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|Local player lives gridiron dream|
LaJerrick "LJ" Taylor grew up idolizing the high school stars on the gridiron in Franklin Parish. He grew-up to be one of those football stars as a starting full back and linebacker on the Franklin Parish Patriots from 2001-2005. Taylor, 22, is now a senior business and marketing major at Louisiana College. He played one year of college football at McPherson College and three for the Louisiana College Wildcats before his playing eligibility ended in 2009. He is scheduled to graduate from LC in May.
The community of Winnsboro has always rallied around their sports teams and now Taylor is a part of a 2010 venture on the gridiron that he hopes will use the annual Catfish Festival as a time to bring the community closer together once again.
"You see a lot of kids wanting to get involved and wanting to be around the field," Taylor said. "We are a group of guys that they have heard of but are now getting to see in action now."
Taylor wants to give the kids of Winnsboro better local role models. Sports has always been a stage where athletes have influenced the lives of young people and the Louisiana Patriots (3-1) are taking that task seriously this season.
"We want to be setting good examples for them," Taylor said. "We have guys out here that are known for mistakes they have made and now being known around the community for something positive."
The Louisiana Patriots are a semi-pro football team playing their second season overall and their first in Winnsboro. The team won a league championship last year while playing home games in Alexandria.
"The reason for the transfer was that many of the guys had different goals," Taylor said. "Our goals now are community related. We want to improve the community and improve the lives of young men who have had lost opportunities. Improving their lives, the way they live, and the relationships with the team and the community."
The Patriots now return home for a 7 p.m. game Saturday in conjunction with the Catfish Festival in Winnsboro.
The Patriots are 3-1 on the season after a hard loss on the opening week of the season.
"We came out and made some bad judgements," Taylor said. "And some guys had to change their attitudes and the way they think on the field."
Taylor says with the group of guys from Winnsboro now coming together for the good of the team and the community, the long-term good of each teammate is where the interest of the team lies.
"Guys can find the right path that will stick with them forever. After four years college or high school ball you kind of get kicked to the curb. This is an opportunity for guys to get back on the right path in their lives. A lot of guys are maturing real good, it is a process. We are playing the game to have fun."
The Patriots are also playing really well. The team is currently ranked No. 23 in United States among semi-pro football teams.
Playing this Saturday during the Catfish Festival will be a special experience for all the local guys that call Winnsboro home.
"We are excited and guys are really focused," Taylor said. "Everybody from Winnsboro knows how important this weekend is. We are ready to play."