Key Players/Coaches of the 1909-1919 Era
(1909, Coach) The program’s first
head football coach. Coached only the inaugural 1909 season, but he posted the program’s
first winning record with a 6-3-1 record that season.
Alwin Stokes (1917-1923, 1933-1934, Coach) Head Coach from 1917 to 1923. His 1919 squad went undefeated (8-0-0) and was unscored
on (220-0). The squad was declared State Champions by the New Orleans Times Picayune. Stokes was minister at the First Presbyterian Church, thus his name Brother Stokes. Returned for a
second head coaching stint in 1933 and 1934 where he posted a 10-8-2 record.
Otho Long (1918-1919, QB) Quarterback for the undefeated 1919 squad. Was named first
team all State quarterback that year. He is the only Tiger quarterback ever selected to
an All State team. Top
vote-getter at the quarterback position by the Expert Panel and the second-ranked quarterback by the fans voting in the 2000 All Century
Poll for the Old-Timers team.
Red Dickerson (1918-1919,
T) Starting tackle on the state champion
1919 squad. Ranked seventh at
the tackle spot by the Expert Panel of the All-Century voting on the
Old Timers team. Earned second team
All State honors in 1919.
A. P. Smith (1918-1919, E) First team All State end on
the 1919 state champion squad. Second
leading vote getter at the end position by the fans voting in the 2000
All-Century Poll for the Old
Kenneth Watts (1918-1919, B) Second team All State back on
the 1919 state champion squad.
Ranked in the top fifteen at back by the fans and Expert
Panel voting in the All-Century Poll for the Old-Timers
Truett Durham (1919-1920,
T) First team All State tackle in 1919
and 1920. First repeat All State player in the history of the program.
Key Season, 1909 (6-3-0)
W, 5- 0
W, 5- 0
Louisiana College W,
W, 6- 0
W, 12- 5
Louisiana College L,
L, 0- 5
L, 23- 39
High school football has been played in Winnfield for about as long as the game has been played at any public high
school in Louisiana. Mickey O’Quinn is credited with bringing the first high school football team to
Winnfield High School during the 1909-1910 school year. That first year, Winnfield joined the North Louisiana
High School Association in order to affiliate with other high schools competing in football. Skipwith
"Skip” Adams, a teacher at the high school at the time, volunteered to be the first coach.
He assembled a group of 19 boys who were willing to play the rough game. At the time, football was
just being introduced into the high schools of Louisiana and was still an unknown entity. A number of the players on that
first team were in their 20's, a fact common for those early days, since high school education was obtained by many young
men after they had stayed out and worked, plus the fact that there was no age limit. The school selected red and white as
the school colors and Tigers as the school mascot. The original Winnfield High School teams would be known as the "Crimson
Tigers.” The first football field was located just north of the 400 block of West Main Street. With no lighting, games
were usually held on Friday afternoon, with all games being played during the day. The roster
for the inaugural Winnfield High School football team included the following players: Clem
Durham, Keith Jones, Morel Milburn, Shady Colvin, Manley Culpepper, Miley "Ram” Durham, Tom Huffman, Charley Kelly, Tom McKinney, Ben McKinney, Skinney Moreland, Sam Nettles,
Aubrey Or, Bruce Smith,
Charley Smith, Clayton Wasson, Ted Watts, Roy Wright and ? May.
At the time that high school football was being organized at Winnfield High School, it was also being organized at
a few other schools around Louisiana. During those formative years, schools were not assigned to organized
districts or class levels. As a result, a school had somewhat of a struggle to find competition. At times,
this wasn’t easy to accomplish. With travel being much more difficult than it is today, a school had to play teams who
were as far as 100 miles away, which, in those days seemed a lot longer than 100 miles does today. Nevertheless, if a school
were going to play the sport, they would have to make the monetary and physical sacrifices necessary to play the
few teams that were around. It wasn’t
until 1920 that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) was established. The LHSAA was formed
to be the governing body of high school athletics in Louisiana and would later classify high school football teams by size
(number of students), but not at first. In the LHSAA’s initial organization, all high schools competed
against each other. As a result, when the LHSAA awarded its first football title 1921, that school could
claim to be the best in all of Louisiana. In that inaugural game, Warren Easton of New Orleans
defeated Minden 7-0. Once it became apparent that larger schools had an advantage over smaller schools,
the LHSAA devised a classification system. The multiple classification system began in 1926 and has progressed from a dual
system to a three-class system in 1937, a four-class system in 1954, and a five-class system in 1991.
Over fifty years before Winnfield High School football came into being, and even before the game of football had even
been heard of my most people, Benjamin Stovall homesteaded much of the land in the northern Winn and southern
Jackson parishes. As such, his was one of the pioneer families of Winn parish. Little did he know that
one of his descendants would also play a role in the development of what would become a way of life in the heart of the pine
forest of central Louisiana - high school football.
the early 1900s, two brothers, Luther and Rawson Stovall, who were grandsons of Benjamin
Stovall, graduated from Dodson High School and continued their education at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
While at LSU, the Stovall brothers learned the game of football and became members of LSU’s 1908, undefeated
national championship team. The experience gained by Rawson Stovall paid dividends for the new Winnfield
High School football program when he was hired to take over the football program during its second year of its existence,
the 1910 season.
Very little is known about the games, players, and
coaches during the earliest years of football at Winnfield High School. It is known that Winnfield played games against virtually
every available team in the surrounding area, but that only included those teams fielded by the high schools in Dodson, Alexandria
(Bolton) and Ruston, as well as the junior varsity teams fielded at Louisiana College and Normal College. There weren’t
many high schools that fielded a high school football team in the early 1900s; so, Winnfield usually played each team twice
in the same season in the beginning years.
Any coach or school administrator will tell you that it is a
difficult task to build and maintain a winning high school football program. That part is just as true today as it was in
the beginning years of high school football. At other schools around Louisiana, football teams were organized one year, disbanded
another and then reorganized years later. That wasn’t the case in Winnfield. A
football team has represented the school every year since the first football team was organized. So, while
little is known about the earliest years of Winnfield football, one thing can be said about the players and coaches who established
the game of football at Winnfield High School - they kept the program going and continued to build interest in the game of
football in Winnfield.
About the only thing known about the teams that played in the 1910s is the roster of the 1913 team.
That roster included the following players: Prentice Watts, Roy Wright, John "Jack" Fowler, Hunter
Moreland, Dewitt Milam, Claude Horn, Lonnie James, Cuba Thomas, Sam Collins, Arthur Mathis, John T. DeLoach,
Clarence "Dash" Curry, Marshall Heflin and Charlie Kelly. The coach
of the 1913 team was W. H. Ricks.
From 1910 to
1916 the Tigers played Bolton High School seven times in football, which included single games in 1910, 1911 and 1915 and
a pair of games in 1912 and 1913. Scores from those games are as follows:
1910 Winnfield 6
Bolton 6 Tie
Winnfield 0 Bolton 6
Winnfield 46 Bolton 6
Winnfield 0 Bolton 12
Winnfield 0 Bolton 12
Winnfield 42 Bolton 6
1915 Winnfield 0 Bolton
of the benchmark years in the evolution of Winnfield came in 1917. That was the year that a 33-year old Presbyterian minister
by the name of Rev. Alwin Stokes volunteered to take over as coach of the high school program. To say Brother
Stokes volunteered is not to imply that he "decided” or "agreed” to take the job. The term
"volunteer” is used in the strictest sense of the word because he coached the Winnfield program for no pay.
Alwin Stokes was
born in 1884 in Liberty, Mississippi. He attended Southwest Presbyterian University from 1906 to 1913,
where he graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree and a Bachelor of Divinity degree. While at Southwest
he learned the game of football as a member of the football team. In fact, it was reported in the book Winn Parish History
1852-1985, that the first football game he ever saw, he played in and that he played in every football game that Southwest
Presbyterian played during the six years he attended school there. Most of Brother Stokes’
ministerial career was in Winnfield, where he served the First Presbyterian Church from 1915 to 1927. He
then left Winnfield and served a two-year stint in Ferriday, after which he returned to the First Presbyterian Church in Winnfield
where he served from 1929 to 1955. All total, he served the First Presbyterian church in Winnfield for
32 years. He was a civic-minded man, in that he helped organize the first Boy Scout troop in Winnfield
and taught many boys how to play the game of baseball. But, it was on the gridiron where the name Alwin
Stokes will forever be emblazoned on the history of Winnfield Tiger football.
Under Rev. Alwin Stokes’
leadership, the Winnfield High School football program rose to another level. It was under his guidance that the
tradition of "winning football” began. Some have called him, "just a country preacher”,
and that he was. But, he was more than that. Brother Stokes knew the game, but what is
most important, he knew how to relate to people. Because of the latter, he was able to pull every bit of talent out of the
boys who played for him. He is described by many of his former players as a "player’s coach.” He is characterized
as being tolerant, yet demanding. The players always knew where they stood with Rev. Stokes because he told
them what he expected. He was quick to praise his boys and had the kind of leadership qualities that inspired his players
to "want” to play for him. When former players talk about Brother Stokes there is an obvious tone
of respect for the man. One of Brother Stokes’ early players, R. D. "Quack” Beville,
said in an interview for The Enterprise in the 1970's, "Brother Stokes taught the
boys to play hard, and he had a good moral effect on the players. Brother Stokes was a hard worker and he
instilled this in his players.” Aside from his personal characteristics, one of the major keys to Brother Stokes’
success was that he "preached” and taught the basic fundamentals of the game. All of this translated into winning
During Rev. Stokes’ first three seasons (1917-1919) as the head coach, Winnfield lost only one
game. That loss was to New Orleans in 1917 in a game billed as the state championship game. New Orleans defeated Winnfield
46-0 in that game. Those would be the only points Winnfield gave up in those three years. During the following year (1918),
Winnfield issued a challenge across the state to play anyone, anywhere. They only had two takers. During that season, Winnfield
played and defeated Shreveport High School 14-0 and Minden High School 43-0.
Key Season, 1919 (7-0-0)
Monroe (forfeit) W, 2-0
Brother Stokes’ 1919 team was his best team. That team was also one of the most successful teams
in the history of the school and is always one of the teams mentioned when the perennial debate of "Which Winnfield team
was the best?” surfaces. The school yearbook, "The Marbloid”, stated (in peculiar language), "The football
season of 1919 was talked of fully three months before time. Old men and new men (talked) of the winning of the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP.”
Brother Stokes and his players set a goal of winning a state title, and that’s exactly what they did.
Winnfield played a seven game schedule that year and they not only won all seven of those games but they did not allow any
of their opponents to score a single point; outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 220-0. Louisiana had yet to
install a playoff method for determining the state champion in the 1910s. Instead, the champion was “declared”
or chosen by a panel of voters, much like the college national champion was selected throughout the twentieth century.
After the high school football games of 1919 were completed, Winnfield was declared state champions by such a vote.
Since there were no classifications, the honor of being declared state champions meant you could lay claim to the distinction
of calling yourself the best team in all of Louisiana.
The Marbloid chronicled the season this way: "The season began on the
hop, both by the players and spectators. Oakdale was the first victim. Winnfield dominated everything on its way to a 31-0
victory.” Weston was the next opponent and the Marbloid called them "the strongest opponents
for the state championship......It was a hard-fought battle, no one scoring until the end of the third quarter when (Victor)
Matthews received a long forward pass, running across the goal line, which netted the seven (Winnfield won 7-0).”
In the third game, Winnfield scored more points than any other Winnfield team would score during the entire twentieth
century. In that game, the Tigers easily downed Coushatta 94-0. The fourth game was played against Shreveport
High School on Shreveport’s home field. Winnfield scored twice, once on a long run by Kenneth Watts
and the other on a blocked punt by A. P. Smith. Those were the only points scored by either team.
Winnfield preserved a shutout by holding Shreveport out of the end zone by way of a goal line stand late in the game.
Winnfield traveled to Monroe for the fifth game of the season and found an "opponent” they couldn’t overcome
- not the Monroe team but the hometown Monroe fans. The Marbloid described it this way: "We left home in the finest of
spirits determined to bring back Monroe’s goat, but met with a strong volley of opposing spectators who swarmed on the
field so we could not continue the game.” The game was called in the second quarter and Winnfield
won the game 2-0 by virtue of a forfeit. Winnfield and Alexandria (Bolton) had played against each other all ten years that
Winnfield had fielded a football team. They would face each other in the seventh game of the 1919 season.
Winnfield beat their rival by a score of 8-0, after which they were scheduled to play New Orleans for the state championship.
However, New Orleans backed out of the game, resulting in Winnfield being declared the state champion. The Crimson
Tigers played Jonesboro instead and walked away with a 64-0 win. The 1919 team was only one of five Winnfield
teams in the twentieth century to go through the regular season undefeated. They are one of only two Winnfield teams to win
a state championship in the twentieth century. They are the only Winnfield who can claim the title,
"Undefeated State Champions.”
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