Winnfield High School Football 1930-1939
Any Win Is A Good Win
Key Rule Changes of the Decade:
1930 - Backward
passes and fumbles going out of bounds awarded to the last team touching the ball.
1932 - The
most far-reaching changes in a quarter of a century set up safeguards against hazards of game: 1) Ball declared dead when
any portion of a player, other than hands or feet, touch the ground; 2) Use of flying block and flying tackle barred under
penalty of 5 yds.; 3) Players on defense forbidden to strike opponents on
head, neck, or face; 4) Hard equipment must be covered with padding.
- Circumference of football reduced, making it easier to throw. Previous 5 yds. penalty
for more than one forward pass in a series of down eliminated.
Required helmets. The ball could not be snapped to a lineman.
1936 - Substitutes permitted
to communicate with other players immediately after reporting in. Kicker permitted to advance kick recovered
behind their line.
1937 - Player withdrawn during the fourth quarter may re-enter
once. Number front and back required.
1939 - Substitution rules
liberalized to permit player to re-enter during any quarter.
Summary of the Decade of the 1930s
It would be an understatement to say that
Winnfield football in the 1930s was “a struggle.” That’s because wins were far and few
between. You have to appreciate the effort made by any football team, no matter the outcome of a game or season.
That is especially true in the lean seasons. It is especially at those times that you have to battle
the naysayers and those who almost seem to relish hard times. Likewise, some believe that winning is the
only thing that matters in athletics. After all, they say, isn’t that why they keep score?
Winning is important, but anyone who has ever played the game will tell you there is a whole lot more to be gained
from the game than just winning. However, it can simply be said that Winnfield football reached a "depression”,
of sorts, during the 1930s, just as the country itself was dealing with the Great Depression in the economic arena. In the
1930's, losses far outnumbered wins and the Tiger football program experienced its darkest decade. A quick look at some numbers reveal just how much the football teams of the 1930s
struggled. The Tigers played 97 games during the decade and only won a little over one-third (31) of those
games. The overall record of the Tigers during the decade was 31-57-9, a winning percentage of only .365.
That is, by far, the lowest winning percentage of any decade that Tiger football has been played. Winnfield
broke even at home games, posting a 21-21-4 record in games played in Winnfield. On the road, however,
the Tigers managed only a 10-36-5 record, for a .245 winning percentage.
All total, Winnfield played 32 different football teams during the decade. During that time they
had a winning record against only 10 of those 32 schools. Of the 20 teams they played more than once, they
only had a winning record for the decade against three of them - those being Natchitoches (4-0-5), Mansfield (2-0-1) and Dodson
(3-0-0). Winnfield played Jonesboro seven times during the 1930s and finally scratched out a victory in
the final meeting of the decade, which came during the 1939 season. During the decade, Winnfield played
and never beat Bolton (0-5-0), Byrd (0-5-0), and Fair Park (0-2-0) and only beat Ruston (1-3-2) and Neville (1-5-0)
once each in six meetings.
three Tiger teams posted winning records during the 1930s. Those included the 1933 team (6-3-0), the 1936
team (5-4-1), and the 1939 team (6-5-0). In contrast, three other teams only won one game during their
respective seasons, including the 1931 team (1-6-2), the 1932 team (1-6-1), and the 1937 team (1-6-2). Then
there was the 1938 team who faced eleven opponents and not only failed to win a single game but also failed to score a single
losses during the 1930s might be easier to accept if they were of the "the game could have gone either way” variety
- but most of the losses weren’t. This is shown in one basic statistic. Of the
57 games that ended in a loss for the Tigers during the decade, the Tigers were behind by 22 points or more in 35 (61%) of
those games. That is to say that the margin of defeat was usually such that the outcome of the game was
well known before the fourth quarter began. For the most part, Winnfield could not generate any offense
at all throughout the decade and certainly couldn’t score. The Tigers were shutout in just under
half of the games they played (48 of 97 games). Even those teams who posted winning seasons did so with
good defense. The 1933 team, with 186 total points scored during the season and the 1936 team, who scored
111 points, are the only two teams to score over 100 pts. for an entire season.
How do you explain all of the losses during the period? Winnfield
was not without quality football players during the period. Plus, the 1930s saw the return of Rev.
Alwin Stokes to the head coaching ranks at Winnfield. While his 1933 team posted a 6-3-0 record,
giving that team the highest winning percentage (.667) of the decade, even Stokes was not immune from the
losing-bug that struck the program in the 1930s, as his 1934 team ended the year with a 4-5-2 record, making that his only
team to end the year with a losing record. Aside from Stokes, four other coaches guided the Tiger football
program during the decade. For each of those coaches, the Winnfield assignment was their first experience
at a head-coaching job. As is true with players, experience in the coaching ranks is an important factor
in high school football. For three of the coaches who guided the program in the 1930s, they gained the
head coaching job at Winnfield only one year after they had graduated from college, with one other coach being two years out
of college. So, the fortunes of the Tiger football program in the 1930s were being squarely placed on the
hands of young and inexperienced coaches.
the Tigers did play the best teams that north Louisiana had to offer virtually each season of the 1930s. However,
the Winnfield teams of the 1920s had faced similar competition and fared much better. Nevertheless, Winnfield
did face seven teams during the 1930's that would go on to win a state championship the same season. That
is the highest number of eventual state champions that the Tiger football program has faced in any decade.
Those state champions included Byrd (‘30, ‘35), Homer (‘37, ‘39), Haynesville (‘36),
Minden (‘38) and Jonesboro (‘30).
are many reasons for playing football and for fielding a football team. Aside from the fact that Winnfield
was on the short end of most games they played during the 1930s, there are many good stories, many memorable games and the
players got just as tired trying to win games as did players from other eras. If effort counts (and it
certainly does), the teams of the 1930s have to be given credit for making the effort. Wins came in short
supply and any win was a good win. Though, Winnfield’s winning tradition developed in the late 1910's
and 1920's was somewhat tarnished during the 1930s, at no time was there serious consideration given to disbanding football
at Winnfield High School - though several other high schools did just that during the same period. With
that in mind, you have to say that the Tigers of the 1930s gave the effort and that they kept Winnfield Tiger football going.
Key Players/Coaches of the 1930s
Dudley Shell (1929-1930, B) Running
back on the 1929 squad and moved to quarterback on the 1930squad. Scored six rushing
touchdowns in 1929, with the longest being a 65-yarder against Leesville.Also threw one
touchdown pass during his senior season. Sixth-ranked running back by the ExpertPanel
and seventh-ranked back by the fan vote in the 2000 All-Century Poll For the Old Timers Squad.
Hovey Harrell (1930-1933, B) Four-year
starter at running back. His most prolific season was
his freshman year when he rushed 9 touchdowns. That single season rushing
touchdown total is tied forsecond-most in the pre-1960 era. Following his freshman season
in 1930 Harrell posted two rushingtouchdowns in 1932 and five in 1933. Four of the five
rushing touchdowns in 1932 came against OakGrove and that made him only the third player
up to that time to rush for four touchdowns in a singlegame. He is
one of four players from the pre-1960 era to accomplish that feat. Harrell ended hiscareer with 16 rushing touchdowns which set a school record that was not surpassed until JimmyBolton ended his career in 1962 with 19 rushing touchdowns. Harrell’s 16 career touchdowns is thesecond-most total touchdowns scored by a player from the pre-1960 era. Received
the third highestvote total for backs from fans voting in the 2000 All-Century Fan Poll.
S. A. Ward (1931-1933, T) Three-year starter at tackle. Earned second team All State honors as a
senior. The only known Tiger player from the 1930s to be mentioned on an All State squad.
E. H. “Kidd” Farr (1931-1934, E, QB, B & C; 1942-1945, Head Coach) Versatile player who
played at the end position as a freshman, quarterback as a sophomore, center as a junior and back as a
senior. He continued his playing career as a center while on a football scholarship at nearby Northwestern
State College. Farr is the first player to return to the program as a coach. That occurred when
he took over the reins of the program in 1942 as the head coach. His coaching tenure lasted three
years where he posted a 13-20-0 record. He rose through the ranks of the Winn Parish School system after
that, becoming the principal at Eastside Elementary and eventually being named Superintendent of Schools.
The fans and Expert Panel voting in the All Century poll remember Farr primarily as a center as the was
the leading vote-getter at that position by the fans voting for the pre-1960 era team and was the second leading vote-getter
by the Expert Panel for the center position.
Curtis Varnell (1930-1933,
G) Four-year starter at guard.
Was ranked second by the fans and sixth bythe Expert Panel voting on
the guard position for the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
Joe Beville (1932 – 1934, QB)
Starting QB for two years after playing at a running back position as
a freshman. Was the leading vote-getter at the QB position by fans voting on the 2000 All-Century
Poll for the Old Timers Squad and was ranked sixth by the
Expert Panel voting in the same poll. Threw one touchdown
pass, that going to David Harper, the leading receiver of the era, and rushed for two
touchdowns, with the longest being 35 yards.
J. D. “Farmer”
Jones (1933-1935, G) Arguably the best
lineman of the 1930s, if not the whole pre- 1960 era. The fans voting in the 2000 All-Century
poll thought so as he was the top vote-getter at the guard spot for the Old Timers squad. The Expert
Panel also thought highly of Jones as he was the second-leading vote-getter by that group when guards were being selected.
Winfrey Blair (1934-1936, G) Ninth-ranked guard on the Old Timers Squad as determinedby the
Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll. Was a three-year starter.
David Harper (1935-1936, E & B) Played end as a junior and was the Tigers main threat at runningback on the 1936 squad. He was on the receiving end of three touchdown passes in the 1936 game againstOakdale, which was both the first time a player had caught two touchdown passes in a game or even aseason, much less three. Only four other players have caught three TD passes in a single game in thehistory of the program. Harper ended the 1936 season with 5 TD receptions, which was thesingle-season record until 1959 when Tommy Wyatt caught nine TD passes. Prior to Harper no playerhad ever caught more than one touchdown pass in a season. As a senior, rushed for four touchdowns,including a 45-yarder and a 38-yarder. His longest pass reception for a touchdown
went for 65 yards. Heis the first player to catch passes totaling 100 or more yards in
a single game. That came in his threetouchdown reception game against Oakdale in 1936,
with his TD receptions alone totaling over100 yards. He is the first player credited
with scoring by way of rush and reception in the same game, thatcoming in 1936 against
Mangham when he rushed for two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass fromRay Jenkins.
Was the eighth-ranked back of the era, as determined by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
Ray Jenkins (1935-1936,
B & QB) He threw three touchdown passes
in the 1936 game against Oakdale, all going to David Harper. That marked the first time a player had thrown two touchdown
passes in a game or a season, much less three. His three touchdown performance wasn’t matched again until 1966. To date,
there have only been six players throw three or more touchdown passes in a single game. Jenkins ended the 1936 season with
five touchdown passes, a single-season record that was tied in 1941 and 1957, but not broken until 1959 by Mike Tinnerello.
Denton Shell (1937, C) Was the fifth-ranked
center of the era as voted on by the Expert Panelof the 2000 All-Century
Poll for the Old Timers Squad
(1938-1940, G) Three-year starter at guard.
Honorable mention All State selection atguard his senior season. Was
the fourth-ranked guard of the era as determined by the Expert Panel votingon the 2000
All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
1930, (5-5-0) Yet another coaching change was
made after the 1929 season. Earl Downs was hired to take over the coaching duties at the
high school, making that five different head coaches in five years. His first team was small in size, as
the approximately 30 boys who turned out for football averaged about 145 lbs. per man. That was considered
small, even by 1930 standards. What the team lacked in size, they made up for with quickness.
Coach Downs tried to capitalize on this by developing precision in his team’s execution and
by designing schemes to take advantage of his team’s speed.
Coach Downs would have to build his team around a nucleus of eight seniors who included Dudley
Shell, Homer McMurray, Kenny Shepherd and Bob Turner in the backfield. The other
seniors were Charles Haynie and Mavis Hicks at the end positions and Cody Beville
and Harold Lowery at the tackle slots. The remainder of the starting positions would have
to be filled by underclassmen. The best of the underclassmen was running back Hovey Harrell,
who was entering his freshman year. He would have one of the most successful pre-1950's careers at the
running back position before his tenure was over at Winnfield. Skilled, but young, linemen included freshmen
Sellenger Walsh and S. A. Ward, sophomores Curtis Varnell and Harold
Dillard, and junior Richie Powers.
The 1930 team didn’t have the overall team talent that the teams of the previous years had enjoyed.
The 1930 Tigers were, for the most part, a young team and, as with all young teams, the inexperienced players would
have to gain playing experience in game situations.
Winnfield opened the season against Monroe City High School (Neville) in Monroe. The game was a
rare (at the time) night game. In fact, this was the very first night game that a Winnfield team had ever played in.
The game was a defensive struggle and that is just what Coach Downs needed from his young troops.
He certainly didn’t want to get into a scoring battle with anyone.
In the end, the local Tigers never scored while giving up a
single second-half touchdown to Neville, making the final score 6-0. Despite a relatively strong showing,
the Tigers began the season with an opening-game loss for the first time in nearly a decade.
The team then reeled off three straight
wins, with those coming against Marksville (14-0), Dodson (33-0) and Leesville (33-13). In all three games
the Tigers needed strong second-half efforts to overcome first-half doldrums.
In those three wins all of the touchdowns belonged to only three players - Dudley Shell and Hovey
Harrell All total Shell rushed for four touchdowns, passed for one touchdown
to Mavis Hicks and Harrell rushed for six. The Tigers thus opened their
season with a very respectable 3-1-0 record.
In the opening four games of the year,
the Tigers had established themselves as a second half ball club. In that span had scored only two first half touchdowns.
In the second half of that stretch they had scored 67 second half points. The Tigers had a defense that allowed them
to stay in every game until their offense got untracked. Winnfield had only allowed one first-half touchdown.
The Tigers were equally stingy in the second half, allowing only two touchdowns to the four opponents they had faced.
To show you have far the program would drop
in the 1930s, the three-game win streak that the Tigers compiled between the second and fourth games of the 1930s season would
be one of only 7 stretches during the 1930s that a Winnfield team would win consecutive games. The longest
win streak of the decade was a 5-game streak during the 1939 season and a 4-game win streak during the 1936 season.
The 3-game win streak of the 1930 season was thus the third-longest winning streak of the decade. The
program had back-to-back wins four other times, including three times during the six-win 1933 season and once during the 1934
The 1930 win streak came
to a halt with consecutive losses, with the first being a 14-6 defeat to Oak Grove and the second being a 31-0 pasting to
Bolton. Hovey Harrell got the lone Tiger touchdown in those two losses.
The Tigers closed the season by alternating a pair of wins and
losses. The two wins came over Bernice (12-7) and Bastrop (20-0), while the losses were lopsided blowouts
to Jonesboro (21-0) and Byrd (52-0). Jonesboro would go on to win the Class B state
title later that year, while the Byrd Yellow Jackets later defeated the Jennings Bulldogs for the Class A title, ending their
season at 10-1. After the final horn of the Jonesboro game sounded, a melee occurred after Jonesboro attempted to steal the
game ball. The local paper declared Winnfield the victor of this skirmish, reporting "it was a bad
day for them (Jonesboro) then. Several of Jonesboro's players had to be dragged in”.
The 52 points put on the scoreboard by Byrd, made the Yellow Jackets only the second opponent the history of the Tiger
football program to score more than 50 points against a Winnfield team.
Winnfield completed their season with a record of 5-5-0. The scoring leader for the team was freshman
running back Hovey Harrel, who ended the season with 54 points. That was the third-most
points any Tiger football player had ever scored in a single season and most by an underclassman.
1931, (1-6-2) Up to the 1931 season, the program only had one known
losing season, that coming two years earlier in the 1929 season when the team went 3-5-0. Maybe that season
should have sent out an alarm because the record five losses the program sustained that season was matched one year later
(1930) when the program went 5-5-0. That meant the program had sustained 10 losses in the previous two
seasons. Prior to the 1929 season, you would have to combine nearly all of the losses of the entire decade
of the 1920s to come up with 10 losses. Though the full records for a number of the earliest years of the
program, there had only been three known seasons when the program failed to produce a winning record. One
of those seasons was the losing record posted by the 1929 team and the other two were seasons when the team ended the year
at .500 (1926 and 1930). What jumps at you about that fact is that all three of those seasons had occurred
in the previous five years. Winnfield Tiger football had built a statewide reputation as being a winning
football program. That was all changing.
Coach Downs entered his second season in the program with approximately 30 boys out for football, with 12
of those boys being lettermen from the previous season. Four of the returning lettermen held down backfield
duties. Those included seniors Richie Powers, Willie Reid and J. D. Wood, as
well as sophomore-sensation Hovey Harrell. Sophomore Joe Grigsby and
senior Weldon Bethea would be counted or for reserve backfield duty. Coach Downs
would rely on Harrell as his main offensive weapon since Harrell had been the leading scorer
the previous season.
remaining eight lettermen would be found across the line. Three of those were seniors John Brewer
(T), Jack Sowers (E) and Arnold Smith (C). However, the bulk of the returning
linemen who were lettermen were a group of five juniors that included Harold Dillard (T), Curtis
Varnell (G), Richard Walsh (G), S. A. Ward (T), and Earl Power (E).
Expected to play a reserve role in the line were senior Clyde McLeod (G), junior Billie Howard
(C) and freshman Kidd Farr. It
would be an experienced squad, with five players having three years of playing experience and four other players having two
years of playing experience. The 1931 team had decent size, averaging 160 lbs. per man. So,
considering the experience and size of the squad, Coach Downs had every reason to be optimistic entering
the 1931 campaign. Experience is one thing, but proven talent is an altogether different thing.
The one big question mark was whether his group had talent. Harrell had proven
himself the year before. He was the one player on the team who had distinguished himself the most.
It wouldn’t take long to find out
just what type of season the 1931 season. The 1931 Tigers easily got off to the worst start to a season
when they went through the first five games without a win. When the 1931 season reached the halfway point
the team had posted an 0-4-1 record. In losing the first two games of the season the 1931 team became the first Tiger team
to start the year with two losses. Their 0-4-1 start in the first five games marked the first time a Winnfield
team had been below .500 after the first five games of a season. The Tigers were shutout in three of the
first five games and only scored two touchdowns total in the other two game. It was Winnfield’s defense that kept those
first five games from getting completely out of hand because four of the first five opponents scored two touchdowns or less.
The losses came to Olla (14-6), Oakdale (13-0), Oak Grove (13-6) and Bolton (20-0). The only non-loss in the opening five
games came in week three when Winnfield played Natchitoches to a 0-0 tie.
Since Winnfield only started one senior in the line, the youth
of the line was becoming an obvious weak link in the Tiger offense. Not that the line didn’t have
talented players. Virtually every player across the interior line was destined to have successful careers
at Winnfield. However, there were times when Winnfield fielded two sophomores and two juniors in the line.
After starting the season with an 0-4-1
the team was one loss away from tying the all-time record for most losses in a season. With four games
remaining they would have to find some way of winning three of those four to avoid getting that record.
The Tigers got the first of those wins
in week six when they defeated Dodson 26-6. The previous record for most games to start a season without a win was two games,
the period of time it took the 1925, 1926 and 1930 teams to get a win. The 26 points the Tigers scored
against Dodson would not only be the most points they would score in a single game all season, but that would be more points
than they would score in all of the other games played in 1931 combined. After scoring only two touchdowns
before the Dodson win, the Tigers would only score two more touchdowns in the final three games. Those
two touchdowns allowed the Tigers to tie Mansfield 13-13, their next opponent. That, at least kept the Tigers from losing
their fifth game of the year, and moved the team’s record to 1-4-2.
Winnfield ended the season with two road games which resulted in back-to-back shutout losses to Bastrop and Fair Park.
As a result, the Crimson Tigers’ ended the season with a 1-6-2 record. That established a
new team record for losses in a single season and the .222 winning percentage easily surpassed the previous lowest winning
percentage at the school, that being the .375 winning percentage posted by the 3-5-0, 1929 squad. The one-win
season was the all-time fewest wins in a season, surpassing the 3-win 1926 and 1929 seasons.
Winnfield’s defensive play during the 1931 season kept
the scores of every game respectable as half of their losses came by 13-point margins or less. All total,
the Tigers gave up 125 points in 9 games, an average of 13.8 points per game allowed. However, the Winnfield
offense managed to score only 51 points for the season and was shutout in five of the nine games. The only
Tiger team that had scored fewer points in a season that lasted five games or more was the 1925 team who only scored 44 points.
The five shutouts the Tigers sustained were the most ever by a Tiger team. Winnfield fans were not
used to seeing the Tigers struggle so much. They would have many more opportunities during the 1930s.
Noticeably absent from the end zone was Hovey Harrel,
who scored 9 touchdowns the year before as a freshman and was the team’s leading scorer with 54 points.
He only scored twice in 1931. You know you haven’t produced much offense when your leading scorer ends the season
with only 13 points. That distinction went to sophomore Joe Grigsby. That
was the fewest points a scoring leader had ever tallied while playing for Winnfield. The team only scored
eight touchdowns all year, with Grigsby and Harrel scoring half of those. Grigsby
tacked on an extra point to account for his 13 points.
1932, (1-6-1) Coach Earl Downs was back for his third season at the helm of the Tiger
footballprogram. After two seasons he had compiled a 6-11-2 overall
record at Winnfield. That made him theonly the second coach in the
history of the program with a losing record; the other being Maxwell Crowe(3-5-0). Entering the 1932 season, he would need to win at least seven of the eight games to get backabove .500. That seemed like a tall order.
Eleven of the twenty eight players who reported for opening day practice were lettermen from the previous
season and only three starters from the season before were lost to graduation. With so many experienced
players returning, Coach Downs had every reason to believe he could improve on the single win season of the
year before. Every one of his projected starters had game experience. Yet, he still
had a team that was young.
Four of his seven projected starting linemen were seniors, including Billie Howard (C), Clyde
McLeod (G), Harold Dillard (T) and Turner (LE). The remaining
linemen were juniors Curtis Varnell (G), Sellenger Walsh (T) and S.
A. Ward (T). Of that group, Varnell was the most decorated, having received post-season
honors as a sophomore.
Downs’ backfield was a mixture of young promising talent and older, experienced players. Sophomores
Kidd Farr (QB) and Joe Beville (HB) held down two of the spots, with senior Earl
Powers filling in another halfback spot. The offense would feature junior running back Hovey
to the local newspaper, the starting unit was considered to have “average size” by 1930s standards.
A review of his starting eleven shows what “average size” was back then:
Left End - Turner - 130
Left Tackle - Harold
Dillard - 170
Guard - Curtis Varnell - 150
Center - Billie
Howard - 147
Guard - Clyde McLeod - 165
Right Tackle - Sellenger
Walsh - 185
End - S. A. Ward - 156
Quarterback - Kidd
Farr - 160
HB - Joe Beville - 147
Right HB - Earl Powers - 160
Fullback - Hovey
Harrell - 125
1932 season played out pretty much like the 1931 season. That is to say the Tigers looked good on defense
in most games, but the Tiger offense couldn’t score points. In all but one of the games of the season
the Tigers scored one touchdown or less. The Tigers were shutout in four games. As a
result, few points equaled few wins so the Tigers ended their second consecutive season with a dismal record, this time going
1-6-1, the same total number of wins and losses as the year before and one less tie. The .190 winning percentage
broke the record for lowest winning percentage which was only set a year before (.222).
About the only “firsts” that occurred during the 1932 season came in the home-opener against Olla.
School authorities also picked this game as the first ”Homecoming Day.” The business
community got into the excitement by agreeing to close their businesses during the game even though the country was in the
midst of the Great Depression. A feature of the day would be the downtown parade before the game, while
pep rallies were held during the week in order to generate enthusiasm. According to the local paper, “a
banner crowd is expected and the prices are in the range of everyone. Adults will be charged 25 cents,
high school students 10 cents and the grade school students 5 cents.” In the end Olla won the game
After four games of the season
the team’s record was 0-3-1. That extended the schools non-winning streak to seven straight games, a dubious school
record that was growing each week. The previous longest string of non-winning games was five, which included
four losses at the end of the 1929 season and one loss at the beginning of the 1930 season. For the decade
as a whole, the program’s record was 6-14-3.
In the fifth game of the season Winnfield played Mansfield and led in a football game for the first time during the
1932 season when they scored a first quarter touchdown against the Wolverines. Kidd Farr
tacked on the extra point by running for the PAT, thus giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead. That is where the
score remained until halftime. The Tigers broke the game open in the third quarter on a short touchdown
run by Hovey Harrell and a 35 yd. scoring jaunt by Joe Beville. When
the final horn sounded, Winnfield got their only win of the 1932 by a 21-0 margin. This time it would be
the Tigers who would record a shutout.
To show you the depths that Winnfield’s offensive woes had fallen to, the 21 points the Tigers scored against
Mansfield were the second highest points scored in the past 20 games. In that 20 game stretch, the Tigers
had been shut out 11 times and scored one touchdown in four other games. Not surprisingly, Winnfield’s record during
that same period was 4-13-3, showing that you can’t win with good defense only. During the same 20
game stretch, only five of Winnfield’s opponents had scored more than 21 points. So, Winnfield was
losing a lot of games by one-touchdown margins.
The Tigers closed the season against Bossier, Fair Park and Jonesboro, all opponents the Tigers would clearly be the
underdog against. Bossier only defeated Winnfield by 1 point, but Fair Park took a 19-7 win over Winnfield and Jonesboro handed
Winnfield their worst defeat in over two years when Jonesboro prevailed in a 27-0 win.
Much like the year before, the Tigers played good football defensively, holding five of eight opponents to one touchdown
or less. Also like the season before, the Tigers couldn’t win because the Tigers couldn’t score.
For the year, they only scored 40 pts., the fewest points a Winnfield team that had played five or more games had ever
been held to. The season before the team had only scored 51 points, giving the program only 91 points in two seasons; a period
covering 17 games. That was a 5.3-point per game scoring average, or less than a touchdown per game average.
Just four seasons earlier, the 1928 team scored nearly that much in one game. Since the 1928 season,
the program had been on a steady decline. The glory of the 1928 season must have seemed like ages ago.
In two years time, Winnfield’s combined record was 2-12-3 (206). By the end of the century,
that would be the second lowest winning percentage of any two-year period. The lowest two-year winning
percentage in school history was only five years away.
1933, (6-3-0) The two straight losing seasons of 1931
and 1932 were hard to take for fans of the once-proud Tiger football program. During the first two decades
of Tiger football all the program did was win. So, the turn of fortunes of Winnfield Tiger football in
the 1930s was a hard pill to swallow for fans who had grown accustomed to winning. There was only one solution
- win more games.
accomplish that in 1933, the Tigers would have to get those wins against one of the hardest schedules the program had played
in several years. Three of the nine teams on the schedule had won state championships in the previous seven
years, including Byrd, Jonesboro and Bolton High School. In fact, Byrd had already won the title three
times, including those in 1926, 1930 and 1931. The Yellow Jackets would also play for a state title at
the end of the 1933 season. Jonesboro had won that school’s first title three years earlier and Bolton
had claimed the crown in the 1926 season.
local newspaper reported, “about thirty men have turned out for practice, and, in spite of the hot weather, the boys
have put in a week of hard work in fundamentals, signal drills and scrimmage.” High school football
players have been enduring hot summer practices for a long time.
Returning were ten lettermen who collectively had manned virtually every position on the field. The
group included: juniors Joe Beville (QB), Joe Grigsby (HB), Kidd
Farr (C), and Atwood Davis (E). However, the nucleus of the returning lettermen
were the returning seniors, who included Hovey Harrell (HB), Lee Woods, (HB), S.
A. Ward (T), J. D. Wood (HB), Curtis Varnell (G) and Sellenger Walsh
(T). While the team was experienced, the team would be one of the lightest in some time. The
starting line averaged approximately 145 lbs., while the backfield’s average weight was only slightly higher.
The program needed an infusion of "something.”
Sometimes, schools will have a new player transfer in and contribute to the team. In 1933, the biggest
addition to the team would not be a new player. The biggest addition would be the return of Rev.
Alwin Stokes to head coaching duties. This announcement was made just prior to the opening of summer practice and
was understandably met with much enthusiasm by anyone who was even remotely interested in Winnfield football.
He replaced Earl Downs as head coach who ended his tenure at Winnfield with a record of 7-17-3 (.315).
In typical Stokes fashion,
he was noncommittal about the team’s prospects prior to the start of the season. He worked his boys
and let their play on the field do the talking. After several weeks of summer practice, the team and fans
would get their first chance to see whether the Crimson Tigers had returned to the “Stokes form”
townsfolk wouldn’t have long to see is Stokes could work his magic but when you played Byrd High School
in the 1930s you basically played the most powerful football program in the state of Louisiana. Therefore,
nobody was surprised when Byrd defeated Winnfield 26-0. What gave a ray of hope was that the Tigers held
the Jackets to just one first half touchdown and basically stayed with the Jackets until the size and depth advantage that
Byrd had took its toll in the second half. In the end, Winnfield had met a much stronger opponent and extended
the school’s losing streak to four games, matching the second-longest losing streak in school history which came between
the 1931 and 1932 seasons. The first win came over Grayson High School, a school that was beginning their
first year of football. In the Grayson game, Coach Stokes was able to play his entire team, as the Crimson
Tigers scored 59 pts., snapping the four-game losing streak in convincing fashion. Not only would that
be the most points that a Winnfield team had scored in a single game since the 1928 season, but, the Tigers scored more points
against Grayson than either the 1931 or 1932 squads had scored against all of their opponents.
In the second win of the season over
Oak Grove the Crimson Tiger line, manned by Kidd Farr at center, J. D. Jones and Curtis
Varnell at guards and Sellenger Walsh and S. A. Ward at tackles, opened up holes
for the Tiger backs which they took advantage of to the tune of five touchdowns. All of the scoring was
made by J. D. Wood and Hovey Harrell.
By opening the season with a 2-1 record,
the team had already guaranteed the program the most number of wins since the 1930 season. Winnfield’s
2-1 record marked the first time the program had been above the .500 mark since that 1930 season. What
is most important, Winnfield was playing good football on both sides of the ball. In two weeks time, Winnfield
had scored 89 points and posted two consecutive shutouts. The excitement was back in Winnfield football
and it would be needed because the Tiger’s next opponent was Bolton.
The Bears put a half to the early season momentum by taking a 25-0- win. After taking a 19-0 lead
in the first half, the Winnfield newspaper described the second half this way, "The Bears were halted in the second half,
thrown for losses and unable to stop the several steady marches of the Tigers to their five and ten yard-lines.”
Winnfield had little trouble moving the ball into scoring position, but, they had a lot of trouble holding on to the
ball once they got there. Fumbles kept Winnfield from cracking the goal line at all in the second half,
so Bolton handed the Tigers their second loss of the season.
KEY GAME: With a 2-2 record for the season, Winnfield could not afford a letdown because they faced Neville
High School in the fifth game of the season. The Winnfield scouting report on the Neville Tigers summed
up Winnfield’s opponent in simple fashion. Neville was reported to be a "heavier and faster
team.” Winnfield had played Neville one other time, that being the opening game of the 1930 season.
In that game, Winnfield played its first night game ever and dropped a close 6-0 decision. The Neville
game would be the Tigers second night game of the year. The Bolton game was also played at night but, "the
lights do not seem to bother the Tigers”, declared the local paper.
True to form, Winnfield played Neville tough in the first half. Neville jumped to a 6-0 lead in
the first quarter when they drove a short 43 yards for a score. Winnfield responded on their next possession
and drove the length of the field on a drive aided by a pass from Joe Beville to J. D. Wood
to place the ball into scoring position. Hovey Harrell took the ball through a hole opened
by Curtis Varnell (RG) for Winnfield’s first score. Wood carried
the ball across the goal line for the point after, giving the Crimson Tigers a slim 7-6 lead, which held up until halftime.
Both teams mounted only one second half scoring threat but neither
was able to add to their total. As a result, Winnfield finally escaped with one of those close wins.
The Tigers had met a quality opponent, on their opponent’s home field, under the lights and had won.
This was certainly the biggest win the program had seen since the great 1928 season and one of the most impressive
wins Winnfield would have during the entire decade. The victory moved the team’s record to 3-2 for
the season. That marked the first time a Tiger team had been above the .500 mark at the midpoint of the
season in five years.
After taking a convincing
32-0 win over Natchitoches the following week the Tigers prepared to do battle with nearby rival Jonesboro in week seven.
The key to the success of the 1933 team was becoming well known. While Harrell, Wood and
Beville were more than capable backs, it was Winnfield’s line play that enabled the Crimson Tigers
to be so explosive at times on offense and so stingy on defense. Newspaper accounts of games made repeated
reference to the line play of Kidd Farr (C) and Curtis Varnell (G) and S. A. Ward
(T) in particular.
Against Jonesboro, Winnfield
kept the game close in the first half, holding Jonesboro to a lone first quarter touchdown. But, Winnfield
was not able to answer with any first half points and Jonesboro added two second half touchdowns to take an 18-0 win and bragging
rights for another year. Hovey Harrell "fought until he was barely able to hold himself
erect during the closing minutes of the game”, wrote the local paper. In the line, Coach
Stokes credited Varnell, Walsworth, Farr, Ward, Walsh and Baker for “turning
in their usual stellar performances.” But, none of these efforts would be enough for Winnfield to
prevail. The loss dropped the team’s record to 4-3-0.
Though the team was clearly down after the loss to Jonesboro Brother Stokes was in his element.
He, of all people, knew how to turn adversity into opportunity. That would be shown in the final
two weeks of the season when he guided the Tigers to wins over Selma (52-0) and Farmerville (6-0).
By scoring 52 points against Selma to go along with the 59 points
scored against Grayson, the 1933 team joined the 1928, 1923 and 1919 teams as the only squads who had ever scored 50 or more
points in multiple games. That put the 1933 team in good company.
over Selma and Farmerville allowed Winnfield to complete the season with a respectable 6-3-0 record. It
was the first winning season Winnfield fans had seen since 1928. Winnfield’s right tackle, S.
A. Ward, was named on the Alexandria Town Talk’s All-State second team. Also receiving post-season
honors was right guard Curtis Varnell, who was named on the Monroe Morning World’s first team All-North
Louisiana team, while Kidd Farr was given honorable mention as center by the same sports department.
An article appeared in the Winnfield
paper after the close of the season that provided a recap of the entire season. However, it was the opening
words of that article that show that high school football hasn’t changed very much from the game played in the early
1930s to its present day form: “A winning football team is made not in one year nor even two years but over a period
of time given to training in the fundamentals of the game as has been shown by the records of many teams. In
addition to this training of players, who must by the very nature of the sport show some aptitudes to learn the tactics as
well as have the brawn to stand up under the onslaught of the opposing teams, there are other contributing factors for a successful
football season. For a program to succeed, players and supporters must get the football spirit under their
skin, and this spirit must spread throughout the community. Then, when this condition is brought about,
football serves a fourfold purpose: training in physical prowess, in mental ability, moral courage and self control.”
1934, (4-5-2) In high school football, success breeds success. That was evident at the beginning of the 1934 season
when Coach Stokes had more boys out for football than had ever turned out for football when over 40 boys
reported for summer practice. The 6-3-0 record in 1933 has to be given some credit for that, not to mention
the fact that Brother Stokes was again at the helm.
Winnfield was scheduled to play more games than they had ever
played in a single season, with 11 games on tap for the regular season. The program had a lot going for
it, except one thing - experienced players. Only five lettermen returned from the previous season.
Those included Joe Beville (QB), Kidd Farr (C), J. D. "Farmer”
Jones (G), Jack Noah (E), Miley Walsworth (HB), and Boddie
Baker (T), with only Beville, Farr, Noah and Baker representing the senior class.
When you don’t have players with much experience, that usually spells trouble.
To adjust to this situation, Coach
Stokes installed a modified Warner system, calling for a single wing back formation. This system
didn’t require dominating players at every position. Rather, precise blocking and timing were two
of the characteristics of the Warner system. He moved his best athlete, Kidd Farr, to
the backfield to take advantage of his athletic prowess. In Farr’s previous three
seasons as a Tiger he had played virtually every position at one time or another. Moving Farr
from the center position, however, meant that the Tigers had only one senior in the line, that being guard Boddie
Athletic Director Maxwell
Crowe pushed the season ticket drive to help assure that the program wouldn’t repeat the deficit balance it
had incurred the previous season. Mr. Crowe elicited the assistance of the local Rotary
Club to sell season tickets. Single game tickets for the five home games were raised to fifty cents per
game at the gate. Local fans could purchase a season ticket for one dollar, representing a savings of $1.50. The
local paper pointed out how single game tickets were "considerably more” than season tickets. The
paper also issued a warning to fence jumpers when it reported, "It was unofficially stated this week that the local law
enforcement bodies would have three men at each home game during the year to preserve order and make life miserable for fence
jumpers. So, if fans want to see the games this year they had better make plans to come in through the
gate and pay their way.” The Tigers
jumped out to a 2-0-0 start to the season with wins over Dodson and Ferriday. Winnfield’s 2-0 start
was welcomed and unexpected. Not since the 1928 season had a Tiger team opened with two straight wins.
Two wins and two shutout wins at that were hardly what had been expected from a team touted as "inexperienced.”
Give Coach Stokes credit for having his boys ready. The main thing they needed
was playing time and confidence. But, it was way too early to dismiss the fact that the Tigers were young.
Winnfield faced the toughest stretch
of their season in the third through fifth games when they faced Ruston and Bolton in away games, and then returned home to
face Neville. Anything better than a 0-3-0 record against those three would be welcomed. The Tigers would
be the clear underdog in each of those games and any weaknesses the team had would certainly be exposed.
Against Ruston, Winnfield would be without
several of their star players. The most noticeable absence was Kidd Farr,
who had been slightly injured the previous week, so Coach Stokes had intended on holding him out of the Ruston
Stokes credit for having his boys ready against the much superior Bearcats. When the two
teams broke for halftime the score was still tied 0-0. Ruston broke the scoring drought in the third quarter after a sustained
drive, but missed the extra point conversion. After watching his team struggle offensively through three
quarters Coach Stokes shook things up in the fourth quarter when he inserted Walsworth and
Farr into the offensive scheme for a late fourth quarter drive. Walsworth started the drive
by ripping off 20 yards on a reverse. Later, when Winnfield had driven into scoring position, the reverse
was used again, and this time Walsworth carried the ball into the end zone. Winnfield
was held out of the end zone on the tie-breaking extra point conversion and game ended seconds later at a 6-6 deadlock. In true Stokes fashion, he was getting the
most out of the players he had. With so many underclassmen thrown into starting roles, Winnfield could
have been excused for having yet another off-season. But, Bro. Stokes always seemed to
get the best effort out of all of his teams and the 1934 team was no different. Before facing Ruston, Bolton and Neville any
optimistic fan would have been happy with anything better than a 0-3-0 record against those three. The
tie against Ruston at least meant that the Tigers wouldn’t lose all three of those games. However, the Tigers couldn’t
pull off another miracle as were soundly defeated by Bolton by a 38-7 and Neville handed the Tigers a 12-0 defeat.
Winnfield’s record dropped to 2-2-1 for the season with the loss to Neville
In a move to boost attendance, new bleacher seating was made
available for Winnfield fans at mid season. These bleachers, with a seating capacity of 150, were constructed by nine ERA
carpenters at a cost of approximately $100.00. This was only preliminary work to a $3,000.00 project Winnfield
was undertaking to provide bleacher seating to nearly 3,000 in an effort to provide "comfort, convenience and to make
the Winnfield park one of the best in this part of the state,” Athletic Director Maxwell Crowe was
quoted in The Enterprise as saying.
the course of the next three games the Tigers tied one (6-6 to Natchitoches) and lost the other two (14-0 to Dubach and 14-7
to Jonesboro). All games were played in the afternoon as the field did not have lights. The following is
a typical pre-game report that could be found in the local paper, “A great many of the businessmen of Winnfield have
evidenced a desire to close their stores on (the) afternoon (of the game) between the hours of three and five so that they
and their employees will have an opportunity to witness the game. This idea is being fostered jointly by
the Winnfield Rotary club and the high school student and athletic clubs.” After the game the
following appeared in the local newspaper: "The largest crowd of adults in recent years to witness a football game at
the local field saw the game. Probably half of those present were Jonesboro visitors and it was noted that
there was no rowdyism or disturbance, similar to those which have marred other meetings between the Winnfield and Jonesboro
After the loss to Jonesboro Winnfield’s record dropped
to 2-4-2 on the season. With two games to go in the regular season the Tigers would have to win both of
them all to avoid a losing record for the season.
Tigers got the first of those wins in the next to last game of the season when they defeated the Winnsboro Wildcats by a score
of 20-18. What made the Winnsboro game so unique was that the game marked the most points a Tiger team had ever given up in
a winning effort up to that point in the program’s history. During the Tigers glory years of the
late 1910s and the 1920s, when the Tigers won, they usually won with both a high scoring offense and a smothering defense.
Conversely, the program’s offensive woes in the 1930s had become well known, so, when an opponent scored three
touchdowns, the game was usually over for the Tigers. While a 20-18 score hardly represents a shootout, it was the first win
for the Tiger program when the team had to overcome three touchdowns scored by the opposition.
Winnfield ended the regular season by traveling to Bastrop to
take on the always-tough Rams. The Tigers couldn’t muster a win in the season finale as the Rams
prevailed in a 24-6 win, meaning the Tigers would have a losing record for the third time in the 1930s. The
Tigers closed out the season with a 3-5-2 record, or so they thought.
Winnfield ended the regular season with the Bastrop game, but it would not be the final game of the season because
Winnfield played in a bowl game. Ever the steward of the athletic finances, Athletic Director Maxwell Crowe
convinced the Winnfield Rotary Club, Winnfield P. T. A., and the Everett S. Fick Post
of the American Legion to inaugurate the "Tomato Bowl.” Proceeds from the event would be used
to purchase sweaters for the lettermen of the football team. Mr. Crowe
invited the football team from Groveton, Texas to play in the inaugural event. The Groveton Indians had
a regular season record of 9-1-0 and had been eliminated from entering the Texas state playoffs the previous week when they
were defeated by their district rivals from Livingston, Texas. In that game, Groveton had thrown 27 passes
and had completed 19. So, the Indians possessed a passing attack unlike anything a Winnfield team had ever
timber industry tied the two communities together as both towns had lumber mills run by the same company. The
Groveton team and coaches made the trip to Winnfield the day before the game. Many local residents offered
housing for the visitors and a get-together was held the night before for both teams and any interested fan.
The game was played on December 7, 1934 at 2:30 in the afternoon
and it would be a cold one. Groveton got on the scoreboard in the first by way of a long drive, but the
Tigers came back strong in the second quarter, with Farr taking the ball over right over center for a score
and Beville converting the extra point to give the Tigers a 7-6, a lead they would never surrender.
Winnfield added an insurance touchdown in the third quarter when Beville took the ball in from 5 yards
out. Though the extra point kick by Walsworth was missed, Winnfield nevertheless held
on to win by a score of 13-6. With the win, Winnfield ended the season with a 4-5-2 record.
The game marked the end of Bro.
Stokes’ tenure as Winnfield’s head football coach and the only losing season a Tiger team had ever complied
under his direction. All total, Alwin Stokes served the Winnfield Tiger football program for 9 years as its
head coach and several other years as an assistant. Stokes’ overall record at Winnfield
was 47-15-3 (.746). His teams scored just over 2,000 points and gave up just over 600 points for an average
of 24 points scored per game and 7 points allowed. He was a game-winner, a program-builder and a builder
of character - in other words, everything you want in a head football coach.
An article in the local paper at the end of the season realistically summed up the season when it stated; "The
boys had a successful season, notwithstanding their record of 4 wins, 5 losses, and 2 ties. This year’s
schedule was harder than last years and if the relatively large number of inexperienced players is taken into consideration,
the work done can be considered satisfactory.” Sometimes success is defined by means other than bottom line statistics
such as points scored or number of wins. As usual, the biggest accolades had to go to Coach Stokes.
The local paper said it best, "Credit for taking inexperienced men and running out a good team is due to Rev.
Alwin Stokes, coach. No man ever worked harder or more conscientiously with a team or achieved
greater results with comparable material.”
1935, (2-6-1) The 1935 school year opened with 405 students in the high school. That was a slight
increase in students from the previous year and was attributed to the move of the Tremont and Gulf Lumber Camp to Winn Parish.
Winnfield High School also entered the 1935 football season with a new young coach. Ben
Cameron, a former Centenary star running back, was hired to fill the head coaching position vacated by Bro.
Stokes after the 1934 season. Cameron was a member of the Centenary team
during the 1932 and 1933 seasons when they were undefeated. He had been a teammate of former Winnfield
star Byron "Chuck” Skains in the 1929 Louisiana vs. Arkansas All Star game. He
was also fresh out of college.
players reported for football, but few of those had played very much football for Winnfield. Most of those
who had playing experience where underclassmen. Only four senior lettermen returned, including Bryant
Allen (C), Farmer Jones (G), Ford Powers (RB) and Miley Walsworth (RB). The returning
underclassmen that had playing experience included juniors Henry Baker (E), David Harper (RB), David McIlwain (T)
and sophomore Winfrey Blair (T). Senior Douglas Walsworth (RB) had also
played before and would be called on the man the quarterback position. Essentially, the team would be a
young, relatively inexperienced bunch with a new head coach. To make matters worse, the Tigers would play
one of the hardest schedules the school had ever attempted. Included in the nine-game schedule would be
the strongest north Louisiana teams of the time. All points of the compass were represented, with the most
notable opponents being Bolton, Neville, Ruston, and Byrd.
Prior to the season, Athletic Director Maxwell Crowe began a fund-raising drive to collect $500.00
to construct a new fence around the Winnfield High School athletic field. As the opening game approached,
only $370.00 had been raised, thus prompting Mr. Crowe to announce that all home games would either be canceled
or played on the home fields of the Tigers’ opponents if the fence was not built. Due to the uncertainty
regarding the ballpark fence, no season ticket sales were attempted.
Winnfield opened the season on the road against the Leesville Wampus Cats. The announced starting
lineup included sophomore - Winfrey Blair (LG); juniors - David Harper
(LE), David McIlwain (LT), George Stokes (RT) and Henry Baker
(RE); and seniors Bryant Allen (C), Farmer Jones (RG), Ford
Powers (HB), John Tucker (HB), Miley Walsworth
(FB) and Douglas Walsworth (QB).
Like most previous teams from the 1930s, the 1935 Tiger team opened the season by showing a strong defense which limited
their first three opponents to three combined touchdowns. However, also like other most other teams from
the 1930s, the 1935 Tiger team struggled offensively as the Tigers only scored three touchdowns themselves in that span.
All of that added up in a win, a loss and a tie to begin the season.
The loss came in the opener when Winnfield dropped a close 7-6 decision to Leesville. The tie came
the following week when Winnfield and Ferriday played to a 0-0 tie. Finally, the win came in the third
week of the season when Winnfield took a hard-fought 13-6 win over Ruston.
KEY GAME: Winnfield was scheduled to meet Ruston on the local playing field but the financial
campaign to raise funds for a new fence was not progressing as had been hoped. Max Crowe insisted
that the fence was not going to be built until all of the funds necessary to complete the project had been raised and that
goal had not been reached. Further, he said that no home game would be played until the fence was constructed.
As a result, the Ruston game was relocated to Ruston.
Running back John Tucker, provided most of the Crimson Tiger offensive punch as he scored both of
the Tiger touchdowns. All of Tucker’s touchdowns were scored after Ruston moved
to an early 6-0 lead. Joe Walsh booted one of two extra points in the Tigers first win of the season.
The win would easily be the high point of the 1935 season of one of
the “better” wins of the entire decade. In both cases that would be true because of so few
wins by either the 1935 team or the team’s of the 1930s in general.
After the Ruston win the Tigers were handily defeated by Byrd (28-0) and Neville (26-0).
Many people considered Byrd to be the preseason favorite to win the 1935 title and they would, beating Jesuit-NO soundly by
a score of 19-0. So, in that light, losing to Byrd by only four touchdowns is not as bad as that
might seem. During the Byrd game, the Tigers also lost the services of their best lineman, Farmer Jones,
who suffered a badly split lip early in the game. He only missed that one game, though.
After five weeks of the season the team’s record was 1-3-1.
The team had only scored three touchdowns in those games and had appeared to be playing flat in recent weeks. The Winnfield
paper took a stab at explaining the season by stating, "The reason for this letdown was not apparent, but was probably
just one of those things that contribute to the early graying of football coaches.”
Since the money still hadn’t been
raised for the fence around the field the Tigers continued to play all of the games on the road. The road-weary
Crimson Tigers traveled to Natchitoches for the sixth game of the season. Carrying a 1-3-1 record, and having scored only
19 pts. in those five games, the young Tigers were looking for any improvement.
Winnfield secured their second win of the season against Natchitoches
and it took a fumble return by the Tiger defensive to get the lone score of the game. The Winnfield newspaper reported “a
large crowd of interested spectators from Winnfield made the trip. There were almost as many people from
Winnfield at the game as there were from Natchitoches.” That phrase would be repeated many times during the remainder
of the century.
The Tigers closed the regular season with losses to Mangham (7-6) and always-powerful Bolton (34-0). For the season
as a whole the Tigers had only managed to score four touchdowns and were shutout four times. Winnfield’s
defense, while impressive at times, gave up 108 pts. to their opponents. Winnfield thought they had put
the raps on a 2-5-1 season as they made the trip back to Winnfield. One of the strangest aspects to the
season is the fact that the team had played all eight of their games on the road.
Several local backers of the Winnfield football team, wanting to see the Tigers play on Winnfield soil, talked Mr.
Crowe and Coach Cameron into playing one final game at home. The backers assured
the two that they would underwrite the costs of the game. The fence had still not been finished by game
time but that didn’t matter.
Coach Cameron found a willing opponent
in Choudrant. The game attracted a big turnout and virtually every Winnfield business agreed to close,
with the Winnfield newspaper even giving a listing of businesses that would close for the game. The game
was a financial success and brought the community out for an event everyone could share. On the football
field, the results would be similar to many other games played during the season. The Tiger defense held
Choudrant to a single touchdown and prevented them from scoring the point after touchdown, but that would be all the points
scored in the game. In the end, the Tigers were shut out for the fifth time of the season in the 6-0 loss.
That made the Crimson Tigers final record 2-6-1.
1936, (5-4-1) Just prior to the 1936 preseason workouts,
Coach Ben Cameron resigned the head coaching position to accept employment as an assistant coach at Homer
High School. As a result, Athletic Director Maxwell Crowe began the task of conditioning
and coaching the Winnfield football team himself until a new head coach was hired.
With the completion of the fence around the athletic field in the off season, the Crimson Tigers could enjoy the benefit
of playing games on their home field, in contrast to the previous season when they only played one home game.
All total, the 1936 Crimson Tigers would play six home games and four away games. The 1936 schedule
was as tough as the one played during the 1935 season, with Ruston, Homer, Neville and Haynesville still on the slate.
Approximately two weeks into preseason
practice, Winnfield hired Floyd "Little Preacher” Roberts to be the head football coach.
Coach Roberts was the younger brother of "Preacher” Roberts, head coach
at Homer High School, the school Coach Cameron accepted an assistant coaching position at just prior to the
season. Like several of the head coaches Winnfield had hired in the past, Coach Roberts
was young and fresh out of college. He had graduated from Tulane the year before where he had been a member
of the Tulane Green Wave football team for three years.
With six home games scheduled, Mr. Crowe announced a season ticket drive, with the Athletic Booster
Club being in charge of the drive. Adult season tickets were sold for $1.50, while admission at the gate
costs thirty-five cents per game, a savings of sixty cents if you purchased season tickets rather than buy a season’s
worth of individual game tickets. In the depression years, every little bit of savings helped.
Coach Roberts didn’t
exactly find the cupboard bare when he arrived in Winnfield. He soon learned that he had 14 returning lettermen.
In that group of returning lettermen were seven players with experience at running back, including seniors David
Harper, Ray Jenkins, Mayo Faith, Leo McCoy and Hugh Barton; as well as juniors Arvil Boyett
and James Skains. The lettermen at the end position included seniors Henry Baker
and John Davis. Across the line, the Tigers had five returning lettermen, with
juniors Winfrey Blair and Bill Henderson manning the guard positions, and seniors George
Stokes, son of Coach Alwin Stokes, and David McIlwain holding down the tackle positions.
Junior J. F. Lovell had also gained experience the season before
at the tackle position.
team was trying to avoid being a part of the longest string of losing seasons in school history. Coming
into the 1936 season, Winnfield High School had posted two straight losing seasons. That matched the 1931
and 1932 period for the only time in school history Tiger football teams had put together back-to-back losing records.
Thus, the 1936 team didn’t want to be a part of three straight losing seasons. During the
six football seasons of the 1930s, Winnfield High School had only won 19 football games, an average of just over three wins
per season. Only one team from the 1930s, the 1933 team, had ended the season with a winning record.
That’s the company the 1936 team wanted to join.
You could divide the season into two parts. In the first half of the season nothing changed in the
fortunes of the Tiger football program as the record of the 1936 team reveals that they won one game, lost three and tied
one in the first half of the season. Plus, like all other teams of the 1930s, the explanation for the dismal
showing was obvious. In the first five games the Tigers only scored four touchdowns, with three of those
coming in the 19-0 win over Ferriday. Otherwise, the Tigers lost the season-opener 7-0 to Leesville, tied Ruston in a 7-7
KEY GAME: The Ruston
game Homecoming night in Winnfield. The game marked the first time a homecoming court was selected at the
and Faith were held out of the game due to lingering injuries, so Winnfield’s chances against Ruston
seemed slim. Filling in at Faith’s QB position was Hugh Barton,
while Ray Jenkins replaced Skains at left halfback. Jenkins
also handled the punting duties, normally carried out by Mayo Faith.
The Winnfield Tigers outplayed the Ruston Bearcats for the first
three quarters of the game, but they only had one touchdown to show for their effort. That score came when
Arville Boyett crossed the goal line, after which David McIlwain kicked the extra point.
That 7-0 lead held up until the fourth quarter.
Ray Jenkins, Tiger punter, repeatedly pinned Ruston deep in their own territory, but it would be a
punt return from midfield to the Winnfield 5 yard line by Ruston in the fourth quarter that would get them on the scoreboard.
After the good return Ruston got on the board two plays later and tacked on the PAT to tie the score at 7-all.
That is how the game ended. Ruston had gained but 3 first downs during the game and had never ventured
into Tiger territory with their offensive unit, yet their one punt return for a near touchdown allowed them to salvage a tie.
Give this tie to the Ruston special teams.
The tie gave Winnfield an even 1-1-1 record for the season. However, that record would deteriorate
the next two weeks when the Tigers dropped games to both Homer and Neville by identical 19-0 margins.
The loss to Neville marked the end of “Phase One”
of the season and what appeared to be the strongest opponents Winnfield would face until they played Haynesville in the tenth
and final week of the season. Before that game they would take on Mangham, Natchitoches, Mansfield and
Oakdale – four opponents the Tigers appeared to be able to play with, though in this era of Tiger football Winnfield
was rarely seen as a pre-game favorite.
five games remaining, the Tigers would have to win at least four of those to end the year with a winning record. There had
only been one time since the 1928 season when the program had won four games in a five game stretch, that coming in the middle
of the 1933 season. With the 1936 team battling injuries in their own ranks, nothing indicated the season would end any different
than the previous seasons of the 1930s - that is, on a losing note. Sometimes looks can be deceiving.
In consecutive weeks the Tigers would get shutout
wins, first over Natchitoches (14-0) and then over Mangham (21-0). David Harper was in on all five of those
touchdowns and he scored on two long runs from scrimmage against Mangham and caught a touchdown toss from Ray Jenkins
for the third touchdown. Against Natchitoches Harper tossed a pass
to Henry Baker for a touchdown and ran for a 40 yard touchdown himself. The win over Mangham
evened the Tigers record at 3-3-1. That marked the first time a Winnfield team had been at .500 or better after the first
seven games since the 1933 season.
In the eighth week of the season the Tigers made it three wins in a row with a 21-12 win over Mansfield. That matched the
longest winning streak of the 1930s, with the only other team of the 1930s to win three games in a row being the 1930 team.
In fact, back-to-back wins were rare enough in the 1930s. Since the 1928 season, there had only
been six occasions where the program had stacked wins in consecutive games, including two times in the 1929 season, once in
the 1930 season and three times in the 1933 season. In going for their fourth straight win, the 1936 Tigers
were vying for the longest win streak since the 1928 season. Plus, with two games to go in the season,
a win in the next to last game would clinch a winning season. With the playoffs out of the question, a
winning season would be the team’s primary goal. If the Tigers got their fourth consecutive win they would have to do it on it
road. After playing three straight home games, Winnfield took to the road to take on the Oakdale Warriors.
Though the game was played a great distance from Winnfield, the few fans that did travel there witnessed one of the
greatest passing performances of the first half-century of Tiger football.
It was homecoming day at Oakdale and Winnfield didn’t
provide the Warriors the homecoming patsy they wanted. Winnfield jumped to a first quarter lead when they blocked a punt at
the Oakdale 35 yard-line. On first down, Ray Jenkins faked an end run, faded back and fired a pass to a streaking
David Harper who was crossing the goal line as the ball reached him. That gave Winnfield
a 6-0 lead.
marked the second time that Jenkins and Harper had paired up for a touchdown during the
season. That alone was a Winnfield football first, making that the first time a Tiger football player had either thrown or
caught as many as two touchdowns in a single season. But, that was just the beginning.
The very next time the Tigers got the
ball back they again moved back into Oakdale territory. With a first down at the Warrior 35, Jenkins headed
out around end and kept the ball this time, running the full 35 yards for the score. After Jenkins crossed
the goal line he turned around to see a yellow flag lying on the ground. The Tigers had been called for
clipping, erasing the touchdown run. That only temporarily slowed the Tigers. On the next play, Jenkins
threw a 40-yard touchdown strike to David Harper to up the score to 12-0. McIlwain came
in and converted on the extra point to up the Tiger lead to 13-0.
That play marked the first recorded time either a Winnfield team, much less a single player, had ever thrown or caught
more than one touchdown pass in a single game. In fact, no other Winnfield team had ever completed more than one touchdown
pass in a single season. But, there was even more to come.
Though Oakdale went nowhere in the first half, the Warriors came out in the second half and quickly put a touchdown
on the board in the third quarter. The Warriors missed the important extra point, but that touchdown narrowed
the Tiger margin to 13-6 and set up an exciting fourth quarter.
Oakdale struck first in the final quarter when they narrowed the gap to 13-12. However, they missed
the extra point, leaving the score at 13-12 as the game neared its final minutes.
When you have a lead, there are several good things you can
do. One of those is eat up the clock. That’s what the Tigers did through most of the final minutes
of the game. But, another good thing you can do is score more points and Winnfield did that too on the
final play of the game. The final touchdown came the way the other two touchdowns had come, by way of the Jenkins
to Harper connection. That made the score 19-12 and gave Jenkins and Harper
three touchdowns through the air for the game.
win over Oakdale secured a winning season for the 1936 team, moving the season’s record to 5-3-1, with only one game
to play. That marked on the second winning season of the decade, with the other coming in the 1933 season. The
win over Oakdale also gave the team four consecutive wins, the longest win streak in eight years.
The Oakdale game marked the high point
of the season. Aside from the satisfaction of securing a winning season, Jenkins and Harper
had put together two of most impressive individual performances in school history with their three-touchdown outing.
So rare was that performance that it would be decades before Winnfield fans would see an equally productive passing
game. Prior to 1950, teams simply did not rely on the forward pass to move down the field, much less score.
The Wing T formation used in the pre-1950 brand of football stressed the running game. Until the 1936 season, no Winnfield
team had ever thrown more than one touchdown pass in a single season, and only a handful of teams had done that.
Between 1930 and 1935 there were only two touchdown passes thrown. So, to see three touchdown passes
in a single season, let alone a single game was a rare sight indeed. From the Oakdale game in 1936 until
the start of the 1960 season, there were only eight other games where a Winnfield team scored more than one touchdown pass
in a game. In all eight of those games, Winnfield completed two touchdown passes. Three
of those games were played in the 1940s and five of those came in the 1950s. It wouldn't be until the 1966
season, when Ricky Jordan completed three touchdown passes in a game against Jena, that another Winnfield
quarterback would complete three touchdown passes in a single game. Since Jordan, that
feat has been accomplished ten other times. Plus, Steve Adams, Matt Machen and Lyn
Bankston each had games where they completed more than three touchdowns in a single game, with Adams
and Machen completing 4 touchdown passes in a game and Bankston throwing 6 touchdown passes
against Tioga in 1974. But, Ray Jenkins was the first player to not only throw three touchdown
passes in a single game - he was the first player to throw two.
The accolades don't stop there. On the receiving end of all three of Jenkins' touchdown
tosses was David Harper. That performance was the first of its kind in Winnfield football
history and hasn't been duplicated very many times since. Prior to 1936, no player had ever caught more
than one touchdown pass in a single football game. In fact, in the entire history of Winnfield High School
football, there have been fewer than 3 dozen games where a player caught two touchdown passes in a single game.
Only three players caught multiple touchdown passes in a single game prior to 1960. After Harper,
Lyle Wayne Thompson was the next player to do it, catching two touchdown passes during the Pineville game
of the 1957 season. Then in the 1959 season, Tommy Wyatt caught two touchdown passes against
Ruston and against Coushatta. Other than Harper, only three other players have caught
as many as three touchdown passes in a single game during the twentieth century. Those were: John
Wayne Williams (1971) vs. Jena, Glen Anderson (1972) vs. Leesville and Freddie King
(1974) vs. Tioga.
Winnfield closed the season
the next week on the road against the Haynesville Golden Tornados, the team considered to be the strongest team in north Louisiana
at the time. The game would give Winnfield a chance to see how well they could do against "the best.”
The Tigers were never in the game.
The Tigers allowed the second most points they had allowed all decade by giving up 40 pts. to Haynesville.
A third quarter score by Winnfield averted a shutout. The Tigers had possession at their own 35 yard-line when Ray
Jenkins rifled a pass to David Harper who caught it at the Haynesville 40 yard-line.
From there, it was pure "Harper" as he outran all defenders to the goal line. The reception
gave Winnfield its first points of the game, but it also gave both Jenkins and Harper 5
touchdowns through the air for the season.
In the end, Haynesville handed Winnfield the second worst defeat of the decade, winning 40-7 in route to a season that
would end with a Class A state title for them. They later defeated Warren Easton of New Orleans 7-0 for that title.
Winnfield ended the season
with a 5-4-1 record, making them one of only three teams from the 1930s to end the season with a winning record.
The Tigers scored 108 pts. and allowed 116 pts.
By any measure, the 1936 season was a success. Winnfield was completely outclassed by Haynesville,
and injuries kept them from being at full strength when both Homer and Neville posted 19-0 wins. The team played an exciting
brand of football though. They were certainly one of the best Tiger teams of the decade and while the team didn’t match
the strength of some of the great teams of the 1920s, by posting a winning record they accomplished the one goal every team
hopes to attain. Aside from
team accomplishments, Jenkins and Harper set individual marks that would last well into
the century. Jenkins raised the individual single-season touchdown passing record from one to five.
That record was tied by Roger Smith in the 1941 season and John Harrington in the
1957 season, and wouldn’t be broken until twenty-three years later when Mike Tinnerello threw 12 touchdown
passes in the 1959 season. Since the 1950s, the game has changed from the type of games played in the Single
Wing formation and the passing game became more of a weapon. However, prior to 1959, only ten Winnfield players completed
more than one touchdown in a single season. But, of those, Ray Jenkins was the first.
Harper, meanwhile, set a single-season mark
that stood for 23 years. By catching five touchdown passes, Harper became both the single-season
and career leader for touchdown receptions. He added his five catches in 1936 to his single touchdown catch
the season before to end his career with six touchdown catches while playing for the Tigers. Prior to Harper,
no other Winnfield player had ever caught more than one touchdown pass in a single season and no other player had ever ended
his career with more than two touchdown receptions. Kenneth Teegarden was the career leader
up to the 1936 season, catching two touchdown passes - one in the 1925 season and the other in the 1928 season.
Tommy Wyatt, playing in the 1959 season, broke Harper's single-season mark when he
snared 9 TD receptions. Since Wyatt, nine other players have caught more single-season
touchdown passes than Harper, with Eric Caldwell's 11 touchdown receptions during 1986 season
being the high-water mark for the program. But, considering that Harper played in the
pre-passing days, the fact that he was still in the Top Ten at the end of the century is a statement of how impressive his
accomplishment is. Harper's six career touchdown receptions was also broken by Wyatt
during the 1959 season, but Harper remains the all-time leading receiver of touchdowns among players
who played prior to 1959.
Winnfield would begin the 1937 season with the same coach they had the
previous season for only the fourth time since Alwin Stokes left the program in 1923. That
was because Coach "Little Preacher” Roberts returned for his second season at the helm of the
Winnfield Crimson Tigers. He only had nine returning lettermen, but in that group were an equal number
of players from the backfield and from the line. Returning lettermen in the backfield were sophomore
F. M. Hagler, and seniors James Skains, Hasty Killen and Arville Boyett. Roberts
had a senior-filled line that included Denton Shell (C), Bill Henderson (G), Douglas
Haynes (T), Winfrey Blair (T) and Willard McDaniel (T). Winnfield also had the
largest football player to ever wear the red and white in tackle Clarence Bright. He tipped
the scales at just over 285 lbs. Bright had to have a special pair of pants made for his
52-inch waist. However, the remainder of the starting unit would be considerably smaller and were considered
light. But, the biggest problem facing the team would be the lack of depth.
In addition to those returning players,
Coach Roberts had around 40 other boys out for football. Those boys would be needed early
on because the toughest two games of the year would be the opening two games. The Crimson Tigers opened
on the road against Ferriday and then returned home to play the Homer Pelicans, the perennial power from Claiborne parish.
The schedule eased up some after that, at least by some measure. In the third game of the year the
Tigers took on Olla, followed by a new opponent the following week - Clarks. Then the schedule got tough
again as Winnfield played some old rivals during the middle of the season, when they took on Natchitoches, Ruston and Jonesboro
in consecutive weeks - all on the road. In the eighth game of the year, Winnfield played Oakdale, followed
by dates with Leesville on the road and a season-ending game at home against Winnsboro.
The 1937 season would mark the first
time that the high school fielded a band. The band, under the direction of Mr. O. R. Phares,
had 34 members and reportedly could play only two songs - "Every Man a King” and "Touchdown for LSU.”
The Tiger football program was coming
off only its second winning season of the decade. As a result, the 1937 team had a chance to give the program
its first back-to-back winning seasons since the 1927-1928 seasons. During an era when wins were hard to
come by, that seemed like a notable goal for the team - just win more games than you lose. But, it was
the still before the storm. The program was about to embark on its most dismal two-year period, not only
up to that point in time, but also of the entire twentieth century. It was a two-year period that saw the
program win but one game and score only 25 points.
one win came in the third game of the 1937 season when the Tigers defeated Olla 19-7.Against
Olla Winnfield scored on their opening possession of each half, with both of those scores coming on runs by James
"Nookie" Skains. The Tigers also scored on their second possession of the second half
when Arville Boyett, Tiger end, raced 30 yards for the touchdown to give Winnfield a 19-0 lead which held
up until the end of the game.
The only other points the Tigers would score in the came in a 34-6 loss to Ruston. The Tigers were shutout in their
other five losses, which included the following: Ferriday (19-0), Homer (20-0), Clarks (48-0), Jonesboro (57-0) and Oakdale
all of those opponents were quality teams as Homer went on to win the 1937 Class A state championship and Clarks High School
was a program about to compete in a state title game during the 1939 season. An injury depleted Winnfield team faced Jonesboro
who handed Winnfield their worst defeat in over ten years, as they pounded the Tigers 57-0. That marked only the third time
in the program’s 28 year history that an opponent had scored 50 or more points against the Tigers, with the other two
including the 1926 Bolton Bears (71-0) and the 1930 Byrd Yellow Jackets (52-0). So, the 57-point margin
of defeat that Jonesboro handed Winnfield was the second-worst loss in school history.
Aside from the one win and six losses
the team also had two ties, with those being scoreless battles against Natchitoches and Winnsboro. All of that added up to
a 1-6-2 final record.
Tigers were shutout seven times and scored only 25 points all season. The 1937 season marked the first
time a Tiger team had gone through a whole season without scoring 20 points against at least one opponent. The
25 total points scored overall was the fewest points ever recorded by a Tiger team up to that point in the program.
Winnfield’s nine opponents, on the other hand, scored 212 points, despite the fact that Winnfield posted two
shutouts themselves. That too was a school record for most points allowed, giving the team the distinction
of having scored the fewest points and allowing the most points. The team was outscored by a 187-point
margin, or an average of almost 21 points per game. If those results weren’t disappointing enough,
one other factor would contribute to an even more pessimistic outlook for the following year. The 1937
Tigers were a senior-led team, with many of the key players playing their last year.
1938, (0-10-1) If there ever
was a football season where the local fans had cause for concern, the 1938 season would have to be tops. Consider
the following: in the 1-6-2, 1937 season twenty players earned letters, but that total was almost exclusively seniors.
So, the 1938 team would have few returning experienced players. Specifically, the 1938 team returned
only four lettermen, with two of those being underclassmen. Returning senior lettermen included Donald
Boyette (G), and Pete Kelly (E). The remaining returning lettermen were juniors
F. M. Hagler (QB) and Harding Broussard (RB). It would be in the backfield where the Tigers had
the least experience and the youngest players. Other than Kelly, the only other senior
slated for possible backfield duty was Vernon Hyde. Therefore, the junior class would
have to supply running backs for the team. Aside from Broussard and Hagler,
juniors Don Dark and Harold DeBray would be called on the complete the backfield, with those
two alternating at quarterback. Freshman Emile Tinnerello, though young, showed promise
as a back. At the end positions, senior John Creel, and juniors Aaron Melton
and Cary Welch would have to carry the load.
Across the line, Winnfield had a good distribution of players from both the junior and senior class, but nine of the
graduating lettermen from the previous season had been linemen. So, what Winnfield lacked in the line were
experienced players. The only returning letterman in the line was senior Donald Boyette.
Senior linemen who would have to step up and take over a position were Armond Amos, Theron Lovell, Heflin Nugent,
Eddie Powell and Bunk Sheppard. From the junior class, Paul Jones, Kersh
Parker and Rudolph Muse would have to learn quickly and sophomore Cortez Creel
was a promising, but unproven talent. With 11 seniors
on the squad, and an equal number of junior players, the Tigers biggest problem wasn’t so much that they were young.
The biggest hurdle for the 1938 Tigers would be the almost complete lack of playing experience by the bulk of the players.
To make matters worse, Bunk Sheppard and F. M. Hagler were injured in preseason practice
and would not play at the start of the season.
In addition to many new players, the Tigers entered the 1938 season with a new coach. Homer
Coody replaced "Little Preacher" Roberts as the head coach of the Tigers.
As was true with virtually all of the coaches hired into the Winnfield program in the 1930s, this would be
Coach Coody's first head coaching job, as he was a recent graduate of Louisiana Tech. While playing
football for Louisiana Tech, Coach Coody learned the Notre Dame Box system, which he chose to employ at Winnfield.
One of the highlights of this new system would be the two-platoon system that essentially required the services of
22 different players. If you had the talent, this system could conserve energy. If you
didn’t have the talent, some of your best football players would be standing on the sidelines during the game.
Coody was heading up
a Winnfield program that had not enjoyed much recent success. Winnfield was coming off its fifth losing
season of the decade. In fact, Winnfield had only fielded two teams in the 1930s (the 1933 and 1936 teams) that had posted
a winning record. Also carrying over to the 1938 season were two dubious streaks. The
Crimson Tigers entered the 1938 season with a six-game winless streak and had been shutout in seven of the last nine games
they had played. The players of the 1938 team were coming off a season where the team had set records for
the fewest points scored and most points given up. If all of that weren’t enough to worry even the
most devoted Tiger fan, the most ominous hurdle facing the young Tigers would be the schedule they would face in 1938.
The inexperienced players and young coach faced what was arguably the toughest schedule the Tiger football program
had ever played, including an opening-game contest against mighty Byrd, the defending 2A, undefeated state champions. Two
weeks later the Tigers would face Minden, a team that many predicted to take the 1A title in 1938. In the middle part of the
schedule Winnfield faced Ruston, Jonesboro and Neville in consecutive weeks. Winnfield had a combined 2-9-2
record against those three in the 1930s. It appeared the Tigers best chances for a win wouldn’t come
until the final three games of the season when the Tigers faced Farmerville, Leesville and Winnsboro. With
few experienced players on the squad, the program had little to work with to break out of the doldrums it found itself in.
In the opening game of the season, Winnfield
traveled to Shreveport to play the Byrd Yellow Jackets. As expected,
the Tigers opened the season with four losses. In the opening game against Byrd the Jackets scored in every
quarter in taking a 46-0 win. Ferriday only scored one touchdown in week two but that is all they needed
in their 8-0 win. , getting seven touchdowns and piling up 46 pts. Winnfield’s scoreless and winless
string was extended to four straight games, as they never threatened the Byrd goal line. Minden administered
a 54-0 “knockout” (literally) win in week three. Minden opened up a 28-0 halftime lead, increased
that to 41-0 in the third quarter and added two more touchdowns in the final quarter. In the second half
Aaron Melton, Tiger end, and Frenchie Broussard, Tiger back, were both knocked out and had
to remain out the rest of the game. The Tigers had yet another back knocked out in the fourth quarter when
Bunk Sheppard was carted off the field. In the fourth game of the season the Tigers faced
the Homer Pelicans, the defending 1A State Champions. Homer sent Tiger starters Eddie Powell
and Bunk Sheppard to the bench early in the game with injuries. The Pels clicked on all
cylinders in building a 26-0 halftime lead and closing with a 33-0 win.
With the 0-4-0 start to the 1938 season the program suffered
its seventh straight shutout. The scoring drought had moved to 29 straight quarters and 41 of the past
42 quarters. Over the previous 11 football games, Winnfield had only managed a single touchdown, that coming in the third
quarter against Ruston during the 1937 season.
Fans of Winnfield football had never witnessed a night football game in Winnfield. In 1938, the
Winnfield Athletic Association’s primary aim was to raise funds to install lights at the local football field. The Association,
headed by Houston Gates, set a goal of raising $1,250.00. Within the first two weeks of
the fund-raising drive, around $250.00 had been raised and the poles for the light fixtures had been donated.
A list of contributors began appearing in the local newspaper, with individual contributions ranging from a high of
$50.00 by a local physician to a low of one cent. Most of the initial 30 or 40 contributors gave in the
$2.00 to $3.00 range. The fund-raising drive proved to be a success, as sufficient funds had been raised
to enable the installation of the lights by the time the second home game was played. That game would come
in the fifth contest of the year against Natchitoches. Additional improvements were made to the athletic
field at the same time, including the construction of new grandstands, one each for the home and visitors side.
The Winnfield Athletic Association also
used the Natchitoches game to also give the athletic field a name. "McMurray Field”
was the name selected for the athletic field in a vote made by the Winnfield Athletic Association in honor of E. J.
McMurray. Mr. McMurray was a school board member and an ardent booster of Winnfield athletics.
He had led the drive to promote improvements for the field and to build up interest in Winnfield athletics in general.
Casimir D. Moss served as Master of Ceremonies and Representative John J. Peters
served as guest speaker.
Winnfield - Natchitoches series had proven to be a close series during the eleven previous meetings between the two schools.
That was true in spite of the fact that Natchitoches had not won any of those games. What made the
first eleven meetings so unique was that five of those games had ended in ties. Since, Winnfield always
seemed to have success against Natchitoches, the Tigers hopes of breaking their winning and scoring drought appeared promising. One of the largest crowds to ever witness a football game in Winnfield up to
that time showed up for the 1938 game. Backers of Winnfield football would find that they could, in fact,
draw more people to the game at night, as not everybody could get off of work to watch a day game. The crowd, estimated at
1,500, was witness to a close game. Natchitoches
only drove into Winnfield territory twice during the game and didn’t score either time. Winnfield,
meanwhile, drove inside the Natchitoches 10 yard line three times in the game, but came up empty handed each time.
As a result, the game ended in a scoreless tie, the sixth tie in twelve game series.
In the middle of the season Winnfield
faced a “murderer’s row” of Ruston, Jonesboro and Neville. Not only did Winnfield lose
all three, but the Tigers were outscored by a combined 116-0 in those losses, with the outcomes looking like this: Ruston
(28-0), Jonesboro (46-0) and Neville (42-0). In the first those home games Athletic Director Maxwell Crowe
introduced a novel idea to Tiger football - using a loudspeaker during the game itself. He suggested
that the loudspeaker would be used in future games as well "if it proves successful.” The local
newspaper explained that the loudspeaker would enable "each play to be called and explained so that each team’s
movements will be understood by every person present.”
Despite the dismal record of the 1938 season a crowd estimated at 2,000 spectators turned out for the Jonesboro game.
That was the largest crowd to witness a game in Winnfield up to that point The 46 points scored
by Jonesboro in 1938 coupled with the 57 points Jonesboro had put on the board in 1937 game them 103 points in two years.
That would be the most points Jonesboro would score against Winnfield in consecutive games throughout the century.
The Tigers winless and scoreless streak
now stood at 10 consecutive games and the record for the 1938 season stood at 0-6-1. That tied the school
record for most losses in a season. With four games remaining on the schedule, it seemed like an almost certainty that the
1938 team would break that record. If they couldn’t find a way to cross the goal line, they would
also replace the 1937 team’s season low of 25 points scored. The 46 points Winnfield gave up to Jonesboro
pushed the seasons total to 215. That was three more points than the 1937 team had given up in setting the school record for
most points allowed. The 1938 team became the second team to allow more than 200 points in a season, but,
Winnfield’s goal line would be crossed several more times before the season was over.
After losing to Neville by a score of
42-0 in week eight the Tigers faced Farmerville in a game most had considered all year long as the team’s best opportunity
to get a win. It is frustrating to get blown out like the Tigers had been in the
recent losses to Jonesboro and Neville. The Farmerville game was equally frustrating for entirely different reason.
The Tigers moved into scoring position four times in the contest, and, as they had done at other times during the season,
were either stopped short of the goal line by the opposition or they stopped themselves by fumbling on each of those penetrations.
As all other Tiger opponents had found, it only took one score to beat Winnfield and that is all Farmerville got as
they took the second half kickoff and marched down the field for a 7-0 lead that held up until the end of the game. That moved
the team’s record to 0-7-1 for the season. In addition to lacking a win, the Tigers had yet to score
a single point.
The following Wednesday,
Coach Coody arranged for the Olla Tigers to travel to Winnfield to play a game that wouldn’t count
as a regular season game and was called unofficial. Winnfield scored three times and held Olla scoreless, but since the game
did not count it must be merely considered a scrimmage.
The Tigers traveled to Leesville and Winnsboro to close out the 1938 campaign hoping for their first win and first
score of the season. They achieved neither. Winnfield was completely outclassed by the
much larger Wampus Cats. In the end, Leesville prevailed by a score of 38-0. Winnfield
was also held scoreless against Winnsboro, closing out Winnfield’s first season in which the Tigers didn’t win
a single game.
Winnfield ended the season with a 0-10-1
record. They also failed to score a single point in any of those games while giving up 302 points.
As a result, the team set records for Most Losses, Fewest Points Scored and Most Points Allowed. The
previous record for each was 6 losses, 25 points scored and 212 points allowed.
To add insult to injury, Winnfield High School’s season was publicized in Robert Ripley’s "Believe
It Or Not” cartoon as the team that played eleven games without scoring a point. The Winnfield football
program was mired in a 13-game losing streak and a 13-game scoreless streak. In a two-year period of time,
the program had gone 1-16-3. The reason for that dismal showing was quite simple. It
all boiled down to scoring, something Winnfield wasn’t doing much of. The combined scoring totals
from the 1937 and 1938 seasons reflect the complete domination of Winnfield’s opponents over the Tigers during that
period, with the Tiger opponents outscoring the Tigers 514-25 in those two seasons. In spite of all of
that, Winnfield was improving its facilities and the crowds were showing up. That alone was a credit to
the Tiger football program. But, Coach Coody turned in his resignation soon after the
would be overly simplistic to conclude that the 1938 football team was a "bad” football team. It
would be more accurate to say that the young and inexperienced 1938 football players were overmatched by most of the teams
they played. The 1938 Tigers showed a strong defense at times and moved into scoring territory time and
time again, only to either turn the ball over to the opposition or to be stopped short of the goal line. True,
the 1938 Tigers hold the distinction for being the Winnfield football team who lost the most games in a season.
However, it is also true that the players on that team gave every bit the same effort that other Winnfield teams have
exerted and played one of the toughest schedules in Winnfield football history.
KEY SEASON, 1939 (6-5-0)
L, 0- 7
W, 6- 0
W, 6- 0
W, 6- 0 (HC)
W, 19- 0
As the new year began in 1939, the Winn Parish
School Board was looking for yet another head football coach for Winnfield High School. The new hire would
be the 10th head coach in a 14-year period in the Tiger football program. It wouldn’t take them long
as they hired Ben Cameron to take over the head-coaching job at the start of the spring semester.
Cameron had previously coached the Tigers to a 2-6-1 record during the 1935 season. He
would be the second man to have two stints as head coach at Winnfield. Rev. Alwin Stokes
had previously held the head coaching position from 1917 to 1923 and then returned in 1933 to coach two more seasons.
So, it had been Cameron who had replaced Stokes in the middle 1930s and Cameron
who would coach the final Winnfield team of the 1930s.
When Coach Cameron first took over the head
coaching duties in 1935, he took over a young andinexperienced team. That
would not be the case in 1939. Returning to play for the Tigers was a full complement of skill players,
including seniors Harding Broussard (HB), F. M. Hagler (FB), Don Dark (QB) and Aaron Melton (E).
The Tigers seemed to be set up front as well as several experienced linemen returned, including
senior Carey Welch and juniors Rudolph Muse (G), Cortez Creel (T) and Kersh Parker
(G). All had lettered the year before. The team also fielded brothers Clifford
Hughes (sophomore) and Arie Hughes (junior), who had seen limited
playing time the year before but who possessed obvious talent. In fact, it appeared that the Tigers would
have depth in the skill positions as seniors Al Barton (QB) and Matt Milam (RB) and junior
Harlan Wilkerson (E) impressed Coach Cameron. Senior Billy Flournoy
appeared to be the type of player who could be counted on to play anywhere on the field, showing promise at both guard and
running back. Rounding out the projected starting lineup was junior L. M. Ferrell (C)
and senior Bill Nugent (G), who would also be counted on up front to provide line play.
Those players had plenty of incentives
facing them as they entered the 1939 season. First, the group wanted to put an end to the program’s
16-game winless string that extended back to the third game of the 1937 season. Also, the Tigers wanted
to score the first points a Winnfield team had scored since the 6th game of the 1937 season, a period covering 14 straight
games. In a decade where any win was a good win, there was no single season where the Tigers needed to
break into the win column any more than the 1939 season. No one expected a quick turnaround of the program,
but a season that at least approached an equal number of wins as losses would give the program a respectable season.
Winnfield’s schedule would be,
for the most, identical to the 1938 schedule. That meant that the first half of the season would be loaded
with some of the toughest high school football teams in north Louisiana. The schedule then got considerably easier in the
second half of the season. So, Coach Cameron’s biggest task might very well have been to keep the Tigers
spirits up as they progressed through the early part of the season. The Tigers plan was simple, play the
early season schedule against their toughest opponents as well as they could and hold on for the second half of the season
where they faced teams that matched up better against.
Nothing about the first half of the season gave fans any reason to think that the 1939 season would be any different
than any of the previous seven losing seasons of the 1930s. After six games the team had a 1-5-0 record
and had only scored 12 points. Surprisingly, the Tigers did get one monkey off of their back in the opening
game of the season against arguably the toughest opponent of the year – Byrd. Late in the fourth
quarter, trailing 25-0 Winnfield took possession and drove down the field to the Byrd 10 yard-line.
From there, Don Dark tossed a pass to Al Barton who caught the ball at the end zone
stripe and fell across the goal line for the Tigers first score of the year. Those six points marked the
end of 53 consecutive quarters of scoreless football, covering 14 games. Winnfield didn’t beat Byrd
and they lost the schools 7th consecutive game, as well as extending the schools winless streak to 17 games. But,
despite the loss, Winnfield had faced a much bigger opponent and had played the best game played by a local team in some time.
Most knowledgeable fans had to believe that if the Tigers could sustain the play they had demonstrated in the second
half against Byrd during the remainder of the schedule, they could contend in every game.
Nevertheless the Tigers lost
the next three games to Ferriday (7-0), Minden (39-0) and Homer (25-0). Minden came into
the 1939 season as the reigning Class 1A champions and Homer was predicted to compete for the 1A state title in 1939. Though
no one wanted to talk about it, Winnfield’s winless streak grew to 20 consecutive games and the Tigers had been shutout
for the 20th time out of the previous 23 games. Winnfield appeared to be playing a better brand of football
than had been displayed over the past two seasons. However, the results were basically the same - few points
and no wins.
Entering the fifth game of
the season, it had been slightly more than two years since Winnfield had won a football game. Winnfield
had the best chance they ever had in those two and a half years to win a game when they faced Natchitoches the fifth game
of the 1939 season. The Red Devils were riding a winless streak of their own coming into the Winnfield
game. Plus, Natchitoches was a program that had never defeated Winnfield in twelve attempts.
Against Natchitoches, Winnfield took
their opening drive in for a score, with Arie Hughes taking it in from 5 yards out. With
that score the Tigers led in a football game for the first time in the past 82 quarters of play, a period that covered 22
football games. After that initial touchdown neither team found the end zone, thus allowing Winnfield to
escape with a 6-0 win, won mainly by the Tiger defense.
In the 1930s any win was a good win. This win was one of the sweetest ones of them all.
With the win the Tigers maintained bragging rights over Natchitoches, being able to claim to have never been beaten
by Natchitoches in 13 encounters. What is more important, the winless streak that had stretched to 20 games
was finally over. With the win over Natchitoches, the Tigers posted their first win in two years and moved to 1-4 on the season.
With six games remaining on the Tigers schedule, little did the Tiger faithful know what lay ahead.
The Winnfield paper put the past two
seasons in perspective best when they wrote, "The suicide schedule of openers the Tigers has faced during the past two
seasons against heavier and more experienced teams is over. When the Tigers meet teams like Natchitoches,
Ruston and Jonesboro during the next three weeks and face competition not so much to the disadvantage of Winnfield, the Tigers
intend to show their fans that it can be done.”
The Tigers dropped their next game to Ruston (by a 19-0 margin), which moved the 1939 record to 1-5-0. Though there were five games remaining on the 1939 schedule, the loss to Ruston would be the
final time that a Tiger team was shutout during the 1930s, and in fact, the game would be the final loss of the 1930s.
With five games remaining on the schedule, Winnfield would have to win them all to avoid their third straight losing
season. The program had never had three losing seasons in a row. It seemed foolish to
hope for a winning season in a time when winning a single game was a more reasonable goal.
Winnfield faced Jonesboro-Hodge in the seventh game of the season. On paper, it appeared that Jonesboro
was the decisive favorite. Jonesboro was coming off the school’s first untied, undefeated regular
season and had opened the 1938 season with a 3-1-0 record. Winnfield had faced Jonesboro six times in the
1930s and lost all six. Not only that, but Winnfield had been shutout in five of those losses and the combined
score of those six losses was 163-7 in favor of Jonesboro. It had been over 10 years since Winnfield had
defeated Jonesboro, with the most recent win coming in the 1928 season when they shelled Jonesboro by a score of 58-0.
Winnfield hoped to have similar results in 1939. During
the week of preparation for the game, the Tigers were given some assistance by Rev. Alwin Stokes, mentor
of Winnfield’s first championship team. What Stokes saw in the first half was a
Winnfield team that give Jonesboro all they wanted as the only score that was made came when a Jonesboro back took a short
pass and dashed 65 yards for a touchdown to give Jonesboro a 6-0 lead.
Jonesboro then upped that lead to 12-0 when they took their first possession of
the second half and mounted a 90-yard scoring drive. That sort of lead had always been safe against a Winnfield
team in the 1930s, but this was no ordinary Winnfield team. Early in the fourth quarter, the Jonesboro
quarterback tried a quick-kick, which Winnfield’s John Poisso blocked, and the Tigers
recovered at Jonesboro’s 25 yard-line. Runs by Clifford Hughes, Melton and Hagler
brought the ball to the Jonesboro 2 yard-line. From there, a straight dive by QB, Don
Dark, carried the ball over the goal line for Winnfield’s first score. The try for the PAT
was blocked, leaving the score 12-6, in favor of Jonesboro.
Jonesboro soon found themselves in punt formation after the Tiger defense stiffened. Again, Winnfield
surged in to block the Jonesboro kick, this time by Billie Flournoy. That allowed Winnfield
to gain possession midway through the final quarter at the Jonesboro 30 yard line.
On first down, Clifford
Hughes tossed a 15 yd. pass to Dark. Two plays later Hughes
and Dark hooked up again, with this completion resulting in a touchdown. With the scored
knotted at 12-12, Hughes attempted the tie-breaking PAT, which was good, giving Winnfield a 13-12 lead. Time
ran out on Jonesboro before they could get back into the end zone. As a result, Jonesboro’s stronghold
over Winnfield was finally over. Considering the strength of the Jonesboro team, the win was the most impressive
win in over three years. In fact, Jonesboro was the first team with a winning record Winnfield had beaten
since the 1936 season. Plus, the 12-point deficit that Winnfield overcame was the largest deficit a Tiger
team had ever covered and was; in fact, the first double-digit deficit a Tiger team had ever overcome. It
was poetic justice that in a comeback year for the program itself, the 1939 team would stage the biggest comeback in school
history to get a win.
The big win over
Jonesboro seemed to propel the Tigers as they then added close 6-0 wins over the St. John’s Flyers, a parochial school
from Shreveport, and Columbia. The back-to-back wins over Jonesboro and St. Johns allowed the program to put together back-to-back
wins for the first time since winning the seventh and eighth game of the 1936 season. The win over Columbia
moved the record for the season to 4-5-0. With two games remaining on the schedule, a winning record suddenly
seemed like a real possibility.
the next to last game of the season, Winnfield faced the Leesville Wampus Cats. The homecoming ceremonies,
which were planned for the previous week, were held during the Leesville game instead. The local paper
summed up the game results best when the writer wrote, "The Winnfield Crimson Tigers roared over McMurray
Field last Friday night for four touchdowns in three periods, then settled back to a conservative growl for the balance of
the ball game which wound up with the Tigers on the very proper end of a 25 to 19 score against the Leesville eleven.”
Scoring for Winnfield in the first half
was F. M. Hagler (25-yard run), Aaron Melton (20-yard run) and Clifford
Hughes (3-yard run). Early in the third quarter, quarterback Don Dark scored
the last touchdown for Winnfield.
The win moved the Tigers record to an even 5-5-0 for the season and allowed the 1939 team to become one of only four
teams in the 1930s to win at least five games. The Tigers had gone 5-5-0 in 1930, 6-3-0 in 1933 and 5-4-1 in 1936.
So, the Tigers entered the final game of the season seeking a chance to tie for the most wins by a team in the 1930s.
A win would also give the program its first winning season since the 1936 season and only the third winning season
for Winnfield for the entire decade. They could also end the decade with a five game win streak - a feat
considered improbable when the season began.
the last football game of the season, Winnfield met an old rival in the Winnsboro Wildcats. The Tigers took command of the
game early, pushing over a touchdown in the first quarter when Aaron Melton scored around left end from 30
yards out. That 6-0 lead held up until the second half when Winnfield added a touchdown in the third quarter
on a 3-yard run by Don Dark on a hidden ball play and a fourth quarter off tackle run by Arie Hughes.
In the end the Tigers recorded a 19-0 win over Winnsboro and notched their 6th win of the season. Winnfield
ended the season with a 6-5-0 record, winning six of the last seven games of the season.
The 1939 team ended the season and decade
by righting the ship, so to speak. After years of losing, the Tiger program would enter the decade of the
1940s with a team who posted a winning season and had ended the year with a five game win streak. The 1939
team could have gotten down when they lost the first four games of the season, but they didn’t. After
starting the season with a 0-4-0 record, they went 6-1 in the final seven games of the season with the best second half record
of any team since the great 1928 team. Because of that, the 1939 team deserves consideration as the best
team of the 1930s.
ended the decade with a 31-57-10 overall record. There were only five schools that Winnfield won two or
more games against during the decade, including: Natchitoches (4), Dodson (3), Neville (2), Mansfield (2) and Winnsboro (2).
All total, Winnfield played 31 different opponents during the 1930s. They ended the decade with
a winning record for the decade over only eight of those 31 opponents, including: Dodson (3-0-0), Bernice (1-0-0), Mansfield
(2-0-1), Natchitoches (4-0-5), Winnsboro (2-1-1), Groveton (1-0-0), St. John’s (1-0-0) and Columbia (1-0-0).
Winnfield had a .500 record against two opponents, Olla (2-2-0) and Farmerville (1-1-0). What is
most indicative of Winnfield’s lack of success on the gridiron during the 1930s is Winnfield’s losing record against
21 of their 31 opponents. In fact, Winnfield had a combined record of 0-23-0 against Bolton, Byrd, Fair
Park, Bossier, Dubach, Choudrant, Haynesville, Clarks and Homer. Against Jonesboro, Winnfield ended the
decade with a 1-6-0 record. During the 98 games played during the decade, Winnfield
was shutout in exactly half of them (49 times). The Tigers managed to score 20 or more points in only 14
of those 98 games and scored 30 or more points in only seven games. As for margin of defeat, any loss can
be a "heart breaking” loss. However, in the 1930s, when Winnfield lost, the outcome of the game
was usually known well before the final horn sounded. In only nine of Winnfield’s 57 losses were
the Tigers within 7 pts. of tying or moving ahead of their opponent at game’s end. Of the 31 wins,
the most impressive ones would have to be the 7-6 win over Neville in 1933, the 13-6 win over Ruston in 1935 or the 13-12
win over Jonesboro near the end of the 1939 season. Of course, the 1939 win over Natchitoches broke the
long losing streak the Tigers and their fans had suffered through so no win brought a greater sense of relief.
As for the other 28 wins, they were all "good”, for there is no such thing as a "bad” win.
Any win is a good win - especially during the 1930s.