St. Martinville (KATC) – St. Martinville football is in the midst of it’s best season in years, a season that was inspired by tragedy.
In the morning hours of May 18, junior football player Kenneth “KJ” Eaglin had just left a party when his car crossed the center line on LA 96, striking another vehicle. KJ and two others were killed in the accident. Drugs or alcohol were not a factor in an incident that changed many lives that day
“They brought us in the backroom and was asking all sorts of information about KJ and the state trooper accidentally said ‘how old was he?'” KJ’s mom Shontell Valsin-Quinney remembers. “My sister caught it and she was like what you mean how old was he? I didn’t catch the slip-up, but when she repeated it I was like wow…he’s really gone.”
This football season, Eaglin’s number 35 jersey hangs behind St. Martinville’s bench and is taken out on the field for every coin toss. KJ has become the inspiration for the Tigers 12-0 season.
“Everybody is saying the 12th man and this and that but I think it’s bigger than football,
” said Valsin-Quinney.
In the Tigers regular season finale, an effective district championship game against Breaux Bridge, the rival Tigers attempted a game-winning 27-yard field goal. It missed right.
“On the sideline when I saw that kick go up and when it veered far right, I was like oh yeah, it was KJ. He was there to block that!” said junior D’Aaron Marshall.
St. Martinville will look for their friend to inspire a few more wins. The Tigers host Leesville Friday night in the 4A state quarterfinals. The Tigers have not won a quarterfinal game since 2002.