Winnfield High School Football
The Tigers Prove They Can Play With Anybody
Key Rule Changes During the Decade:
Try for PAT introduced. Ball brought out to the 5-yard-line, allowing try for extra point by placekick, drop kick,
run or forward pass.
1922 - Prior to
1922, substitutes could enter the game at any time at the discretion of the captains. Beginning in 1922, players withdrawn
during the first half may not return until the second half. Players withdrawn during the second half may not return to the
1926 - A penalty of 5 yards and
loss of down for incomplete forward passes after the first one in a series.
1927 - Goal posts moved 10 yards back to the end line.
1929 - Try for PAT moved from 5 yard-line to 2 yard-line
Summary of the Decade of the 1920s
Winnfield consistently fielded top high school football teams
in the 1920s. More precisely, the Tigers consistently finished among the top five schools of north Louisiana when it came
time to select teams to play for the state championship. And though by modern day standards, to be among
the top five best football teams in north Louisiana is good, in the 1920s that was not good enough to ever make the playoffs.
That was because of the playoff structure that existed in the 1920s and on into the 1930s. In those days, a north Louisiana
representative was selected to face a south Louisiana representative for the state title. The team from each of those regions
of the state that was selected was the team that had posted the highest winning percentage. Strength of schedule did not factor
into the equation. Winnfield scheduled the toughest teams and though they consistently posted winning seasons, they would
repeatedly post a slightly lower winning percentage than other teams, thus missing out on a playoff spot. The
rub was that on occasion the team selected to represent north Louisiana would have posted a higher winning percentage while
playing teams of lesser quality than Winnfield had played. Simply put, Winnfield’s 9-1-0 seasons were great, especially
when those nine wins came against stiff competition. However, if another team went 10-0-0 (no matter who they played) they
got the playoff berth. That happened time and again to the Tigers in the 1920s.
Brother Stokes guided
the Winnfield High School team into the 1920s, serving as head coach through the 1923 season. His teams
of the early and mid 1920s, along with the strong teams of the late 1920s, firmly established a foundation of winning football
by teams from Winnfield. Those who followed high school football in the 1920s certainly knew about Winnfield High School.
So strong were the Tiger defensive units of the decade that there are only seven recorded games in which an opponent scored
more than two touchdowns against the Tigers. There were 38-recorded shutouts during the decade and 12 games
where the opponent scored only a single touchdown. The argument that football was a low scoring game in those days does not
hold when you consider what Winnfield did offensively during the decade. The Tigers scored over 80 points in two games, and
scored over 50 points in eight other games.
During the decade, Winnfield played all takers
and were hardly ever “out” of a football game. That is borne out by the fact that only seven
losses were by a margin of 7 or more points. In essence, Winnfield proved they could compete with anybody.
The irony is that the Tigers didn’t play in a single playoff game during the decade and thus didn’t have the opportunity
to compete for a single state title. There was one person who was as much of a central figure in Winnfield High School
football during the 1910s and 1920s as anyone and he wasn’t a player, a coach or affiliated with the Winnfield school
system in any way in an official capacity. That person was Frank Moss. Football programs
don’t just run themselves. It takes a lot of work to keep up with football players and their equipment,
either during a game, during practice sessions or during down time. “Old Frank” Moss, an African
American, provided utility services to the football program at Winnfield High School from its inception, through the years
of the Depression and on into the 1950s. He provided “general help”, whether that be bringing water to the football
players or keeping up with equipment. When Tiger football began in 1909, Frank Moss was 22 years old.
He was well into his 70s when he attended his last game.
Away from the football program “Old
Frank” shined shoes and worked at the L & A Railroad dept as a freight warehouseman. He was the
father of nine children. An
article that appeared in a 1948 edition of the Winnfield News –American said this about Moss, “Frank Moss probably has seen more local
football games than any man in Winn Parish, and he undeniably holds the records for carrying the most buckets of water to hot, thirsty players. Always a favorite
of coaches and players alike,
he has traveled with the teams on out of town trips, applied bandages to the injured athletes, carried equipment and has performed innumerable
other errands for
"the boys." The
article went on: Commenting
on his 45 years in Winnfield, Frank said, "Everyone really has been nice to me since I've been here. The people are always
good, and no one has ever
done me any harm. This is a good town, and I surely have enjoyed all these many years that I worked for the football teams."
Players/Coaches of the 1920s
Boone (1921-1922, C) Honorable mention All State center in 1922. Was one
of eight centers to
receive votes from the Expert Panel voting on the pre-1960 All-Tiger team. Placed sixth among the fan vote in the All-Century
poll. Benny Parker (1922-1923, B) Arguably the most valuable player of
the one-loss 1923 squad. Was a
second team All State selection at back in 1923.
Grady Newton (1923-1924, G) Guard on the 1923 and 1924 squads. Earned first
team All State honors
at that position both years. Ranked in the Top Ten at guard by the Expert Panel voting in the All Century Poll
C. J. Gilbert (1925-1926, E)
Tiger end on the 1926 squad. Third highest vote getter at the end position as voted on by the Expert Panel for the Old-Timers squad.
Later starred at Louisiana Tech where he was that school’s first four-sport letterman.
A. T. Drewett (1925-1927, Back) Honorable
mention All State in 1926 and 1927 at running back. Was the second-highest vote getter by the Expert Panel voting at running back for the Old –Timers team on the 2000 All-Century poll and was the
top vote-getter at the running back position by the fans at large voting in the same poll.
John Sowers (1926-1927, G)
First team All State guard on the 1927 squad.
Clebe Maxey (1925-1928, G)
Four-year starter at guard. Honorable mention All State his senior season.
was the sixth-ranked guard by the Expert Panelist voting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers squad.
Garfield Gimber (1925, 1928,
C) Four-year starter at center from 1925 to 1928. Was the fourthranked center in the pre-1960-era as determined by the
Expert Panelist voting on the 2000 All-CenturyPoll for the Old Timers squad. Honorable mention All State at that position both his junior and
Kenneth Teegarden (1925-1928, E) Four-year
starter at end from 1925 to 1928. Namedhonorable mention All State in 1926, 2nd Team in 1927 and 1st team in 1928. Top vote getter
at the end position by the
Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers squad. On the powerful 1928 squad (9-1-0) he rushed for five touchdowns, caught one touchdown
pass, returned a blocked punt
25 yards for a touchdown and booted four extra points.
Percy Dortch (1926-1928, B) Three-year starter at running back from 1926 to 1928. During the 1928season he scored three rushing touchdowns and returned
a punt 40 yards for a touchdown. Earned 3rdteam All State honors as a sophomore at fullback and 2nd team honors his junior season.
Ranked in the Top Ten by the
Expert Panelist voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers squad.
Gabe Durham (1926-1928, QB) Three year starter at QB. First
player to rush for 4 TDs in a single game, that coming against Mansfield in 1928. All total he rushed for 11 TDs during the 1928 season,with his 66 points being the second highest for the season
and the second highest for a player from thepre-1950 era. His 11 rushing touchdown total stood as a school record for rushing touchdowns in a single season until the 1971 season. Was the 6th-ranked
quarterback from the pre-1960 era as voted onby the Expert Panel voting in the All-Century poll of 2000 and one of five players to receiver votes at kick returner by the Expert Panel. Ranked
third as a kick returner by the fans. Honorable mention All State quarterback in 1928. One of only four Tiger quarterback to receive votes
in All State balloting.
Frank Brewer (1927-1928, B)
Tiger running back on the 1927 and 1928 squads. Honorable mention All State his junior season and 2nd team his senior season. He was
the leading scorer on the1928
team. Brewer ended the season with 69 points which is the highest single season scoring totalfrom the pre-1960 era. During the 1928 season Brewer rushed for 9 touchdowns,
had a 75 yard kickoff return
for a touchdown and had a fumble return for a touchdown. His total for rushing touchdowns in1928 is tied for second-most in the pre-1950 era. He added three more points
on extra point conversions. Ranked
No. 5 at running back by the Expert Panelist voting on the All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. Received one first place vote
from that group.
Joe Grigsby (1927-1928, G)
Earned honorable mention All State honors at guard in 1928. Ranked in the top ten at guard
by the fans voting in the All-Century poll.
Byron “Chuck” Skains (1927-1929, T & QB) One of the most talented
and versatile players of the
era. Earned honorable mention All State honors as a sophomore at the guard position
and then was moved to the tackle
slot his junior season on the vaunted 1928 squad. He earned 2nd team AllState honors at that spot. Due to heavy
graduation losses after his junior campaign he was moved to the quarterback slot his senior season. He scored a touchdown from the defensive side of the ball
hissophomore season when he
returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. His junior season he bootedeight extra point kicks. He is one of the most well-thought of players from
the pre-1960 era asevidenced
by his second highest vote total at any position by the Expert Panelist voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. That total was achieved at the
guard slot where six of the seven
panelists gave his a first place vote for the guard slot. He was the third ranked tackle by the Expert Panel and also ranked in the top ten of the quarterback
position by the Expert Panel.
|Teal Calhoun (1928-1929, B)
Broke his way into the lineup as a junior on the senior-filled 1928 squad that ended the year with a 9-1-0 record.
During his junior campaign he scored six rushing touchdowns and returned an interception
40 yards for a touchdown to end the year with 42 points. That made him the
fourth highest scorer on the 1928 team, but that total was the eighth-highest single season total of
the pre-1950 era. He was the go-to guy in 1929 when he again scored 42 points by way of five rushing touchdowns
and a 45 yard punt return for a touchdown. He scored four rushing touchdowns against Olla,
making him, Gabe Durham (1928) and Hovey Harrell (1932) the only three players of the pre-1950 era to accomplish that feat.
Calhoun ended his career with thirteen total touchdown, which is tied for the fourth highest total from
among player who played prior to 1950. |
Enter subhead content here
Key Season, 1923
La College (fr) W,
Though sparse, there is information about the 1923 and the 1925 teams. Thankfully, information about the 1923 team has
been preserved because that team was considered to be Brother Stokes’ second best team. The roster of the 1923 team included the following players: Linemen (RT)
Herbert Wasson (RG), Grady Newton (C), Colvin Drewett (LG), John
Sowers (LT), McBride Wasson Backs (RE)
Royce Holcomb (LE), Percy Custer (RH), Leo “Buck” Sowers (FB), Bennie Parker (LH), Tom Grigsby (QB),
Robert Morris Fletcher Reserves:
Justin Colvin, Rudolph Mosley, Sam Wood, Colen Coker, Garfield Gimber, Robert Stack, Wenzil Neal, Glen Anderson, Grady
The 1923 team played a full ten game schedule and almost duplicated the feat of
the 1919 team who shut out all of their opponents. The 1923 team shutout 9 of their 10 opponents. Also,
like the 1919 team, the 1923 unit didn’t just win with defensive - they could score points, too. During
the 1923 season, the Crimson Tigers recorded the second highest point total scored in a single game during the 20th century
when they beat Natchitoches 88-0. The opponents on the Tigers schedule were no pushovers either. Included in the nine wins
were victories over Haynesville (12-0), who would win the state championship the following year, Minden (10-0), who had been
the state runner-up two years earlier and Ruston (10-0), who won the state championship in 1925.
|KEY GAME : The only opponent to score against the 1923 Tigers was the powerful Warren Easton Fighting Eagles, who was also the
only team to defeat Winnfield that year. Warren Easton won by a slim 7-0 margin in a game played at mid
season. Warren Easton was arguably one of the strongest high school programs in the state during the 1920s, sending two of
their teams to title games in that decade. The only other schools to send multiple teams to the title game in the 1920s were
Haynesville and Rayville. Warren Easton won the state title in 1921, and lost to Homer in the 1928 game. Mr. Leo “Buck”
Sowers, a member of the 1923 team, gave the following account of the season in a 1988 interview for The Enterprise
- “Winnfield opened the season against the Louisiana College freshman team, or at least they
were supposed to be a freshman team. They (Louisiana College) only had eight freshmen. One newspaper reported
that Winnfield played the college’s second team. In the Warren Easton game, Bennie Parker
(Winnfield’s MVP) was ejected from the game. Warren Easton designated one player to hit Parker
to provoke a fight. Warren Easton had a strong replacement but Winnfield’s loss of Bennie
Parker was a fatal blow. |
The Dubach game was played
in mud and water. Minden sought to outsmart Winnfield and gain a win on a forfeit. (1923)
was the first year that high school teams were required to have numbers on the players’ jersey. It
was late in the season and Winnfield had not yet numbered each player. When Winnfield learned about Minden’s
sneaky trick, Coach Stokes, team members, and town supporters hurried to the third floor of the high school
building to get the Home Economics girls to make and sew numbers on the back of the jerseys. The girls
gladly agreed to help. Those dirty, smelly old jerseys were washed thoroughly, and then numbered.
Ruston was keyed to knock Winnfield off the pedestal. They had a choice of playing Winnfield on
the school’s grassy turf or the city’s field, which was primarily clay and sand. They chose
the city field. They also tried something sneaky. In those days, players wore stockings
for a more neatly dressed appearance. Ruston left their stocking off and greased the legs of all of their
ball handlers. Winnfield soon resorted to smearing the greased legs after each tackle with sand and dirt.”
In describing his team’s
star, Mr. Sowers spoke of Bennie Parker in the following way; "He had an uncanny ability
to determine the point where the opponent would direct their play. He would move into the defensive line
(at the point he thought the ball was going) thus forming an eight-man line.”
The 1923 team scored 236 points to set a new school record for most points scored
in a season. The 9 wins bettered, by two, the previous high for most wins in a season. Both
records exceeded the school records set by the 1919 team for points scored (220) and games won (7).
The 1923 season would be Coach Stokes’
last season during his first tenure as head coach of the Winnfield High School football program (he also guided the Tigers
during the 1933 and 1934 seasons). Complete season results for four of Stokes’ first seven seasons
are not available; those being the 1917, 1920, 1921 and 1922 seasons. However, in the biographical account
of Alwin Stokes’ life that appeared in the book Winn Parish, Louisiana - 1852 -1985, his son
reported that Coach Stokes compiled a record of 37-7-1 (.833) during that first tenure and there is no reason
to dispute that claim. What is known is that Coach Stokes’ teams of 1918, 1919 and
1923 combined for an 18-1-0 record, with the only loss of those teams being the 1923 loss to Warren Easton. It
is also known that his first team, the 1917 team, lost to New Orleans in what was claimed to be the state championship game.
Finally, since records of the Winnfield - Bolton series are known, Stokes’ 1920 through 1922
teams compiled a 2-1 record against the Bears. That leaves only twelve games unaccounted for during his first tenure, games
in which Brother Stokes apparently went 7-4-1. If Stokes’ gaudy
.833 winning percentage isn’t impressive enough, consider these numbers. During his first seven years
as head coach, his teams outscored the opposition by a 1,502 to 210 margin. That means his teams obviously
played outstanding football on both sides of the ball, averaging over 33 pts. per game and giving up an average of 4.66 points
per game. Make no mistake about it, Stokes molded boys into football players.
During his first seven years, a total of twelve of his players were named to an All-State team. That
is the most All-State players any coach produced in the twentieth century. But, Brother Stokes was more about
relating to his players than he was about numbers. In his biographical account of his father, George
Stokes wrote this, “Stokes believed that sports and outdoor activities made good men.” Stokes’ replacement as head coach for the 1924 team was Bruce Smith.
Narrative accounts of the games of the 1924 season have not been located. What is known is wins
Colfax (44-0), Dubach (65-0) and Natchitoches (14-0); and losses to Jennings (6-3) and Bolton (19-0). The
1924 team also played Ruston, but results of that game are not known.
The 1925 team posted the fewest wins of any team of the 1920s, winning only three games. That team
also posted the most ties of any season as they tied six, to go along with their two losses. Offense was hardly the strong-point
of the 1925 team because all six of the ties ended 0-0. In their two losses they were shutout as well,
dropping a 0-12 decision to Jennings and a 0-39 blitz by Bolton.
In their three wins, the Tigers scored a total of 44 pts. That was all of the points the team scored all season. But,
they only gave up 65 points during the season. Besides the 51 points allowed in their two losses, the only other team to score
against the Tigers was nearby Dodson, who scored two touchdowns in a 25-14 loss. Winnfield’s final opponent of the year was their oldest rival, the Bolton
Bears. Bolton was clearly the strongest team the Tigers had faced all year. The Bears traveled to Winnfield
via train with only one loss on their record, that being to the Ruston Bearcats, a team Winnfield had played to a 0-0 tie.
Bolton was the only school to score on Ruston in 1925 and the Bearcats were later declared the state champions.
To their credit, the Tigers could lay claim to having held the state champions scoreless in a 0-0 tie.
Bolton was bigger and faster than the Tigers, Winnfield stayed close by allowing only two first-half touchdowns. However,
the Tigers never seriously threatened to score in the game and Bolton scored four second-half touchdowns and went on to defeat
the Tigers 39-0.
Playing the game of "ifs and buts”, had the Tigers pushed over a single score in each of their six ties
they would have ended the year with a 9-2-0 record. A record like that, to go along with eight shutouts
would have given the team one of the most impressive records in school history. However, the truly great
teams are good on both sides of the ball. The fact is, the team didn’t score when they needed to
and, had they not had outstanding defensive play, could have just as easily ended the year with a 3-8-0 record.
In the end, let the record speak for itself.
(--) During the 1926 season, Winnfield
played a virtual "Who’s Who” of north Louisiana high school teams and threw in the Normal College freshman
team for good measure. Winnfield’s four wins came against the teams "they were supposed to beat”.
Those included Olla, Natchitoches, Glenmora and Jena, who the Tigers defeated by a combined score of 167 to 15.
They tied the Normal freshman team in a game played on the Normal athletic field.
The toughest teams on
the Tigers schedule included Haynesville, Ruston, Minden and Bolton. Not only did the Tigers lose all of
those games but they were shutout by all of those teams except Ruston. Winnfield met Haynesville, who had
been crowned state champions just two years earlier, on their home turf. The headlines in the local paper pretty much summed
up the game: “Winnfield Boys Out-played, Out-Weighed and Out-Experienced By Haynesville.” Winnfield
was defeated 26-0 by Haynesville in a game in which they never seriously threatened to score.
|KEY GAME: The next week the Tigers entertained Ruston, the reigning state champions.
In a game the local papers described as "the best football game that has been played on the local gridiron for
many years” the Tigers played the Bearcats so closely that the final outcome was in doubt until the closing minutes
of the game. Ruston scored first in the opening quarter but missed the PAT, leaving the score at 6-0.
In the second quarter, Winnfield not only held Ruston scoreless, but also managed a touchdown-producing drive of their
own. Winnfield missed their PAT as well, leaving the game all tied 6-6 at the half. Neither
team was able to score in the third quarter despite penetrations by both teams inside the 10 yard-line. Late
in the fourth quarter Ruston took the lead with a game-deciding touchdown, scoring with less than three minutes to go in the
contest to take a 13-6 win. |
the loss to Ruston, Winnfield reeled off three straight wins to up their record to 4-2-1 for the season. The
third of those wins came against the Jena Giants, who was playing that school’s first season of football.
In that game, the Tigers scored 61 points and pitched a shutout.
In the final two games of the season, Winnfield faced Minden, who had played in
the 1921 title game, and their old rival Bolton. Against Minden, the Tigers gave up two touchdowns but
couldn’t find a way to score at all, suffering their third loss of the season. That moved their record
to 4-3-1 for the season.
Winnfield closed out the season with a game against Bolton. That game was played on Thanksgiving
Day in Alexandria. Winnfield had faced eight opponents and allowed only 66 pts. Almost half of those points
(26 pts.) came in the 26-0 loss to Haynesville. Heading into the 1926 season, the seventeenth season of
Tiger football, the most points any Tiger team is known to have given up in a single game is the 46 pts. allowed to New Orleans
in the 1917 season. Since that game, only one opponent had scored 30 or more points. That opponent was
the Bolton Bears and that score had come in the 1925 season when the Bears defeated Winnfield 39-0. As the 1926 Tigers prepared
to end the season, they had no reason to anticipate the whipping Bolton would give Winnfield to end the 1926 season.
Though the papers said that the score was "no indication of the strength of the two teams” it is hard to
disguise the spanking that Winnfield took that day, as the Bears defeated Winnfield by a score of 71-0. That
would be the largest margin of defeat by a Winnfield team during the entire century and the second most
points allowed by Winnfield in the same period.
The 1926 season concluded the tenure of Bruce Smith as head coach of the Tiger football team.
In three years he compiled a record of 18-8-7 (.540). He had no spectacular teams. In
fact, each of his teams ended the season at or just above the .500 mark. Coming on the heels of the dominating
teams of Alwin Stokes, maybe some people view the teams of Bruce Smith as sub-par.
The fact is that the program’s streak of non-losing seasons likely was extended to 10 years. That
streak could be longer if the results just prior to the 1917 season are ever uncovered. It is known that
Brother Stokes posted seven straight winning seasons between 1917 and 1923.
Bruce Smith’s replacement at head coach was Jimmie Horton, a former Centenary
College grid star. By 1927, there were 65 high schools in Louisiana fielding football teams. Winnfield
High School was, of course, one those schools. An experience-laden Winnfield team composed of 23 schoolboys
greeted Coach Horton. Of that bunch, fourteen had started at least two years and eleven
were 18 years old or older. For all practical purposes, Coach Horton inherited the 1926
football team, as only three lettermen were lost off of the 1926 team. Otherwise, 19 of 22 lettermen returned
and they were all good football players.
Returning starters in the backfield included seniors James Gimber (RB), Arnett Garriss
(RB) and Jack Gilstrap (RB). Those seniors were joined by a strong group of juniors in
Gabe Durham (QB), Percy Dortch (RB), Tot Hyde (RB) and sophomore
Henry Brewer (RB).
This was easily the most talented backfield a Winnfield team had ever produced
in terms of the sheer number of quality athletes. The juniors of the bunch were the backbone of the backfield.
Before their careers were over, the three juniors would put on an offensive display unlike that ever witnessed at the
school. Their effort over the next two years would be remembered well into the century.
The team wouldn’t have to live and die
by their so-called “skill players.” Talent in the backfield is no good if those backs have
nowhere to run. That would be of little concern to Coach Horton because there were four
ends and eight interior linemen returning that had lettered the year before. Those included seniors Irby
Meredith (T), A. T. Drewitt (T), John Sowers (T), Julius Anderson
(G) and Orville Dickerson (C). But, most of the linemen came from the underclassmen ranks,
including juniors Kenneth Teegarden (E), Alton Pope (E), Clebe Maxey (G),
Garfield "Hap” Gimber and sophomores James Price (E), Roy Morgan (T)
and Byron "Chuck” Skains (G).
In 1927, Winnfield scheduled the perennial powers of the time, including Haynesville
and Ruston who had combined to win three state titles in the 1920s. Winnfield also added the reigning state
champion Byrd Yellow Jackets to their schedule. The Shreveport-based Yellow Jackets soundly defeated Bolton
by a score of 23-0 the year before to win the state crown. That was the same Bolton team who defeated Winnfield
The Tigers opened the 1927 season against Olla and easily won that game by a score of 55-0. They
needed a relatively easy opening opponent because after that game they played arguably the three strongest teams in north
Louisiana in Haynesville, Ruston and Byrd in consecutive games.
KEY GAME: First
up would be the Golden Tornado from Haynesville. The game was played on a Friday afternoon in Winnfield with what the papers
called, "the biggest crowd that ever witnessed a football game in Winnfield,” in attendance.
The game was a defensive struggle from the outset.
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, neither team had scored. Then, as close games are often
decided, Winnfield took advantage of a Haynesville turnover. One of the biggest stars of the era, Winnfield's
Byron "Chuck" Skains, caused a fumble, which was picked up and returned 30 yards for a Winnfield
touchdown. Skains missed the point after touchdown kick, but Winnfield jumped to a 6-0
lead with only minutes to go in the game. Haynesville took the kickoff and returned it to their own 35
yard-line. All the Tigers had to do to preserve the win was play good defense. If only
the game of football were that easy.
Haynesville got into immediate scoring position when they took the ball 38-yards down the field on a run from scrimmage,
after which15 penalty yards were added on for tackling out-of-bounds. Three plays later Haynesville was
in the end zone and they made the important point-after-touchdown to take a hard-fought 7-6 win over the Tigers.
The loss dropped Winnfield’s record to 1-1-0.
Winnfield had no time for a letdown as they faced their second biggest test of the season the next week when they played
the Ruston Bearcats. This game turned out to be a test of which team was the best "mudder.”
Playing on what the local paper called "a sea of mud", neither team could mount an offensive threat, resulting
in a 0-0 tie.
Arguably the toughest opponent of the year came in the fourth game of the season when the Crimson Tigers traveled to
Shreveport to play the defending-state-champion Byrd Yellow Jackets. That game was witnessed by 3,000 spectators at the C.
E. Byrd Stadium. The contest started as most fans expected with Byrd scoring two first-quarter touchdowns,
giving Byrd an early 12-0 lead. That lead held up until halftime. The second half of
the game would be much different as the Tiger offense finally came to life. Winnfield quickly scored two
touchdowns and converted both extra points to take a 14-12 lead. However, Byrd scored late in the third quarter to go up 18-14
and it was that second-half touchdown that was the difference in the game as the Jacket’s four-point lead held up until
the game ended. Winnfield actually
"scored" the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter when they recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown,
only to have the score nullified because the referee unintentionally blew his whistle, thus killing the play.
Though Byrd won the game 18-14, both teams made 10 first downs and, as the Shreveport newspapers account of the game
stated: "The unusual fighting attack that the visitors launched in the second half came as a surprise both to the fans
and the Jackets.”
Winnfield had proven they could play with anybody. In successive
weeks they had faced three of the strongest teams in the northern section of the state and had tied one and lost two of those
games by a combined total of 5 points. But for key breaks, they could have won all three.
The Tigers won all of the remaining five games, winning the
first four games after the Byrd game by a combined score of 125-0. Those four opponents weren’t exactly
cream puffs, though Dodson (33-0) and Arcadia (32-0) weren’t the strongest of foes. But, Jonesboro,
who the Tigers defeated 28-0, was three years away from their first title game appearance and Minden, who the Tigers blanked
32-0, had already competed in a title game in the early 1920s. The Greenbacks of Minden offered the Tigers
a chance to test their abilities against the toughest opponent they had faced since the Byrd game. The
local paper offered the following pre-game build-up: "A record-breaking crowd is expected here for
the Minden-Winnfield High School football game Friday afternoon. A special train will bring the Minden
fans and the local business houses will close during the hours of the game.”
After the Minden win the
Tigers improved their record to 5-2-1 and appeared to be much stronger than the Winnfield team who started the season. Blame
the Tigers 0-2-1 record against Byrd, Ruston and Haynesville on what you want: a poor game plan, poor execution or just plain
bad breaks. Though the Tigers now seemed to have a team as good as anyone, the fact is that they didn’t
get the job done early in the season when they needed to.
The Crimson Tigers closed out the season by beating Mansfield by a closer-than-expected
score of 13-7. That win gave the Tigers a final record of 6-2-1. Considering the quality
of Winnfield's opponents and the manner in which the Tiger's disposed of the teams they did beat, the 1927 football is arguably
one of Winnfield's better teams of its era. The 4 and 1 point losses to Byrd and Haynesville respectively,
coupled with the 0-0 tie with Ruston will always keep the 1927 team from being considered among Winnfield’s great teams.
That is unfortunate and, to some degree, unfair. In spite of a good, but seemingly unimpressive,
overall record of 6-2-1, the 1927 Tigers were but 7 points shy of a perfect 9-0-0 record. The six wins
came by margins of 55, 33, 32, 32, 28 and 6 pts
At the end of the season the teams with the highest winning percentage were selected
to continue on in the playoffs, since high schools weren’t divided into districts yet. Winnfield's
"predicament" is best described in a local newspaper article of the time. The Winnfield newspaper
stated, "The present rules, permitting the various teams of the state to make their own schedules, makes it possible
for any fairly good team to arrange a light schedule with a bunch of weak teams, and, by going through the season undefeated,
claim the division and State championship. This is clearly demonstrated now with Oakdale and Bastrop's
percentage rating, but whose schedule is generally admitted to be much weaker than many other teams of the state.
The present system is unfair to towns like Shreveport, Alexandria, Minden, Haynesville, Homer, Winnfield, Ruston, Arcadia,
Lake Charles, Morgan City, Bogalusa, Baton Rouge and Warren Easton (New Orleans), who consistently put out strong high school
football teams (and play tough competition). Bastrop has not played as difficult a schedule as Winnfield
or Shreveport. Neither has Bastrop disposed of their opponents by such impressive scores as Winnfield.
Winnfield beat Minden 32-0, Minden beat Haynesville 2-0 and Bastrop only defeated Haynesville 13 to 7.
On comparative scores, Minden rates about equal to Bastrop and Winnfield beat Minden 32-0."
Winnfield principal M.P. Rogers
attempted to schedule a game against Bastrop at the end of the season but was unsuccessful. Therefore,
Bastrop was selected as the north Louisiana representative for the 1927 title game by virtue of the fact that they had the
highest winning percentage of any north Louisiana high school. Bastrop won that title game by a score of
19-0 over Bogalusa.
Key Season, 1928 (9-1-0)
W, 50- 0
W, 27- 0
W, 32- 0
W, 62- 6
L, 6- 7
W, 19- 7
W, 13- 0
W, 71- 0
W, 87- 0
LA. NORMAL (Fr)
W, 19- 0
Let it be said from the outset - one of the best football teams in the history of the program was fielded in the 1928
season. Every so the often, the program has been fortunate to pull together all the ingredients of a championship
team in one season. Those ingredients include (among other things) experienced and talented players, leadership,
determination and good coaching. The 1928 team had all of that.
All of that success came in spite of the fact
that the program faced yet another coaching change coming into the season. After guiding the Tigers only
one season, Jimmie Horton stepped down after the 1927 season and was replaced by Zollie Bennett,
another Centenary College football star. Bennett was greeted by the largest turnout of
boys to ever play football at Winnfield, numbering around 35.
The schedule was somewhat lighter than it had been in previous years.
Gone were Byrd and Haynesville, but, Winnfield still scheduled Ruston, long time rival Bolton, as well as nearby rival
Jonesboro and the always-tough Minden Greenbacks. The Crimson Tigers picked up three new opponents in the
Oak Grove Tigers, the Bunkie Tigers and the Oakdale Warriors.
To say that the returning players for the 1928 season were an experienced bunch
is simply not saying enough about the amount of playing time the returning lettermen had. Any player that
has played in a game has gained some "playing experience.” The 1928 bunch of boys had done more than that.
The nucleus of the 1928 team had no less than eight boys who had been starters for not one, but two years.
So, they had not been starters in a game - they had been starters in as many as twenty games. Those
eight players were coming into their senior season. They knew what it took to compete for four quarters.
But, they had more than just game knowledge. For their time, they were as talented a group as has
ever worn the red and white.
When you examine the 1928 backfield what you find is talent, depth and experience - a coach’s dream backfield.
Included in the senior-filled group were three-year starters Gabe Durham (QB), Tot Hyde
(HB), and Percy Dortch (HB). No Winnfield team has ever had three seniors with as much
game experience as those three. That group had made up the starting backfield of the previous two Winnfield
teams. Junior Teal Calhoun alternated at the halfback position and would end up scoring
seven touchdowns in the high-octane offense that the 1928 team possessed. But, the talent and experience
didn’t end there, not by a long shot. Senior Frank Brewer rounded out the starting
backfield and he entered the season as a two-year starter. All he would end up doing is lead the team in
scoring and in the process, set an individual scoring record that would last over 40 years. Coach
Bennett had the luxury of having three other players who weren’t just bench-warmers who could step in at running
back position. Reserves included Pete Fuller, Elmon Fletcher and Ben Beville. Those
three would combine to score over 60 pts. for the Tigers. The Tigers had power, speed and skill in those
eight players who made up the Tiger backfield. Opposing teams would not shut out this scoring machine.
When these boys got near the goal line they scored. That is, when they had the occasion of having
to score from near the goal line. The term "scoring position” took on a new meaning with this
bunch. They were a threat to score any time they had the ball.
Winnfield was equally loaded across the line. Both starting
ends from the season before returned. Kenneth Teegarden, who had earned All-State honors
as a junior, was entering his senior season with three years of playing experience. The other starting
end would be junior James Price, who was in the middle of a three-year-starting-career at Winnfield.
The interior linemen were,
in a word - “awesome.” The best of the bunch was tackle Byron "Chuck” Skains,
who was entering his junior campaign. He had played in the line since his freshman year and was arguably
the most talented lineman to ever play for the Tigers up to that point in time. He was so well thought-of
by his teammates that he was selected as a team captain, an honor rarely bestowed upon an underclassman. Teegarden
was selected as the other captain of the team. Returning in the center spot was senior Hap Gimber,
a two-year starter at that position. The other two-year starter and only other senior in the line was guard
Clabe Maxey. As a unit, Skains (T), Maxey (G),
Gimber (C) and Teegarden (E) had held down the right side of the line for the past two football
seasons. They knew how to play together as a unit
Rounding out the starting linemen slots were juniors Ed Grigsby and Roy Morgan, who
alternated at guard, and Huborn Boyett at the left tackle position. But, since the Tigers
would have the opportunity to play a lot of players, Cornelius Martin at center, and Bill Machen
at tackle got in more than the normal amount of playing time for a reserve.
When you take into account the key reserves of
the team, the 1928 team clearly had the most talented top fifteen or eighteen players to ever wear the red and while up to
that point. Rightfully so, expectations ran high for a successful season. Few were disappointed.
Winnfield began the season
against Jonesboro with bragging rights on the line. Frank Brewer set the tone for the
season when he scored on the first play from scrimmage. From there the Tigers never let up.
On Jonesboro’s next series Teegarden recovered a fumble five yards away from pay dirt and Brewer
scored on the very next play. Brewer also returned the second half kickoff 75 yards for
a touchdown, contributing to a 50-0 shellacking of Jonesboro.
In the second game of the season Winnfield faced nearby Dodson. The
Panthers put up a surprisingly strong defensive effort and "held” the Tigers to 27 pts. However,
Dodson never seriously threatened to score, so Winnfield managed a hard-fought 27-0 victory. Kenneth
Teegarden was the leading scorer for the Tigers, tallying two touchdowns. He was running for what
would have been his third touchdown of the game when the final whistle blew, which, according to rules of the time, ended
the play. The win moved the team to 2-0-0 for the season.
GAME: The third game of the season had Winnfield playing
what the local paper called "the only big game of the football season scheduled to be played on the Winnfield gridiron.”
Ruston was the opponent, and it was reasonable to expect that this would be Winnfield’s toughest opponent.
Both teams came into the game with undefeated records. Prior to the game, it appeared the game would
decide the North Louisiana representative for the state championship because the victor would certainly be in a position to
go undefeated through the remainder of the season. Winnfield had a 1-2-2 series record against Ruston coming
into the 1928 contest. Despite all of the build-up, the game was never
close. In the first ten minutes of play, Winnfield blocked two Ruston punts, resulting in two Winnfield
scores. Then, early in the second half, Winnfield again used the punt to score. Winnfield
held Ruston short of a first down on the first series of the second half, forcing them to punt near their own goal line.
Percy Dortch, Tiger return man, fielded the ball at the Ruston 40 yard-line and carried the ball the
full distance, giving the Crimson Tigers a three-touchdown lead. Later in the quarter, Teal Calhoun
intercepted a Bearcat pass and returned it for another 40-yard touchdown. The final touchdown of the game
would be one of the most impressive runs of the entire season when Frank Brewer raced 60 yards through, "the
entire Bearcat eleven”, so the local paper said. The win gave the team a 3-0-0 record.
If expectations were high before the season began,
they were at a fever pitch now. Writing in the New Orleans States, legendary sportswriter Harry
Martinez wrote, "In trouncing Ruston by such a decisive margin, Winnfield declared themselves as probably the
strongest team in the state at this time. Coach Bennett’s gang handled the powerful
Ruston eleven like paper, and at no time was Coach Rush’s (Ruston coach) aggregation a factor.
Before the game, Ruston was rated a formidable foe. Winnfield looks more than ever like the team
to beat for the title, even at this early date.”
Winnfield had an open date following the big Ruston win and it was needed. Several players were
nursing nagging injuries, though none were thought to be serious. This was no time to ease up, though.
The Crimson Tigers would be facing the Mansfield Wolverines in the fourth game of the season. Mansfield
had surprised Winnfield the year before; with the Tigers eking out a hard-fought 13-7 win.
Mansfield was well prepared
for Winnfield. Mansfield scored first, jumping out to a 6-0 lead early in the game. Those
were the first points scored against the Tigers in the 1928 season and the first time they had trailed in a football game.
Any concerns about Mansfield were soon erased, however, as Winnfield scored ten unanswered touchdowns (or 62 unanswered
points, if you will). Gabe Durham, the Crimson Tiger starting QB, scored four touchdowns
himself. Three long touchdowns were scored by Teal Calhoun, who according to a newspaper
account after the game, was “a young kid who is rapidly developing into a star.” Using subs
freely, the Winnfield Crimson Tigers ended the game with a 62-6 victory, enabling them to notch their fourth win of the season
against no losses. In four games, the Crimson Tigers had scored 171 pts., for a 42.75 ppg scoring average,
while only giving up one touchdown. The Crimson Tigers were on a roll.
Looking ahead, Winnfield had two opponents in the remaining six games that offered the biggest obstacle to an undefeated season.
They faced one of them the following week when they met their biggest rival, the Bolton Bears. Bolton
was enjoying a banner year themselves. Both Winnfield and Bolton had been considered strong contenders
for the state championship since the season began. However, Bolton was coming off their first loss of the
season at the hands of Lake Charles, so, they were desperate. The Winnfield boys were focused as well.
According to the local paper, "Coach Bennett has not allowed the boys to be blinded by their
wonderful success this season, but has kept them in trim for each new game.” There would be no doubt,
however, that this was the biggest game of the year for both teams.
The game was played at Bolton and was declared "Homecoming Day” by Bolton. The Bears
were reported to be making "extensive preparations” for the game. S. M. Brame,
principal of Bolton High School, even went as far as mailing letters to alumni of the school, asking that they return for
the game. Winnfield fans were just as prepared. Several buses were chartered to transport
fans to the game. The game was billed as “one of the strongest bids for the state championship”,
according to the local paper. And, the newspaper article continued - "the Tigers are ready.” The Alexandria Towntalk reported that “one of the largest
crowds to ever attend a high school football game” in Alexandria was on hand for the Saturday afternoon game.
The game turned out to be as close as people predicted. The first quarter came to a close with neither
team mounting a serious scoring threat. Then, in the second quarter, Bolton scored the first touchdown
of the game on a series of line plunges. They also tacked on the all-important extra point.
That 7-0 lead would hold up until halftime. As a result, the Tigers went into the locker room with no points on the
board for the first time all season.
took the second half kickoff and promptly drove down the field, mainly due to the success of Frank Brewer’s
pinpoint passes. After successfully completing two passes to Percy Dortch, Brewer kept
the ball himself on an 11-yard run. Brewer then completed a 25-yard pass to Teal
Calhoun, who took the ball all the way down to the Bolton 15 yard-line. That is where the series
ended for the Tigers, however, as the Tigers were forced to turn the ball over on downs after Bolton put up a brick wall.
Winnfield was held scoreless through the first
three quarters, allowing Bolton to hold onto their slim 7-0 lead as the fourth quarter began. In the final
quarter it was a turnover that helped the Tigers to finally get on the scoreboard. On the first play of
the fourth quarter Bolton fumbled near their own goal line and the ball was recovered by Kenneth Teegarden.
After three line plunges, Frank Brewer carried the ball over for the first Winnfield touchdown.
The Tigers attempted to run for the extra point but were held by the Bears. As a result, Bolton
still maintained a slim 7-6 lead, with plenty of time on the clock.
Winnfield held Bolton on the next series and took over with
what would likely be time for one last drive. The Tigers did drive down the field as the end of the game
neared. Again, taking advantage of the passing arm of Frank Brewer, the Tigers moved into
Bolton territory. A pass from Brewer to Percy Dortch, who was streaking
into the end zone, was knocked down by the Bolton defender. With the ball on the Bolton 40 yard-line, Winnfield
tried two more passes on third and fourth down, but both fell incomplete. Much to the satisfaction of the
returning alumni, Bolton managed to hold onto their lead until the clock ran out..
Showing little respect for the Bolton defensive effort, the local paper instead attributed the Bear win to one thing
- "luck." With the loss, the Tigers’ record dropped to 4-1-0. The loss put a serious damper
on the Tigers title hopes because of the unrealistic need to go virtually go undefeated each year to get into the playoffs,
since the primary criteria used to select playoff participants was winning percentages. If the Tigers won
the rest of their games, the highest winning percentage they could post was .900. Typically, it took a
1.000 winning percentage to get into the playoffs.
Crimson Tigers had two more road trips before closing out their season with three home games. The first
of those away games took the Tigers to Oak Grove. The team left Winnfield at 8:00 a.m. for the Friday afternoon
game, scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. This would give the local boys time to rest after the long bus ride.
It turned out to be a much longer trip than expected. While in route to Oak Grove, the bus in which
the Tigers rode developed engine trouble, stranding the Tiger team. They eventually got the bus going,
but they would take eight hours to drive to Oak Grove, arriving one hour late and forcing the game to begin at 4:00.
The Tigers gave a sluggish
performance in taking a 19-7 win over Oak Grove. Winnfield had two long runs for apparent touchdowns called back in the first
half, but finally got a touchdown from Frank Brewer in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 6-0 halftime
lead. That’s the way the score stood until Calhoun and Dortch each scored fourth quarter
touchdowns. Oak Grove scored a single touchdown late in the fourth quarter but that was not enough as the
Tigers ended a long day by taking a 19-7 win over Oak Grove. Those would be the last points scored against
the Tigers in the 1928 season, though there were still four games remaining on the schedule. The Crimson Tigers had faced
their sixth opponent of the season and moved their record to 5-1-0. The touchdown that Oak Grove scored
was only the third touchdown Winnfield had allowed all year.
The Crimson Tigers traveled
to Minden for the last road trip of the season. The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the game and notched
their fourth shutout of the season. The Minden defensive line proved to be stronger than expected.
Nevertheless, the Tigers moved to their record to 6-1-0 by defeating the Minden Greenbacks 12-0. After playing four straight road games, the Tigers ended the season with three
straight home games. With six wins under their belt, they had a chance to tie the school record for wins
in a season by winning all three. That alone stirred enthusiasm among the Winnfield players and fans alike.
And if no other high school in north Louisiana finished with an undefeated record (meaning they had a higher winning
percentage than Winnfield), the Tigers would be a strong contender for a playoff spot. So, Winnfield still
had plenty to play for.
The first of those three home games would be played against Bunkie. The local account of the game
pretty much says it all - "The game between the Winnfield Crimson Tigers and Bunkie played on the local field Saturday
afternoon turned out being a foot race with the Tiger ball carriers showing their heels to the visitors all afternoon with
the resulting score of 71-0.” The local account of the game went on to say, “The visitors saw
almost as much of the Tigers backs as they did of their faces during the two hours of play, for the home team players were
sprinting for the goal line during the entire game. The Tigers’ starting line-up was made up of next
year’s prospects and, if Saturday’s game is any indication, the Crimson Tiger squad will have one of the greatest
scoring machines in our high school conference next year.” But forget about "next year.”
The 71 points scored by the team against Bunkie upped the team’s total for the season to 279 points.
The most points ever scored by a Tiger team in one season had been the 236 points scored by the great 1923 team.
So, that scoring record fell to the wayside in the Bunkie game, and with two more games to play, the 1928 team only
figured to add to that total.
Winnfield played Oakdale the ninth game of the season. As for the game itself, the Tigers had no
reason to think they would have nearly as easy a game as they had against Bunkie. Oakdale came into the
game with an 8-3 record on the year. The pre-game write-up in the local paper reported, "The Tigers
are expecting the Warriors usual aerial attack which has netted them consistent gains in every game.” The
article went on to say, "In last Saturday’s game with Jennings, the Warriors made 50 yards on four straightforward
passes in 45 seconds.” In those days, the passing game was almost unheard of, so Oakdale’s
passing attack gave some cause for concern. Little did the Tigers know that by the end of the game, they
would record the second highest score in a single game that any Winnfield High School team would post during the entire twentieth
The Tigers scored 13 touchdowns and added 7 extra points and a safety in rolling to an 87-0 victory. Seven
different Tigers scored touchdowns, with five players scoring multiple touchdowns, including: Gabe Durham
(3), Loville Fuller (2), Elmon Fletcher (2), Teal Calhoun (2), and Frank
Brewer (2). Also tacking on single touchdowns were Kenneth Teegarden and Ed
Grigsby. The 87 points the Tigers scored upped the season total to 366 points, 130 more points
than had ever been scored. Their 40.6 ppg scoring average was easily the highest average ever posted by
a Tiger team.
After the regular season ended, Coach Bennett wanted one more game for his Tigers. The
Tigers found a willing taker in the Louisiana State Normal freshman team. The game was held on a Saturday
afternoon on the Tigers’ field. Billed as “Appreciation Day”, the school asked all business
owners to close for the game. Coach Bennett wanted to attract a large crowd and reported
that proceeds from the game would be used to buy letter sweaters for the Tiger lettermen. Not many would
attend, however, and it wouldn’t be because of their lack of appreciation for their Tigers. The game
was played in a driving rainstorm during the last week of November. In the game, the Tigers "plowed
and flounder(ed) their way through a sea of rain, mud and slush”, according to the local paper. The
Tigers did notch their ninth win and eighth shutout of the season in the 19-0 win.
Winnfield had faced ten opponents and beaten 9 of them, but had come within two
points of a perfect 10-0-0 season, what with their 7-6 loss to Bolton. They recorded eight shutouts, while
giving up only three touchdowns all season. Only Mansfield, Oak Grove, and Bolton had managed to cross
the goal line against the Tigers. Prior to the 1928 season, only two Winnfield teams had scored more than
200 points in a single season, including the 1923 team (236 pts.) and the 1919 team (220 pts.). The 1928
Winnfield team totally eclipsed both those totals, breaking the school record by nearly 150 points, or an average of 15 points
per game more than any other team had ever scored. In 10 games, the 1928 Crimson Tigers amassed 385 points,
making them the first Winnfield team to score over 300 pts. in a single season. The 1928 Tigers were never
shutout and only two teams, Bolton and Minden, held the Tigers to under three touchdowns in a game. The
Tigers had it all - a potent scoring attack and a smothering defense. As is true with all winning programs,
the Tigers went into every game believing they were going to win the game. Maybe what was even more important,
the opposition went into most games thinking the Tigers were going to win the game too. That kind of belief
system on both sides of the field is what a winning program breeds.
Tiger fullback Frank Brewer
ended the season as the team’s leading scorer. During the ten-game season he scored at least one
touchdown in every game he played. He sat out Winnfield’s 62-6 win over Mansfield and the team’s
19-0 win over Louisiana Normal, both times because of injuries. Brewer scored 69 pts.
in the 1928 season, and the individual scoring results from the Bunkie game are not known. The newspaper account of Winnfield’s
71-0 win over Bunkie does say that, "Brewer and (halfback, Elmon) Fletcher
were easily the offensive stars of the game.” So, he likely added to his point total in
the Bunkie game. Even when you only consider the 69 pts. Brewer is credited with, this
was a remarkable scoring feat. Individual scoring in the early era of football was not like it is in modern
day football. In that era, it was common for the single-season scoring leader to score in the 40s, 30s
or even 20s. To put Brewer’s numbers into perspective, prior to the 1950 season
(the first 41 years of Tiger football) only two other Winnfield players scored 50 or more points in a single season.
More impressively, it wouldn’t be until 42 years later (1971) that an individual player would score more points
in a single season than Brewer, when Jerry Keen shattered Brewer’s
single-season scoring record by totaling 126 pts.
Winnfield ended the season with a .900 winning percentage, which was good but
not good enough. Homer High School had the highest winning percentage in north Louisiana, ending the season
with an undefeated record. That 1.000% winning percentage edged out Winnfield and, as a result, the Pelicans
were selected as the north Louisiana representative for the state championship game. Making their first
of what would be eight championship game appearances in the twentieth century, Homer defeated always-powerful Warren Easton
26-12 in the 1928 title game. That win gave the Homer Pelicans a perfect 11-0 record on the year.
Except for the loss to Bolton, the Tigers could have ended the season with the same record. It was
not to be.
Teegarden repeated as end on the All-State team. The New Orleans States, which picked
one of the All-State teams each year, said, "Teegarden, who is also captain of the Winnfield eleven,
is an exceptionally brainy player. He calls signals from his end position, did the punting, is a sure receiver
of passes and couldn’t be circled. Fortenberry and Teegarden on
the terminals of a college team would end any coach’s worry about ends.” Byron "Chuck” Skains
was selected second team All-State and the Baton Rouge State Times selected Frank Brewer as fullback
on their second team. Brewer was also selected to the New Orleans States
All-State team. Also receiving honorable mention on the All-State team selected by the States
were Clabe Maxey, Ed Grigsby and Hap Gimber. Teegarden, Skains and Brewer
were invited to attend the annual Tulane banquet in New Orleans to honor a select group of high school football players.
The local paper reported, "This honor is only extended to those high school football players whose record is outstanding
and in whom the University is especially interested." The Lions Club of Haynesville sponsored a football
game on Christmas Day of 1928, pitting an All-Star team of Louisiana against an All-Star team of Arkansas. Both
Kenneth Teegarden and Chuck Skains were selected to represent Louisiana in that game.
The Tigers didn’t
play for a state championship in 1928. That's not because they were not good enough. Very
few teams have the opportunity to play for a championship title. It takes a certain amount of skill, good
coaching, lucky breaks and good solid execution to make it all the way to a title game. Except for one
game, the 1928 Tigers were far superior to every opponent they faced. In any season, teams with powerful
offenses or staunch defenses are impressive to watch. The 1928 Tigers had both. The
team was full of individual stars, but probably the key to their success was that they had played together as a unit for almost
three full seasons. All of that is a testimony to what it takes to develop a winning team.
The1928 team was not just a good team - they were a great team. The 1928 Winnfield team is certainly
one of the best teams in Winnfield history.
1929 (3-5-0) - Winnfield
entered the 1929 season with their fourth head coach in four years when Maxwell Crowe took over the head
coaching duties at Winnfield High School. Despite the turnover in the coaching ranks each year since 1926,
one thing had remained constant - Winnfield continued to produce winning football teams. The Tigers had
gone 4-4-1 in 1926; however, the program had a combined record of 15-3-1 during the 1927 and 1928 seasons. Jimmie
Horton, the head coach in 1927 produced a team that posted a 6-2-1 record. Then, Zollie
Bennett took over the program in the 1928 season and led that team to a 9-1-0 record. Of course,
much of the credit for the success of the 1926 to 1928 seasons was a group ten or so players who had made up the nucleus of
the team during each of those three seasons. The 1928 team had 20 lettermen on the squad when the season
began. Of that group, ten were graduating seniors and they were one of the most gifted and experienced
groups of seniors to ever play for the Tigers. Any coach would be concerned after losing that much talent
in one graduating class. However, Coach Crowe had ten returning lettermen, including nine
seniors. He also had another new addition to the team that would help him as much as anything. Crowe
talked Rev. Stokes into helping him coach the football team.
Coach Crowe’s most pressing concern was in the backfield
and end positions, where eight of the ten departing seniors had played. To compensate for those losses,
he made his boldest move at the quarterback position. Crowe moved the decorated Byron
"Chuck” Skains, one of the most gifted linemen the school had ever produced, from tackle to quarterback
to take advantage of his speed. This account of the move was reported in the Shreveport Times at the end of the season
- "In 1928, Skains was picked as a tackle on the All-State team. This season, needing
backfield men, Coach Crowe shifted Skains behind the line and the youngster reached heights,
not as a spectacular starter, but as a fine football player, one of the best of the year. He is first down
the field under punts, tackles fiercely, and handles passes well.”
Calhoun, the third leading scorer the season before, returned and would play
his senior year at one of the halfback positions. Juniors Dudley Shell and Willie
Reid would fill the other halfback position. Shell tells the story that
Coach Crowe was the first coach to “allow” him to come out for football, as the previous Tiger
coaches had to him that he was too small. He would prove over his junior and senior seasons that you can’t
necessarily judge a high school football player by his size.
who had played tackle the season before
in a reserve role, was moved to the fullback position for his senior year. Though the Tigers lost Kenneth
Teegarden at one of the end positions, senior James Price had already logged two years of playing
experience at the other end position. Henry Brewer, senior reserve end from the season
before also returned. Brewer and Byron "Chuck" Skains were
elected captains of the team.
The picture was much brighter in the line, even with the relocation of Skains and Machen.
The Tigers had only lost two linemen from the season before, that being center, Hap Gimber and guard,
Clabe Maxey. Cornelius Martin had shared some of the center duties with
Gimber and would be back to fill that position on a full-time basis during his senior campaign.
Ed Grigsby, another senior, who had received Honorable Mention All-State accolades at one of the guard
positions the season before, would return at that slot. Earl Powers, Joe Grigsby
and Frank Cox, all underclassmen, shared duties at the other guard position. Senior lettermen
Roy Morgan and Huborn Boyett, both experienced linemen, would be expected to handle the
tackle positions, with sophomore Robert Turner and junior Cody Beville assisting in a support
role. In the end, Coach Crowe would have nine or more seniors on the field at most any
given time. You need senior leadership on any football team and Coach Crowe had it.
He would need all of that experience because the 1929 Crimson Tigers faced their usual tough schedule, which had the
1929 team taking road trips to Ruston, Haynesville and Lake Charles. They would play the Bolton Bears in
Winnfield, but the Bears always gave the Tigers fits. Rounding out the eight game schedule were dates with
Olla, Dodson, Oak Grove and Winnsboro - all home games.
The way the 1929 season started, spectators must have thought that this would
be yet another powerful Winnfield squad. The Crimson Tigers opened the season with a 51-0 shelling of Olla-Standard, with
Teal Calhoun scoring three touchdowns for the Tigers.
The following week the Tigers traveled to Ruston
to play the always-tough Bearcats. A crowd of approximately 4,000 turned out to the Ruston stadium according to published
reports. A slow drizzle fell throughout most of the game, putting a damper on both team's offensive schemes.
With the score tied 0-0 in the fourth quarter Ruston got the biggest break of the game when the Ruston quarterback
ran what the local paper called “an old trick play” and raced around right end for the lone score of the game.
In the end, Winnfield played its usual tough defensive game and, but for one play, held the Bearcats in check.
In football games, one play can make a difference, however, so the Tigers went into the third game with a 1-1 record.
The Crimson Tigers began
a three-game home stand by reeling off back-to-back wins over Dodson (44-0) and Oak Grove (32-0). With
the two wins, the football program had won 17 of the past 19 football games, recording 14 shutouts in those 19 games.
For the 1929 season the Tigers record stood at 3-1-0 and the team was scoring at a 32 ppg clip. All
of that was about to end, however, as the Tigers would not win another game or even score another point the rest of the season.
In fact, in contrast to the success of the Tiger program in the 1920s in general, and in the previous 19 outings in
particular, the fortunes of the program were about to change for years to come. That would be seen throughout
the 1930s, 1940s and most of the 1950s. If you wanted to find a turning point in the program, the fifth
game of the 1929 season would be that turning point. That is when the losing began not only for the 1929
season but for the program in general. That is dramatically shown by contrasting the success of the 19-game stretch prior
to that point in the program (17-2-0 record and 650 points scored) to the relative failure of the 19-game stretch that began
with the fifth game of the 1929 season (6-13-1 record and 130 points scored.)
The four-game losing streak that marked the end of the 1929 season began with
a close 6-0 loss to Bolton, followed by a 32-0 pasting by Haynesville. The game was played in a drizzle, which slowed play.
At least that is what the papers said. If the Haynesville attack was slowed, Winnfield didn’t want to play them
on a dry field. The Enterprise summed up the game like this, "The Golden Tornado of Haynesville,
ran, passed and did everything known to the football world today to defeat Winnfield High School 32-0.”
As predicted, later that season Haynesville defeated Jennings 13-7 in the 1929 Class A title game, giving the Tornado
their second of fourteen titles they would garner in the twentieth century.
Winnfield closed out the home portion of their
schedule two weeks later when they dropped a close 6-0 decision to Winnsboro Wildcats.
In preparing for Winnsboro, Coach Crowe shuffled his lineup considerably. To
shake things up, Crowe moved Chuck Skains from quarterback to end, and replaced Skains
at quarterback with Dudley Shell. James Price, who Skains replaced at
end, was moved to the right guard position, replacing Frank Cox. Despite his effort to
shake the team up, Coach Crowe’s lineup changes did not pay any dividends. The loss
gave the program three straight losses and extended their scoreless streak to twelve quarters. That was
the longest losing streak the program had ever produced and matched the longest shutout string, tying a shutout string of
similar length suffered by the 1926 squad.
Winnfield closed the season by traveling on Thanksgiving Day to play Lake Charles
High School. They did so without Chuck Skains, Teal Calhoun and Ed Grigsby
who were not available for the game because of injuries or illnesses to family members (as was the case with Skains).
As expected, Lake Charles shutout Winnfield, leaving the Tigers with a 3-5-0 record, their first losing record in four
The 1929-1930 school year marked the first time that “numerals” were awarded to football players. Those
players who had played in half of the quarters played by the team during the season continued to earn letters.
Those players who participated in as much as one quarter, but fewer than the minimum required to earn a letter, earned
a "numeral.” Two numerals in a career counted that as one letter. When a
player earned two letters he received a silver award, and for the third letter he received a sweater.