Standing 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing in at a not-so-diminutive 245 pounds, Luke Sanders is not only an outstanding linebacker who helped bring a BCS National Championship title to his alma mater but also a native of West Monroe. Calling the Tigers’ win over the Ohio State Buckeyes “amazing,” Luke nevertheless says he felt from the beginning of the season that this year would be special for the Tigers. “I could sense the mood,” the athlete says. “Everything just went like clockwork.”
During this crucial championship game, Luke’s performance was indeed timely when it came to executing key plays.
“When we started to dominate on offense and the defense started making the big plays, I knew we had it won,” Luke says.
While Luke and his fellow Bayou Bengals were tearing up the Superdome field with football frenzy, his father, Casey, watched from the seats with more than a dozen family members and friends.
“We had a large family group there with grandparents and brothers,” Casey says. He reported that when the Tigers were down 10-0, the missis got somewhat nervous. “I told her I felt confident in them, so I wasn’t surprised when they came back. …It was more enjoyable to come back from behind,” Casey says. “They had a lot of fight in them.”
Luke says his mother, Sharon, is one of the reasons for his success.
“If it wasn’t for her,” he says, “I couldn’t have accomplished anything.”
As a member of the West Monroe High School Rebels, Luke played special teams as a freshman and made a stellar impression playing linebacker for his remaining high school years. He was praised for his consistency and described as a player who always dug deeper and, according to veteran West Monroe High School coach Don Shows, “always played a notch higher.”
Stressing the importance of presently just celebrating the national championship, neither Luke nor his father discussed a possible career in the NFL at some point in the future.
LOUISIANA GROWN Flowering maples
Flowering maples resemble shy hibiscus blooms, lowering their heads in humble modesty. Although named for maples, they are not actually trees. Related to the mallow family, which includes hibiscus in addition to hollyhocks, rose of Sharon and okra, this flowering shrub is so named because its leaves resemble maples. Before the flowers open, they look like beautiful drooping rosebuds. After the buds open ––top-heavy, numerous and shaped like a crinoline –– the blossoms droop gracefully as though they were in a perennial cascading bow. Other varieties can be yellow or red with pregnant brown anthers filled with pollen (hummingbirds love flowering maples) or bushier renditions with salmon-orange, yellow, salmon, white or purple blossoms dangling from stick-like stems and bright-green leaves. Flowering maples bloom happily in the early spring days of North Louisiana. They need a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight daily, moist soil and a monthly meal of fertilizer.
Whether potted on a patio or planted in garden soil, they should have partial shade at some point during the day to protect them from intense summer heat. They need frequent pruning and should be shielded from hot winds.
FORK IN THE ROAD The importance of being Ernest’s Ernest’s Orleans Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge is an enduring and much-revered eatery on the Shreveport-Bossier dining scene. With meals that seem to emerge from the lamppost-lit French Quarter in New Orleans, Ernest’s is a true standout there in the Red River town. This fine establishment offers a menu strong in seafood and Italian offerings that are deliciously prepared and full of epicurean imagination.
One of the seafood dishes, made of fried shrimp and oysters, is served with Ernest’s own delicious rémoulade and tartar sauces, redolent of Friday-night seafood suppers on Lake Pontchartrain in pre-Katrina New Orleans. Shrimp Norton is a dish filled with jumbo fantailed shrimp sautéed in garlic, spices and fresh tomatoes. Not to be missed is an absolutely imperial entree known as Snapper Shreve, a tender fillet of red snapper combined with lump crabmeat, shrimp and mushrooms and cooked in wine and lemon butter. With a possible influence from Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street, Ernest’s also offers Crab Meat Orleans, lump crabmeat atop artichoke hearts, shrimp and mushrooms; Snapper Carlos, a fillet of red snapper served with artichoke hearts, wine and lemon butter; and Veal Orleans, likewise sautéed with the almost-signature lump crabmeat, shrimp and artichoke hearts. Balanced perfectly with hearty flavors that brace but don’t overpower you, Italian Sausage with Spaghetti A La Margie features mushrooms and Italian sausage nestled in creamy wine sauce. Fettuccine Melton is served with shrimp and crabmeat in a cream sauce topped with cheese.
Good old-fashioned broiled lamb chops come to your table accompanied by classic mint jelly, with a dish of mushrooms on the side for good measure. Desserts are usually a mystery, so ask your waiter to surprise you with the daily offering.
Ernest’s Orleans Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, 1601 Spring St., Shreveport, (318) 226-1325
NEWS BRIEF Atmospheric
In a fortunate turn of events for weather-stricken Louisiana, Drs. Boniface Mills and Sean Chenoweth, members of the geosciences department at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, are the recipients of a grant that will allow them the use of multi-million-dollar National Weather Service equipment. The equipment will allow them access to state-of-the-art meteorological data for use as teaching tools. The good doctors are recipients of a $5,000 Space-Time Adaptive Processing grant that will allow them to purchase equipment to access the NWS Weather Event Simulator software, which has proved invaluable in the successful training of atmospheric science students. The software, known as the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, or AWIPS, simulator, allows the computer operator to overlay saved meteorological data and imagery onto satellite maps. The accelerated pace of the workstation will allow students to study in vast detail the workings of severe storms and hurricane landfalls, giving them a decided edge on experience before they enter the workforce.
Case studies will be provided gratis by the NWS. Likewise, the Shreveport office of the NWS will support this new program at ULM. By 2011, it is anticipated that ULM will be one of the first universities to acquire the complete AWIPS II software.
This article appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Louisiana Life