Tiger divide, Jennings community torn on who should win national championship title
JENNINGS, LA – It's safe to say the majority of Louisiana is going to be rooting for the purple and gold on Monday, except for one city 90 miles west of Baton Rouge. People in Jennings are torn. They're split between the home state team, and their hometown star, Clemson running back Travis Etienne.
Three years ago Travis made a name for himself as a Bulldog at Jennings High School. In his junior year alone he scored more than 50 touchdowns.
“He was a tremendous player, great student and great person. Travis was very easy to coach,” said Head Coach Rusty Phelps.
His talent was so impressive, Jennings High School retired his #8 jersey, and the community has continued to support him in his new uniform.
“I'm pulling for Clemson, I'm orange out,” said Tanya Gaudet who taught Travis in 6th grade. “I would rather be loyal to my former student than a university. I don't know anyone personally on the LSU football team, but I know Travis.”
But come Monday, things get tricky. Jennings is also a deep-rooted LSU community.
“Several players from the past from here have played at LSU,” said Phelps.
The match-up is creating a Tiger divide. The owner of Parker’s a t-shirt shop is making the divisiveness easier by selling a shirt that spells out tigers half in orange and half in yellow. More than 500 have already been sold in less than three weeks as many don't want to choose just one team to root for.
“Everybody loves LSU but we're all pulling for, not so much Clemson, but Travis,” said Marla Myers whose daughter goes to Jennings High School. “We want him to do well."
“I'm going to be sitting in my chair in my living room, and I hope to see a great football game,” added Phelps.
The school system is allowing students to wear either LSU or Clemson gear on Monday. Phelps says that could be telling on which team is being favored in Jennings.