Winnfield High School Football 1940-1949
The War Fought On
and Off The Field
Key Rules Changes of the Decade:
1940- Allowed for
a substitute player to communicate with teammates before a play was run. Thus, a substitute could enter
a game and communicate a play from the coaching staff.
1941 - Players may substitute at any
time but may not be withdrawn or the outgoing player returned until at least one play has intervened. This
made "platoon” football possible.
1943 - Legal to hand ball forward behind neutral zone.
1945 - Forward pass may
be thrown from anywhere behind the line, rather than from 5 yds. behind the line, thus encouraging use of
modern T-formation. Permitted the use of a 3- inch dirt tee for free kicks.
1946 - Legalized pliable kicking tee. Offside for failure to have seven players of the offense
on the line.
1947 - Introduction of foul for an offensive lineman to draw
the defense offside.
1949 - Blockers required to keep hand against
Summary of the Decade of the 1940s
The 1940s were a time
of turmoil across the globe and in the United States. The impact of WWII reached even as far as Winnfield
football, particularly when it came to player retention. As a result, Winnfield teams of the 1940s didn’t
have much more success on the football field as did the teams of the 1930s. Just as in the 1930s, only
three teams in the 1940s ended the season with winning records, those being the 1943 team (6-3-0), the 1946 team (6-5-0) and
the 1948 team (9-2-0). There was one less game played
by Winnfield football teams in the 1940s than was played during the 1930s, with the Tigers playing a total of 96 games during
the decade. Winnfield managed to win only 9 more games in the 1940s than they had scratched out during
the 1930s. Overall, the Tigers went 40-51-5 for the decade, a winning percentage of .443. Of
the 51 defeats, 20 were by margins of 21 points or more and only 10 were by 7 points or less.
Winnfield’s record against the playoff-quality teams was
equally as dismal as that of the teams of the 1930s. A total of 31 of Winnfield’s 51 losses came
against teams that were usually contenders for a state title, including Jonesboro (2-6-1), Ruston (0-8-1), Arcadia (2-4-0),
Byrd (0-4-0), Bastrop (0-4-1), Fair Park (0-1-0) and Ferriday (1-1-0). Winnfield entered the decade never
having lost to Natchitoches in twelve meetings. During the 1940s, Winnfield won five meetings against Natchitoches,
but dropped four games to the nearby rivals.
statistics, the caliber of play exhibited by the teams of the 1940s was unequaled in Winnfield history. That was because the
talent level was greater than it ever had been. The overall talent level and physical size of football
players increases with each era. The 1940s would be no exception. Nearly a dozen boys who prepped at Winnfield
in the 1940s went on to sign scholarships to play football in college. That was twice as many as had signed
the decade before. Certain individuals who donned the red and white in the 1940s continue to be talked
about as “one of the best” to ever play their position. What was most noticeable about the
players of the 1940s was the increase in players who possessed breakaway speed. This was most noticeable
in some of the spectacular touchdowns that were scored from long distance. In the 1930s there are only
two recorded runs from scrimmage for touchdowns that covered over 50 yards. Yet, in the 1940s that number
increased to 11. In the 1930s, there were no recorded punt or kickoff returns for touchdowns. In the 1940s, there were four
punts and three kickoffs returned for touchdowns. All of that was a testament to the increased speed and skill exhibited by
players of the 1940s.
game of football itself changed in the 1940s. The game became more wide open, though not, of course, by
today’s standards. In the 1930s there are 12 recorded pass completions for touchdowns.
That number nearly doubled in the 1940s to 22 pass completions for touchdowns.
The boys who played in the 1940s competed.
They showcased their talent and some were able to attend college on scholarships because they were noticed.
As always, Winnfield football provided local fans a form of entertainment in the fall that they were able to rally
around. No Winnfield team in the 1940s ever played for a state championship, let alone play in a playoff
game. But, there were times when players would make plays that would amaze and excite unlike any other
time in Winnfield football history.
Key Players/Coaches of the 1940s
Hughes (1939-1941, RB & QB) Started as a running back his sophomore and senior
season and was the starting quarterback his junior season. Tied for the scoring-lead on the 1941 squad.
His career totals show that he rushed for four touchdowns and caught two touchdown passes. One of those pass receptions
for a touchdown was a 47-yarder that was thrown by Hughes’ brother Arie. Clifford also booted 5 PAT
Roger Smith (1941-1942, QB)
Two-year starter at quarterback. The most prolific passer of the 1940s. In 1941
he threw five touchdown passes to tie the school record in that category. That record wasn’tbroken until the 1959 season. Smith threw one more touchdown pass his senior season
to give him sixcareer touchdown passes, a school record that lasted until the 1950 season.
Was the sixth-rankedquarterback from the pre1960 era by the Expert Panel voting on the
2000 All-Century Poll for the OldTimers Squad.
Eddie Parker (1941-1943,
RB and Kick-returner) A versatile player
who was a dangerous return man and running back. Was the team’s
leading scorer both his sophomore and junior seasons. During his sophomore
season he caught three touchdown passes, which was the second most touchdown passes ever caught
in one season up to that time. Two of those touchdown receptions came against Natchitoches, making him only the second player in the history of the program to have two or more TD catches in a single game. During his junior season he had four rushing touchdowns, including a 60-yarder. During Parker’s final season he rushed for three touchdowns, including one that went 75 yards. Parker had an 87 yard punt return in 1943 that broke the school record for length by 22 yard. His
distance wasn’t surpasseduntil 1962 (Bob Wyatt, 92 yards vs. Ville Platte) and
has only been topped four times since 1943. Parker was thought highly of by the Expert
Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad as he was the highest
vote getter for kick returners on that era and the third-leading vote getter among running
backs. Eddie was the “father-end” of the only Father/Son combination in the history of theprogram to have rushing touchdowns that covered 70+ yards. In 1961 and 1962 Parker’s
son Ronnie had rushing touchdowns that covered 82 and 73 yards respectively.
John G. Jackson (1942-1943, RB)
Two-year starter at running back. Had three rushing touchdowns his junior
season, with the longest going for 60 yards. Was the team’s leading scorer his senior season with 31points. Those points were gained by a combination of three rushing touchdowns, one passreception and a 55 yard return of an interception. He also booted one extra point kick. One of his
touchdowns during the 1943 season was a 97-yarder against Ruston. That
set a school record for longest run from scrimmage; a record that lasted for forty years
(see Garlon Powell, 1983 who had a 99 yard run). Jackson was the leading vote-getter
at the running back position, or any position for that matter, by theExpert Panel voting
on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and he garnered the fourth highest
votes at running back by fans in the same poll.
Keaton (1944-1945, T & C) Started at
tackle his junior season and moved to starting center for his senior campaign. He was the second-leading vote-getter at the
tackle slot by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad
C. C. Carter (1943-1946, C & G)
Alternated between the center and guard positions, playing guard asa freshman
and junior and center as a sophomore and senior. He is best known by those who know the history of the program as one of the program’s best centers. He also booted five extra point kicks his junior season. Earned honorable mention honors on the All State squad both his junior and senior seasons
at the center spot. The members of the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll
for the Old Timers Squad gave him the most votes at center on that mythical squad. Carter
received the most votesfrom the fans when they selected a kicker and he ranked third
by the Expert Panel as a kicker.
Elton Long (1945-1947,
E) Three-year starter at end.
Long caught one touchdown pass his sophomore season, but it was his junior season where he broke out. That
year he caught four touchdown passes, including three against Junction City, Arkansas. That tied a school record for
TD receptions in a game, a feat that has only been accomplished five times, first by David Harper in 1936, then by Long in
1946 and then three times in the 1970s (see, John Wayne Williams in 1971, Glen in 1972 and Freddie King in 1974).
His five career TD receptions tied the school record at the time and wasn’t topped until 1959. Was the sixth-ranked
end on the Old Timers Squad of the All Century poll as voted on by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll.
Ralph Sanders (1944-1946, B)
Three-year starter at running back. Recorded eight career rushing touchdowns, with the longest one
going 65 yards against Arcadia in 1946. Sanders was the team’s leading scorer his senior season by scoring an even 50
points by way of seven rushing touchdowns, a 60 yard fumble return and three PAT runs. He is one of only six players from
the pre-1960 era to score 50 or more points in a single season.
Lee Harrell (1944-1946, QB) Three-year
starter at quarterback. In his career Harrell threwthree touchdown passes and rushed
for three touchdowns. Was the fifth ranked quarterback by the ExpertPanel and third ranked
quarterback by the fans voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old TimersSquad.
Jackie Givens (1945-1946, B) One of the most versatile players of the pre-1960 era. In 1945 he was the team’s leading scorer with 36 points. That point total was gained by
five rushing touchdowns and one kickoff return. A testimony to his
speed is evidenced by the fact that one of this rushing touchdowns went for 80 yards
and his kickoff return went for a school record 95 yards. That kickoff return distance has
been tied but not broken. In 1946 he scored three touchdowns by way of two rushing touchdowns
and another kickoff return, the latter covering 85 yards. He is one of only seven players
in the program that have returned two or more kickoffs for touchdowns in a career, with
all of the others coming from the1970 to 2000 era. He is thus the first to accomplish
that feat. Givens received the third-highest vote total at the kick return position by
the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and he
garnered the fourth highest votes by fans voting for kick returners in the same poll. He was ranked fourth at back by the Expert Panel. Earned honorable mention All State honors
his senior season
Vernon McDonald (1946-1948, B & KR)
McDonald received the second highest vote total for kick\returners by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. Was a
three year starter at running back. He scored a then record-tying
eleven rushing touchdowns during his career,with eight of those coming in 1948.
McDonald was the leading scorer (56 pts.) on the 1948 team whichwas arguably the
strongest team of the 1940s. Besides those rushing touchdowns in 1948, he had twoPAT
runs and he returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown against Mansfield. At the time, that was thelongest punt return for a touchdown in the history of the program and that distance has only been
toppedtwo times since then. McDonald ended his career with twelve total touchdowns, which
is tied for fourthhighest total from among player who played prior to 1950.
John William Warner (1947-1948, B & QB)
Running back his junior season and switched toquarterback on the highly successful 1948 team. Rushed for nine career touchdowns, with three of thosecovering 40 yards or more. During his senior season he returned two interceptions for touchdowns
to become the first player to score multiple times from the defensive side of the ball
in one season. Thoseinterception returns weren’t from chip-shot distances either,
as one covered 80 yards and the otherwent 95 yards. Both of those
interceptions remain in the Top Ten for longest interception returns forscores. Warner
was the fourth-ranked quarterback by the Expert Panel and fifth-ranked quarterback by thefans
voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. He received one first place vote andtwo second place votes from the eight-member Expert Panel. Warner ended his career with twelve totaltouchdowns, which is tied for fourth highest total from among players who played prior to 1950. Warnerwas a second team All District selection at quarterback in 1948.
Waymon Swilley (1947-1948, E) Brother of Durwood Swilley, Waymon was a two year starter at theend
position. He caught one of the four touchdown passes thrown during the 1948 season. Was ranked No. 7 at the end position by the Expert Panel and fans voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the OldTimers Squad. Swilley was a second team All District selection.
Durwood Swilley (1947-1948, T)
Swilley is arguably the best lineman of the first fifty years of
Tigerfootball. He is the only first team All State selection of either
the 1940s or the 1930s as he earned thathonor in 1948. Swilley was
the leading vote-getter at the tackle position by the Expert Panel voting onthe 2000
All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and he garnered the second-most first place votes at tackle by fans voting in the same poll. Swilley was the third highest vote getter at any position,trailing only John Jackson (1944) and Chuck Skains (1928). In addition to his play on both sides of the line, Swilley was the most prolific kicker the program had ever seen as he successfully booted 22
extrapoint kicks in 1948. No previous kicker had ever booted half
as many in a single season. As such, the 22 points he scored by kick was easily the most
points ever scored by a player without factoring intouchdowns. Swilley was way ahead
of his time as a kicker as it wouldn’t be until the 1961 season thatanother kicker
would successfully convert 20 or more extra point kicks. In the earliest years of footballand extra point was considered a bonus because teams rarely converted them. It
was not unusual for ateam to go through a whole season without reaching double-digit
numbers in PAT tries. That is because most teams relied on the run
to score their single PAT point. Therefore, Swilley gave the 1948 team ascoring weapon
that most teams simply did not have.
Sam Emerson (1948-1949, C) Two-year starter, earned honorable mention All State honors in 1949. Emerson was the third highest
vote-getter at the center position by the Expert Panel voting on the Old Timers Squad and ranked in the Top Ten at the center
position by fans voting in the same poll.
Harold Tarver (1948-1949, G) Two-year
starter at the guard position. Earned honorable mention All State honors in 1949. Was the fifth highest vote-getter at the
guard position by the fans voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad
Charles Eyer (1948-1949,
E; Assistant Coach, 1956) Two-year starter
at end, specializing on thedefensive side of the ball. Eyer ranked fourth by the fans
and fifth by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
Returned as an assistant coach in the program in 1956.
Ellard Brantley (1947-1949, T)
Three-year starter at tackle. Brantley ranked in the
Top Ten by at thetackle position by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll
for the Old Timers Squad.
Bobby Bass (1947-1950, B) Four year starter at running back. Scored two rushing touchdowns as a freshman, including a 70 yard
run against Neville. His versatility was shown his sophomore season (1948) when he scored one touchdown by rush, turned two
receptions into touchdowns and returned a kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown. Both of those TD receptions came against Oil City,
making him only the fourth player in the history of the program up to that time to have two or more TD catches in a single
game. He is the first player in the history of the program to score a touchdown by rush, reception and
return in the same season. In his final two seasons he recorded two more rushing touchdowns and two more receiving touchdowns.
That gave him nine career touchdowns, which is good enough to place him in a tie for seventh place for total touchdowns scored
by players from the 1909 to 1950 era. Received a vote at the back spot from one member of the Expert Panel voting on the 2000
All-Century Poll for theOld Timers Squad and was the second-leading vote-getter from
among the fans for the kick-returnerspot. He was the fifth-ranked back by the fans in
the All-Century poll.
Dan Carr (1948-1950, B & QB) Career scoring leader of the 1909 to 1950 era. That came by
amassing 109 points in his three-year career. Carr was a three-year
starter, playing at the back positionhis first two seasons and then switching to the
quarterback position his senior season. Set a new schoolrecord for career passing touchdowns
with eight, surpassing the then school record of five. His careermark wasn’t topped
until nine years later. All total he recorded fourteen rushing touchdowns (which is thesecond
highest total of any player from the pre-1950 era), two receiving touchdowns and he had tworeturns for a touchdown. Those returns came on a 70 yard punt return and a 90 yard kickoff return.
Thatkickoff return is the sixth longest of the twentieth century. Carr’s eighteen
total touchdowns is the mostby any player from the pre-1960 era. Carr received the second
most votes from the Expert Panel voting onthe quarterback position on the 2000 All Century
Poll for the Old Timers Squad and ranked in the TopTen at back from that group.
The fan vote ranked him in the Top Ten at the quarterback slot and at theNo. 6 position as a kick returner.
Ben Singletary (1948-1950, E) Three year starter at the end position. Caught two touchdown
passes in1950.Ranked No. 4 by the Expert
Panel and No. 3 by the fans at the end position of the 2000 AllCentury Poll for the Old
1940 (4-5-2) The question on the minds of everyone interested in
Winnfield Tiger football heading into the 1940 season was this – “Could the 1940 Tigers keep the momentum going?”
The program was coming the first winning season in three years. However, the program had not had
back-to-back winning seasons since the 1927-1928 seasons and the prospect of putting back-to-back winning seasons in 1939
and 1940 seemed dismal. The Tigers would enter the new decade without the services of several of their
most reliable players from the previous season. However, the Tigers also returned a good nucleus from the
previous season, and would have close to nine players on the field who had substantial game experience.
Most of the Tigers talent lay in the
line, which was led by a pair of two-year starters in seniors L. M. Ferrell at the center position and Kersh
Parker at one of the guard positions. Other returning linemen who had started the season before
included seniors Reece Carraway, Rudolph Muse and John Poisso, as well as junior Donald
Temple. Coach Cameron indicated that he had a plentiful supply of linemen; so
much so that he moved some of his linemen into backfield positions. Though he returned the Hughes
brothers in the backfield, he moved Howard Porter, a guard, to the fullback spot. At the
halfback position, he moved in Bobby Joe King, an end from the season before, and W. C. Clements,
a returning guard. The Wilkerson brothers would hold down the end positions.
The Tigers had experienced players. What they also had was a difficult schedule.
In the season opener the Tigers dropped a 13-0 decision to nemesis
Bolton. The Tigers ground out only 64 rushing yards to the Bears, while giving up 260 yards. Tiger lineman “Red”
Clements broke his arm in the contest and would be out of action for more than a month.
In the second game of the year the Tigers
took on the Ferriday Bulldogs in a game played in a steady rain. The only score of the night came on a
safety after the Ferriday punter inadvertently stepped out of the back the end zone on an attempted punt. In the end, Winnfield
prevailed in a 2-0 decision, the lowest winning total ever posted by a Winnfield team.
According to the local paper, Tiger halfback
Arie Hughes was the outstanding player on the field, as his punts consistently pinned the Bulldogs deep in their
territory and his ball carrying continually drove the Tigers out of their end of the field. The difference
in the game, however, was credited to the line play of Winnfield, namely L. M. Ferrell (C), Reese
Carroway (T) and Kersh Parker (G).
The Tigers murderous early-season continued in weeks three and four when Winnfield took on Byrd and Fair Park in consecutive
weeks. As expected, the Tigers dropped both, losing to Byrd by a score of 18-0 and to Fair Park by a 26-0
margin. Prior to the Fair Park game Coach Cameron was quoted in the local paper as giving the Tigers chances
for a victory as "practically nil.”
four games the Tigers had posted a 1-3-0 record for the year. The Tiger defense had played respectable all year long, but
it was not lost on anyone that the Tigers had failed to score a single touchdown in the first four games.
The Tigers notched their second win of the season against Natchitoches,
with the Hughes brothers providing most of the fire-power for the Tigers. The Tigers opened up the scoring
in the first quarter when Arie Hughes dropped back and hit his younger brother Clifford
with a 47-yard touchdown-scoring pass. Clifford Hughes also tacked on the extra point to give the Tigers
a 7-0 lead. Then in the third quarter, Clifford Hughes intercepted a Red Devil pass to
give the Tigers possession at their own 32 yard-line. Several plays later Arie Hughes
lugged the ball over the goal line for the second touchdown and the final scoring of the night by either team.
With the win, the Tigers moved to a 2-3-0 record for the year.
After the shutout win the Tigers posted shutouts in the next
two games as well, with those opponents being Ruston and Jonesboro. However, the Tigers didn’t score
either in those game, therefore the team’s record for the year moved to 2-3-2. Arie Hughes suffered
a season-ending injury in the tie against Jonesboro. He had scored one of the two touchdowns the Tigers
had scored during the season. So, his loss was just another blow to the Tiger offense.
After the first seven games of the 1940
season, Winnfield had managed to score only 15 points, but they had recorded four shutouts themselves. The
strong point of the team was thus the defense, who had given up only 57 pts. in seven games, an average of 8 pts. per game.
With four games remaining on the schedule,
the Tigers still had ample time to salvage a winning season; though they would have to win three of the final games to accomplish
that. And though the first of those final opponents would be a Class B school, that opponent would be the undefeated St. John’s
game would follow the script of virtually every other game Winnfield had played that year - defense, defense, defense.
When both teams went to the locker room at halftime, the scoreboard still read 0-0. On two occasions,
Winnfield turned back St. John’s scoring threats, once from the 2 yard-line and another from the 7. However, the Winnfield
offense could not give the Tiger defense any support.
St. John’s posted two touchdowns in the second half, one by their offense and one by their defense on an interception,
either of which would have been enough in the 12-0 Flyer win. Again the Tiger offense was non-existent.
Winnfield had been shutout in 30 of 32 quarters through that point in the season.
The Tigers evened their record for the season to 4-4-2 with
wins in the next two games. The first win came against Columbia in the annual homecoming game in which
the Tigers posted a 6-0 victory. The game had a moment straight out of Hollywood. A
local newspaper’s account reported as follow, "The six point victory was made possible by big Jack Lee’s
plunge through the center of the line that carried the ball for the last five yards of the touchdown drive, but the spark
of this scoring punch was furnished by John Hubbard, 136-pound sophomore tailback, who lay on the field with
a broken leg sustained when he was tackled while running back a Columbia punt and told his teammates that we have to win this
game.” Hubbard had returned the punt to the Columbia 32 yard line and he gave out
his plea to his teammates as he was being carted off the field. The Tiger offense seemed to come to life
at that point as Clifford Hughes, Howard Porter and Jack Lee carried the ball the remaining
32 yard to pay dirt to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead they would never surrender.
The Tigers posted their second consecutive win when they beat
Winnsboro 19-7 in their tenth game of the year. Bobbie Joe King led the attack for Winnfield
as he led all rushers and scored one of the touchdowns. Clifford Hughes and W.
C. "Red” Clements also scored for the Tigers who enjoyed their most productive offensive showing of the
season. The Tigers three touchdown performance against Winnsboro matched their total touchdown production
for all of the previous nine games of the season.
In the 11th game of the year, the Tiger played a rematch against the Jonesboro Tigers. The two teams had played to
a scoreless tie during the 7th week of the season. Jonesboro showed that this would be no scoreless affair
as they took their opening drive 70-yards for a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead. That lead held up until Jonesboro
mishandled the second half kickoff, which Winnfield turned into a touchdown when Bobbie Joe King capped a
short drive with a TD run. The PAT by Clifford Hughes gave Winnfield a 7-6 lead and their first comeback
of the season. If they could hold on, they could get their winning season. However, Jonesboro found their
way back into the end zone in the fourth quarter to take a hard-fought 12-7 win. Winnfield ended the season
with a 4-5-2 record.
lack of any offensive punch certainly contributed to Winnfield’s five losses and two ties. The Tigers
only scored seven touchdowns all season and were shutout in six of the eleven games. The Tiger defense,
meanwhile, held all but two opponents (Byrd and Fair Park) to two touchdowns or less and recorded four shutouts of their own.
1941 (3-7-0) For the 1941 season, the Tigers returned seniors Clifford Hughes, Bobby Joe King
and Jack Lee in the backfield, along with junior quarterback Roger Smith. While
that seemed like a lot of senior talent, the three seniors of the Tiger’s backfield made up almost half of the senior
class represented on the football team. In short - the 1941 Tigers were young.
Where the Tigers would be hurting the most would be in the line
where they had few players that had any playing experience and only one letterman in senior Donald Temple (T).
Line duties would have to be handled mainly by underclassmen, with juniors Dan Page, James Poole, J. W. Kennedy
and John Melton splitting time between guard and tackle, and seniors Temple, Billy Dickerson and
Harry Gammill (C) rounding out the list of projected starters.
The Tiger’s schedule would be the usual tough one that
local fans had come to expect. For the first time in the history of the school a football game was played before classes started.
War maneuvers caused school to begin a month after the football season started but that ruling did not affect the football
schedule. All games were played on their regularly scheduled date, so, on September 12, 1941, Winnfield
opened their football season on the road against Bolton
The Tigers dropped an 18-0 decision to Bolton in the season opener and went on to lose the first three game of the
season – all shutout losses at that. The Tigers actually performed well in the first half of those game.
For example, they held Bolton to no points and only one first down in the opening two quarters. But, the Tigers lack
of reserve strength showed in the second half of each of those first three losses. In the second game the Tigers turned the
ball over way too many times to be competitive, yet they entered the fourth quarter of that contest trailing by only a 7-0
margin. However, the Bulldogs erupted for three fourth quarter touchdowns and posted a 26-0 win over the Tigers.
Winnfield hit the road for the third
consecutive week to take on the impossible task of defeating the Byrd Yellow Jackets. Approximately 3,500
fans witnessed the two teams battle to a 0-0 halftime deadlock. Yet again, the strength of the Tiger defensive
starters was shown in the first half. But, Byrd was able to send a steady stream of reserves into the game
during the first half and it took a toll.
the third quarter, Byrd mounted a drive that netted them a score. That would be Byrd’s only sustained
drive of the night, however. Byrd did get on the scoreboard one more time when they blocked a Winnfield
punt in the fourth quarter and recovered it on the Tiger 22 yard-line. The Jackets carried the ball over
the goal in short order to take a 12-0 lead. Though the Tigers lost the hard fought battle, they competed
well against the much larger, more experienced 2A Yellow Jackets. That was clearly the best showing any
Winnfield team had ever exhibited against a Byrd team.
Though the Tigers were 0-3-0 on the season and had yet to score a single point, they had outplayed all three of their
opponents in the first half of all three games. If you believed in “moral victories” the Tigers
had fared well against Bolton and Byrd, historically two of the strongest programs the Tiger football program had ever faced.
In fact, the Tiger defense was unscored on in the first half of each of the first three games. The
lack of reserves was proving to be an obvious handicap and few people were content to just “look good” in a loss.
In the end, a loss is still a loss. School still hadn’t opened yet and the local paper pointed
to a possible problem. "Since school hasn’t opened, boys are not reporting for practice as regular
as they would be if school were in. Heretofore, Coaches Cameron and Wyatt have
had trouble getting candidates interested in the workouts as their vacation has been increased by an extra month due to the
maneuvers and some are taking advantage of these extra days to go fishing and hunting.”
Winnfield’s home opener would come in the fourth game
of the year when they took on the Sarepta Hornets. They would do so without the services of Clifford
Hughes, who was nursing injuries received in an accident. His replacement would be sophomore Edward
Parker. Rounding out the backfield were Jack Lee, Roger Smith and Bobby Joe King.
Across the line were Joseph Hodge (LE), John Melton (LT), Dan Page
(LG), and Harry Gammill (C). On the right side of the line were J. W. Kennedy
(RG), Billy Dickerson (RT) and Felix Mercer (RE).
The game against Sarepta was a defensive battle throughout the contest. Neither team was able to
drive inside the others 20 yard-line during the entire game, with one lone exception. That came on the
Tigers opening possession of the second half when the Tigers drove 60 yards for a touchdown, with the score coming
on a short run by Bobby Joe King. That 7-0
score held up the rest of the way and allowed the Tigers to improve their record to 1-3-0. The Tiger defense
preserved their streak of four straight games where they hadn’t been scored-on in the first half.
One win led to another as the Tigers defeated Natchitoches 13-7
in the following week. Winnfield’s claim of never having lost to Natchitoches was thus extended one more year as the
Tigers improved their series record against Natchitoches to 9-0-6. Both of Winnfield’s touchdowns
came on scoring tosses from Roger Smith to sophomore Edward Parker. That marked only the
second game in the history of the program when a Tiger receiver caught multiple touchdown passes.
After improving their record to 2-3-0 the Tigers went on a losing
streak that say them drop three straight to the likes of Ruston, Arcadia and Jonesboro. Against Ruston, Winnfield’s
string of first-half shutouts came to a screeching half as the Bearcats erupted for three touchdowns in the first quarter
alone. The Bearcats went on to post a 26-6 win. Ruston went on to take the 1941 Class A state title when
they beat LaGrange 14-0 in the title game. The Bearcats completed the season with an undefeated record
in the process. Winnfield, meanwhile, dropped to 2-4-0 for the season with the loss to Ruston.
Winnfield was scheduled to play Columbia
the following week. At least that is what the schedule said that Winnfield had. The
principal of Columbia High School wired Winnfield principal W. E. Walker at the last minute to notify him
that Columbia would not be playing the Tigers. The explanation given was that the game was scheduled by
a former coach of Columbia and never verified by the principal. The Columbia principal contended that the
new coach had scheduled a game against Neville High School and that was the game they were going to play.
The next game the Tigers faced the Arcadia Hornets, who
were the defending Class B champions. Winnfield played a now familiar game against the Hornets.
They outplayed Arcadia in the first half, but failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. Meanwhile,
Arcadia opened up a 21-0 lead through three quarters and held off a brief fourth quarter charge by Winnfield to take a 21-12
The crowd for the Winnfield
- Jonesboro game was always large and loud. That was made even more so by local fans when Winnfield took
the lead in the third quarter after Smith dropped back and shot a bullet to young Edward Parker
who stepped off the final 7 yards for the Tiger score. The successful PAT vaulted Winnfield to a 7-0 lead.
Jonesboro came right back and tied the game late in the third quarter and then took the lead midway through the final
quarter. In the end, Jonesboro handed Winnfield their third straight loss, defeating the Tigers by a score
The Tigers closed out the
season with two home games. First up was a new foe, the Many Tigers. Against Many, Winnfield
scored the most points any Winnfield team had since the opening game of the 1934 season, a period of over seven years.
That’s not saying a lot because the Tigers only scored 27 points. Those points came in the
form of four touchdowns scored by three different players, including Bobby Dennis in the first quarter and
Clifford Hughes in the second and third quarters to enable Winnfield to take a 20-0 lead. Hughes’
second touchdown came on a pass from Roger Smith. Sophomore John Glyn Jackson
made the final touchdown and Bobby Joe King added the extra point to cap the scoring with the Tigers ahead
27-0. In the end, Many never threatened to score. The win improved the Tigers record
In the season finale the
Tigers faced Lake Providence and held yet another opponent scoreless, though the Tigers couldn’t get into the end zone
themselves either. The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter to set up the decisive fourth quarter.
Unlike the third quarter where neither team converted on their PAT tried, Lake Providence scored first in the final
period to take a 13-6 lead. With only minutes to go in the game, the Tigers drove the length of the field, where Holly
McDade carried the ball over for the score from there and the Tigers could have tied the game with a successful PAT.
A line plunge failed to produce the important point and thus the Tigers ended up on the short end of the 13-12 score.
The Tigers ended the season with a 3-7-0 record. During
the season, the Tigers trailed at halftime in only one of the ten games, that being against Ruston. In fact, the Tigers shutout
their opponents in 16 of the 20 first half quarters. Only two of the Tigers’ opponents scored in
the first half. Ruston posted 19 first half points (all in the first quarter) and Arcadia tallied 14 points
by halftime of that game. One assumption that can be made at that the starting eleven for the Tigers were
good. What the 1941 Tigers lacked was depth. The Tigers reliance on only fifteen or so players (a small number even in those
days) proved to be the undoing of the team. The Tigers were young and those who did play gained valuable
playing experience. While Winnfield had would lose nine starters to graduation, the Tigers mainly used
juniors and sophomores during the 1941 campaign. While the team didn’t have much success on the field,
one player did have a season that ranked among the all-time best. Quarterback Roger Smith
tied an individual school record by throwing five touchdown passes. That tied him with Ray Jenkins
(1936) for the most touchdown passes in a single season.
1942 (3-5-0) After the 1941 season Ben Cameron resigned as head coach at Winnfield to accept a
similar position at Bossier High School. It would be a gross understatement to say that Coach Cameron
had success at Bossier High School. Later that same year, he guided the Bearkats to a perfect 12-0-0 record,
which included a 27-12 win over DeQuincy in the Class A state championship.
Winnfield sought-out and lured a young
head coach to take over the Winnfield program. In doing so, Winnfield hired its first former player into
the head coaching position when Estle “Kidd” Farr was hired to assume the duties of head football
coach. Farr had starred at Winnfield in the early to mid 1930s and had gone on to have
a successful football career at the Louisiana State Normal College, where he was the starting center for three years.
Upon graduation from Normal in 1939, Farr became the head football coach at Merryville High School,
a position he had held for three football seasons. That made Farr the
first head coach hired at the school since the 1920s with any prior head coaching experience except for Ben Cameron
and Alwin Stokes.
Farr arrived in Winnfield in time
to conduct the spring drills where he was met by forty football players. Included in that bunch were 19
lettermen. Returning backs included seniors Bobby Dennis, Roger Smith and Morgan
Carroway; along with juniors Edward Parker and John Glyn Jackson. A
pair of seniors filled the end slots in Jack Luzader and A. T. Singletary. The
bulk of the senior players were positioned in the line. Those included Lehron Rainwater, John Melton,
Don Walsh, Billy Dickerson, Dan Page, James Poole, J. C. Mixon, Hoyett Neal and J. W. Kennedy. The
line was topped-out by a pair of junior players in A. L. Sikes and Ray Shetley. Winnfield faced a ten game scheduled for the 1942 season.
Included in the tough schedule were Byrd High School, who had already won six state titles; Ruston, the defending Class
A champion and Arcadia who was two years removed from their Class B title.
During the war years, games were often canceled at the last moment. Such was the case for the opening
game of the 1942 season when Ferriday canceled the opening game scheduled for September 18th. Coach
Farr attempted to find a last minute replacement but was unable to do so.
The Tigers’ opening two games of the season produced completely contrasting results. In the
opening game, the Tigers faced the Byrd Yellow Jackets; a team the Tigers had a 0-8-0 record against. The
Tigers had been shutout six times in those eight games. The 1942 game would be no different than the previous
games as the Tigers failed to score any points and gave up three touchdowns in a 19-0 loss.
The following week the Tigers reversed
that by shutting out Clarks and gaining their first win of the season in a resounding 26-0 win. But, the
Tiger fortunes flipped back to the negative side in the third game of the season when they dropped a 14-7 decision to Menard
High School of Alexandria, with that game being the first time those two schools had met.
The win-loss alternating pattern continued in week four when
the Tigers put on an offensive show in defeating Leesville 31-0 to move the record for the season to 2-2-0. The Tigers point
total in the Leesville contest was the most points a Tiger team had scored since the opening game of the 1934 season, a period
of eight years. Unlike the more
recent Winnfield teams, the 1942 Tigers had an offense that could put the ball in the end zone. Through
four games, the offense had scored 64 points, more points than any of the previous 9 Tiger football teams had scored through
a similar period of time. The Tiger backfield was filled with speed, with most of that speed displayed
by the fleet Edward Parker. Bobby Dennis was also capable of breaking a long one any time
he carried the ball.
Ruston Bearcats brought the Tigers back to earth the next week when they took yet another win over the Tiger program (Ruston
had not lost to a Winnfield team in seven straight games heading into the 1942 contest). Winnfield was
overmatched against Byrd in the opening game loss. They were overmatched against Ruston as well.
Enjoying a decided weight advantage, the Bearcats posted touchdowns in each quarter and walked away with a 28-0 win.
Winnfield’s starting right guard, J. W. Kennedy, broke his leg in the second half of the Ruston
game and was lost for the season.
Winnfield’s 2-3 start prompted Coach Farr to shake up his lineup. Truman
Harper replaced Joseph Hodge at left end. Albert George took
over the starting right tackle position, a vacancy created when he moved John Jackson to
the backfield. J. W. Kennedy was replaced at right guard by Billy Jones,
with Don Walsh and Ray Shetley also seeing action at the guard position.
The see-saw routine continued the next week when Winnfield was
the dominator in an 18-0 shutout win over Arcadia. Winnfield’s speed in the backfield proved too much for the visiting
Hornets. Junior halfback Edward Parker broke a 60 yd. run for the Tigers to open the scoring.
Bobby Dennis would top that by 5 yards when he posted the Tigers second score. Dennis tacked
on another touchdown and the defense recorded their third shutout of the season as the Tigers moved their season record to
3-3-0. Sitting at .500 with only two games to go, the Tigers chances of recording the first winning season
in the 1940s appeared promising. However, all of that promise came crashing down before the Jonesboro game.
After the Arcadia win, the Tigers sustained one of their biggest
losses of the season when Edward Parker, Tiger halfback, left the team to join the war effort.
Johnny Jackson was moved to Parker’s right halfback position. In
a team sport it is often difficult to measure the contribution of one player. But, it would soon become
apparent that the loss of Parker would be substantial.
The Tigers faced Jonesboro in the final home game of the season. Jackson proved
to be an able replacement to Parker in the backfield as he too recorded a long distance touchdown, racing
60 yards for a Tiger score. The Tigers scored the other touchdowns to put 25 points
on the board, which should have been more than enough to insure a Tiger win. They weren’t,
however, as Winnfield gave up 33 points to Jonesboro, making that the most points a Tiger team had given up since yielding
39 points to Minden in the third game of the 1939 season. It was also the most points a Tiger team had ever scored in a losing
effort. The program was in its 34th year of existence. There had only been four other
times when a Tiger team had scored even 10 points and lost, those being the 39-23 loss to Ruston in the 1909 inaugural season,
the 18-14 loss to Byrd in the 1927 season and the 1942 losses to Arcadia (21-12) and Lake Providence (13-12).
On the one hand, that was a testimony to the great Tiger defenses that Winnfield usually produced. On
the other hand, there were not many games (particularly in the previous two decades) when a Tiger team scored more than 10
points anyway, as only 35 of the 126 games played since 1930 had produced 10 or more points by a Tiger team.
Carrying a 3-4-0 record, the Tigers needed a win in the final
game of the season against Ville Platte to avert a losing record for the season. They would have to do that with a team who
was a mere shadow of the team that was on the field in the first half of the season as no fewer than eight players who were
in starting positions at the beginning of the season were absent from the final because of injuries, or work toward the war
effort as was the case with Parker. Thus, it came as no surprise when Ville Platte cruised to a 37-0 walloping
of the Tigers. The Tigers had allowed 70 points to be scored on them in the final two games of the season.
They didn’t have near the offensive firepower to overcome that kind of scoring. Since the team had been decimated by injuries and mid season departures, the coaches
and school officials canceled the final scheduled game of the year, that being against the Bastrop Rams. The game would not
have had any bearing on the standings of either school as Bastrop had already been crowned northeast Louisiana Class A champions.
Coach Farr ended his first season with a 3-5-0
record. The losing record was disappointing, especially since the team had reached the sixth game of the
year with a .500 record and appeared to have a legitimate shot at a winning record. But the losing record
was explained by losses to key personnel. Equally important was the impact of World War II.
As World War II engulfed Europe during the early 1940s, the United States remained neutral however the country was
dramatically and convincingly pulled into the war when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.
Throughout 1942, the United States was involved in a mass mobilization. As a result, Winnfield’s
1942 football season would be played in an environment unlike any other faced by other Winnfield football team.
Winnfield football was affected by World War II just like all
facets of life were. On the one hand, during a time when the country was focused on war mobilization and
the "real life” casualties of war, high school football seemed trivial. On the other hand, people
couldn’t focus solely on the war, so high school football was but one form of entertainment and distraction.
Nevertheless, especially during the 1942 through 1944 football seasons, the "war” on the football field
would be significantly affected by the war being waged world-wide.
1943 (6-3-0) Coach Farr entered his second season as head coach at Winnfield with what appeared to be a good combination of experienced talent
in his senior players and underclassmen who possessed raw talent. Returning senior lettermen included Edward
Parker (HB), John Glyn Jackson (HB), Albert George (FB), Robert Edgington (E), Billy Jones (QB), Ray Shetley (G), A. L. Sikes
(T) and Merle Henderson (T). Rounding out the starting lineup would be freshman
C. C. Carter (G), sophomore Buster Keaton (C) and junior Jack Gorham (E).
The 1943 team, while not deep in talent, possessed some of the best individual stars of the era. Certainly
Edward Parker and Johnny Jackson were two of the best backs Winnfield fans had ever seen
up to that point. While only a freshman on the 1943 team, C. C. Carter would have one
of the best high school careers for a lineman in Winnfield high school history. Likewise, Buster Keaton was
one of the best linemen to don a Winnfield uniform during the 1940s. So, Winnfield had experience and talent
at the starting positions. It would be a senior-dominated team, with no fewer than eight seniors typically
on the field at any given point in time.
The schedule would be very
similar to the 1942 schedule. The Tigers opened against Byrd, a team many considered to be one of the strongest
in the state. Other heavyweights were Ruston and Bastrop. The remaining six teams appeared
to be teams the Tigers could play with. Because of the difficulty of finding opponents to play during the
war years, the Tigers scheduled Menard twice, with one game at home and the other game at Menard’s field.
What came as no surprise was the whipping that Byrd put on Winnfield
in the opening game of the season. Winnfield had always assumed the underdog role against Byrd and had never come close to
beating the Jackets. The Tigers were as overmatched as any Winnfield team ever had been. When
it was all over, Winnfield suffered a loss by a score of 63-0. The 63-point margin of victory represented
the second-worst defeat in the 33-year history of the program, second only to the 71-0 whipping that Bolton gave Winnfield
in the 1926 season. In fact, so rare was the 63 points given up by the Tigers, that in the 33 football
seasons preceding the 1943 season there had only been ten games where the opponent had scored 40 or more points.
The opponent in two of those ten games was the Byrd Yellow Jackets. After defeating Winnfield, Byrd
would defeat ten consecutive opponents before meeting Jesuit of New Orleans in the 1943 Class AA championship game in Shreveport.
In that game, Jesuit upset Byrd by handing them a 25-7 defeat.
The blowout loss to Byrd was no indication of how good the 1943 team was.
After that loss the team win five of the next six games they would play. Two of those win came in
the second and third weeks of the season when the Tigers posted consecutive shutouts in defeating Menard (12-0) and Leesville
(25-0). The only loss in the six game stretch from
the game two to game seven occurred in the fourth week of the season against virtually unbeatable (by Winnfield) Ruston.
As usual, the Bearcats were clearly the better team and that showed on the scoreboard as the Bearcats defeated Winnfield
36-6. The lone bright spot in the context came when history was made late in the fourth quarter. Winnfield’s
offense was completely throttled all game long and were facing what appeared to be a certain shutout when the Tigers
gained possession of the ball on their own 3 yard-line in the closing minutes of the game. John
Jackson, whose crippled knee limited him to second half duty only, was sent in to help get the Tigers out of the
Bearcat end of the field. Taking the handoff, Jackson ran 97 yards for the only Tiger
score of the game. The run was the longest touchdown run in school history at that time, a mark that stood
until Garlon Powell broke a 99 yd. run during the 1983 season, 40 years later. Jackson's
mark was tied in 1984 by Andrew Riggs but those runs by Powell, Jackson
and Riggs remain the three longest touchdown runs from scrimmage in school history (through the 2005 season).
After the loss to Ruston the Tigers reeled off three straight
wins to move the team’s record to 5-2-0 for the season. The first of those wins came in the final
home game of the 1943 season when the Tigers defeated the Natchitoches Red Devils by a score of 13-6. The
Red Devils had disbanded their football team the season before, breaking an 11-year streak when the Tigers and Red Devils
played. Against Natchitoches, John Jackson scored the lone first half touchdown, enabling
Winnfield to take a 6-0 lead at halftime. The try for the extra point was no good.
Natchitoches tied the score in the third quarter, but also failed
to convert on the PAT try, making the score 6-6. On the ensuing kickoff Edward Parker
made history. Parker fielded the Natchitoches kick on the 13 yard-line and ran 87 yards
for the Tigers second touchdown. John Jackson kicked the extra point to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead.
Parker's kickoff return broke Frank Brewer's record 75-yard kickoff return set in
the 1928 season. Parker’s record was broken but two seasons later when Jackie
Givens returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Givens' mark was tied in
the 1982 season by Garlon Powell but still stands today as the school record for longest kickoff return for
The win over Natchitoches improved the
team’s record to 3-2-0 for the season. That marked the first time a Tiger team had been above .500
at any point during a season in the 1940s. The 1943 team was seeking the school’s first winning season
of the decade and they got one step closer to that the next week when they defeated Arcadia 19-13 to move their record to
4-2-0 with only three games to go on their schedule. John Jackson got two of the Tigers touchdowns against
Arcadia, getting one on a 55-yard interception return and the other on a 30-yard run from scrimmage. score
at 13-13 with just over five minutes to go in the game.
Winnfield's seventh opponent of the year would be their annual rival, the Jonesboro Tigers. The
Tigers could accomplish two things with a win over Jonesboro – first they could clinch a winning season and two they
could (finally) claim bragging rights over Jonesboro. Either would be important, but maybe the most important
concerned the Winnfield vs. Jonesboro series itself. When you counted all of the games played between the
two in the 1930s and 1940s you would find eleven contest and you would also find only one win by Winnfield. During
that span Winnfield’s record against Jonesboro was a mere 1-9-1. That stands in
marked contrast to the series record between those two prior to the 1930 season when Winnfield won five games and tied the
only other contest played between the two. Overall then Jonesboro held a 9-5-2 edge over Winnfield heading
into the 1943 contest but Jonesboro had been just as formidable as had Byrd and Ruston against Winnfield teams in the 1930s
and 1940s. During that span those three schools have combined to post a 24-2-4 record against Winnfield.
The Tigers had already been soundly defeated by Byrd and Ruston in 1943 (their only losses of the season), so a win
over Jonesboro clearly be the highlight of the season.
The 1943 team established themselves as clearly one of the better teams of either the 1930s or 1940s when they posted
a 19-7 defeat of Jonesboro. The win was the third in a row for the 1943 squad, making that the longest
winning streak the program had seen since the 1939 season. With only two games remaining on the schedule the win clinched
a winning season for the 1943 squad, the first winning season of the 1940s and only the fourth winning season for the Winnfield
High School football program since the 1920s, with the other winning seasons coming during the 1933 season (6-3-0), the 1936
season (5-4-1) and the 1939 season (6-5-0).
Had the season ended right then anyone associated with Tiger football would have been completely satisfied, but the
Tigers still had two games to play and both of those would be formidable foes in Bastrop and Ville Platte.
The Tigers lost the first of those against Bastrop, but Winnfield
got their sixth win of the season in the finale when they took a 25-6 decision over Menard. The game was
a rematch, as the two had met in the second game of the season when Winnfield won by a 12-0 margin. In the second game Winnfield's
Edward Parker, John Jackson and Albert George combined to score four touchdowns that were spread
over all four quarters in the 25-6 win.
The Tigers finished the season
with overall record of 6-3-0. The .667 winning percentage was the highest winning percentage a Winnfield
team had attained in 10 years. At the time, the 1943 Tigers’ .667 winning percentage was the 9th
highest of all-time. The winning season also upped Coach Farr's record at Winnfield to
1944 (0-6-0) To say that 1944 was a rebuilding year would a gross understatement. There hasn’t been another
season in the history of Winnfield football when a team started the season with more inexperienced players. In
1944, the Tiger football program returned only three lettermen from the season before and only one of those was a senior.
The only Tiger team to rival that level of inexperience was the 1938 team, who only returned four lettermen.
In 1938, that inexperience equated to losses as the 1938 team went through the season without winning a game or scoring
a point. That’s what lack of senior players and experienced players will do to you. Returning lettermen included sophomore C. C. Carter
at right guard, senior Jack Gorham at right end and junior Buster Keaton at right tackle.
Besides those three, the team only had two other players with any playing experience to amount to anything. Those were seniors
Clarence Jenkins (T) and Bobby Berry (RB), both of whom had played in the backfield the previous
Winnfield’s backfield was decimated
by the graduation of the entire starting four, which included Edward Parker, John Glyn Jackson, Albert George
and Billy Jones. Other starters lost to graduation included Ray Shetley (G), Merle Henderson (T)
and A. L. Sikes (T). The United States was in the middle of World War II, so some boys
had dropped out of school and joined the armed forces. Nevertheless, Coach Farr had approximately
35 boys turn out for football. By
the time the regular season started, Coach Farr announced a starting lineup that consisted of four seniors,
three juniors and four sophomores. The starting backfield included sophomore Tracy Lee Harrel
(QB), senior Cecil Berry (FB), junior Jimmie Rainwater (HB) and senior Bill Glenn
(HB). Across the line, the Tiger starters were senior Jack Gorham (LE), senior Clarence
Jenkins (LT), sophomore H. C. Morehead (LG), sophomore C. C. Carter (C), junior
Joe Emerson (RG), junior Buster Keaton (RT) and junior Hunter Edgington (RE).
The Tigers faced an eight-game schedule, with games against
Menard, Ruston, Leesville, Arcadia, Neville, and Jonesboro to be played at home. Only two of the scheduled
games were away games, those being against Bolton and Menard. Of all of those opponents, Ruston would clearly
be the toughest team on the schedule, though virtually every team represented one of the best football programs in north Louisiana
at the time. Jonesboro, Arcadia, Ruston and Bolton had collectively played in six titles games up to that
One of the closest games
of the year came in the season-opener when Menard came to Winnfield with a bruising 190 lbs. halfback in Tom Matthews.
The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first half, but Menard got on the scoreboard in the third quarter after Matthews’
returned a punt to the Tiger 39 yard-line and then pulled in a pass on the next play and went the distance for the score.
Matthews also scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter to account for the final 13-0 margin.
The Tigers would jump from the frying pan into the fire the
following week when they entertained the Ruston Bearcats. History would show that the Bearcats would go
on to play for the 1944 Class A title. The Bearcats had already played three opponents and beaten all three.
Those results were enough to make any Winnfield player or fan swallow hard because Ruston had already defeated Byrd,
Arcadia and Haynesville.
The write-up in the Winnfield
paper summarized the game best when it opened its account of the game as follows, “A vastly superior Ruston Bearcat
team smothered the Winnfield High School Tigers on the local field last Friday night 33-6 in a display of power and speed
not seen by local fans in many years.”
In the game, C. C.
Carter got his first start at center, a position he would dominate throughout the remainder of his three years of
high school eligibility. One outcome of the one-sided game was the opportunity for Coach Farr
to play a lot of players, including many sophomores. Young backs who gained considerable playing time included
sophomores Jackie Givens, Ralph Sanders and senior John Stroud. Players
who got into the contest across the line included, freshman Elton Long; sophomores
Bobby Barnes and James Sikes; juniors Hunter Edgington and Melvin Berry;
and seniors Dick Watts and Richard Moon.
Things only got worse in the third week of the season when the
Tigers faced the Bolton Bears, a program Winnfield had not beaten since the 1920 season. Coming into the
1944 season the program had lost 12 straight games to the Bears since their last win over the Alexandria-based school.
In the end Bolton scored in every quarter in route to a 47-0 win. It would be the Tigers second
worst defeat of the entire decade and the 7th worst defeat in school history up to that point.
After three games, Winnfield’s record stood at 0-3-0. The
Tigers had given up 93 points and had scored but a single touchdown, that coming after intercepting a pass against Ruston
in the closing minutes of that game. The Tigers had already faced the meat of their schedule in Ruston
and Bolton, but since those power teams had beaten Winnfield so handily, no team on the remainder of the Tiger schedule would
be taken lightly.
The Tigers played their homecoming
game against the Arcadia Hornets in week four. Arcadia and Winnfield were about as evenly matched as two teams can be.
As a result, Winnfield fans enjoyed the most competitive game of the year.
The Hornets took the lead early, scoring a touchdown on a short pass late in the
opening quarter. That 6-0 lead held up until the third quarter when Winnfield’s Bill Glenn
connected with Cecil Berry on a long pass to tie the score at 6-all. Tracy
Lee Harrel got the call on the PAT try and successfully ran the ball over the goal line for the tie-breaking conversion,
giving Winnfield a 7-6 lead - the Tigers first lead of the year. The Tigers nursed that lead into the fourth
quarter Winnfield’s chances for their first win of the season seemed in doubt the whole quarter. Arcadia had the ball
for three possessions in the final quarter. The Hornets drove down inside the Winnfield 10 yd. line on
each of the first two possessions, only to be turned away by the Tiger defense. The Hornets regained possession
a third time with only minutes to play in the game, but that would be all they would need. Arcadia opened
up their offense and scored by way of a long pass, giving them a dramatic 12-7 comeback win. The Hornets
tacked on the extra point and walked away with a 13-7 win.
Cancellations during the second half of the season resulted in the Tigers facing only two more teams during the 1944
season. However, Winnfield’s chances against both of those opponents appeared to be good as one opponent
was Neville, who like Winnfield were winless on the season. The other opponent was Natchitoches who had
never beat Winnfield in sixteen tries.
Neville proved to be better
than their record indicated. The Tigers from Monroe posted four touchdowns on the board and added three
PATs to score 27 points. Meanwhile, Winnfield was held scoreless for the third time in the season.
By moving to 0-5-0 for the season, the 1944 Tigers became only
the second team in school history to lose their first five games of the season. Winnfield had one last
chance to avoid losing every game of the season but Natchitoches, Winnfield’s final opponent of the year, had little
trouble penetrating the Tiger defense. As a result, the Red Devils posted four touchdowns on the board and handed Winnfield
their fourth shutout in six games in taking a 27-0 win.
The 1944 team became the second Tiger team to finish the season with a winless record, going 0-6-0 for the season.
Unlike the other winless team (the 1938 squad) the 1944 team did score points, but not very many. Only
two touchdowns were scored by the Tigers, both on passes. The first was a 20-yard pass reception by Bill
Glenn on a ball thrown by James Sikes in the Ruston contest. The other pass was
caught by Cecil Berry on a pass thrown by Glenn during the Arcadia game.
Aside from having little offense, the Tiger defense proved
to be as porous as a screen porch during a summer thunderstorm. The Tiger defense gave up 159 points for
an average of 26.5 pts. per game. For the first time in the program’s history, the team went through
the season without posting a single shutout. Even the winless 1938 team shutout one opponent, that being
Natchitoches in a 0-0 tie.
The inexperience of the team proved to be an obstacle too large to overcome. The only game the Tigers
appeared to have any chance of winning was the Arcadia game, where the Tigers had a 7-6 lead until the closing minutes of
the game. The Tiger defense couldn’t hold the Hornets out of the end zone on their final drive of the night, however.
Winnfield lost every other game by at least a two-touchdown margin. The six losses were tied for third
most losses in a single-season. All of the thirteen teams that had lost five or more games in a season
had played since the 1929 season, a period covering only sixteen years. A
breakdown of those teams is as follows: 10 (1938), 7 (1941), 6 (1931, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1944) and 5 (1929, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1940, 1942).
1945 (4-6-0) Coach Farr had 33 boys report for fall practices prior to the 1945 season.
Virtually his entire projected starting unit had game experience, but they were young. Underclassmen
would dominate the backfield, because that backfield included juniors Tracy Lee Harrel (QB), Jackie
Givens (HB), Ralph Sanders (HB), H. C. Morehead and Eugene Temple
(FB). The only senior expected to see much duty in the backfield was Jimmie Rainwater
the front, Coach Farr only had two senior linemen, those being 235 lb. Buster Keaton (C)
and Joe Emerson (E). Both were experienced and good football players. However,
the remainder of the line would consist of underclassmen, including sophomore Elton Long (E/T) and juniors
Vernon Lawrence (T/E), C. C. Carter (G), James Sikes (G), Bobby
Barnes (T), and Douglas DeLoach (T). Another Tiger lineman who had game experience
was Hunter Edgington. He had missed the previous season because of an operation prior
to the season.
The 1945 season was a tale
of two seasons actually. In the first half of the team the team won four games and only lost one.
In three of those games the Tigers scored two touchdowns or less, but in the other two games the team scored more than
30 points. Second half of the season stands in marked contrast as in those five games the Tigers didn’t
score a since point, allowed 19 or more points to every opponent and thus lost all five games.
The season started with a 7-6 win over
Menard. The win broke two streaks. It ended the program’s ten-year string of opening-game
losses and put an end to the six game losing streak the program had carried over from the previous season. Nothing
bolsters morale like a win, so the team felt good about the young season. Scoring the lone touchdown for
Winnfield was Jackie Givens, who broke off tackle for 80 yards. The touchdown run was
the second longest touchdown run from scrimmage in school history up to that time.
That win led to another win in week two when Winnfield faced
St. Mary's of Natchitoches. Jackie Givens would have one of the best games a Tiger player had ever had up
to that point and one of the best game a Tiger player ever would have, for that matter. With only two minutes
gone off of the clock, Givens notched another 80 yd. touchdown run, enabling Winnfield to take an early 7-0
lead. Givens put the Tigers on the scoreboard again before the half was over when he scored
his second touchdown of the game on a short-yardage run. C. C. Carter tacked on his second PAT kick of the
game to increase Winnfield's lead to 14-0.
St. Mary's did get on the scoreboard just before the half ended to narrow the gap to 14-6, but Givens
got those points back when he fielded the second half kickoff on the 5 yd. line and raced 95 yards for his third touchdown
of the game. That return was 20 yards further than Frank Brewer's school record kickoff
return for a touchdown that was set during the 1928 season. Givens’ return for a touchdown was a rare
feat in those days. There are only four recorded kickoff returns for touchdowns prior to 1950. By contrast, in the 50-year
span from 1950 to 1999 there were 23 kickoff returns for a touchdown. Jackie Givens' 1945
return remains the longest return of them all, though Garlon Powell tied that feat with a 95-yard kickoff
return of his own during the 1982 season.
C. C. Carter converted on
his third PAT kick after Givens' score to increase Winnfield's lead to 21-6. The Tigers scored twice more
to take a 33-6 win and start the season with a 2-0-0 record, making that the first time a Tiger team had notched two wins
to begin a season since the 1928 team. The 33 pts. the Tigers posted against St. Mary's were the most points
a Tiger team had scored in a game during the 1940s. The Tigers possessed speed in the backfield and strength
up front. What else would a football team need?
The only loss in the first half of the season came in the third week when Oakdale took a 12-7 win over the Tigers.
The Tigers actually took a 7-0 lead in that contest but gave up 12 unanswered points in the loss.
After the first loss of the season the Tigers came back and
won consecutive games to push their record for the season to 4-1-0. The first of those two wins came against
Lisbon in a 14-0 victory. Lisbon was one of the stronger Class B teams in north Louisiana.
Scoring for Winnfield were Ralph Sanders and Jimmie Rainwater, while
the Tiger defense pitched their first shutout of the season.
What would be the final win of the season
came in week five and that win ironically came in game in which the Tigers scored more points than any other Tiger team had
in twelve seasons. All total the Tigers posted six touchdowns in route to a 40-7 defeat of Mansfield.
Everyone got in on the scoring as Eugene Temple carried for two touchdowns, Jackie Givens
ran for another and H. C. Morehead scored the final first half touchdown. Successful PATs
were made when Tracy Lee Harrel ran for one and C. C. Carter kicked two between the uprights.
After the Tigers jumped to a 27-0 halftime
lead, Harrel connected with Elton Long for another 6 points to up the Tiger lead to 33-0.
Morehead pushed over another touchdown late in the third quarter and Carter added
the extra point, giving Winnfield a 40-0 lead as the fourth quarter began. Coach Farr began to make wholesale
substitutions at that point and eventually played every man on the team. Winnfield was off to a 4-1-0 start
and confidence was running high, but that was all about to end. All the Tigers needed to do to get a winning
season was to win two of the remaining five games. Sometimes scoring points, let alone winning games, seems
swoon is not exactly unexplainable. For starters, the opposition in the second half of the season was markedly
superior that the teams the Tigers had faced to being the year. Also, injuries began to mount up as the Tigers went into the
sixth game of the year minus the following players: C. C. Carter (knee), Jo Jo Emerson
(sick), Jimmie Rainwater (knee) and Ralph Sanders (malaria).
Ruston was the defending Class A champions and they played like
the powerful program they were in defeating Winnfield 27-0 win. The following week Winnfield traveled to Bienville parish
to play the tough Arcadia Hornets who were destined to play for the Class B state title in 1945. One of the Hornets wins in
route to that championship game appearance was a 19-0 victory over the Tigers. The Winnfield paper reported
"one of the Hornet scores was made after the game was officially over, the timekeeper failing to halt play and take possession
of the ball after blowing his horn.” The paper also expressed the belief that "except for the
penalties against the Tigers, the game would probably have ended in a tie.” Sometimes the objectivity
of a sportswriter is clouded by undue loyalty.
losing and scoreless streak would continue for the next two weeks when the Tigers were defeated by Neville 20-0 and Jonesboro
33-0. What was becoming obvious was that the Tigers did not have the reserve strength that the stronger
opposition had. The Arcadia and Neville games were prime examples of that. In the Neville
game, the Tigers held Neville to a single first half touchdown, but Neville put the game out of reach in the second half with
touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarter to take a 20-0 win.
Since erupting for 40 points against Mansfield, the Tigers had
been shutout for twelve straight quarters. After moving to a 4-1-0 record, the Tigers had seen their record
fall to 4-4-0. The Tigers were in a position of having to win the final two games of the season to achieve
a winning record.
the next to last game the year the Tigers faced a Jonesboro squad who were headed for a Class A title game appearance against
Sulphur; a contest won by Jonesboro by a 14-13. Against Winnfield Jonesboro had the game on cruise control
as they easily defeated Winnfield in a 33-0 shelling in route to their 11-0-1 record.
Winnfield played the final game of the
year at home against the Natchitoches Red Devils. Every player suited up for the game except Tracy
Lee Harrel, who was still out with a banged-up knee. That still wouldn’t be enough to stop
the second-half slide to the season as Natchitoches scored four touchdowns and kept the Tigers out of the end zone to take
a 25-0 win. With the defeat, the Tigers ended the season with a 4-6-0 record.
The second half of the season had spoiled
what had appeared to be a banner season. The Tigers jumped out to a 4-1-0 record midway through the season.
They showed an offensive attack that was more potent that any Tiger team had shown in years. They
were a quick-strike bunch, logging several touchdowns from over 50 yards out. Through the first five games,
the team scored 101 points and was on track to become one of the highest scoring teams in school history. That
all halted in the second half of the season when they failed to score a single point, suffering through five straight shutouts.
The ironic aspect of the season was that the team broke a six-game losing streak for the program by winning the opening
game. But, the season ended with the team starting a new losing streak, this one covering five games.
Some of the blame can be laid on injuries
to key players. However, most of the blame must be given to the fact that Winnfield simply did not have
the reserve strength they needed to compete for four quarters against good teams. Winnfield's starters
were able to stay in every game for two quarters. However, it was second-half miscues during the last half
of the season, born out of fatigue and injury that lead to the Tigers downfall. The Tigers lost
Buster Keaton and Jo Jo Emerson to graduation. However, the Tigers were a young
team and many of the Tiger stars of 1945 returned the following year to wear the red and white.
1946 (Overall - 6-5-0; *District 1-3-0)
In reviewing the prospects for the 1946 team you started with the backfield,
a group composed of underclassmen returning for their senior season. That group included lettermen Tracy
Lee Harrel (QB), Ralph Sanders (HB), Jackie Givens (HB) and Eugene Temple
(FB)). In addition, Vernon McDonald, an underclassman, was expected to carry out reserve duties. The Tiger
front had a little less experience, but one of the returning lettermen was All-Star quality; that being senior C.
C. Carter. He would be shifted from his guard position to center. The only thing that had kept Carter
off the field the previous season was a knee injury he had sustained in practice. Otherwise, Carter virtually
never left the field once the game began. Other returning lettermen across the front included senior Vernon Lawrence
at tackle, junior Elton Long at one of the end positions and senior H. C. Morehead at a
tackle position. Coach Farr had moved Morehead, a back the season before, to the line in
spring practice, knowing he had a bevy of backs.
Farr had another 13 players that had seen action the year before but had not lettered. Most of those
were linemen, including seniors Douglas DeLoach, Bobby Barnes, Bobby Henderson and Warren Hendrix
at tackle; James Sikes and Gerald Neal at guard; Fred Golson and
Jack Gorham at ends. A pair of juniors would be expected to contribute in the line, those being Percy
Roberts at tackle and Curtis Rozelle at guard. Sophomore Jack Myrick
was slated to start at the other guard slot. Junior Billy Boyett would be called on to relieve C.
C. Carter at center. Coach Farr also had juniors Vernon Ford, Sherman Roberts and
Jimmie Holland in the backfield who would supply reserve relief. All total, 52 boys went out for football,
making the 1946 squad the largest number of schoolboys to ever go out for football at Winnfield up to that point. Some of
the boys on the Winnfield team had returned to high school after fulfilling military duties. Most notable were Jack
Gorham, a veteran of the naval service, and H. C. Morehead. Winnfield had senior leadership, talent,
and depth. That was a combination Winnfield hadn't had in a long time. With 21 seniors on the roster and
at least two-thirds of those being experienced players; the Tigers could conceivably have nine or more seniors on the field
at any given point in time.
After the school year ended in 1946 Kidd Farr resigned his head coaching duties to enter into private
business. His four-year record while at the helm of the Tiger program was 13-20-0 (.390). During the summer of 1946 L.
D. Baggett was hired to replace Farr. He came to Winnfield from Lake Charles where he had served
as the head coach of LaGrange High School for one season. Prior to that, Coach Baggett had served as an assistant
coach at LaGrange, serving under the legendary Frank Tritico. Coach Baggett was a graduate of Southwestern
Louisiana Institute and had five years of coaching experience prior to coming to Winnfield. That made him
the most experienced coach to take over the program since Alwin Stokes returned to the program in 1933.
Prior to Baggett, only Kidd Farr had more than two years of head-coaching experience
prior to coming to Winnfield. In his position, Baggett would not only serve Winnfield
as the head football coach, but would also assume the duties of track and basketball coach and athletic director.
Winnfield’s Athletic Field was
starting to show signs of age. The bleachers were around fifteen years old and were in need of repair. Prior to the season,
that repair work was done, prompting Coach Baggett to issue a statement to the fans that the stands were
in good shape for the home opener. "There is no danger of anyone breaking a leg or falling through the stands",
Coach Baggett said in an Enterprise interview.
Like the season before, the 1946 season could be divided into a successful first half and a disappointing second half.
The Tigers bolted to a 3-0-0 start to begin the season. The Tigers shutout all three of those opponents
and posted 70 points in the first three games to begin the year at a 23 ppg scoring clip.
In the season opener against Logansport Ralph Sanders, 145 lb. scat back "ran the Logansport
gridders ragged" reported the local paper, as he scored both touchdowns in Winnfield’s 13-0 win. The next week
Winnfield entertained Menard and had four different players score in that 25-0 win. Getting touchdowns
for Winnfield were Jack Gorham (12-yard pass from Tracy Lee Harrel), fullback Eugene
Temple (2 yard run), Jackie Givens (2 yard run) and Ralph Sanders (5 yard run).
Sanders’ touchdown came after Jackie Givens had intercepted
a Menard pass and ran nearly the length of the field before he lateraled to a nearby Ralph Sanders.
The win over Leesville in week three
gave the program the best start to a season since the 1928 season, a period covering eighteen years. Only six teams that had
played since the 1928 season had recorded three shutouts in a single season. The 1946
team had done that in consecutive weeks to open the season.
It was in week three when the Tigers really got untracked offensively as they posted 32 points on the board in the
32-0 win. Four different players scored the Tigers five touchdowns. Quarterback Tracy Lee Harrel
got one, as did halfback Ralph Sanders and fullback Eugene Temple. However, halfback Jackie
Givens was again the player of the game against Leesville. He scored on the second play of the
game on a 38-yard run and then took the second half kickoff at his own 15 yard-line and proceeded up the left side of the
playing field. Finding himself hemmed in there, he reversed field, got in the open and sprinted 85 yards for the score. Tracy
Lee Harrel added the extra point on a quarterback sneak right over C. C. Carter to pad the Tiger
lead at the time to 20-0 at the time.
there had been any question about who Winnfield's All-Time Best return man was, Givens erased all doubts
with that return. Prior to Givens’ time, only five kicks (three punts and two kickoffs) had ever been
returned for touchdowns in the 37-year history of the program. Givens’ kickoff return for a touchdown
against Leesville was his second career kick return for a touchdown, with the other coming the year before on a 95 yard kickoff
return against St. Mary’s. That made him the only player that had ever returned two or more kicks
for a touchdown.
the 3-0-0 start the Tigers then dropped a 6-0 decision to a strong Bastrop team, but they bounced back from that loss with
a 38-0 thrashing of Junction City, Arkansas to move their record to 4-1-0. In the Junction City game the
Tigers opened up a 25-0 halftime lead, with Temple and Sanders each scoring in the first
quarter. Quarterback Tracy Lee Harrell figured prominently in the second
quarter as he scored once on a sneak and latter passed to Long for the fourth touchdown of the half.
In a rare (for the time) display of passing
proficiency, Winnfield added two more touchdowns in the second half through the airways to give the team three passing touchdowns
in the game. Jackie Givens was the thrower on both of those touchdowns, while Elton Long caught
his second and third touchdown passes of the game in the second half.
Givens joined Harrel, Ray Jenkins
and Roger Smith as the only players to throw more than one touchdown pass in a single season.
However, Givens joined Jenkins and Smith as the only players to
throw multiple touchdown passes in a single game, with Jenkins throwing three against Oakdale in
1936 and Smith connecting on two against Natchitoches in 1941. However, the player of
the game was Elton Long who caught four passes, with three of those going for touchdowns.
That feat tied Long with David Harper for the most touchdown receptions in one game. Harper
had accomplished that during the 1936 Oakdale game. The only other player in Tiger football history up to that point who had
caught more than one touchdown pass in a single game was Edward Parker, who caught two against Natchitoches
during the 1941 season.
shutout win over Junction City gave the team four shutouts in the first five games. That was already more
shutouts than any team who had played since the 1920s, with the only team to exceed that being the 1933 team who ended the
year with five shutouts. Through five games the 1946 Tigers had only given up six points.
In week six Winnfield traveled to Mansfield. In the previous
four wins of the season the Tigers showed they could blow people away. Against Mansfield, 1946 Tigers showed
they had what it took to compete through a close contest. That, as much as anything, was a testimony to
the character of the 1946 team.
never had been a game played like the 1946 Mansfield game before in the history of Tiger football and there have been few
like this one played since. What made this game so unique is that there were a total of six lead changes
in the game.
Mansfield scored first to
take a 6-0 lead, but the Tigers took a 7-6 in the second quarter when Jackie Givens tied the score on a 1-yard
plunge and Eugene Temple followed with an extra point kick to give the Tigers
the lead. Mansfield scored just before the half to regain the lead at 12-7 but in the third quarter Ralph Sanders
broke off tackle from 41 yards away to give the Tigers a 13-12 lead, though the try for the extra point was no good.
Just as they had done after each of Winnfield’s
two touchdowns Mansfield came right back on their next possession and scored, this time in only four pass plays to move the
score to 18-13 in their favor. These Tigers had desire and that showed when they took the ball with just
over four minutes to go in the game. Needing a touchdown to regain the lead for the third time of the game,
the Tigers mounted a scoring drive that was characterized by sheer rushing power. Sanders got the call on
four of six plays, with Givens and Moorhead also assisting the Tigers to move to the Mansfield
4 yard-line. Sanders was again called on from there and he slashed over the goal line standing-up to give
the Tigers their third comeback of the game. Temple added the extra point to increase the Tiger lead to 20-18.
The game was only the sixth recorded
time that a Tiger team had given up double-digit figures in a win up to that point. Plus, the eighteen
points the Tigers allowed matched the most points a Tiger team had ever allowed in a win. That can be interpreted
two ways. Many times in the early years of the Tiger football program all a Tiger team had to do was score
10 or more points and a victory was assured because of the staunch defense played by the Tigers. On the other hand, during
most of the 1930s and 1940s, all an opponent had to do was score 10 or more points against a Tiger team because many
of the teams from that era simply could not put points on the board. Even more important, the game marked the first time a
Tiger team had mounted a comeback in a game to secure a win and in the Mansfield contest the Tigers had
to come-from-behind three times, the most by any Tiger team.
Winnfield moved to 5-1-0 on the season with the win. Only one other team in school history had reached the five win
mark in less time, that being the 1919 team who won their first five games. It took both the 1923 and 1928 six games to record
season then took a turn when the Tigers dropped two straight games and four of the final five games. Their
opponents in those four losses represented two of the strongest teams in north Louisiana in Ruston and
Arcadia, with the other two losses coming to nearby rivals Jonesboro and Natchitoches.
The Ruston game wasn’t even close as the Bearcats posted
a 19-0 decision. However, the next week against the undefeated, Class B Arcadia Hornets, the two teams
put on a defensive display whereby each team only scored one touchdown. The difference in the game was
that Arcadia converted their PAT try, while Winnfield didn’t. Winnfield’s lone touchdown came on a broken-play,
65-yard run by Ralph Sanders.
Tigers got their sixth and final win of the season against Neville. The 12-7 win was an important one because it was the annual
homecoming game and because it clinched a winning record as the team moved to 6-3-0 for the year with two games remaining.
The Enterprise reported the following, “after the ball game there was a dance sponsored by the Teentown.
Attending the dance were both Winnfield and Neville teenagers. Admission charge was twenty-five cents. The music was provided
by an orchestra from Natchitoches.” The next day, Coach Baggett escorted the football team to Baton
Rouge to watch the game between LSU and Alabama.
into the final two games the Tigers were banged up, with injuries to key players including the following: Doug DeLoach
(T), infected foot; Tracy Lee Harrel (QB), bruised hip; Jackie Givens (HB), strained back
and Curtis Rozelle (G), twisted knee.
The Tigers lost to Jonesboro by a 12-0 margin in the next to last game of the year. In the season
finale the Tigers faced a Natchitoches team who outweighed the Tigers by more than 30 pounds per man. Though Natchitoches
took an early 7-0 lead, Tracy Lee Harrel’s 3-yard run in the first quarter narrowed the margin to 7-6.
After that Natchitoches scored 19 unanswered points to take a 26-6 win. The Tigers ended
the season with a 6-5-0 record, with five of those wins coming at home. Given that the 1946 season would be one of only three
winning seasons in the 1940s, the season would have to be viewed as a success and the 1946 team would have to be considered
one of the best teams of the decade. The Tigers scored 152 points and displayed more offensive excitement than Winnfield fans
had seen in years. The 152 points represented only the sixth time a Tiger team had scored more than 150 pts. in a single season
and the first time since the 1933 season. The Tigers were 5-1-0 at the midpoint in the season. Then the Tigers went 1-4-0
to conclude the season. So, the season was a study in contrast, much like the season before when the Tigers jumped out to
a 4-1-0 record, only to lose and get shutout in the final five games of the season. Since the opponents in the final five
games of both seasons were the same (eg. Ruston, Arcadia, Neville, Jonesboro and Natchitoches) maybe that offered some explanation.
It still didn’t offer much relief to a less than desired ending to two otherwise good starts.
Ralph Sanders’ scored 50 points for the
year, to become only the fourth player in Tiger football history to get at least 50 points in a season. Henry Brewer
and Gabe Durham were the first to do that in 1928 season when they tallied 69 and 66 points respectively.
Then, two seasons later Hovey Harrell scored 54 points during the 1930 season to become the third
player to break the 50-point scoring barrier.
1947 (Overall - 3-6-1; *District - 0-3-1) Any coach will tell you that what he values the most are players with talent, commitment and experience.
It would be the latter (experience, or the lack thereof) that would be an issue in 1947. Twelve of the seventeen players that
lettered the season before were lost to graduation. That meant that the 1947 team would be build around only five lettermen.
Only one of letterman, in the person of Elton Long (E), had more than a year’s experience. The other
four lettermen only had one year of experience. Those included Curtis Rozelle (G), Percy
Roberts (T), Billy Boyette (C), and Sherman Roberts (QB). All were seniors.
To add to the uncertainty, Coach
L. D. Baggett resigned his coaching position after the 1946-1947 school year. Baggett accepted a
higher salaried position at another school and left after only serving one year. While at Winnfield, he inaugurated the first
boxing team, guided the football team to a third place finish in the Northeast district, and led the basketball team to several
tournament wins. His boxing team was crowned district champs and the softball team won the Winnfield Invitational tournament.
After a brief search, Winn Parish Superintendent
R. L. Terry announced the appointment of Emmett Cope as Athletic Director and head football
coach at Winnfield. Cope was a native of Haynesville, Louisiana, having played for Haynesville from 1932
to 1935. He later played football for Northwestern State College for four years. After graduating in 1939, Cope
became an assistant coach at Haynesville High School and then served an assistant coaching stint at Port Sulphur High School.
Cope’s first head coaching job was at Arcadia High School where he took over in 1945. While at Arcadia
he guided the Hornets to the state finals in 1945 and again fielded a very competitive team in 1946. The Cope-led
Hornets defeated Winnfield both of those seasons. His team defeated the Tigers in 1945 by a score of 19-0
and in 1946 by a score of 7-6. (Note: In 1952, Cope was named Superintendent of Schools in Bossier parish).
The hiring of Cope marked a trend that would bode well for the Tiger football program.
Cope marked the third consecutive coach to be hired who possessed both prior head-coaching experience
and coaching experience of three years or longer. From 1930 to 1942, the Winn Parish School Board hired
four coaches who not only had never held a head-coaching job, but had only been out of college for 12 months or less.
Since Cope came to Winnfield with seven years of coaching experience, he was the most experienced
coach to be hired at Winnfield since the legendary Alwin Stokes, who was rehired in 1933 after serving two
years as the Ferriday High School head coach and seven years as the Winnfield High School head coach.
Just prior to summer practice,
Bob Edwards was hired as an assistant coach to aid Coach Cope with football, as well as other sports
programs. Coach Edwards was assigned the duties of working primarily with the Tiger line, while Coach
Cope devoted most of his time to the backfield. Coach Edwards was a graduate of Louisiana College,
where he played in the backfield and handled kicking duties.
In the first week of summer practice, 36 candidates reported to practice. Practices sessions were held twice daily,
with the first session beginning at 8:00 a.m. and the evening session beginning at 3:00 p.m. The team was busy learning Coach
Cope’s plays, running through the conditioning drills and, for some, getting used to a sport they had never
played. Coach Cope pointed out in an interview for The Enterprise that “no miracles
can be expected” of the Tiger squad. That was due to the fact that almost all of the players have
had no previous football experience.
than announcing his starting unit prior to the opening game against Junction City, Coach Cope announced his
“two deep” chart. They were: Right
End: Elton Long (Sr.), Charles DeBusk (Sr.) Right Tackle: Durwood Swilley (Jr.), Gerald Page (Jr.), Right Guard: Curtis Rozelle (Sr.), Robert Nugent (Sr.), Center: Billy Boyett (Sr.), Jimmie Dickerson (Sr.),
Left Guard: Jack Myrick (Jr.), Bullard Jones (Sr.),
Left Tackle: Percy Roberts (Sr.), Ellard Brantley
(Soph.), Left End: Waymon Swilley (Jr.), Hal
Milkill (Sr.), Quarterback: Sherman Roberts (Sr.), Ardis
Sikes (Jr.), Halfback: John William Warner (Jr.), Wheelock
Cameron (Sr.), Halfback: Vernon
Ford (Sr.), Bobby Bass (Fr.), Fullback: Vernon
McDonald (Jr.), Thomas Dean (Sr.), Red Holliman (Sr.),
was true in recent seasons, the Tigers played their lightest opponents at the beginning of the season. As a result, Coach
Cope had a few games to give his players game experience before they faced the heart of their schedule.
Just like the two previous seasons, the team began the season with outstanding defense as they shut out the first four
opponents to open the season with a 3-0-1 record.
The first shutout victim was Junction City, Ark. In that contest the Tigers got touchdowns from
four different players in a 28-0 win. Scoring for Winnfield were Sherman Roberts (quarterback
sneak from the 1), Bobby Bass (9-yard run),
Vernon Ford (13 yard run) and John William Warner (1 yard run). Thomas
Dean added two extra points.
As impressive as the Tigers were against Junction City, they were even more impressive the second game of the year.
Their opponent was the Columbia Tide, who the Tigers put a 32-0 whipping on. Columbia never moved past the Winnfield
30 yard line. Sherman Roberts was the leading scorer in the game with two first quarter touchdowns.
The Tigers continued their early-season
onslaught with a 19-0 win over Leesville. John William Warner was easily the MVP of the game as he scored
all three of the Tiger touchdowns. His scoring runs measured 48, 13 and 8 yards. Durwood
Swilley converted on one PAT attempt. Like the previous two blowout wins Coach
Cope was able to play all 27 team members who had made the trip. With the win the Tigers moved to 3-0-0 for
Following the Leesville win, an article
appeared in the Winnfield News-American that was right on target with its assessment of the season thus far. Titled
“Shades of 1946", excerpts from the article point out that the Tiger fans need to be cautiously optimistic as it
said: "Remember last season? The Winnfield club, well spotted
with experienced players and strengthened with more good reserves than the present team has lettermen, sailed through the
first five games with the same sort of success...Then they stopped playing pushovers and started playing ball clubs, and won
two of the next six games. Having met no opposition to speak of...they were unprepared for strong, well-trained elevens. The
moral is that local fans right now know nothing about the strength of the Winnfield club even if it has made the first (three)
games look easy. The Bastrop game here next week will tell the tale, and Coaches Emmett Cope and Bob
Edwards have already forgotten the Junction City, Columbia (and Leesville) scores.” The article went on to remind the local
fans of the inexperience and small size of the current team, stating “Building a highly successful ball club from this
kind of squad will be a hard nut to crack.” In an attempt to remain somewhat positive, the article
concluded by adding “On the other hand, we would be the last to say the Tigers are necessarily going to bow to any or
all of the teams (remaining on the Tiger schedule). Coaches Cope and Edwards have done a
remarkable job to date with this material, and some of those games are several weeks off.”
How prophetic that article would be. In three games the Tigers
had already scored 77 points. They would not score that many points in the remaining seven games combined. In
fact, they would not score more than one touchdown in any of the remaining games. What made matters worse
was the fact that the Tiger defense, who opened the season with three shutouts would only hold two of the seven remaining
opponents to under 20 points.
The Tigers would play one more solid game, that coming against Bastrop in week four, before the fortunes of the program
took such a drastic change. Bastrop represented the Tigers first real test of the season and the first team the Tigers had
played that had a winning record.
The game turned out to be a defensive battle. The Ram offense moved inside the Winnfield 20 yard-line
on seven different occasions during the game and came away empty-handed all seven times. The Tiger defense clawed and dug
their way out of every hole they found themselves in. Even though Bastrop piled up 17 first downs and 248
yards rushing, none of that resulted in points. Four Bastrop fumbles inside the Tiger 20 yard-line ended
Ram drives. Meanwhile, the Bastrop defense was even more stifling. Winnfield gained but one first half first down and only
four in the second half. For the game Winnfield made only one penetration inside the Bastrop 30 yard-line where that drive
stalled. In the end, nothing was settled as the two teams battled to a 0-0 deadlock, which moved the Tiger record to 3-0-1
for the season.
The tie raised some
eyebrows. Winnfield had met a strong opponent and looked impressive - that is, defensively. After four games, the Tiger defense
had not allowed a single point, pitching four consecutive shutouts. The tie was the first non-win of the
season, but it also marked the first of seven straight “non-wins”, only the remaining six outcomes were losses.
The first of those losses came in week
five against the St. Johns Flyers, a parochial school from Shreveport. St. Johns outweighed the Tigers and threw a powerful
rushing attack at the Tiger defensive front. The St. Johns game would prove to be the turning point of
the season. The Tigers had no answer for the C.O. Brocato, the
Flyer’s fullback who scored all of his team’s touchdowns in a 19-0 win. Coach
Cope summed up the loss very succinctly when he told The Enterprise, “Their big good guys beat
our little good guys.”
loss to St. John’s was followed by consecutive losses to Mansfield and Ruston; each by greater margins of defeat.
The Wolverines from Mansfield took a 20-point win over the Tigers in a 26-6 victory, while Ruston defeated Winnfield
by a 26-pt. margin in a 33-7 win. That was the most points a Tiger team had given up in two years. Ruston
would use Winnfield as a mere tune-up for what would turn out to be their second state title, which they would later win against
loss dropped Winnfield’s overall record to 3-3-1, moving the program to the .500 level for the first time in two years.
With three games remaining on the Tiger schedule, the Tigers had to win two of them to end the season with a winning record.
That was a tall order and in fact the Tigers assured themselves of a losing season when they dropped the next two games. The
first of those came in week eight when Natchitoches handed the Tigers a 28-0 defeat in Winnfield’s homecoming game.
A strong Neville team then drubbed the injury-depleted Tigers 39-6 in the next to last game of the year. Neville’s big
guns bore down on the Tigers in full force. After it was over with, Winnfield gave up the second most points a Tiger team
had given up in the decade in the 39-6 loss. The Tiger’s only score of the night came with two minutes
to go in the game when freshman running back Bobby Bass took a handoff and ran straight up the middle of
the field 70 yards for a touchdown. Those yards accounted for all but 8 yards the Tigers gained all night.
The Tigers did not pick up a single first down, and wore out the foot of Swilley, their punter.
Winnfield closed out the season against
Jonesboro with only one thing on the line - bragging rights. The Tiger injury report was beginning to take half a column in
the local paper to fill up. The following is an excerpt of the pre-game report in the Winnfield News-American.
"(The) most serious injury on the Winnfield squad is Gerald Page, who was injured in practice the Monday
before the Jonesboro game. Still sore are Sherman Roberts, with an ailing hip;
John Warner, who has a bruised kidney; Jack Myrick, sore rib; Durwood Swilley,
injured leg and Percy Roberts, who is bruised “in general.”
Against Jonesboro, Winnfield squandered three scoring opportunities in the first half and gave up a touchdown to touchdown
to Jonesboro on a fake punt attempt. That would be all of the scoring in the game as Jonesboro hung on
for a 7-0 win.
The season came to
a merciful end with the loss to Jonesboro. Winnfield ended the season with six straight losses. Before the season, no one
expected much of the 1947 Tigers because they were just too young and too inexperienced. Hopes were raised, however, during
the first three weeks of the season when the Tigers showed a quick-strike offense and a staunch defense in rolling over three
straight opponents. In losing to Ruston, Natchitoches and Neville, the Tigers showed they weren’t
on par with the very “best” teams in north Louisiana. However, in beating three opponents,
tying Bastrop and losing to Jonesboro by a single touchdown, the Tigers showed that they were a good team, and a team capable
of beating some teams quite handily. Except for season-ending injuries to several key players, the Tigers could have competed
better in the final games. However, given the schedule they played and the youth of the Tigers, in the end, Winnfield fared
even better than what was originally expected. What was accomplished was that those young, inexperienced
players gained needed playing time. That would pay off the following season.
1948 (Overall - 9-2-0; *District 3-2-0)
W, 26- 7
W, 25- 7*
W, 34- 7
7- 0* (HC)
Cope was preaching doom and gloom during spring drills of 1948. You would have thought that he
had no talent returning. True, 16 seniors had graduated from his inaugural team at Winnfield, but if you
listened to him you would have thought the Tigers were in trouble. So concerned was Coach Cope
that he scrapped the “T” formation and inserted the Notre Dame Box formation because he didn’t think he
had enough material to effectively run the “T.” He also fretted about the schedule, noting
that the Tigers had to travel to Ruston and Jonesboro and entertained Natchitoches and Bastrop. Poor Coach Cope -
nobody should have bought into moaning and groaning.
The 1948 Tigers had the very thing the 1947 Tigers lacked - experienced players. The Tigers returned four backs that
had led the Tigers the season before. Those included seniors John William Warner, Vernon McDonald
and Ardis Sikes, as well as sophomore Bobby Bass. The backfield also had several
players who only needed playing time to development their obvious talent. Included in that bunch was sophomores
Charles Tomlinson and Dan Carr, senior Charles Stone and freshman Ed Roberts.
Simply put, the Tigers had depth, senior leadership and talent in the backfield.
As rich in talent as the Tiger backs were, Winnfield was even stronger across the front. Returning
across the line were the Swilley brothers, Waymon (E) and Durwood (T);
as well as Jack Myrick (G), and Ellard Brantley (T). All were seniors
and all were as good. Completing the line were senior Gerald Page (T), juniors
Sam Emerson (C), Charles Eyer (E), Harold Tarver (G), Sam Rosier (T) and Oliver Smart (T); as well
as sophomore Ben Singletary (E).
It wouldn’t have been overly optimistic to think
that Winnfield would field the best team that local fans had seen in the entire decade. The Tigers were
heading into a football season for the first time in a long time with reason for optimism, despite what Coach Cope
was telling everyone.
Prior to the season,
Bill Davis was employed as an assistant football and basketball coach. Like several other
Winnfield coaches that had previously been at Winnfield, Davis had a Haynesville connection, as he had played
quarterback for Haynesville during his high school career. Coach Davis had served as an assistant to Coach
Cope at Arcadia during the 1946-1947 season. He replaced Coach Edwards as the
line coach at Winnfield.
Winnfield opened the season at Natchitoches. Between 1923 and 1943, Winnfield and Natchitoches played
sixteen football games, with Natchitoches going winless in every one of those. In the years since then
Natchitoches had won four in a row - none of them close. There had been six ties in the series and the
games were usually exciting. However, the 1948 game would prove to be the best of them all.
In the 1948 game, Winnfield scored
two first half touchdowns and Natchitoches scored one to make the halftime score 14-7. For the Tigers,
a fumble recovery on Natchitoches’ opening possession at the Natchitoches 10 yard-line set up a 12 yard run by John
William Warner for the first score. Then, in the second quarter McDonald
carried the ball 42 yards on a broken field run for the second tally. Swilley booted the
extra point after each of those touchdowns. Sandwiched between those Winnfield scores was a 70-yard touchdown
pass by Natchitoches.
Natchitoches pulled to within one point of the Tigers when they scored on their opening possessions of the second half.
Though they had made up some ground on the Tigers, Natchitoches still trailed the Tigers 14-13 when they missed the PAT.
The Red Devil’s excitement would be dampened when Winnfield scored two plays later. John
William Warner got the score for the Tigers on a 43 yard run, which was followed by Durwood Swilley
PAT kick to make the Tiger lead 21-13. Since there were no two-point conversions in those days, Natchitoches
would have to score twice to beat Winnfield.
Natchitoches did make the game interesting in the fourth quarter when they closed the gap to 21-19; however their touchdown
came with less than two minutes to go in the game. Winnfield’s offense took care of that when they
ran out the clock.
With the win, the Tigers won the opening game of the season for the fourth straight year, after having lost ten consecutive
season-openers prior to that. What is most important, the Tigers had faced a quality opponent in the early
part of the season and came away with a win; something that had been missing during the most recent seasons. Coach
Cope was more than willing to heap praises all-around after the game, as was the local sportswriter.
The Winnfield News-American offered the following assessment, “Coaches Cope and Bill
Davis naturally were pleased with the performances of Vernon McDonald, John Warner, the Swilley
boys, Jack Myrick and one or two others who, as veterans, were expected to play leading roles in a rough
season opener. But it was the showing of the new men that found the favor of the coaches.”
The reporter went on, “For instance, take the fine defensive work of Charles Tomlinson, the
calling of signals by Bobby Bass, the offensive work by Charles Stone. There are three good
reasons why the Tigers were able to avenge the 28-0 licking handed them by Natchitoches last season. Then there are
Harold Tarver and James Chandler, the new guards; Gerald Page and Sammy
Emerson, who handled the center position, Frank King and Charles Eyer the ends,
and Dan Carr, the tailback. All saw a lot of action for comparative first-year men and
all did good jobs.”
The early success of the 1948 team was continued throughout the early part of the season as the Tigers swept through
the next four opponents for four more wins. In that stretch the team averaged close to 27 points per game;
never trailed in any of those contest and never allowed more than 14 points. All of that resulted in a 5-0 start to the 1948
season. Only one other team in the history of the program had opened the season with five consecutive wins, that being the
1919 team. What is equally impressive is the fact that the team scored 20 or more points in each of those five wins. That
was easily the most consistent scoring to begin any season up to that point, as only two other teams had scored 20 or more
points in consecutive games to begin a season. The first team to do that was the 1928 squad, who
scored 20 or more points in the first four games. The 1947 team was the only other team that had scored 20-plus points in
consecutive games to being the season, with that group topping the 20-point mark in the first two games of the season.
In short, with a 5-0-0 record, consistency on the offensive side of the ball and a solid enough defense, the 1948 squad was
quickly establishing themselves as not only the best Winnfield team of the 1940s, but arguably one of the best Winnfield teams
of all time.
The Tigers wins in
weeks two through four followed a similar pattern. That is, the Tigers jumped to commanding leads and then
turned the game over to reserves, thus allowing everybody on the team to gain playing experience.
Against Leesville in week two the Tigers took a 26-7 win
over Leesville. The highlight of the game came when John William Warner stepped in front
of a Leesville pass at the Tiger 20 and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. At the time, that was the second longest interception
return for a touchdown in school history, topped only by Homer McMurray's 85-yard return in the 1930 season.
As the century came to a close, only six other interception returns for a touchdown had covered more distance.
Winnfield was even more dominant
the next week against Many High School, a program that was in its third year of existence, with the 1948 meeting being the
inaugural meeting of the two schools. Against Many, Winnfield built a 36-0 lead through three quarters before the Tigers reserves
allowed two Many fourth-quarter touchdowns to account for the final 36-14 score. Winnfield built up a 20-0
halftime margin on a pair of Vernon McDonald runs (33 & 7-yards), a Bobby Bass run (22
yards) and two Durwood Swilley PAT kicks.
It was the opening minutes of the third quarter that was a testimony to the strength of the Tiger defense.
After Winnfield held Many on their opening possession of the half, the Tiger defense forced a punt from the end zone
and scored a safety when a bad snap from center sailed out of the end zone. On the ensuing free kick, Bobby Bass
recorded the Tigers fourth touchdown of the game on a 57 yard run. Then, on Many’s first play from
scrimmage on their next series Jack Myrick recovered a Many fumble and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
All total the Tigers had scored 16 points without taking a snap from center in the first five minutes of the third
quarter. That moved the scored to 36-0 Winnfield, after which the reserves came in. With the win, the Tigers
improved their record to 3-0-0 for the season.
Injuries would be a concern as the Tigers prepared to play Winnsboro in the fourth game of the year. The
most notable starters sidelined were wingback Bobby Bass and right end Charles Eyer. Coach
Cope moved John William Warner, regular blocking back, to Bass’s wingback
position, and Ardis Sikes was moved into Warner’s position. Frank
King got the starting assignment at Eyer’s right end post.
The personnel changes did not seem to slow the Tigers down a
bit as Charles Stone and Vernon McDonald got their usual touchdowns and
up-until-then reserve sophomore back Dan Carr got two touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a
25-7 win over Many.
The Tigers fifth win of the season would come against Mansfield in a contest that was much closer than any game the
Tigers had played up to that point in the season. The Mansfield program had offered Winnfield a unique challenge in recent
years because they relied more on their passing game than any other opponent the Tigers faced.
On Mansfield’s first punt
of the night Vernon McDonald fielded the ball on his own 10-yard line and headed for the sidelines where
he was hemmed in. He then reversed field, turned the corner and ran 90 yards for the Tigers first score
of the game. McDonald's punt return broke, by 3 yards, Edward Parker’s five year old
school record for the longest punt return for a touchdown. Only one other punt return has covered more
ground since then, that being a 91-yarder by Wayne Wood in 1967 season.
McDonald scored all of the other Tiger touchdowns for the night as well when he added a five-yard
run in the second quarter and 10-yard run third. Swilley booted two of three extra points.
Mansfield was no push over. The
Wolverines scored just before the half to make it a 13-7 game. After Winnfield scored in the third quarter
to go up 20-7, Mansfield followed with a touchdown-producing drive to close the gap to 20-14, but that is where score stood
for the remainder of the game.
Enthusiasm for high school football had reached a fever pitch by the sixth game of the season. That
was obviously due to the Tigers 5-0-0 start to the season. However, the biggest reason for the attention
given to high school football during the second week of October, 1948 was the fact that the Tigers faced their toughest opponent
of the year - the defending Class A Champion Ruston Bearcats.
Ruston had established itself as one of the top high school programs in the state during the 1940s, having already
made three appearances in a title game during the decade. Winnfield had played Ruston every year in the 1940s and had a 0-6-1
record against the Bearcats during that time. Winnfield and Ruston had played fourteen consecutive years prior to the 1948
season. During that time, the only game Winnfield had won was the 13-6 win during the 1935 season. So, Winnfield had gone
twelve consecutive games without defeating Ruston. The overall series record was decidedly lopsided in Ruston’s favor,
standing at 9-1-3 in favor of Ruston.
Winnfield’s appeared to have the best chance of beating Ruston they had had in years coming into the 1948 game.
Though the Bearcats were loaded as usual, their starting fullback was sidelined with an injury. Meanwhile,
the Tigers were at full strength, what with the return of Bobby Bass to the lineup. Both
teams ran out of the Notre Dame Box formation. With the two teams matching up almost evenly in size, the game was predicted
to be the closest game in years. The local newspaper reported, “Fans can get their tickets prior to the game at any
of the following merchants: Houston Gates, Phoenix Drug Store, Dixie Drugs, Jitney Jungle, A. T.
Drewett Service Station, and Milam’s Department Store.”
An overflow crowd, which the papers called “the
largest to ever see a football game in Winnfield” turned out for the battle in Winnfield’s back yard.
By defeating Ruston, the Tigers would clinch a winning season, making them one of only three teams in the 1940s to
post a winning record.
For the Tigers it was a reversal of form against Ruston as the Bearcats mounted a 13-0 halftime lead and expanded that
to 26-0 in the second half before the Tigers even got on the scoreboard. Though the Tigers were averaging just over four touchdowns
per game, they only made four first downs against Ruston in the first half. Winnfield averted
a shutout when Bobby Bass returned the kickoff following the fourth Ruston touchdown to near midfield to
set up the Tigers lone scoring drive. The tally was made on a 2-yard run by McDonald, making the final score
26-6. The final statistics showed that Ruston had
piled up 267 yards rushing to Winnfield’s 131 yards. Almost all of Winnfield’s yards came in
two drives. In a speech to the Rotary Club, Coach Cope gave the following explanation,
“Ruston just played inspired football. We scouted them all season and they (have) played a much poorer brand of ball
than they did Friday night.” The one thing that Coach Cope said he was most proud of was that “(the)
team never quit fighting.”
After the loss to Ruston the Tigers reeled off three straight wins against Logansport, Oil City and Jonesboro to improve
the team’s record to 8-1-0. Long touchdown runs by Winnfield characterized the Logansport game. The first came when
Logansport took their first possession of the night to the Winnfield 5 yard-line. What followed, however,
was one of the longest Tiger touchdowns in school history. When Logansport attempted to use the airways
to get into the end zone John William Warner stepped in front of the pass and returned it 95 yards for the
first Winnfield score. That was the longest interception return for a touchdown up to that point and even by the end of the
century remained the fourth longest interception return for a score. Earlier in the season, Warner
had returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown, which was, at the time, the second longest interception return for
a touchdown. So, with Warner's 95-yard return against Logansport, he had the first and third longest interception
returns for touchdowns in school history.
Winnfield scored two more first half touchdowns on runs by Dan Carr and Oliver Smart
to give the Tigers a 21-0 halftime lead. Then, on Winnfield's first possession of the second half, Dan
Carr broke through the center of the line, got into the clear and ran 85 yards for a long score of his own.
His run was the second longest rushing touchdown in school history up to that point and the fifth longest touchdown
of any kind. Carr added touchdown runs of 9 and 1 yards in the second half to end the
night with three rushing touchdowns. That marked only the tenth time a Winnfield back had rushed for three or more touchdowns
in a single game and only the second time that had occurred in the 1940s. John William Warner
had accomplished the same feat the season before when he rushed for three touchdowns against Leesville.
Oil City gave Winnfield a surprisingly tough game the
next week. When the two teams broke for halftime Winnfield was ahead of Oil City by a 20-13 margin, but
that margin was built after Oil City had taken an early 7-0 lead. Oil City tied the score up with a touchdown
on their opening possession of the second half, but Winnfield moved ahead to stay at the end of the third quarter when Carr
tossed a 23-yard scoring strike to Bobby Bass to make the score 27-20, with Swilley kicking
his third PAT of the night.
The Winnfield defense showed up in the fourth quarter and did not let Oil City back into the end zone. Meanwhile, the
Tigers broke the game open in the final quarter by posting two touchdowns. The final two scores were made
on a 9-yard run by Warner and a seven-yard Charles Stone run. Swilley
converted on one of those two PATs to give Winnfield a 40-20 win. For the night, Winnfield's offense racked
up 15 first downs and connected on six of eleven passes, with Carr completing six of ten passes.
Winnfield's seventh win of the
year gave the program the most wins in twenty years. The 40 points the Tigers amassed against Oil City, pushed their season
scoring total to 208 points, an average of 26 pts. per game. Only four other Tiger teams had scored more than 200 points in
a single season, with all of those coming in either the 1910s or 1920s, including the 1919, 1923, 1927 and 1928.
The Tigers would need no extra
incentive to get ready for their ninth opponent of the season because that opponent was the Jonesboro Tigers. When Jonesboro
came to town they were seeking to salvage an otherwise unspectacular season. They were 3-3 for the season and looking for
a big win to hang the season on. By 1948, Jonesboro and Winnfield had faced each other 18 times, with Jonesboro holding a
10-6-2 record in the series. If all of that weren't enough to generate enthusiasm for the game, the 1948 match up would also
be Winnfield's homecoming game.
There was every reason to think that the Winnfield - Jonesboro game would be high scoring affair. Winnfield
had scored 20 or more points against every opponent except Ruston. Those seven 20-plus point games was the highest total recorded
by any Tiger team up to that point. The 1948 Tigers had gone over the 200-point barrier by consistently scoring touchdowns
throughout each of the games they had played.
Winnfield's defense had given up 114 pts. during the season and had not shutout
a single opponent, but Coach Cope had played a lot of reserves once the Tigers were clearly in the lead and
many of those points came against the Tiger reserves. The Tigers had not been involved in a game during the season when at
least 30 combined points were scored by both teams. In fact, the average combined points scored in a Tiger game up to that
point of the season was just over 40.
The 1948 Winnfield - Jonesboro game broke the pattern of high scoring games that Winnfield had played in up to that
point in the season. In no game had the term "defensive struggle" applied, but that is
what the Jonesboro game was as the first half ended with neither team scoring.
The first half was a battle for
field position and ended with neither team scoring. Swilley's punts repeatedly got the
Tigers out of a hole, but the Jonesboro punter proved to be just as proficient.
Winnfield broke the scoreless tie in the third quarter
on a spectacular play. On the Tigers second possession of the half, Carr fielded a Jonesboro
punt at the Tiger 31 yard-line and returned it twelve yards to the 43. Three plays later Carr passed to Eyer
who was standing right on the first down line. After making the catch, Eyer turned and lateraled
to John William Warner who then ran 47 yards for a touchdown. Durwood "Big
Automatic" Swilley added the PAT to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
The Winnfield defense preserved the win the rest of the
way as they kept Jonesboro on their end of the playing field throughout the remainder of the game. Winnfield did drive down
to the Jonesboro 10 yard-line in the waning minute of the game, but the final whistle sounded before Winnfield could push
the ball over. Winnfield garnered their first shutout of the season by taking a hard-fought 7-0 win over
With the win, Winnfield
moved to 8-1-0 on the year and 2-1-0 in district competition, with the lone loss being to district foe Ruston. The remaining
two games against Bastrop and Jena would be district games. Wins in both of those games would give Winnfield a mathematical
chance of taking the district crown and a chance to play in the playoffs, something no other Winnfield team had ever done.
Winnfield took on Bastrop on the Rams
home field. Bastrop had tasted defeat three times during the season, with those coming against Byrd, Springhill and Ruston.
The loss to Ruston was by a 15-0 margin. Bastrop’s strength was shown in impressive wins over Home (34-0) and Jonesboro
The game was close in the first half, but it was apparent that Winnfield was going to have a hard time scoring against
Bastrop. That is why the 12-0 lead that Bastrop mounted in the first half was much larger that it might seem. After a scoreless
third quarter, the Rams blew the game open by scoring three times in the fourth, with the first touchdown set up by a blocked
punt and the second coming after an interception. The third touchdown came by way of a 50 yard run.
In the end, Bastrop blew Winnfield away with a 32-0 trouncing, being the only team to shutout the Tigers during the
season and scoring more points against the Tigers than any other opponent would.
The loss eliminated the Tigers from playoff consideration
and broke a three-way tie for second place in the northeast district Class A standing. With the win, Bastrop
wrapped up second place, with Ruston taking the district honors.
Winnfield ended the season on the road against Jena, a school that had resumed high school football after several years
of giving up the sport. With an 8-2-0 record, the Tigers still had a chance to tie the school record for most wins for the
season; so, there was plenty to play for in the game.
The Jena game was reminiscent of most of the previous wins of the season. The Tigers mounted a 14-0
halftime lead, expanded that to 27-0 in the third quarter and then emptied the bench in the fourth. Dan Carr
opened the scoring on a 15 yard run in the first quarter and then passed to Warner from 30 yards out in the
second quarter to account for the other first half touchdown. The two third quarter touchdowns came when Waymon Swilley
gathered in a Carr pass in the end zone and when Charles Stone rammed in from the 1.
Durwood "Big Automatic" Swilley followed his brother’s TD with his third and final
PAT of the night. Jena did get on the scoreboard to close out all scoring for the night late in the third quarter.
In the end, the Tigers beat Jena in their inaugural meeting by a score of 27-7.
The 1948 Tigers ended the season
with a 9-2-0 record. That win total matched the 1923 and 1928 Winnfield teams for the most wins in a single season. The Tigers
.818 winning percentage was the fifth best of all time up to that point, topped only by the undefeated
1918 and 1919 teams who each had a 1.000 winning percentage, and the 1923 and 1928 teams who each posted .900 winning percentages.
The Tigers piled up 242 points in their eleven games. The only Winnfield team that had scored more points was the 1928 squad,
who had scored an incredible 385 points in only ten games.
The season was clearly the best of the decade. In fact, so good were the 1948 Tigers that they could arguably lay claim
to having fielded the best team in either the 1930s or 1940s. The primary reason for the Tiger success what that they had
so many scoring threats. Prior to the 1948 season, most Winnfield teams had relied on one or two players
for most of their scoring. In fact, only two Winnfield teams had ever had two or more players score 30 or more points in a
single season. In the record setting 1928 season, four players scored 30 or more points; those being Frank Brewer
(69), Gabe Durham (66), Kenneth Teegarden (43) and Teal Calhoun (42). In
1930, Hovey Harrell (54) and Dudley Shell (36) combined to score 30 or more points in a
single season. In comparison, the 1948 team had four players tally 30 or more points, with Vernon
McDonald leading the way with 50 points, followed by Dan Carr (48), John William Warner
(42) and Charles Stone (30).
No other Winnfield team had possessed as much breakaway speed in so many players. Winnfield scored 9 touchdowns that
covered 40 yards or more. In many of Winnfield's previous seasons, there had not been a single touchdown
of that length. Vernon McDonald scored two of those touchdowns on runs of 42 and 40 yards and he also added
a school-record 90-yard punt return. John William Warner ran back two interceptions for scores, one from
80 yards out and the other from 95 yards. Dan Carr added touchdown runs on rushes of 85
and 47 yards, while Charles Stone got in on the long distance scoring parade by logging a 42-yard run from
scrimmage. Bobby Bass, though injured in the early part of the season, added a 57-yard
But the Winnfield squad wasn't all speed. The Tiger line was dotted with All-Stars who opened huge holes for those
speedy backs. Junior Sam Emerson stepped in at center in the early part of the season and would claim that
spot the remaining two years of his high school eligibility. The guard position was held down by underclassmen James
Melton, Harold Tarver and James Chandler, who would hold down that position for two years. Before
he was injured, Gerald Page provided strong blocking for the Tigers at the center position. However, the
Tigers were strongest across the exterior of the line. Ellard Brantley and Sam
Rosier were finishing their second year as Tiger tackles, with Brantley playing like a seasoned
veteran. Durwood Swilley manned the important right tackle position and proved to be one of the best at that
position who had ever played on a Winnfield squad. Here's what the Shreveport Times had to say
about Winnfield football and Swilley, "Football has been sleeping at Winnfield, but a well proportioned
190-pound tackle named Durwood Swilley has awakened it. A wonderful blocker, the much sought after Winnfield
captain can smell a play a mile away. Well, at least across the scrimmage line. Besides all his other abilities, Durwood
does the team punting and place kicking. He kicked 22 of 27 extra points during the season.” That
was the most PAT kicks ever attempted or made in a single season. He also set single game records by booting
four PAT’s in both the Logansport and Oil City games. He was joined across the way by his brother, Waymon,
who played left end, and was so thought of by his teammates that he was named Co-Captain of the Tigers, along with his brother,
Durwood. Two other players, junior Charles Eyer and sophomore Ben
Singletary, manned the other end position and would later go on to have stellar careers at Winnfield. The formula
for the success of the 1948 team was simple - they had no weaknesses in their starting unit.
The 1919 team had set a standard for
all Winnfield teams to follow by going undefeated and winning a state title. Before the century would end, there would be
other teams that local fans would claim to be "the best" that Winnfield ever had. At no time would the 1948 team
be brought up in a debate over which team was the best ever. However, when you consider the teams who played
in the first half of the century, you certainly have to consider the 1948 squad to be a team that capitalized on its talent
and had one of the best seasons any Winnfield team ever had, at any time in Winnfield's first century of football.
Post Season Honors: Durwood Swilley, Tackle - All-District, All-North Louisiana, All-State; Waymon Swilley, End-All-District Second Team, HM All-North La, HM
All-State; John William Warner,
QB-All-District Second Team, HM All-North La, HM All-State; Ellard Brantley, Tackle-All-District Third Team, HM All-North La, HM All State; Sam Emerson, Center-All-North Louisiana Honorable Mention; James Chandler, Guard-All-North Louisiana Honorable
Mention; Dan Carr, HB- All-North
Louisiana Honorable Mention; Vernon McDonald, FB-All-North Louisiana Honorable Mention
1949 (Overall - 2-6-2; *District - 0-4-2) Coach Cope had been downright pessimistic heading into the 1948 season.
Before the previous season began you would have thought Coach Cope had absolutely no talent to work
with. All Coach Cope did was guide the team to the schools best record in 20 years. That
is why people took notice when Coach Cope reported in a pre-season interview with The Enterprise
that “prospects for the 1949 season are bright”. He did have reason for optimism.
He returned eleven of the eighteen lettermen from the 1948 squad. Seven of the eleven returning
lettermen had held down starting positions the season before.
What made Coach Cope’s returning group so appealing was that they held down positions throughout
the starting lineup and seven of the eleven returning lettermen had two years of playing experience. He
had three returning ends in senior Charles Eyer, junior Ben Singletary and
sophomore Frank King. Ellard Brantley would resume his place at one of the tackle positions,
a position he had manned for two years. The Tigers were deep in the interior of the line with juniors James Chandler
and James Melton, along with senior Harold Tarver having a combined five years
of experience at the guard position. At center, the team had seniors in Sam Emerson and Charles Bounds.
The Tigers had four quality backs that had lettered the season before to go along with their seasoned line. Those included
senior Oliver Smart (FB) and juniors Dan Carr (HB), Bobby Bass (HB)
and Charles Tomlinson (FB).
In addition to those returning lettermen, Coach Cope had a slew of linemen that had all gained playing
experience the year before, including seniors Max Mercer (E) and Clay Brock
(C), juniors Bob Dickerson (G) and Bob Gassoitt (T), and sophomores Miles Hambleton
(T), Gene Porter (T), and William Cockerham (C). Rounding out the backfield
was sophomore Ed Roberts, who had played a relief role the year before in the backfield, and Gerald
Carter, a senior running back.
Winnfield was a part of a new six-team northeast Louisiana Class A district that also included Winnsboro, Ruston, Jena,
Jonesboro, Bastrop and Lake Providence. The remaining non-district teams on Winnfield’s schedule included Natchitoches,
Vivian, Leesville and Mansfield. Winnfield hired a new assistant coach to replace Bill Davis who
left to attend graduate school at L.S.U. Rudolph “Red” Smith, a new graduate
of Louisiana Tech, was hired to coach the line, as well as serve as head basketball coach. Coach
Smith had been a lineman for the Bulldogs and was a native of Bryceland.
A campaign to sell season tickets for the six home
games was launched by the Winnfield Athletic Association. Season tickets for adults sold for $4.00, while
individual game tickets went for 90 cents for adults and 35 cents for children. The Association also voted to provide transportation
to members of the football team who had difficulty getting home after football practice each afternoon. A schedule was worked
out for the participating members to rotate transportation duties.
With pre-season expectations running high, the stage seemed
to be set for another banner season. The one thing that coaches and true fans fear, however, is the ever-present prospect
of injuries. What with the nature of the game, players are subject to nagging injuries or, heaven forbid,
season-ending injuries. Before the 1949 season concluded, the team would be one of the most snake-bitten
teams in school history when it came to injuries. That would be the biggest challenge the 1949 squad had
Coach Cope had
to adjust his starting unit before the season even started. Prior to the opening game against Natchitoches no less than four
players were listed as less than 100%, with one player listed as out for the season. Ends Max Mercer and
Ben Singletary were nursing boils, as was Oliver Smart in the backfield. Larry Kennedy,
a blocking back, sustained a back injury that would sideline him for the season.
Coach Cope ran his boys from the Notre Dame Box formation, the
same system he had used the year before. Calling signals for the Tigers from his halfback position was
Bobby Bass. Coach Cope moved James Melton from a tackle position to the quarterback, or blocking
back position. Rounding out the starting lineup prior to the first game was Dan Carr at
halfback and Charles Tomlinson at fullback. Across the line, Coach Cope
started Ben Singletary (LE), Ellard Brantley (LT), James Chandler (LG)
and Sam Emerson (C). On the right side of the line were Harold Tarver
(RG), Bobby Gassiott (RT) and Charles Eyer (RE).
Winnfield opened the season with a 13-7 win over Natchitoches.
The win was the program’s second in a row over Natchitoches and the fifth straight win in a season-opener. Coach
Cope had high expectations heading into the season and the win in the opening game seemed to show what Coach Cope
had been saying. However, the fortunes of the program were about to make an abrupt turn in the form of
three straight losses. Much of the blame for that can be laid on injuries that began during the Natchitoches game and only
seemed to mount higher each week thereafter. Heading into the second game of the season several Tigers were banged up, including
starters Charles Tomlinson. Sam Emerson and Ellard Brantley.
The Tigers could not hold or add to a 6-0 lead in the second game of the
season against Vivian, who claimed a 13-6 win. In the game, James Chandler, Tiger starting guard, suffered
a dislocated elbow. Also injured was Henry Thomas, who had replaced the injured Charles
Tomlinson at the fullback position. The injury list also included Max Mercer (E), knee and Sam
Emerson (C). Ellard Brantley (T), Gene Porter (T), Oliver
Smart (T) and Clay Brock (C) were all listed as “probable” for the next game.
The lack of firepower showed in a 13-6 loss to Leesville,
which dropped the Tigers record to 1-2-0 for the season. With each passing week it was clear that the Tigers
could not generate any offensive and when you can’t score you had better have a good defense. The
Tiger defense had only allowed two touchdowns each in their two losses, but when your offense only gets one touchdown a game,
that was two touchdowns too many.
Though injuries during the young 1949 season had already sidelined three Winnfield backs, the Tigers were taking the
biggest hit across the offensive line. Crippling injuries had already plagued every starting linemen; with
Sam Emerson (C) and James Chandler (G) already sitting out entire games and Ellard
Brantley (T), Ben Singletary (E) and Max Mercer (E) playing but being slowed up
by injuries. Bobby Bass and Dan Carr simply didn’t have the same
holes they had run through the season before and it showed in the lack of point production. The third loss in the three-loss stretch came in a 20-0 defeat to Winnsboro. The
Tigers only gained two first downs on the night and were out gained by Winnsboro by a wide margin.
The second, and what would be the only other win of the
1949 season came against Mansfield in week five. As usual, the Wolverines would bring a strong passing attack with them. Winnfield
regained the services of all but two starters for the Mansfield game and it showed. The only players missing
from the starting lineup due to injuries were James Chandler (G) and Max Mercer.
The Tiger defense pitched a shutout against Mansfield
(the first of the year) and the Tigers got two touchdowns to take a 14-0 win. The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the first
quarter when Dan Carr’s five-yard run culminated a six play, 50-yard drive. Ed
Roberts’ PAT made the score 7-0. The Tigers held onto that shaky lead until the fourth quarter
when the Tigers scored after Mansfield was forced to punt from near their own goal line. The punt was shanked
off the side of the Mansfield punters foot and rolled out of bounds at the Wolverine 10 yard-line. Bobby
Bass scored on the next play for the final Tiger touchdown. Robert’s PAT
made the score 14-0. With the win, Winnfield improved to 2-3-0 on the season
Winnfield’s injury jinx continued when Sam Emerson
broke his nose against Mansfield. The injury didn’t keep Emerson out of the game
the next week, however. With the Ruston Bearcats looming as the Tigers next opponent, they would need all
of their players, and that is what they got. Only Max Mercer remained on the injury list
going into the Ruston game.
Ruston was in
the midst of an uncharacteristic down-year. For the first time ever, the Bearcats came into the Winnfield
contest with a worse won/loss record than Winnfield. Ruston had only won one game, that being against Arcadia.
Winnfield didn’t bother to focus too much on Ruston’s won/loss record. The Tigers knew
that no Winnfield team had beaten a Ruston team in the 1940s, going 0-8-1 during the period. In fact, you
would have had to go all the way back to the 1935 season to find a Tiger win.
Against Winnfield, Ruston scored early and scored often.
The game was essentially over by the end of the opening quarter. In fact, the Bearcats rolled up a 32-0
margin before the Tigers got their only score of the night, that coming on an eight-yard pass play from Bobby Bass
to Dan Carr, after which Ed Roberts’ extra point attempt was no good.
The Tigers took a beating on the scoreboard and a beating physically. Sam Emerson
suffered a severely bruised hip during the Ruston game and was held out of the Jena game the following week. Gene
William Porter, Tiger tackle, broke his finger against Ruston and saw limited action the following week.
The Tigers were 2-4-0 on the season and 0-2-0 in district
play coming into the seventh game of the year against Jena. Jena, on the other hand, boasted a record of
5-1-1 on the season. Their lone loss came at the hands of Winnsboro by a score of 19-13. However,
all of their wins were by wide margins, the most recent being a 45-0 thrashing of Many. The game was Winnfield’s
1949 homecoming game. As it turned out, the Tigers
put on a brave performance. Winnfield took an early 7-0 lead, however Dan Carr
hurt his hip in the first half and saw limited duty the remainder of the game. When he was in, the offense
had limited success - when he was out, the offense sputtered. He was the one offensive back that the Tigers
relied on for both his running and passing ability.
went down Jena got two touchdowns to take a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter. At that point Coach Cope
inserted Carr back into the game and the results were seen immediately. He guided the
team down the field, with the key play of the drive being a 35-yard Carr to Charles Eyer
pass. Carr pushed the ball in the end zone from 5-yards out. The try for the PAT was no
good, leaving the game knotted at 13-13, which is where it stayed the rest of the way.
Winnfield faced Jonesboro in an away game for the eighth
game of the year. As was becoming customary, the weekly injury list, published in the Enterprise’s
pre-game write-up, would tell which players would not see action this week. Dan Carr
was hobbled by an ankle injury and was listed as “probable.” He would play but he would be
slowed. His backfield running mate, Bobby Bass, continued to be plagued by an injury and
was listed as “doubtful” for the Jonesboro game. Gene Porter had run into
a poison ivy vine, of all things, the week before the Jonesboro game and was also nursing a broken finger. He was listed as
“doubtful” as a result. Ben Singletary was slowed with boils and Sam
Emerson’s bruised hip would likely keep him out of the Jonesboro game.
Jonesboro had their usual lofty credentials coming into the Winnfield game. The game looked like
a mismatch and it was. The absence of Dan Carr and Ben Singletary crippled
the Tigers offensive attack but it would have taken much more than those two to stand up to Jonesboro. The
Jackson parish Tigers scored 13 points in the first quarter, 6 in the third and 18 in the final quarter to take a 37-0 win.
It was the worst margin of defeat the Tiger program had suffered in over five years. The shutout loss dropped the Tigers
to 2-5-1 and 0-3-1 in district play. With only two games to go in the season, the loss also ended any hopes
the Tigers had of posting a winning record for the season
It was more of the same the next week when the Bastrop Rams posted a 26-0 win over the hobbled Tiger team.
Winnfield played much better than was expected against Bastrop. The Ram’s slim 6-0 lead at
halftime is a testimony to how close the first half was. But, Bastrop scored the first two times they had the ball in the
second half to move to a 19-0 third quarter lead and then added one more touchdown in the final quarter to account for the
final 26-0 margin.
Winnfield concluded the season
at home against Lake Providence, their sixth district foe. Lake Providence was guided at head coach by Charles “Hoss”
Newman, ex-Louisiana Tech star and future Winnfield head coach. Winnfield and Lake Providence
appeared to match-up well, but for some, the end of the season couldn’t come soon enough.
Winnfield avoided a shutout and looked like they were headed to their third
win of the season in the first half of the game when they jumped out to 12-0 halftime lead. Ben
Singletary scored the first Tiger touchdown in the first quarter on a pass of 25 yards from Dan Carr.
Then, at the beginning of the second quarter, Dan Carr fielded a Lake Providence punt at his own 30 yard-line
and didn’t stop running until he had returned the punt 70 yards for the Tigers second score of the half. The Tigers
missed the second PAT of the night but took a 12-0 lead into halftime.
Lake Providence turned the game around in the second half when they
scored two third quarter touchdowns and converted on both PAT attempts to take a 14-12 lead into the fourth quarter. Winnfield appeared headed for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter
when a 17-yard Carr to Eyer pass and an 18-yard Carr run brought the ball
to the Lake Providence 10 yard-line. A fumble, which was recovered by Lake Providence, spoiled that scoring
chance however. Nevertheless, the Tigers averted a loss on the next play. With the ball
near their own goal line, Lake Providence was dropped for a loss in their own end zone which resulted in a Tiger safety that
evened the score at 14-all. That is how the score stood when the final horn sounded. The
game was as close as the score indicated. Winnfield held a 13-12 edge in first downs and gained 242 yards
to 215 by Lake Providence.
Winnfield ended the
season with a 2-6-2 record and went 0-4-2 in district play. Winnfield was shutout three times and only
scored 72 points all year. They thus became the tenth Tiger team to score under 100
points for a season. Three of those teams had played in the 1940s, including the 1940 (47 pts.), 1941 (84
pts.) and 1944 (13 pts.) squads. The remaining six teams who failed to score at least 100 points in a season all played in
the decade of the 1930s, with the 1938 team being the lowest scoring team in school history after failing to score a single
point in eleven games.
One word can account for the lack of anticipated success - injuries. All total, no less than ten
Tigers missed all or parts of games because of injuries. The Tigers had to go two-deep at every line position
at some point in the season. Likewise, no Tiger back escaped a crippling injury during the season. There
is no way to account for the injuries except for simple bad luck. Had the Tigers been at full strength
they could have certainly been more competitive in at least two of the 7-point losses and the two ties. At their strongest,
they probably wouldn’t have beaten Jonesboro Ruston or Bastrop. But, they were certainly capable
of winning every other game. Injuries are the great spoiler - they take away what “could have been.”
In 1949, they took away what should have been a winning season.
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