Winnfield High School Football 1950-1959
The Tigers Get
a Taste of the Playoffs
Key Rules Changes of the Decade:
1951 - Unlimited substitution adopted. Fair
catch on kicks allowed. Coach’s box specified.
1952 - The penalty for striking
with forearm, elbow, or locked hands, or for flagrantly rough play or unsportsmanlike conduct changed from 15 yds. to 15 yds.
and mandatory suspension. Five yard penalty for player being out of the team box, which
was designated between the 35 yard-lines.
1954 - Face masks
made legal and prohibited all types of hideout plays.
1955 - Urged the use of face and
mouth protectors. Also, urged the use of shoes with cleats molded to the sole.
each year toward more liberalized substitution and platoon football.
1956 - Required a player
going in motion, other than the quarterback, who was less than 1 yard behind the line to be 5 yards behind the line at the
1957 - Penalty for grabbing face
mask. One player-coach conference during a charged time-out is permitted.
1958 - Recommended
the number system for players by position.
Summary of the Decade of the 1950s
As Winnfield Tiger football
progressed into the decade of the 1950s, there was no indication that the fortunes of the program would change from that which
had been demonstrated during the 1930s and 1940s. Only three teams had posted winning records during each of the previous
two decades leading up to the 1950s. So, when the first four teams of the 1950s posted losing records, that reinforced the
perception that things would continue “as usual” in the Tiger football program – with the “usual”
being more losses than wins.
The Tiger football program only won 11 football games in the four years between 1950 and 1953 and scored 30 or more
points in only one football game during that period. Then, the 1954 team jumped out to a 4-1 record, and came within one win
of joining the 1923, 1928 and 1948 teams as the leaders on the all-time single-season win list, ending the season with 8 wins.
While that might have seemed like an aberration, when you examine the talent on the 1954 team it would not be difficult to
explain the success of that team. However, other less successful Tiger teams seemed to have talent
too, but one thing or another led to one loss after another; whether that be injuries, turnovers, lack of depth or weather
conditions. The first half of the 1950s, like the two decades preceding it, continued to produce “one hit wonders,”
if you will. That is, one successful season was preceded and followed by losing seasons.
All of that was just a prelude
to some of the most significant plays, players and seasons in the history of the program, which came in the second half of
the decade. If it’s one of the most dramatic plays in Tiger history you want, few would surpass the final play of the
1955 season-opener against Neville. As for players, the decade saw the return of Winnfield players to the All-State teams.
The program had filled 28 positions on the All-State teams of the 1920s, but that number dramatically dropped to only one
in the 1930s and seven in the 1940s. Players from the 1950s filled 18 All-State slots.
The program reached its 50th anniversary at the end of the 1958
season. Throughout most of that time-span, one prize had eluded the Tiger program, that being an appearance in the state playoffs.
Before the 1950s were over, the Tigers would break that drought and, in fact, would end two seasons in the playoffs.
That set the stage for Winnfield’s regular entry into the playoffs throughout the remainder of the century. Prior to
the 1950s, the program had never had a team win any sort of championship on the football field. True, the
1919 team won the school’s first state championship, but they were “declared” champions. No
title of any kind had been won on the playing field. To get to the playoffs in the 1950s you had to win a district championship.
The program won its first and second district titles during the 1950s, which finally gave the program some hardware for the
It is said
that ‘winning begets winning’ in high school football. What followed after Winnfield finally started winning district
championships and entering the playoffs is a testament to that axiom. Let it be argued as to whether the teams of the late
1950s laid the foundation for the success of the championship-caliber teams that was played between 1960 and 1982. And let
it be debated as to whether the accomplishments of the teams of the late 1950s had some part in the program sending three
teams to state title games between 1971 and 1982, with the prize at the end of the 1982 season being the school’s first
state title won on the field. But, one thing is a fact - once the winning began, it continued.
The game of football itself
became more wide-open in the 1950s and the passing attack from the mid to late 1950s became an important part of the Tiger
offense. As a result, those who competed in the late 1950s shattered individual and team passing records.
Only one team of the 1950s
ended the season with a winning record. And, while the teams of the 1950s played in 10 more games (106)
than the teams of the 1940s did (96), the teams from those two decades won the same exact number of games - 40.
That had to mean only one thing, teams from the 1950s lost 10 more games than the previous decade. Overall,
the won-loss record for Winnfield football during the 1950s was 40-61-5, for a winning percentage of .409. That’s
why it seems ridiculous to say that some of the biggest wins in the school’s history came during the decade, but they
did. One of the biggest upsets ever posted by a Tiger team came at the start of the 1955 season and every
win by the Tigers over Mansfield and LaSalle in the late 1950s had playoff implications. You build a program
one step at a time. The teams of the 1950s did their share to build the Tiger football program.
Key Players/Coaches of the 1950s
Miles Hambleton (1949-1952, T) Four-year starter at tackle. Received votes from one member of
theExpert Panel voting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
(1950-1952, T) Three-year starter at tackle for the Tigers.
Ranked in theTop Ten at the tackle position
by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
(1950-1951, B) Two-year starter at running back.
Career totals for touchdownsinclude three by reception and two by rush, with the
latter including a career-long 65-yarder againstFarmerville. Ranked in the
Top Ten at running back by the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All-CenturyPoll
for the Old Timers Squad. Honorable Mention All State at back his senior season.
Thomas Straughan (1951-1952, B; 1957-1963, Assistant
Coach) Starter at running back for two seasons. Scored 30 points as a junior and was the team’s leading scorer his
senior season with 66 points. That is the second most single-season points scored by
any player from the pre-1960 era. During his junior campaign he rushed
for five touchdowns, with the longest being an 82-yarder against Jena. His career game came against Jena in 1952 when he rushed for three touchdowns, with one covering 46 yards and another going 31 yards. During his senior season he rushed for seven other touchdowns
and scored on a 30-yard interception return. All total Straughan scored fourteen total
touchdowns, which is third most of any player from the pre-1960 era. Honorable Mention
All State pick in 1951. Was thesecond leading vote-getter at running back by fans voting
on the 2000 All Century Poll for the OldTimers Squad. Returned as an assistant coach
from 1957 to 1963. Was the first head coach whenWinnfield Junior High School was established.
Served in that capacity two years, with his first ninth grade team going 10-0-0
and his second and final team going 5-2-0.
Bobby Gates (1952, B) Tiger back on the 1952 team. He scored four rushing touchdowns, with threeof those covering 50 or more yards, including runs of 70, 68 and 56 yards. What makes that so
unique isthat only two players from the pre-1960 era had as many as two scoring runs
from scrimmage thatcovered 50 yards or more in their career. The other player was
Thomas Straughan who had two scoringruns of over fifty yards.
Conrad Swilley (1950-1952, Kicker, Back & Quarterback) Alternated at back and quarterback hissophomore
season, but moved to running back his junior season. Starting quarterback his senior seasonbefore his season ended with an injury. As a sophomore he rushed for one touchdown, ran an interceptionback 35 yards for a touchdown and booted 7 of 11 PAT tries. The following season
he added one morerushing touchdown to his total and was 3 of 4 in extra point kicks.
During his senior season he rushed fortwo more touchdowns, including a career-high 60-yarder
vs. Farmerville. Swilley also had a 60 yardinterception return for a touchdown in 1952
and converted 10 of 13 extra point tries. His career kickingtotal
was 20 of 28. Up to that point in the Tiger program only Swilley’s brother Durwood had convertedmore career extra point kicks with 22. Swilley was the second-leading vote-getter as a kicker by both theExpert Panel and the fans voting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. He trailed
hisbrother Durwood in the Expert Panel poll results and C. C. Carter in the fan poll.
He was ranked in theTop Ten at running back by the fans voting in
the same poll.
Glen Evans (1952-1953,
Guard) Two year starter at guard.
Earned first team All DistrictHonors his senior season. Ranked
in the Top Ten among guards by the Expert Panel voting in the OldTimers division of the
2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
Bill Davis (1948,
Assistant Coach, 1953-1955, Head Coach) Served
as an assistant coach in the program in 1948 and guided the program as head coach from 1953-1955. His 1954 team posted an
8-4-0 record, which was the best record of the 1950s. In the first game of the 1955 team his team pulled
off what is considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest upset in the history of the program when the Tigers
knocked off Neville of Monroe. Neville went on to win that schools first state title later that year.
Hershel Machen (1953-1954, Quarterback) Quarterback on the 1954 squad. Rushed for twotouchdowns,
and his 96 yard punt return against Farmerville in 1954 is the longest punt return for atouchdown
in the history of the program. Machen was ranked third at the quarterback position by theExpert
Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and he garnered the fourthhighest votes of all quarterbacks by fans voting in the same poll. He became the second head footballcoach at the Winnfield Junior High School in 1966, taking over for Thomas Straughan (1951-1952). Inthe remaining years of the 1960s his 9th grade teams went, 7-1-0 (1966), 7-2-1 (1967), 6-0-1 (1968) and8-1-0 (1969), for a combined record of 28-4-1 in the 1960s. Machen left the Jr. High
program after the1973 season to accept the position of Principal at Winnfield Senior
High School. During his tenure,he compiled an amazing 62-8-2 record
(.875) at the Jr. High level.
Joe Vines (1953-1954, Back) Honorable
Mention All State back on the 1954 squad. Had a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns on the 1954 squad
in the balanced offensive attack that had three different backs rush for five or more touchdowns. Vines
was the leading scorer of the 1954 team with 53 points, which included 48 points on his rushing touchdowns and five PAT runs.
Jimmy Ross (1953-1954, Fullback) Three-year starter in the backfield. Ross scored 52 points during the 1954 season, which was one point
shy of leading scorer Joe Vines’ total. In 1954 Ross recorded seven rushing touchdown, had a reception from quarterback
Hershel Machen that went for a touchdown and he successfully converted four extra point runs. Against Gilbert in 1954 he had
touchdowns runs that covered 65 and 63 yards. That is the first recorded time a Tiger back had multiple touchdowns in one
game that covered 50 yards or more.
James Sullivan (1954, B) Honorable mention All State back in 1954. Rushed for five touchdowns
in 1954, with his longest being a 40-yarder against Gilbert. Also converted two PAT runs.
Troy Mixon (1954, T) Honorable
mention All State tackle in 1954.
John Creel (1953-1955,
G) Earned third team All District honors
as a sophomore and second team as ajunior. Honorable mention All State
guard in 1955. Creel was the fourth leading vote getter at guard bythe Expert Panel voting
on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and ranked sixth by thefans.
Stanley Bass (1953-1955, Center & E)
Starter at center his sophomore and junior seasons and thenmoved to end
his senior season. Earned honorable mention All State honors at center in 1954 and at endin
1955. Was a third team All District performer his junior year at center and a second team All District selection his senior year at end. One of eight centers from the pre-1960 era to receive votes from theExpert Panel voting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and was the second-leadingvote getter at that center slot by the fans voting on the same poll. Was the top ranked end by the
fans inthat poll and the second ranked end by the Expert Panel.
His total votes by the fans for the end positiontied A. T. Drewitt (1925 1927)
for highest total regardless of position.
Johnny Newman (1954-1955, T) Two-year
starter at tackle. Earned Honorable Mention All State honors
as a junior. Was a third team All District performer his junior year and a second team All District selection his senior year. Newman the fourth-highest vote getter at tackle by the Expert
Panelvoting on the 2000 All-Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and was the second-leading
vote getter attackle by the fans voting on the same poll.
Mickey Frazier (1955-1956, B) Starter in the
Tiger backfield for two seasons. In the opening game of the 1955 season the Tiger pulled off arguably the biggest upset in
the history of the program when Winnfield defeated Neville by a score of 13-12. Neville went on to win that schools first
state title later that season. Frazier played a pivotal role in that win. The Tigers scored on an 80-yard pass from Dale Reeves
to Brooks Broussard on the final play of the game to secure that win; however, that run only tied the score at 12-all. Junior
running back Mickey Frazier got the call on the crucial extra point try and he responded by bowling into the end zone to secure
the Tiger win. Earlier in the game Frazier had scored the Tigers other touchdown, that coming on a 15-yard run.
Frazier would score six more touchdowns in 1955 and end the season with 43 points. His other six-pointers came by way
of a 52-yard fumble return (vs. Ruston) and five rushing touchdowns. He became the third player in the
history of the program to record four rushing touchdowns in a single game when he turned that feat against Farmerville in
1955. One of those four touchdowns went for 60 yards and another was a 30-yarder. In 1956 Frazier
added four more rushing touchdowns, one more pass reception for a score and one more PAT run to his career total. That gave
him eleven rushing touchdowns and thirteen total touchdowns. His career total touchdowns of 13 is tied for fourth place among
players from the pre-1960 era. Only Hovey Harrell (16 between 1930-1933) and Dan Carr (14 between 1948-1950) rushed for more
touchdowns in a career in the pre-1960 era. Frazier was an Honorable Mention All District pick in 1956.
Hank Ford (1956, T & G) Tackle on the 1956 squad who earned honorable mention All State honors.Earned first
team All District honors at guard in 1956, making him one of only ten players from thedecade
to earn first team All District honors. Ford was the leading vote-getter at tackle by fans voting onthe 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad and placed in the Top Ten by the Expert Panel list
oftackles from the pre-1960 era.
(1955-1956, QB & B) Quarterback on the 1955 squad
who was moved to runningback his senior season. Is the first Tiger
quarterback to be selected as a first team All District performerat that position. Earned
honorable mention All District honors the next year at back. Received honorablemention
votes on the All State squad both his junior and senior season. In the first game of his juniorseason the Tiger pulled off a 13-12 upset of Neville in one of the program’s biggest upsets
of all time. Broussard was under center on the final play of the game with the Tigers
trailing by six. After taking thesnap he pitched the ball to back
Dale Reeves who ran to his right, stopped and turned and tossed the ballback to Broussard
rolling out of the backfield to his left. After catching the pass Broussard ran 80 for atouchdown as time ran. That tied the score and the Tigers also converted on the extra point to take thewin. Without question that is one of the most decisive pass receptions in the history
of the program. Later that season Broussard scored two more rushing touchdowns, but it
was against Natchitoches in1955 that he made history when he returned an interception
100 yards for a touchdown. That remains thelongest touchdown run (of
any kind), and is the longest interception return in school history, though thatmark
has been tied twice, first in 1965 by Mike Kelley and then in 1984 by Andrew Riggs. In 1956Broussard rushed for six touchdowns, with his longest touchdown run being an 81-yarder againstNatchitoches. Received three first place votes and votes from just over 25% of the fans voting on
theback position on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. Is better remembered
by fans as aquarterback as he garnered a Top Five spot among players from that position
in the Fan Poll.
Newman (1956-1965, Head Coach) Took over
a program that had losing seasons six of the seven seasons prior to his coming and a program that had never played in a playoff
game. Newman went 5-5-0 his first season (1956), but he took his second team to the program’s first
district title and first playoff game in 1957. After a one year drop-off in 1958 his 1959 to 1961 teams won three consecutive
district titles, going 13-0-0 in district play during that time. His 1960 team broke a 19-year losing streak to Ruston with
a 13-13 tie and the 1961 went one step further by defeating Ruston 21-6 in 1961 to break a twenty-five year streak of non-wins
(losses and ties). Both his 1960 and 1961 teams were ranked No. 1 in the LSWA poll and his 1961 team posted an undefeated
regular season. When Newman left the program after the 1965 season he held the record for most wins (53), longest tenure (10
years) and most games coached (108). He sent four teams to the playoffs and his overall record at Winnfield was 53-50-5.
Other than Alwin Stokes (1919-1923, 1934-1935) he is the only coach between 1909 and 1965 who served the program more
than one year and left with a winning won/loss record.
Dan Ross (1957, C)
Second team All District center on the 1957 team. Fifth-leading vote
getter at thecenter position by fans voting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old
Charles Jake Williams (1954-1957, G &
T) Four year starter in the line during
the 1950s. Made hisdebut as a freshman on the 1954 squad where he played guard. Played
the balance of his career at a tackleslot. He was an honorable mention
All District pick as a junior and made the first team as a senior. Fifthleading vote getter at the tackle position by both the Expert Panel and the fans voting on the 2000
All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
John Harrington (1955-1957, E, QB &
Kicker) Broke into the starting lineup
as a sophomore at theend position. Played his last two seasons at
the quarterback spot. Was the team’s place kicker all threeyears he played at the
varsity level. As a sophomore he rushed for one touchdown and had a 92 yardkickoff return
for a touchdown. That is the fifth-longest kickoff return in the history of the program.Established
career records by converting on 35 of 43 extra point kicks, which was an all-time high forkicks
attempted and made at the time. Rushed for five touchdowns as a junior and two as a senior to caphis career with eight rushing touchdowns and nine total touchdowns. Selected honorable mentionquarterback on the All District team his junior year and moved up to a second team All District performerat quarterback his senior year. Third highest vote getter as a kicker by both the Expert Panel and
the fansvoting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad. Ranked in the top
ten of the Expert Panel vote at the quarterback slot.
Darrell Mayes (1956-1957, G & T) Considered one of the best lineman in the history of the programand
particularly of the pre-1960 era. Was one of only two players to earn first team All State honorsduring the 1950s when he achieved that honor at a guard position his junior season. He was a two-yearstarter in the line, earning first team All District honors at guard his junior year and first team
All Districthonors at tackle his senior year. Mayes is the third-highest vote getter
at guard by the Expert Panel on the2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad, as
he received votes from five of the nine panelist. Onepanelist made him their number one
choice. Was also the third-highest vote getter at guard by the fansvoting on the same
Lyle Wayne Thompson (1957, E) End on the school’s first district championship team. Caught fourtouchdown
passes, all from quarterback John Harrington. Against Pineville he had two touchdowncatches. That made him the fifth player to have two or more TD catches in a single game. Was a secondteam All District selection at end in 1957. Ranked in the top ten by both the fans and the Expert Panel voting on the 2000 All Century Poll for the Old Timers Squad.
Tommy Wyatt (1958-1959, E)
During the 1959 season he, along with quarterback Mike Tinnerello,ushered in the
most prolific passing attack the program had ever seen. Wyatt caught nine touchdownpasses
in 1959, making him the first Tiger player to catch 6 or more TD passes in a season, almostdoubling the then single-season record of five. That single-season total also established a career mark fortouchdown catches; a record that lasted until 1973. His single-season mark stood until 1982. He was
thefirst receiver to gain 400 yards in a single season in 1959 when he finished the year
with 458 yards. Wyatt caught passes in seven of eleven regular season games in 1959,
including five games in a row atone point. That consecutive string of touchdown catches
has only been matched by one player, thatcoming in 1989 when John Michael Spangler also
caught touchdown passes in five consecutive games.Wyatt was the leading scorer of the
1959 team, ending the year with 56 points. That is the third-highestsingle-season total
of the pre-1960 era. He is one of only seven players from that era to surpass the50-point
mark for a season. Wyatt was a first team All District and All State player in 1959. Wyatt wastop vote getter at end by the fans and received the second most votes at that same position by the ExpertPanel. That vote was for the Modern-Day era of Tiger football.
- 1-9-1, *District - 0-4-0) Between 1917 and 1949, Winnfield
High School had thirteen head football coaches. Only three of those ended their tenure at Winnfield with a winning record.
Those included Rev. Alwin Stokes (1917-1923 & 1933-1934), Jimmy Horton (1927) and Zollie
Bennett (1928). Coach Emmett Cope was entering his fourth year as Winnfield’s head coach.
In his first three years he had compiled a 14-14-3 record, for an even .500 winning percentage. Coach Cope
had every reason to think that by the time he ended his fourth season at Winnfield he too would have a winning record. Coach
Cope’s optimism rested on the simple fact that he had lost only five seniors off of his 1949 team. Returning
to play for his 1950 team were 12 lettermen spread over the starting positions. The backfield in particular was full of talent
and experience. Seniors Dan Carr and Bobby Bass were both three-year lettermen, while senior
halfback Charles Tomlinson had already earned two letters. Carr had received
notice the year before as an Honorable Mention pick on the All-North Louisiana team. Junior Ed Roberts had
gained his first letter the season before and fellow junior Billy Boyett, as well as sophomores Thomas
Straughan and Conrad Swilley rounded out the Tiger backfield. At the end positions, two lettermen
returned in senior Ben Singletary and junior Frank King, with Singletary
being a two-year letterman. Like his teammate Carr, Singletary had also received votes
for the All-North Louisiana team after his junior campaign.
Coach Cope was not short on linemen as he had lettermen to fill each interior lineman position, including sophomore
Miles Hambleton and senior Bobby Gassiott at tackles, seniors James Chandler,
Bobby Dickerson and Allen Massey at guards, and junior William Cockerham
at center. Junior Bobby Rhymes could also be called on to fill in at the center position.
Cope had experienced players. Unfortunately, two of his projected starters were
no longer eligible for football because they had surpassed the maximum age limit. Those two included tackle
Ellard Brantley and end Jerry Melton. Nevertheless, Coach Cope told The
Enterprise that “in all probability the team will be stronger than it was last year because most members of the
crew will be more experienced.” Since the 1949 team had only posted two wins in ten outings that
did not seem like much of a challenge.
Those expected to play in a reserve role were talented but young, with most of the projected reserves being sophomores.
In addition to the returning lettermen, Coach Cope had the following players
to draw from: Ends - Gene Porter, Robert Kelly, Billy Gorham and Richard Clifton; Tackles
- James Hall Emerson and Charles Townsend; Guards - Russell Sullivan and
Glen Evans; Centers - Benny Smith and Billy Guiles; and Backs -
Larry Kennedy, Jimmy Richardson, Robert Boyett, Billy Boyett and Johnny Jones. All
were sophomores except Porter and Emerson, who were juniors. Kennedy
was a senior and Guiles who was a freshman.
In preseason preparations, Coach Cope switched from the Notre
Dame Box formation to the T formation. He also moved Dan Carr from his halfback position to the quarterback
position to take advantage of his versatility. That allowed Coach Cope to use four experienced players in
the backfield, with Ed Roberts and Charles Tomlinson manning the halfback positions and
Bobby Bass holding down the full back position. A new coach, Jimmy Gilbert, was hired to
assist with the backs, while Red Smith continued to work the linemen. That gave the program three coaches
for the first time ever.
There was one thing that distinguished the first game of the season with the rest of the season. It
would be one of only two games all year in which the Tigers did walk away the loser. But, the Tigers didn’t
secure a win in the season opener as Winnfield and Natchitoches played to a 6-6 tie. The game was a fierce defensive battle
throughout and it appeared the contest would end in a 0-0 tie. However, in the closing minutes of the game
Natchitoches turned a fumble recovery into a touchdown on a short drive and took a 6-0 lead with only two minutes to go.
hauled in the ensuing kickoff and took matters into his own hands, or feet as the case would be. Carr
followed the perfectly executed blocking in front of him to the sidelines and raced 90 yards for the tying score.
At the time, that was the second longest kick return for a touchdown in school history, second only to Jackie
Givens' 95 kickoff return during the 1945 season. In fact, Carr's run was the
fourth longest touchdown of any kind, behind John Jackson's 97-yard rush for a touchdown in 1943,
John Warner's 95-yard interception return in 1948 and Givens' 95-yard kickoff return.
As it turned out that
may have been the play of the year. Though the Tigers did miss the PAT after Carr’s
return, Winnfield was glad to pull out a tie in a frustrating game that they had feared they have given away to Natchitoches
only moments before Carr’s beautiful return.
The 1950 Tigers then lost five games in a row,
with only two of those losses coming by less than 12 points. The first of those came in a 7-2 loss to Vivian. One of the most
unusual after-effects of a football game came after the Vivian contest when several Winnfield players were placed on the injury
list, but it was not because of the bone-crushing, skin-bruising, muscle-pulling type of injuries that usually hobble a player.
No less than five players, including Ben Singletary, Charles Tomlinson, Miles Hambleton, and
Dan Carr suffered lime burns caused by the substance used to mark the field. For some of those
players, their injuries kept them out of the Tiger lineup for weeks to come.
The next two losses weren’t close as the Tigers dropped an 18-6 decision
to Oak Grove in the home opener and took in on the chin to Winnsboro the next week by a 30-7 margin. Then the Tigers suffered
the closest loss of the year when they fell one point shy of Mansfield in a 20-19 defeat. The Tigers found yet another way
to frustrate themselves and their fans in the Mansfield game. The Tigers jumped out to a 19-0 lead through the better part
of three quarters on runs by Ed Roberts, Charles Tomlinson and Dan Carr, however the Tigers
couldn’t stand prosperity. Mansfield used their vaunted passing game to score two quick touchdowns in the third period
to narrow the margin to 19-13. They then scored the lone touchdown of the fourth quarter and tacked on
the extra point to secure their 20-19 win. It was be the largest lead any Tiger team had ever blown.
The fifth straight loss
of the season came against Ruston. The one good thing was that the Bearcats weren’t the usual powerhouses
that they had been in the 1940s as they had already lost three games during the season. However, those
losses were to Haynesville, Ouachita and Homer; three of the most powerful teams in north Louisiana. Plus,
the three losses were by a combined total of seven points. In predicting the Tiger prospects against Ruston,
the Enterprise bluntly stated, “Local coaches predict Ruston and Neville are the two most likely candidates
for the district championship, while the winless Winnfield Tigers don’t have a shadow of a chance”.
The local paper was correct as the Bearcats,
led by halfback Charlie Barham, shut the Tigers out and posted four touchdowns in taking a 27-0 win. The
Tiger’s record dropped to 0-5-1 for the year and their winless streak moved to 11 straight games. Only two previous
Tiger teams had made it through the first six games of the season without a win, those being the 1938 & 1944 teams, who
were the only teams in school history to post winless seasons. That marked the second longest winless streak
in school history, second only to the 22-game winless streak the program had endured from the fourth game of the 1937 season
to the fourth game of the 1939 season. Also, the Tigers of the season before had gone 0-4-2 in district
play, so the Winnfield program was also mired in a winless streak in district games that now stretched to 8 straight games.
The only win of the 1950
season came in week seven when the Tigers entertained Farmerville. Like Winnfield, Farmerville came into
the contest winless. The Farmerville game was the Tigers 1950 Homecoming game and Coach Cope said his boys
were “ready and raring to go”.
Farmerville scored first in the contest to take a 7-0 lead, but that would be
all the points they would get. drove 57 yards in 12 plays on their opening possession to take an early 7-0 lead.
However, that would be the only points the Farmers would score all night.
Winnfield tied the game up in the second quarter on a beautifully executed 83-yard
drive characterized by the ball carrying of Dan Carr, Billy Boyett, Ed Roberts and Bobby Bass. The
drive was culminated when Carr threw a 27-yard scoring strike to Bass. Conrad Swilley
kicked the PAT to tie the game. That’s the
way the scored stayed until the fourth quarter where Winnfield played their best quarter of the season. At the beginning of
the fourth quarter Dan Carr threw his second touchdown pass of the game when he connected with Billy
Boyett on a 12-yard touchdown pass. That marked only the second time the Tigers had led in a football game during
the season and the first time the Tigers had mounted a comeback.
During Farmerville’s next possession, Conrad Swilley intercepted
a Farmerville pass at the visitors 35 yard-line and returned it for the final Tiger score. Swilley
also converted on his third PAT try to give the Tigers a 21-7 lead, which held up until the game ended. Dan Carr’s two touchdown passes against Farmerville
marked only the fourth time a Winnfield player had thrown two or more touchdowns in a single game. It was
the second time Carr had accomplished that feat, however, as he had tossed two scoring passes his sophomore
year. Other players that had thrown two or more scoring passes in a single game were Ray Jenkins (3) vs.
Oakdale, 1936; Roger Smith (2) vs. Natchitoches (1941) and Jackie Givens (2) vs. Junction
With the win, the Tigers snapped the eleven-game winless string and improved their record to 1-5-1 for the season.
However, the Tigers dropped the final four games of the year to post a 1-9-1 record for the year.
The closest of those losses came against Jena
in week eight. In that contest capitalized on turnovers to take a 20-0 lead just before the half.
Scoring for the Tigers were Dan Carr, Conrad Swilley and Bobby
Bass. The Tigers couldn’t hold that lead until halftime, though as Jena got on the scoreboard
just before the half to narrow Winnfield’s margin to 20-6.
The Giants then posted two third quarter touchdowns and one fourth quarter score
and held the Tigers out of the end zone to take a 25-20 win. All four of Jena’s touchdowns came through the air.
That was the most touchdown passes a Winnfield team had ever given up in a single game. The 20-point lead was also
the largest lead a Tiger team had ever given up, surpassing the 19-point lead the Tigers had squandered in week five against
Mansfield. In those two contests, Winnfield had given up 7 touchdowns through the air.
The Tigers then closed the season with losses
to Jonesboro (12-0), Bastrop (38-2) and Lake Providence (33-7). The 1950 team record
of 1-9-1 made the 1950 squad the 15th (out of 21) team since the glory years of the 1920s to end the year with a losing record.
The 9 losses were the second most single season losses in the history of the program, with the 10 losses of the 1938 season
being the only season that saw more.
Winnfield gave up 223 pts. for the season. That was the second highest total number of points a
Tiger team had ever given up in a single season, second only to the 302 pts. given up by the winless 1938 team. The Tigers
did manage to break an eleven game winless streak when they recorded their lone win of the season against Farmerville.
However, they started a new losing streak by losing the final four games of the season. One dubious streak did remain
intact during the season, that being a winless streak in district play that stretched over two seasons. In two years time,
Winnfield had a record of 0-10-2 in district play.
A month after the season ended Coach Cope tendered his resignation to accept a position in the State
Department of Education in Baton Rouge. Cope ended his tenure at Winnfield with a 15-23-4 record.
Two of his four teams ended the year with winning records and his 1948 team was considered the best Winnfield team
of the past two decades. Rudolph “Red” Smith, assistant football coach and
basketball mentor, was appointed to succeeded Coach Cope as director of athletics and head
1951 (Overall - 3-6-1; *District - 1-4-0)
Winnfield’s prospects for the 1951 season under first-year Coach
Red Smith appeared to be questionable. That is due to the recent lack of success in the program (only two wins in
the previous two seasons combined), coupled with the loss of eight starters from the season before). The one asset the team had was speed. That speed would be most apparent in returning
senior letterman Billy Boyett at the halfback position and junior Conrad Swilley at the
Coach Smith came to Winnfield with a track background, as he had set the Gulf States Conference record
in the shot put when he was a senior at Louisiana Tech in 1949. He was also named to the Little All American
team in football and he played basketball for the Bulldogs as well. He reorganized the track program at Winnfield after that
program had been put in moth balls for several years. His track team excelled immediately. Billy
Boyett was crowned the district champ in the 440-yard dash and placed fifth in the 100-yard dash. Swilley
placed fourth in the 220-yard dash.
Coach Smith’s remaining starters in the backfield were
senior Bobby Kornegay at quarterback and junior Jimmy Richardson at the other halfback position.
The Tigers also had juniors Thomas Straughan and Robert Boyett available for backfield duty,
or so it appeared. Straughan’s junior season would turn out to be his coming-out party. Other than
Billy Boyett and Conrad Swilley, none of the Tiger backs had logged much playing time the
season before. And, other than Kornegay and Billy Boyett, all were underclassmen.
So, Winnfield’s backfield was, for the most part, young and inexperienced at the varsity level.
The Tigers returned senior Gene Porter
at one of the end positions. He and Billy Boyett were selected team captains. Senior Max
Mercer would fill the other end position. Across the interior line the Tigers had young but experienced players.
Three of the five projected starters at the interior line positions were underclassmen. Senior Bobby Rhymes,
who had alternated at the center position the season before, would be called on to handle those duties on a full-time basis.
Rhymes was a gifted athlete, as he was the reigning district champion in both the broad jump and the
high jump. He also placed third in the triple jump at the district meet. Rounding out the line were junior
Russell Sullivan at guard, a position he had gained considerable playing time at the year before, and newcomer
Jack Parker, also a junior. At the tackle position, Coach Smith had senior
letterman Miles Hambleton and junior Charles Townsend, with senior James Hall Emerson
expected to alternate with Townsend at the right tackle position. All three had experience
at the tackle position and Hambleton and Emerson were track athletes as well, with
Hambleton placing fourth in the javelin and fifth in the discus in the district meet the previous spring and
Emerson placing fourth in the shot put.
Coach Smith’s biggest concern entering the season was a
shortage of experienced substitutes. He had over 45 boys out for football, but over half of those were
sophomores or younger. He would have to rely heavily on his eight seniors and the experienced juniors he
The Tigers opened the season against Natchitoches, a program the Tigers had not
defeated in eight years. The Natchitoches-Winnfield game was broadcast over radio station KWCJ in Natchitoches.
That marked the first time a Winnfield football game had ever been broadcast over the radio. For those who attended
in person, admission at the gate had risen to $1.00 for adults and 50 cents for students
In the contest, Natchitoches returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and was never seriously threatened thereafter.
The Red Devils moved to a 19-0 lead halftime and cruised to a 26-6 win. The Tigers lone touchdown came
when Max Mercer intercepted a pitch and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
Coach Smith reported to the
Rotary club later in the week that he had one question answered in the Natchitoches game. “The boys
are in good physical shape,” Coach Smith said, as was reported in the Enterprise.
“(My starters) played (virtually) the entire game”. Knowing that he had little reserve
strength, Coach Smith knew his starters would be logging a lot of playing time. His starters
had done that and had only given up one second half touchdown against a Red Devil unit that had much more depth.
Joining Coach Smith at
the talk to the Rotarians was his new assistant coach, Julius Yellot. Coach Yellot was a
graduate of Northwestern State College and came to Winnfield from DeQuincy High School, where he had coached the backfield.
He held a similar position at Winnfield. He was not a “finesse man”.
Coach Yellot told the Rotarians “to play good football a player must develop a little meanness.
He has to like to hit hard and be able to both give and take it”. Coach Yellot
liked power football and, like Coach Smith, he placed emphasis on conditioning. With little
bench strength the Tigers would have to be the better-conditioned team all season long.
The local civic groups were involved in Tiger football. The Lions club had set a goal of raising $500.00 to fund new
restrooms at the athletic field. A committee of Lions Club members, including J. D.
Taylor, Sion Jenkins and Harold DeBray, was formed to head the project. The first
project that the committee came up with to raise funds was hot rod races at the Joyce Airport. Other projects
were also planned if the initial project failed to raise the complete funds.
After the loss the open the season the Tigers reeled off three straight win. In those three games
the Tigers only gave up two touchdown. Those victories came over LaSalle (18-6), Oak Grove (7-6) and Winnsboro
Tiger football program had played Olla High School from nearby LaSalle parish, the 1951 season marked the first time the program
had faced LaSalle High School, a newly formed high school made so by the consolidation of schools in western LaSalle parish.
Scoring for Winnfield were Billy Boyett on a 10-yard run and Kornegay
on runs of 12 and 5 yards. Against LaSalle Coaches Smith and Yellot found that one of their
best backs was a 135-pd. underclassman. Junior halfback Thomas Straughan carried the load
against LaSalle, as he led the Tiger’s 192-yard rushing attack for the game.
Smith didn’t have much bench strength prior to the season.
What little strength he did have took a big hit after the LaSalle game. Two sophomore reserve players,
end Troy Lynn Smith and Billy Guiles, sustained season-ending injuries against LaSalle;
Smith with a broken collar bone and Guiles with a dislocated shoulder.
The win in the second week of the season
may very well have been the stimulus for something the Tiger program had not had in over three years – a win streak.
Team captain Billy Boyett was quoted in the Enterprise as saying “I think we can beat
Oak Grove, and we have the spirit to put up a good fight”. Co-captain Gene Porter
seconded Boyett’s claim by stating, “if Boyett thinks we’ll do it, we
The wins over
Oak Grove and Winnsboro gave the 1951 team a 3-1-0 record and equaled the combined win total from the 1949 and 1950 seasons.
It was during this stretch that the program moved above the .500 mark for the first time since the 1948 season.
Equally important, the Tigers had opened district play against Oak Grove, so the win got one monkey off of their back,
that being the twelve-game losing streak in district play. Scoring for the Tigers in those two wins was
Billy Boyett and Thomas Straughan.
The three consecutive wins were so rare that only seven other Winnfield teams since the 1928 team (a period covering
23 seasons) had won three straight games. Those teams were the 1930, 1936, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1947 and 1948 teams.
The one thing the Tigers had going for them was optimism. Winning has a way of doing that to you.
On the other hand, the 1951 season was about to take a dramatic turnaround as those three wins would be the final wins
of the 1951 season.
of those losses came against Mansfield in the annual homecoming game against a Mansfield team by superb sophomore quarterback
M. C. Reynolds. Before his playing days were over at Mansfield he would be named to two
All-State teams and would later play football for LSU and in the NFL. In Louisiana high school football circles, Reynolds
was considered by many to be the best pure-passer of his era. Against Winnfield he threw three touchdown
passes in a 35-14 romp. Thomas Straughan and Conrad Swilley got the only Tiger touchdowns
of the night.
week the Tigers played the undefeated Ruston Bearcats in a game the Tigers were obviously overmatched against. Led by All-State
running back Lacy Stinson and Charlie Barham, the Bearcats scored three touchdowns in the
opening half to take a 20-0 lead, and went on to defeat the Tigers by a score of 26-7. The
Bearcat defense lost their shutout in the fourth quarter when Thomas Straughan, playing fullback for the
injured Conrad Swilley, carried the ball in from six yards out to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Ruston’s win over Winnfield was but
a stepping stone to a 13-0-0 season that saw them win the Class A state title when they beat Ponchatoula 21-6 in what would
be Coach Hoss Garrett’s last of three state championship teams. Noted sportswriter,
Jerry Byrd, highlighted seventeen high school football teams from the first half-century of high school football
in his book Football Country. The 1951 Ruston team rated mention in Byrd’s
list of top teams.
the loss to Ruston was compounded when the Tigers later learned that the injury that junior fullback Conrad Swilley
had sustained would sideline him for the rest of the season. In one platoon football, when you lost one
player it was really like losing two players because you lost an offensive and a defensive player. In Swilley’s
case, it was like losing three players because he also kicked the extra points for the team.
The Tigers went into the next game with a reshuffled lineup
looked like this: Robert Boyett replaced Swilley in the lineup but played
at wingback. Billy Boyett moved to Swilley’s fullback
position, with Straughan playing the other halfback position.
Against Farmerville, the Tigers did everything they had to do
to win the game except one thing – capitalize on their scoring opportunities. Winnfield gained 243 rushing for the night,
one of the most productive rushing games a Winnfield team had ever produced. In spite of all of that offensive
production the Tigers only had six points to show for it at the end of the game. That score came when Tiger co-captain Billy
Boyett raced 65 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. That was in response to the lone Farmerville touchdown,
which was tallied in the opening quarter. The game ended in a 6-6 deadlock. The Tigers
piled up 294 total yards and held Farmerville to 114 yards, all on the ground rushing. But, post game statistics
are meaningless in the won-loss tally. For the year, Winnfield’s record moved to 3-3-1.
Winnfield still had a chance at a winning
season but they would have to win two of the final three games of the season, all which would be played against solid opponents,
including the likes of Jena, Jonesboro and Bastrop. Not only would Winnfield not get that winning season,
but they would not get another win. In fact, the Tigers gave up 40+ points to each of the three remaining
opponents in closing the season with three straight losses.
After the tie to Farmerville the Tigers lost three games to end the season – none close. First it would be Jena
who would administer a whipping in a 40-19 win. Injuries continued to take a toll on the Tigers as starting quarterback Bobby
Kornegay was injured in the first half and replaced by sophomore Jimmy Terrill. The
highlight of the came for Winnfield came when Straughan ran 82 yards for the Tigers third score of the night,
closing the gap some at 33-19. At the time, Straughan's run was the third longest run
from scrimmage for a touchdown. That would be the final points the 1951 team would score.
In the final two games of the season Winnfield
gave up 40 and 42 two points to Jonesboro and Bastrop respectively and were shutout in each. Much of the blame for the Tigers
poor season-ending performances were injuries. Bobby Kornegay and Conrad Swilley missed
the final two games entirely, plus, the entire starting backfield, with the exception of Straughan, were
nursing injuries as Robert Boyett, Jimmy Richardson and Billy Boyett were hobbled by injuries.
Gene Porter, Tiger end, who saw limited action against Jena, was far from fully recovered On
the positive side, the play of junior Thomas Straughan throughout the season proved to be the biggest bonus
for Coach Smith.
the season, the Tigers gave up 227 points, the second most ever allowed in the program up to that point, with the previous
second-most coming only one season earlier when the 1950 Tigers allowed 223 points. Winnfield ended the season with a six
game winless streak and a three game losing streak. Though it is hard to disguise a 3-6-1 record, one thing can be said about
the 1951 Tigers. They played four teams that were arguably the top four teams in Class A in north Louisiana in Ruston, Natchitoches,
Jonesboro and Bastrop. Ruston proved they were the best Class A team in the state when they took the 1951
Class A state championship. You can draw your own conclusions about the six losses, most of which were
blowout losses. The 1951 group was a well-disciplined, well-conditioned group that simply didn’t have the depth to play
with the “big boys”.
1952 (4-6-0) As Coach Red Smith entered his second year at the helm of the Tiger football program,
he told The Enterprise, “(This year) should be the one.” He had 13 letterman returning,
with nine of those being seniors. What is more important, he had a letterman at every starting position.
His backfield from the previous season returned virtually intact. Gone were Billy Boyett
and Bobby Kornegay, but Coach Smith had five players that had seen considerable action the
season before, including the talented Thomas Straughan and Conrad Swilley. Coach
Smith would use Swilley in the quarterback position and Straughan would man the
halfback slot. Rounding out the backfield was letterman Robert Boyett, Jimmy Richardson and Jimmy
Terrill; with senior Bobby Gates expected to provide reserve relief. At the end
positions, Bobby Kelly and Billy Gorham represented the returning lettermen. Also positioned
at end were sophomore Herbert Garrard and junior Troy Lynn Smith. The
season before, Smith had missed the entire season with an injury, so he was somewhat of an unknown entity.
It was across the interior line where Coach Smith had the most depth, though. He
was three-deep at the guard position, with returning lettermen Jack Parker, Glen Evans and Russell
Sullivan back to handle those duties. The remainder of the line would be filled by Benny
Smith (C), Charles Townsend (T) and Jimmy Anyan (T). Coach
Smith would rely on his linemen for leadership. Evans and Parker had
been selected to be team captains and four of his six linemen were seniors, with Evans and Anyan
being the only underclassmen of the bunch.
Two new assistant coaches aided
Coach Smith. Stan Catha was hired to replace Julius Yellot and
Max Crowe was given the primary duties of coaching the Pee Wee squad. Crowe
was the son of Maxwell Crowe who served as the Tiger head coach in 1929 as well as serving as Athletic Director
for several years thereafter. As a result, Crowe became the first second generation coach
at the school.
For the first
time, Winnfield concluded summer practice by playing in a jamboree. In fact, in 1952 Winnfield played in
two jamborees, one sponsored by the Ruston Lions Club where the Tigers faced Farmerville and the other at Jena where
the Tigers faced Sicily Island. Winnfield won slim 7-0 victories in both of those abbreviated games.
A disturbing trend emerged in the opening three
games of the season. The season before, the Tigers had been held to one touchdown or less against all but
three opponents. The 1952 team couldn’t find the end zone either. In the first
three contests of the year the Tigers only got four touchdowns, with three of those coming in the lone win of that stretch,
that being a 19-7 defeat of LaSalle. Winnfield was winning the statistical battle each week, but they had a 1-2-0 record mainly
because they couldn’t score. The two losses came to Natchitoches, by a 13-6 margin, and to Tallulah,
by a close 7-0 margin. The Tigers got two touchdowns from Robert Boyett, one from Conrad
Swilley and the other from Thomas Straughan in that opening stretch.
The Tallulah contest in week three marked the first time
that Winnfield and Tallulah had met on the football field. However, Tallulah was hardly new to Louisiana high school football.
Tallulah had dominated the Class B ranks the previous ten years. Beginning in 1932, Tallulah had
played in seven championship games, winning five and losing two. The first three of those championship teams were led by head
coach M. A. Phillips. Then, Devone Payne guided Tallulah to four straight
title game appearances between 1946 and 1949. It would be one of Devone Payne’s
sons, Robert Charles, who would later serve as an assistant coach in Winnfield and help guide the 1971 team
to a title game.
moved up to play in Class A for the first time in 1952 and would prove to be a major nemesis of the Tiger football program
over the next ten years as they defeated the Tigers three of the first four times the Tigers made the playoffs.
All of that occurred between 1957 and 1961. But, the loss to Tallulah in 1952 dropped the Tigers
record to 1-2-0.
The 1952 team
commenced to alternate losses and wins throughout the remainder of the 1952 season. That began with a 27-9 loss to Winnsboro,
which was followed by a 33-0 whitewashing of Many. The Tigers from Many were led at the head coaching position
by former Winnfield assistant Julius Yellot.
The Many game proved to be the most convincing win of the season. Thomas Straughan
scored two first quarter touchdowns to get that going and the Tigers added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, with
both being of the long-range variety. The first came when Bobby Gates
ran 70 yards for a touchdown on a reverse. On Many’s next series, Swilley intercepted
a pass and ran 60 yards for another score to up the Tiger lead to 26-0 at the half. That was the most first
half points and largest halftime lead a Winnfield team had mounted since the 1948 season.
Thomas Straughan closed
out the scoring for the night from his defensive back position when he intercepted a third quarter Many pass and ran it back
30 yards for a touchdown. Swilley and Straughan became the first pair
of players in the program’s history to return interceptions for touchdowns in the same game; and, in fact, through the
twentieth century they were the only players who have accomplished that feat. John William
Warner returned two interceptions for touchdowns during the 1948 season, enabling that team to become the first team
to record two touchdowns by interception return in a season. The 1952 team thus became the second team
to accomplish that feat. Multiple interception returns for touchdowns by a team have only been accomplished
six other times, including the following seasons: 1961 (five times), 1982 (three times), 1997 (three times, 1969 (twice),
1976, (twice) and 1979 (twice).
Winnfield racked up 376 yards rushing against Many for one of the best rushing performances ever witnessed by Winnfield
fans. Individual rushing leaders were Bobby Gates with 121 total yards, with Swilley
(10.4) and Straughan (8.7) rolling up impressive rushing averages for the game. The win
moved the Tigers’ record for the season to 2-3-0.
That win was followed by a 27-7 loss to Ruston who were the defending Class A State champions, were led by returning
All-State halfback Charles Barham, the leading ground-gainer in Class A at the midpoint of the 1952 season,
were riding an 18-game win streak and, oh yeah, Ruston Coach Hoss Garrett called his 1952 bunch “probably
the strongest eleven to ever play for Ruston”. Ruston had to view Winnfield as a “breather”.
By 1952, Ruston led the overall series with a 17-3-5 record and had not lost to Winnfield in 11 consecutive meetings.
Simply put, Ruston always defeated Winnfield and usually did it very handily. Prior to the 1952 game, a Shreveport
sportswriter predicted a Ruston win “by as many points as Hoss Garrett wants, depending on when he
sends in the second team”. Coach Garrett was a sportsman of the first order, however.
In Football Country, Jerry Byrd wrote the following about Coach Garrett.
(Concerning his 270 career victories) “His most remarkable record, however, may be the fact that only two of
those victories were by margins of more than 40 points. ‘It isn’t good sportsmanship to kick
a man when he’s down, ‘ Garrett said. ‘He may be up tomorrow, and he’ll
feel like returning the licking. Plus, it just isn’t good football. I’d
much rather win a game by two touchdowns and give every boy on the bench a chance to play, than run up a big score and use
only eleven boys. It just wouldn’t be fair to the other team, to our boys or to our fans.
Nobody likes to sit through a one-sided game. It just isn’t interesting”.
The Ruston Daily Leader
summarized the game this way, “Winnfield reared up and forgot about past performances in a second-half battle that almost
turned into a private war”. That was after Ruston had jumped to a 20-0 first-half lead.
All three Bearcats touchdowns were provided by Charles Barham, who scored from 57
yards out on the third play of the game and got his other two scores on 40 yard runs.
Coach Garrett had undoubtedly planned on playing his full squad, using mainly his reserves in the second half.
As it turned out, only 15 Ruston players saw action in the game because of the staunch second-half play of the Tigers.
Though the two teams only scored one touchdown each in the second half, The Ruston Leader stated this about the second
half: “only stalwart defense work by the Bearcat line, linebackers and secondary prevented the Tigers
from a realization of their ambition”.
The Tigers record dropped to 2-4-0 after the loss to Ruston, but the team got its third win of the season in a 20-0
shutout win over Farmerville the next week. Long runs characterized the offensive play of the Tigers against Farmerville.
Bobby Gates scored from 56 yards away in the first half and Swilley tore out around
end for 60 yards and the second Tiger score, which came in the third quarter. That gave Winnfield a 13-0
at the time. Winnfield’s defense set up the next Tiger score when they blocked the very next Farmerville
punt. Robert Boyett carried 5 yards for the final score and Swilley added
his 6th PAT kick of the year against 8 attempts to give Winnfield a 20-0 lead. Straughan had two runs called
back (80-yards and 57 yards) because of rule infractions; otherwise the Tigers point total would have been higher.
Winnfield faced Jonesboro the following week.
Jonesboro came to town with a 5-2-0 record, with their two losses being to AA Minden and Ouachita. However,
Jack Jaggers’ Jonesboro Tigers were considered a leading north Louisiana contender for the Class A
state title. A record crowd was expected for the game to see whether Winnfield could derail Jonesboro’s
drive toward a state championship. A new scoreboard had recently been purchased and was expected to be
ready for the Jonesboro tilt.
Smith had his players decked out in new uniforms for the Jonesboro game. The Tigers wore gray
pants to go along with their red and white jerseys. One Winnfield player, who remained anonymous, was quoted
in the Enterprise as saying “we’d rather beat Jonesboro than win the State championship”, a sentiment
that continues to be shared by some fans and players from both schools even to this day. The game was usually
marked with tough, sometimes brutal play. Before the night was over the game would be pure “Winnfield
have good defensive units. Jonesboro and Winnfield had two of the best and that showed in the first half
when Jonesboro was the only team to score, enabling them to take a 7-0 lead into halftime.
Winnfield had been a second-half club all year so there was no panic in the Tiger locker room at halftime.
That attitude was reinforced on the third play of the second half when Bobby Gates brought the Winnfield
crowd to its feet when he broke in the clear and raced 68 yards off of Charles Townsend’s
block for a touchdown. Dependable Conrad Swilley booted the PAT kick through to tie the
game at 7-7.
The two teams
exchanged punts the remainder of the third quarter but it would be the kicking game that would provide the next score.
Winnfield was backed up against their own goal line late in the third quarter facing a fourth and long.
Jonesboro blocked the Winnfield punt and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety, enabling Jonesboro to regain
the lead at 9-7. As so often happens after a safety, Jonesboro also scored on their next possession after
a drive that began at the Winnfield 39 yard-line. After that, Jonesboro took a 16-7 lead into the fourth
quarter, played good defense and walked away with their sixth win of the season. After the game, Jonesboro had to find another mode of transportation for the return
trip to Jackson parish when they discovered that their bus had been “skunked”. Winnfield Principal
Eugene Love investigated the incident and could find no evidence to indicate that a Winnfield fan or student
had been the culprit. Love theorized that a skunk was probably in the ditch at the north
end of the athletic field and had been frightened by someone. Apologies were written to the Jackson parish
school board, the Jonesboro-Hodge student body president, and the school principal.
The day of the next to last game of the season was “Alwin Stokes
Day” in Winnfield with pre-game ceremonies planned to honor the legendary ex-Winnfield mentor. Many
of Stokes former players were in attendance to once again honor their coach who taught them to “get
low and hit hard”, a phrase Coach Stokes often used.
What Coach Stokes and the fans in attendance show was a Tiger team secure their fourth win of the season in a 27-6
defeat of Columbia. Straughan got two touchdown, while Bobby Gates and Robert Boyett
scored the other two touchdowns. Winnfield’s rushing attack was led by a 162 yard rushing performance by Thomas
Straughan, one of the best single-game rushing performances ever produced by a Tiger back up to that point in time.
The win moved the Tiger’s record to 4-5-0 for the season.
With one game remaining, the Tigers had a chance to avert a
losing record. However, that was not to be as Jena easily defeated the Tigers in a 40-20 win. Jena had
a powerful team that relied on Raymond Manchester, a 185-pd. Fullback. He was one of the
leading scorers in Class A. In Football Country, Jerry Byrd stated, “many
coaches considered (Manchester) to be the best football player in the state, regardless of class”.
Manchester ended the night with
three touchdowns, but Winnfield had a good fullback too in Thomas Straughan and he ran for three second-half
touchdowns as well. But, Winnfield couldn’t keep pace with the Jena scoring machine, coming out on
the losing end of a 40-20 score. Jimmy Richardson kicked two extra points for Winnfield.
For the night, the Jena quarterback threw four touchdown passes.
The 1952 team ended the year with a 4-6-0 record. The team’s six losses were to teams who
were ranked in the top ten of the north Louisiana Class A rankings. Three of those losses were by a single
touchdown, with the three other losses being runaway defeats. On the other hand, Winnfield played Ruston
to a 7-7 draw in the second half and that was against Ruston’s starting unit. All season long, Winnfield’s defensive
played well, but not well enough to overcome the offense’s mistakes. There were times when the Tiger rushing attack was downright awesome.
At no time was that more evident than during the Many game. The Tigers rolled up 376 yards rushing, which was the highest
known team single game rushing total up to that time. The team’s strength was the offensive backfield
and the defensive line. Winnfield had six backs who Coach Smith relied
on, and they were all good. Those included Conrad Swilley and Jimmy Terrill
at quarterback, Thomas Straughan at fullback and Robert Boyett, Jimmy Richardson and Bobby
Gates at halfback.
Swilley ended his career with two interception returns for touchdowns (1950 and 1952). That tied
him John William Warner (1948) for the career lead for most interception returns for a touchdown. That record
has never been broken and tied only three times, including the following: Mike Tinnerello (1961), Gerald
Long (1961) and E. J. Smith (1990 and 1991).
The defensive line repeatedly shutdown opposing teams. At several points during the season the Tigers
faced a marquee player who failed to add to his rushing or point totals because there was no place to run. That
was mainly due to the defensive line play of Jack Parker, Charles Townsend, Jimmy Anyan and others.
The 1952 team was a senior-led team.
Every senior on the team lettered and that wasn’t just because they had earned their due. There
were 13 seniors on the team and 12 of those were starters. There were many times when every player on the
field was a senior. That many departing seniors would leave a big gap to fill the next year.
The 4-6-0 record in 1952 gave the program
four straight losing seasons, the longest such streak in the program’s history – before or since.
In those four years, the program had an overall record of 10-27-4. During those 41 games, the Tigers
had scored 20 or more points only six times and 30 or more points only once. Prospects for improving on
any of that did not seem very bright.
1953 (Overall - 3-6-1; *District - 0-2-0) There was a “new look” in the Tiger program as the team entered the 1953 season. In July
of 1953, Rudolph “Red” Smith resigned his position as head coach at Winnfield.
In two years time Smith compiled a 7-12-1 (.375) record at Winnfield. Coach
Smith had been hired before the 1949 season to replace Bill Davis as an assistant coach.
Then, Bill Davis was hired in 1953 to replace Smith as the head coach.
Davis’ previous coaching experience included a one year stint as an assistant at Winnfield.
He left Winnfield in 1949 to accept a similar position at Bossier High School, staying there one year as well.
Coach Davis then served as an assistant at Jena High School during the 1950-1952 seasons.
Like two of the previous Winnfield coaches (Ben Cameron and Emmett Cope), Bill
Davis prepped at Haynesville High School. After graduation, Davis went on to
play college football at Louisiana Tech. Coach Davis was not exactly an “outsider’,
however. When he came back to Winnfield in 1952, it was a homecoming of sorts because his wife, the former Joyce Ellen
Dunford, was a “Winnfield girl”.
Coach Davis inherited a program that had struggled through four straight losing seasons.
Though the program had gone through a total of 17 losing seasons since the 1930 season (a span covering 23 football
seasons), the four-year string of losing seasons was the longest such string. The only other time the program
had three or more losing seasons in a row was between 1940 and 1942. Otherwise, the program would have
two or three teams come along per decade that would at least end the year with a .500 record and give the program a reprieve
from another losing streak. So, Coach Davis’ initial task was to keep the program
from adding to its string of four straight losing seasons.
That task would be a daunting one. Coach Davis’ squad was, for the most part,
new to varsity level football. He only had six returning lettermen from the previous season and only two
of those had been starters. His most experienced players, Jimmy Anyan and Glen
Evans, were linemen. The other four lettermen included Bennie Simmons at guard,
Troy Lynn Smith at end, Jimmy Terrill at quarterback and Charles Varnell at
one of the back positions. The rest of the team would have to be built with players who had little varsity
experience. All total, there were nine seniors Coach Davis had to mold into football players
and he planned on using every one of them. He also had an equal number of juniors on his squad, with most
of those manning the so-called skill positions. All in all, he had talent. What he lacked
were players who had game experience.
By the opening game, Coach Davis had settled on a starting lineup that included nine seniors, a sophomore and a freshman. The starting lineup for the Tigers opening game was: John Echols (LE), Jimmy Anyan (LT), John
Creel (LG), Stanley
Bass (C), Bennie
Simmons (RG), Glen Evans (RT), Troy Lynn Smith
(RE), Jimmy Terrill (QB), Charles Varnell (RH), A. B. White (LH) and Jerry
The quest for wins
got off to a slow start at the Tigers dropped two of the first three games of the season. The first of
those losses came in the season-opener against Natchitoches in a game in which the Red Devils shutout the Tigers and posted
three touchdowns in an 18-0 win. Natchitoches halfback Charlie Tolar scored two touchdowns, with one covering
10 yards and the other covering 50. The next week the Tiger backfield of Drewett, Varnell
and White, picked up 280 yards rushing, with Drewett and Varnell getting touchdowns in a 12-7 win over LaSalle.
The game gave his inexperienced bunch just what they needed early in the season: a battle, a win, and a
1-1-0 record for the year.
first of six road games began in the third week of the season against Tallulah. The Enterprise estimated that “20
to 25 carloads of local fans made the 125-mile trip” to support the Tigers. Winnfield would need
that kind of support against the Trojans, holders of five state titles. At the time, only Byrd High School, with six championship
trophies, had won more state championships. The game had all the makings of a blowout, but the final outcome was only decided
by 1 point.
In fact, the Tigers took a 12-0 lead into halftime on the heels of touchdown runs
by A. B. White and Varnell. However, the Tallulah defense
stiffened in the second half and kept the Tigers out of the end zone. That Tallulah defense also forced
a late third quarter fumble inside the Winnfield 10 yard-line which set up their first touchdown of the second half and then
they used their passing game to get back into the end zone in the fourth quarter to take a slim 13-12 win. Coach
Davis would later say that “poor pass defense was the Tigers weakest point”. The failure of the Tigers
offense to get anything going at all in the second half certainly added to the Tigers frustrations. The
Tigers had played Tallulah tough in their own back yard, but a loss is a loss.
Not much was expected of the 1953 squad at the first of the season because they were so inexperienced.
That is why it came as a total surprise when the Tigers defeated Winnsboro and Many in consecutive weeks to move the
overall record to 3-2-0. The Winnsboro win came by yet another one-point 13-12 decision, only this time
it was the Tigers who had the “13”. The next week the Tigers blew out Many in a 32-12 decision.
Scoring for Winnfield were Varnell with 3 TD’s and Dale Reeves with 1 TD.
A. B. White also caught a 36-yard pass from Terrill which he ran in for a score.
The Tigers’ record stood at 3-2-0 for the
season. That marked only the third week that a Tiger team had been above the .500 mark in a season during the entire decade.
The other two times came during the 1951 season when the Tigers moved to 2-1 after three games and upped that to 3-1 the next
week. However, that team didn’t win another game, ending the year with a 3-6-1 record. The 1953 Tigers
would duplicate the feat of the 1951 season by also failing to win the final five games of the season and end the year with
a 3-6-1 record.
Ruston shutout Winnfield in a 26-0 decision and then the Tigers averted a loss in a 14-14 tie against Farmerville. When the
Tigers traveled to Union parish to take on Farmerville they weren’t at full strength. Winnfield quarterback Jimmy
Terrill was injured in the Ruston game and was held out of the Farmerville match. Terrill’s
backup was Hershel Machen, an athletic junior. All the Tigers could get out of the game
was a tie which moved their overall record to 3-3-1.
Winnfield faced three tough opponents in Jonesboro, West Monroe and Jena to conclude the season and they would underdogs
in each. Jonesboro was undefeated in district play and tied with Ruston for the district lead. Winnfield had lost five straight
games to Jonesboro, with the last win being a 7-0 victory in the 1948 season. It might have been excusable for the 1953 Tigers
to be somewhat intimidated by Jonesboro. But, in high school football you are dealing with teenagers who think they are invincible.
In fact, Winnfield did look invincible when they
scored on their opening possession to take a 6-0 lead. Jonesboro answered that touchdown early in the second quarter, but
Winnfield came back on their very next series to retake the lead at 12-6 when A. B. White ran 36 yards for
a touchdown. Through a quarter and a half, Winnfield had not only played Jonesboro on even terms but were controlling the
football game. Too bad football games aren’t only eighteen minutes long.
The floodgates then opened against Winnfield and once the floodgates are opened, it’s hard to close them.
At those times, the game can quickly get out of hand. That is what happened in the Jonesboro game.
From the middle of the second quarter until the end of the game Jonesboro was unstoppable.
Jonesboro scored two more times in the second
quarter to take a 20-12 lead into the locker room. In the second half Jonesboro had the ball five times
and scored on every one of those series. They also kept Winnfield out of the end zone to coast to a 52-12 win.
Jonesboro seemed to relish the big win, opting to score their final touchdown on the final play of the game.
Jonesboro scored 52 unanswered points in handing
Winnfield the program’s fifth worst loss up to that time. There had only been five times in school history that a Tiger
team had given up 50 or more points in a game. It’s bad enough when anybody beats Winnfield
by such a lopsided margin. That is only compounded when the opponent is Jonesboro.
The team was assured of a losing record when they dropped a
26-19 decision to West Monroe in the next to last game of the year to move their record to 3-5-1. In the season-finale against
Jena the Tigers held the Giants to a lone first half touchdown. The Tigers then scored on their opening possession of the
second half when A. B. White raced 50 yards for a score. Jimmy Terrill
kicked the extra point to give Winnfield a 7-6 lead. But, Jena quickly regained the lead when they too
scored on their first possession of the half and added another fourth quarter touchdown to take a 20-7 win.
A gang fight nearly erupted after the final
horn sounded when the Jena quarterback attempted to take the game ball (which belonged to Winnfield) from Winnfield quarterback
Jimmy Terrill. The Jena player later stated he wanted to take the ball home with him after winning
the final game of his playing career. The two players exchanged words but one of the officials intervened, taking the game
ball and giving it to Coach Davis. The two teams moved toward each other, but the Winnfield coaching staff
herded their players into the dressing room. The Enterprise quoted one Winnfield athletic department official as
saying, “We paid good money for that ball, and decided to keep it ourselves”. A Winnfield fan
was quoted as saying, “I had already buttoned up my coat real tight, put my watch in my pocket, and gotten set.”
Oh the loyalty of a Tiger fan.
The loss gave
the team a 3-6-1 record for the season, extending the programs string of losing seasons to five. The team
was a senior-led team, with all nine seniors lettering. The biggest downfall of the 1953 team was their lack of scoring punch.
They were held to two touchdowns or less against all but two opponents. That meant that they had to rely on their defense
in every game. The defense yielded three or more touchdowns against five of their opponents, with all five of those games
resulting in losses. The low point of the season was the 52-12 shellacking that Jonesboro posted against the team.
With so many seniors graduating and the program riding a five-year losing skid, you had to wonder whether the following
year would be any different.
KEY SEASON, 1954 (Overall - 8-4-0; *District - 3-2-0)
West Monroe W,
FARMERVILLE W, 20-12
29-48 (*District Tiebreaker)
When the 1954 preseason practices began on the
9th of August, the summer was like so many other Winn Parish summers: hot and dry. That was especially
so in August of 1954 because when summer football practice began on the 9th the thermostat had reached the 100-degree mark
for seven consecutive days. Before summer practices concluded, the 1954 Tigers would practice every day in 100+ degree weather,
as Winnfield recorded a string of 100 degree days beginning on August 2nd and not letting up until late August.
as those long summer days were, the span of time since the Tiger program had ended a season with a winning record must have
seemed just as long. It had been five years since a Tiger football team had won more games than they had lost during a season.
If the 1954 team didn’t break that string, the program would double the previous school record for consecutive losing
seasons. The Tigers record during the five-year string of losing records (1949 to 1953) was 13-33-5, a winning percentage
of only .303. There had only been one other five-year period in the history of the school when fewer wins
had been achieved - that being the 1934 - 1938 period when those five teams only won 12 games.
paper, the chances of avoiding another losing season seemed small because Coach Davis had the task of replacing
10 senior lettermen. Davis would take the hardest hit in his backfield, where his quarterback (Jimmy
Terrill) and three starting backs (Ducker Varnell, Jerry Drewett and A. B. White)
were lost to graduation. He also lost two ends (John Echols and Troy Smith),
two guards (Glen Evans and Bennie Simmons) and a tackle (Jimmy Anyan).
All total, he only had two starters returning, that being center Stanley Bass and guard John Creel.
the season appeared to hold no more promise than any of the preceding five consecutive losing seasons. With the lack of recent
success in the Tiger program, the loss of ten lettermen, and a team built around only two returning starters, most anyone
would have told you that the 1954 season would be “more of the same”, and they would have been wrong. Games aren’t
played on paper.
What Coach Davis did have to work with was an incoming senior class that totaled nine talented players
and all had gained playing experience the year before. But that’s not all he had. One of the largest squads to ever
turn out for Winnfield football had begun practice in the spring of the year. Totaling 51 in number, the sheer size of the
group posed an equipment problem for Coach Davis. This was most acutely felt in the shoe department. Because
of the lack of shoes to outfit every player, several players had to wear regular tennis shoes. In fact, Coach Davis
instituted a policy in the spring whereby any player who missed a practice session forfeited his shoes.
By the end of summer practice
the squad had been reduced down to 43 in number. Of those, Coach Davis had an almost equal number of players
from each class. By the time summer drills ended, the Tigers appeared to have depth at every position. Lacking a true star
to build the team around, the 1954 team would rely on a true team concept whereby no one player would be relied on. Many of
the players had only seen limited action in real game situations, but their performance on the practice field showed Coach
Davis that he had more than one player at every position he could substitute in and out of the lineup. Many previous
Tiger teams appeared to have as much or more talent, but had not shown success on the football field. What the 1954 would
end up producing was one of the best units to play together as a team that had been fielded in some time.
Coach Davis had to replace the entire backfield and he had the seniors to do that with. At the quarterback
slot, three players were being groomed for signal-calling duties, including seniors Hershel Machen and Charles
Bice, as well as sophomore Brooks Broussard. At the halfback positions, Coach Davis
inserted Joe Vines and James Sullivan, and at fullback he had used Jim Ross.
An equal number of underclassmen were available for backup duty, but most were very young; including sophomore Tommy
Seabaugh and a pair of freshmen in John Harrington and Bill Long. Of that entire
backfield, only Machen and Ross were lettermen.
Coach Davis moved letterman Dale
Reeves, who had seen action in the backfield the year before, to one of the end positions and he had seniors Herbert
Garrad (a letterman) and Don Brooks he could rely on. He also had young Mickey
Frazier, a sophomore, penciled in at one of the terminal positions.
In the interior line,
Coach Davis had to completely rebuild as well. He did have his only two returning starters in Stanley
Bass (C) and John Creel (G) to build around. Creel had started the season before
as a freshman, which was a testimony to his talent. Incoming seniors Clyde McLeod (G) and Troy Mixon
(T) would be called on to fill two of the line positions, with juniors Johnny Newman, Jimmy Clark and Thomas
Martin, sophomore Truett Holcomb (T) and freshman Charles Jake Williams rounding
out the other available linemen.
As for the Tigers schedule, Winnfield opened the season by traveling to Class AAA West Monroe. Otherwise,
the Tigers played ten other Class AA opponents. Redistricting had occurred earlier in the year, and a new
classification (Class AAA) had been added to the LHSAA’s range of competing schools. Winnfield would compete in District
3-AA, which consisted of Jonesboro, Jena and Natchitoches.
As dismal as the Tigers overall record was for the previous
five years, the programs record in district competition during the same time period was even worse. Winnfield
had only won one district game in that five year span; that coming in the 1951 season when they took a 7-6 win over Oak Grove.
Overall, Winnfield had a 1-18-1 record in district games between 1949 and 1953. Simply put, Winnfield was
the perennial doormat of their district. That was why it was no surprise when the Tigers were predicted finish dead last in
Winnfield’s season-opener came on the home field of West Monroe. Given that the Tigers opened
against a much larger opponent, the prospect of breaking into the win column in an opening game seemed about as likely as
getting Senator Joseph McCarthy to accept communism (he was formally censured by the U.S. Senate in the fall
of 1954). Besides, it had been five years since a Winnfield team had won a season-opener.
Winnfield teams had not been known for very many comebacks. Usually, once the Tigers were behind in a ball
game they stayed there. Against West Monroe, Winnfield not only staged a comeback, but they did it twice. After West Monroe
took a 6-0 first quarter lead, Winnfield staged their first comeback when halfback James Sullivan scored
on a 12-yard run, after which the Tigers converted on their PAT to move to a 7-6 lead. The Rebels scored
again in the first half to move to a 13-7 lead at the break, however Winnfield staged their second comeback when they took
their opening drive of the second half the length of the field, with Tiger halfback Joe Vines scoring for
the Tigers. The extra point was good, giving the Tigers a 14-13 lead.
Vines scored another touchdown on the Tigers second possession of the second half to up the Tiger lead to 20-13.
After that, the game became a defensive battle with neither team getting back into the end zone; thus giving the Tigers
a win to start the season. The win was a major confidence-builder
for the young Tigers and a huge win for the Tiger program in general. The way in which the Tigers came
from behind twice and virtually shut down the much larger West Monroe team revealed both the desire and talent of the Winnfield
team. The Tigers gutty performance against the Rebels would be style of play that Winnfield fans would get used to seeing
week after week in the fall of 1954.
Winnfield hit the road the second week of the season when they traveled to LaSalle. The game would
be a conference game for LaSalle and Winnfield, though the two weren’t in the same district. That unusual circumstance
arose because of a shakeup in the district alignments after the schedules had already been set.
In the LaSalle
game, Coach White of LaSalle pulled every play out of his playbook and even switched to a double wing formation
to try and confuse the Winnfield players. All of that contributed to three touchdown passes by LaSalle. But, Winnfield was
one touchdown better, with Tiger fullback Jim Ross scoring three touchdowns himself and halfback James
Sullivan getting a single touchdown as the Tigers took a 25-19 win over LaSalle.
Davis cited the entire line for their stellar play. Those listed in the Enterprise
by Coach Davis for exemplary play were guards John Creel, Jake Williams and Clyde
McLeod and tackles Troy Mixon and Johnny Newman. He also cited
centers Stan Bass and Brill Brian, and the entire compliment of ends, consisting of Dale
Reeves, Don Brooks, Mickey Frazier and Herbert Garrard.
Winnfield moved to 2-0-0 for the season with the win.
Since the Tiger’s state champion team of 1919, only six other Winnfield teams had opened the season with a 2-0-0
record, those being the 1923, 1928, 1934, 1946, 1947 and 1948 teams. Winnfield sought to become only the fifth team in school
history to open the season with a 3-0-0 record when they hosted the Gilbert Dragons in the home opener.
opened up a 14-0 first half lead when fullback Jim Ross scored on a 65 yard run and halfback
James Sullivan scored on a twisting 40 yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Later
in the same quarter the Dragons used a fumble recovery to get on the scoreboard just before the half.
The Tigers put the game
out of reach in the third quarter when they got two touchdowns to move the score to 28-7. Quarterback
Hershel Machen concluded the first drive of the second half with a 20-yard run for a touchdown. Then,
on the Tigers second possession of the second half Jim Ross followed halfback James
Sullivan through a huge hole opened by guard John Creel and tackle Johnny Newman.
After Sullivan took care of the Gilbert linebacker, Jim Ross had clear
sailing on a 63-yard touchdown run. Joe Vines followed Jim Ross’ second touchdown
of the night with a successful extra point to give him a perfect four for four PAT conversion rate. Gilbert got their only
other score of the night early in the last quarter to close the margin to 28-13, which closed out the scoring for the night.
28-13 win gave the Tigers 73 points for the season. It also marked the third straight game in which the Tigers had scored
20 or more points. Thus far in the decade of the 1950s, the 1952 squad had been the only unit to score 20 or more points in
three games for the whole season. During that season, three games produced 20 or more points and
one game produced 33 points. If the 1954 team maintained their 24.3 pts. per game scoring average, they would become one of
the highest scoring teams in school history.
The Tigers came into the fourth game of the year against
Winnsboro game brimming with confidence. Up to that point in the season, their execution had been the kind that all coaches
strive for. There seemed to be no weak links in the team. The group played with determination and, above
all, they simply didn’t hurt themselves. The later would change in the Winnsboro game. The Tigers made enough mistakes against Winnsboro for two games. Winnsboro
capitalized on a first half interception to score one touchdown. That would be the first of three touchdowns
Winnsboro would get, but only one would have done it as the Wildcats shutout Winnfield in a 19-0 victory.
Fumbles plagued the Tigers all game long, as
one first half fumble came after the Tigers had reached the Winnsboro 11 yard line. Though the Tigers only
trailed by a 6-0 margin at the half, turnovers in the second half ended all but one possession, meaning the Tigers effectively
stopped themselves. Meanwhile, Winnsboro pushed over a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters to close out the scoring.
a tough loss to take, not only because it was the first loss of the year but because of the manner in which the Tigers lost.
The Tiger defense played brilliantly at times and allowed only one score at the end of a long drive. The Tigers turned the
ball over to Winnsboro five times on fumbles and once on an interception. That was something Winnfield had avoided in their
three wins to open the season. The Tigers simply made too many mistakes.
found themselves in another close battle the next week when they traveled to Many to take on the Sabine parish Tigers. Winnfield
held onto the ball this game and, as a result, were able to push across three touchdowns. Joe Vines, Winnfield’s
stellar halfback, scored all three Winnfield touchdowns, with those coming on two runs of four yards and another run of one
yard. The deciding factor in the game, though, was the fact that Winnfield converted all three extra points, with two being
made by fullback Jim Ross and the other coming after a Tommy Seabaugh run.
Winnfield in touchdowns scored, with two of their touchdowns coming through the air. However, Many was successful on only
one extra point conversion. Because of that, Winnfield escaped with a 21-19 win to up their season record to 4-1-0. They would
need that momentum as they headed into the sixth game of the year because their opponent was the Ruston Bearcats.
to Winnfield for the 1954 game, but home field advantage didn’t seem to matter in this series. Ruston held a 19-3-5
lead in the series, with the last Winnfield win coming in 1935, a period covering twenty years. Since then Ruston had compiled
a 16-0-2 record against Winnfield.
Winnfield knew they would have to follow the formula that had gained them four wins on the season to stay with Ruston:
play like a team and play error-free ball. However, that wouldn’t be the case as Winnfield dug themselves a big hole when they allowed Ruston to score on their first possession and fumbled the ensuing
kickoff, which the Bearcats promptly turned into yet another touchdown. Winnfield essentially spotted Ruston
a 14-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game.
From that point on, the two teams played on even terms.
Neither team threatened to score throughout the remainder of the first half, but Winnfield’s ground game was
clicking and it only seemed to be a matter of time before one of the “Four Horsemen”, a name given to the Tiger
backfield tandem of Machen, Ross, Vines and Sullivan, got the Tigers on the scoreboard.
came on the Tigers opening possession of the second half. Winnfield took the second half kickoff and drove
64 yards for a touchdown, with James Sullivan scoring for the Tigers and Joe Vines adding
the extra point, to make the score 14-7.
Ruston responded, however, by scoring two unanswered touchdowns to take a 27-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
After the final Ruston touchdown, Winnfield put together a 70-yard drive that was culminated by a Jimmy Ross
run. Sullivan added the extra point to make the final score 27-14. The
loss moved the team’s record to 4-2-0.
The Tigers 7th game of the year was the annual homecoming game. The 1954 version of homecoming would be held on Thursday,
October 13th. The game would be played following a parade in downtown Winnfield. Winnfield’s opponent for Homecoming
1954 would be the Farmerville Farmers.
Winnfield scored early in the first and third quarters to forge a 14-0 lead. The game wasn’t as close as the
score indicated, however, because the Tiger defense shut down Farmerville on offense and Winnfield moved up and down the field
time and time again, only to stall out once they got into scoring position.
In the fourth quarter
Hershel Machen fielded a Farmerville punt at his own 4 yard-line, circled back to the two yard line, and
followed good blocking down the sidelines for a 96-yard run for a touchdown. James Sullivan and Dale
Reeves combined to knock out the only defenders who had a shot at stopping Machen. As a result,
Machen ran the final 25 yards with no defender near him.
Machen’s run broke, by 5 yards, the school
record for the longest punt return for a touchdown. Vernon McDonald had set that mark
in the 1948 season with a 90-yard return. At the time, Machen’s run was the second longest touchdown
run of any kind, trailing only John Jackson’s 97-yard run from scrimmage in the early 1940s.
run not only broke a school record, it also broke the game wide open. His run upped the Tiger lead to 20-0. After
that, Coach Davis inserted his reserves, who did allow two touchdowns, but the Farmers scored their final
touchdown with only a few ticks remaining on the clock. In the end, Winnfield took a 20-12 win, which improved the Tigers’
record to 5-2-0.
Since the Tigers had an eleven game regular season they were still one win shy of clinching a winning season. But,
the five wins they had already amassed was the most wins of any team in the 1950s and half as many wins as had been achieved
in the previous five years combined. However, the team had much loftier goals than just a winning season. Three of the remaining
games were district games, so there was the district championship to be settled. The group was still vying to become the first
Winnfield team to compete in the playoffs.
In the third week of October 1954, there was really only one thing that the Tigers were focused on - the Jonesboro
Tigers. The game would be the second district game for Winnfield and would be the usual highlight of the season for both teams.
Jonesboro had won five in a row against Winnfield and they had won eight of the last nine games. So, no Winnfield player on
the 1954 team had ever played on a team that had beaten Jonesboro. Winnfield ended five years of frustration with a 14-7 win
over Jonesboro. The win over Jonesboro was huge for many reasons. By knocking off Jonesboro, Winnfield moved to 2-0 in district
play. Plus, the win moved the team’s record to 6-2-0, guaranteeing the Tigers a winning season. That would be the first
winning season in six years and only the seventh winning season since 1928, a period of 26 years. In a season when so little
was expected coming into the season, this group of players was exceeding virtually everyone’s expectations. Were the
season to end after the Jonesboro game, it would have to be classified a resounding success. Already the season stood out
as one of the best seasons since the glory years of the 1920s. Winnfield had already proven they were a good team.
In the remaining games, they had a chance to be included among Winnfield’s best teams.
Winnfield ended the regular
season with away games against Pineville, Jena and Natchitoches. Pineville offered the Tigers a district
breather before they resumed district competition against Jena and Natchitoches. Pineville came into the game with a 1-5-0
record, but the game marked Pineville’s homecoming and the stands were packed with a crowd estimated to be around 3,000.
was already used to winning close games because a vast majority of their wins had been decided by the narrowest of margins.
A total of five of their six wins had come by a margin of 8 points or less. The only win that had come by a larger margin
was the 15 pt. win over Gilbert. The Pineville game would produce yet another nail-biter.
Winnfield scored twice
in the first half to take a 13-6 lead into halftime. Both touchdowns were set up by fumble recoveries, with the first coming
at the Pineville 6 yard line and the second coming at the Rebel 45. Scoring for Winnfield was Joe
Vines on a six-yard run and Jim Ross on an 11-yard burst.
Pineville made the game
interesting when they pushed across a touchdown with only three minutes to go in the first half after taking advantage of
a short Winnfield punt.
It took a supreme defensive effort to preserve this win. Winnfield’s forward wall, led by 208-pound Johnny
Newman and 180-pound Troy Mixon, continually harassed Pineville’s ball carriers in the second
half. Though the Tiger offense couldn’t pad their lead in the second half, Pineville never got back into the end zone
anyway, giving the Tigers a 7 point win and improving the team’s record to 7-2-0 for the season. The surprisingly potent
1954 team had moved to within two wins of a school record for wins in a season; that coming in a season where a winning record
was all that was reasonably hoped for and would have been gladly accepted before the first game was played.
the Pineville win, the Tigers had an open date. That would give Winnfield two weeks to get ready for two of the most important
football games played by a Tiger team in decades. After nine weeks of the season, Winnfield and Natchitoches were locked into
a two-way tie for first place in the district, each with 2-0-0 district marks. Both teams had beaten Jonesboro, and Winnfield
had knocked off LaSalle. While LaSalle wasn’t a member of district 3-AA, each team in the district was assigned another
game that would count in the district race. For Winnfield, LaSalle would be that opponent. Right behind
Winnfield and Natchitoches was Jena, with only one district loss. So, in a critical two-game stretch, Winnfield would play
Jena and Natchitoches and have a chance to win the school’s first district championship.
up would be Jena. The Giants and Tigers had faced three common opponents during the season. Each had defeated
Jonesboro by similar scores, but Jena had beaten Winnsboro and Pineville by comfortable margins, while Winnfield was beaten
by Winnsboro and had escaped with a narrow 7-point win over Pineville. Coming into the game, Winnfield was 7-2-0 for the season,
while Jena was 7-3-0.
It is rare for one player to make a huge difference in a team sport, but Jena did have a weapon that had to be accounted
for. Giant fullback Raymond Manchester was considered by many to be one of the best running backs in the
state and, in fact, had been for several years. Manchester was both the leading ground-gainer and leading
scorer in the state. Winnfield’s defense had been shutting down rushing attacks all season long, but they hadn’t
faced a player like Manchester, or a rushing attack like Jena possessed. Other than Manchester,
the Giants had no fewer than three other backs they relied on.
Jena proved to be as difficult to stop on the field as they
appeared on paper. It turned out to be a game Winnfield never ready threatened in and a game Jena controlled from the outset.
The Giants rolled up 431 yards, mainly on the ground, in soundly defeating the Tigers 33-2. Manchester had
his usual good game, but four different players scored for Jena, as the Giants got touchdowns in every quarter.
Jena took a 13-0 lead into half time, improved that to 27-0 at the end of the third quarter and closed with a fourth
Winnfield averted a shutout when the second string defense tackled a reserve Jena player in his own end zone for a
safety. That play came in the third quarter, but the game was virtually decided at that point. For the game, Winnfield only
gained 111 yards from scrimmage and continually found themselves in punt formation. Jena gained 16 first downs in playing
a ball control type of game.
The loss moved Winnfield’s record to 7-3-0 for the season and 2-1-0 in district play. Jena, meanwhile, closed
out their season with an 8-3-0 record and 3-1-0 district record. Winnfield had one more game to play in
the season, that being against district foe Natchitoches. Due to the scheduling quirk, Natchitoches’ district record
stood at 3-0-0. They hadn’t played Jena and could become the district champions with a win over Winnfield. Conversely,
Winnfield could throw the district race into a three-way tie with a win over Natchitoches.
would be playing against another Louisiana high school football star when they faced Natchitoches. Charlie Tolar,
the “Baby Tank”, led the Natchitoches attack. However, Tolar came into the
game with an injured ankle and would not be at 100%. Still, like Jena, Natchitoches was more than a one-man team. The bottom
line was that the Tigers had their work cut out for them. It was simply the most important game any Winnfield team had played
since the 1920s. As it turned out, before the night was over the Tigers would have to win a shoot-out, which was not something
they were used to doing. In only two of the Tigers seven wins was it necessary for the Tigers to score more than three touchdowns
to get a win. Against Natchitoches, three touchdowns would not have done it.
In fact, Winnfield was down by two touchdowns by the end
of the first quarter. The first Red Devil touchdown came after Tolar finished off a drive with a three yard
run. Later in the quarter Natchitoches punt return man Jerry Lott raced 62 yards for a touchdown, which gave
Natchitoches a 12-0 lead.
In marked contrast to the first quarter, the second quarter would be all-Winnfield as it would be the Tigers who would
post two touchdowns. The first came by way of a 2-yard run by Joe Vines. Jim Ross ran for
the extra point to make the score 12-7. Then, with under a minute to go in the half Winnfield took over after a punt rolled
out of bounds at the Winnfield 47 yard-line. Machen completed two consecutive passes to move the Tigers to
the Red Devil’s 5 yard-line. Then, with only 00:15 remaining on the clock, Machen rifled a pass to
Jim Ross in the end zone to move the score to 13-12 Winnfield.
As exciting as the first half was, the
third quarter would be the most dizzying quarter of the year, where there were three lead changes. On the second play of the
half, Jerry Lott, Red Devil halfback, ran 64 yards for a touchdown to enable Natchitoches to regain the lead
at 18-13. The try for the extra point was no good. That marked the third lead change of the game. Winnfield
responded by retuning the Natchitoches kickoff to their own 47 yard-line and driving the ball to the Red Devil 2 yard-line,
where James Sullivan bolted through a crack in the Natchitoches defensive wall to make the score 19-18.
When the Tigers
kicked off to Natchitoches, their dangerous return man, Jerry Lott, hauled in the ball at
the Red Devil 15 yard-line. He then raced 85 yards for a touchdown to give Natchitoches a 24-19 lead. The momentum shifts
in this game were enough to wear down even the most uninvolved spectator. However, there weren’t many impartial spectators
in the stands. There had been five lead changes in the game, with three coming in the third quarter alone.
was having a career game against the Tigers. He had scored three of Natchitoches’ four touchdowns.
His smorgasbord of scores included a 62-yard punt return, a 64-yard run from scrimmage and an 85-yard kickoff return. If Natchitoches
was missing Charlie Tolar, who was slowed by an ankle injury, Lott was more than making
Early in the fourth quarter the Tigers methodically moved down the field and scored in nine plays, with the TD coming
on a four yard run by James Sullivan. That gave the Tigers a 25-24 lead.
kicked off to Natchitoches following their touchdown, this time kicking away from Lott. On
the second play of that series, the Tiger defense got the break Coach Davis was looking for. On the play,
the Natchitoches ball carrier was rocked by a Tiger defender and promptly fumbled. An alert Troy Mixon fell
on the ball, giving the Tigers the ball at the Red Devil 39 yard-line.
The Tigers came in and increased their lead to 7-points when
they drove to the 4 yard-line, where Hershel Machen took the snap from center and rolled around right end
to score standing up. That made the score 31-24. The extra point would have moved the Tigers to an 8 point lead, which would
have required Natchitoches to score twice. But, in this game, where nothing was done easily, the Tigers
were stopped short of the goal line on the extra point try.
That didn’t matter, as the Tiger defense shut down
Natchitoches the rest of the way and took a win in a game that saw six lead changes. The game itself summarized what the whole
season had been about. Each of the “Four Horsemen” - Machen, Vines, Ross and
Sullivan, scored for Winnfield, with Sullivan scoring two touchdowns. Coach Davis
praised his offense, stating, “When all our backs are scoring, they (the opposition) can’t defense you too well.”
The Tiger offensive line simply refused to lose and continually opened holes for the Tiger backs. The Winnfield
offense continually got the Tigers back into the game. As disheartening as Natchitoches’ comebacks were, Winnfield answered
every second half score with a touchdown on the next series. That is the mark of a champion.
But, it was the
Tiger defense that preserved the win, shutting Natchitoches down completely in the fourth quarter and forcing a decisive fumble
midway through the final quarter. That turnover led to Winnfield’s clinching touchdown. The win was one of the biggest
in school history, when you consider why the Tigers needed to win and how they went about pulling out the
The win enabled the Tigers to move to 8-3-0 for the season. That was one win shy of the school record for most wins
in a season. It was three wins shy of the combined number of wins by the four other teams that had already played in the 1950s.
The 1954 team didn’t have anything else to prove to establish themselves as one of the better teams in school history
at the time. However, the season wasn’t over. By defeating Natchitoches, Winnfield threw the district race into a three-way
tie for first place. To move into the highest echelons of Winnfield High School football, the Tigers still had some work to
The principals and coaches from Winnfield, Jena and Natchitoches met after the Winnfield - Natchitoches game to determine
the details for the tie-breaker games to determine the district champions. What was known was that the teams would break the
tie on the field. The procedure used to determine the eventual District 3-AA representative was simple. Three slips of paper
would be put into a hat, with two slips being blank and one with the word “Bye” written on it. The schools who
drew the two blank pieces of paper would meet first in a game to be played the following Tuesday. The school who drew the
slip of paper with the word “Bye” written on it would meet the winner of the Tuesday game the following Saturday.
from the Alexandria Town Talk handled the drawing. Picking for Winnfield was Principal R. L. Terry.
Mr. Terry drew the slip marked “Bye”, giving the Tigers a week’s rest and time to prepare
for their district tiebreaker game. They would play the winner of the Jena - Natchitoches game, which would be played in Natchitoches.
the way Jena had handled Winnfield earlier in the season, the Tigers were secretly pulling for Natchitoches. However, it wasn’t
to be. If Winnfield were going to take the district crown, they would have to go through Jena, who defeated
Natchitoches in the first tie-breaking game.
Had you told Coach Davis before the Jena
game that the Tigers would score 29 points against Jena, he would have most likely been satisfied. That would have been the
second most points the Tigers had scored all year, however, that wouldn’t have been enough to win the first game, because
the Tigers had trouble stopping Jena, who posted 33 points in the first game. Winnfield did, in fact, score 29 points against
Jena in the rematch, but Jena topped that by a 19-point margin in taking a 48-29 win. As expected, Manchester
did most of the damage, but Jena was simply too strong a team for Winnfield and they proved that in two decisive wins during
the 1954 season.
Like most of the previous great teams in Tiger football history, the 1954 team came within one win of making the playoffs,
because in the 1950s only the district champion advanced to the playoffs. However, it would have taken a complete collapse
by Jena in the district tiebreaker for Winnfield to defeat the Giants. This was Jena’s year and Winnfield simply didn’t
have the defense to stop the Giants.
The 1954 season would be the only winning season of the 1950s and would be a welcome relief after the school had posted
five straight losing seasons. That is easily the longest string of losing seasons in the history of the program.
The second longest string is a pair of three-year stretches of losing seasons between 1940 and 1942 and between 1996
The seniors of the 1954 season won more games their final year of eligibility than had been won during their sophomore
and junior years combined. The eight wins in 1954 were the 4th most in school history up to that point, trailing only the
9 wins of the 1923, 1928 and 1948 teams.
The key to the team’s success was offense. The team became
the 7th team in school history to top 200 points in a single season, getting 207 pts. in 12 games. And, while the Tiger defense
played well all season, they did give up 105 points in the final three games of the season, with the team going 1-2 in those
games. The Tigers got into a scoring match against Natchitoches, out-pointing them 31-29. But, they couldn’t
overcome Jena’s powerful offense in two different games. Jena’s dominance over Winnfield in 1954 and Ruston’s
continued dominance were pretty much the low points of the season. But, the 8-4-0 record the 1954 team posted was a shining
jewel at a time when Winnfield football was hard pressed to win football games. In some ways, the manner in which
the 1954 team accomplished that will always be their biggest legacy - that is, they won with a true “team” concept,
as they didn’t rely on any one player to get the job done. Their backs played like a unit, as did their linemen.
one other legacy left by the 1954 team was their capacity to win close games. Of all of the teams that played during the twentieth
century, the 1954 team would be the one to win the most games by seven points or less. Only three teams during the century
won four or more games by 7 points or less. The 1954 team had six of their eight wins decided by 7 points of less. Their other
two wins came by margins of 8 and 15 points. But, in the win-loss column it only matters whether you won, not by
1955 (Overall - 4-6-0;
*District - 2-2-0) As the Winnfield Tiger football program enteredit forty-seventh season it had the
opportunity to have the first back-to-back winning seasons since the 1927-1928 seasons.
That would break a string of 27 consecutive years without back-to-back winning seasons.
Graduation losses from the previous season would make that task difficult. Those losses took their biggest toll in the backfield as six of the nine backs that lettered the previous season were seniors. The three returning backs that had lettered were juniors Brooks Broussard and
Tommy Seabaugh, as well as sophomore John Harrington. The biggest
adjustment Coach Davis made to his depleted backfield was to move senior
Dale “Mo” Reeves from his end slot to a backfield position. He had lettered both his sophomore and junior years at the end position, but Coach Davis needed him in the
backfield, so he shifted him to fullback before the season started. One
teammate of Reeves said his "real" nickname was "Wearer
of Many Pads" because Reeves was known to wear a pad on every part of his body that he could. Junior Mickey Frazier had lettered the season before at the end position and, like
Reeves, he too was shifted to the
backfield and was expected to fill one of the halfback positions along side Tommy
Seabaugh. Broussard was moved into the quarterback position, so he, along with Reeves,
Frazier and Seabaugh
made up the Tiger backfield.
The picture was a little different in the line where Coach Davis had both experience and depth, despite
the fact that he lost four starters. Eight of his twelve returning lettermen were interior linemen, including seniors
Johnny Newman, Jimmy Clark and Thomas Martin, along with juniors John Creel,
Truett Holcomb and sophomore Jake Williams. Of that bunch, Creel,
Bass and Newman had earned 3rd team All-District honors the season before.
his two most experienced ends to the backfield, Coach Davis continued to shuffle his lineup.
He moved Stanley Bass, his starting center from the previous season, to an end position. He moved
John Harrington from the backfield to one of the end positions as well. Junior Bill Brian
moved into a starting role at the center position with the transfer of Bass to end. Prior to the start of the season a new, state-of-the-art electronic
scoreboard was installed at the Winnfield football field. The scoreboard was a first of its kind, showing not only the score
and time but also the quarter being played, the down and the yardage needed for a first down.
other changes in store. Coach Davis introduced the “new look” of the Tigers at a meeting of the
Lions Club in the summer of 1955. The players would be decked out in new game uniforms, which Coach Davis
showed to the group. The new jerseys were scarlet with white numerals featuring a rayon sheen and the pants were gray with
red strips down the legs. The gray pants would be worn whether the Tigers wore their scarlet away jerseys or their white home
jerseys. Davis also showed each piece of equipment the players wore and pointed out that
it cost approximately $125.00 per man to outfit a football player. With over 70 boys reporting for spring football, the cost
of running the program was an ever-increasing problem, something coaches have always struggled with. Prior to the season,
Coach Davis was upbeat and predicted his club would be “as strong as last years”.
Just before summer drills,
Winnfield hired a new assistant to aid Coach Davis. Clayton Bullard, a new graduate of Louisiana College,
was hired to coach the linemen. While at Louisiana College Bullard earned four letters
in football and three in track, playing tackle on the football team and running the 200-yard dash and the relays for L.C.
of Winnfield’s opponents opened their season prior to the Tigers as Winnfield started the season two weeks later than
most other high schools. This was due to the fact that Winnfield scheduled only ten games compared to the eleven game schedule
played by most other schools.
KEY GAME: Winnfield opened the season
at home against Neville. The Neville Tigers were loaded with a team full of players that had gone 8-3-0 the season before
under the tutelage of Coach Bill Ruple who was on the verge of becoming a Louisiana coaching legend.
Ruple had become the head coach at Neville in 1945, but neither he nor any other Neville coach had
taken a Neville team to a state championship game prior to the 1955 season. That was all about to change. Counting the 1955
season, Coach Ruple would coach eight more seasons at Neville, before turning the program over to his long
time assistant, Charlie Brown. In those eight seasons, he led the program to five Class AA title games. By
the end of the century, Neville would play in seven more title games. In short, the “Neville Dynasty” began in
the 1955 season. At the end of the 1955 season, Neville played in their first championship game, where they defeated Reserve
27-14, in taking their first state championship. So powerful were the Neville Tigers between 1955 and 1995, that their eight
championship teams posted a combined won-loss record of 98-3-2. Two of those losses came in 1955.
During the 46 seasons that Winnfield had played
football prior to the 1955 season the Tigers had played 11 teams that had gone on to win a state championship that same season.
Winnfield’s record against those 11 opponents was 0-11. Winnfield’s chances of breaking the winless drought against
championship teams seemed as unlikely in 1955 as it had in earlier seasons.
Neville’s 2-0 record included wins over Class AAA Bastrop
and West Monroe. Winnfield fans may not have feared a blowout against Neville, but Winnfield was clearly the underdog.
Much to the amazement of everyone in attendance,
Winnfield took its first series right down the field, with the big play of the drive being a 40-yard run by Brooks
Broussard. Once the Tigers got within 15 yards of the Neville goal line, Mickey Frazier carried
on a reverse and ran into the end zone. The PAT was no good, but Winnfield jumped to a 6-0 lead and with it gained a ton of
as impressive – and as uplifting – was the next series that saw Neville move to a first and goal at the Winnfield
5 yard-line, only to be repelled in four attempts. The Tiger defensive line, made up of Charles Williams, Stanley
Bass, Jimmy Clark and Dale Reeves; backed by linebackers John Creel and Bill
Brian, got all of the credit for that stop. With the opening touchdown and goal line stand, momentum had clearly
taken up residence on the Winnfield bench.
Neville did get a touchdown on their next series to tie the game at 6-all, but the remainder of the first half turned
into a defensive struggle as the two teams exchanged punts four times. Winnfield’s only other foray into Neville territory
in the first half went to the Neville 45 yard-line, while Neville’s deepest penetration of the first half following
their touchdown went to the Winnfield 34 yard-line.
Winnfield stared Neville square in the eyes for two quarters and matched them blow for blow. While no serious fan of
football would have given Winnfield a chance against Neville prior to the game, no reasonable person would have completely
counted the Tigers out as the two teams headed in for halftime. Neville got a huge break early in the third quarter when Winnfield
fumbled the ball away five yards from their own goal line. Two plays later Neville pushed over their second touchdown to forge
a 12-6 lead. The try for the PAT was no good but Winnfield’s gift to Neville enabled the visiting Tigers to take the
lead for the first time in the game.
After that, the defensive battle seen during the second quarter resumed, though Winnfield did make it to a first and
goal situation late in the third quarter. Neville repelled that scoring threat with a goal line stand at the one.
With just over three minutes to go in the game,
Neville had the lead and the ball at the Winnfield 31 yard line. All Neville had to do was pick up a couple of first downs
and run out the clock to gain their third win of the season. A touchdown from only 31 yards away seemed
likely as well, which would have obviously put the game out of reach for Winnfield. Though Winnfield had played one of the
best football games any Winnfield team had ever played, it appeared they would have to settle for a “tough loss”.
Neville proved to be their own worst enemy when,
in three successive plays they: fumbled and recovered the ball, got a five-yard penalty for illegal procedure and suffered
a 15-yard penalty for clipping. Facing a fourth and long from midfield and with just under a minute to play in the game, Neville
elected to punt to Winnfield, hoping to pin the Tigers deep in their own end of the field and play defense. Coach
Ruple had every reason to believe his defense could hold Winnfield one more time.
Broussard fielded the punt and
returned it to the Neville 20 yard-line with less than 30 seconds to go in the game. With time for only a couple of plays,
Winnfield squandered their first opportunity when they fumbled on first down but recovered for no gain, leaving time for only
one more play. Coach Davis called for a flea flicker. After Tiger quarterback Brooks Broussard
took the snap from center, he pitched the ball to fullback Dale Reeves, who ran several steps, stopped and
threw the ball back to Broussard, who gathered in the ball in the flat at the Winnfield 20 yard-line.
After making the catch, “Crazy Legs” Broussard took off down
the sidelines and ran 80 yards for one of the most improbable and decisive touchdowns in Winnfield football history. The final
horn had sounded during Broussard's game-tying run, but Winnfield still had the opportunity to break the
deadlock when they were given their chance at the PAT with no time on the clock. With the ball placed on
the 3 yard-line, and the crowd in a frenzy, Mickey Frazier got the call and plowed through the Neville defensive
front to cross the goal line and give the Tigers a thrilling 13-12 win.
The term “upset” was not part of the Winnfield Tiger
football vocabulary. Winnfield just didn’t win the games “they weren’t supposed to”.
Never before had a Winnfield team, playing as an underdog, faced as formidable opponent as Neville and walked away with a
win. Simply put, at the time, Winnfield’s improbable win over Neville was the biggest upset in Tiger football history.
Likewise, by the end of the century it would be difficult to find a bigger upset. It would be an injustice to call the win
a fluke. Winnfield out-gained Neville 8 to 6 in first downs. The yardage gained by rushing was almost even,
with Winnfield picking up 158 yards on the ground to Neville's 160 yards. Through the air, Winnfield attempted six passes
and completed two for 86 yards. Neville, meanwhile, tried two passes and didn't complete either. Turnovers were almost at
a minimum, with Winnfield's lone lost fumble being the only turnover, but of course, that turnover almost decided the outcome
of the game, as Neville recovered the ball and scored two plays later. Both teams received 5 penalties for 45 yards. So, the
game was evenly matched from as many viewpoints as you can evaluate the game. The game was so close that, in
the end, the team that made the most extra points won.
The win was a product
of sheer desire. During the game, Winnfield did everything that a coach hopes his team will do to gain
momentum; including an opening drive touchdown, a goal line stand and a game-long defensive assault that was enough to demoralize
any opponent. Winnfield’s boys had plenty of opportunities to get down on themselves, having fumbled the ball away to
Neville at their own 5 yard-line, resulting in Neville's go-ahead touchdown and being turned away from what seemed to be certain
game-tying touchdown late in the third quarter. In the end, the Winnfield team never gave up, not even
with the ball 80 yards away with only one play possible.
All game long, Neville’s defensive played just as tough as Winnfield’s. The bottom line is that Winnfield
never quit and that saying used by many coaches was true: the game isn’t over until the final whistle. In the 1955 Winnfield
- Neville game, that saying was as literally true as it ever has been. Neville would go on to win that
school’s first state title at the end of the 1955 season and would win seven more titles before the turn of the century.
Those eight championship teams would only lose three football games. One of those losses was to the 1955
Winnfield Tiger team.
The win left Winnfield fans wondering just how good the Winnfield team was. If Winnfield continued to play as well
against future opponents, the fans reasoned, the Tigers could play with anybody. The fans wouldn't have to wait long to get
their answer because the Tigers lost the next three football games.
The first loss was a close one-pointer in a 13-12 decision to Winnsboro. Winnfield jumped to a 12-0
first quarter lead on short touchdown runs by Tommy Seabaugh and Dale Reeves.
That lead held until the fourth quarter. If any high school team in Louisiana knew that you had to play 48 minutes
it was the Winnfield team. After nursing a 12-0 lead all game long, the Tigers saw that lead evaporate
late in the final quarter, first with a fumble return for a touchdown by Winnsboro and then with a blocked punt deep in Winnfield
territory that Winnsboro recovered in good field position and scored four plays later to take a 13-12 lead.
When Winnfield got the ball back they were in
the same position they were in the week before. They had the ball with the length of the field to go to take the lead and
time for only a few plays. Coach Davis made the same call he had made the week before. And, like the week
before when Dale Reeves connected with Broussard on a flea-flicker he had a lot of running
room as he worked he way down the field. However, Winnsboro was able to pull Broussard down at their own
20 yard-line, and they stopped Winnfield for no gain on the final two plays, leaving Winnfield the heartbreak victim this
time. Unlike the week before, it was Winnfield who paid for failing to convert on extra points, as Winnsboro converted on
one of two attempts, while Winnfield did not convert on either of their attempts.
It was a game Winnfield let get away. Winnfield dominated the
statistics, picking up 235 total yards, while limiting Winnsboro to 85 total yards. But, it wasn’t offensive production
that decided this game. Critical errors in the form of a fumble and a blocked punt were the deciding factor.
After the loss to Winnsboro,
the Tigers then dropped two more games, with neither of the second and third losses of the season being close as the Tigers
were trounced by LaSalle by a 31-7 margin and were handily defeated by Ruston (as usual) by a 33-14 margin. The Tiger team
had opened up the season with a strong defense against Neville and a strong enough defense in the second game of the season
against Winnsboro. However, beginning with the final quarter of the Winnsboro game and extending through
the entire games against LaSalle and Ruston games the Tiger defense gave up 77 points. Winnfield’s
team, as a whole, was suddenly making too many mistakes to win football games. As a result, the team neared
the mid-point of the season with a 1-3-0 record.
Just prior to the Ruston game, the Winnfield High School girls basketball team began workouts for the upcoming season.
They would do so with a brand-new head coach. Coach Delores Carter, who had built a successful program
at Epps, had been hired to take over the head coaching duties at Winnfield. In time, she would guide the
Winnfield girls to a state title, something the boys football team was still hoping to accomplish on the playing field.
The best cure for an ailing football team is
a win and that is what the Tiger football program got in weeks five and six of the 1955 season against Farmerville and Pineville.
Reversing the trend set in back-to-back blowout losses to LaSalle and Ruston, it would be the Tigers who would administer
the blowouts in a 47-13 win over an outmanned Farmerville team and a 35-13 whipping of Pineville. The 34-point margin of victory
over Farmerville represented the largest margin of victory a Tiger team had achieved since the 1946 season and in fact the
1948 team was the most recent Tiger team to even score 34 or more points in a game (let alone have a 34-point margin of victory).
The 47 points represented the most points scored by a Tiger team since the 1933 team posted 52 points on the scoreboard against
Selma. In the Farmerville game Tiger back Mickey Frazier rushed for four touchdowns on
runs of 5, 10, 30 and 60 yards. His four rushing touchdowns in the game made him only the fourth Tiger football player to
accomplish that feat up to that point in time; allowing him to join Gabe Durham (1928), Teal Calhoun
(1929) and Hovey Harrell (1933) in rushing for four touchdowns in a game.
Other than the Broussard touchdown,
the Tigers also got a pair of touchdowns from Dale Reeves (11 & 5 yard runs). Farmerville
got two touchdowns, with one coming just before the half and the other one coming in the third quarter.
The Tigers evened their overall record to 3-3
record the next week against Pineville when they had their second consecutive good offensive showing. The Tigers played well
on the defensive side of the ball as well, holding Pineville to only two touchdowns in a 35-13 Tiger win.
had been a topsy-turvy year up to this point in the season. The team started off the season by posting
the biggest upset in school history against Neville. That was followed by three straight losses, with two of those being of
the “blow-out variety”. Then, it was the Tigers who administered the blowouts in back to back
wins where the Tigers posted 82 points on the scoreboard.
swung back to the disappointing side the next week in a loss and the disappointment was only magnified by the fact that the
loss was to hated rival Jonesboro. What made the loss even more disgusting was the fact that Jonesboro was winless on the
season when they came to the game. Having beaten Jonesboro the season before, Winnfield was looking to put together back-to-back
wins against Jonesboro for the first time since the 1927-1928 seasons. It was not to be as Jonesboro took a 14-0 lead into
the final quarter, allowed Winnfield to narrow that lead to 14-7 and then settled things with a win-clinching touchdown in
the final period to take a 21-7 win.
The last win
of the 1955 season came against Natchitoches. On Natchitoches’ opening possession they drove the length of the field
and appeared to be headed for a touchdown when Brooks Broussard stepped in front of a Natchitoches pass at
the Winnfield goal line and returned it the length of the field for a touchdown. His 100-yard pass interception was, at the
time, the longest touchdown in Winnfield history. By the end of the century, when Winnfield had been playing football for
91 years, Broussard’s run remained the longest touchdown in school history, though Mike Kelly
(1965) and Andrew Riggs (1984) duplicated Broussard’s feat when they too returned
an interception for 100 yards. So rare have been touchdowns of 90 or more yards that in the first 91 years of Winnfield football,
there were only 19 touchdowns that covered that distance, with only four of those coming prior to Broussard’s
tied the score up later in the first half, but Winnfield scored the next two touchdowns to take a 20-6 lead into the fourth
quarter and held on for a 20-13 win. The win moved the team’s record to 4-4-0 overall and 2-0 in district play.
However, the win came at a cost as starting fullback Dale Reeves suffered a fractured
leg and was lost for the season. His was the only major injury of the year and it couldn’t have come
at a worse time (if there is ever a good time).
Winnfield dropped the final two games of the season in losses to Jena (27-7) and Menard (46-6); but being district
games. The Tigers only scored two touchdowns in those two games. One of those touchdowns came on a 92-yard
kickoff return by John Harrington, which was the second longest kickoff return in school history up to that
point, trailing only Jackie Givens' 95 yard kickoff return against St. Mary's during the 1945 season.
The other touchdown came in the season finale against Menard when halfback Tommy Seabaugh took in
a pass from James Machen late in the final quarter to complete a 33-yard touchdown.
Winnfield ended the season with a 4-6 record
overall and a 3-2 record in district play. The Tigers ended the year in a three-way tie in district play but it was not for
the place they wanted. Jena finished the year with a perfect 5-0 record to take the district title, while Winnfield, Natchitoches
and Menard each had a similar district record, ending the year tied for second place. Only the district champions advanced
to the playoffs so the Tigers would yet again sit home when the playoffs began, extending the drought of never having played
in a playoff game.
In 1955 when
the Tiger offense clicked, the Tigers won. It was that simple. In three of their four wins they scored
20 or more points. In four of their six losses they only scored one touchdown. The Tiger defense played steady all year. Through
the first eight games of the season, that defense held six of eight opponents to under 14 points. But,
the season ended on a sour note when Jena and Menard combined to score 73 points.
1956 (Overall - 5-5-0; *District - 3-1-0)
When Alwin Stokes first became head coach in 1917, he
guided the Winnfield program for 7 seasons, leaving after the 1923 season. Since that time, Winnfield had
been led by fifteen head coaches; including Stokes himself, who returned for two more seasons in 1933-1934.
The average tenure of a head coach at Winnfield between 1923 and 1955 was two years. When Winnfield began preparations
for the 1956 season they did so with their sixteenth head coach since Bro. Stokes left in 1923. Just prior
to summer drills, Charles "Hoss" Newman was hired to replace the departing Bill Davis
as head coach. In his three-year tenure Coach Davis compiled a record of 14-16-1, a winning percentage of
.468. That was the highest winning percentage achieved by a Tiger coach since L. D. Baggett, who left Winnfield
after coaching only the 1946 season. Baggett left with a .545 winning percentage. Winning percentages aside,
the crown jewels of Coach Davis’ tenure were the upset of Neville during the 1955 season and his 1954
team. If you view the Winnfield High School football program as a continually developing entity (and that’s the way
you have to view all successful programs), Coach Davis left the program in better shape.
Newman came to Winnfield from Lake Providence, where he had compiled a 42-24
record and was coming off an 8-2-0 record the season before. Coach Newman had prepped at Ponchatoula High
School and later became one of the most decorated ends in Louisiana Tech football history. Newman was named
to three All-Gulf State conference teams and was named to the Little All-American team in 1946. After his
playing days at Tech, Newman signed a professional contract to play for the Washington Redskins. Joining
him as an assistant coach was Charles Eyer, a former Winnfield player who played end on the 1948 and 1949
teams. During the Louisiana High School Athletic
Association's annual meeting in January, new enrollment figures were approved to determine the classification of high schools
in Louisiana. Winnfield was dropped from Class AA to Class A because of new enrollment standards. Under the new classification,
Winnfield moved to District 1A, which included Winnsboro, LaSalle, Farmerville and Many.
Coach Newman was introduced
to a team that, while deep in some positions, basically lacked overall depth. Of the 40 or so boys who turned out for football,
only eight were seniors. Most of those would be starters, but Coach Newman would have to rely on a number
of underclassmen. In his preseason report, Coach Newman was most confident about his backfield, and he had
reason to be. Only one starter graduated the season before, that being Dale Reeves. However,
Winnfield lost the services of an incoming senior when Tommy Seabaugh and his family moved out of town.
What made that particularly irritating is that Seabaugh only moved 25 miles or so up the road, but
there was a football team in the town he moved to - the Jonesboro Tigers.
Winnfield's 1956 backfield would be a seasoned bunch. Coach Newman moved junior John Harrington
into the starting quarterback position and made Brooks Broussard a regular halfback to take advantage of
his running ability. Considering Broussard had made the All-District team as a quarterback the season before,
this was a bold move on Newman’s part. At the other halfback position, Newman had
two-year letterman Mickey Frazier, an incoming senior. Holding down the fullback position was Thomas
Latham, a bruising sophomore. Each one of those starters had an able replacement in junior Dick
DeBusk, senior Tom DeBusk and sophomore Pat Culbertson.
It was a different story in the line and end positions. Two
of the graduating seniors had been ends, but returning seniors Sam Bird and Larry Gorham
had played at the terminal positions the season before as well. The biggest question mark on the team was in the interior
line. Bill Brian, an incoming senior, had two years of playing experience at the center position, but he
was forced to drop football because of chronic knee problems that would require surgery. The same fate struck guard John
Creel, a letterman and recipient of votes in the All-District balloting from the season before, whose chronic back
problems kept him from playing his senior year. But, the picture wasn't all bleak. Returning lettermen included junior Jake
Williams, who had been playing since his freshman year. He would fill one of the tackle positions. Hank Ford
returned to the team for his senior season after being declared ineligible the season before. He would hold down the other
tackle position. Two underclassmen in junior Bill Long and sophomore Darrell Mayes would
be called on to handle the guard duties. At the center position, senior Truett Holcomb, who had played at
both the guard and tackle positions the past two seasons, would be called on to fill the void left by Brian’s
departure. Beyond those linemen, Coach Newman had no other players that had played any significant number
of downs for Winnfield. As a result, the biggest problem facing the team was the lack of depth, and that was most evident
in the line.
backfield, which averaged approximately 155 lbs. per man, was only slightly lighter than the starting linemen, whose average
weight was 160 lbs. per man. The lightness of the linemen wasn't a particular concern of Coach Newman, however.
He stated that he would "rather have speed than beef.” Newman used the Split-T
formation, which demanded quick starts and operated basically off the tackles rather than being designed to pound the ball
up the middle. Newman would try to use the speed of his backs to get outside of teams. In his offense, the
play of his tackles would be critical. Rather than grinding it out, his linemen would be called on the make their block and
then quickly move on for downfield blocking. The team would do a lot of running, and, with the lack of depth, Coach
Newman was quite concerned about having fresh bodies across the line in the second half.
Like the season before, the 1956 team began the year with a
1-3-0 record. One huge difference in the two seasons is that there would be no upset of Neville in the
season-opener. Led by All-State quarterback Elton Upshaw, Neville played Winnfield like the game was a scrimmage.
For the night, Neville piled up 424 yards rushing and passed for another 30 yards, while limiting Winnfield to but 79 total
yards. Coach Newman saw first-hand how the “depth problem” would affect his team. As the game
wore on, Winnfield's players were no match for either Neville's starting unit or the army of fresh substitutes that Coach
Bill Ruple was able to use. When the final horn sounded, Neville had chalked up win number two for the season
by handily defeating Winnfield 33-0. The defeat was sound, complete and convincing.
Winnfield bounced back the next week with a 14-0 win over Winnsboro. Scoring for Winnfield were
Brooks Broussard on a 26-yard run just before the half and Mickey Frazier
on a fourth quarter run of 1 yard. The win of the first of the 1956 season and what made it extra special
was the fact that the game was a district game.
district slate continued in week three when the Tigers traveled to Olla to play LaSalle High School. During
the game, Winnfield was inside the LaSalle 10-yard stripe three times and inside the 20 yard-line another time but Winnfield
never cracked the LaSalle goal line the whole night. LaSalle only scored once but that was enough to give them a 6-0 district
win over Winnfield. The loss couldn't have been any more frustrating. To play as well as Winnfield did defensively and move
the ball between the stripes as Winnfield did and still lose is the kinds of things that stick with you. Winnfield's back
coughed up the ball four times in the second half alone. Likewise, Winnfield's linemen simply didn't get the job done when
the Tigers were knocking on the goal line. The Tigers dropped to 1-1 in district play and 1-2 overall with the loss.
Coach Newman’s biggest concern as he prepared for the fourth game of the season was the lack of scoring.
Most alarming was the fact that the Tiger offense had been inside the past two opponents 20 yard-line seven times and
had scored only once. Down where the game is primarily strength against strength, Winnfield was being stuffed.
The Tigers began a two-game home stand
and faced the powerful Ruston Bearcats in the first of those two games. The Bearcats ran out of the Notre Dame Box formation
and they relied heavily on tailback Pat Garrett, son of Ruston coach Hoss Garrett, and on
end Bud Alexander.
Winnfield allowed Ruston to score touchdowns in each of the first three quarters to take a 21-0 lead into the fourth
period. When the fourth quarter started, Winnfield had gone seven straight quarters without scoring. Mickey
Frazier changed all of that when he pushed the ball over the goal line from 1 yard out in the early stages of the
final quarter. After that, Pat Garrett hooked up with Bud Alexander for
two scoring tosses to account for the final 33-7 margin.
Winnfield got their second win of the season the next week against Many. Since Many was a district
foe that win moved the Tigers district record to 2-1-0.
It was homecoming night for Winnfield when the Many Tigers came to town. When the visiting Tigers traveled to Winnfield
down Hwy. 84, little did they know that they were about to run into a buzz saw. Coming into the game, Winnfield
had only scored three touchdowns all year. Against Many, Winnfield scored the first three times they touched the football.
All total, the Tigers scored four first-half touchdowns, with Broussard getting two of those on runs of 10
and 27 yards and Latham getting one on a run of 5 yards. The final touchdown of the half came when John
Harrington tossed a short pass to end Sam Bird who turned and lateraled to Frazier.
After that it was clear sailing for Frazier who ran 41 yards for the score. Harrington
added his fourth consecutive extra point to give the Tigers a 28-0 lead, which stood up until halftime. For
once, the Tiger offense was rolling.
got two more touchdowns in the second half on runs by Harrington (5 yards) and Frazier (6
yards). In the end the Tigers romped in a 40-13 win, giving the team just what the doctor ordered. With
the win, the Tigers moved to 2-3-0 for the season and upped their district mark to 2-1-0, with only one district game to go;
that being against Farmerville in the final game of the season.
The Tigers would play four straight non-district games before the Farmerville game. The first of
those came against Pineville who rolled to a 21-0 lead in the first half and practically kept the ball out of the Tigers hands
throughout the game. Pineville never scored against but Winnfield never scored even once. The shutout marked the third time
the Tigers had been shutout during the season. That marked the most shutouts for a team from the 1950s.
Winnfield and Jonesboro prepared to meet for the 28th time, the two had the lowest combined winning percentage since the series
began. Winnfield’s record was 2-4-0 for the season, while Jonesboro had won one game less, going 1-5-0 for the year.
Jonesboro’s losses had come against tough opponents and their lone win had come against Natchitoches. Winnfield
had only beaten Jonesboro once during the decade, that coming during the 1954 season.
Winnfield bolted out of the gates and scored the first
two times they had the ball on short runs by Brooks Broussard and fullback Thomas Latham.
That is where the score stayed until Jonesboro scored just before the half to make the score a respectable 13-6. Neither team scored in the third quarter and the game looked
to be another low scoring affair. Sometimes looks can be deceiving. The two teams combined
for five fourth quarter touchdowns before the final horn sounded to end the fourth quarter war.
Former Winnfield Tiger Tommy Seabaugh opened
the scoring barrage when he carried for 21 yards and a touchdown just three plays into the fourth quarter. Jonesboro tied
up the score at 13-all when they completed the PAT following Seabaugh’s touchdown run.
Winnfield moved ahead to stay on their next series
when Harrington guided the Tigers on an 8-play scoring drive and ran the final 15 yards himself and then
kicked the PAT to enable the Tigers to take a 20-13 lead. After that it was all-Winnfield as Dick DeBusk
grabbed a fumble out of the air and raced 15 yards for a touchdown to move the score to 26-13 and then late in the fourth
quarter Brooks Broussard ran 44 yards for the third Tiger score of the quarter. The extra
point was missed but Winnfield had scored 19 points in less than three minutes time in taking a 32-13 lead. Jonesboro added
one final touchdown, but Winnfield’s 32-19 win gave the team new life. The win enabled Winnfield
to improve their record to 3-4 and gave them needed confidence as they headed into the final stretch of the season.
Winnfield traveled to Natchitoches for the first
of two road games. Against Natchitoches, Winnfield jumped to a 20-0 halftime lead, with all of Winnfield’s
points coming in the second quarter. The first touchdown came on an 81-yard run from scrimmage by Brooks
Broussard. Only minutes later, Jake Williams blocked a Natchitoches punt and end Larry Gorham
fell on it on the Red Devil 18 yard-line. On the next play, John Harrington ran wide around
right end and scored the second Tiger touchdown of the quarter to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead. Then, just
before the half, the Tigers pounced on another Natchitoches fumble and turned that into points when Mickey Frazier
capped that drive with a 1-yard run. For the second consecutive
week, the Tigers had scored three touchdowns in a single quarter.
Neither team scored in the third quarter but both scored a single touchdown in the fourth to account for the final
26-7 total. Winnfield got their touchdown on a keeper around right end by Harrington. The win evened the
Tigers record at 4-4-0 for the season.
next to last opponent of the season was the Jena Giants, who had won every game played between the two schools in the 1950s.
In 1956 Jena and was as strong as ever.
thoroughly dominated Winnfield throughout the contest as they took a 25-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Winnfield
averted a shutout when Larry Gorham scored on a pass from Harrington with under three minutes to go in the
game. With the loss the Tigers dropped their 7th straight game to Jena.
The Tigers headed into the final game of the year against district foe Farmerville with a very respectable 2-1 district
mark. Winnfield entered the game in second place in the district, trailing LaSalle, who had an unblemished district mark.
The Tigers had beaten LaSalle all over the field the third game of the season but still came out on the short end of a 6-0
score, in spite of ending four drives inside LaSalle territory. A victory in that game would have sent
Winnfield into the season finale against Farmerville trying to secure the school’s first playoff berth. Instead, the
Tigers were looking to get back to the .500 mark for the season and win one more game for the school.
Playing on a cold late November evening, Winnfield closed out
the 1956 campaign by taking a 14-0 win over the Farmers. The Tigers scored bookend touchdowns, as Harrington
tallied the first touchdown in the opening minutes of the game, after which the Tigers played defense the rest of the way.
In the final minutes of the contest Jake Williams blocked his second punt of the night, which was
recovered on the Farmerville 12 yard-line. Four plays later Harrington tossed to Mickey
Frazier for the score and Brooks Broussard converted the extra point to ice the game for Winnfield
Winnfield ended the season with a 5-5-0 record. During the 1950s only the 1954 team had posted a
winning record. So, by ending the season with an even .500 winning percentage, the 1956 team became only the second team during
the 1950s to end the season with a non-losing record.
The seniors of the 1956 team were only the
second bunch of seniors since the 1920s to end their three-year playing career with the claim of having been on teams that
won more games than they lost. The 1948 seniors had played on teams that had gone a collective 18-13-1 during the 1946 -1948
seasons. The 1956 seniors could just barely hold on to that claim, playing on teams that were a collective 16-15-0.
Yet again, Winnfield moved through another season without
going to the playoffs, having gone 0 for 48 seasons without a playoff appearance. The Tigers ended the
season with a 3-1 district record, which was good enough for a runner-up spot in the district. However,
since only the district champion made it to the playoffs, second place was not good enough for a playoff spot. Winnfield came
as close as ever to making the playoffs and were literally a few measly yards away from the playoffs, as a touchdown and a
PAT on any of Winnfield’s three penetrations inside the 10 yard-line against District Champion LaSalle would have made
Winnfield the undefeated district champions instead of LaSalle. Winnfield was getting closer to the playoffs.
If you keep knocking on the door long enough, you will finally be answered. However, the team ended the season with
wins in three of the last four games and four of the final six games, so there was momentum in the program as the program
finished its 48th football season.
KEY SEASON, 1957
(Overall - 5-6-1; *District - 3-0-1)
L, 13-26 (HC)
L, 6-27 (Regional)
The Winnfield football program headed into the 1957 season with one of the largest group of senior players a Winnfield
Tiger football team had ever fielded. Totaling 16 in number, at least half of those would be counted on
for starting roles, while a number of other senior players would be called on for valuable reserve roles. The team had a group
of veterans, and while lacking a large number of returning lettermen (there were only eight returning lettermen) Coach
Newman certainly had a good nucleus of players to work with. That's not the impression he was giving out, though.
Coach Newman summed up his prospects by telling The Winn Parish Enterprise that he saw his chances
as only being "fair" that the Tigers would contend for the district crown. However, unlike the season before, Newman
would have the opportunity to work with his team for a full spring and summer session. "We feel we know the boys better
now, and we've got some good experienced men working out," Newman said in an interview for The Enterprise
during the middle of spring practice.
The program experienced another turnover in the assistant coaching ranks prior
to the start of summer practice. Frank Mobley was hired to take the place of departing Charles Eyer.
Like several other Winnfield's earlier coaches, Mobley was a graduate of Louisiana College where he had lettered
four years in football and two years in track. Also, like Bill Davis earlier in the decade, Mobley
was returning to the hometown of his wife. Mobley had married the former Bobbie Jean Collins
of Winnfield. Also on the coaching staff was Thomas Straughan, another former Tiger from the early 1950s,
and Max Crowe, son of former Athletic Director Maxwell Crowe.
The Tigers played a new opponent in the
Coushatta Indians for the season opener. Coushatta was a Class B team, but was considered one of the strongest Class B teams
in the state. Coach Newman knew his team would have their work cut out for them against the quick Coushatta
bunch and would have a hard time keeping them off of the scoreboard. He announced the following starting
lineup for the opening game: Lyle Wayne Thompson (LE), Larry Price (LT), Bill Long
(LG), Dan Ross (C), Darrell Mayes (RG), Jake Williams (RT)
and Tommy Wyatt (RE). In the backfield he would start John Harrington
(QB), Dick DeBusk (LHB), Conley Adams (RHB) and Thomas Latham (FB).
Of that bunch, all were seniors except Adams, Mayes and Wyatt, who were juniors.
Harrington and Williams had been named team co-captains prior to the start of the
Winnfield started an experienced group, but certainly didn't have the depth to sustain the loss of very many of those
players to injuries. Unfortunately, that is what happened on the very first play of the season when John
Harrington was hit in the mouth and came out of the pile minus two of his teeth. The painful injury,
while not season-ending, did keep him out throughout most of the first half. By the time he reentered the
game, Coushatta had taken a 12-0 lead. Even with Harrington back in the lineup the Tigers
still couldn’t crack the Coushatta goal line, as the Indians scored two touchdowns in the second half and pitched a
shutout to take a 25-0 win.
The Tigers turned things around in week two in their first district game of the year, which came against Mansfield.
Winnfield took a 21-0 lead before Mansfield ever got on the scoreboard and coasted to a 28-7 win. . The Tigers’ touchdowns
came in the form of a one-yard plunge by Harrington, a six-yard run by Latham, as
well as two touchdown passes by Harrington, one covering 39-yards to Tommy
Wyatt and the other going 25 yards to Lyle Wayne Thompson. Harrington was 4 of
4 in PAT kicks.By defeating Mansfield, Winnfield had claimed a win over the team predicted
by many to win the district title. Though the season was only two games old, the win over Mansfield suddenly gave the Tigers
a very realistic shot at the playoffs, though there was a lot of work yet to be done.
The Tigers traveled to Winnsboro for a non-district game and played as flat as
a pancake. About the only good thing to come out of the game was a Tiger win. Winnfield scored two touchdowns, but so did
Winnsboro. The difference in the game was John Harrington’s foot. He converted both
of Winnfield’s PAT kicks while Winnsboro failed on both of their attempts in losing to Winnfield by a score of 14-12.
The fourth game of the
season was, for all practical purposes, the most important game remaining on the Tigers schedule as the Tigers entertained
LaSalle for the second of four district games. Of all of the district opponents remaining on the Tigers schedule, LaSalle
was by far the strongest. A win against LaSalle would give the Tigers a stronghold on first place in the district race and
a chance for the programs very first playoff berth.
The Winnfield - LaSalle game turned out to be a tight defensive battle. When the
fourth quarter began, each team had only scored one touchdown, with LaSalle’s coming after they had intercepted a Harrington
pass in the second quarter and Winnfield’s coming on a 1 yard plunge by Dick DeBusk in the third quarter.
LaSalle only ran nine plays
in the second half, as Winnfield played ball-control the whole half. However, the Tigers could not push the ball over the
goal for a go-ahead touchdown in either the third quarter or the first half of the final quarter. Then,
in the closing minutes of the game, Winnfield drove down to a first and goal at the LaSalle 9 yard-line with only 24 ticks
remaining on the clock. The Tigers tried two running plays that netted almost no yards and attempted a 20-yard field goal
on the final play of the game but the kick sailed wide and the game ended in a 7-7 tie. Leonard
Melton had his second consecutive stellar game, leading all rushers with 103 yards in 23 carries.
to 1-0-1 in league play but the Tigers still had a chance for an outright district championship because Mansfield and LaSalle
had yet to meet. A win by Mansfield over LaSalle, coupled with wins by Winnfield in both of their remaining district games
would give the Tigers the outright championship. Regardless, the Tigers still held their destiny in their own hands, as they
could finish no worse than co-champions with LaSalle if the two teams won all of their remaining games. Winnfield moved to the fifth game of the year against Ruston with hopes of breaking
the long jinx that Ruston held over the Tigers. Winnfield’s losing streak to Ruston now stretched to 16 games and their
non-winning streak had stretched to 22 straight games. In the sixteen game losing streak that dated back
to the 1941 season the only game that had been decided by fewer than 19 points was the 1954 game, a contest won by Ruston
by a score of 27-14. So, Ruston had not only regularly defeated Winnfield, they had dominated them.
Winnfield’s strong defense continued their
strong play against Ruston. Ruston only managed one first half touchdown and Winnfield got those points back in the third
quarter on a touchdown pass from Harrington to Lyle Wayne Thompson. When
the third quarter came to an end, the score was still deadlocked at 7-7. That marked the first time Winnfield had entered
the fourth quarter against Ruston without trailing in the game since the 1940 season, when the score read 0-0 at both the
beginning of the fourth quarter and at the end of the game.
Both teams got fourth quarter touchdowns, with Ruston getting the first of those, which was followed by a PAT to move
the score to 14-7. With three minutes to go in the game, Dick DeBusk rounded left end
and broke clear for a 44-yard touchdown run. That was the closest Winnfield had been to Ruston so late in a game in over 17
years but the PAT was blocked leaving the score 14-13, which is where it stayed.
The game had no bearing on the district race,
but to have been so close to keeping Ruston from winning yet another game was one of the toughest losses of the decade. The
Tiger record for the season moved to an even 2-2-1 with the loss.
Winnfield was involved in another 1-point came the next week only the opponent
was usually weak Many. Even so, Many was the next to last district opponent of the year so the game was an important one.
No less than eleven Tigers were down with the flu prior to the game, including John Harrington, Thomas Latham, Russell
Taylor, Dan Ross, and Marshall Hough. As it turned out, Winnfield would have
to find a way to beat Many with an abundance of reserves. With a district title at stake, that was a tall
the lead early in the game, scoring a first quarter touchdown on a 4-yard run by their quarterback. The PAT was no good, giving
Many a 6-0 lead. That lead held up until late in the second half when Darrell Mayes intercepted a Many pass
and returned it 25 yards to the Many 10 yard-line. Dick DeBusk tied the game up on a run
from short-yardage and Harrington, who was slowed all game long by the flu, came in and converted the extra
point to give Winnfield a slim 7-6 lead. That closed out the scoring for the game as both defensive units took over from there.
With the win, Winnfield improved to 2-0-1 in the district race and 3-2-1 for the season.
The next three
weeks the Tigers faced Class AA non-district competition and they lost all three. In the first of those Winnfield played catch-up
against Pineville the whole game long. Pineville scored four touchdowns in the contest, while Winnfield
could only answer the Rebels first and last touchdown. In the end, Pineville took a 27-13 win over Winnfield.
threw two touchdown passes in the contest, which was the second time in the season had had thrown a pair of touchdowns in
a game. He thus became the first Tiger quarterback to have multiple games in a single season where multiple
touchdown passes were thrown. Lyle Wayne Thompson caught those two touchdown passes to become
only the fifth player to catch two touchdown passes in a single game. The other
players to catch two touchdown passes in one game were Bobby Bass (1948) and Edward Parker
(1941); David Harper (1936) and Elton Long (1946) had games in which they caught three touchdown
passes. In the next two contests Winnfield
only scored one touchdown in each, while giving up 28 to Jonesboro and 13 to Natchitoches. The loss to Jonesboro was unexpected
because Jonesboro came into the game with an 0-6-0 record. Jonesboro, paced by three Dennis Mann touchdowns,
jumped out to a 28-0 lead and cruised to a 28-7 win. The next week Winnfield actually led Natchitoches 6-0 after Melton
closed out a 70 yard drive with a 6-yard run. But Natchitoches scored two unanswered touchdowns to account for the final 13-7
was seeking to end a three-game losing skid and hoping to improve on their 3-5-1 record when they prepared for their last
home game of the regular season against Jena. They had plenty of reasons to be "up" for the game. Jena
had won all eight games the two teams had played in the 1950s. Likewise, during the 1950s Jena regularly
beat Winnfield in all other sports. However, in football, the Giants, along with Ruston and Jonesboro “owned”
the Winnfield Tigers in the 1950s. Up to the 1957 season those three teams had a combined record of 22-1-0 against Winnfield.
The Tigers had already lost to Ruston and Jonesboro in 1957, so they hoped to at least beat Jena. Since the Giants came into
the game with a 1-6-0 record for the season, Winnfield was declared the pre-game favorite.
The Giants didn't look
like a team that had lost six games on their opening series of the night when they took the opening kickoff and marched the
full length of the field to take a 6-0 lead. But, Winnfield stormed back and scored four unanswered touchdowns to finally
defeat Jena and they did so in convincing fashion, taking a 26-6 win over the Giants. The Tigers got two touchdowns in each
half, with H. F. Allbritton and Dick DeBusk splitting those, all on runs
of less than 10 yards. It was a coming-out party for Allbritton.
Winnfield rolled up 281 yards rushing and held Jena to 187 rushing yards.
Coach Newman couldn't have asked for more. His team had played well on both sides of the ball and
he found yet another running back in Allbritton. Winnfield had rushed for almost 500 yards in two weeks time.
Heading into the final
regular season game of the 1957 season the Tigers found themselves in a very unique position. Prior to
the 1957 season, no Winnfield team had ever competed in post-season play. Prior to the 1940s, playoff teams
were selected by a formula that awarded teams with the highest winning percentage a spot in the playoffs. The method of dividing
the state up in districts and having all of the district champions advance to the playoffs began in the 1940s. Winnfield had
yet to have a district champion crowned, so, no Winnfield team had played in a playoff game in the 48-year history of Winnfield
football, nor had any Winnfield team won any sort of title on the playing field.
Winnfield’s final regular season game and final district opponent was Farmerville.
The Farmers were 1-2-0 in the district race, with both losses coming to Mansfield and LaSalle. They had no chance of
winning the district crown, but they could sure play a spoilers role. Heading into the last game of the season, Winnfield
and LaSalle were tied at first place with 2-0-1 records, while Mansfield’s district record stood at 2-1-0.
To add to the drama, Mansfield and LaSalle faced each other in week eleven. So, the final outcome
of the district race wouldn’t be settled until the Winnfield - Farmerville game and the Mansfield - LaSalle games had
been played. Several possibilities loomed.
For Winnfield, if they lost their game to Farmerville they were out of the playoffs
regardless of the outcome of the Mansfield - LaSalle game. Though the Tigers had been in first place all season long, it was
very possible for them to end up in third place in the district. So, the Tigers had to take care of business by way
of the only thing they had any control over: the outcome of their game. Even if Winnfield beat Farmerville,
they were not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. If Winnfield and LaSalle both won, the two would end the season with identical
3-0-1 district records and would settle the tie in a game to be played four days after the end of the regular season. Anything
can happen in one game, so the Tigers didn’t want that. The best scenario for the Tigers would be for either a tie in
the Mansfield - LaSalle game or a win by Mansfield. In either of those scenarios, Winnfield would be the outright district
champion. That is, provided they beat Farmerville.
Farmerville had battled LaSalle in a 14-13 loss the week before so they were no
pushover. Winnfield had to travel to Farmerville’s field to play the game, and to make matters worse, a late November
rainstorm made playing conditions miserable, with the field saturated at game time and destined to become a mud slop as the
game wore on.
teams scored in the opening quarter, but Winnfield failed in that PAT attempt, while Farmerville converted theirs, thus making
the score 7-6 in favor of Farmerville. That’s the way the score remained not only throughout the
remainder of the first half and into the fourth quarter.
Both teams were hampered by the playing conditions, and by the fourth quarter,
the playing field resembled something you might find at a late winter logging site. Trailing by one point, Winnfield took
possession of the ball with under six minutes to go in the game and possibly in the whole season. Simply put, unless the Tigers
scored, they were yet again out of the playoff. At that point, the Tigers mounted the single most important drive up to that
point in the program’s history when they took the ball down the field and into scoring position. Then, with three minutes
remaining on the clock, Leonard Melton took a handoff at the 3-yard line and gave the Tigers the lead when
he plunged over the goal line. The PAT was no good, but the Tigers took a 12-7 lead and held Farmerville out of the end zone
in the closing minutes to secure the win. “The Drive” had enabled the Tigers to stage the biggest
comeback in the school’s history. For the Tigers to gain a playoff spot there was still the matter of Mansfield taking
care of LaSalle. Winnfield would later learn that Mansfield beat LaSalle by a score of 14-13, giving Winnfield the outright
district championship. Winnfield ended the season with a 3-0-1 district mark and a 5-5-1 regular season
record. That marked the first time a Winnfield football team had gone undefeated in district play and was,
of course, the first district title won by the program.
The Winnfield victory over Farmerville was a costly one. Coach Newman
estimated the game cost the program around $1,000.00 when he added travel expenses and the loss of equipment ruined by the
playing conditions. He stated that the program had enough equipment to make it through the playoffs but would need to replace
shoes, shoulder pads and other equipment ruined by the mud on Farmerville’s field.
The Tigers knew coming into the program’s first playoff game that they would
face the District 2-A champion. That team would be the Tallulah Trojans, who wrapped up the district title in the last game
of the season when they beat Ferriday. Tallulah ended the year with an unblemished district record of 5-0-0 and a 9-2-0 mark
for the season.
Winnfield had the honor of hosting the first round 1957 playoff game. Winnfield High School principal
Eugene Love announced early in the week that ticket prices for the game would be $1.50 for adults and 75
cents for students. In anticipation of a sellout crowd, extra bleachers were moved to the Winnfield field. The game was scheduled
for Thanksgiving Day and officials knew that the largest crowd to ever watch a Winnfield game would turn out for the game.
Tallulah came into the
game as a slight favorite. The two teams had two common opponents in Jena and Winnsboro. Winnfield
had taken a 26-6 decision over Jena while Tallulah had beaten the Giants by a score of 13-0. In the matchups
with Winnsboro, Winnfield escaped with a 14-12 win, while Tallulah manhandled the Wildcats in a 33-7 win. Tallulah’s
scoring average was 22.8 points per game to Winnfield’s 13.0 average. Tallulah had shut out four
opponents and giving up only 70 points to the other seven opponents. Winnfield’s opponents had scored 151 points.
The winner of the contest
would advance to the semifinals to play the winner of the Oakdale - Landry Memorial (Lake Charles) game, with the state championship
game only two weeks away. Unlike Winnfield, this was not all-new territory for Tallulah. Not only did the school have playoff
experience, but by 1957 Tallulah had already won five state titles and been the runner-up in two other title games.
However, all seven of those title game appearances had come during the 1930s and 1940s and all seven had come while
Tallulah was playing in Class B. Tallulah’s last championship game appearance had been in the 1949 season, so they were
hungry. The Trojans came to
town with one of the winningest coaches in Louisiana high school football history in Racer Holstead. His
star player was fullback Danny Neumann, who at 185 lbs. had led the team in scoring during the season. The
Trojans weighed in at 205 and 185 across the right side of their line and were comparable to Winnfield across the remainder
of their line, averaging 170 lbs. from center to left tackle. Like Winnfield, they had a set of backs they
could rely on and were not one-dimensional. Not much was
settled in the first half as Tallulah got the lone touchdown to take a 7-0 lead into halftime. However, Tallulah then broke
open the game in the second half as they scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to move the score to27-0.
Neumann scored the first two touchdowns, with those coming on Tallulah’s first two possessions.
After that the two teams swapped touchdowns, leaving Tallulah the 27-6 victor. Leonard Melton got the lone
Tiger touchdown, thus allowing him to score the first playoff points scored by a Tiger football team. Winnfield gained only
115 total yards, with 44 of those yards coming on the Tigers’ lone pass completion. Tallulah ground out 258 total yards,
with most of that coming on the ground.
Winnfield ended the season on a losing note, but the 1957 Tigers would be
the first Tiger team to learn that when you make the playoffs you always end the season on a losing note unless you win it
all. Two weeks later, Tallulah would win their sixth state title, blanking St. Francis by a score of 19-0. Winnfield
ended their season with a 5-6-1 record. Those losses came, for the most part, against playoff bound teams.
Coushatta went on to win the District 1-B title and advanced to the second round of the Class B playoffs. During the season,
the Class A Tigers played five Class AA opponents, losing four out of five of those games.
The season was full of
highlights, though. The Tigers came within a single point of tying Ruston and they claimed the programs first victory of the
decade over Jena. The 1957 team was Winnfield’s first team to go through a district slate undefeated, first team to
win a district title and first playoff team. The program had been on the verge of making the playoffs two of the previous
three seasons. The 1957 team finally moved the program into post-season play. All programs evolve over time with each season,
in a sense, building on past seasons accomplishments. Though players come and go, the program remains and winning traditions
have to start somewhere. When it comes to district titles and playoff appearances, the 1957 team can always
say one thing: “We were the first” Though the program went through its first 48 years without playing in a single
playoff game the 1957 team changed all of that, and, as history would show, once the winning began it never really stopped.
1958 (Overall - 2-7-1, *District - 2-3-0) "Success
breeds success". That’s the way it is in high school football. If you can get a winning program
going, you can ride the momentum for years. The key is to get the players out for football, keep them out for football and
teach them how to win. A winning program taps into the talent pool that the school has by developing and maximizing that talent.
That involves a complex interdependence between the players and coaches. The debate of, "Which is more important - good
players or good coaches?” thus becomes a circular question. In truth, good players need coaches and vice versa. But,
the first key is to get the players out for football. That would not be an issue in the spring of 1958 when more boys out
for football than had ever shown up for spring drills, as the group totaled 70 in number. That’s usually what happens
when a program has success like the Winnfield program had in the 1957 season. One of the payoffs to winning a district championship
is that you get younger players who want to get in on winning a title. Of course, not all of those who went out for football
in spring would still be around when football season started in the fall because there is always a certain amount of attrition
in any football program or any organization for that matter. But, successful programs are built when you have interest in
your football program by prospective players, administrators and the community.
Graduation took its toll on the Winnfield Tiger football program. That too is
often is also the price you pay for success. Sometimes, a winning season is due to an abundantly talented senior class. Coach
Newman’s job was to make sure that the winning Winnfield did in the 1957 season was not a one shot deal. But,
the cold reality is that he would have to replace 14 starters, including three backs, two ends, four tackles, four guards
and one center.
By the time summer drills were concluded, Coach Newman was telling civic groups that he would have
to build the 1958 team around a unique combination of players consisting primarily of seniors and freshmen, because that is
simply where his talent lay. Those two classes are certainly where he had the most number of players, what with his roster
including 14 players from each class. Conversely, his junior and sophomore players only had a combined total of fourteen
players. Coach Newman described
Winnfield’s almost yearly predicament best when he addressed the members of the Athletic Association just prior to the
season. He said, "We’ll be able to put a good first string on the field, but after that, we
start reaching for inexperienced players." Coach Newman almost preferred to talk
about his freshmen class, and was prophetic when he said, "Prospects look good for three years from now,” referring
to his young freshmen.
The Tiger’s best football player was a lineman. Incoming senior Darrell Mayes had earned All-State
and All-District honors the year before as a guard. Newman shifted him to tackle to anchor the line. The
center position would be filled by another senior in Marshall Hough. Carroll Long would
provide backup duty, but he was one of the freshmen Coach Newman talked about having to rely on. Rounding
out the line were seniors Ray Zimmerman and George Gilcrease, with untested freshmen Don
Jones, Cecil Taylor and Wayne McFarland challenging for positions.
The situation was a little
clearer in the backfield and end positions. Juniors Tommy Wyatt and Jerry Burch were two
talented players and would be joined by senior Shelton Collins. Coach Newman had Charles
Hammons as his signal caller, a reserve from the year before. The remainder of the backfield would
be his most experienced group, consisting of seniors Conley Adams, Thomas Latham and Howard Allbritton,
each a letterman the year before. Underclassmen that showed promise were sophomore Gerald Bryant, freshmen
Mack Martin and Rusty Melton and even an eighth grader in Jimmy Bolton.
was being assisted by Frank Mobley, Max Crowe, and Thomas Straughan. That
group of coaches would face a district schedule that consisted of the same four teams from the year before, including Mansfield,
LaSalle, Many and Farmerville. Coushatta was also added to make District 1A a six-team district.
Winnfield would play four of their five district opponents in the first six weeks of the season. As such, Coach
Newman would not have the luxury of “seasoning” his inexperienced players in early season non-district
games. His troops would have to come out running at the start of the season.
Season ticket chairman
Tommy Harrel announced prior to the season that season tickets prices for the five-game home slate would
be raised to $5.00 for adults and $2.50 for children. The Tiger football program never had difficulty in selling season tickets
and 1958 would be no different.
The 1958 season marked the 50th season of Tiger football. In the first 49 years of the program only four
teams had begun the season with as many as three consecutive losses. The leader of that group was the 1944 squad, who started
the season with a 0-6-0 record (and ended the season that way as well because that is all of the games they played). The 1938
team opened the season with four straight losses before getting a tie against Natchitoches in the fifth week of the season.
After that tie they proceeded to lose the remaining six games on the schedule. The 1939 team extended the school’s six
game losing streak to ten games by opening that season with four losses, before turning the season (and the program) around
by ending the year with a 6-5-0 record. In 1941 the team lost the first three games of the seasons before
snapping that losing streak with a win.
The 1958 joined that group of teams and almost tied a school record by opening
the season with five consecutive losses. The first four losses came to Pineville (27-0), Mansfield (26-7), Coushatta (32-6)
and LaSalle (18-0). In those four games the Tigers were outscored 103-6. The only other teams in the history of the program
that had given up 100 or more points in the first four games of the year were the 1938 squad, who yielded 141 points, and
the 1944 squad, who gave up 105 points. Those were the only two teams in school history that went through a season without
a single win also, so Winnfield’s start did not bode well for the remainder of the season. All but the Pineville game
were district games thus the team opened the season not only with a 0-4-0 record, but they were 0-3-0 in district play. There
would obviously be no playoff berth for the Tigers in 1958.
For the 1958 team to avoid being the third team to drop the first five games of
the season, they would have to pull off the biggest upset in school history because their opponent of week five was the Ruston
Bearcats. Coach Newman shifted his lineup for the Ruston game in an effort to make something happen. At the
first of the season, Newman had moved Thomas Latham to a tackle position, though Latham
had played in the Tiger backfield for the previous three seasons. Newman moved Latham back
to the fullback slot for the Ruston game. Senior George Gilcrease was moved from guard to the left tackle
position and freshman Cecil Taylor was moved into Gilcrease’s guard position.
Winnfield fell behind
Ruston by a 14-0 margin in the first half, though they played reasonably well on defense. Nevertheless,
the Bearcats were the first to score in the second half and in doing so they moved the score to 20-0. The
Tigers averted their fourth shutout of the year on the final play of the game when the Winnfield defenders, still competing
hard, knocked the ball loose from the Ruston ball carrier, after which Darrell Mayes, Tiger defensive linemen,
alertly caught the ball on the bounce and ran 15 yards for a Tiger touchdown. Thomas Latham ran over the
extra point to make the final margin 20-7. The loss dropped the team’s record to 0-5-0.
The Tigers had shown improvement in the most recent two games against LaSalle and Ruston. However, they were still
winless and had been outscored 123-13. That was the second most losses to being a season in school history, trailing only
the 1944 team who opened the season with six losses. When you take into consideration the season-ending loss to Tallulah in
the 1957 season, the Tiger football program had lost six straight football games. That matched the second-longest losing streak
in school history, tying the six straight losses sustained by the 1944 and 1947 teams. Only the 10-game losing streak between
the 1938 and 1939 seasons was longer.
That losing streak was snapped the next week when the Tigers took a 26-6 Homecoming night win over Many. While virtually
half of the Winnfield starters were underclassmen, it would be the seniors who would lead Winnfield to victory against Many.
Conley Adams got the scoring started in the second quarter on a 7-yard run and Thomas Latham
got a scoring run of similar length before the half to give the Tigers a 13-6 lead at the half. Senior quarterback Charles
Hammons capped a scoring drive on the first possession of the second half to move the score to 20-6 and Conley
Adams scored his second touchdown of the night on an 8 run to close out the scoring at 26-6.
The Tigers won the game
because they finally got their running game going. Every senior starter in the backfield got into the scoring
action, including Adams, Latham, Allbritton and Hammons.
Coming into the game the Tigers had only scored two touchdowns in the first five games. The four
touchdowns the Tigers scored against Many upped Winnfield point total for the year to 39. The win improved
the team’s overall record to 1-5-0 and 1-3-0 in district play.
When Jonesboro came to Winnfield in week seven
to face the Tigers it was like sharks smelling blood. Jonesboro knew that Winnfield was having a down year and they came to
town intent on taking advantage of the situation.
That they did when they rolled to a 20-6 lead through the first three quarters,
with Winnfield’s lone score coming when Thomas Latham scored on a short run with only seconds to go
in the first half. Winnfield did make the game interesting in the second half when Conley Adams scored from
1 yard out to move the score to 20-12. Suddenly, Winnfield was back in the game.
The Winnfield celebration was short-lived as
Jonesboro scored on their next two series to up their margin to 32-12. Allbritton added a touchdown for Winnfield
in the final minutes of the game to account for the final 32-18 margin. Jonesboro ran their series record against Winnfield
to 18-9-2 with the win, while Winnfield lost their sixth game of the year in seven outings.
The losing continued the next week when Natchitoches
jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and increased that to 26-0 by the end of the third quarter. Winnfield managed to get on
the scoreboard in the fourth when Conley Adams scooped up a Natchitoches fumble and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
Adam's fumble return was 10 yards longer than Ralph Sanders’ school record for the
longest fumble return for a touchdown in 1946. Natchitoches got those points back on their next possession as they increased
their lead to 33-7, which closed out all of the scoring for the night.
Winnfield averted losses in the final two games of the season. The
next to last game of the year came against a 3-5-0 Jena team who possessed firepower in Ronald Manchester,
their star running back.
Playing their best defensive game of the year, Winnfield only allowed Jena two touchdowns. Both of those were scored
by Manchester, with the first coming on a 65-yard punt return and the other coming on a 5-yard run. Winnfield
responded to the first of those scores with a 70-yard drive capped by a 1 yard plunge by H. F. Allbritton.
Trailing by a 12-6 margin the Tigers took possession midway through the final quarter at their
own 30 yard-line. Sticking with their running game, the Tigers methodically drove the length of the field, with Latham
going over for the game-tying score. The crucial extra point, which would have given the Tigers the lead, was stopped short
of the goal line, but Winnfield's boys had staged their second comeback of the game and at least averted yet another loss
as the game ended with the score reading 12-12. The Tigers had fought hard and considering the effort they
put out, it was one of their best performances of the year. Winnfield’s record moved to 1-7-1 for the season.
Prior to the final game of the year against Farmerville the Enterprise offered this summation
of the season. "Accounting for the sharp drop-off from last season was a heavy graduation which took
17 players, (which took) a heavy toll on the reservoir of experienced men. A stronger squad is expected
within the next three years when the hustling crop of sophomores and freshmen, who have seen forced action this year (and
have) gained maturity and experience.”
The Tigers closed the season with a 21-19 win against Farmerville.
Winnfield took the lead in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Thomas Latham, however, Farmerville
scored 19 unanswered points as they scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters to take a 19-7 lead midway through
the third quarter.
Why Winnfield's players didn't lay down at that point is a testimony to their drive. Late in the third quarter Latham
got his second touchdown of the night to move the score to 19-14 Farmerville. With a whole quarter to play
anything was possible.
Midway through the final quarter, the Tigers moved the length of the field and were carried by freshman running back
Mack Martin. The game had been a "coming out" for Martin as
he had shown quickness and elusiveness in returning several punts and making several good runs. His most
important run of the night and of his short career came at the end of that drive when he scored from 1-yard out to move the
Tigers to a 20-19 lead and Latham added the extra point to up the margin by one more point. The Tiger defense
came in and held Farmerville out of the end zone and Coach Newman got the type of output from his team that
he wanted. The win enabled the Tigers to close the season at 2-7-1 overall and 2-3-0 in district play. The
.250 winning percentage was the 7th lowest in school history up to that point. The 1958 season marked the conclusion of 50 years of Winnfield Tiger football.
During that 50-year span only five teams won seven or more games, while nine teams won two games or less, with the 1958 team
being the newest member of that group. When the season began, Coach Newman knew he would have to develop
his troops as the season progressed, and he did just that. During the first five games Winnfield was outscored by a 123-13
margin in posting a 0-5-0 record. During the second half of the season they went 2-2-1 and the Tigers were again outscored,
by this time by only a 102-84 margin. The 91 points the Tigers scored for the season were the 10th fewest points any Tiger
team had ever scored. However, it was the defensive statistics that showed why Winnfield's record was as
it was in 1958. Winnfield allowed 225 points against their ten opponents. That was the second most points
ever allowed by any Winnfield team up to that point, trailing only the 1938 team’s total of 300 points allowed. The
1958 team was only the sixth team in school history to allow 200 or more points. They were only the fifth team to go through
a season without recording a single shutout.
1959 (Overall - 6-6-0; *District - 5-0-0)
“Next year” finally arrived. After winning
the school’s first district championship in 1957, many hoped that the momentum brought about by the title would carry
the Tiger program to a level of competitiveness that would continue year-after-year. Once you get a taste
of anything good, you want more of it. However, the momentum begun with the 1957 team’s district
title was stopped when the 1958 team went 2-7-1. All during the 1958 season, Coach Newman
reminded people of how young his team was. His starting lineup and team roster was full of underclassmen and during the season
he continually talked about his freshman class in particular. Over half of his lettermen from the season before were underclassmen
and he would have eleven of those returning for the 1958 season. Coach Newman had gone most of the previous
season talking about the fortunes that lay ahead. He couldn’t do that two years in a row. The team had to produce in
As young as the Tigers were the year before, the 1959 team was even younger. In fact, the 1959 team is the youngest
team to ever suit up for Winnfield. How is that possible? Consider the following. While
the 1958 team did start no less than half a dozen sophomores or freshmen, the remainder of the starters were seniors. So,
the 1958 team was an interesting mix of seniors and very young underclassmen. By contrast, the 1959 team only had three seniors
that were projected to get significant playing time. Those were Johnny Wroten at halfback and
Tommy Wyatt and Jerry Burch at the end positions. There were only 6 seniors on the entire
team roster. That was the smallest number of seniors to turn out for football since the earliest years of the program. As
a result, the bulk of the starters on the 1959 team would be juniors and sophomores, with Coach Newman still
drooling over the bunch of kids who now made up the sophomore class.
Frank Mobley and Thomas Straughan would again
assist Coach Newman. This would mark the third straight year that Newman, Mobley and Straughan
had worked together. A football program obviously needs quality coaches to develop the talent.
As a group, Newman, Mobley and Straughan offered the right mixture of personality
and knowledge to mold good football teams.
Winnfield faced a schedule in 1959 that was,
for the most part, identical to the 1958 schedule. District foes remained the same in Mansfield, Coushatta, LaSalle, Many
and Farmerville. Beside those opponents the Tigers faced six non-district games. So, one thing that made
the 1959 season so unique was the fact that it marked the first time a Tiger team played an 11-game regular season schedule.
been true in recent years, the Tigers would be tested early because they took on the heart of the district in weeks two through
four. So, the Tigers would have to hit the ground running.
As the first game approached Coach Newman announced his starting lineup. His intent
was to use a platoon system modeled after the LSU system. Those
Jerry Burch Senior
Perry Joe Smith Junior
Cecil Taylor Soph.
Charles Griffin Junior
Carroll Long Soph
Jones Soph. RG
Wayne McFarland Soph. RT 183
Jimmy Berry Junior
150 Benny Canerday
Mack Martin Soph.
James Lloyd Collins
Rusty Melton Soph.
Jimmy Bolton Fr.
Keith Wright CB
Carroll Long LB
In the season-opener against
Class AAA Bastrop, the Rams scored once in each quarter in route to a 26-7 win.
For Winnfield, the only touchdown came in the second quarter when sophomore quarterback Mike Tinnerello
unleashed a 45-yard scoring toss to Tommy Wyatt. For the game, Tinnerello
passed for one touchdown and completed 8 passes for 178 yards. That was one of the most prolific passing
nights ever posted by a Winnfield quarterback up to that point in time, but all of that was only a foretaste of what was to
be the most prolific passing season in the history of the program.
Injuries took their toll in the Bastrop game. Halfback
Mack Martin wrenched his knee and was listed as being out “indefinitely”. Fullback
Johnny Wroten, one of only three senior starters, broke his hand and was expected to miss from three to six
weeks of action. James Lloyd Collins replaced Martin in the starting lineup. The Tigers then went on a binge by getting wins in their
opening three district games, with each of those wins coming against the strongest competition Winnfield would likely face
in the district. The first of those wins came against Mansfield, who was the pre-season favorite to win the district.
Mansfield scored on their opening possession,
but the Tigers scored twice in the first half to take a 13-6 halftime lead. One of those Tiger touchdowns was a 19-yard pass
from Tinnerello to end David Adams. Melton, who had scored the Tigers first
touchdown of the game, carried for the extra point to give the Tigers a 13-6 halftime lead.
In the second half the Tiger defense put on a
defensive exhibition, allowing Mansfield only four first downs and limiting the Wolverines s to 36 yards on the ground and
40 yards through the air. Neither team scored in the second half, so Winnfield took an early lead in the district race with
the win. Had Hollywood scripted the season, Mansfield and Winnfield would have played in the final game of the season and
Winnfield would have beaten the Wolverines to take the school’s second district title. The reality of the situation
was that after beating Mansfield, Winnfield cleared a huge hurdle in the path to the school’s second district title.
The next week the Tigers advanced their quest
at the district title by defeating Coushatta by a 19-0 margin. Against Coushatta, the Tiger defense shut the visitors down
the whole game as the Choctaws managed two first downs in the first half and three in the second half and never came close
got a lone first half touchdown when Tinnerello and Wyatt connected on a 49-yard pass play
for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead. That’s the way the score stayed until the fourth quarter where sophomore
halfback James Lloyd Collins got the Tigers back into the end zone and where Tinnerello
and Wyatt connected for their second touchdown of the night to close out all scoring.
For the night Tinnerello connected
on 2 of 4 passes, with both passes going for touchdowns. That was the third straight game he had thrown a touchdown pass.
That marked the first time a Winnfield player had ever thrown touchdown passes in three consecutive games. In fact, so rare
was a consistent and productive passing attack, that only four players had thrown touchdown passes in back-to-back games,
including Ray Jenkins (1936), Roger Smith (1941), Dan Carr (1950) and John
Harrington (1956). Tinnerello was moving past all of those and the good part
was that he was only a sophomore. By throwing two touchdown passes against Coushatta, Tinnerello joined a
group of five other Tiger quarterbacks who had thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game. So, Tinnerello’s
early-season exploits were something rare indeed. The lefty was quickly establishing himself as the most
prolific passer in Winnfield high school football history.
By being on the receiving end of two touchdown passes in a game, Tommy Wyatt joined Lyle Wayne
Thompson (1957), Bobby Bass (1948) and Edward Parker (1941) as the only players
who had caught two touchdowns in a single game. Two other players had caught three touchdown passes in
a game, those being David Harper (1936) and Elton Long (1946).
The win over Coushatta moved the Tigers overall
record to 2-1-0 for the season and 2-0-0 in district play. Winnfield could further strengthen their hold
on the district lead the following week when they played their third straight home game and their third consecutive district
In week four
Winnfield played the LaSalle Tigers. Though Coach Newman wasn’t publicly stating it, LaSalle was the
strongest district foe remaining on the Tiger’s schedule. After LaSalle, the Tigers had Many and Farmerville to play,
two perennially weak teams. If the Tigers defeated LaSalle, they were all but assured of the district title.
The two teams swapped touchdowns in the first quarter, with
Winnfield getting the first score when Tinnerello got his fifth touchdown pass of this year and his fourth in four games,
with this one going to end Jerry Burch. LaSalle answered that touchdown on their next
possession but they would not get back into the end zone the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Winnfield tacked
on one more touchdown just before the half on a 1 yard run by Benny Canerday and added two more touchdowns
in the second half, with one being a keeper by Tinnerello from 2 yards out, and the other coming on a 41-yard
run by James Lloyd Collins. Willie Carter carried for the extra point
to account for the final 25-6 margin to give Winnfield a perfect 3-0-0 district record a 3-1-0 record overall.
The touchdown pass that Tinnerello
threw to Burch in the first quarter gave him five touchdown tosses for the season, which tied him for the
single season record. In fact, so rare were touchdown passes that Tinnerello was already in a tie for third
place on the career list for touchdown passes. Dan Carr led
that list with 8 touchdown passes in his three-year career, with John Harrington occupying
second place with 7 tosses and Ray Jenkins, Roger Smith and Mike Tinnerello
holding down third place with 5 touchdown passes.
Winnfield took a break from district play in week five, but they hardly took a break because the opponent was Ruston.
The series record now stood at 24-3-5 in favor of Ruston and Ruston’s win streak over Winnfield had reached 17
consecutive games. Ruston came into the game ranked 1st in the Class AA polls, were 4-0-0 for the year and seemed larger than
life, as usual.
Like so many
games in the past, the 1959 version of the Bearcat Slaughter was over by halftime. Ruston scored 34 unanswered
points before the Tigers got on the scoreboard. Winnfield’s passing combination of Tinnerello to Wyatt
added two more touchdowns to their season totals, one in the third quarter and the other in the final quarter, but that’s
about all the Tigers did well against Ruston. The final touchdown was made with only seconds to go in the game.
When all was said and done, Ruston rolled
up 473 total yards and 16 first downs. Given the strength of Winnfield’s defense, the Ruston offense
looked like a veritable machine as most of their touchdowns were of the “long range” variety. Winnfield chalked
up 188 total yards and gained 11 first downs.
team and individual records fell after the Ruston game. By connecting on his sixth and seventh touchdown pass of the year,
Mike Tinnerello broke, by two, the single-season touchdown passing record. The team’s seven touchdown
passes for the season were two better than the team single season record set by the 1936 team and tied by the 1941, 1946 and
1957 teams. Tommy Wyatt got in on the record chase by catching his fourth and fifth touchdown pass of the
year. He became the first player to have two games in one season where he caught multiple touchdown catches. His
five overall TD catches for the season tied him with David Harper (1936)for the single-season lead in touchdown
receptions. Wyatt’s five touchdown receptions left him one short of David Harper’s
career touchdown reception mark. In the first 50 years of Winnfield football there had only been four receivers
who caught three or more touchdowns in a single season. David Harper did it first when he caught 5 in the
1946 season. Eddie Parker was next when he snared 3 touchdown passes in 1941. The other two were Elton
Long, who got 4 touchdown receptions in the 1946 season and Thompson who had 5 TD receptions in
the 1957 season. As for career touchdown receptions, Harper (6) and Long
(5) were the only receivers to catch five or more touchdown passes. So, between them, Tinnerello
and Wyatt were rewriting the record books.
After the Ruston loss, the Tigers had a breather against an 0-5-0 Many team; the next to last district opponent Winnfield
would face. The Many game saw the return of Tiger halfback Mack Martin to full-time duty. He
had been injured in the Mansfield game and was eager to take his place in the Tiger lineup. All he did was run for three touchdowns
to help the Tigers roll over Many by a score of 33-6. Winnfield also got touchdown on a run by Jimmy Bolton
and the standard Tinnerello to Wyatt touchdown.
Tinnerello’s TD passes gave him 9 for the year, which extended his single-season record and
moved him ahead of Dan Carr for career touchdown tosses. It was also the sixth straight game that Tinnerello
had thrown at least one touchdown pass, which was four games more than the previous record for consecutive TD passes.
Wyatt’s TD reception
gave him 6 for the year which moved him into sole possession of first place for single-season TD receptions and moved him
one ahead of David Harper (1934-1936) in the lead for career TD receptions.
With the win, the Tigers moved to 4-0-0 in district
play and clinched a tie for the 1A title. Mansfield and Coushatta were locked into a tie for second place with 1-1-0 loop
marks, with Farmerville and LaSalle tied for fourth place with a 0-1-1 record. Many dropped to 0-6-0 for
the year and 0-2-0 in league play after the loss to Winnfield.
In the seventh week of the 1959 season Pineville put a whipping on the Tigers in a 38-14 win. The
Rebels built a 19-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter. That is when the fireworks began as the two teams
combined for 33 fourth quarter points.
Winnfield began the touchdown barrage when Mike Tinnerello and Tommy Wyatt connected
on their now familiar toss and catch routine. Pineville then scored two unanswered touchdowns to make the
score 32-7. Then, Tinnerello capped a Tiger drive by running 17 yards for a touchdown, with Bryant
against adding the extra point. Pineville countered by closing out the scoring to make the final tally
38-14 in favor of the Rebels. The Rebels rolled up 344 yards rushing and added 90 yards passing for a total
Tigers ended their four-week road stretch against archrival Jonesboro. Winnfield only had two wins over Jonesboro in the 1950s,
with those coming in 1954 and 1956. The 1940s and 1930s hadn’t been much kinder to Winnfield as Winnfield’s
record against Jonesboro in those two decades was 2-6-1 and 1-5-0 respectively.
The game came down to one play. If Winnfield had to have a touchdown
everyone knew who to defend against. Despite that knowledge, Jonesboro failed to keep the Tinnerello to Wyatt
connection from hooking up for a touchdown in the second quarter. That score came after the Tigers were unsuccessful in running
the football on three tries after moving to a first and goal at the Jonesboro 7. So, on fourth down, Coach Newman
called on his potent passing combo to get the job done. That touchdown was all of the scoring for the night as the Tigers
took a hard fought 6-0 win over Jonesboro. In a season full of accomplishments, add a victory over Jonesboro to the list.
Winnfield had two more non-district games to
play before concluding the regular season against Farmerville. Those two non-district encounters came against Natchitoches
and Jena and the Tigers lost both, meaning their record against non-district opponents was 1-5-0.
The undefeated Natchitoches Red Devils were led
by quarterback Don Beasley. Winnfield actually scored first when Tinnerello and Wyatt
did their thing to give the Tigers an early lead. Rusty Melton ran the extra point to
make the score 7-0. Playing like the champions they were, Natchitoches responded by scoring 34 unanswered points through three
quarters and rolled to a 34-14 win. One of their touchdown came when Beasley
connected with his receiver on a 95-pass play good for a touchdown.
James Lloyd Collins got the other Tiger touchdown
but that only made the margin of defeat 20 points instead of 27 points. The loss dropped Winnfield’s record to 5-4-0
for the season. In catching his 9th touchdown pass of the year, Wyatt upped his season scoring
total to 57 points. That moved him into third place on the school’s single-season scoring list. Only Henry Brewer's
69 points (1928) and Thomas Straughan’s 66 points (1952) were higher. Wyatt’s
9 touchdown receptions were four higher than the previous single-season record and moved him ahead of Dan Carr
into the lead for career touchdown receptions.
closed out their non-district schedule when they hosted the Jena Giants for the tenth game of the year. The
Giants posted three touchdowns on the board and Winnfield’s offense could only manage a single touchdown when Mike
Tinnerello passed to Jerry Burch for the lone Tiger score. Fullback Gerald
Bryant ran the extra point, giving Winnfield 7 points. That wasn’t enough, though, as Jena
improved their series leading record to 9-3-2 with their 21-7 win over the Tigers. Seven of those wins
had come in the 1950s alone.
The loss dropped
the Tigers record to 5-5-0 for the season. The Tigers needed a win over Farmerville to win the district
championship outright and to assure that the program wouldn’t end the year with yet another losing record.
Heading into the final game of the regular season, Winnfield was leading the district with a 4-0-0 record.
In fact, four of the Tigers five wins had come against district opponents, while all five of their losses have come
against non-district opponents. Mansfield had already concluded district play with a 4-1-0 record, so even a loss to Farmerville
would have given the Tigers the district title since they had already defeated Mansfield. However, the
Tigers wanted an outright title.
scored 19 points against Farmerville, which was more than enough to claim the schools second district title as the Tigers
held the Farmers to a lone touchdown. In the 19-7 win, the Tigers got production from three of their backs. Gerald
Bryant got the Tigers on the board in the first quarter with a three-yard run, after which Tinnerello
hooked up with Wyatt on the extra point to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. Then in the third quarter both Jimmy
Bolton (5 yards) and James Lloyd Collins (16 yards) got touchdown runs to ice the victory.
With the 19-7 win, Winnfield claimed the outright district title, completing their district slate undefeated and untied. That
marked the first time a Tiger team had accomplished that as Winnfield's 1957 team ended district play with one tie.
Winnfield concluded the regular season with a
6-5-0 record. In doing so, they claimed the school’s second district title and thus earned the program’s second
playoff appearance. By taking the Dist. 1A crown, the Tigers would entertain Delhi, the District 2A champions in the first
round of the playoffs. Winnfield couldn't have been matched against a more formidable first round opponent,
as Delhi was the No. 1 ranked team in Class 1-A.
was by no means a stranger to the playoffs. They had made five title game appearances, all coming in the 1950s and all coming
in Class B. For the decade, Delhi was 2-3 in title games, winning the 1951 and 1957 Class B titles.
Delhi had been the runner-up in 1950, 1954 and 1955 and had moved up to play in Class A after the 1957 season.
Coming into the game both teams presented similar
offenses. Both had relied on their passing attack all season but had ample weapons in the backfield. The game was expected
to be close, as Winnfield had gone 6-1-0 against Class A competition, plus the Tigers enjoyed a home field advantage. The
Tigers hoped this would be the year that they would win their first playoff game.
Winnfield's second venture into the playoffs was a mismatch from the beginning. Delhi scored four touchdowns through
the air, all by the end of the third quarter. They scored one touchdown each in the opening two quarters to take a 12-0 lead
into halftime. Delhi then tossed two more touchdowns in the third quarter to move ahead to a 25-0 margin as the fourth quarter
began and added a final touchdown on a 52-yard run on their next possession to close the scoring out at 31-0.
The game was as one-sided as the score
indicated. Winnfield didn't pick up their initial first down until the fourth quarter. On their final possession of the night,
Winnfield picked up four first downs, one on a 14-yard pass completion from Tinnerello to Burch
and the other on a pass of 27 yards from Tinnerello to Wyatt, but those were
Tinnerello's only two completions of the game. It was a disappointing way to end the season, but the young
Tigers had far exceeded everyone’s expectations, given the relative youth of the team coming into the season. Though
the Tigers had been blown away by Delhi, that same Delhi team reached the 1959 AA title game, losing a 7-6 heartbreaker to
It was a record-breaking
season. The 1959 team became only the second district champions in school history and first undefeated district champions.
It was a team of all-around talent, with a bevy of backs, strength up front and a 1-2 passing combination unlike anything
ever seen in Winnfield high school football history up to that time. Mike Tinnerello ended the year with
13 touchdown passes. That was eight more than any other Tiger player had ever thrown in a season. In fact, that was five more
than Winnfield's career leader, Dan Carr, had thrown between 1948 and 1950. For his effort, Tinnerello
was named as the quarterback on the All-District team and was an honorable mention pick on the Class A All-State team. Tinnerello
completed at least one touchdown pass in the first 10 games of the season to establish a record for consecutive touchdown
passes that has only been exceeded once, that being by Matt Machen in the 1989 season when he threw touchdown
passes in 11 consecutive games.
Tommy Wyatt, meanwhile, enjoyed the most productive season a Winnfield
receiver had ever had up to that point. He caught 28 passes for 458 yards and 9 touchdowns, all school records. His 9 touchdowns
for the season broke, by four, David Harper's single-season record set in 1936. Wyatt's
record stood for 23 years until Benny Mitchell snared 10 touchdown passes in the 1982 season.
Freddie King also caught 10 touchdown passes in the 1999 season and Eric Caldwell
bested them all with 11 touchdown passes in the 1986. However, considering that Winnfield threw fewer than 8 to 10 passes
in most games, Wyatt and Tinnerello's performance in 1959 ranks as one of the most impressive
offensive accomplishments in school history. Wyatt also ended his playing days at Winnfield with four more
career touchdown reception than any previous Winnfield player had ever made (that record also being held by David
Harper). The 57 points he scored was the third most single-season points scored at the time. Wyatt
was named to the All State team for his accomplishments in 1959. That made him only the second player from the 1950s to earn All State honors, the other
being Darrell Mayes who made the mythical team at guard in the 1957 season.
and Tinnerello, the team was full of good football players, and the best part was that the team would return
the next year virtually intact. The Tigers lost Tommy Wyatt and Jerry Burch, both ends,
to graduation. But, when Johnny Wroten went down with a broken hand early in the season,
Wyatt and Burch were the only two seniors playing. The remainder of the team would return
the following season.
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