An emotional Samson Matthews stood in front of the assembled crowd at the Professional Learning Center in Luling, where signees from Destrehan and Hahnville were celebrated during the traditional joint ceremony between the schools.
“I have so many people to thank … (people) who had faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself,” said the Destrehan offensive lineman with tears in his eyes.
Matthews signed with West Hills Community College and was one of nine St. Charles Parish athletes honored at the event. His words symbolized what the day is traditionally all about.
This year’s signing day was a bit different than past ones in that the nine athletes represented a mix of those who were officially signing that day (Feb. 7) and those who took advantage of the newly established early signing period in weeks prior. No matter when each athlete signed, though, the day represented another strong crop of athletes and students who will have the opportunity to continue their education and compete in their respective sports at the next level.
Matthews was joined by football teammates Macon Clark (Tulane) and Jabriel Fields (Millsaps College).
Hahnville, meanwhile, had six signees, including three football players: Anthony “Pooka” Williams, who made the much-anticipated announcement that he was signing with Kansas in December, and Jamel Byrd and Larry Dixon, each of whom are headed to Southern.
Hahnville’ swimmer Alexis Tamplain signed with Loyola University of New Orleans, while senior classmate Alexis Caillet will join her at Loyola, where she signed a cheerleading scholarship. HHS cross country and track and field runner Emily Blanchard signed and is headed to Northwestern State University.
Tamplain joked about the long odds that two girls named Alexis would both be signing at the same school, also noting she and Caillet have long been close friends. She said she’s excited for the opportunity to swim for Loyola swimming coach T.J. Natal.
“I’ve known him for a few years now, so I’m really looking forward to swimming for him and going to school locally,” Tamplain said. “It’s a chance to stay close to home. I’ve been swimming since I was four years old, and I’m finally getting to achieve my dream to swim in college. It’s been what I’ve wanted since I was 10 years old and I got there.”
Dixon, meanwhile, will add considerable size, strength and ability to the Southern offensive line. He said he can’t wait to get starter.
“Man, it feels wonderful,” he said. “I finally know where I’m going … hopefully I get a playbook real soon and I can get a head start on everything.”
He said the chance to help guide Hahnville back to the state championship game as a senior meant a lot to him, particularly because it came alongside senior teammates he’d played alongside dating back before Hahnville.
Southern was a natural fit, he said, in large part for family ties.
“They’ve been there since day one,” Dixon said. “My grandmother was a professor there, and they named a hall after her. That played a big part, because my family is so important to me.”