Featured photo courtesy of the Acceus family.
Louis Acceus, three-star linebacker of St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey, hopes to announce his commitment to one of the 15 Division I programs offering him a scholarship by Dec. 31.
System fit, school location and academics will all be key factors in Acceus’ decision, but Poukepsy Demosthene, his half-brother, will have a major influence on the decision that will impact the next four years of Acceus’ life. It’s only fitting, because no one has had a greater impact on the first 17 years.
When Acceus was 7 years old, his father sold the family’s house, took the money and moved back to Haiti. Acceus, Demosthene, their two sisters and their mother found a new home quickly, but Acceus still had a void to fill.
Acceus needed a father figure, and Demosthene stepped up to the plate.
“My father never came to my football games when I was a kid,” Acceus said. “He actually did not even know what number I wore. My brother did, though. It has always been me and him. We might just be brothers, but he is like more of a father to me.”
Demosthene provided the stability and guidance Acceus needed. He hand-picked the youth teams for which Acceus played, worked with trainers Jerry Louis and Marvin Riviera to put him through intense training regimens, and led him to St. Joe’s. Most importantly, Demosthene kept Acceus on the right path.
“We come from an impoverished area in Spring Valley [N.Y.], where all around us there are people committing crimes and getting into trouble on the streets,” Demosthene said. “I have kept Louis away from that by keeping him focused on football.”
Demosthene has gone to great lengths to ensure Acceus’ focus remains on football. For starters, he did not permit Acceus to speak to girls until this year.
“Right now, Louis’ relationship is with football and he needs to be focused on that in order to succeed,” Demosthene said. “His focus is what sets him apart and it’s the reason he is in this current position instead of like everyone we know from town that is on the streets.”
Now, as decision time draws near for Acceus, Demosthene has essentially been his manager.
“Throughout this whole recruiting process, [Demosthene] has been the one talking to recruiters and handling all of that so I can focus on my senior season,” Louis said. “He has taken a lot of the pressure off me.”
Being focused on his senior season as opposed to his college decision seems to be paying dividends for Acceus, who is having the best season of his high school career.
Through nine regular season games, Acceus has recorded 88 tackles and 6.5 sacks. With potentially two playoff games remaining, he may come close to his junior year total of 116 tackles in 11 games. He also took his game to a new level at another position this year.
He carried the ball sparingly as a junior in short yardage situations, but the three running backs ahead of him on the depth chart graduated. Now, as St. Joe’s starting running back, he has rushed for 727 yards and eight touchdowns on 119 carries.
“I embraced the challenge of taking on major roles on both sides of the ball,” Acceus said. “I am just happy that I can contribute to this team’s success in another way.”
Despite Acceus’ success, Demosthene always makes sure to keep him grounded.
“If he has a great game with maybe four touchdowns and 15 tackles, I will be the first to say, ‘So what? You could have had six touchdowns and 20 tackles,’” Poukepsy said. “It is better to stay humble, hungry, and focused than it is to get a big head, and I make sure to protect him from being overconfident.”
Not all of Acceus’ success is measured in numbers. He is admittedly somewhat of a “loner” who likes to “stay in his own lane,” but he is a different person on the field.
“Louis is kind of quiet on the field, but he is still the heart and soul of our team because he leads by example,” co-captain Marc Doran said. “He has become like my brother, and I would go to battle with him. We all would … we all look up to him.”
Acceus credited all that he is to Demosthene’s guidance.
“Without him, I really do not know where I would be,” Acceus said. “Actually, I know for a fact that I would be in a bad situation, I just do not know how bad – maybe in a lot of trouble on the streets or something.”
When Acceus finally announces his decision, Demosthene said it would be a proud moment.
“My goal was to provide the best future for him and to steer him away from the mistakes I made,” Demosthene said. “Announcing his commitment to play Division I football will truly be a blessing because all of our hard work will have paid off.”
Demosthene’s excitement will quickly give way to determination. He has always kept Acceus grounded and focused on improvement – this will not change.
“Focus and drive,” Demosthene said. “Louis needs to maintain his focus and drive if he wants to have success in college and possibly on Sundays. Hard work has gotten him to where he is, and hard work will take him to new heights in the future.”
Edited by Max Marcilla and Austin Kleber.