5 games this season and rebuild the reputation of the Belaire football program. Along the way, Gridiron Football is going to give you the inside scoop on the team, and on several other high schools across Baton Rouge in a new article series called Beyond.

A quick introduction, I’m Braden Erwin. I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I never understood the excitement behind high school football. I went to a high school that didn’t prioritize football, and there was more excitement for our bad basketball team than our decent football team. Our closest “rival” was Bishop Gorman High School, which was #3 in the nation when I was in high school, so we didn’t stand a chance, to the point where the team looked disappointed anytime we had to play them. It wasn’t until I got to Louisiana that I understood how seriously high school football is taken, and I fell in love with it. I jumped on an opportunity to be a sideline reporter with Gridiron Football, where I fell in love with finding players and now, being on the field with a high school team. Now, I am the correspondent for Belaire High School Football, and I will be writing weekly articles, one on the Belaire game for the week, and one on the practices, team standouts, and other news. 

I was at a couple of the summer conditioning practices, but we’re finally into the season, and I decided to write an article about the first day of practice of the year, after the first day of school. The guys finally get to put the pads on and get into the weekly grind that is high school football. Coming off the recent passing of teammate Steven Clark, Jr., this is a team with a newfound motivation. Every play, every team break, everything they do it for the passed #11. 

Practice started in the locker room, where the players get their practice jerseys and pants. There’s dancing, laughing, and excitement for the new season and for the first padded practice of the year. Very quickly, the locker room becomes a sea of white jerseys and orange helmets below the “Discipline is NOT Punishment” sign. With that, the new season begins, and I will be reporting all of it to you. I will be filming practices and games for Belaire, and these articles will talk about the upcoming games for the school, some standout players, and more. 

Weekly Standouts: Senior Safeties Avante Givens and Bryson Armstrong didn’t allow an over the top pass during 7 on 7 work during Monday’s practice. Armstrong had 2 pass breakups and Givens had 1 pass breakup to give the defense a win during practice today.

Next Game: Scrimmage v. Thrive Academy (Baton Rouge, LA), at Belaire High School on Thursday, August 18, at 6pm. I will be filming the game, come out and watch some Louisiana High School Football!