Winnfield Tiger Football

Games Played on the Road

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Road trips - Every high school team has them, some are more critical than others, some are longer than others.  For the more urban high schools a "away" game might mean traveling to the next neighborhood.  But, for a rural program like Winnfield and espcially a program like Winnfield where there is no other football-playing high school in the parish an away game means at least traveling out of the parish.  This page is designed to highlight the toughest, most difficult road games, but it is also meant to highlight some of the best wins to come on the road.  Opinions vary and this is a work in process, but this is what I came up with in highlighting some of the toughest and best road trips.  What makes a road trip tough?  I considered the following - distance traveled,  how partisan/hostile the crowd was, what the field conditions were like, what was at stake (was it a non-district game or for the state title), the physical environment the field was located in (urban setting, Superdome, remote location, in other words factors other than the crowd itself),  the size of the crowd, time spent either getting to the field or time spent away from home becuase sometimes you had to spend the night to play an away game, and finally, the quality of the opponent you were facing.  With that background I submit the following:
 
The Toughest Road Trips
 
 
 
 

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1971 - S. Lafourche - using the criteria to determine the toughest road trip, this game
     received the highest ranking in all categories except one - road conditions.  Though 
     roads surfaces in 1971 were of modern-day standards, the fact remains that the 
     longest road trip in school history was made on two-lane highways virtually the 
     whole way.  The game attracted the second largest crowd to ever watch a Tiger
     team play and nearly three-fourths of the nearly twelve thousands in attendance
     let their support for the home-standing Tarpons known. The physical surroundings
     were foreign to virtually every Tiger player as few players have ever seen that part of
     Louisiana.  The fact that a state title was on the line brought on enough pressure.  
     Couple that with one of the toughest playing surfaces a Tiger team has ever played on 
     standing water and mud) and the fact that the huge Tarpon team outweighed the 
     Tiger linemen by over 50 pds. per man average and obstacles this Tiger team had to  
     overcome should be apparent.  In the end the Tarpons took a 10-0 win.
1981 - E. D. White & 1982 E. D. White - back to back trips to Thibideaux in the state
      semi-finals proved to be a grueling experience.  To begin with you have 250+ mile
      one way trips, with most of that being taken on two-lane roads. The stadium in both
      games was packed with loud boisterous fans.  The Tigers quickly took those fans
      out of the game in a 50-8 romp in the 1982 game, but that 1982 game wasn't played
      until after a one day delay due to severe weather conditions. That meant one more
      night away from home. Distance, crowd size and noise, delayed overnight stays (1982)
      and the fact that you were one win away from a state title game appearance made
      for a pressure-packed away game.
1982 - John Curtis - every high school football player dreams of playing in a state title  
     game.  The 1982 team got that chance and they got that opportunity in the 
     Louisiana Superdome in the second year that all state championship games were
     contested in that venue.  Some argue that smaller high school stadiums offer more
     intimacy than the cavernous Superdome.  Most high school players have never been
     inside of the Superdome, therefore first-timers have to overcome the "awe-factor". But,
     one thing that a Superdome-played game guarantees is ideal weather and field
     conditions.  That played into the hands of the 1982 Winnfield team who had relied on
     team speed all year long and that was demonstrated in the first quarter when the
     Tigers erupted for three touchdowns….all from long distance.  The John Curtis crowd
     was not much of a factor (they seldom are) and the Winnfield fans outnumbered the
     John Curtis fans.  But, those John Curtis players did get to sleep in their own beds
     the night before the game, while Winnfield was 250+ miles away from home. Nevertheless,
     the Tiger team played in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a Tiger team play.  Add to
     that this this game had a morning kickoff and the pressure of a state title on the line
     and what you have is one tough road trip.
HONORABLE MENTION:
1917 - New Orleans - in a day before modern travel this one required one long train trip clear across the state.
1928 - Bolton - undefeated season on the line, the Bears go all-out in getting fans to the game
1928 - Oak Grove - this long road trip was made longer when the bus broke down on the way. Players milling on the side of the road before a game.
1930, 1933, 1935 - Byrd - arguably the strongest program in the state in the 1930s, strong crowd support, long way from home. 
1936 - Haynesville - the Tors in the 1930s were as formidable as anyone and travel in those days was much more grueling
1938 - Minden - maybe the most overmatched game in school history.  The Tiger were winless on the season, Minden won the state title
1945 - Jonesboro - maybe the strongest Jonesboro team in the history of the program
1951 - Ruston - should easily be considered the strongest Ruston team of the first half of the 20th century
1954 - Natchitoches - the Tiger had to win this one to force a three-way tie in the district standings and that is what they did.
1960 - Tallulah - long bus ride, perennial power at the time, playoff game
1961 - Ruston - the Tiger program had not beaten a Ruston team in two decades
1966 - Ferriday - revenge was on the mind of Ferriday as they faced Coach Bankston, one year removed from their program
1966 - Jena (game 2) - after Jena spoiled WSHS's chance for a district title, the two met four days later
1966 - Jesuit, Sp - first round playoff game in an impressive re-building year, horrid weather in a college-size stadium
1967 - Jesuit, Sp. - a return trip to State Fair Stadium against team predicted to win it all
1968 - Westlake - far off southwest corner of the state, boisterous crowd, first time a Tiger team had played in a second-round playoff game
1969 - Tallulah - the eventual state runner-up in Class AA and district foe of WSHS.
1971 - Haughton - the challenge of being the first Tiger team to win two playoff games, 100 miles from home
1971 - Natchitoches - two top ten ranked teams battling it out for the 3-AAAA title
1976 - Bolton - Winnfield made it to the Class AAA state finals, but they couldn't get past the Bears in this district battle.
1976 - Catholic - semi-final round game, 200 miles from home, tough defense
1976 - Jennings - playoff game, 174 miles away, adverse weather conditions
1978 - Haynesville - it took four field goals in overtime and few teams come away from this venue with a win.
1979 - Delhi - any semi-final round game is tough enough, much less when it requires long travel to a setting that has seen better days.
1981 - Jonesboro - down by 29-points just before half on this frigid night, the Tigers staged the biggest comeback in school history
1982 - Neville - though Winnfield went on to win the Class AA state title, Neville was the Class AAAA runner-up that same year.
1982 - Springhill - the Tiger's speed was neutralized by the rain on this field a far distance from Stokes-Walker Stadium
1983 - Neville - Class AA Winnfield (David) meets eventual undefeated Class AAAA state champions (Goliath)
1984 - N. Natchez - the only out of state game ever played by a Tiger team.
1986 - Breaux Bridge - any time you play a team along or south of I-10 you can expect to battle the fans as much as the opposing team.
1987 & 1989 - Jonesboro  - arch-rival Jonesboro-Hodge won three straight titles between 1987 & 1989.  The lost two home games to WSHS in the process.
1988 - Ouachita - two classes higher, too fast-strong-big
1993 - Bossier - too much travel, Wing-T and playoff pressure added up to a first round loss.
1995 - McCall - easily the most disruptive, uncontrolled crowd a Tiger team has ever played in front of.  The band and pep squad didn't even go.
1996 & 1997 - Evangel - the Evangel mystique was just beginning.  When you went to a game here it sort of felt like church
1999 - Jena - after breaking a 22-game losing streak against the Tigers the year before the Giants smelled blood on their own field
2000 - Oua. Christian - as the program was in the midst of rebuilding a quality win over a quality program was needed.  OC went on to win the Class AA crown.
2000 - Westlake - first time for program to be in the quarterfinal in two decades, travel distance, boisterous crowd
2002 - Independence - one of top five longest treks in school history, strong home crowd support, playoff game

Greatest Distance
1. 1971 vs. South Lafourche - 273 miles
2. 1917 vs. New Orleans & 1982, 2011 vs. John Curtis - 267
4. 2002 vs. Independence - 242
5. 1981 & 1982 vs. E. D. White - 234 miles
 
Most Hostile/Partisan Crowd
1. 1995 vs. McCall - kids in the end zone, fans on the sidelines (all while the game was in play)
2. 1971 vs. S. Lafourche. A crowd of close to 12K in attendance and when South Lafourche did anything worthwhile 75% of those displayed their pleasure.
3. 1981 vs. E. D. White.  Loud, boisterous crowd that made their presence known throughout this close contest.
4. 1928 vs. Bolton.  Winnfield was undefeated and heading to a title game appearance.  The Bolton principal sent out letters to alumni imploring them
               to attend this game.  They showed up in force and in this case the 12th man helped the Bears to hang the only loss on the 1928 Tigers.
5. 1999 vs. Jena. - the Giants had snapped a 20-game losing streak against the Tigers the year before and they had the Tigers in their own back yard.
 
Most Impact by Physical Environment
1. 1971 vs. South Lafourche - the programs longest road trip was also played in the most remote location.  This 273 mile trip was made on two-lane
               roads the whole way.  The final 50 miles of the trip had more water in the surroundings than solid ground. The general landscape was foreign to
               virtually every Tiger player
2. 1982 & 2011 vs. John Curtis - most high school kids who walk into the Dome are awestruck by that massive structure.  Playing in a typical high school
               stadium that holds 4K or less is the norm, not an 80K stadium with roof on top.
3. 1966 & 1967 vs. Jesuit, Sp. - Both games were played in State Fair Stadium.  (See #2).  The shear size of State Fair Stadium at the time 
               (it had a seating capacity of 35K at the time) made for an environment high school players aren't accustomed to.
5. 1996 & 1997 vs. Evangel.  When you go to a game at Evangel you get the feeling you are playing football inside of a church.
 
Worst field conditions
1. 1971 vs.  South Lafourche - when the field is so muddy your backs can't plant their foot and make a cut you know you have poor field conditions.
2. 1966 vs. Jesuit, Sp. - torrential rains in the second half knocked out power for a time and left the playing surface with standing water.
3. 1976 vs. Jennings - the entire contest was played in a steady rain.
4. 1982 vs. E. D. White - this contest was delayed one day because of horrid field conditions the day before due to heavy rains.
5. 1982 vs. Springhill - a wet turf is not what the eventual state champs wanted in their first road playoff game, but the wet field proved to be a great
               equalizer as the Tiger's speed was neutralized, though the Tigers did escape with a 2-point win.
 
Most at stake
1. 1971 vs. South Lafourche, 1982 7 2011 vs. John Curtis - can't have much more riding on a game than a state title.
4. 1976 vs. Catholic, BR & 1981 & 1982 vs. E. D. White, 2011 vs. Calvary - the only game that would have more pressure than a title game is a semi-final round game.
 
Largest crowd
1. 1982 vs. John Curtis - over 15K
2. 1971 vs. South Lafourche - the stadium held 10K and it was full and the field was ringed by fans estimated to total close to another 2K
3. 1981 & 1982 vs. E. D. White - the turnout exceeded 5K in both of these games
5. 1971 vs. Haughton - Airline Stadium was filled to the brim in this contest and it holds just under 5K. 
 
Most time spent away from home
1. 1982 vs. E. D. White - anticipating a semi-final round game on Friday, the Tigers left Winnfield the day before.  Heavy rains on
                game day forced a one-day delay, which meant the Tiger team spent two nights away from home before this contest.
2. 1971 vs. South Lafourche, 1981 vs. E. D. White & 1982 vs. John  Curtis - in these three contests the Tigers spent one night away from home
                 the fact that the bus broke down half way to Oak Grove, forcing the team to loiter on the side of the road while repairs were being made.
5. 2000 vs. Independence - the longest road trip a Tiger team has ever taken and not spent the night on the road. 
 
Worst road conditions/travel conditions
1. 1928 vs. Oak Grove - by modern day standards, a trip of 150 miles one way in 1928 would have been a haul.  This trip was complicated by
                 the fact that the bus carrying the players broke down on the way to the game, forcing the team to wait beside the bus while repairs were made.
2. 1917 vs. New Orleans - a train trip to New Orleans might sound like fun, but traveling on a train, with all of the stops that a train makes takes a toll.
3. Any road trip in the 1920s or 1930s to places as far away as Haynesville or Shreveport was grueling enough
4. 1971 vs. South Lafourche - okay, the team did ride on a Trailways bus.  However, the longest road trip in the history of the program came before
                 there was a four-lane road to travel on between Winnfield and the Houma Region.  This trip required a full 6 to 7 hour bus ride.
5. 1981 & 1982 vs. E. D. White - as in 1971 the team did get to ride on a nice bus, but virtually all of this 230 mile trip was taken on a two lane road as well.
 
Most formidable opponent
Any opponent worthy of being a state champion or a state runner-up is "formidable".  All total, the Tiger program has faced a collective 29 teams
on the road who went to to compete in a title game
 
1. 1983 vs. Neville - Winnfield competed in Class AA, while Neville ended up being the undefeated 4A State Champions
2. 1996 & 1997 vs. Evangel - Evangel had back to back undefeated season
4. 1951 vs. Ruston - arguably the best Ruston team of the first half of the 20th century and the eventual undefeated Class A state champions.
5. 1930 vs. Byrd & 1945 vs. Jonesboro - both of these teams went on to win state titles in Class A and both are considered to be among
                 the all-time best teams that school has ever produced. 

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How about accentuating the positive.  Rather than focusing strictly on tough road games, how about tough road games where a Tiger team
battled the travel, elements, opposing team, crowd and other forces and still pulled out a win.  Here's ten of the best.  
1925 - Ruston - the Bearcats were declared the best team in the state.  This one ended in a 0-0 tie.
1954 - Natchitoches - In a game in which the Tigers needed a win to force a three-way tie in the district standing they did that with a 31-24 victory.
1961 - Ruston - one of the biggest wins in the history of the program came when the Tigers snapped a 25-game winless streak. Final score, 21-6
1966 - Jena (game 2) - after losing to Jena 19-13 in the season finale, which forced a 3-way tie in the district standings, the Tigers came back four
          days later and defeated the Giants by a score of 33-13.
1971 - Haughton - the program got first second round playoff win and it took a touchdown with under two minutes to go to take a 20-13 win.
1971 - Natchitoches - voted by fans as one of the all-time best wins, this was a defense battle marked by two lightening strikes by the Tigers in a 14-0 win.
1978 - Haynesville - four overtime field goals against a program long on tradition propelled the Tigers to a 16-13 win.
1981 - Jonesboro - the Tigers overcame a 29-point deficit to stage the biggest comeback in school history in this 34-29 win.
1982 - E. D. White - you are not supposed to win semi-final round games by lopsided margins, much less when you have the distractions this contest offered.
          Tigers win this one 50-8.
1982 - John Curtis - this state title came against over arguably the all-time most successful high school program in the state and it came in that team's home town.
          Tigers jump to a 20-0 first quarter lead and then hang on for a 23-14 win.