Winnfield High School Football 1970-1979
Defense Wins Championships
There is no real secret
to building a successful high school football program. The difficulty is doing it. The Winnfield High School football program
during the 1960s was a model of how to develop a program. Here’s what it takes: You begin with a base of talented athletes.
Then, the task is getting those athletes out for football, keeping them out for football and teaching them the fundamentals
of the game. What that takes is a good coaching at both the Jr. High and Sr. High level. Programs don’t run themselves.
Quality programs are run by quality coaches. Add in a little motivational edge, hard work and a fan base that supports the
program and you have a championship program - again, easy to describe but hard to pull off.
Winnfield football in the 1960s had all of that. And, all of
that set the stage for the 1970s. The boys that played football for Winnfield Senior High School in the 1970s grew up watching
championship football. For them, Winnfield always seemed to win. The players in the 1970s looked up to the players of the
1960s, but that’s the way it goes from one decade to the next. What is most important, the boys that played football
in the 1970s grew up wanting to be a Winnfield Tiger and they grew up expecting to win football games.
The late 1910s and 1920s are remembered by some as the “glory
years” of Winnfield football. It is true that the teams of that era played dominating, winning football. In the 1920s
the Tiger football program had a reputation as being one of the best programs in the state. But, the decade of the 1970s is
arguably the most successful decade of Winnfield football. Consider the following:
Wins - A total
of 116 games were played during the decade. The Tigers won 86 of those. That is the most total wins of any decade. The overall
record for the decade was 86-30-0, a winning percentage of .741. That included a regular season record of 75-24-0 (.758) and
a playoff record of 11-6-0 (.647.). Those are the highest regular season and playoff wins and highest winning percentages
for any decade.
won at home (47-13-0 - .783%) and they won on the road (39-17-0 - .696%). Wins came no matter where the game was played. Those
wins translated into championships. For the decade, six teams advanced to the playoffs. Four of those advanced as district
champions and two as runners-up. That is the most district champions for any decade. Once the Tigers were in the playoffs,
they tended to stay there. That meant they won playoff games and advanced. The Tigers played in a total of 17 playoff games,
which is also the most of any decade.
Prior to 1957,
no Winnfield team had ever played in a playoff game and it wasn't until 1968 that a Tiger team won a playoff game. The 1971
team was not only the first team to win more than one playoff game, but also the first team to advance all the way to a state
championship game. Four of the six playoff teams during the 1970s won at least two playoff games, meaning two-thirds of the
playoff teams advanced to at least the quarterfinals. All total, two teams advanced to the state finals, one advanced to the
semifinals, one to the quarterfinals and two played in the regional round.
During the 20th century, Winnfield High School had five teams complete the regular season with an undefeated record.
Two of those teams (1971 and 1978) played during the 1970s. Also, through 1979, eight teams in the history of Winnfield High
School football won 10 or more games in a season. Half of those of those competed in the 1970s. It was a decade of winning
streaks that still stand today. Included is the longest regular season win streak (17, from 1970 to 1972), overall season
win streak (16, from 1970 to 1971), district win streak (16, from 1977 to 1979) and road win streak (8, from 1977 to 1979).
No team of the 1970s completed the season with a losing record, the only decade that has ever happened. The program itself
went 22 years (1966 to 1987) without having a losing record, with just under half of those teams playing in the 1970s.
Every win is good, but some are sweeter than
other. During the 1970s, Winnfield had a winning record against virtually every traditional rival, including: Jonesboro-Hodge
(7-3-0), Jena (7-0-0), Tioga (6-0-0), Pineville (7-1-0) and Ruston (4-1-0). But, Winnfield didn't win every game of the 1970s.
When you consider the 1970s, there are teams who were a nemesis of the program, either by virtue of a single, heart-breaking
win or by dominance throughout the decade. Those included: Bolton (0-4-0), Natchitoches (1-2-0), West Monroe (0-2-0), South
Lafourche (0-1-0), Jesuit (0-1-0), St. Louis (1-1-0), John Curtis (0-1-0), Westlake (0-1-0) and Crowley (0-1-0).
Defense There are many
explanations for the success of the program during the 1970s. Probably the main one is the brand of defense the Tigers played
during the decade. All of the axioms about defensive football were demonstrated on the field and the proof is contained in
some impressive statistics. Virtually every defensive record of the program was rewritten during the 1970s and most of those
standards are still in place today.
all about keeping the opponent from scoring. The teams of the 1970s did that better than anyone before or since. A total of
31 of the 116 opponents (27%) were shutout and 74 of the 116 opponents (64%) scored one touchdown or less. Think about that
- 2 of 3 opponents scored seven points or less. Only 17 opponents (15%) scored two or more touchdowns. Those teams that did
score didn't score very many points. Only 16 of 116 opponents scored 20 or more points and only nine opponents scored 30 or
more. No opponent scored 40 or more. That meant that the Tigers usually only had to score a couple of touchdowns to win a
game. During the decade, in games in which the Tigers scored 14 or more points they were 82-4-0. So, the Tiger defenses of
the 1970s kept the team in every game. A total of 19 of the 30 losses were by 8 pts. or less and, only four opponents defeated
the Tigers by more than 20 points. If you exclude the 1974 and 1975 seasons, the average margin of defeat was only 4.7 points
per loss. Even with those two seasons included, the average margin of defeat was only 9.1 points per game. Teams couldn't score against Winnfield because they couldn't get any offense going.
Only 9 of the 116 opponents rushed for 200 or more yards in a game. An almost equal number (7) ended the game with minus rushing
yards. Only 23 opponents accumulated 200 or more total yards and only 5 opponents gained 300 or more total yards.
it's not like the teams of the 1970s relied solely on their defenses. Two of the most prolific offenses in school history
played in the 1970s. The 1971 and 1978 teams are in the top five of most offensive categories. Some of the longest plays,
most productive offensive games and highest scores came during the 1970s.
It was a decade of balanced offensive attacks. Prior to the mid-sixties, teams relied mainly on
their running game. That began to change in the mid-sixties and by the time the 1970s rolled around teams relied equally on
their running and passing attacks. All-out passing attacks became the focus of the teams who played in the 1980s and 1990s.
So, the teams of the 1970s would be the best example of teams who relied on both the ground and the air to move the football. Four of the ten teams that played in the 1970s ended the season
with over 1,000 yards in both rushing and passing, the highest of any decade. In comparison, the first team to ever do that
was the 1966 team, followed by the 1968 team. Four teams accomplished that feat in the 1980s and two teams did it in the 1990s.
Every team from the 1970s finished with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 7 of the ten teams finished at least 950 passing
The formula for success
was simple. The defense held the opposition off the board and the offense rang up the points. That is noted when examining
margins of victory. When the Tigers won, they usually did so by putting teams away. In the 86 wins, the game ended with the
Tigers ahead by more than 8 points in 71 games (.825). That means that in all but fifteen of the wins of the decade the opposition
was in need of at least two scores to overtake the Tigers at the end of the game. In short - there weren't many close games.
The average margin of victory was 25 points per win. In 65 of the 86 wins (.760) the Tigers won by a margin of 14 points or
of margins come with both good defense and good offense. The offenses of the 1970s could score. Winnfield football
teams of the 1970s were shutout only 9 times, the fewest of any decade. They scored two or more touchdowns in 94 of 116 games
(81%). All total, there were 2,883 points scored during the decade (24.9 ppg avg.), the second highest of any decade. In nine
games, the Tigers scored 50 or more points, the most number of games that mark had been reached for any decade since the 1920s.
The 1971 team became only the second team to score 400 or more points in a season. By scoring 466 pts., they broke the previous
single-season scoring record by 66 pts., a record held by the 1961 team at the time. Then, the 1978 team became the first
of what are still only two teams to break the 500-point barrier.
Players and coaches
All of those numbers lose their meaning unless you consider the people behind those numbers. The decade
was made up of some of the best football players and best coaches in school history. Proof of that was revealed in 2000 when
the first fan poll was conducted to determine the fan’s choice for best players and best coaches. Of the top 22 players
selected for offensive and defensive positions, 11 played during the 1970s. On the defensive side of the ball, 7 of the 11
starters played during the 1970s. Three of the top four coaches selected coached during the 1970s.
When post-season awards came around, players from Winnfield
got full recognition during the 1970s. Prior to the 1970s, no decade had passed in which more than four individuals
were selected as a first team All-State player. The 1971 team alone placed five players on the AAA All-State team. That is
the most All-State players ever assembled on one Winnfield team. But, that was only the beginning. Before the decade was over,
17 players would be selected to an All-State team, with two individuals (Lionel Johnson and Ricky Chatman), selected two consecutive
years, the first time that had ever happened. The breakdown of first team All-State players by decade is as follows: 1920s
(3), 1930s (0), 1940s (1), 1950s (2), 1960s (4), 1970s (17), 1980s (8), 1990s (3).
Doug Moreau, one of the winningest coach in school history (58), began his tenure during the 1970s,
winning the first 11 games of his total wins while in Winnfield during the 1979 season. He won more playoff games (10) than
any other coach in the history of the program. Three of those wins came in the 1979 season. Joe Dosher ended
the century with more wins in district games than any other coach (26). He won those games when he served as head coach from
1970 to 1973. The coaches who ended their tenure with the three highest winning percentages in the history of program coached
during the 1970s. Those include Doug Moreau (806), Joe Dosher (.783) and Larry Dauterive
(.757). Dauterive was considered by many of his peers as having one of the best offensive minds in the business.
Likewise, Jerry Bamburg, who served as a defensive coordinator for the first four teams of the decade, before
assuming the head-coaching job at the school, had an equally keen defensive mind. He is the one responsible for developing
those early and mid 1970s defenses. Between 1970 and 1973, his defenses held 33 of 47 (70%) opponents to one touchdown or
less. Included in that total are 15 shutouts.
of the decade:
1970 - Replaced player must leave field on
his side of the field following substitution.
1971 - Goal posts widened to 23' 4" and horizontal
crossbar and uprights must be free of decorative material. Allowed for quarters to be shortened or game suspended because
of emergency. Defensive player prohibited from shoving his teammate on the line to add momentum. Spiking the ball is unsportsmanlike
1972 - Valid fair catch designated by extending one hand only and waving it.
1972 - More
than one coach may confer with one player during time-outs.
1974 - Any player may request a time out.
Blocking below the waist prohibited on kicks.
- Plan for breaking ties. Reduced charged time-outs to three per half. Player chargedwith
1976 - Five players with numbers 50-79 required to be on
the line. Eligible pass receivers must wear 1-49 or 80-99.
1977 - Liberalized
use of hands by offensive players during blocking.
Enter subhead content here
KEY PLAYERS/COACHES OF THE 1970s
Dosher (1966-1969 & 1977-1982 Assistant Coach, 1970-1974 Head Coach) Overall career
won/loss record of 42-14-0. Guided the 1971 team to the school’s first state championship game played on the field. Is the first coach to win multiple
playoff games as the 1971 team went 3-1 in the
playoffs. His 1971 team went 10-0-0 during the regular season to become only the third team in school history to complete a regular season with an unblemished record. His career record in district games is 29-10-0, which
is the most district wins by any head coach at Winnfield. All five of this teams had winning records. The only coaches in
the history of the program to have five or more winning seasons are Dosher and Alwin Stokes (1917-1923, 1934-1935) with five,
and Doug Moreau (1979-1984) and Joey Pender (1998-2005) with six. Dosher sent three of his five teams to the playoffs, where
he had a 3-3 record. Came in third in the Expert Panel Poll and fourth in the fan poll in the 2000 All Century Poll.All
five of Dosher’s team’s had winning records. The only Tiger coaches who stayed in the program more than three
years and did not have a losing season are Tommy Bankston (1966-1969), Doug Moreau (1979-1984) and Dosher.
Shell (1940s through 1990s) Long time contributor to the program in a variety of capacities.
In the 1940s he wrote articles for the Winnfield newspaper chronicling the game accounts. In the 1960s and 1970s he operated
the video camera for the program. Supported the program in the 1980s as a spectator at virtually every home and away
game. In the late 1990s became the program’s “premier fan” when he became a “partial observer”
while watching his grandson, Jared Beville, snare passes from the WR position. May not have watched the most Tiger football
games, but the list of people ahead of him is very short
(1970-1971, DE & OG) Widely considered one of the best defensive ends in the history of the program. That became clear when the All
Century Poll was conducted in 2000. He
received the most votes at that position from the Expert Panel. His vote total from the Expert Panel was tied for third-highest for any player on the defensive side of the ball.
He received the second-highest votes from fans
voting in the same poll. Along with Alan Carter (1970-1971),
Hutchins was the first two-time first team All District performer at a defensive position. He was a first team All State pick at defensive end his senior season.
Greg Wagoner (1969-1971, TE)
Three-year letterman and two year starter at tight end. Had five career touchdown catches, with his most notable being a game-winning
11-yarder against Hahnville in a semi-final round playoff game. Against Jonesboro-Hodge in 1971 Wagoner caught 9 passes which
set a single-game reception record. That is the second most single-game catches of the twentieth century. He was
the reception leader of the 1971 team, a team that still holds the school record for pass completions in a season. The
1971 team had 113 pass completions and Wagoner caught 38 of those. That set a single season reception mark that lasted
for fifteen years. Wagoner gained 450 yards on those 38 catches, which was eight yards shy of the single-season yardage record
set by Tommy Wyatt in 1959. Wagoner was a first team All District and All State performer in 1971. He was the
top pick at the tight end position by both the Expert Panel and fans voting in the All Century poll. His six first place
votes by the eight member Expert Panel is topped only the seven first place votes received by linebacker Lionel Johnson (1970-1972)
and running back Anthony Thomas (1993-1996).
Strickland (1969-1971, DE, OT, C & LB) First started his sophomore season as a defensive
end. Started two games at center his junior year and then moved to offensive tackle, where he played the rest of the
career on offense. Played defensive tackle his junior season and linebacker his senior season. Earned second team
All District honors as a defensive tackle in 1970 and honorable mention honors at linebacker in 1971. Was a first team
All District pick at offensive tackle in 1971. Was the leading vote-getter at offensive tackle by the Expert Panel and
third-leading vote-getter by the fans voting in the All Century poll of 2000.
Keen (1969-1971, RB & PK) Three-year lettermen who first appeared as a sophomore when
he saw limited action but did score two rushing touchdowns, caught one touchdown pass and booted an extra point. During
his junior year he scored a team-leading 62 points, which at the time was the most points ever scored by a junior player and
the fourth-most single season points ever scored by any player. Keen got those points with eight rushing touchdowns
and he booted 13 of 15 extra point tries. Keen’s .867 kicking percentage as a junior is the second-highest single
season average of all time. Keen was the team’s leading rusher in 1970 with 857 yards. In 1971 Keen was the first
Tiger player to score 100 points in a single season. Keen crossed the 100 pt. mark in the 10th game of the
season and ended the year with 127 points. Though teammate John Wayne Williams ended the season with 130 pts., Keen
technically reached the 100 pt. mark first. He was the third player to kick a field goal in the program (see Carroll Long,
1961 & Steve Stroud, 1966). Keen also became the first player to scored 30 points in a single game when he got that
total against Menard in the 1971 game. He is the first Tiger running back credited with 30 carries in a game, that coming
his junior season against Pineville. Keen became the first player to score 200 career points, by finishing his senior season
with 207 total points scored. In the 1971 season Keen scored 13 rushing touchdowns, which was a new single-season record.
In 1971 Keen booted 36 of 47 extra point attempts in 1971 to set a season record for PAT kicks made. For his career Keen converted
50 of 63 extra point tries for a .794 conversion rate. Keen became the program’s second 1,000-yard rusher in 1971 when
he ended the season with 1,008 yards. Keen was a second team All District pick at running back his junior year and a
first team selection his senior season. In the All Century Poll conducted in 2000 Keen is the third ranked place kicker as
voted on by the fans. He is the fourth ranked running back as ranked by both the Expert Panel and fans, which considering
the quality of running backs in the program that is quite a statement.
Johnson (1971-1972, DL) One of only two underclassmen to earn a starting spot on the
record-holding 1971 defensive unit. Johnson played defensive tackle, positioned on the strong side. His senior
season he earned first team All District and All State honors as a defensive lineman and was named the Class AAA MVP Defensive
players. All Century poll
Carter (1969-1971; QB, DB, SE & KR) Broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore quarterback and threw six touchdown passes. That is
the school’s third most touchdown passes by
a sophomore, trailing only Mike Tinnerello (13 in 1959) and John C. Jones, Jr. (7 in 2000). Carter threw three more touchdown passes in 1970, but was
moved to split end midway through his junior
season. In 1971 Carter caught five touchdown passes to give him a career total of nine touchdown passes thrown and six touchdown passes caught. Only one player
in the history of the program has combined to throw and catch more touchdown passes, that being John C. Jones who threw 22
touchdown passes as a quarterback and caught two touchdown passes. His senior season Carter also returned two punts for touchdowns.
In fact, he is the first player to return two punts for a touchdown in the same season. That came about in 1971 when
he scored on punt returns in consecutive games against Jonesboro and Natchitoches. In the key Natchitoches game of the 1971
it was Carter’s 82-yard punt return just before halftime that broke that scoreless tie up. Though teammate John
Wayne Williams in fact end the 1971 season with five punt returns for a touchdown, four of those came after Carter got his
two touchdowns. There has only been seven players in the history of the program have multiple punt returns for touchdowns in the same season. Despite all of the success that
Carter had on the offensive side of the ball and with punt returns, his skill on the defensive side of the ball made him unquestionably
one of the best defensive players in the history of the program. He was named first team All District defensive
back his junior and senior seasons. That made him and teammate James Hutchins the first players in the program to earn
back to back first team All District honors at
a defensive position. Carter was also named to the 1971 Class AAA All-State team and All-Prep (all classes) team at defensive back. In the All-Century poll balloting Carter was the leading vote getter at the defensive back position
by the Expert Panel.
John Wayne Williams (1970-1971, RB, DB
& KR) In 1970 he returned one punt for a touchdown and caught one touchdown-scoring pass.
That was only a prelude to his senior season when he put together one of the most varied scoring outputs in the history of
the program. Williams alternated with Jerry Keen at halfback and lined up at the split end position on occasion. In
1971 he ran for five touchdowns, with his two longest covering 64 and 75 yard. Williams also caught eight touchdown
passes in 1971, which at the time was the second-highest single season total in the history of the program and still ranks
in the Top Five. He tied a school record for
touchdown receptions in a single game against Jena in 1971 when he snared three. Only four other players have caught three TD passes in a single game. His most remarkable scoring accomplishment of the 1971 season, however, is what he
did on kick returns. Prior to 1971 no player
had ever returned more than one punt for a touchdown in a single season. Williams returned five punts and two kickoff for touchdowns in 1971. Williams had six career punt returns for touchdowns, which is double
the second highest total. Williams is the first Tiger player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season.
All total, Williams returned six punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns for a total of eight kick returns for scores.
Only two other players have as many as five total kick returns for touchdowns, including Benny Mitchell (1980-1982) and Freddie
King (1997-2000). Williams returned a kick for a touchdown in seven of the ten regular season games of 1971. Williams
is the only player in the history of the program to score touchdowns by three or more means in the same game, and he
did that twice. Against Leesville in 1971 Williams rushed for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for a score. Later that season against Pineville
(homecoming night) he scored touchdowns
by way of an 8 yd. run, a 21-yard reception and a 66 yard punt return. Williams ended the 1971 season with 130 total points scored. That broke the then single season scoring record of 69 points (see Frank
Brewer, 1928) by 61 points. Williams’ single
season total has only been topped by four players through the 2006 season. After the 1971 season Williams received first team All District and All State honors at an
offensive back position. He was also an honorable mention All District pick at defensive back in 1971. Williams received
two votes at running back from members of the Expert Panel voting in the All Century poll of 2000 and ranked in the Top Ten
among fans voting in the same poll for running back. He and Freddie King (1997-2000) were the consensus picks at kick-returner
by the Expert Panel, as they were the only two
players to receive votes in that category. The fans had six different players to receive votes at the kick-returner spot, with Williams receiving the second most votes behind Freddie King, Jr.. Williams had four more first place
votes than King in the fan balloting.
Johnson (1970-1972, LB & OT) Johnson is the program’s career leader for tackles
with over 350 career tackles to his credit. Though his exact total is not known, what is known is that he was credited
with 154 tackles during the ten-game regular season of 1971, his junior year, and 143 tackles during the 11-game 1972 season,
his senior season. He started every game at linebacker during the 1970 season, his sophomore season but his tackle total
from that season is not known. He also
played in four playoff games during the 1971 season and that tackle total is not known. So, his “known” tackles total 297. The only other player known to record
300 or more tackles in their career is Ricky
Chatman (1976-1979), who is credited with 345 career tackles. So, Johnson would have only had to have made 49 more tackles in those 14 games where his total is unknown to surpass Chatman’s career tackle total. Johnson
averaged 14.1 tackles per game in the games his
tackle totals are known for. Johnson is the only player to record two safeties in a career. At the end of his junior season he earned first team All District, All State and All Prep (all classes) honors at linebacker. He
was also the Class AAA Defensive MVP in 1971.
He followed that in 1972 by being named to the All State team a second consecutive year, making him the first repeat All-State performer of the Modern era (see, Truett Durham – 1919/1920 and Grady Newton – 1923/1924).
In the history of the program there have only
been eight players to earn first team All State honors in multiple years. Johnson was the top pick by the Expert Panel at linebacker in the All Century poll conducted in 2000.
In fact, he was the second-leading vote-getter
regardless of position by the Expert Panel, trailing only running back Anthony Thomas (1994-1996).
Steve Adams (1970-1972,
QB, Punter & DB) Began his career as a defensive back, where he earned honorable
mention All District honors as a sophomore. Moved to a starting role at quarterback midway through his sophomore season
and remained the Tiger starting quarterback throughout the remainder of his career. As a starter, he guided the offense
to a 27-5-0 record. That is the most wins by any starting quarterback in the history of the program. Adams holds the
school record for touchdown passes in a single season (23) and is the career leader for passing yards (3,010). He is
the first and only quarterback to throw for over 3,000 career yards and was the first Tiger quarterback to throw for over
2,000 career yards. He was the first Tiger quarterback to throw for more than 1,500 yards in a single season, that coming
in 1971 when he threw for 1,607 yards. Adams is the single-season leader for pass completions with 113 in 1971. He was the
first Tiger QB to throw four touchdown passes in a game, that coming in the 1972 contest against Oakdale. In his career Adams
rushed for eleven touchdowns, with his longest being a 47-yarder against Webster in 1971. His 11-touchdown career total ranks
fourth among Tiger quarterbacks. Adams was a first team All District pick at quarterback in 1971 and a second team selection
in 1972. He was the second-leading vote-getter at quarterback by the Expert Panel voting on the All Century poll in
2000 and received the third-most votes at quarterback from the fan vote.
Hickey (1971-1973, OT & OG) One of only four underclassmen to earn a starting spot on
the either the offensive or defensive side of the ball of the 1971 state finalist team. Was the only sophomore from
among that group. Moved to guard his junior and senior seasons where he was the leader of the offensive line.
Was a second team All District pick as a junior and earned first team All District and All State honors as a senior.
All Century Poll
Oliver (1971-1973, DB & KR) Primarily recognized as one of the program’s premier
defensive backs where he earned first team All
District and All State honors in 1973. Also used as
a kick return man where he returned three kicks for touchdowns. He is one of only seven players in the history of the program to have two career kickoff returns for a
touchdown. Ranked No. 5 among defensive backs
receiving votes from the Expert Panel voting on the All Century poll.
Anderson (1972-1973, WR) He was on the receiving end of three touchdown passes in the 1972
game against Leesville. That tied a school record for touchdown reception in a single game. That feat has only
been accomplished five other times in the history of the program. Anderson was the school’s first 500-yard receiver,
finishing the 1972 season with 504 yards. Anderson achieved that total with only 19 catches for a 26.5 per carry average per
catch. He finished his career with ten touchdown catches. That total was second highest at the time and remains the 7th
highest career total in the history of the program. . He was the first player in the history of the program to have three
touchdown receptions that covered 60 or more yards and remains one of only three players to accomplish that feat (see Mike
Kimble, 1973-1974 and John Michael Spangler, 1989). Anderson was a first team All District pick at end as a junior and an
honorable mention selection as a senior. He received a vote from one member of the Expert Panel at the end position on the
All Century poll.
Robinson (1973, FB & DL) Bruising fullback and defensive lineman who basically played only one season. Earned first team All District and All
State that season as a defensive lineman. In
the All Century poll Robinson ranked 4th among the Expert Panelist and fifth among the fans voting on the defensive lineman position. Mike Kimble (1973-1975, E)
The first and only player to cross the 200-yard mark for reception yards in a single game. That came in 1974 against
Oakdale when Kimble gained 205 yards in 6 catches. In that contest he had touchdown receptions that covered 60 and 34
yards. Besides his 60-yard touchdown reception in 1974, he had two other long distance scores, those being an 86-yarder
and a 74 yarder in 1975. That makes him one of only three players in the history of the program to have three scoring reception
of 60 yards or more (see Glen Anderson, 1972-1973 and John Michael Spangler, 1989). His 86-yard scoring reception set a school
record that stood for 31 years. Kimble was a second team All District pick as a junior and first team selection as a
Brown (1975-1976, DB & KR) Two year starter. In his career he had two rushing touchdowns, two touchdowns by reception, one fumble return
for a touchdown and he returned a kickoff 90
yards for a touchdown. It was in the defensive backfield where Brown was most proficient. He was a first team All District performer at defensive back in 1976
and was one of two players from the 1976 state
finalist team to earn first team All State honors (the other being Nathan Johnson).
Larry Dauterive (1976-1978, Head Coach)
Outspoken, confident, brash – all of those words have been used to describe Larry Dauterive. While those descriptions might be true, you would have to include one other word also – winner.
His playbook was legendary and some said he never
met an offensive formation he didn’t like. One thing you could expect when you met a Dauterive offense was variety. In his first season
at Winnfield he took his team to the school’s second state title game. That came after the Tigers entered the playoffs as a district runner-up and then peaked in the playoffs. The Tigers lost that
state final game by a 7-0 margin, making that
the first shutout loss of Dauterive’s career. Overall, his 1976 team posted an 11-3-0 record. After a 5-5-0 season in 1977, Dauterive marched his 1978 team through the regular
season without a blemish; making that team the
school’s fourth squad to go through a regular season undefeated. Then, after two playoff wins the 1978 team’s playoff hopes came to an end in a crushing quarter-final round loss played at Stokes-Walker
Stadium. That 1978 team posted a 12-1-0.
Dauterive left after the 1978 season, having posted a 28-9-0 record. His .757 winning percentage ranks second behind his successor Doug Moreau (1979-1984) who finished
his career at Winnfield with an .806 winning
Johnson (1974-1976, RB, KR & DB) Second-leading vote getter at running back in the All Century poll behind Anthony Thomas (1994-1996). Johnson was a three-year
starter at running back and he also contributed
to the program by returning kicks and playing defensive back. His rushing total from all of his sophomore season is not known, however he rushed for 984 yards as a junior and he set a new single-season rushing
record his senior season by rushing for 1,432
yards. That broke the previous record by just under 350 yards. Johnson had six 100-yard rushing games his junior season
and added eight more to that total his senior season to give him fourteen career 100-yard rushing games. His 199 carries in
1975 broke Randy Poisso’s (1968) single season record of 188. Johnson scored 21 touchdowns by rush, which was two behind
the school record set by Jerry Keen (1969-1971). He was the scoring leader of the state finalist 1976 team with 82 points and he\ended his career with an even 150 points. Other
than his rushing touchdowns, Johnson also scored
by way of three pass receptions, three two-point conversion
runs and one 65-yard punt return. At the time his 25 total touchdowns tied Jerry Keen on the all-time list. Post-season honors included back-to-back first team All District
honors at running back in 1975 and 1976 and an
All State selection at running back in 1976.
Bankston (1974-1976, QB, DB & PK) Tough competitor who had a three-year playing career
for the Tigers. Is most known as a quarterback but he also handled the placekicking duties throughout his career and
was placed in the defensive backfield in critical situations. As a kicker Bankston booted a career 58 PAT tries. That
set a new record at the time and is currently 4th on the all-time list. He was a sure kicker, setting a new
record for proficiency as a sophomore when he converted on 16 of 17 tries for a kicking percentage of .941.
That broke Steve Stroud’s seven year old record of .913. That is the highest kicking percentage in school history. For
his career Bankston converted 58 of 68 tries for a .853 kicking percentage. That too is a school record. As a three-year
starter at quarterback, Bankston was in on 22 team wins. That ranks him in the top five for wins by a quarterback in
the program. He is the program’s career leader for TD passes with 37 and he holds school record for most touchdown
passes in a game with 6 vs. Tioga in 1974. Only two other quarterbacks (see Steve Adams, 1972 and Matt Machen, 1988)
have as many as four touchdown passes in a single game. His touchdown passes per season included 12 as a sophomore, which
was one shy of the sophomore record set by Mike Tinnerello in 1959; 7 as a junior and 18 as a senior. Bankston’s
senior total was the second-highest single-season total at the time, trailing only Steve Adam’s 23 set in 1971. Bankston and
John C. Jones, Jr. (2000-2002) are the only Tiger quarterback to throw for at least 7 touchdown passes in three different
seasons. Bankston is the only Tiger quarterback to throw double-digit touchdown passes in two seasons. His single season passing
yardage totals include 879 yards in 1974, 820 yards
in 1975 and 1,162 yard in 1976. He is the only player to throw for 800 or more yards in three different seasons. At the time he was the third Tiger quarterback
to throw for 1,000-yards in
a single season. His career total of 2,861 ranked second to Steve Adams at the time and is currently the third highest, trailing Adams and Matt Machen (1987-1989).
Other than his six touchdown performance against
Tioga in 1974 where he threw for 207 yards, his other career game came the same season against Oakdale when he threw for 212 yards. He, Steve Adams and Matt Machen
are the only Tiger quarterbacks with two 200-yard games. Bankston was an honorable mention All District pick at quarterback
in 1974 and 1975 and a second team selection in 1976. Bankston was the fourth-ranked quarterback by both the Expert
Panel and the fans voting in the All-Century poll conducted in 2000. He is the son of Coach Tommy Bankston (1966-1969).
Holden (1976-1977, E, QB, RB & DB) Very versatile football player as evidenced by the sheer number of positions he played. As a junior
he caught six of the team’s 20 touchdown passes
to share the lead in that category with teammate Jimmy Husser. The following season he was the “go-to guy” in the Tiger offensive backfield, where he provided critical
senior leadership in a season when such leadership
was needed. In 1977 he was the team’s leading scorer with 74 points. Those points came on 9 rushing touchdowns, 1 scoring reception and 14 of 21 extra point kicks. Holden also threw a touchdown pass. He
was selected for first team All District honors
at running back in a season where he rushed for 428 yards on 120 carries.
Joe Ramsey (1977-1978, QB, E, KR, Punter) Split time between QB and E his junior season and then moved to an offensive end and defensive back his senior season.
Was the team punter for two years. Ramsey
was the first and is the only player to cross the 1,000 mark for single season reception yards. That occurred in 1978 when he caught 37 passes (one shy of the school record) for 1,042 yards. That is an amazing 28.16 yard
per catch average and his yardage total broke
the school record by 540 yards. Ramsey turned 8 of those 37 catches into touchdowns. He also had a 62 yard punt
return for a touchdown in 1978. During his junior season he rushed for two touchdowns, caught one touchdown pass and three
five touchdown passes. He was awarded a first team All District nod at quarterback that season. In 1978 he earned
first team All District honors at both offensive end and punter. He was also a first team All State pick at end in 1978.
Ramsey was the third highest vote-getter at offensive end by both the Expert Panel and fans voting in the All Century poll
Grigg (1977-1978, DL, OT & TE) One of the most well-thought of football players
in the history of the program, as evidenced by the overwhelming point total he received in the All Century Poll. Grigg
was the leading vote-getter at not only a defensive line position but any defensive position. In fact, only running
back Anthony Thomas (1993-1996) received more overall votes than Grigg in the entire poll. The Expert Panel voting in
the same poll had Grigg as their second choice at defensive lineman behind James Johnson (1971-1972), but only Johnson and
five other defensive players earned more votes from the Expert Panel than Grigg did. Grigg was a two-time first team
All District pick at defensive lineman and was a first team All State selection in 1978 at defensive tackle. He played
offensive tackle in 1978, but was moved to tight end in 1978, where he used his 6’ 5” frame primarily for
blocking, but he also caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brent Hubbard (1977-1978).
Purser (1977-1978, DL & OG) Played on both side of the ball for two seasons. Along
with teammates Woody Grigg and Tommy Campbell made up what many consider to be the strongest defensive line in the history
of the program. Was an offensive guard when he switched to that side of the ball. Purser was a two-time first team All
District pick at defensive guard.
Jordan (1978-1979, OG & DL) Had a banner senior season where he was a first team All
District and All State pick at offensive guard.
(1977-1978, QB, E and DB) Alternated at quarterback his junior season where he threw two touchdown
passes. Also contributed as a receiver and defensive back as a junior. Won the starting job at quarterback in
1978 and responded by throwing twelve touchdowns passes, making him the fifth Tiger quarterback to throw double-digit touchdown
passes in a single season. In 1978 he attempted 159 passes and completed 75 of those for a .472 completion percentage.
Those completions went for 1,511 yards. Hubbard was the second Tiger quarterback to throw for 1,500 yards. His
career game came in the second game of the 1978 season against Jonesboro when he connected on 8 of 17 passes for 196 yards
and two touchdowns. Hubbard shared high-scoring honors with Ricky Chatman in 1978 with 84 points. All of Hubbard’s
point came by rush where he recorded fourteen rushing touchdowns. That total contributed to a team total of 560 points, which
not only set a new school record but was the first time a Tiger team had scored more than 500 points in a season. That
is the second highest total ever amassed as the 1982 recorded 594 points. Hubbard was a first team All District quarterback
Chatman (1976-1979, LB, RB) Chatman was a four-year letterman for Winnfield and easily one
of the top linebackers in the history of the program. He is credited with 345 career tackles, which is likely the second most
career tackles in the program’s history (see Lionel Johnson, 1970-1972). He was a first team All District pick in 1977,
1978 and 1979 and was the district defensive MVP in 1978 and 1979. Chatman is one of only nine Tiger players (and one of only
three defensive players) to earn first team All District honors at the same position three years running. He was a two-time
All State pick at linebacker, earning the Class AA MVP Defensive Player award in 1979. If that were all that Chatman
ever did in the program his reputation would be intact. However, Chatman is also considered one of the top backs in
the history of programs. He was not a pure runner in the sense of shifty moves. Rather, Chatman combined both raw power
with enough speed to get him to the clear to be a threat that had to be accounted for. By the time he has finished his career
at Winnfield he was nearly the career rushing leader with 2,539 yards. That put him 22 yards shy of career leader Nathan
Johnson. All of that and Chatman basically only had a season and a half career at running back. It wasn’t
until the seventh game of his junior season (vs. Homer) that he had his first 100 yard rushing game. From that
point on Chatman was used as a primary offensive weapon. Chatman reeled off 7 straight 100-yard games the remainder
of the 1978 season and he posted four more 100-yard games in 1979. He rushed for 1,173 yards in 1978 and 1,210 yards
in 1979 to become the program’s first two-time 1,000-yard rusher. He was not a workhorse by any means. He
only had 116 carries in 1978 and 106 carries in 1979. That is why his 9.8 yard per carry average of 1978 and 11.42 yard
per carry average in 1979 are two of the three highest totals in school history, with the 1979 being the single season record
and the 1978 average being the third highest. Chatman shared high-scoring honors with Brent Hubbard in 1978 with 84
points. All of Hubbard’s point came by rush where he recorded fourteen rushing touchdowns. That total contributed
to a team total of 560 points, which not only set a new school record but was the first time a Tiger team had scored more
than 500 points in a season. That is the second highest total ever amassed as the 1982 recorded 594 points. Chatman
scored 96 points in 1979 to become the first player in the history of the program to have two seasons in which he scored 70
or more points. For his career Chatman scored 198 points A total of 31 of Chatman’s 33 career touchdowns came
by rush. Chatman rushed for 14 touchdowns in 1978 which was one better than Jerry Keen’s single season record
(1971) for rushing touchdowns. Chatman topped that total in 1979 with 16 rushing touchdowns. All total he ended
his career with 31 rushing touchdown which was 8 better than Keen’s career mark. Chatman currently ranks 7th
on the career rushing touchdown list. A total of 9 of his career 31 rushing touchdowns covered 50 or more yards.
The only player in the history of the program with more 50-yard rushing touchdowns is Anthony Thomas (1993-1996) who had 20.
Chatman scored 33 total touchdowns, which at the time was 8 better than Keen’s school record. Chatman currently
ranks 8th on that list. In the All Century poll the Expert Panelist ranked Chatman behind Lionel Johnson
(1970-1972) as the program’s best linebacker. Nevertheless, only Johnson and Jeffery Dale (1978-1980) from the
defensive side of the ball received more votes from the Expert Plan. The fan vote flip-flopped that by giving Chatman
the highest vote total at linebacker, with Johnson coming in second.
Rainwater (1978-1979, DE & E) Two year starter at defensive end where he earned first
team All District honors in 1978 and was a second team selection in 1979. Thought of enough by two members of the Expert
Panel of the All Century poll conducted in 2000. Was one of only six defensive ends to receive votes from the eight
members of the Expert Panel.
Poisso (1978-1979, OE, RB and DE) Earned second team All District honors at offensive end
in 1978 and honorable mention All District running back in 1979. His career total of 12 rushing touchdowns ranked
6th on the all-time list at the time and his career 16 total touchdowns ranked 9th in 1979. On
defense, Poisso was a first team All District defensive tackle in 1979. He is the brother of Charles Poisso (1965-1967)
and Randy Poisso (1966-1968).
Campbell (1977-1979, OT, C, DL & PK) Three year letterman who contributed to the program
in a multitude of ways. As a sophomore he started at tackle on offense and in the defensive line. Teamed with
Woody Grigg and Donnie Purser in 1977 and 1978 to form arguably the strongest defensive line in the history of the program.
He was a first team All District and honorable mention All State defensive lineman in 1979. Campbell joined James Johnson
(1971-972) and Woody Grigg (1977-1978) as the top three defensive lineman tabbed by the Expert Panel of the All Century poll
conducted in 2000. Those three split the first place votes with Johnson receiving 4 and Grigg and Campbell each receiving
2. Campbell moved to center on offense as a junior and remained at that offensive position the remainder of his career.
Campbell was a second team All District center in 1978. As a place kicker Campbell converted 33 of 37 (.892) extra point kicks.
That was two-shy of the then school record for total extra point kicks, which Campbell would have easily broken had he not
shared place kicking duties with freshman kicker Tommy Latham (1978-1981) who kicked 24 of 29 extra point attempts in 1978.
Campbell’s career game as a kicker came against Arcadia in 1978 where he converted 8 of 8 extra point attempts. That
broke an 11-year old school record of 7 made extra points by Steve Stroud. Campbell’s record has been matched
three other times but has not been broken.
Craig Cummings (1978-1979, DE & DL)
Defensive end on the 1978 team and switched to the interior of the defensive line in 1979 where he earned first team All District
honors at nose guard and was an All State defensive lineman. Cummings received the sixth highest vote total at defensive
line by fans voting in the All Century poll of 2000.
Jeffery Dale (1977-1980,
DB, KR & RB) One of the top all-around football players in the history of the program. Dale was one
of those rare four-year letterman. His career totals on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball are at or near of
top of many statistical categories. Dale was first and foremost a defensive specialist. That was made clear when he
received the top votes at defensive back. Dale was a two-time All District and All State pick at defensive back.
He set a single season interception record in 1979 when he snatched 11 passes from the opposition. Dale was also kick returner
who had three punt returns for touchdowns. He, John Wayne Williams (1970-1971) and Bennie Mitchell (1980-1982) are the
only players in school history to return more than two punts for touchdowns in their career or in a single season. On
offense Dale carried the ball sparingly but he capitalized on the opportunities he was given. In 1978 he carried the
ball 97 times and gained 608 yards, a 6.3 yard per carry average. He upped that to an 8.0 yard per carry average the next
season when he carried the ball 83 times (14 times less than 1978) but gained 668 yards (60 yards more). He came tantalizingly
close to the 1,000-yard rushing mark his senior season when he gained 980 yards on 109 carries. That is an 8.99 yard
per carry average. For his career, Dale rushed for 2,256 yards on 289 carries for a 7.81 yard per carry average. At the time
that was the third highest career rushing total, trailing Nathan Johnson 91974-1976) and Ricky Chatman (1977-1979).
Currently that is the 7th highest total. Dale finished with 31 rushing touchdowns, which tied career leader Ricky
Chatman at the time. His total still ranks in the Top Ten of all time. He scored a total of 36 career touchdowns which
broke Chatman’s school record by three at the time. That total is also still ranked in the Top Ten. By scoring 220 career
points he became the second player in the history of the program to score 200 points and he broke Jerry Keen's (1969-1971)
record of 207 points. He remains one of only nine players to score 200 points and is ranked 7th on that list.
- 6-4-0, *District - 5-3-0) When Coach Bankston began preparations for his fifth team at Winnfield he did so
with the least experienced team he had fielded in his five-year tenure at Winnfield. He had 14 returning lettermen, but only
six of those had bonafide starters the year before. He had a problem with numbers too. By the end of spring practice,
the team had 39 players on the roster, one of the smallest rosters in recent years. However, one of the biggest problems facing
the team was the relative youth of the team. The players were far from evenly distributed across the classes. The team only
had 11 seniors on the roster, which by 1970s standards was small in number and in fact was the smallest senior class since
the 1965 season. The sophomore class was even smaller as only six players came from that class. In contrast, the junior class,
totaling 23 in number, was the largest junior class ever assembled on a Tiger football team up to that point in time.
Where the team lacked experience the most was in the line. Only five of the 14 returning lettermen were linemen. Plus,
only five of the 11 seniors and two of the six sophomores were positioned in linemen slots. So, it would be the junior class
who would simply have to supply linemen.
is a given in high school athletics. Every year a program has a change of players, because every year a certain number of
senior players graduate. That is expected and the effects are greater some years than others. Sometimes, there are other kinds
of changes that have every bit as big of an impact on the program as the loss of players. Coming into the 1970 season, the
Winnfield program would experience two of the biggest changes a program can face.
1970 would be a year of reclassification of high schools in Louisiana. Because of an ever-growing span of enrollment between
the Class AAA and Class A schools in the state, the LHSAA created another classification - Class AAAA, which would become
the highest classification in the state. Schools that turned in a projected enrollment of 650 to 1,250 would compete in Class
AAA. Winnfield just met the enrollment figures for Class AAA after turning in a projected enrollment of 692. At the time,
that included the figures for the high school and the ninth grade. As has been true throughout Winnfield football history,
the Tiger program would yet again have one of the smallest enrollments of the particular class they were competing in. While
Winnfield projected 692 students, fellow district competitor Peabody projected almost twice as many students (1,200). Other
large schools in the district and their projected enrollments were Natchitoches (1,175) and Leesville 1,097).
Winnfield was moved to
District 3-AAA. That district would be made up of teams in and around central Louisiana. The district would be the largest
district Winnfield had ever competed in. A total of ten teams made up the district, including Winnfield, Leesville, Tioga,
Natchitoches, Peabody (Alexandria), Menard (Alexandria), Oakdale, Pineville, Marksville and Jena. The Marksville head coach
opted out of competing for district honors in football because his school had the smallest enrollment in the district. Winnfield
would face Marksville, but the game wouldn’t count in the district standings. The only other non-district team Winnfield
would face was traditional rival Jonesboro-Hodge.
commenting on the new district, Coach Bankston stated, “We’re happy to be in the district, although
we’re the smallest. We’re lighter this year, but we will be there to compete for district honors.”
Ever the optimist, Coach Bankston didn’t dwell on the fact that other coaches had almost twice
as many schoolboys to field a team from. Coach Bankston also stated he would take his boys over anyone else.
In the end, it wouldn’t
be Coach Bankston who would lead the team against the new district opponents. After guiding the program to
four straight winning seasons and three playoff appearances, Coach Tommy Bankston decided to move into administration
when he accepted the principal position at Winnfield Senior High School after Max Crowe resigned to accept
a similar position at a private school in Monroe. So, the second major change the program faced in 1970 was the change in
the head coach.
Coach Bankston compiled a 29-14-3 record at Winnfield, a .656 winning percentage. That was the second highest winning
percentage of any Tiger coach who served more than one year, trailing Alwin Stokes in that
category (.746). Only Alwin Stokes and Hoss Newman won more games up to that point in time.
Coach Bankston’s teams won one outright district title and shared another district crown. He also had
one of his teams finish district competition as the runner-up and his last team finished third in district play. Coach
Bankston’s biggest legacy cannot be demonstrated with numbers. Coach Bankston’s biggest
accomplishment was instilling a “winning attitude” in the Tiger program. Coach Bankston took
over a program that had fallen on hard times after becoming one of the premier programs in the state in the early sixties.
Coach Bankston had immediate success. His first team (1966) posted a 9-4-0 record, which was 7 wins better
than the season before. That is the biggest turn-around in school history. Coach Bankston left a legacy of
winning, pride and hard work. He preached that everyone was important, including the starters, the reserves and the coaches,
but it didn’t stop there. He believed a winning program required a total school and community effort; including the
band, the pep squad and the cheerleaders, the fans and the non-football-playing students. He believed that everyone could
contribute something, including the person who raised the flag before the game and the students who helped line the field. Under
his regime, the Tigers learned how to be winners again.
It was one of Coach Bankston’s assistants who was recommended to assume the head coaching duties.
Offensive and defensive line coach Joe Dosher was selected by the Winn Parish School Board to become the
23rd head football coach at the school. Coach Dosher had served as an assistant under Coach Bankston
all four years of his tenure. Prior to that, he had served in a similar capacity at Glen Oaks High School in Baton Rouge.
Coach Dosher had an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude when he took over
the program. He commented that he didn’t see any need for immediate change in the program, stating, “I just hope
to maintain the winning tradition.”
Coach Dosher would continue to work with the interior linemen, in addition to carrying out the head
coaching duties. Steve Nehring, who worked with linebackers and centers, would assist him. Two new assistant
coaches would be hired to work with the program. Robert Charles Payne was hired to take over the responsibility
of molding Winnfield’s offensive and defensive backs and serve as an offensive coordinator. He came to Winnfield from
Delhi High School, where he had served as head coach for two seasons. Chal Rascoe, the Winnfield head boy’s
basketball coach, was also given coaching duties with the football team. That gave Winnfield a coaching staff of four, still
small by 1970s standards. Other schools Winnfield would compete against in district competition would have as many as eight
In breaking down the personnel of the 1970 team, most of the experienced
players came in the backfield. Alan Carter led that experienced backfield. Though only a junior, he had already
competed in and even started varsity-level games for the Tigers at the quarterback position. In his sophomore season, Carter
completed five touchdown passes. That was good enough to move him into seventh place position on the career passing list,
trailing only Mike Tinnerello (21), Ricky Jordan (16), John Harrington
(7), Gary Green (7) and Roger Smith (6). Carter shared the seventh position
with Ray Jenkins. Coach Dosher also had talented sophomore quarterback Steve Adams who had
completed three years at the quarterback slot in the Winnfield Jr. High School program. Joining those two in the backfield
were junior halfback Jerry Keen. Like Carter, he had lettered the season before and had scored
three touchdowns. Keen was a track athlete as well, setting a school record in the low hurdles during the
spring of his sophomore year. Keen’s speed and aggressive demeanor made him a dangerous running back.
Rounding out the experienced backfield were two tough fullbacks in junior Lynn Lasyone and senior David
Caskey. Lasyone was coming off a sophomore season cut short by a season-ending leg fracture. But, his talent had
been showcased during his Jr. High playing days when he dominated opposing defenses. He had matured early and his linebacker
mentality carried over to the offensive side of the ball. His strength was demonstrated the previous spring when he, like
Keen, established a new school record in track. Lasyone’s specialty was the javelin,
where he was a regular first place finisher. Weighing in at 180-pounds, Lasyone was a strong, tough competitor.
Caskey was a two-year letterman, and had playing experience at both fullback and linebacker. Caskey
and Lasyone were cut out of the same mold and both were looked up to by their teammates for leadership. That
was demonstrated when Caskey was selected as one of the team captains prior to the start of the season. While
that group would be counted on for regular duty, the team had a number of players who could fill in for reserve duty. First
and foremost was senior letterman Husher Calhoun. Though he had been used primarily on the defensive side
of the ball the season before, Calhoun’s ball-carrying abilities had been shown when he had the opportunity
to run from the wingback position. A trio of juniors rounded out the top level of the depth chart in the backfield, including
John Wayne Williams, Randy Parker and George Tannehill.
The remainder of the so-called “skill” positions on the offensive side of the ball would be made up of
a mixture of players who had varsity experience and those with absolutely no varsity playing time. The Tigers had two returning
lettermen at the wide receiver position in seniors Bill Stewart and Jerry Dubois. The biggest
asset of both was their speed. Greg Wagoner would be expected to fill the tight end position, a spot he had
lettered at the season before as a sophomore. Others who would be counted on at the end position were juniors John
C. Jones and James Hutchins, as well as utility man Doug Hemphill, a senior who
had lettered the season before.
To the casual observer, the Tiger’s offense seemed to be set. With that much playing experience and talent by
the players who would be expected to run and catch the ball, the team seemed capable of moving the football. But, no amount
of skill and talent can run through a hole when there is none to run through. Nor can any quarterback or receiver complete
a pass, when a play has no time to develop. A good offensive needs a good front line. That was the biggest question mark of
The Tigers returned one starter on the offensive line. That player was senior Roland Barton who was
a two-year letterman and was elected as a co-captain along with Caskey. The season before, Barton
played offensive tackle and middle guard on defense. Coming into the season, Barton weighed in at 175 lbs.
and stood six foot tall. He would have to provide senior leadership to the young line. Coach Dosher did have
one other letterman in Randy Strickland who could be used in the offensive line. Strickland
had lettered on the defensive side of the ball at the defensive end position. He would start the year at the center and defensive
line positions. But, he would focus primarily on his defensive duties and rotate at the offensive tackle spot soon after the
regular season started. Three games into the season, junior Eddie Jenkins would be moved
into a starting role as center, which freed up Strickland from full-time duty on both offense and defense.
Besides Barton, the only other seniors on the offensive line were guards Charles Estay and
Mike Cherry. Juniors Paul Larson and Tucker Watts rounded out the rotating
crew of offensive guards. All total, 22 players would see regular duty on offense, with seven of those being seniors, one
of those a sophomore and 14 being members of the junior class.
makeup of the defensive unit was also dominated by juniors, with eight of the 15 regulars hailing from that class. Five senior
players would dot the defensive alignment. Those included Julius Craft (lineman), Johnny Barton
(lineman), Bill Stewart (back), Husher Calhoun (end/back), and Roland Barton
(linebacker). Two sophomores were cast into starting roles on the defensive side of the ball, including Steve Adams
(back) and Lionel Johnson (linebacker).
The eight junior defensemen included James Hutchins
(end), Roy Cotton (end), Leonard Jones (lineman) and Randy Strickland (lineman).
Also, included were letterman Lynn Lasyone (linebacker) and Alan Carter (back), as well
as fellow juniors John Wayne Williams, Craig Rice and John C. Jones, all backs. Of that
group, over half (eight) were lettermen, including Craft, J. Barton, R. Barton, Stewart, Calhoun, Strickland, Lasyone
and Carter. But, like the offense, only three of those eight were linemen. So, the biggest question mark
heading into the season was the play of both the offensive and defensive front men. As is true with most teams having to quickly
develop inexperienced players, the team would need to somehow get through the early part of the season to allow the young
players to find out what it was like to play under the lights.
preseason poll, Tioga, Natchitoches and Oakdale were predicted to battle it out for district honors. Winnfield would play
each of those in Stokes-Walker Stadium. The biggest value of the new district was the cutback on travel on
long away games. Gone were road trips to Tallulah, Ferriday and Winnsboro who had shared the same district with Winnfield
in recent years. The longest road trip the Tigers would face in 1970 would be away games to Leesville and Marksville. Otherwise,
Winnfield’s out of town games would take them to the Alexandria area to play Peabody, Menard and Pineville.
Prior to the
start of the season, Coach Dosher and his assistants got some indication of where the team stood in scrimmages
against LaSalle and Neville. He didn’t find any surprises and that wasn’t necessarily good. The line play was
spotty and porous. With proven talent in the backfield, the success or failure of the season hinged, in large part, on the
development of the line. The final tune up before the regular season came in the Bastrop Jamboree. Winnfield faced Oak Grove
and came away with a 14-7 win in the 24-minute match. Coach Dosher commented that the team made fewer mistakes
than expected and were beginning to show signs of progress. Winnfield’s well-rounded offensive arsenal was demonstrated
when David Caskey scored one touchdown on a 2-yard plunge, John Wayne Williams scored from
46 yards out after receiving a pass from Alan Carter and Jerry Keen rushed for 80 yards
in what was the equivalent of half of a game. Randy Strickland was voted Best Lineman of the Jamboree.
ticket sales were announced, local fans had even more than the usual incentives to purchase season tickets. New, red plastic
seats with backs and armrests were installed in the season ticket section to provide extra comfort for season ticket holders.
That enhancement only improved Stokes-Walker Stadium’s status as one of the state’s best high
school football facilities.
Tiger football program ushered in the new decade with a 27-8 loss to Jonesboro. So, to give some indication
of what was in store for the program in the 1970s, that would be the most points allowed until the regular season finale of
the 1972 season and the 19-point margin of defeat wouldn’t be surpassed until a 21-point margin of defeat in the 7th
game of the 1973 season. Simply put, the loss to open the 1970 season would be one of only five regular
season losses the program would sustain over the first three years of the new decade.
The reason for the Jonesboro win was simple. Jonesboro-Hodge was led by a backfield filled with both speed and brawn,
with fullback Ronnie Underwood providing both blocking and running skills and halfbacks Johnny Jones
and Mario Cage being break-away threats every time they touched the football. Simply put, Jonesboro-Hodge’s
stable of backs matched Winnfield’s skill players and they had experience across their line; something Winnfield sorely
Winnfield kept the game close through two quarters as the score only read 13-8 in favor of Jonesboro-Hodge at the half.
Winnfield’s touchdown came on a 45-yard scoring strike from Alan Carter to John Wayne
Williams in the second quarter. However, that was as close as Winnfield would get in the season-opening loss.
made the mistakes you would expect out of an inexperienced team. Though Winnfield out-gained Jonesboro-Hodge 311 to 254 in
total yardage, the most telling statistic was that Jonesboro-Hodge had a plus-three advantage in turnovers. Jonesboro-Hodge
put together four time-consuming drives in scoring their four touchdowns. In doing so, Jonesboro-Hodge showed the difference
between an experienced football team and one who was learning how to play the game. Experienced teams get the job done and
capitalize on the opportunities given them. Winnfield was a young team with a lot to learn.
enough, two weeks later, that same Jonesboro-Hodge team faced a 2-0-0 Richwood team who had defeated Rayville 77-0 in the
opening week of the season and pasted Winnsboro 108 -0 in the second week. Four backs who all ran sub 4.5 times in the 40,
including Vongle Ray Coleman and Dale Zimmerman, led Richwood. That Richwood
team also had speed and NFL-caliber talent at the wide outs in wide receiver Sammie White and tight end Joe
Mitchell. All of the experts predicted a high scoring game, but Jonesboro-Hodge shutout Richwood 7-0. For the night,
Richwood gained 208 yards of total offense compared to the 703 yards they had gained against Winnsboro. That was the only
regular season loss Richwood would sustain in their first two seasons in the LHSAA. So, the 311 yards total offense Winnfield
gained against Jonesboro-Hodge suddenly didn’t look too shabby after all.
first District 3-AAA opponent and first road game came in week two against the Leesville Wampus Cats. Leesville had been predicted
to finish in the middle of the pack in district play, but the preseason predictions were so close that there did not seem
to be a team who was clearly dominant. .
took control of the game in the first half by shutting down the Tiger offense and posting two touchdowns themselves. The second
touchdown came on a 51-yard run, enabling the Wampus Cats to move to a 13-0 lead. The Tigers blocked the second PAT attempt,
but still trailed by two touchdowns at intermission.
got the ball first in the second half, but you would have thought that another Winnfield team had emerged from the dressing
room in the second half. In successive series, the Tiger defense forced a fumble, held Leesville to three downs and a punt
and snared an interception. After each one of those defensive stops the Tigers promptly scored. The first
score came at the end of a 50 yard drive. Then after the Tigers stopped Leesville on their next possession,
Tiger return man John Wayne Williams returned his first of an eventual school record six career punt returns
for touchdowns. This one covered 50 yards. Finally, after the Tigers stopped the next Leesville drive with
an interception and got a return to the Wampus Cat 4 Winnfield scored on the very next play to take a 20-13 lead. By then
Leesville was, for all practical purposes beaten and that showed as Leesville’s penchant for self-destruction continued
as they turned the ball over the next three times they had it as well. One of those was another fumble and the other two came
on interceptions when Bill Stewart got his second of the game and Alan
Carter got the other. The Tigers scored after two of those three turnovers to move the score to 34-13, which
is where it stayed the remainder of the game.
young Tiger team turned a 13-0 halftime deficit into a win by scoring 34 second half points. That was made
possible by five turnovers, with the Tigers getting touchdowns after four of those. The Tiger defensive eleven repeatedly
gave the ball back to the offense in excellent field position and the main thing the Tiger offense needed was a little confidence
builder. This game had the potential to make the young Tiger players feel like world-beaters.
Tiger fullback Lynn Lasyone became the 13th Winnfield player to rush for three or more touchdowns
in a game and the first since Jimmy Bolton, who scored three touchdowns against Natchitoches in the 1962
season. Lasyone had a career night, gaining 196 yards rushing on 19 carries. That was the second best rushing
night in school history at that time. But, it was a complete team rushing effort for the Tigers as Winnfield rushed for 276
yards and gained 18 first downs against a Leesville line that the Tiger coaching staff had built up to be as tough as the
Berlin Wall. .
opening two games of the season had been marked contrasts. In the Jonesboro game, Winnfield only scored once after moving
inside the Jonesboro 20 yard line five times. Against Leesville, the Tigers converted one turnover after another into touchdowns.
One game was a show of blown opportunities, while the other showed what a difference capitalizing on mistakes can do.
it was way too early to be consumed by such matters, the win did leave Winnfield with a 1-0-0 record in district play. After
two weeks of the season, every district 3-AAA team had played at least one district game. There were five teams with no losses
in district play, including Pineville with two district wins and Winnfield, Natchitoches, Oakdale and Menard with one district
The one thing you can expect with a young team is inconsistency. The 1970 season would be no different.
Winnfield’s next opponent was the Tioga Indians. Though Natchitoches was the odds on favorite to
win the district, many coaches picked Tioga to win it all. The week before, Tioga moved to a first half
lead against a Natchitoches team who was riding a 15-game winning streak, but Tioga squandered that lead, losing to Natchitoches
by a slim 22-15 margin. So, this was a good Tioga team and that showed as they built a 13-0 first half lead against Winnfield
and took a hard-fought 21-6 win.
The Tiger offense returned to the pattern they had shown in the season-opener when they committed one turnover after
another. For the night Winnfield fumbled the ball six times and lost two. The team also
threw 4 interceptions. So, in spite of moving the ball well when they held on to it, the Tigers simply couldn’t sustain
a drive. Give the Tiger defense credit. They did a good enough job for a win in holding Tioga
to a mere 80 yards rushing and 65 yards passing. But, when Tioga got the ball on turnovers in good field position they didn’t
have to cover much ground to get their touchdowns. Surprisingly, the Tigers gained 196 yards passing, the third highest single-game
passing total in school history. But, yards gained are meaningless unless they result in points. Winnfield gained 308 yards
for the game, but only had a single touchdown to show for that effort. The loss dropped the Tigers to 1-2-0 for the season
and 1-1-0 in district play.
the head coach of the Marksville Tigers, Winnfield’s next opponent, learned that his school would be the smallest school
in District 3-AAA, he opted out of competing for district honors. Though he started the season with a 1-2-0 record, that record
was misleading. In the opening week of the season Marksville had dropped a 7-6 game to Plaquemine and had put up a good battle
against a much larger Alexandria Senior High team in week two before dropping a 22-12 decision. Marksville finally broke into
the win column in the third week of the season when they defeated a Bunkie team many predicted to win the District 2-AA title.
Marksville would be no push over. That was especially true since Winnfield would enter the fray without the services of Greg
Wagoner, Johnny Barton and John Wayne Williams, all out with nagging injuries.
game was played in Marksville and would be the last regular season away game that would take the Tigers more than 50 miles
from home. It would turn out to be much more of a defensive battle than anyone expected.
Neither team scored any points through three quarters of play, though Winnfield did move to within the shadow of the
Marksville goal line just before the half and toward the end of the third quarter. Then, late the third quarter George
Tannehill intercepted a Marksville pass and returned it to the Marksville 42-yard line. Jerry Keen
broke loose on the next play and was hauled down at the Marksville 4-yard line. Then the game got really sloppy. In consecutive
plays, Winnfield turned the ball back over to Marksville on a fumble, only to regain the ball when Marksville returned the
favor on the next play. Keen put a stop to all of that nonsense when he bolted over from the 4-yard line
and attempted to add two points on the PAT try, but he was stopped on the extra point attempt, leaving the score at 6-0 with
just over seven minutes to go in the game.
defense then came in and took control of the ball game. After the defense stuffed Marksville on first down, defensive back
Steve Adams got the ball back for Winnfield with an interception, which he returned to the Marksville 28-yard line.
the next play, Carter pitched the ball to Keen, who gathered the ball in and sprinted the
full 28 yards for a touchdown. Keen closed out all scoring in the game when he bowled over right tackle for
the two points to extend the Tiger lead to 14-0 with 5:29 remaining in the game.
the night, both teams combined for 10 turnovers, with Winnfield fumbling 4 times and losing 2 and giving up the ball once
on an interception. But, for the third straight game, Winnfield found out that the team who turned over the ball the most
would be the team who lost the game. Marksville coughed up the ball 7 times on fumbles and lost 4 of those and was intercepted
3 times for a total of 7 turnovers.
seesaw season was beginning to take on a disturbing trend. One week the Tigers played good and the next they played poorly.
That was mainly true on offense when there were times the team couldn’t hold onto the football and episodes of being
unable to capitalize once they moved into the red zone. On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers seemed to be getting
better each week. After giving up 254 total yards to Jonesboro-Hodge in the opening game of the season and 262 total yards
to Leesville in the second game, the Tigers held Tioga and Marksville to 145 and 144 total yards respectively. In four games,
the Tigers had forced 20 fumbles and recovered half of those. Likewise, the defense had already gained almost a season’s
worth of interceptions, getting 9 interceptions in the first four games. All of that would be needed as the Tigers prepared
for one of their toughest opponents of the year - the Natchitoches Chiefs.
had reached the mid-season point with a 2-2-0 record overall and a 1-1-0 record in district play. After four weeks, the district
race was shaping up to be as close as had been expected. Natchitoches (2-0-0) was sitting atop the district standings as the
only undefeated team, but five teams were right behind with only one loss in district play. Those included Winnfield (1-1-0),
Pineville (2-1-0), Tioga (2-1-0), Oakdale (2-1-0) and Menard (2-1-0). The first half of the season had shown no consistency
in district play except for Natchitoches. The Chiefs had started the season by posting four straight wins to extend the school’s
winning streak to 18 games. Otherwise, it was anybody’s guess as to who the favorite was each week in district play.
Tioga had lost to Natchitoches but had
beaten Menard. Menard lost to Tioga but had beaten Pineville and Jena. Pineville had lost to Menard, but had beaten Jena and
Peabody. Finally, Oakdale had also beaten Peabody and Jena but had lost to Leesville; the only team Winnfield had beaten in
district play. So, the district race was still up for grabs and the Tigers could enhance their status with a win over Natchitoches.
has pivotal games. These are games that set the tone for the season, or at least set the tone for a particular portion of
the season. The Natchitoches game was one of those games. Winnfield had the opportunity to shake things up in District 3-AAA
with a win over Natchitoches. A Tiger win would give the team a 2-1 record in district play and leave the Tigers in no worse
than a tie for first place. A loss by Natchitoches would move their district record to 2-1-0. The same night, four of five
other teams with 2-1-0 records played each other, so it was conceivable that there could be only four teams with one loss
in district play after the dust settled. On the other hand, if the Tigers lost to Natchitoches, they would fall two games
behind Natchitoches in the district race and one game behind at least two other teams. So, Winnfield’s playoff chances
would be significantly impacted by the outcome of the Natchitoches game.
was facing a Natchitoches team who had gaudy credentials. The Chiefs were the defending Class AA state champions and the school
was riding an 18-game win streak. Many of the stars from that state championship team were lost to graduation, but Natchitoches
still had a team full of good football players, including halfback Jim Knecht and center Steve McCain.
But, it was across the defensive front where Natchitoches was very strong, with a line anchored by defensive end Donald
Payne and tackle Ronald Dumars. Linebacker Donald Smith was considered one of the
top linebackers in the district.
started out the Natchitoches game as if they were a team capable of derailing the Natchitoches express. Midway through the
first quarter, Winnfield moved inside Natchitoches territory where sophomore quarterback Steve Adams, starting
his second varsity game, lofted a 34-yard pass to Jerry Dubois who was immediately downed at the Natchitoches
1-yard line. On the next play, Jerry Keen bowled over for the score to give the Tigers an early 6-0 lead.
Then, the coaching staff made a critical decision. They elected to go for a two-point conversion and hung their hopes on the
passing arm of young Adams but the pass fell incomplete. That left the score 6-0.
hurt themselves the remainder of the first half, losing two possessions on interceptions and one on a fumble. But the Tiger
defense completely shut down the Natchitoches offensive attack in the first half. Natchitoches never moved into scoring position
in the first half, with their deepest penetration being the Winnfield 34-yard line. When the two teams broke for halftime
intermission, Winnfield still clung to their slim 6-point lead.
Tiger defense shut down Natchitoches on their first possession of the second half and quickly got the ball into the hands
of the Tiger offense. Winnfield’s players had earned an advanced degree in the impact that turnovers have in football
games, with virtually every game of the season being significantly affected by turnovers, either in Winnfield’s favor
or to Winnfield’s detriment. The latter would be the case in Winnfield’s opening drive of the second half. Soon
after gaining possession, a Tiger pass was picked off by Natchitoches’ David Roberts at the Winnfield
37-yard line and returned for a game-tying touchdown. Jim Knecht came in to attempt the important point-after-touchdown
and successfully converted to give Natchitoches a 7-6 lead.
two teams exchanged punts the remainder of the third quarter with neither team threatening to score. At the start of the fourth
quarter, Adams completed an 18-yard pass to Keen who took the ball down to the Natchitoches
5-yard line before he was downed. On first and goal, Keen was stopped at the line of scrimmage for no gain.
Coach Payne called two straight pass plays in an effort go over the Natchitoches team since the Tigers were
having trouble going through them. Both passes fell incomplete, giving the Tigers a fourth and goal from the six. Keen
was called on to attempt a 21-yard field goal but the ball sailed wide of the goal posts.
Winnfield continued to shoot themselves in the foot the
remainder of the fourth quarter. By the time the final horn sounded Winnfield had turned the ball over 6 times, with five
of those coming on interceptions. Natchitoches escaped with a 7-6 win to maintain sole possession of first place in District
3-AAA. They did so by not completing a single pass in seven attempts and by gaining 176 rushing yards, with virtually all
of those yards coming between the 30s. Winnfield was held to their lowest offensive production of the year, getting only 58
yards on the ground and 83 yards in the air.
the kind of loss that stays with you. The Tigers had opportunities that they let slip away. But, the most frustrating aspect
of the loss is the fact that it took a defensive score to defeat the Tigers. With the loss, Winnfield dropped to 2-3-0 for
the season and 1-2-0 in district play. The loss was a blow to the Tigers playoff hopes, but the team wasn’t out of the
district race. However, they couldn’t afford another district loss because they had not played Oakdale and Menard, two
teams who were still fighting for the district crown.
five weeks the district race was getting even more convoluted. Natchitoches maintained their lead in the district with a 3-0-0
mark, followed by Oakdale (3-1-0), Menard (3-1-0) and Pineville (3-1-0). Winnfield faced Peabody in week six, a team who had
gained their first win in that school’s history the week before when they handed Jena a 30-23 loss in a “Battle
of the Beatens.” Coming into the game, both teams had not won a single game during the season.
Winnfield saw a team they could compete with. However, the Tigers could not afford any more losses, so they could not take
anyone lightly. Peabody was a dangerous team. They were a team full of players who had raw talent, and were a program that
had just gotten a taste of what a victory feels like. Peabody was the second largest school in District 3-AAA, with an enrollment
that was nearly double that of Winnfield’s. The top all of that, the game would be played on Peabody’s home turf.
cast all of that aside in defeating the Warhorses 20-6, but the game wasn’t a pretty picture. A total of 19 penalties
were called in the game, with Winnfield picking up 8 of those and Peabody being flagged 11 times.
Most of the scoring came in the first half where
Winnfield built a 13-6 lead. Keen set up the first touchdown when he raced 62 yards with the football before
being downed at the Warhorse 4-yard line. He also scored the touchdown from 1 yard away and added the PAT to make the score
answered that touchdown in the second quarter when they drove for a touchdown to narrow the gap to 7-6, but they failed on
a 2-point conversion attempt. That’s the closest they would come to the Tigers all night
increased their lead on their next series when they quickly moved to the Peabody 38-yard line, where Tiger quarterback Alan
Carter spotted a wide-open Jerry Dubois who eluded two defenders in route to another six pointer.
Keen’s kick failed but Winnfield took a 13-6 lead into halftime.
Winnfield was the only team to put points on the board in the second half, that coming on a 2-yard keeper by Carter
to cap a 67-yard drive. Keen added the extra point to close out the scoring for the night at 20-6.
Winnfield ended the game with 196 yards rushing and didn’t turn the ball over even once on a fumble, though they
did throw two interceptions for the night. That gave the team 17 interceptions through the first six games. Add the 7 fumbles
the Tigers had given up to that total and you have a total of 24 turnovers the Tigers had given up for the season, for an
average of just over 3 turnovers per game.
win upped Winnfield’s district record to 2-2-0 and gave the Tigers new life in the district race. The sudden shakeup
in District 3-AAA came because of the outcomes of other games on the same night. Menard defeated Natchitoches to knock the
Chiefs from the undefeated ranks. The same night, Oakdale handed Pineville their second loss in district play. That meant
three teams had one loss in district play, including Natchitoches (4-1-0), Menard (4-1-0) and Oakdale (3-1-0) and three other
teams had two losses, including Tioga (3-2-0), Pineville (3-2-0) and Winnfield (2-2-0).
still had games against Menard, Oakdale and Pineville, so the Tigers playoff hopes were still a matter they had control over.
The Tigers were tied with Tioga in the loss column, but Oakdale, a team Winnfield had yet to play, had defeated the Indians.
A win by Winnfield over Oakdale could break the Tigers tie with Tioga. There was still a lot of football to be played in the
1970 season and in the jumbled up District 3-AAA race.
game the following week would be against Menard and was another one of those pivotal games. The Eagles were tied with Natchitoches
for first place, so the Tigers simply had to win the game if they were going to stay in the district race.
The sports world is littered with
trite phrases. Those phrases are often discounted for being shallow and meaningless, yet all such phrases have a grain-of-truth
in them. Consider the following: “Football is a game of inches.” The 1970 Tiger team showed
that to be true - literally. Playing the game of “ifs and buts”, had Jerry Keen’s field
goal attempt against Natchitoches sailed several inches to the left and Winnfield gone on to defeat Natchitoches 9-7, Winnfield
and Menard would be competing for first place in the district. Or, had the pass which Natchitoches intercepted and returned
for their lone score of the game against Winnfield been an inch over the Natchitoches defender’s hands, the Tigers would
be playing for first place in the district. Instead, the Tigers were playing for the opportunity to stay within one game of
first place. A loss to Menard would drop the Tigers two games out of first place and put the Tigers playoff aspirations in
serious jeopardy. It was crunch time for the Tigers.
same night Winnfield and Menard squared off, Natchitoches and Oakdale faced each other. So, there could conceivably be one
team with one loss in district play left after the seventh week of the season. If Winnfield could defeat Menard and the Oakdale
- Natchitoches game end in anything but a tie, there would be only one team left with one loss. That would move Winnfield
into a tie for second place. And, if Oakdale could defeat Natchitoches and be that lone team with one loss, the Tigers could
knock them out of first place with a win the following week. So, Winnfield still had plenty to play for.
a team with four district wins, with their win over Natchitoches the previous week being the biggest win of the season in
District 3-AAA. Menard capitalized on defensive turnovers to defeat Natchitoches, converting both a fourth quarter fumble
recovery and interception into touchdowns to take a 13-0 win over the Chiefs. Menard came into the game with a 6-1-0 record,
with their lone loss being an early season loss to Tioga. Menard and Winnfield were teams who were mirror images of each other.
The Eagles had relied on a strong defense all season long, just as the Tigers had. The game had all of the makings of a defensive
first half of the game gave those in attendance the opportunity to see two items repeatedly sailing in the air - punts and
flags. The opening 24 minutes was both a defensive show and a penalty shower, with most infractions being of the 5-yard variety.
But, in tight defensive games, every yard counts, so the combination of stifling defenses and drive-killing penalties were
enough to shut down both offenses. As a result, the score was deadlocked 0-0 at halftime.
Menard’s first possession of the second half, they took over at their own 33-yard line and it appeared the Tiger defense
would stop the Eagles when they faced a third and long from the Winnfield 41. On the play, Menard went for broke and it worked.
Menard halfback, Jim Songy, hauled in a pass, broke one tackle and ran 41 yards for the touchdown, exciting
the homecoming crowd that had gathered in Bolton Stadium. The Tigers blocked the PAT, leaving the score 6-0.
in the fourth quarter, the Tiger defense stopped Menard one yard away from a touchdown on a fourth down play to keep the team
in the game. The Tiger offense came in and dug themselves out of that hole and in fact moved past midfield. However, that
was the Tigers last penetration into Menard territory and the game ended with Menard clinging to their slim 6-0 lead.
For the night, Winnfield only gained 78
yards rushing and 54 yards passing. All of that only amounted to 7 first downs. Menard, meanwhile, doubled Winnfield’s
totals, getting 13 first downs, 143 yards rushing and 109 yards passing. But, the combination of two good defenses and a total
of 19 penalties (9 against Winnfield and 10 against Menard) kept the game a low-scoring affair.
loss dropped Winnfield to 3-4-0 overall and 2-3-0 in district play. With three losses in district play, the Tigers playoff
hopes were again seriously dampened. The same night Oakdale handed Natchitoches their second consecutive loss, allowing the
Warriors to move into a tie with Menard for first place in loop play. Both Menard and Oakdale had 5-1-0 district records.
Natchitoches and Pineville shared third place in the district with 3-2-0 district marks, while Winnfield and Leesville shared
fifth place with 2-3-0 records. Though Winnfield was two games out of first place, they still had a glimmer of hope. Natchitoches
and Pineville squared off in week eight. If Pineville could defeat Natchitoches that would give the Chiefs three district
losses. If Winnfield could defeat Oakdale they would hand them their second district loss. The following week, Menard and
Oakdale faced each other, so Oakdale could drop to three district losses in the next two weeks. Winnfield and Pineville squared
off in week nine in a game that Pineville could conceivably enter with two losses. So, it was certainly possible that there
could be as many as four teams tied in second place with three losses after week nine. The only thing Winnfield had control
over was what went on in their games against Oakdale and Pineville. If the Tigers won both of those games they could still
be in the hunt.
Dosher called Oakdale the best team in the district. The Warriors came into the game with a 6-1-0 overall record
and only one defeat in district play. That loss was a surprising 28-0 smashing of Oakdale by sixth place Leesville in week
three. Oakdale had already faced three of the top four teams in the district and had defeated all of them; taking wins over
Tioga, Natchitoches and Pineville.
When Oakdale played Winnfield they had to be looking ahead to their next opponent, the Menard Eagles. However, in an
interview with the Alexandria Towntalk, the Oakdale head coach had described the Tigers as “a very dangerous
team” - and rightfully so. Except for a 1-point loss to third place Natchitoches and a 6-point loss to first place Menard,
Winnfield would be fighting it out with Oakdale for sole possession of first place. Instead, the Tigers would go into the
homecoming game in Stokes-Walker Stadium with intentions of being both a spoiler and preserving any chances
they had of a playoff spot.
in the first quarter, Adams pinned the Warriors against their own goal line with a punt that was downed at
the Oakdale 5-yard line. The Warriors responded by putting together a methodical 12 plays, 95-yard scoring drive. The final
play of the drive was a 19-yard run around left end, which came at the 2:09 mark of the first quarter. Tiger linebacker Lionel
Johnson broke through and blocked the extra point, leaving the score 6-0.
two teams exchanged possessions the sloppy way the next two times they had the ball when both teams turned the ball over on
fumbles. That meant four possessions and four fumbles during the bulk of the second quarter. That quarter mercifully came
to an end for both teams and the half time intermission gave each team a chance to regroup and (hopefully) regrip.
third quarter Winnfield began their second possession at the Oakdale 47-yard line. After a series of runs by Parker,
Keen, Caskey and Adams moved the ball to the 1, Adams pitched the ball to Parker
who ran it in for a game-tying touchdown. Keen booted through the extra point to give the Tigers their first
lead of the game. The clock read 00:46 in the third quarter.
fourth quarter was a battle royal, with one touchdown scored and one fight resulting in the ejection of two players. After
Winnfield’s defense thwarted Oakdale on their first possession of the final quarter, the Tiger offense took over at
mid-field. All of that was made possible after Oakdale downed a punt at the Tiger 33-yard line but were flagged 15 yards for
a personal foul. On that possession, the Tiger offensive line, which had been the biggest question mark of the team coming
into the season, blew open holes which Parker, Keen and Caskey found to their liking. The
Tigers quickly moved to the Oakdale 3-yard line, where, on third down, Adams kept the ball and scored with
3:53 remaining on the clock. Keen kicked the PAT to up the Tiger lead to 14-6. Oakdale would have to score
on their final possession of the night to maintain the top spot in the district.
Oakdale quarterback, who doubled as the outside linebacker, promptly threw the ball into the hands of Tiger safety Alan
Carter, who picked off the ball at the Oakdale 48-yard line. That gave the Tigers a chance to run out the clock.
On first down, Keen initially bobbled a toss from Adams, but once he got control of the
ball he took off and wasn’t downed until he had made it 25 yards down the field. On the next play, Caskey
ran through another gaping hole in the line to move the ball into the red zone.
The Oakdale interior men seemed more intent on fighting than defending their turf. That was clearly evident when, on
the third play of the drive, Caskey again bolted up the middle for good yardage, after which a fight erupted
between Winnfield and Oakdale, resulting in the ejection of two players. The game ended two plays later with Winnfield in
possession at the Oakdale 18-yard line.
defeat of Oakdale, coupled with Natchitoches’ defeat of Pineville threw the district race into yet another tailspin.
Menard defeated Leesville to hold onto first place with a 6-1-0 record, but Oakdale and Natchitoches had two losses in district
play, while Winnfield and Pineville had three losses. Oakdale still had to face Menard in the ninth week of the season and
Natchitoches still had district games against Jena and Leesville. Likewise, Pineville faced Winnfield and Tioga in the closing
weeks, while Tioga faced Peabody and Pineville. So, Winnfield still had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs but they
had to take care of Pineville to do so. They would get that chance the next week.
came into the game with a slightly revised offensive unit than they had opened the season with. Coach Payne
knew coming into the season that he had two quarterbacks he could call on. One was the experienced Alan Carter,
a junior, and the other was a good sophomore-prospect Steve Adams. Both were good athletes and had been used
throughout the first part of the season in the defensive backfield. Both had also shared quarter backing duties, with Carter
getting the call most of the time. The Tigers ran from a Pro Set, a scheme that demanded timing and precise pass routes. While
young John Wayne Williams had raw talent and was being tried at the wide receiver slot alongside Jerry
Dubois, Coach Payne was not satisfied with the progress of his passing attack. The Tigers had posted 161 yards through
the air against Jonesboro-Hodge and 196 passing yards against Tioga, but those were the exceptions. In no other game had the
Tigers passed for more than 100 yards and, as a team, the Tigers had only completed 38 of 123 passes, for a completion percentage
of only 31%. All of that was about to change, a change that would not only impact the 1970 season, but the 1971 season as
well. Here is Coach Payne’s account of how a newly found passing attack was born: ‘Like so many stories that look like great coaching moves, fate had
more to do with (the revamped passing attack) than any coaching move. We (Winnfield) were playing Pineville. Our passing game
was based upon three steps by the QB, backside cup, play-side aggressive, and a mandatory perfect 7-yard route. Our QB did
not have all day to pass the ball, but it was an effectively designed passing game. The pass routes had to be run perfectly,
however. John Wayne was having trouble running the routes and the timing was off. I will never forget those
words said with that Alan Carter-drawl, ‘Coach, I can run a route.’ I sent
him in. That was the birth of a great passing game at Winnfield. Two quarterbacks playing pitch and catch for several thousand
Payne moved sophomore Steve Adams into the starting quarterback slot and moved Alan
Carter to a wide receiver slot. But, John Wayne Williams was not the type of player you would simply
shift to the bench. So, he was moved him to a half back slot, giving Winnfield two players with excellent speed at that position
in Jerry Keen and Williams.
Pineville, Adams would throw for 209 yards in an 11 of 27 passing nights. That was the second most passing
yards ever thrown by a Winnfield quarterback, second only to the 221 yds. compiled by Ricky Jordan against
Jena in the 1966 season. Adams broke, by 3, Jordan's record of 24 pass attempts in a single
game and established a new school record with his 11 completions. Adams' favorite target for the night was
none other than Alan Carter. It was a night of record-breakers as Carter hauled in seven
passes for 170 yards. Carter's reception total was the most ever by a Winnfield receiver and his total yardage
was the second highest, exceeded only by Robbie Richards 174 yards against Ferriday the season before. Ironically,
it was Carter who was on the passing end of Richards' record-breaking night. But the new
records didn't stop there. Jerry Keen paced the Tiger rushing attack with 116 yards on 31 carries. That was
the most carries by a Tiger back in school history.
game started out like it was a scrimmage in the middle of summer practice. Winnfield turned over the ball the first two times
they had possession, with the second fumble being recovered by Pineville after they had pinned Winnfield near the Tiger goal
line. It took Pineville four plays to score, but score they did on fourth down to take a 6-0 lead. Winnfield blocked the extra
point attempt and that closed out all of Pineville's scoring for the game.
That was all of the offense that Pineville was able to generate. For the night, the Rebels only gained 10 yards rushing
and 35 yards passing. Pineville punted the ball 9 times, the most punts any Tiger opponent had ever been forced into up to
that time, breaking the school record of 8 set by the 1961 team in their playoff game against Tallulah.
best opportunity to score in the first half came after Carter picked off the first of the team’s three
interceptions for the night, and returned the ball to the Pineville 30. Winnfield advanced the ball to the Rebel 5 on a 12-yard
pass reception by John C. Jones and a 12-yard run by Jerry Keen. But, four straight line
plunges failed to produce a touchdown.
Tigers got back down to the Pineville 15-yard line the next time they got the ball but that series died-out there. Winnfield
would have to be content with a rock solid defense and a 6-0 deficit at the halftime intermission.
had been a second half team all year long and that wouldn't change in the Pineville game. The Tigers picked up 14 points in
the third quarter with both the offense and defense getting in on the scoring action. The first came on a 6-yard run by Keen
. He also booted the extra point to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
The next touchdown was set up after the Tigers blocked the first Pineville punt of the second half that was recovered
by Tiger linebacker Lionel Johnson in the end zone. Keen booted the extra point to give
the Tigers a 14-6 lead. In just under five minutes time the Tigers had not only erased Pineville's lead, but had taken control
of the football game. Winnfield shut down Pineville the remainder of the game and added an 11-yard fourth quarter touchdown
pass from Adams to Carter, covering 11 yards, to end the game with a 21-6 victory.
Dosher was quick to praise his defensive unit and applauded the team for their second half effort. However, Coach
Dosher lamented to an Enterprise reporter, "We coaches were tickled about the second half effort, but
we wish the Tigers could play a whole game just once."
their first consecutive wins of the season, the Tigers improved their overall record to 5-4-0 and 4-3-0 in district play.
Those consecutive wins had come against two of the strongest teams in District 3-AAA in Oakdale and Pineville.
Oakdale knocked off Menard the same night
to move into first place and close out their district mark with a 6-2-0 mark. Menard's loss left them with a 5-2-0 mark in
district play. They could tie Oakdale in first place with a win over Peabody in the season finale. Tioga also had a 5-2-0
district mark. They closed the season against Pineville. Though improbable, Winnfield still had a shot at the playoffs. Were
Pineville to defeat Tioga and Peabody to defeat Menard, four teams would end the season with a 5-3-0 record including Winnfield,
Tioga, Menard and Pineville. Winnfield had to defeat Jena to make that possible, but they needed some help from Peabody, who
had only won one game. Expecting the Warhorses to defeat a 7-2-0 Menard team was hoping for a miracle.
Jena, Winnfield faced the largest team they had faced all year long. The Giants averaged 195-pounds a man across the defensive
front, but that size had not helped the Giants win a single game. They had lost all eight of their contest, but a win over
Winnfield would obviously give their season some meaning. For Winnfield, it was a homecoming for head Coach Joe Dosher
who grew up in Jena.
Tigers had plenty of incentives heading into the final game. Probably the biggest was the opportunity to extend the longest
streak of winning seasons since the earliest years of the program. Coming into the 1970 season, the Tiger football program
had completed four straight seasons with winning records. After Brother Stokes left the program following
the 1923 season, the only time the program had fielded 3 straight winning seasons was between 1960 and 1962. In fact, the
only time the program completed two straight winning seasons in that same time period was between 1927 and 1928.
So, the opportunity to post 5 straight winning seasons was something the school hadn't seen since the early 1920s.
Winnfield also had the opportunity to even
the series record with Jena which now stood at 11-12-2. Coming into the 1970 season, Winnfield had won four straight games
over Jena dating back to the 1966 season. Finally, a win over Jena would give the Tigers a respectable 5-3-0 mark in district
play, good enough to finish in the top tier of the district
game would be played on a field water-logged from weeklong rains. Both teams had a tough time adjusting to the field conditions
in the first quarter and the scoreboard reflected that when the quarter ended with nobody scoring. But, the second quarter
was all-Winnfield as the Tigers scored three touchdowns.
Jerry Keen scored two of those, with the first being 4-yard slosh on the opening play of the second
quarter and the other being a 4 yard run in the closing minute of the quarter. Keen set up that second touchdown
with a 67-yard run that got the ball down to the 7-yard line. Finally, Keen converted 2 of 3 extra point
attempts in the first half.
The third Tiger touchdown of the half came when after a Jerry Dubois interception which he returned
to the Giant 25. Four plays later quarterback Alan Carter found tight end Greg Wagoner for
a 20-yard scoring toss. Those scores enabled Winnfield to take a 20-0 lead into halftime.
the second half, Coach Dosher inserted an all-senior lineup. They took the second half kickoff and moved
51 yards in seven plays for a touchdown, taking off six minutes of the clock in the process. Caskey was the
workhorse on the drive, carrying the ball 6 times for 36 yards. Jerry Dubois caught a 4-yard pass to keep
the drive going and Doug Hemphill, running out of the quarterback slot, carried twice for gains of 14 and
4 yards. Caskey got the touchdown on a 4-yard run. Hemphill attempted a pass for the two-point
conversion but it was no good. That gave the Tigers a 26-0 lead, giving Coach Dosher a chance to play everybody.
Keen got one more chance to show Winnfield fans what they could look forward to the next season when he ran 70 yards
with the ball on a fourth quarter drive. The play was called back when the Tigers were flagged for clipping, but the team
was enjoying the romp nevertheless. Jena, meanwhile, posted their lone score in the fourth quarter when Billy Sharbano
ran 7 yards for a touchdown to close out the scoring for the night at 26-6.
rushed for 202 yards and added 112 yards in the air to end the night with the team’s fourth 300 plus total offense outing.
Jena was held to 38 yards rushing and 17 yards passing for a total of 55 total yards. Jena only punted 4 times, but they turned
the ball over four times; twice each on interceptions and fumbles. Winnfield tossed one interception and lost the ball twice
on fumbles. That gave the Tigers 35 turnovers for the season, compared to 34 turnovers the Tigers recovered.
the regular season ended, four District 3-AAA teams ended the season with 6-2-0 records in district play, including Oakdale,
Menard, Tioga and Natchitoches. Of those, Oakdale was awarded the district title because they had defeated the other three
teams. Ironically, Oakdale’s two district losses came against Winnfield, the number five team, and Leesville, the number
seven team. Natchitoches got the nod as the runner-up in the district.
6-4-0 record and district finish in the middle of the pack gives the impression that the team was an average football team.
Without knowing anything else about the team, it would be understandable why anyone would draw that conclusion. However, consider
the following: For Winnfield, two plays likely kept the Tigers out of the playoffs and conceivably kept
the Tigers from winning a district championship. The “if and but” game is a false game because you can never say
how a game would have changed had one play been different. For example, it is tempting to say that had Natchitoches not intercepted
a pass against Winnfield and returned it for a touchdown, Winnfield would have won 6-0. However, had Natchitoches not scored
as they did early in the third quarter of that game, who’s to say they wouldn’t have called a different selection
of plays the remainder of the game because they were playing behind, and who’s to say they wouldn’t have scored
on one of those plays. Nevertheless, that play and Keen’s narrow miss of a field goal were pivotal
plays that could have changed the outcome of that 7-6 Winnfield loss.
Likewise, Winnfield only lost to Menard by a score of 6-0, in spite of moving inside the Eagle red zone three times.
The Tigers did the same thing against Tioga, moving inside the Indian 20-yard line four times and gaining over 300 yards,
but they only scored once in a 20-7 loss. Winnfield could have won any of their district losses and had they won two of the
three they would have been the district champions. But, “could haves” and “should haves” are for those
who lose ball games. Championship teams find ways to win games, whether that be by talent, good coaching, lucky breaks or
sheer will power. It is true that 6-4-0 could have been 7-3-0 or 8-2-0 or even 10-0-0. But Winnfield repeatedly proved to
be their own worst enemy in the four games they lost.
the season, Coach Dosher attributed the team’s lack of playing experience coming into the season as
the primary reason for the team’s failure to gain a playoff berth. He pointed to the obvious improvement of the defense
as the season progressed, pointing out that Jonesboro-Hodge scored four touchdowns in the opening game of the season, Leesville
scored twice the next week and Tioga scored three times in the third game. After that, no team scored more than one touchdown
against the Tiger defense.
fact, the team had a good enough defense to be a playoff caliber team. The Tiger defensive unit gave some remarkable individual
performances and ended the season with some impressive statistics. The most impressive statistics were those that highlighted
the tight pass defense the team played. For the season, the unit only gave up 413 total passing yards. That was a modern day
record for fewest regular season passing yards allowed. Prior to the 1960s few teams passed anyway, therefore, few passing
yards were allowed. But, at a time when teams regularly threw for close to 100 yards or more per game, the 41.3 average per
game posted by the 1970 team remains the standard at Winnfield Senior High School. Opponents attempted a total of 116 passes
but only completed 36 of those, an average of just under 33%. The team intercepted 17 passes, which was second most in school
history, behind the 24 interceptions made by the 1961 team. Only one opponent (Leesville) rushed for over 200 yards and no
team gained as many as 300 total yards.
of the most glaring reasons why the offense couldn't score more than they did were turnovers and failure to convert scoring
opportunities into points. For the season, the team threw 21 interceptions (a school record) and fumbled the ball 24 times,
losing 14 of those. Many of those turnovers came after Winnfield had moved into the opposing team's territory. Any coach will
tell you that turnovers and penalties destroy scoring chances. The 1970 team made its share of both.
other hand, it’s not like the offense was weak. By rushing for 1,595 yards and passing for 1,037, the team joined the
1966 and 1969 teams as the only teams in school history to rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in each category. The 1970
teams rushing total was actually 19 yards more than the 1968 team, who competed in two playoff games. However, comparing season
totals of one team to another is misleading because of the difference in the quality of opponents that teams from different
1970 offensive unit ran a ball-control type of offense. That is revealed by the 133 first downs the team made, which tied
the 1969 team for most regular season first downs.
else, what the 1970 season did was give a solid corp of underclassmen an opportunity to gain all-important playing experience.
Players who turned in the best offensive and defensive performances were juniors and would be back the next year. Jerry
Keen ended the season with 857 yards rushing, which was the second highest total in school history at the time, trailing
only Randy Poisso's 1,088 yds. earned two seasons earlier. He scored 63 points for the season, making him
only the third Tiger player to score 60 or more points in a season. The other two included Henry Brewer,
who scored 69 points in 1928 and Mike Tinnerello who scored 66 pts. in 1961. Keen ended
the season with eight rushing touchdowns, the ninth most rushing touchdowns ever scored by a Tiger back.
Enter content here
1971(Overall - 13-1-0, *District - 8-0-0)
7-0 (Bastrop Jamboree)
W, 38- 6
W, 14- 0*
56- 0* (HC)
W, 20-13 (Quarterfinal)
L, 0-10 (Final)
Championship-quality high school football teams
don’t just happen. Championships are won when you combine a delicate mixture of good coaching and quality players. But,
it is much more complicated than that. Coaches need players with talent, experience and leadership qualities. Among those
players you need a mixture of brains and brawn. While football is a contact sport, it is important for players to “play
smart. “ But, you have to have players who will “get after it”, as Coach Bankston
was fond of saying, because the surest way to defeat an opponent is to out-hit and out-hustle them. You need players who want
to win, and furthermore, you want players who think they will win. You need a group who can work together. Championship
teams don’t just show up and win because they are good. Championship teams are built around players who are willing
to work for the success they seek. A coach is fortunate if he has a unit that has a majority of those elements. But, for some
coaches, once in a career (if they are lucky), they will have a group that has all of those qualities.
Coach Dosher said coming into the 1971 season that the incoming group was a “coaches’
dream.” He had reason to think so. He had talented and experienced players. Coach Dosher
had experience at every position on both sides of the ball. He stated before the season that he felt like he had 22 returning
starters. What he did have were 18 returning lettermen and about half as many non-lettermen who he knew could play football.
He had 18 players that had at least 10 games under their belt as starters and a core group of players who had played in as
many as 20 football games. That kind of experience is indispensable.
Coach Dosher had talent. He didn’t just have players that had been on the field. Nine of his
returning lettermen been named to the District 3-AAA All-District team the season before as juniors or sophomores, being named
to either the first, second or honorable mention team. When the 1971 season would come to an end, he would have five players
named to the first team AAA All-State team, the most number of All-State players ever assembled on any Tiger team. If that
was to be taken literally, five of the twenty-two best players in Class AAA in 1971 played on one team - the Winnfield Tigers.
Coach Dosher had leaders on the team. Three of the school’s four representatives
to Louisiana Pelican State were football players. The males selected as Class Favorites for each class, as well as the runners-up
were all football players. In fact, the list of club officers and Who’s Who winners were liberally dotted with football
Coach Dosher had a close-knit group. Since the majority
of the team’s starters came from the senior class, virtually all of those players had sat in classrooms together since
the first grade and had shared many experiences growing up. The senior players had played football together for five years.
When the senior football players entered the 7th grade at Winnfield Junior High School, they arrived at the school the same
year that Hershel Machen was hired as head coach. As 7th graders, the team posted a 2-1-1 record and then
two years later they gave Coach Machen his first undefeated team, outscoring the opposition 183-48 in a 6-0-1
Though full integration
of public schools in Winn Parish was in its infancy, there was an unusually high degree of cohesion between the white and
black athletes on the team. But, whether examining relations between individuals, between races or between age groups, there
was a high degree of cohesion among the team period. Offensive Coordinator Robert Charles Payne
would say years later that successful teams are filled with players who “love” each other. That is to say that
the bond on a successful team is not due to the wins that team achieves, but rather the opposite. A successful team, Coach
Payne would say, wins because of the bond of the players. The players of the 1971 were a close knit group
before the 1971 season. The experiences of the 1971 season bound that group even closer. In the ensuing
decades after the close of the 1971 season those players would continue to “relate” in ways that are a testimony
to the closeness of the group of players that made up the 1971 roster.
The team’s roster listed 56 players, the largest total in school history up to that point in time. Of that group,
22 were seniors, which was also the largest group of seniors ever assembled on one Winnfield football team up to that point
in time. Rounding out the roster were 10 juniors and 24 sophomores. There wouldn’t be a lot of room for underclassmen
to find playing time, but those that did were destined for post-season honors before their playing days were over and, in
most cases, for college football scholarships.
22 “starters” were a collection of an almost equal number of two-way starters, offensive specialists
and defensive specialists. The term two-way starters may be somewhat misleading, because almost none of those players stayed
on the field much more than 35 or 40 minutes per game. Those players included the following:
Two-way starters: This group was led by Alan Carter.
His primary position was safety, but Coach Payne had learned the year before how valuable Carter
could be in the offensive scheme as a pass receiver. Plus, he had two years of varsity experience at the quarterback slot.
In 1971, he would also be called on to be one of the Tiger punt return men, which was a testament to his sure hands and better
than average speed. Like
Carter, Randy Strickland came into the season with two years of playing time under his belt.
Strickland first cracked the starting lineup as a sophomore when he nailed down one of the defensive end
slots. He relied on brute strength and an overall aggressive style of play. He would be positioned as a linebacker and offensive
Wayne Williams had speed to burn on the football field. As a result, he would
be Carter’s mate on the punt return unit and he would be the Tigers’ primary return man on kickoff
returns. But, Williams was more than a return specialist. He would alternate with Keen at
the halfback slot and would be a starter in the defensive backfield. He was the type of player that if he ever got in the
clear on a return, reception or carry you could chalk up six points. He, Carter and Strickland
were voted Captain’s of the team. John C. Jones rounded out the defensive backfield with
Carter and Williams, and was a wide receiver on offense. He was a “possession receiver”
on offense, because if you ever needed a sure catch, Jones could get it for you. He was a smart player, a
team player and one of the most well liked players on the team. The final pair of two-way starters included two of the toughest
players on the team. Those included a pair of fullbacks in Randy Parker and Lynn Lasyone.
Parker played the game with abandon, just like he did life off of the field. He was a sure blocker in the
fullback spot, but he could be called on to get the short yard and was an excellent pass catcher as well. On defense, Parker
played the corner back position, which in the Tiger scheme was almost like an outside linebacker. Parker
had the demeanor for that slot. Lynn Lasyone had matured physically as a junior high
player. Because of his early maturation, Lasyone had been the leading linebacker in his junior high days
and one of the leading ball carriers. Like Strickland and Carter, Lasyone
was called on to play his sophomore year, but he went down with a leg fracture, which sidelined him for the season. Much like
Strickland, he too relied on raw physical strength. When Lasyone hit you, you knew you had
been hit, either as a ball carrier or a tackler.
Offensive specialists: The biggest offensive weapon and leading ground-gainer from the previous season returned in the
person of Jerry Keen. He was a speedster off the field as well as on the field. He owned all of the school’s
hurdle records and would only add to that luster his senior year when he was named the Outstanding Track Man in District 3-AAA
and State Champion. Though he didn’t possess the breakaway speed that John Wayne Williams had, Keen
hit the holes quick and he possessed good balance. However, when he got in the clear, he was quite capable of breaking the
long one. Keen was also the team’s place kicker.
One of Keen’s backfield mates was quarterback Steve Adams. He was arguably
the best pure passer to ever play for the Tigers. He had the strength to throw the deep out pass, where a poorly thrown ball
can be intercepted. He also had a feather touch, when needed, which enabled him to throw a screen pass or a safe pattern that
had to be looped precisely. Offensive coordinator Robert Charles Payne called him the most complete quarterback
he ever coached. He stated that he never had a quarterback who could check off like Adams, and, as Payne
said, “Checking off doesn’t work unless your quarterback sees it and responds to it.”
The Tiger offense had weapons. Besides the already mentioned assortment
of backs and receivers, the team had a pair of receivers who Coach Dosher used solely on offense. Most notable
was Greg Wagoner whose two letters at the tight end slot made him one of most experienced players on the
team. He was a good blocker who had good hands. With Winnfield’s excellent stable of backs and bevy of wide receivers,
all that opposing coaches needed was a tight end who was also a weapon. Winnfield had that in Wagoner. Besides
the aforementioned Alan Carter and John C. Jones, Winnfield’s other possession receiver
was Jimmy Price, a player with good quickness, who, like the rest of the team’s receiving corp, had
good hands. In the Pro-style offense, precise pass routes were required and Price ran his was well as anyone
on the team.
All of that talent in the backfield and at the wide out positions
wouldn’t have been nearly as effective had they not had a group of linemen who gave them time to get in the clear and
holes to run through. The Tigers had four lettermen and four returning starters in the offensive line. Other than Strickland
at right tackle, the remainder of the offensive line consisted of the following: Paul Larson was
the leader of the group. He played his position with as much precision as anyone on the team. Though Larson
wasn’t big (165 lbs.), his technique was so solid that he was just as adept at straight ahead blocking as he was at
traps or power sweeps. Once his block was thrown, he could be counted on for down field support. Joining Larson
at the other guard slot was Tucker Watts. Like Larson, Watts was a smart
football player. He too relied on good form rather than brute strength. He wasn’t much larger than Larson
so he had to use good technique. The fourth returning letterman in the offensive line was center Eddie Jenkins.
In Winnfield’s multiple offense, linemen had to be proficient at both run and pass blocking. Since most teams ran a
variation of a 4-4 defense, Jenkins was called on to pick up stragglers on most pass blocks or run down linebackers
on most run blocks. Coach Payne said that one of his mentors, Coach Chick Childress, taught
him to never get beat between the QB and center. He said he learned that if you had a smart kid at QB and a smart kid at center
you will never lose a game because of a bad snap. Payne said he had that on the 1971 team.
Robert Charles Payne said this about the offensive line and the approach he took to the 1971 offense: “I always played my smartest players on the line because not only
did they have to know how to block but they had to know who to block no matter what the defense did. I believed in the
K.I.S.S. method (Keep it simple stupid). This is the reason that I usually designed the offense to go off tackle and sweep.
(We didn’t do much) stunting inside the tackles. I usually had four people at the point of attack off tackle. (As for
the middle of the line) I liked to trap inside and go down on linebackers.”
Winnfield had ten returning starters on offense. The only position that didn’t have a returning starter was the left
tackle slot. During the season, Coach Dosher would use two players at that position. The first player to
hold down that slot was George Tannehill, a letterman from the season before who had been a fullback throughout
his playing career. The coaching staff knew that Tannehill could block because he had shown that ability
as a fullback. Tannehill was a team player, so he agreed to shift from the more glamorous fullback slot to
the tackle position. Midway through the season, Tannehill went down with an injury. In his place, the coaching
staff would insert Hal Hickey. Though only a sophomore, he embodied the best of what both Larson
and Strickland exemplified. Hickey was a smart player and a sound technician, but he had
the size to waylay an opposing lineman. Hickey and quarterback Adams were the only underclassmen
to play regularly on the offense.
Defensive specialists: The 1971 team was the best example of a true two-platoon team
the school had ever had. Aside from the already mentioned two-way starters and offensive specialist, the team had seven players
who focused solely on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive alignment used by defensive coordinator Jerry
Bamburg was the 4-4 alignment, which called for two down linemen and two defensive ends. Those four positions would
be manned by four of those defensive specialists. One of the down linemen was Leonard Jones. A returning
letterman, Jones was one of the smallest men on the starting units. But, Jones used his
quickness as his biggest asset. Any offensive linemen will tell you that they would much rather block an opposing lineman
who was big and slow, rather than one who is quick. Jones disrupted more than a few offensive plays by getting
into the backfield and meeting the ball carrier the same time the ball reached him. Joining Jones in the
line was James Johnson, one of only two starters on the defensive side of the ball who was an underclassman.
Offensive linemen had all they could handle in “Shoehorn” Johnson. He was the complete package
at his position. He had size to take on the biggest tackle he would face and the quickness to outmaneuver the best guards
he would face. One year later, he would be selected as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player in Class AAA. At one of
the defensive end slots, the team had one of the best players in school history at that position in James Hutchins.
He was selected to the all-time Winnfield Tiger football team by fans voting on such 29 years later - and rightfully
so. Hutchins had garnered All-District honors as a junior at the position. He used his bulk to take on pulling
guards, but he was able to protect against the sweep as well as anyone who has ever played the position. At the other end
slot was 6' 5" Roy Cotton, one of nine returning lettermen on the defensive side of the football. Cotton
was the largest player on the team, standing 6"5 and weighing just over 200 lbs. Cotton used his size
to his advantage. He was able to shuck pulling guards and literally “got in the way” of many an offensive play.
All great defenses have an outstanding corp of linebackers and the 1971 team would prove to be the strongest defensive
squad in school history. Aside from Strickland and Lasyone, the line backing crew had three
other players who focused solely on defensive play. The leader of that group was junior Lionel Johnson. He
was arguably the best linebacker to ever play at the school up to that point. Sportswriters thought highly of him at the end
of the season when he was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player in the state in Class AAA and was named to the linebacker
position on the All-Prep team. He had the total package when it came to line backing - quickness, aggression and smarts. On
the team’s punt return unit, he led the return man down the lane created by the wall, destroying stragglers who somehow
broke through the wall.
When any linebacker needed a breather, another junior came in to
play in the person of Claude Smart. He came in at mid-season and filled in at the line backing slot without
a step being missed. He took his game to the next level after high school, using his size and strength as his main tools.
Rounding out the defensive squad at the corner back slot was Bill Stewart. As mentioned, in the Tiger defensive
scheme, the corner back was more like a strong safety, a combination linebacker/defensive back position. Stewart
relied on good form and quickness to break up short passes. Since teams couldn’t throw deep or run against the team,
often times all they could try was the short stuff. Stewart and Randy Parker, his corner
back mate, made sure that wasn’t available either. But, in Winnfield’s defensive scheme, the first responsibility
was run containment. If ball carriers ever got outside of right end James Hutchins, they usually saw No.
40 waiting for them. Pound for pound, Stewart was one of the hardest hitters on a defense full of players
who knew how to hit and how to take a hit.
Aside from that group,
the team had a few other players who gave the Tigers more than adequate relief throughout the season. Those included Mickey
Brewton (DB/WR) and Reynard Hamilton (FB), who were both juniors, and Charles Williams
(C), a senior.
Besides being very good football players, that group of players
was all-around athletes. Steve Adams, John Wayne Williams, John C. Jones and Alan Carter
were four of the five starters on the basketball team. And, the track team was chock-full of football players, with Strickland
(Shotput), Keen (hurdles), Jenkins (discus) and Adams (pole vault) establishing
new school records in their events. In fact, sophomore running back Mike Lewis also established new school
records in the 100-yard dash (9.9 sec.) and 220-yard dash (23.0 sec.), yet he remained a junior varsity player. Had the school
fielded a baseball and golf team at the time there would have been many more multi-sport lettermen at the school.
The coaching staff consisted of Joe Dosher at the helm, Robert Charles Payne as the
offensive coordinator and Jerry Bamburg as the defensive coordinator. Also assisting were Chal Rascoe
and Jerry T. Smith.
Those coaches got some indication of just how good their team was
before the season started. Scrimmages during summer practice against Neville and LaSalle revealed the overpowering talent
the team had on both sides of the ball. Winnfield had scrimmaged the larger Neville Tiger team the past summer and was understandably
overmatched. However, in 1971, Winnfield outperformed Neville, and this ended up being a playoff-bound Neville team in Class
AAAA. Then, the talent of the Tigers was clearly shown when the team traveled to LaSalle parish to scrimmage the AA LaSalle
Tigers, who the Tigers easily controlled. Well into the scrimmage, Coach Bamburg had seen enough and exclaimed,
“Let’s go home, this ain’t doing us any good.”
Winnfield’s final test before the regular season started came against AAAA Bastrop in their own Jamboree. Both
Bastrop and Neville had been picked to slug it out for the 2-AAAA district crown. So, Winnfield would have a chance to compete
against the best of the best of northeast Louisiana high school football. In jamborees you like to see good execution in all
phases of the game. That’s exactly what the coaches got. In the first 12 minutes of the two quarter “game”,
Alan Carter got a 67-yard punt return to set up an 8-yard scoring toss from Steve Adams
to John Wayne Williams. Jerry Keen booted through the extra point to give the Tigers the only score of the
contest. In two weeks time, Winnfield had prevailed over Neville and Bastrop, who would end up finishing the regular season
with identical 9-1-0 records while playing in the state’s highest classification.
Opposing coaches in the district knew of the potential of the Winnfield team coming into the season when the Tigers
were named one of the preseason favorites to win the district crown. Winnfield and Natchitoches were pegged as the coaches’
choices to compete for the district crown. In the preseason statewide poll, Richwood (Monroe) was the unanimous choice for
the No. 1 slot, with Natchitoches coming in 4th and Winnfield garnering enough votes to come in 8th. That seemed like a big
deal to the Tiger football team at the time. No player on the team had ever been a part of a team that had won a district
crown or even been a part of a team who had played in a playoff game. This was the first group of seniors since 1965 that
had never been on the sidelines of a playoff game during any part of their playing career.
Winnfield opened the regular season in Stokes-Walker
Stadium against a new opponent, the Webster Wolves who were led by head coach Eddie Robinson, Jr.,
son of the legendary head coach at Grambling. Winnfield would have to contend with 200 lb. linemen at every slot across the
defensive front and a backfield filled with speed.
of the things a team has to deal with at some point of most seasons is poor weather conditions. That would be the case in
the opening game of the 1971 regular season. The area was under the threat of severe thunderstorms at game time and the potential
became a reality as the game wore on. The first half was played in a mere down pour, while the second half was contested in
hazardous weather that forced a decision to run the clock non-stop in the second half.
Despite the poor playing conditions Adams was able to
connect on two first quarter touchdown passes, with both being of the 15-yard variety and with one going to Carter
and the other going to Keen. The Tigers missed two-point conversion attempts after
each of those touchdowns.
Late in the first quarter,
Webster did get on the scoreboard at the end of a 60 yard drive. Little did anyone know at the time, but, thirteen more quarters
would pass before the Tiger defense would be scored on again and that the Webster drive would be one of the longest drives
the Tiger defense would give up all year.
Winnfield turned to their ground game in the second quarter and added two more touchdowns to take a 26-6 lead into
halftime. Tiger fullback Lynn Lasyone got one of those scores on an 8-yard run and quarterback
Steve Adams executed a bootleg to perfection when he raced around left end 47 yards for a touchdown.
In the first half of the first game of the 1971 season, the Tigers had already shown that they could do something the
teams of recent years had so much trouble with - score points. The 26 pt. first-half points were already more points than
had been scored in 40 of the past 50 games.
It was because of the heavy rains and the clear advantage that Winnfield had over Webster that a decision was made
to run the clock continuously in the second half, which, in effect, meant that the second half amounted to a little over a
quarter of actual playing time.
fans would get a taste of what was in store for the rest of the season when Webster dropped back for their first punt of the
second half. Championship teams score with good defense and with good special teams. Before the 1971 season was over, the
team would take advantage of special team scoring like no Tiger team before or since.
Winnfield’s punt return scheme called for the return unit (which was the Tiger defensive team) to
form a wall down one side of the field and have one of Winnfield’s two return men get behind that wall. Linebacker
Lionel Johnson ran interference for the Tiger return man, essentially escorting the return man once he got
behind the wall. To confuse the opposition, the Tigers dropped two return men, who ran a crossing pattern no matter which
return man caught the football. Once the punt was fielded, the return man closest to the predetermined wall (either right
or left) always ran in front of the other return man. If the return man closest to the wall caught the punt he handed off
to the crossing return man. If the return man furthest away from the wall caught the ball he faked a handoff, pulled the ball
in and set sail for the wall. Winnfield used Alan Carter and John Wayne Williams as their
two return men. What a combination that would prove to be!
John Wayne Williams was the ball carrier on Winnfield’s first punt return of the second half.
When Williams turned the corner to get behind the wall he was 51 yards away from pay dirt. On the return,
Tiger corner back Bill Stewart landed a vicious block on a Webster defender, which earned Stewart
the coveted Savage Award. That hit sprung Williams for a touchdown to up the Tiger lead to 32-6. The try
for two points (the fifth of the night) was again no good, making that four of five two-point conversion attempts that were
Webster went nowhere in the second half and the Tigers added
one more touchdown, that coming in the fourth quarter when Tiger corner back Bill Stewart, who substituted
at the halfback slot on the second offensive unit, caught a 2 yard pass from Adams to close out the scoring at 38-6. Stewart
had 4 carries for 14 yards on the drive to set up the touchdown.
For the night, the Tigers got 276 yards rushing on 46 running plays, an even 6.00 yards per carry average. In spite
of the poor playing conditions, Adams had a 7 of 19 passing night for three touchdowns and 86 yards. Adams'
three touchdown passing night enabled him to tie the school record for most touchdown passes in a game, equaling the record
first set by Ray Jenkins in 1936 and tied by Ricky Jordan in 1966. Webster only gained 88 yards
rushing in 38 plays (a 2.4 yd. per carry average) and completed 2 of 12 passes for 42 yards.
Due to the poor weather conditions it wasn’t the kind of game where anyone had any real sense of how good the
team really was. The main thing those interested in Winnfield football knew was that the Tigers were 1-0-0 and had scored
more points in the opening game than had been scored in any game the previous season. The Tigers were off to a good start.
It had been three football seasons since a Winnfield team had been ranked in the Top Ten in a regular season poll.
Winnfield's win over Webster enabled the team to move up one notch up the polls, moving into a tie with Destrahan for 7th
place. Other notable teams in the top ten included Richwood (1st), Haughton (2nd), South Lafourche (3rd), Natchitoches (4th)
and Hammond (5th), with the later being the defending state champions.
If the Webster game was a “good start”, then the Tigers would kick it into high gear the following week.
In fact, before the night was over, the Tigers would put on arguably the most balanced offensive perform ever displayed by
a Tiger team. The opponent would be Leesville, the Tigers first district opponent.
The game as a whole was an offensive master piece, but the first quarter in and of itself was a showcase of strengths
that the 1971 team in all phases of the game. For starters the Tiger offense took the opening possession and got a touchdown
on a 31-yard run by halfback Jerry Keen, who also booted the extra point to make the score 7-0. Then, it
was the Tiger defenses time to shine and that they did when lineman James Johnson separated a Leesville ball
carrier from the ball and Randy Parker fell on the ball at the Wampus Cat 15-yard line. Three plays later
Jerry Keen ran straight ahead for a 9-yard touchdown. Minutes later Leesville was forced into their first punt of
the night. Just like the Tiger defense set up the second Tiger touchdown, good special teams set up scores too. That would
become quite clear in the Leesville game. The first time Leesville punted John Wayne Williams got a 60-yard
return before Leesville managed to run him out of bounds at their own 14-yard line. The Tiger offense came in and quickly
scored when Keen got his third touchdown of the quarter from four yards away. Keen’s
touchdown run and extra point kick made the score 20-0. That first quarter explosion tied the 1955 team (vs. Farmerville)
and the 1961 team (vs. Jena and Many) for most points scored in the first quarter. But, Keen became the first
player in the program’s history to rush for three touchdowns in a quarter.
This was not just an outstanding offensive outing because the Tiger defense was relentless. The Tiger greatly contributed
to the first half scoring barrage by forcing one fumble that the Tiger offense capitalized on with a 15-yard touchdown run
by John Wayne Williams.. The Tiger offense hadn’t even had a chance to implement their offensive game
plan, because they were in a goal line offense virtually every time they had taken control of the football. In three of the
first four Winnfield possessions, they began play inside the Leesville 15-yard line.
The next time the Wampus Cats had the ball Tiger linebacker Lionel Johnson broke through and caught
a Leesville ball carrier behind the goal line for a safety to up the Tiger lead to 28-0. After the ensuing free kick Winnfield
capped the drive with an 8-yard toss from Adams to Wagoner. That upped the lead to 34-0,
which was extended by one more when Keen kicked the PAT. The 35-0 lead at halftime was the second most first
half points ever scored by a Winnfield team up to that point, trailing only to the 1961 team’s 41 first half points
scored against Jena.
kick return team got in on the scoring action when John Wayne Williams took the second half kickoff back
82 yards for a touchdown to bring the score to 41-0. Since Williams had also returned a punt for a touchdown
in the season opener, he became the first player in school history to return more than one kick for a touchdown in a season.
In fact, that return enabled the team to become only the third team to return two kick returns for a touchdown in
a season. All of that and it was only the second game of the season. There was a great deal more to come.
The Tigers scored twice more in the second half, with one touchdown showing the versatility of the Tiger offense when
halfback Keen connected with a wide-open John Wayne Williams, who had been inserted into
the pro back position, for a touchdown. That gave Williams three touchdowns for the game,
with one coming by rush, another by a pass reception and the third by his kickoff return. That marked the first time
any Winnfield football player had scored touchdowns by three different means in a single game. Williams would
duplicate that feat again during the season and is the only player to ever score touchdowns by three different means in a
Later in the
game the Tigers closed out the scoring on a 12-yard run by Keen, his
fourth rushing touchdown of the night. That made the final score 54-0. Keen’s four rushing touchdowns
tied him with Gabe Durham (1928), Teal Calhoun (1929), Hovey Harrell (1933)
and Mickey Frazier (1955) for most rushing touchdowns in a single game. His 28 total points were the most
points ever scored by an individual player in a single game.
The game was as complete a game as had ever been played by a Tiger team. The offense gained 31 first downs, which was
still a team record at the turn of the century. That is even more amazing considering the fact that the offensive began three
of their first four possessions inside the Leesville 15-yard line and thus didn't need to cover much ground on those possessions.
For the night, the offense gained 477 total yards, which was 4 yards shy of the single game total yardage record of 481 yards
set by the 1961 team against Natchitoches. Winnfield’s yardage was gained on a 263 rushing night and a 214-yard passing
attack, making that the first time a Tiger team had rushed and passed for over 200 yards. That was also the second most passing
yards ever thrown by a Winnfield team, with Adams connecting on 10 of 16 passes for 102 yards, Carter
going 5 of 5 and Keen connecting on 3 of 3 passes. All total, the team completed 19 passes for the game,
which was two more completions than the school record set by the 1966 team.
Individual school records were set in numerous categories. Keen was the team’s leading ball
carrier, getting 111 yards on 12 carries. Williams added 101 yards in six carries, making those two the first
Winnfield tandem to rush for 100 or more yards in a game, and they did it while alternating at the same position. Greg
Wagoner set a record from his tight end position by snaring 8 receptions, the most single game receptions
in school history up to that point.
When all was said and done, the local paper was still asking, “Just how good is this Winnfield team? Was this
a fluke? Or can the Tigers do it against stronger opponents?” Ever cautious, Coach Dosher warned that
future opposition would be much tougher and stated that over confidence could be disastrous. In fact, the headlines from the
account of the game in the Alexandria Town Talk the next day read, “54-0 and Coach is Unhappy.”
Coach Dosher was quoted as saying, “We won and we won handily, as the score indicates, but we took a
The win impressed the pollsters, however, who moved Winnfield from 7th to 5th
in the Class AAA polls. Rounding out the Top Five was Richwood in first, followed by Natchitoches, South Lafourche and Hammond.
Tioga, the Tigers next opponent, appeared to be a team ripe for the taking. Though the Indians were coming off of an
8-2-0 season, they had experienced a coaching change and only had nine starters returning to the 1971 team. The squad as a
whole only had 41 players and the heaviest man on the team weighed only 185 pds.
Every team has “off” games during the season, and this would be one of those types of games. Unlike the
week before the Tiger offense never really did get started because of penalties and unforced errors. As a result, this game
was won by the play of the Tiger defense a Tiger offense that prevailed in spite of itself. The Tiger defense
scored one first half touchdown when Leonard Jones fell on in the end zone to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
Minutes later Tiger defensive halfback John C. Jones scooped up a fumble on the Tioga 28-yard line and was
immediately dropped. The Tiger offense did the rest and it only took two plays to do that with fullback Randy
Parker running through a hole opened up the middle by Larson and Jenkins
for an 18-yard touchdown run. That made the score 14-0, which is where it stayed until the fourth quarter.
On the Tigers second possession of the final quarter, Jerry Keen broke loose for an apparent 70 touchdown
run but the Tigers were flagged 15 yards for clipping. On the next play, fullback Randy Parker took the ball
50 yards before being downed inside the Tioga 10-yard line, but again the Tigers were flagged for clipping. With the ball
at the Winnfield 35-yard line, John Wayne Williams ran the same play Keen had run two plays
earlier with the same results. After taking the handoff from Adams, Williams started left
and got to the outside where he appeared to be hemmed in at the sidelines. At that point he cut back across the field and
ran the rest of the way untouched. This time, no flags were found on the turf, giving the Tigers a 20-0 lead which was increased
by one point when Keen added the extra point kick.
The Tigers closed the scoring the next time they got the ball back when Adams hit Williams
for a scoring pass to make the final winning margin 27-0. The Tiger
win was hardly a thing of beauty. For the night, Winnfield picked up 135 yards in penalties. Added to that were one interception
and three lost fumbles. The Tigers passing attack just wasn’t there as the team connected on only 3 of 13 passes for
41 yards. The Tigers gained 249 yards rushing, which as much as anything shows how the Tigers were able to move the ball only
to have one drive after another stopped by a penalty or a turnover
Like Winnfield, Tioga was stopped all game long by penalties, picking up 105 yards in penalties themselves. But, it
wasn’t so much penalties as it was a stifling Tiger defense that stopped Tioga cold. For the night, Tioga only managed
5 yards rushing, which was a new all-time low for a Tiger defense.
The win moved the Tigers to 3-0-0 for the season and 2-0-0 in district play. The three wins to start the season was
the best start since the 1961 season and the two district wins enabled the Tigers to move into a tie with Natchitoches and
Peabody for first place in the district. None of those three had any losses in the district. Tied for second with one loss
apiece were Jena, Oakdale, Menard and Leesville, while Tioga and Pineville were seeking their first win after opening district
play with two losses.
Natchitoches lost a non-conference game to Class 4-A Alexandria Senior High
School the same night Winnfield traveled to Tioga. That loss knocked the Chiefs from second in the Class AAA polls all the
way down to a tie for 10th. Winnfield continued their climb up the polls. After three weeks of play, Richwood continued to
lead the polls, with Hammond second and Winnfield third, followed by Haughton (4th), Hahnville (5th), Abbeville (6th) and
Bossier (7th). The previously third place South Lafourche Tarpons lost to AAAA East Jefferson and dropped to a tie with Bossier
In week four, Natchitoches and Peabody squared off on a Thursday night game
won by the Chiefs. By defeating Peabody, Natchitoches knocked Peabody out of a tie for first place in the district race and
set their sights on Winnfield. Since the Chiefs played on a Thursday night, they had the opportunity to travel to Jonesboro-Hodge
to watch the Tigers face Jonesboro-Hodge in non-district completion. Winnfield and Natchitoches would square off the following
week, so Natchitoches Coach Jim Bruning loaded up his whole team and took them to Jonesboro-Hodge
to watch their next opponent live. Coach Payne showed them just enough to cause concern but not enough to
give anything away.
When the Tigers traveled to Jackson parish they smelled blood because Jonesboro-Hodge
was looking for their first win in four outings. It would be a record-breaking night for passing. The Tigers built
a 28-7 first half lead on the strength of a pair of touchdown runs (3 yds. by Williams and 6 yds. by Adams),
an 18 yard pass from Adams to Wagoner and a 68 yard punt return by Alan Carter.
The latter touchdown gave the team two punt returns and one kickoff return for a touchdown during
the season. Those three kick returns for touchdowns gave the team the school record for most kick returns for touchdowns in
a season and the two punt returns were the most team punt returns for touchdowns in a single season. There was still plenty
more to come.
Jonesboro-Hodge did mount a 75-yard scoring drive in the first half which would
be the longest drive the Tiger defense would allow during the regular season. The score snapped a 12-quarter scoreless streak
the Tiger defense had posted and made the game score 21-7 at the time, but Winnfield’s fourth touchdown of the first
half made for the 28-7 margin.
Winnfield had effectively used
it passing game in the first half and relied almost exclusively on passes to mount their first touchdown of the second half.
That drive was capped by a 39-yard touchdown-scoring pass from Adams to Carter, which
made the score 34-7 and closed out the scoring for the night.
After that, Coach Dosher figured he had shown Natchitoches enough, so he pulled his starters and let
his reserves finish off the game. There was no more scoring, but Natchitoches had seen the Tigers score in every way imaginable
including two runs, two passes and a punt return. Those scores came from all quarters, with Winnfield’s quarterback,
tight end, wide receiver and halfback all scoring.
didn’t do much rushing wise, but then again they didn’t have to. The night belonged to Adams
and Wagoner in the air. Adams passed for a school record 228 yards in a 14 of 22 passing
night. He wasn't picked off a single time. Keen also connected on one pass to give the team 241 passing yards,
a team passing record that stood until the end of the century. Adams’ 14 completions established a
new school record in that category. His favorite receiver for the night was tight end Greg Wagoner who snared
9 passes for 157 yards, with the reception total setting a new school record. Carter added 71 yards on 3
catches and John C. Jones and Lynn Lasyone got in on the best passing night in school history,
each catching one. Ironically, Adams also added to the record-breaking night on the receiving end, when he
handed off to Keen, ran out of the backfield and snared a 15-yard pass. .
The Winnfield defense gave up 98 yards rushing and only 12 yards passing to Jonesboro-Hodge, allowing Jonesboro-Hodge
only one completion in 11 attempts. For the fourth game in a row, the Tigers got an interception, picking off two Jonesboro-Hodge
aerial. The defense also got one fumble recovery.
win moved the Tigers to 4-0-0 for the season. Natchitoches' win over Peabody left Winnfield and the Chiefs as the only Dist.
3-AAA teams without a defeat, with both showing 2-0-0 marks in district play. Oakdale and Menard held down third place with
2-1-0 marks and Peabody was right behind with a 1-1-0 district mark. In the second tier of the district, Jena, Leesville and
Pineville had 1-2-0 district records, while Tioga was winless with a 0-3-0 record. Unlike the previous season, this shaped
up to be a season where two losses in district play could very well knock a team out of the playoffs. But, only two teams
had a chance at going through district play with unbeaten records and those two teams met in week five of the 1971 regular
season. Natchitoches and Winnfield entered the game as the Nos. 6 and 3 teams in Class AAA respectively. Richwood and Hammond
still held down the Nos. 1 and 2 slots and Crowley moved from 9th to 4th in week four. Rounding out the Top Ten was Hahnville
(5), South Lafourche (7), Bossier (8), Abbeville (9 - tied) and Jennings (9 - tied).
KEY GAME: As far as "Big Games"
in Winnfield football history go, they don't get much bigger than the 1971 Winnfield - Natchitoches game. Fans voted the game
one of the top five in school history 29 years later when the first fan poll was conducted.
for the big build-up to the 1971 game are many. For starters, both teams came into the game with a month’s worth of
expectations, what with both teams making it into the preseason Top Ten poll in the Class AAA polls and both teams being picked
to fight it out for District 3-AAA honors. Both teams had lived up to that billing during the first four games, with the only
loss between the two teams being Natchitoches' defeat to ASH by a score of 21-6. It certainly appeared that the winner of
the game would go through district competition with an undefeated record, so neither team could depend on help from any other
team in the district. Though you can't afford to think that way with four district games remaining to be played, both teams
went into the game thinking it was for the district title.
The Tiger football program had
been involved in big games throughout its football history. Three of the biggest were the 1955 win over Neville, the 1961
defeat of Ruston and the 1968 upset of the No.1 ranked Winnsboro Wildcats. One thing all of those big wins had in common was
that they were all played on Winn Parish soil. Winnfield wouldn’t have that advantage when they faced Natchitoches in
Natchitoches had a team with many of the same strengths that Winnfield had. They were led by junior quarterback Stuart
Wright, who had passed 1,172 yards in his sophomore season. But, he was only one of the weapons the Chiefs had in
their offensive backfield. The team had a pair of good backs in Al Gossett, son of Northwestern State University
head football coach Glenn Gossett, and speedster James Oliphant. That backfield ran through
holes opened by one of the best guard/tackle tandems in the district in guard Joe Morgan and tackle Jimmy
Marcotte. On the defensive side of the ball, Marcotte shifted to tackle and was joined by linebacker
Lance Rabalais. Both were destined for All District honors so it appeared this would be the toughest
defensive line the Tigers would face and thus not be a team Winnfield could run right at. As it were, one of the biggest plays
in the history of the program would come in this game and that play would be a trap run straight up the middle of the Natchitoches
defense. All in all, though, the two teams looked evenly matched as the first chills of autumn first began to appear.
half was devoted to the two teams feeling each other out. Both coaches called for a conservative game plan to start the game,
with both staying with their ground games virtually the whole first half. As the game clock neared the
end of the second quarter it appeared every bit like the two teams would head into the locker room at half time with the scoreboard
reading just like it did when the game began.
In close games, it is often one play that
makes the difference. Often that play is the result of some turnover, but these two teams were guarding against that. The
one thing that Winnfield had begun to stake its reputation on was its attention to every phase of the game, including special
teams and goal line play. That attention to detail would pay off for Winnfield.
under two minutes to go in the first half, Winnfield's defense stopped Natchitoches one yard short of a first down at their
own 35-yard line. Natchitoches head coach, Jim Bruning elected to punt to the Tigers, knowing full well that
the Tigers had returned two punts for touchdowns. But, he had punted to Winnfield twice earlier in the first half and had
stopped both of those returns. Still, he knew that Winnfield was a dangerous return team and he had been telling his team
that all week long. Championship teams still get it done even when the other team is expecting it.
of the next thirty seconds was best described in an article that appeared in the Alexandria Towntalk the next day.
The article said, "Facing a fourth-and-one at his own 35-yard line, Natchitoches’ quarterback-punter Stuart
Wright got off a beautiful 47-yard punt that was fielded by John Wayne Williams on the Winnfield
Williams headed to his right, handing the ball off to Alan Carter swinging back to
the left. The Tigs have been doing it all year. The play didn't surprise the Chiefs, but it didn't matter. The Bengals return
unit opened up the entire left sideline (right in front of the Natchitoches bench) and Carter was off on
an 82-yard punt return.
When he got to about the Chiefs 20, only Wright had a chance to stop him. Carter
had teammate Randy Parker out front trying to take care of him. Parker turned Wright
inside, Carter feinted the same way, then cut back to the sideline and raced untouched into the end zone,
raising the football in the air with one hand as he crossed the goal line. There were 29 seconds showing in the first half.”
Keen added the PAT to make the score 7-0. When the two teams headed into the locker room second later, Winnfield
carried one thing into the locker room that Natchitoches didn't - a large dose of momentum.
didn't look the least bit deflated the first time they got their hands on the football in the second half. The Chiefs took
possession of the football at their own 24-yard line and put together a time-consuming 15-play drive that took them to a first
and goal at the Winnfield 5-yard line. Three stabs at the line managed to move the ball 4 yards, setting up a fourth and goal
at the Winnfield 1-yard line. On fourth down, Bruning sent Al Gossett into the strength
of the Chief line, the left tackle position. Gossett was met by James Hutchins (E), Bill
Stewart (CB) and Lionel Johnson (LB) for no gain in a play every bit as important as Carter's
earlier punt return.
As usual, goal line stands at the 1-yard line give the opposing offense the worst field position possible. So, while
Winnfield had averted a touchdown, they still weren't out of the woods. Natchitoches' drive had taken up most of the third
quarter, so, when Winnfield got the ball there were less than three minutes to go in the quarter.
had too good a defense to allow Winnfield to simply pound the ball at them and again the strength of the Natchitoches defense
was found right up front. Coach Payne knew that a turnover that close to the goal line on the heels of the
Tigers goal line stand would be disheartening so he didn't try anything fancy. The Tigers moved away from
the goal line somewhat, but the Tigers failed to pick up the necessary yards for a first down in three plays as they only
moved out to the 8 yard line. On the other hand, Coach Payne would later say that defensive coordinator Jerry
Bamburgh always encouraged Payne to “do whatever was necessary” to execute the Tiger
offense in such situations. But, this time three running plays only resulted in giving Winnfield's quarterback-punter, Steve
Adams a tad more breathing room when he dropped back to punt. Nevertheless,
he was still standing in the Winnfield end zone. Coach Bruning called for a block, but the only thing Natchitoches'
Marcotte and Payne hit after they got past the initial containment was punter Steve
Adams, resulting in a roughing the punter call and a new set of downs for the Tigers at the Winnfield 18-yard line.
On first down,
Jerry Keen carried for a seven-yard gain and appeared to fumble on the play, which Natchitoches recovered,
but the officials ruled that Keen was down when the ball popped loose. With that ruling, the Tiger faithful
gave a collective sigh of relief, but that relief would be nothing like the feeling that the Tiger camp felt at the end of
the next play. The second down play would be another one of those “Plays of the Century” type of plays.
Facing a second and three from the Natchitoches 22-yard line, Coach Robert Charles Payne called
for the "20 Trap.” On that play, Adams took the snap, faked a move to his left
to draw the Natchitoches linebackers in that direction. He then turned back and handed the ball to his
halfback, who at that time was John Wayne Williams. The play was designed for the halfback to run the ball
straight into the middle of the offensive line. Being a trap play, it was designed to have the right guard and center to double
team the nose guard while the left guard pulled and took on the linemen left untouched by the right guard. If done effectively,
the play cleared out the middle of the offensive line. Tiger center Eddie Jenkins and right guard Tucker
Watts not only executed the double team to perfection when they drove the middle guard 5 yards off the line of scrimmage,
but they ended up driving him into the weak side linebacker, taking both out on the play. Left guard Paul Larson
pulled and met the Chief down lineman at the point of attack. Larson drove him out of the play as well. That
gave Williams a wide-open hole at the line of scrimmage, which he bolted through.
it appeared that Williams would have enough running room for the three yards and a first down.
However, after getting just past the line of scrimmage, Williams was about to be met by the strong
side linebacker, Lance Rabalais, when Tiger right tackle Randy Strickland, brushed Rabalais
just as he was breaking down to hit Williams. The cut to the right that Williams made just
after he crossed the line of scrimmage would have been enough to leave any would-be tackler grabbing air anyway. That move
was one of William’s biggest tools. Had he run straight ahead, he would have been met head-on by the
Chief linebacker and would have had close to enough first down yardage. Instead, upon seeing the on-coming linebacker, Williams'
planted his left foot and sprung to his right and suddenly found daylight. That's when Williams used
his other biggest tool - his after-burners. Williams quick cut to the right sprung him into the Natchitoches
secondary, where only two men had any chance of catching him: the Natchitoches strong side halfback and the free safety. The
Chief left end had taken himself out of the play when he simply made too big of a loop on his rush. By the time he realized
where the ball was, he was staring at the back side of No. 22. That cleared out the whole right side of the Natchitoches line. Tiger Pro
back Jimmy Price slowed the Natchitoches halfback just enough with a roll block. When a defender was standing
nearly stationary and Williams was at or near full steam, that defender could forget about making a play
on Williams. So, when Williams blew by the Natchitoches halfback just past the right hash
mark, all he had in front of him was clear sailing to the goal line, 65 yards away. Williams continued to
angle to his right as the lone remaining Natchitoches defender, safetyman Oliphant, attempted to close the
gap. Oliphant was a track man, so he had a chance – at least on paper he had a chance. When the play
began on the Winnfield 22-yard line, the safetyman was lined up 10 yards down the field. When Williams crossed
the Tiger 40, the safety had maintained his position and was attempting to close the gap by angling across the field. He had
waited too long to move toward Williams, so his fate was sealed. By the time Williams crossed
midfield, the Natchitoches safety man had moved in behind him and it became a foot race from that point on, but Williams
had never been caught from behind and this time would be no different. Oliphant made one desperation attempt
at the 15-yard line, diving for William’s heals, but Williams was a good 4 yards ahead
of him at the time so that too did no good. When Williams cross the goal line the night air breathed fresher,
the stars shown a little brighter and all seemed well in the world.
The two-touchdown margin suddenly
seemed like two hundred points. The Tigers knew they had defeated Natchitoches at that point, but, there was still a quarter
of football to be played.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Tiger corner man Bill Stewart intercepted a Stuart Wright
pass and handed the ball back to the Tiger offense at the Chief 24-yard line. Williams, Adams and Keen
combined to move the ball to a first and goal at the Natchitoches 3-yard line, where Winnfield's finesse game met Natchitoches'
power defense. Four stabs at the line failed to produce a touchdown, leaving the Tigers the victim of a goal line stand this
After that, neither team seriously threatened to score again, giving Winnfield a thrilling 14-0 win to allow the Tigers
to take the lead in the District 3-AAA race and gain a large measure of statewide respect.
came into the game with highly publicized passing attacks and just as impressive outside games. Yet, neither team would use
their passing game much. What little success either team had came at the most unexpected place - right up the middle, with
William's 78-yard burst up the middle being the biggest run of the game. Natchitoches' Gossett
was the leading ground gainer of the night, getting 101 yards on 23 carries, with most of those yards coming on traps to the
right side of the Natchitoches line. Williams led all Winnfield ball carries with 80 yards on six carries.
Keen added 69 yards from the halfback position, but it took him 24 rugged carries to get even that much.
All total, Winnfield gained 190 yards rushing to out-distance Natchitoches in that category by 48 yards. The Tigers only attempted
4 passes all game long. Adams connected on two of those, with Wagoner getting both of those
receptions for a total of 20 yards. Stuart Wright was the most frustrated passer of the game, throwing 8
passes, connecting on one of those to one of his receivers and finding Alan Carter and Bill Stewart
on two other passes. For the game, Natchitoches added 5 passing yards to their 142 yards rushing for 147 total yards. Each
of the two teams lost one fumble and penalty yards were almost equal, with Winnfield picking up 79 yards in penalties and
Natchitoches getting 82 yards.
The win didn't impress the pollster
nearly as much as it should have. Though Winnfield maintained its hold on the No. 3 slot in the Class AAA poll, both Richwood
and Hammond increased their total points in maintaining their No. 1 and 2 slots. Natchitoches, meanwhile, fell completely
out of the Top Ten, despite their strong showing against No. 3 Winnfield.
At the midpoint
of the regular season the team statistics showed just how strong the 1971 Tiger team was. The team won
its first five games of the season to become only the fourth team to accomplish that feat. The others included the famous
1919 team, as well as the 1948 and 1961 squads. In those five wins the Tigers outscored the opposition 167 to 13, with Webster
and Jonesboro-Hodge being the only two teams to score against the Tigers. Those points had come by way of 12 rushing touchdowns,
8 touchdowns by pass reception, 3 touchdowns by punt returns and 1 touchdown each by kickoff return and recovery of a fumble.
The defense had shutout three opponents and had simply shut down each and every offense they faced. Through five games, only
459 yards had been gained on the ground and only 197 yards gained through the air. When teams found they couldn't run against
the Tigers they had no choice but try to pass. They had even less success there as evidenced by the 16 of 61 combined passing
totals by the first five opponents. The Tigers picked off 9 of those passes and had recovered 10 fumbles.
as those offensive and defensive numbers are, the last half of the regular season would be even more impressive. While the
team had certainly won the hearts of every football fan even remotely associated with the Winnfield program up to that point
in the season, what the team did in the second half of the regular season would have been hard for any unappreciative pollster
Winnfield carried its 5-0-0 mark and unblemished record into its first home game in four weeks when the Tigers entertained
the Peabody Warhorses. Sometimes, teams have a letdown after a big win, but the Tigers could not afford to slack up against
the Warhorses or the next two teams on their schedule, for that matter. While Winnfield led the district with a 3-0-0 mark,
right behind them were Natchitoches, Peabody and Menard with 2-1-0 district marks. The latter two would be Winnfield's next
Peabody’s lone loss had been to Natchitoches and
Peabody had shown their strength in that game, holding close to Natchitoches before losing it in the second half. It would
take an upset for Peabody to defeat Winnfield, but Peabody had the material to pull off just such a win. And, the Tigers were
ripe for the taking. The Tiger offense would have to crack a defense that had only been scored on twice in five games. This
game had all the makings of a low scoring affair.
The first half of the game played-out
like the Natchitoches game. The Peabody defense completely throttled the Tiger offense, but the Tiger defense was having even
more success against Peabody’s offense. Peabody picked up only two first downs in the first half and struggled to get
back to the line of scrimmage on most running plays.
The only first half score came after Lionel Johnson picked off a Peabody pass. The Tigers capitalized
on that turnover when a 23-yard run by John Wayne Williams was the big play in a drive that was capped by
a sneak up the middle by quarterback Adams. Jerry Keen added the extra point to give the
Tigers a 7-0 lead at halftime.
The powerful Tiger team exploded for four second half touchdowns to relieve any concern that any Tiger fan had about
an upset. Two of those Tiger touchdowns came in quick fashion in the third quarter. The first came after
Lionel Johnson caught a fumble in mid-air on Peabody’s first series of the second half.
Two plays later, Adams hit John C. Jones on a post pattern, which resulted in a 27-yard
touchdown. The next time the Tigers got the ball Coach Payne stayed with his passing game and Adams capitalized
that on a drive capped by a 40 –yard pass from Adams to fullback Reynard Hamilton.
That gave the Tigers a 21-0 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
did manage to put a score on the board at the start of the fourth quarter but the Warhorse celebration was short-lived as
John Wayne Williams returned in the ensuing kickoff 78-yards for a touchdown. Williams became the
first Tiger player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single season. Add his punt return for a touchdown earlier in
the season to the total and Williams was clearly the school’s all-time return leader.
The killer-instinct of the was shown when Tiger
defensive end Roy Cotton fell on a loose ball at the Winnfield 28-yard line only minutes later. The Tigers
went for the jugular on first down when Adams hit Williams for a pass that moved the ball
to the Peabody 6-yard line. Two plays later Randy Parker bowled over the line for the final touchdown of
the night. Alan Carter snared a pass from Adams on the extra point attempt to make the final
gushed over the performance turned his by his defense. That unit set a new school record when they held Peabody to a minus
25 yards rushing. The only offense the Warhorses got came through the air, where they completed 8 of 18 passes for an even
100 yards. For the sixth consecutive week, the Tigers picked off a pass and they added two fumble recoveries to their turnover
The defeat of Peabody,
coupled with Natchitoches defeat of Menard the same night, put some distance between Winnfield and all other would-be challengers
in District 3-AAA. Natchitoches remained the only team with one loss in district play. Peabody and Menard were tied for third
with two losses.
When the Class AAA
poll results were announced the following week, Winnfield earned their highest vote total of the season and picked up a first
place vote for the first time all season. After seven weeks, there remained only three teams with untied, undefeated records
in AAA. Those three made up the top three rungs of the AAA poll and included Richwood (58 pts), Hammond (51 pts.) and Winnfield
The players on the
1971 had never tasted a playoff game as a player or a member of a team. There was a certain unfamiliarity about even seriously
thinking about being a playoff team and evidence of that is shown by the fact that it wasn’t until mid-season that players
began seriously pondering the playoffs. Just making the playoffs seemed like a good goal at the start of the season.
The Tigers next opponent was the Menard Eagles of Alexandria.
Menard had enjoyed early season success, but by mid season, the Eagles were starting to experience the fate that so many teams
face. Their starting halfback had been lost to an injury and their starting fullback was forced to drop off the team because
of academic problems. This was not the same Menard team that had climbed to a No. 2 spot in the district. On the other hand,
the week before Menard had put up 183 yards through the air against Natchitoches. Plus, the Eagles displayed a tough defense
as well, stopping Natchitoches on three different drives inside their own territory.
Winnfield had dodged the injury bug for five games, but they wouldn’t be so fortunate against Peabody. Starting
left tackle George Tannehill suffered a knee injury and was listed as definitely out for the Menard game
and day-to-day after that. Junior reserve player, Mickey Brewton, underwent knee surgery following the Peabody
game and was lost for the season.
Coming into the
Menard game, the Tiger defense have easily proven their worth. In fact, the Tigers defense had posted the most dominating
defensive performance ever witnessed the week before against Peabody in holding them to minus yards rushing. The
offense needed a truly break out game like that, and the Menard game would prove to be just such a game.
The Tiger offense scored all six times they had the football
in the first half. Jerry Keen got three of those on runs of 15, 3 and 37 yards and Tiger fullback Randy
Parker got the other when he bolted over the goal line from 1 yard out. Add John Wayne Williams
to the first half scoring mix. Williams got his second punt return touchdown of the year
in the first quarter and this one took some creativity by Williams who was unable to get behind the Tiger wall on a short
punt. This punt return only covered 36 yards, but his touchdown gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, which broke
the school record for most first quarter points first set by the 1961 team and then tied by the 1971 team against Leesville.
Later in the second quarter Williams got his second touchdown of the half on a 9 yard
pass from Adams. That came after Tiger linebacker Lionel Johnson jumped
in front of a Menard pass at the Eagle 20-yard line and nearly returned it for a touchdown. At that point
the Tigers lead was 40-0 with just over four minutes to go in the half. Neither the Tiger defense or offense
In quick fashion, the Tiger
defense shut down Menard in three plays, forced a punt and Williams set up the next Tiger touchdown with
a 45 yard run from scrimmage. That touchdown came when Adams rolled left and had the option
of running or throwing. Either would have worked, but Adams kept and ran for the score to make it 46-0 as
the clock showed less than a minute to go in the half. Keen added the PAT to make the halftime score 47-0.
The Tigers scored 26 points in the second quarter,
which was the second most second quarter points ever scored by a Tiger team in that quarter, trailing the 27 pts. scored by
the 1962 squad against Jena and tying the 1961 team’s total scored against Coushatta. But, the 47 first half points
was a new standard for the school. At the time, the top five most first half points were:
pts. 1971 vs. Menard, 41 pts. 1961 vs. Jena, 35 pts. 1971 vs. Leesville, 34 pts. 1969
vs. Winnsboro, 33 pts.1961 vs. Many, 1961 vs. Coushatta, 1962 vs. Jena
When you are leading
a team 47-0 at halftime, there are no adjustments that need to be made. So, after a short meeting with his assistants,
Coach Dosher called all of the seniors into the coaching office. He explained to the seniors that he didn't want
to risk getting anyone hurt in a game that the Tigers had complete command of and that he planned on turning the game over
to his reserves. He sought comments from the players, who asked if the team could be allowed to try to score 60 points before
he took out the starters. Coach Dosher agreed, but he urged the players to execute and play heads up, because
he knew that you could get hurt more easily if you were loafing. It wouldn’t take long to get those
got a 50 yard return on the second half kickoff and in short order the Tiger offense move to the Menard 7 where Keen
got his fourth rushing touchdown of the night. That made the score 53-0. The Tigers also scored on their
next possession on a 32-yard pass from Adams to Carter and Keen calmly
booted through the extra point to make the score 60-0, with just under half of the third quarter to go. Coach Dosher
called off the dogs at that point, turning over the game to his second units initially, and then the Tiger sophomore unit
in the fourth quarter. Winnfield's 60-0 lead at the end of the third quarter broke, by 12 points, the previous high for points
scored through three quarters.
Even the Tiger reserves
had success in the fourth quarter. The Tiger second team defensive unit preserved the shutout by keeping Menard out of the
end zone the rest of the game and the sophomore unit added 6 more points on a 13-yard scoring toss from Bill Rowell
to Charles Oliver. That made the score 66-0, but the PAT kick failed.
thoroughly whipped Menard with a combination of lightening-like strikes and a persistent ball control offense. For the game,
Winnfield gained 28 first downs, second most in school history behind the 31 the team had gained against Leesville. The Tigers
only punted three times, with all of those coming after the reserves took over. In fact, the first offense scored all eight
times they had the ball.
Jerry Keen was the leading ground gainer, getting 131 yards rushing on only 11 carries. He also scored 30 points
against Menard to become the all-time single-game scoring leader. Those 30 points upped his team-high scoring total for the
season to 78 points. That broke the individual single-season scoring record of 69 points set by Henry Brewer
in the 1928 season. John Wayne Williams was close behind with 66 points for the season. For the second time
of the season The Top Ten Single-Season scoring leaders at the time were:
(first seven games)
John Wayne Williams 1971
(first seven games)
63 Jerry Keen 1970
Thomas Straughan 1952
James Lloyd Collins 1961
Against Menard, Adams
hit on 8 of 11 passes for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. He and the whole team made it through the seventh game of the season
without throwing a single interception. More precisely, for the season, the team had thrown 129 passes and had not had one
of those picked off. Of those, 67 had been completed for a 52% completion rate.
The Tigers moved to 7-0-0 for the season and 5-0-0 in district play. That moved the 1971 team into a tie with the 1919
and 1961 teams as the only teams to open the season with seven straight wins. The program was riding a 10-game win streak
when games from the 1970 and 1971 season are taken into consideration. The previous longest win streaks in school history
were the 11-game win streak in the 1961 season, the 8-game win streak during the 1966 season and the 5-game win streak recorded
during the 1939, 1948 and 1969 seasons. Two more wins would set a new standard for win streaks for the program.
Winnfield's 66 points against Menard
were the most points scored by a Tiger team in a game since the 1928 team posted 81 points against Oakdale, and was the fourth
highest of all time, with every total exceeding the 66 point margin occurring either during the 1920s or during the 1919 season.
Through seven games, Winnfield had racked up 268 points. That was already the fourth-highest points scored in a single season,
trailing the 1961 (400), 1928 (385) and 1969 (289) teams. With three games remaining on the regular season schedule and an
untold number of playoff games, each of those totals certainly seemed within reach. To catch the 1961 team during the regular
season, the Tigers would have to average 44 points per game in the remaining four games.
The Tiger defense posted their fourth shutout of the year against
Menard and maintained their claim to not having given up a touchdown through the air. Only three touchdowns had been scored
against the Tigers, so Winnfield had outscored their opponents by a margin of 268-19. As impressive as the Tiger offense was
in the 66-0 rout, the Tiger defense was just as impressive. For the game, Menard was held to a mere 5 first downs and 59 total
yards - all on the ground. The Tiger defense picked off 3 Menard passes and recovered one fumble.
The same night that Winnfield was demolishing Menard, Natchitoches
had its hands full with a pesky Oakdale punch. The Chiefs finally pulled that game out in the fourth quarter, taking a 7-0
win to preserve sole possession of second place in the district. Oakdale would be Winnfield's next opponent.
When you are leading the district, every team
is gunning for you. That was especially so in week eight, because Oakdale, the Tigers next opponent, was a team struggling
with dashed hopes. The reigning district champions came into the season with 21 returning lettermen. As a result, they thought
that a repeat as district champions was very realistic. Yet, seven games into the season, Oakdale stood in third place in
the district with two district losses. So, a win over Winnfield would make their season. The one thing Oakdale head coach
Sonny Huff vowed to do was keep Winnfield from scoring on the punt return. That became bulletin board fodder
for the Tigers. No one had so blatantly challenged the Tigers during the season.
Give Oakdale credit. They shut down the Tiger offense in the first half by keeping the Tiger offense out of the end
zone. But, they did not shut down the one thing Oakdale head coach Sonny Huff vowed to stop, that being
the Tiger punt return. In the second quarter John Wayne Williams fielded the second Oakdale
punt of the night, faked a handoff to Alan Carter, got behind the wall and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
That gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead and a chance to "do it when the opposition knows you are going to do it.”
It was Williams third punt return for a touchdown for the year.
The Tigers added some breathing room in the third quarter when a 60-yard drive produced a touchdown on a 7 yard run
by fullback Randy Parker. Keen added the extra point to give the Tigers some breathing room at 14-0.
Later in the fourth quarter, Winnfield drove
to the Oakdale 25 but Adams was picked off for the first time all season at that point. James Hutchins
fell on a fumble on the next play though, giving the Tiger offense the ball at the Oakdale 23. From there Winnfield only took
two plays to move to the 4-yard line, where fullback Lynn Lasyone got the call on a straight dive and he
took the ball into the end zone for the final score of the night.
The Tigers won 20-0, but the offense had given his worst showing of the year. For the game, Winnfield picked up 159
yards rushing and 106 yard passing for 265 total yards, their second lowest total of the year. The Tiger offense was stymied
by three turnovers (1 interception and 2 fumbles) and several key penalties. Winnfield only punted twice in the game, so the
Tigers proved to be their own worst enemy.
It was the Tiger defense who turned in a performance that was now becoming routine. The defense limited to Oakdale
to 5 first downs and only 54 total rushing yards. That gave the 1971 defense four of the six lowest total rushing yards allowed
by any Tiger team up to that point in Tiger football history, including: (- 25) yds. 1971 vs. Peabody, 5 yds. 1971
vs. Tioga, 7 yds. 1956 vs. Farnerville, 13 yds. 1961 vs. LaSalle, 54
yds. 1971 vs. Oakdale, 59 yds.
1971 vs. Menard.
Oakdale completed 1 of 5 passes for 7 yards and became the first team to make it through
four quarters without having a pass intercepted by the Tiger defense.
Through eight games, the offense had piled up 1,543 yards rushing and 1,036 yards passing. That was already the fourth
highest single-season rushing total in school history. The Tigers were a chinch to become the school's most prolific passing
team as the single-season leaders included the 1966 squad (1,296 yds.), the 1969 team (1,144 yds.), the 1970 team (1,037)
and the 1967 squad (1,019). Those had been the only other teams to pass the 1,000-yard mark.
As the Tigers prepared for the ninth game of the season, several
individual players had set or were nearing individual school records. Jerry Keen was the leading ball carrier
on the team with 605 yards rushing through seven games, though he shared the halfback position with John Wayne Williams.
He extended his school record single-season scoring total to 80 points against Oakdale. Greg Wagoner caught
his 30th reception of the season against Oakdale to break, by two, Tommy Wyatt's single-season record for
receptions. Wagoner total reception yards came to 386 yards or 12.9 yds. per catch. Through eight games,
Steve Adams had completed 69 passes and was 10 completions shy of breaking Gary Green's
1967 record in that category. Adams was already the school leader in pass attempts with 134. With 942 passing
yards, Adams was sure to become the school’s second 1,000-yard passer and was 122 yards away from Gary
Green’s record 1,063 passing yards. Finally, Adams had thrown 13 touchdown passes, to break
Mike Tinnerello's record 12 touchdown passes set in the 1959 season.
Winnfield raised its ever increasing margin of points scored
to points allowed to 288 -19 with the 20-0 shutout win over Oakdale. That marked the fifth shutout of the year, tying the
team with the 1961 team for the most shutouts posted by a team since the 1920 era teams played. The Tigers still had an outside
shot at breaking the school record 400 total point total, but they would need to average 56 points per game in the final two
games to do it. That was possible, but a lot to ask.
But, the main number that mattered to the players
of the 1971 team as they prepared for the ninth game of the year was “10-0.” The Tigers were
quite aware of the rarity of an undefeated regular season in Winnfield Tiger football history; knowing that only the 1919
and 1961 teams had posted one. So, the team headed into the final two games of the season knowing they were two wins away
from finishing the season with a 10-0 record and a chance to joint an elite group. Plus, a win over either of their final
two opponents would clinch a share of the title. Assuming Natchitoches won out, Winnfield would need wins in both final games
to win the title outright.
Pineville was the
Tigers final regular season home opponent of the season. The Rebels came into the game with a disappointing 2-6-0 record that
was difficult to understand for everyone. The Rebels started the season with 16 returning lettermen, with experience at most
positions. When the preseason picks came out, Pineville was predicted to finish near the top of the heap. Instead, Pineville
was on the verge of finishing in the cellar of District 3-AAA. Ordinarily, teams who have gone through that kind of season
would be looking to just finish the season. But, each week Winnfield offered teams a chance to salvage something out of their
The schedule makers
had Winnfield playing virtually each district opponent the week after they had played Natchitoches. Pineville had played the
Chiefs to a 28-14 loss, but had rallied from a 28-point margin to narrow that score. As much as anything, that showed how
this Rebel team wasn’t about to lie down for anybody.
The stands at Stokes-Walker
were swelled by the homecoming crowd and the game was played under ideal weather conditions. This would be another
dominating performance like the Tigers had shown on several occasions during the year.
The Tigers got off to a slow start, but once they got going
there was no stopping them. Keen got touchdown runs on the second and third possession of the night to allow
the Tigers to stake a 14-0 first quarter lead.
If you could have
seen just one quarter of this game it would have been the second quarter where the Tiger scored three touchdowns, offering
variety in the process. The first touchdown came with Tiger defensive back John C. Jones
picked off a Rebel pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. Jones' 90-yard return
was the longest touchdown of the year and fourth longest interception return for a touchdown in school history, trailing only
Brooks Broussard and Mike Kelly's 100 yd. returns in 1955 and 1965, as well as John William
Warner's 95-yard return in 1948.
By this point
in the year knowledgeable fans looked forward to Tiger punt returns because the Tigers were seemingly a threat to score anytime
the opposing team was in punt formation. Those wanting another return got their wish when John
Wayne Williams scored his fourth touchdown of the year by way of punt return, with this one covering
60 yards. When combined with the two kickoffs Williams eight kick returns for touchdowns.
That was already more kick returns for a touchdown than had been scored in any previous decade. Prior to the 1970s,
the most number of kick returns for touchdowns for a whole decade had come in the 1960s (6 punts and 1 kickoff) and 1940s
(4 punts and 3 kickoffs). The 1971 team alone topped those totals through nine games.
Later in the second quarter Adams added
to his touchdown passing total when he connected with Wagoner on a 20 yard scoring toss. That
closed out the first half scoring and gave Winnfield a 35-0 lead.
In short order, Adams began the second half with scoring tosses to Carter (13 yards)
and Williams (22 yards) to up the Tigers’ lead to 49-0. That gave Adams
three touchdown passes for the night. Williams also had three touchdowns on the night.
Heading into the fourth quarter he had already scored by way of a punt return and a pass reception. He
got his second trifecta of the year in the fourth quarter when he scored from 8 yards out on a run. That was the second game
of the year that Williams had scored by three different means. He is the only Tiger player
to ever do that. Williams touchdown made the final score 56-0 Winnfield.
After the game, Coach Dosher cited Randy
Parker as the defensive player of the game. He had blocked a punt, recovered a fumble and been in on double-digit
tackles. On the offensive side of t0e ball, Dosher credited the Tiger offensive line, which consisted of
Randy Strickland and Hal Hickey at tackles, Tucker Watts and Paul
Larson at guards and Eddie Jenkins at center. But the game was the usual complete team effort.
The Tiger defense played another
stellar game, limiting Pineville to a measly 35 yards rushing and 8 yards passing, for 43 total yards. The Rebels only gained
5 first downs, with three of those coming on penalties. For the game, Pineville attempted 10 passes, completing only 2 of
those and having one intercepted.
passed for 129 yards to raise his total for the season to 1,071. That was 7 yards better than the previous
record set by Gary Green during the 1966 season. Keen scored 18 points for the night, upping
his single-season scoring record to 98 points, making him two shy of becoming the school’s first 100-point scorer.
Winnfield moved to 9-0-0 on the season and 7-0-0
in district play and finally began to impress the pollsters. The Tigers gained enough votes to move up one notch in the Class
AAA polls to No. 2. Richwood, who had given up the No. 1 spot to Hammond the week before, resumed the top spot, while Hammond
fell to third. All three of those teams remained the only undefeated teams in Class AAA and all three of those teams received
the same number of first place votes they had received for the previous two weeks.
Heading into the final week of the regular season,
enthusiasm for Tiger football ran high on both the Tiger team and throughout the community. The Tigers finished the regular
season against Jena and there were a number of achievable goals with a win. Those goals included an outright district title
(though the win over Pineville had assured the Tigers of at least a tie with Natchitoches for the district crown). Two other
goals the team was shooting for was an undefeated regular season record and the school’s single season scoring mark.
The team came into the game having scored 344 points. Only two other Tiger teams had ever scored more than 300 points in a
season. Those were the 1928 team (385) and the record holder, the 1961 team (400). So, the Tigers would need to score 42 points
to overtake the 1928 team and 57 points against Jena to overtake the 1961 Tiger team and, quite frankly, the team wanted the
latter. The defense came into the final game still having allowed only three touchdowns all season long.
Winnfield had to guard against two things in the Jena game:
over confidence and injuries. On the other hand, you can’t go into a football game with thoughts that you are going
to alter your style of play in order to avoid injuries. While no one had come within three touchdowns of the Tigers since
the Natchitoches game, and Jena seemed hardly like a team who could pull off the upset, stranger things have happened on the
football field. Before the night was over fans would see another installment of the John Wayne Williams Show.
By the time the first quarter ended Winnfield
had recorded his second safety of the season and the Tigers followed that up on the next possession with a short scoring drive
capped by an 11-yard run by Lynn Lasyone. That made the score 8-0, but the try for the two-point conversion
The Tigers scored
the next two times they had the football as well, with both of those scores coming in the second quarter. Lasyone
got his second score of the night with a 4-yard run and Keen added the two point conversion on a sweep, making
the score 16-0. That gave Keen an even 100 points for the year, which was 31 more points than any previous
player had ever scored.
next time the Tigers had the ball, Adams connected with John Wayne Williams for a 36-yard
scoring strike. The Tigers also added two more points on the ensuing extra point conversion to make the score 24-0 with only
a few minutes to go in the half.
made a first down up to that point in the game and they wouldn’t make one on their next possession either. As a result,
they had no choice but to punt back to Winnfield, hoping that they could simply hold the Tigers out of the end zone in the
remaining seconds of the half. Jena never expected the gift they received.
Tiger return man John Wayne Williams attempted to field the Jena punt at the Tiger 6-yard line, but
he muffed his first punt of the year. A scramble for the ball ensued, but Jena came up with the ball at the 6-yard line. Jena
took advantage when quarterback Danny Smith swept around right end for the touchdown and Sharbano
added two points on an extra point conversion run to make the score 24-8 at the half. That marked the first time the Tiger
defense had been scored on since the Peabody game, the sixth game of the year. That period covered 13 consecutive quarters.
The Tigers then scored both times they had the
ball in the third quarter, with Williams getting his second touchdown reception of the game
on the first score. The next time the Tigers had the ball they moved to a first and goal. Carrying a 30-8
lead, the Tiger coaching staff began turning their attention to things other than defeating the Jena Giants. Winnfield had
not really been pressed in a close game, but Coach Dosher knew that playoff opponents would be much tougher
than the teams Winnfield had played in District 3-AAA. With a 22-point margin, he had the luxury of prepping for the playoffs
in a live game situation. The Tigers hadn’t attempted or needed a field goal all season, but Coach Dosher
knew that he might have to call on Keen to kick a field goal in the playoffs. So, on first down from the
5 yard line, Keen trotted onto the field and attempted a field goal in a game situation. Keen’s
15-yard field goal was good, upping the Tiger lead to 33-8. That’s the way the score stood when the fourth quarter began.
Jerry Keen upped the Tiger lead
to 40-8, when he ran one in from 2 yards out at the start of the fourth quarter and tacked on the extra point. Then, after
the Tiger defense shut down Jena, John Wayne Williams electrified the Tiger crowd with yet another punt return.
He fielded a punt at the Jena 13-yard line, faked a handoff to Carter and set sail behind his wall of blockers
before breaking clear of everyone near midfield. Williams returned that punt (his fifth of the year) 87 yards
for a touchdown to up the Tigers lead to 46-8. Dosher again called on Keen to kick the extra
point, which he did. That gave the Tigers 390 points for the year, enough to take over second place on the single-season scoring
list, but the Tigers were only 11 points away from the outright scoring record.
Dosher sent in his second defensive unit at that point and Jena responded with a 77-yard pass for
a touchdown. The Giants tacked on the two-point conversion to narrow the Tiger lead to 47-16. In scoring their second touchdown,
Jena became the only team to score more than one touchdown against the Tigers. When the Tigers got the ball back, there was
just over four minutes to go in the game. Coach Dosher did give his offensive unit a chance at the scoring
record, leaving his first offensive unit in the game. After the Tigers moved inside Jena territory, John Wayne Williams
got his fourth touchdown of the game on a 40-yard pass completion from Adams. That also gave Williams
three touchdowns by pass reception, enabling him to tie the school record in that category. Keen added the
PAT kick to make the score 54-16, and give the team its 398th point of the year. There simply wasn’t enough time left
in the game for the Tigers to get any more points.
When the game ended, the Tigers were 2 points shy of the record, but that wasn’t on the mind of any of the Tigers.
First and foremost were the district championship and the 10-0-0 season.
Williams matched Jerry Keen’s
four-touchdown performance of the Leesville and Menard game to become the sixth Tiger player to accomplish that feat. Williams’
three-touchdown receptions enabled him to join David Harper (1936) as the only two players to catch three
touchdown passes in a single game. Adams threw all of those touchdowns. That marked the third time Adams
had thrown three touchdowns in a game during the 1971 season, with the other two being the Webster and Pineville games. Only
two other Tiger quarterbacks had ever thrown three touchdowns in a game. Those being Ray Jenkins (1936) and
Ricky Jordan (1966).
When the Tigers
had a chance to reflect on the Jena game, they knew that they ended the regular season with 398 points, three short of the
schools scoring record. And, though the 1961 team had scored their 400 points in an eleven game regular season, the Tiger
offense still wanted that record. The Tigers rationalized that had they scored a touchdown from 2 yards away, instead of kicking
the field goal on first down they would have had the necessary points. They could have also made those points with two-point
conversions, but did not choose to go that route either. While the regular season scoring record was no longer possible,
the team knew they would get the overall season record with their first touchdown of the playoffs.
The ten-game 1971 regular season saw most of the program’s
offensive and defensive team and individual records fall. Some of the more noteworthy team offensive records set during the
First Downs (Game) 31 vs. Leesville
22 vs. Natchitoches
First Downs (Season) 166
Yards Passing (Game) 241 vs. Jonesboro
226 vs. Tioga (1966)
Yards Passing (Season) 1,403
1,296 (1966 – 12 games)
Total Yards (Season) 3,442
3,404 (1961 – 11 games)
Total Touchdowns 58
57 (1961 – 11 games)
One of the most amazing performances
of the 1971 season was the Tiger punt return unit who recorded 7 touchdowns. Prior to the 1971 season, no team had ever scored
more than one punt return for a touchdown in a season and there had only been a total of 12 punts returned for touchdowns
between 1925 and 1970, a period of 55 seasons. Between the 1972 and 1999 seasons, there were only four teams who returned
more than one punt for a touchdown. Those included the 1982 team (5), the 1979 and 1984 teams (3) and the
1996 team (2). The 1971 Tigers added two more kickoff returns for touchdowns to give the team a total of 9 kick returns for
touchdowns during the regular season.
regular season totals were even more staggering. The Tigers only allowed five touchdowns all season long. Those scores came
on a 3-yard run by Webster in the opening game of the year and a 1-yard run by Jonesboro-Hodge. The sophomore defensive unit
allowed a 3-yard run against Peabody and a 77-yard pass against Jonesboro-Hodge. The final touchdown was a 6-yard run by Jena
after the Giants recovered a muffed punt inside the Winnfield 10-yard line. Otherwise, the Tigers recorded 6 shutouts and
held opponents scoreless in 35 of 40 quarters. The
Tiger defense did that with the tightest defense that had ever been seen in the program. The more notable defensive records
First Downs Allowed (Season) 67
Rushing Yards Allowed (Game) -
25 vs. Peabody 7 vs. Farmerville (1956)
Rushing Yards Allowed (Season)
Passing Yards Allowed (Season) 436 (2nd highest) 413 (1970)
Total Yards Allowed
Pass Completions Allowed (Season) 35
Interceptions 17 (2nd highest)
(1965 & 1970)
Punts Forced 56
Individual leaders at the end of the regular
season included Jerry Keen (805 yds. on 122 carries – 6.6 yards per carry average) and John
Wayne Williams (542 yards on 39 carries – 13.9 yds. per carry average) running out of the same halfback position,
giving the Tigers the most potent 1-2 punch at that position in school history. Combined, those two rushed for 1,347 yards
in 161 carries, an 8.4 yard per carry average.
recorded the best regular season in school history at the quarterback slot when he completed 99 of 201 passes for 1,288 yards
and 19 touchdowns. Adams only threw 5 interceptions during the season and added over 200 yards rushing. Greg
Wagoner was the leading receiver in the Tiger passing attack, ending the regular season with 35 receptions. But,
it was John Wayne Williams who was Adams' favorite target for touchdown passes, as Williams
took 7 receptions over the goal line for scores.
and Williams became the first players in school history to score over 100 points in a season. Heading into
the playoffs, Williams was the team’s leading scorer with 114 points and Keen was
second with 109 points. Williams total was 45 points higher than the previous single season high and both
Keen and Williams still had playoff games to add to that total.
The Tigers made it through the season without suffering injuries to many key players.
Mickey Brewton, reserve defensive back and wide receiver, sustained a season-ending injury midway through
the season and Tiger starting left tackle George Tannehill went down with an injury. But, Tannehill's
replacement, Hal Hickey, moved into that position and the Tiger line didn't miss a beat.
The entire Tiger football program enjoyed success during the
1971 season. The sophomore unit ended their season with a 7-1-1 record, winning the district title in the process and the
freshman team posted an 8-1-0 record.
The final Class
AAA poll showed Winnfield still in second place.
Richwood (3) 9-0-0
2. Winnfield (1) 10-0-0
3. Hammond (2) 10-0-0
4. S. Lafourche 9-1-0
5. Redemptorist 9-1-0
6. Crowley 9-0-1
7. Hahnville 9-1-0
8. Natchitoches 8-2-0
9. Jennings 8-2-0
10. Haughton 8-1-1 9
Winnfield entered the playoffs
as the school’s eight playoff representative. The overall school record in the playoffs was 1-7, with the 1968 team
being the only team in school history to win a playoff game when they recorded a 7-0 win over Northwood of Shreveport. So,
it had been one game and out for six of Winnfield's previous playoff teams and two games and out for the other playoff team.
The 1971 team hoped to improve on that record
when they entertained the Jennings Bulldogs in the bi-district round of the playoffs. The Tigers were 10-0, but it was going
to get tougher now. In the playoffs, every team was good, so, the Tigers had to not only stay tough, they had to turn it up
In 1971, there were eight districts
in each classification. The district champions and runners up from each district made it to the playoffs. There were no wild
card teams, so sixteen teams made it to the playoffs in each classification. In Class
AAA, the playoff participants were:
Haughton (8-1-1) Northwood (8-2-0)
Richwood (9-0-0) Winnsboro (8-2-0)
Winnfield (10-0-0) Natchitoches (8-2-0)
Crowley (9-0-1) Jennings (8-2-0)
Abbeville (8-2-0) St. Martinville (7-3-0)
S. Lafourche (9-1-0) Hahnville (9-1-0)
Redemptorist (9-1-0) Denham Springs (7-3-0)
Hammond (10-0-0) Destrahan (8-2-0)
Winnfield's first opponent in the quest to win the state championship was the
Jennings Bulldogs, runner-up of district 4-AAA. The Bulldogs were loaded with senior players like Winnfield, but they lacked
the depth Winnfield had. As a result, many more of the Jennings players were required to play on both sides of the ball. The
question in those situations is how well those players could hold up for four quarters. Jennings also didn't have the weapons
that Winnfield had, so they didn't have the quick-strike capability of the Tigers. Rather, Jennings played a ball-control
style of offense, and, like the Tigers, they were just as capable of passing as they were running. They relied more on their
defense to keep them in ball games, not allowing more than two touchdowns against nine of their ten opponents. Their two losses
came at the hands of Notre Dame of Crowley, by a score of 13-0 and to the district champion Crowley Gents by a 21-14 margin.
In fact, Jennings was a lot like Winnfield, only
lesser so. The town itself was described by the Jennings Daily News Sports Editor as "a football crazy town."
So, the Tigers knew the west side stands would be packed with rabid south Louisiana fans. Jennings was a solid football
program like Winnfield. On paper they were very similar to Winnfield. It was a game Winnfield was expected to win.
The Tigers opened the game by getting a 50-yard
return from John Wayne Williams. Only moments later, with the ball resting on the Jennings
25, Adams passed to John Wayne Williams in the end zone for a score and just like that the
Tigers jumped to a 6-0 lead. The appeared to be easy, but the remainder of the first half would be anything but easy.
The teams traded punts the rest of the first
half. Every time Jennings punted their game plan was obvious - don't punt to a Winnfield return man. Jennings was perfectly
content to angle each of their punts out of bounds, rather than risk a good return by the dangerous Tiger return team.
Jennings also seemed determined to force the
Tigers into a running game, blitzing Adams every chance they got and that moved payed off in the first half.
Winnfield never mounted another scoring threat in the opening two quarters. In response, the Tigers forced Jennings to contain
Winnfield's outside game. You can wear a team down two ways. You can pound the ball down a team's throat or you can run a
team to death by forcing them to run down your backs on wide sweeps. Winnfield pinned its hopes on the latter.
The Tiger defense simply played their usual stellar
game in the first half. Jennings never made it into Tiger territory until late in the second quarter and it took a miscue
on the Tiger punt team to allow that. After a Tiger drive stalled out at the Winnfield 40, punter Steve Adams
kneeled to scoop up a low snap from center. His knee touched the ground in the process, giving Jennings the ball on the Tiger
27. After that, Jennings moved to the Tiger 15 with a pounding ground game. That's when the Tiger defense went to work. James
Hutchins nailed a Jennings ball carrier for a 2-yard loss, setting up a second and twelve. On the next play, the
Jennings ball carrier tried the left side again, only to be met by Tiger cornerback Bill Stewart, who dropped
him for a 5-yard loss, making it third down and 17 from the 22. Jennings managed to get short gains on the next two plays,
but a fourth down pass reception got the Bulldogs only as far as the Tiger 11. Winnfield's offense came in and ran out the
clock at that point, preserving the 6-0 half time lead.
The opening possession of either half are important and that was proven yet again when Alan Carter
intercepted a pass at midfield on Jennings’ first possession of the second half and the Tiger offense scored two plays
later, with Keen’s run from 12 yards out getting the touchdown to make the score 12-0. The PAT pass
try was no good.
Then, the game returned
to the pace it had followed throughout the first half when the two teams exchanged punts throughout the remainder of the third
quarter. That meant the Tigers took a 12-0 lead into the fourth quarter. The Tigers had not given up two touchdowns in a quarter
all year and there had only been one game where the Tigers had given up two touchdowns period. So, this game appeared to be
in the hands of the Tiger defense. But, the defense would get more than enough help from the Tiger offense in the fourth quarter.
By the start of the fourth quarter, one thing
was becoming obvious - Jennings was getting tired. That didn't bode well for the Bulldog defense. In fact,
the Tiger offense scored all three times they had the ball in the fourth quarter. Keen
got one of those on a 20 yard run, while Carter, substituting for a shaken up Adams, ran
a bootleg 18 yards for a touchdown. That touchdown came after defensive lineman James Johnson had recovered
a fumble. In a 60 second span the Tigers had turned a 14-0 game into a 28-0 game. Then, the Tigers finished
off Jennings with a 70-yard drive capped by a 3-yard run by Williams to make the final score 34-0 Winnfield.
Winnfield’s entry to the 1971 playoffs
was capped with an exclamation mark. The Tigers rolled up 244 yards rushing, with Keen getting 110 of those
yards in 22 carries. Winnfield elected to stay with their ground game all night long, attempting only six passes and completing
2 of those for 67 yards. The main thing the Tiger offense did was play ball-control and run the Jennings defense in the ground.
They also made no turnovers, which hadn't occurred since the second game of the season.
As usual, the Tiger defensive numbers were eye opening. For
the night, Jennings only managed 58 yards rushing and 61 yards though the air. Jennings only made 6 first downs and after
having the ball inside the Tiger 20 in the second quarter, they never came closer to the Tiger goal line than the Winnfield
40 the rest of the game.
The win was the
11th of the season, tying the 1971 Tigers with the 1961 Tigers for the most wins in a season. By scoring 34 points against
Jennings, the 1971 Tigers moved ahead of that same 1961 team (400) for most points scored in a season, with the season total
now standing at 432. The win also extended the program’s win streak to 14 games, the longest such mark in school history
up to that point or three better than the previous record set by the 1961 team. Another streak was maintained in the Jennings
game. Since the program’s last loss (the Menard game of the 1970 season), no opponent had thrown a touchdown against
the starting Tiger defense. That meant the starting Tiger defense had gone 14 consecutive games without giving up a touchdown
by pass reception.
By defeating Jennings,
the 1971 team became only the second team in school history to win a playoff game. Plus, by defeating Jennings in Stokes-Walker
Stadium, the team ran the playoff record at that venue to 2-0.
A high school coach from Haughton High School who was scouting the Tigers gave this assessment of the Tigers for the
Winn Parish Enterprise, "Winnfield physically punishes their opponents and then takes advantage of their weariness
to score with lightening-like thrusts by air, on the ground, or with the recovery of errant passes and fumbles."
KEY GAME: There were few surprises
in the bi-district round of the AAA playoffs as seven of the eight district champions won their first round games, with the
only exception being Hahnville’s win over Abbeville. Winnfield's opponent in the quarterfinals would be the Haughton
Buccaneers. Coach Dosher was quoted in the Enterprise as saying that Haughton "would be the
biggest hurdle to date, no doubt about it.” That wasn't just "coach talk.”
Haughton gave the Tigers some serious match-up problems. For starters, the Buccaneers matched Winnfield where the Tigers
had capitalized all season long - with speed. In fact, Haughton had more team speed than Winnfield did, with three backs that
had run the 100-yard dash in under 10 seconds. Tiger defensive coordinator Jerry Bamburg told an Enterprise
reporter “Haughton’s backfield speed is better than that of the University of Oklahoma", the No. 2 team in
the country at the time. He wasn't exaggerating. The best of them all was 205 pd. fullback Arry Moody. He
was the reigning AAA state champion in the 220-yard dash. His frame and speed made him an especially difficult load to bring
down. Moody had also been timed at 9.8 in the 100-yard dash. But, Haughton also had the reigning state champion
in the 100-yard dash in halfback John Brewer. Additionally,
tailback Lonnie Lars gave the Bucs a third back faster than any player on the Tiger team. But, of that bunch,
Moody was clearly the most dangerous football player. He had scored 128 pts. for the season and was the leading
scorer in Class AAA. On top of that, Moody was the team's leading tackler at the weak side linebacker position.
But the Bucs
weren't just a good running team, though that is what they relied on the most. Senior quarterback Gene Couvillion
could hit the quick out to Lonnie Lars when teams overplayed the run or he could burn you with the deep pass.
On the line, Haughton outweighed Winnfield close to 30 pounds a man. So, Haughton's had everything the Tigers had in terms
of speed, plus they had more, in that the Bucs came at you with bulk across the line to wear down opposing linemen.
Haughton had a number of players who went both ways. So, the Tiger coaching staff preached the necessity of playing four quarters
of football, telling the team that if they would hang tough for three quarters, the Tigers would win the game in the fourth
quarter because the Tigers would be fresher.
The biggest mystery about the Bucs was how
they weren't 11-0-0 on the season. Playing in the tough District 1-AAA, Haughton defeated both Bossier and Jesuit, who as
late as the sixth week of the season were 7th and 8th in the Class AA polls. Their only loss in district play came to district
runner-up Northwood, who defeated Haughton 28-21. The only other setback in the Haughton schedule was a tie with Bethune High
School, a Class AAAA school out of Shreveport.
The game would be played the day after Thanksgiving
and though it was a home game for Haughton, the Buccaneer coaching staffed voluntarily moved the game to roomier Airline Stadium
in Bossier City. The Tiger team was given a send-off pep rally at the Winn Parish Court House at 1:30 on game day and a busload
of Winnfield fans and just as many in private cars followed.
Winnfield came into the game
at less than 100%. Several key starters had been saddled with flu-like symptoms all week long, with the sickest of them being
Defensive coordinator Jerry Bamburg came into the game with intentions of stopping the Buccaneer outside
game, even if that meant that he would give up the middle somewhat to do so. To accomplish that, he spread his defenders out
more than they had been spread all year. Plus, he figured with linebackers Lionel Johnson and Randy
Strickland, teams weren’t going to simply blow the Tiger out up the middle. But, the one thing he knew was
that he had to stop was the Haughton outside game, made all the more dangerous by the Buccaneer speedsters.
defense stopped Haughton in three plays on their opening possession and the Tiger offense responded almost as if to show that
they were a unit to be dealt with themselves. After the Tiger offense made it to the Haughton 48-yard line on their first
possession, the first magic of the night occurred when Adams hit John C. Jones on a slant
pattern at the Buccaneer 30-yard line. From there, Jones did all the rest of the work himself, eluding two
would-be tacklers in route to a 48-yard touchdown reception. Just like that it was 6-0 Winnfield with 9:33 showing on the
first quarter clock. The PAT was missed when Keen's kick was blocked by Larry Strogen.
coordinator Jerry Bamburg’s scheme designed to shut down the Haughton outside game worked throughout
the remainder of the first quarter and most of the second quarter. Tiger outside linebackers Randy Parker
and Bill Stewart continually hauled down Moody and Brewer just as they
attempted to make that final cut to get outside. In fact, the Tigers were so intent on stopping the outside run that it was
a quarterback sneak that actually set up the Bucs first touchdown of the night. Midway through the second quarter, Haughton
was in possession of the ball at midfield when quarterback Gene Couvillion called his own number and almost
scored, but the Tigers finally drug him down at the Tiger 8-yard line. Two plays later, Moody finished off
the drive on a 1-yard plunge. Haughton kicker Rock Hensley tacked on the extra point, to give Haughton a
7-6 lead midway through the second quarter. That marked the first time the Tigers had trailed in a football game all season
The two teams traded punches the rest of the first half, and though Winnfield gave up some big yardage up the middle
they accomplished their mission of shutting down the Haughton outside game. Haughton almost got back on the scoreboard before
the half after a partially blocked Lasyone punt rolled out of bounds at the Winnfield 18-yard line. But,
the Tigers held Haughton for short gains on first and second down and threw Moody for a loss on third down.
The Bucs went for a 30-yard field goal on fourth down, but the kick sailed wide left.
out 95 yards on the ground in the first half. They had good athletes and they were fired up and that’s why they were
winning. But, Winnfield had good athletes too. When both teams have good athletes, athletes cancel each other out. That’s
when it’s up to the coaching staff to come up with something. Jerry Bamburg went in at halftime and
made the adjustments that he thought would take care of Haughton both up the middle and on the outside. First, he called for
the defense to return to the normal spread that they had used all season long. Bamburg reasoned that he could
stop the outside game with his defensive ends and cornerbacks. The second move he made was to insert linebacker Lynn
Lasyone into a defensive tackle slot to add size and quickness to the Tiger defensive front. By returning to the
4-4 alignment, he moved his linebackers in closer to the middle of the field to shut down the middle. No one had run up the
middle against that alignment, so Bamburg felt like he had made the adjustment that would shut down Haughton
in the second half.
Bamburg's move paid big dividends on
Haughton’s first series of the second half when Lasyone, playing from his new defensive tackle position,
made a jarring tackle on Moody at midfield, forcing a fumble that defensive back John Wayne Williams
scooped up and returned to the Haughton 39-yard line. The Tigers then capitalized by moving to the Haughton 2-yard line in
eight plays, all on the ground. From there, Parker regained the lead for the Tigers when he willed the ball
over the goal line on a straight dive. Adams’ attempted run for the two point conversion was stopped
inches short of the goal line, leaving the score 12-7, with a quarter and a half to go in the game.
The game had
been a cleanly played game up to that point, but a late third quarter fumble by the Tigers proved to be very costly. Haughton
recovered the fumble, which was the Tigers lone turnover of the night, at the Tiger 32-yard line. Haughton responded by mounting
a 9-play scoring drive, with Moody getting his second touchdown of the night with an 8-yard run. That moved
Haughton back into a 13-12 lead after which Winnfield blocked the extra point.
The two teams
exchanged punts at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Tigers won the battle of field position when Winnfield dangerous
return man John Wayne Williams hauled in the punt near midfield and cut and slashed his way to the Haughton
29-yard line. The offense came into the game with half a quarter to go and the whole season riding on whether or not they
could get the job done. That offense was unaccustomed to playing catch up ball, much less fourth quarter catch up ball.
season hinged on the Tigers ability to move 29 short yards, but those 29 yards are the longest 29 yards on the field. Keen
had already kicked a 15-yard field goal during the season and a field goal would do it for the Tigers. All the Tiger offense
was that they had to score some way, somehow. The game was beginning to take on a desperate quality.
of everyone connected with the Tiger program were immediately lifted when Jerry Keen broke for an 11-yard
run on first down to move the ball to the 19-yard line. Williams then picked up 3 yards on the next play
to set up a second and seven from the 16. Keen then nearly got it all on the next play when he bolted to
the 4-yard line. There wasn't a single person sitting in Airline Stadium when Keen broke clear and a huge
sigh came over both crowds when Keen was brought down at the 4 - one a sigh of relief and the other a sigh
of frustrated anticipation.
With a first and goal from the four, Winnfield took three stabs at the line and barely made any progress, setting up
a fourth and goal from the one. Coaches Payne and Dosher spurned the field goal attempt
that if successful would have made the score 15-13. Instead Coach Payne went for the touchdown on fourth
down, but the Bucs held. The Haughton sidelines erupted and the Tiger fans fell limp as the Tiger offense trotted off the
field. There were just over four minutes to go in the game.
The real prospects of the season
coming to an end crossed the minds of more than one Tiger football player during the ensuing minutes. Plus, the knowledge
of knowing that the Tigers had moved to a first and goal from the 4 and not scored only made that prospect even more maddening.
If the Tiger defense could hold Haughton, the Tigers could still get the ball back one more time.
goal line stand meant they had to take over at their own 1-yard line. From there, the Tiger defense played their most important
series of the year. Three downs netted the Bucs only three yards as the Tiger defense swarmed Haughton on three successive
plays. That gave Haughton no choice but to punt the ball back to Winnfield.
no room to spare, Haughton got off a good punt, which Alan Carter fielded at the Buc 40-yard line. He was
quickly hemmed in and he ran out of bounds at that point of the field. However, there were penalty flags lying on the Airline
Stadium turf as Winnfield had drawn a penalty for being off sides on the play. With his coaches frantically telling him to
decline the penalty, Haughton captain Arry Moody inexplicably accepted the penalty, forcing Haughton to punt
That gave the Tigers a chance for another punt return, which was as good as any play in the Tiger arsenal. Alan
Carter again fielded the punt near the same spot he had fielded the previous punt, only this time he had a chance
to hand off to John Wayne Williams. As the Tiger wall formed down the Winnfield sidelines, Williams
streaked toward the same sidelines, but he was able to do something Alan Carter had not
been able to do on the previous punt return - turn the corner and get behind the wall. After Williams made
it behind the wall set up by his blockers he worked his way down to the Haughton 18-yard line. As a result, the Tiger offense
would take over 22 yards further down the field than they would have had Haughton not re-kicked the punt. Instead of being
40 yards away from the end zone, the Tigers were only 18 yards away.
When the Tiger offense took
over, there was just 1:24 showing on the clock. It was heart-pounding time. On first down, both John Wayne Williams
and John C. Jones split wide left. At the snap, Williams ran a flag route, carrying the
halfback with him. Jones ran a down and out and was wide open in the area Williams had cleared.
Adams spotted Jones and hit him with a pass just before he ran out of bounds at the Haughton
8-yard line. That gave the Tigers a first down eight paces away from the end zone.
Adams was dropped for a 6-yard loss on the next play, setting up a second and goal from the 14. Adams
called time and went over to confer with Coach Payne to hear his plan for cracking the Haughton defense.
When Adams came back to the huddle, he brought with him the play Coach Payne wanted. There
was but a little over 60 seconds remaining on the clock. Payne called for a pass to his fullback coming out
of the backfield. On the play, Tiger pro back Alan Carter was inserted into the Tiger offense for the first
time all night. Since Carter was drained from a weeklong bout with the flu, he had been held to defensive
duty only up to that point. As it were, Carter would be used as a decoy. At the snap, Carter
who had been split wide to the right side, ran a down and in pattern and cleared out the right side for Parker
running out of the backfield. That left Tiger fullback Randy Parker all alone at the Haughton 8-yard line.
Adams dropped straight back, set up and spotted the wide-open Parker. Adams then drilled
the ball to Parker, who caught the pass, turned and was met by two defenders at the 2-yard line. Parker
carried those two defenders and the hopes of thousands into the end zone with him to give the Tigers a touchdown. Parker
was mobbed in the end zone by his fellow teammates, while pandemonium broke out in the Tiger stands and sidelines. There have
been single plays in Tiger football history that have been longer and plays that have been more spectacular. In the Natchitoches
game six weeks earlier, Carter's punt return and Williams' run were equally as thrilling.
However, there had never been a play as decisive as the Adams to Parker touchdown toss.
“The Catch” enabled the Tigers to take an 18-13 lead in a playoff game and potentially propel the Tigers to a
semifinal playoff game - the furthest any Tiger team had advanced in the playoffs. Coming as it did, in the final minute of
the quarterfinal game, “The Catch” enabled the team to continue their playoff run.
Later in the
week Parker continued to receive praise from his teammates. Parker was
not one to gloat over himself, and in a state of false humility, he shrugged off the catch exclaiming, "Yeah, but what
if I had dropped the ball."
touchdown, Williams caught a pass from Adams for two points to make the score 20-13. There
was still 00:54 seconds showing on the clock, so Haughton still had time for their own miracle. Though a Haughton score seemed
like a cruel injustice to the drained Tiger fans, the Bucs didn't die easy. A pass completion and a 15-yard penalty against
the Tigers got Haughton into Tiger territory. From there, Haughton tried three straight passes, getting down to the Winnfield
30 before the Tiger defenders knocked down a final pass at the Tiger 3-yard line.
stormed the field and many of those filed into the dressing room with the team. Champions find a way to win games and there
was no better example of that than the Haughton game. Bamburg's halftime adjustments paid off, as the Tiger
defense limited the Bucs to just 44 yards rushing in the second half and only 17 yards passing. That gave Haughton a total
of 139 yards rushing and 39 yards passing for the game. Arry Moody was held to only 63 yards on 20 carries.
But, not every defensive accomplishment can be measured in numbers. Had the Tiger defense allowed Haughton to run out the
clock when they got the ball with just over three minutes to go in the game, the Tigers would have never even had a chance
to stage their great comeback. And, had the Tigers allowed Haughton speed merchants to run wild, the offense could not have
won a scoring battle. On a broader scale, the final four minutes of the game were a summary of the whole season. The Tiger
defense held Haughton at a time when Haughton could have won the game by simply hanging onto possession of the football. Then,
the Tiger kick return team gave the offense excellent field position, effectively shortening the field to only 18 yards from
pay dirt. Then, the Tiger offense found a way to get the ball into the end zone, with the touchdown coming on a pass to a
receiver out of the backfield.
The offense simply played its most courageous game of
the year. The Tiger offense matched speed with speed, and out-gained Haughton by 17 yards rushing, getting 159 yards on the
ground. The Tigers added 81 yards through the air, with Adams only throwing 7 passes, but connecting on 4
of those. His fourth completion of the night was the biggest pass completion any Tiger fan had ever witnessed as it resulted
in the Randy Parker touchdown. Some teams would have crumbled after failing to score late in an important
game after driving to a first and goal at the 4-yard line, but the Tigers used precision passes, good catches by John
Wayne Williams and Randy Parker and good pass blocking by the Tiger offensive line to get the win.
The 1971 Tigers thus became the first team
in school history to win twelve football games in a season and the first team to win two football games in the playoffs. Aside
from the effect that the win had on the season, the Haughton win also impacted the program as a whole. While individual wins
alone can be crucial for a single season, certain wins are important to the development of the entire program. The program
needed to get over the hump of simply making it to the playoffs. Winning programs are obviously built on winning and that
includes winning playoffs games. So, the work that was begun by the 1957 team in making the Tigers a “playoff team”,
and furthered by the six playoffs teams between 1959 and 1968, was furthered by the Haughton win. By becoming the first Winnfield
team to advance to the semifinals in the playoffs, the 1971 team further aided the program in developing a statewide reputation
and gave future Tiger football players a path to follow.
After traveling in the quarterfinal
round, the Tigers not only had a chance to play in the semifinals, but they also had the opportunity to host the semi finals
in Stokes-Walker Stadium, where the program was undefeated three playoff games.
The same night
the Tigers defeated the Bucs, No. 8 Hahnville defeated No. 4 Redemptorist 25-13 to set up a semifinal match ups between Winnfield
and Hahnville. In other quarterfinal-round action; No. 7 Crowley knocked off No. 1 Richwood 15-14 and No. 5 South Lafourche
rolled over No. 3 Hammond 33-6. Of that group, Winnfield was the only remaining undefeated team in the Class AAA ranks.
match-ups would pit an 11-1-0 Hahnville team against the 12-0-0 Tigers. Across the state, the 11-1-0 South Lafourche Tarpons
would travel to Crowley to face the 11-0-1 Gents. Both Hahnville and South Lafourche played in the same district, with Hahnville’s
22-8 loss to South Lafourche during the regular season being their only setback. Winnfield came into the semifinal game knowing
that they were one win away from a title game. Plus, they also knew that if Crowley knocked off South Lafourche, the game
would be played in Winnfield. That's the scenario the Tigers hoped for, so that's the only way the Tigers imagined it. The
bottom line is that most high school kids simply don’t keep up with the details of high school football like the most
adult fans do. Most of the players of the 1971 team certainly knew about Hammond and Richwood, because the Tigers had been
battling it out with those two in the top three spots of the Class AAA polls since early in the season. Few players knew much
about any other team in the top ten except Natchitoches. So, when Richwood and Hammond were knocked off in the quarterfinal
round, the reasoning of most players was something like this – “Two of the top three teams have been defeated,
leaving Winnfield as the only remaining Top Three team. Plus, the Tigers were the only undefeated team remaining. That must
mean that Winnfield is the best team remaining in the playoffs.” Simple logic, admittedly, but that’s
how most high school kids think. So, the 1971 Tigers headed into the semifinal game thinking they were the team to beat in
Class AAA. Would you want it any other way?
When you get down to the last two games,
the teams are there because they do what they do very well. Though Hahnville was a district runner-up, they were a very talented
team. All the local newspapers cautioned against frowning on Hahnville for being only a district runner-up because
all sang the praises of the only team that had defeated Hahnville all year - the South Lafourche Tarpons. One paper even reported
that a football coach at Nicholls State University called South Lafourche the best high school football team he had ever seen.
So, it wasn’t a surprise that both South Lafourche and Hahnville were still in the playoffs. What was surprising was
that South Lafourche had lost a game at all during the season.
The Tigers of Hahnville were
led by one of the best quarterbacks any Winnfield team had ever faced. Called, the most valuable player in south Louisiana
high school football by some sportswriters, Hahnville quarterback Jim Hartman was a double threat as a runner
and a passer. During the regular season, Hartman threw 121 passes and completed 63 of those for 1,016 yards
and 14 touchdowns.
As a team, Hahnville was bigger than Winnfield - just like Haughton was. Their defensive front averaged close to 210-pounds
per man, in comparison to the Tiger offensive line who averaged around 180-pounds per man. Hahnville didn't have the speed
of Haughton, but they were plenty fast. The Alexandria Town Talk said that, "quickness may be a better word
to describe the maneuverability of the Hahnville Tigers, especially leading rusher Percy DeJean, who had
gained 887 yards on 137 carries over the course of the regular season.” Though only 145 lbs., Coach
Dosher called DeJean "cat quick.” The thing that caused the most concern
for the Tiger coaching staff was the multiple sets that the Hahnville offense ran out of. Hartman was a running
quarterback who threw most of his passes off of sprint outs or play action maneuvers. When his receivers were covered, he
simply tucked the ball and was a dangerous weapon himself when that occurred.
to the state finals wasn't incentive enough for Hahnville, a chance for a rematch with district rival South Lafourche was
more than enough. Hahnville was a football town, rich in tradition and full a rapid football fans who would follow "their
Tigers" anywhere. Hahnville had made six consecutive trips to the playoffs and were coming off a year that also carried
them to the semifinals. The game would be the most important football game ever played on Winn parish soil, considering the
spoils awaiting the victor.
On game day, the coaches had to content with just the
kind of distraction they didn’t want right before an important game. The District 3-AAA All-District team was printed
in the newspaper the day of the semifinal game and the Tiger coaches were furious. The Tiger players were a little surprised
at their reaction, but the coaches explained that they didn’t want anything to take away from the task at hand.
rains dampened the playing field, but the skies cleared on game day. The rains were caused by an early winter cold front that
dropped temperatures to near the freezing mark at game time, making the largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Winn
parish one cold bunch. Both stands were packed and spectators lined the field five deep in some places. What they saw was
one thrilling football game that would be won in the fourth quarter.
After the two teams exchanged
punts during most of the first quarter, Hahnville got the first break of the game when they intercepted an Adams
pass and returned it to the Tiger 28. Fifteen more yards were tacked onto the return when the Tiger were flagged for a late
hit, moving the ball to the 13.
The Tiger defense allowed Hahnville 8 yards in three
downs. On fourth down, Hahnville needed 2 yards for a first down and 5 for a touchdown. They called on their leader Hartman
to get those yards on an option right. On the play, Carter came up and met Hartman at the
line of scrimmage, stopping him short of a first down and giving the ball back to the Tigers.
offense came in and moved the ball out to the 31-yard line, where Hahnville fell on a loose ball to again take control deep
inside Winnfield territory. Two plays netted Hahnville a minus 6 yards, setting up a third and 16 from the Winnfield 37. The
Enterprise’s description of the next play reads as follows, “Hartman dropped back two steps,
faked a pass and cut through a big opening in the left side of the Tiger line, angled to the left sidelines and ran for a
touchdown and a 6-0 lead for Hahnville.” The snap on the extra point sailed over the holder’s
head and a scramble for the ball ensued, with Winnfield smothering the Hahnville holder near the 15-yard line. Nevertheless,
Hahnville took a 6-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.
Winnfield got a decent gain
on the kickoff, getting out to the Tiger 37-yard line. From there, the Tiger offense went to work. Parker
gained a first down on the first play of the series, but the Tigers were flagged for offside, negating Parker’s
run. That made it second down and 15 from the Tiger 32.
On the next play, Adams
rolled to his left and lofted a pass to John C. Jones at midfield. Jones was covered by
a defender, but he hauled in the pass, shook free of the defender and set sail for the goal line. Good downfield blocking
enabled Jones to get by the final would-be tacklers, enabling him to cross the goal line standing up and
tie the score at 6-all. Keen moved the Tigers ahead when he converted on the extra point attempt. The score
came with just under ten minutes to go in the half.
Hahnville took over the second
quarter and never let Winnfield into their end of the field. Meanwhile, Hahnville began one possession at the Tiger 40-yard
line but had that possession end when linebacker Randy Strickland picked off a Hartman pass
at the Tiger 24 to snuff out that drive.
The next Hahnville possession began at the Tiger 34-yard
line after a short punt. But, after working the ball down to the 17-yard line, the Winnfield defense put up a stiff resistance
to keep Hahnville out of the end zone, leaving the halftime score 7-6 in favor of Winnfield.
threatened to regain the lead on their first possession of the second half, but the Tiger defense held yet again after Hahnville
had moved to the Winnfield 13-yard line. The next time Hahnville got the ball back they put together their best drive of the
Quarterback Hartman and tailback DeJean combined to move the ball down the field
with quick line burst and safe passes by Hartman. Once Hahnville reached the Tiger 16, Hartman
kept the ball for an 8-yard gain and then, tailback Percy DeJean, bolted over the right side of the line
for the final 8 yards to enable Hahnville to retake the lead. Coach Bob Gros spurned the
two point conversion, calling for the extra point kick instead, which was good, making the score 13-7 Hahnville as the third
quarter came to a close.
An Alexandria Town Talk sports writer asked
Coach Gros after the game why he went for the 1 point conversion instead of the two and he offered the following
explanation, “We had to call time out when DeJean was hurt on the TD run, so we figured they would
be looking for the two-pointer and would be set to stop it. Plus, we didn’t feel their kicker was too accurate. We thought
maybe he would miss if they scored again, and we’d still have a tie.”
took over after the kickoff at the Tiger 38-yard line. A series of runs got the Tigers to the Hahnville 42, where Adams
found a wide-open John C. Jones on a pass play to move the ball to the Hahnville 27. Three plays netted only
2 yards, setting up a fourth and eight from the 25. Adams went to his favorite target on fourth down, hitting
Greg Wagoner just as he was met by a Hahnville defender. Wagoner held on the ball at the
Hahnville 17, giving the Tigers a new set of downs.
After three plays netted 6 yards,
the Tigers found themselves in yet another fourth down situation. With just over eight minutes to go in the final quarter
and the Tigers trying desperately to close the 13-7 gap, offensive coordinator Robert Charles Payne called
for a play that had tight end Greg Wagoner run a post pattern. Adams spotted him just as
he broke into the clear and he drilled the ball to his tight end. Wagoner caught the ball at the 5-yard line
and raced untouched into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown. Keen came in and did what Coach
Gros of Hahnville hoped he would not do, he booted the crucial extra point to give the Tigers a 14-13 lead with 8:23
remaining on the clock. That marked the fourth lead change of the night.
When Hahnville got the ball
back, they moved to midfield, where they got greedy. Though there was still over six minutes in the game, Hartman
tossed a long pass, which Carter picked off at the Winnfield 25-yard line. That enabled the Winnfield offense
to come in and take some time off of the clock as they moved the ball deep into Hahnville territory before electing to punt
when that drive stalled out.
The punt sailed into the end zone, giving Hahnville
the ball at the 20-yard line when they took over. There was only had 1:24 remaining on the clock. Ironically, that’s
the same amount of time Winnfield had to work with a week earlier, but there was one big difference. At the time Winnfield
was only 19 yards away from pay dirt, while Hahnville was 80 yards away.
lined up in the shotgun and attempted to pick the Tigers apart. Instead, John C. Jones did the picking when
he picked off a Hartman pass near midfield and returned it to the Hahnville 15. Fifteen of Jones’
return yards were erased when the Tigers were handed a 15-yard penalty. There was only 00:19 remaining on the clock and Adams
and company easily ran out the clock to preserve the 14-13 win.
As the score indicated, it was
a game of two evenly matched teams. Winnfield ended the night with 219 total yards to Hahnville’s 212. Hahnville got
most of their yards on the ground, gaining 140 yards rushing, with Hartman getting 67 of those yards. Hartman
threw 15 passes and completed 6 for 72 yards. But, he was picked off 3 times and the Tigers extended the program’s streak
of not allowing a touchdown through the air to 16 straight games.
Tiger Jerry Keen
led all rushers with 84 yards in 18 carries. The rest of the team only got 25 yards rushing. Adams completed
5 of 13 passes for 110 yards, with 69 of those yards coming on the Tigers two touchdowns. Adams was picked
off once and the Tigers lost one fumble.
For the second straight week, the Tigers came back to
win in the fourth quarter in demonstrating the kind of late-game play that all coaches call for. In attempting to offer an
explanation for the late game heroics, Adams told a Town Talk interviewer, “I guess we realize
just how much more important it is then.”
When the Tigers went into the dressing room to find
out who their next opponent was, they knew that a Crowley win would put the state title game in Stokes-Walker
Stadium. The coaching staff came out and told the team that South Lafourche had defeated Crowley 16-14, so the Tigers would
have to travel to Galliano for the championship game - a place no Tiger player had ever been to or even heard of.
for South Lafourche, the first thing most people did was get out the Rand McNally to find out where in the world Galliano,
Louisiana was. Few people in Winnfield had heard of Galliano, let alone been there. What people found was a town that was
about as far south in Louisiana as you can travel and still be on solid ground. Some people joked that you could get there,
but only by boat. While the 1923 Tiger football team had played Warren Easton in New Orleans, the trip from Winnfield to Galliano
would be even longer, making this the longest road trip in the program’s history. The trip would take a minimum of six
hours by car.
South Lafourche High School was a new school, being formed in 1966 after Larose-Cut Off High School and Golden Meadow
High School were consolidated. When South Lafourche High School was formed, they didn’t have to start from scratch in
building their football team. Due to a consolidated enrollment, the school played in the state’s highest classification.
But they had more than numbers because they had a nucleus of players from the 1965 Larose-Cut Off state championship team.
In its initial year of enrollment, South Lafourche High School took an undefeated record to the state title game where they
were defeated by Broadmoor 24-0. Members of the Tarpon 1966 team included former LSU players Art Cantrelle
and Ronnie Estay.
After that inaugural season
the program went into a decline that resulted in back-to-back losing seasons in 1968 and 1969. By 1970,
the school’s enrollment had leveled off at 954, which allowed the school to drop from Class AAAA to Class AAA for the
1970 and 1971 seasons. Then, beginning with reclassification after the 1971 season the school moved back
up to the state’s highest classification and has been there ever since.
In the school’s
first year in Class AAA, the school went 4-6-0. So, when the 1971 season began, the senior football players from South Lafourche
were much like the senior players from Winnfield. None of those players had ever played on a team that had gone to the playoffs,
but they looked up to former players had enjoyed recent success.
South Lafourche was ranked No.
3 in the preseason poll and finished the year ranked No. 4, the highest ranking of any school with a loss. The Tarpons stayed
in the Top Ten all year and did that by going 9-1 during the regular season with several wins over 4A opponents, including
an 86-0 pasting of lowly McDonough 35. The Tarpons biggest win of the season was a 22-8 victory over the Hahnville Tigers.
The Tarpons only loss was a 14-12 decision to 4A South Terrebonne.
playoff wins included a 28-14 decision over St. Martinville in the bi-district round, followed by a somewhat shocking regional
round 33-6 drilling of No. 3 Hammond, who was undefeated at the time. The Tarpon team held Hammond to 68 yards rushing and
only 57 yards passing. In the semifinals South Lafourche defeated Crowley by a 16-14 margin and they did
it the way they had won most games all season. The Tarpons relied on a bruising ground game and only rarely passed. They played
a tough brand of defense, as demonstrated in their semifinal round win over Crowley when they held the Gents to 78 yards rushing
and 147 yards passing. In that game, South Lafourche showed their main weakness. The Tarpons gave up two touchdown passes.
of the South Lafourche team was their defense which was led by three players who would be named to the All State team after
the end of the 1971 season, Those included end Wayne Adams (6’ 2”, 200 lbs.), was the MVP – Defense in District
6-AAA; tackle Mickey Bouffanie (6’ 1”, 245 lbs.) and linebacker Dwayne Galijour.
The remaining front men for South Lafourche weighed in at 260 and 245. All total, the South Lafourche front
four average weight was more than 80 pounds heavier than the average weight of the Winnfield offensive line.
In an interview
for The Enterprise, Coach Dosher stated, “Their front four is as big as the New Orleans Saints.”
He lamented that the South Lafourche defensive front, “is the biggest ball club I’ve ever seen in high
Winnfield was quite familiar with the South Lafourche defense because the Tarpons ran the same 4-4 defense the Tigers
used. They forced teams into running wide or throwing the ball, but that played into the strength of the Winnfield offense
strength. The Tigers were clearly overmatched up the middle. That’s why Coach Robert Charles Payne
did not have a single play between the tackles on his offensive game plan. His game plan was quite simple and was written
out on the five-page plan he handed out to his offensive players. Payne wrote, “We will establish our
passing (he underlined “passing” for emphasis) game. South Lafourche is very big. We have to get outside of them
running and throwing. We will throw as much as possible and run enough to keep them honest.” He concluded,
“They are a lot bigger than we are, but we are quicker (“quicker” got three lines under it). I feel if we
can get outside and free in the secondary, we can score.”
So, the Tiger offensive
game plan was full of sweeps, quick pitches, option passes and quick slants. The goal line offense consisted of four plays
- the 28 sweep, the 28 option, the 18 sprint and the 26 bootleg. The Tiger’s bread and butter plays
all year had been the 28 sweep and the 29 pitch. Adams and his receivers had shown for thirteen straight
games that you had better be prepared to defend against the pass, as Winnfield was not afraid to use their wide outs, backs
or tight end to throw to. But, for the first time all year Winnfield had one dimension of the offense completely taken away,
that being plays up the middle.
On offense South Lafourche relied primarily on 205 lb.
fullback Mark Bouzigard. He came into the game as the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher, getting over
1,300 yards in the first thirteen games of the season. Bouzigard ran behind an offensive line that was led
by All-State tackle Peter Orgeron. Tiger scout Chal Rascoe characterized the South Lafourche
offense this way, “They run the ball right down your throat. They’re not that fast, but they have powerful runners
who run right through you.” South Lafourche relied on their “Possum Gang” defense to
keep opponents off the scoreboard and then scored enough points with their ground control offense to win ball games. The biggest
obstacle that Winnfield had to overcome was getting past that huge South Lafourche defense. As Coach Payne
stated, the Tigers planned on going around and over the top, not right at the Tarpons.
the great distance between Winnfield and Galliano, the Tiger football team left for the game a day early. A send-off was held
at 9:00 a.m. at the high school the day before the game.
In the pre-game account of the
impending title game that appeared in the Winn Parish Enterprise, assistant coach Jerry Bamburg
stated that weather would be a factor in the contest. Bamburg said, “If the field is wet, the Tarpons
will have a definite advantage due to their superior weight advantage.” Of the many details that concerned the Tiger
coaching staff, one of their biggest concerns was also the biggest thing they had no control over.
why it was especially disheartening when the first thing the Tiger coaches and players saw when they looked outside on game
day was a down pour. The rains didn’t last all day and the clouds cleared well before game time. But, the early morning
rains, coupled with the low-lying south Louisiana soil took in the rains and held the water at the surface. The Tiger team
wouldn’t know just how much of an issue that was until they reached the stadium where they saw puddles of standing water
standing on the field. In one puddle, a milk cartoon was floating around, being blown by the wind. By north Louisiana standards,
the field was in very poor conditions. Tarpon fans and players would later say that they were used to playing on wet fields.
There was no rain falling at game time, but one of the most important jobs in the stadium would be that of the person
who dried off the footballs because every time the ball touched the playing field it got wet and caked with mud. The effects
of the field on Winnfield’s biggest tool, its speed and quickness, was not yet known.
By kickoff the 8,000
seat Tarpon Stadium was filled to the brim and it is estimated that an additional 2,000 spectators ringed the field. It was
and is the largest outdoor crowd to ever watch a Winnfield Tiger team play a football game. Winnfield fans
have always supported Tiger football, and despite the distance of the title game, some 3,000 Winnfield fans followed the Tigers
to Galliano. But, the Tarpon fans outnumbered the Tiger fan two to one. It was a very intimidating environment. On top of
that, when Winnfield supporters opened up the game program, they saw a full-page ad that gubernatorial candidate Edwin
Edwards had bought which read, “Go Tarps, Bring the Title Back to South Louisiana Where it Belongs.”
The first quarter was easy to sum up because neither team did much. South Lafourche lost 21 yards on their first possession
when Tiger linebacker Randy Strickland dropped Tarpon quarterback Dwayne Galijour for a
24-yard loss on a third down conversion attempt. The Tarpons second possession also failed to pick up a
first down and their third possession was stopped when John C. Jones intercepted a Tarpon pass at the Winnfield
31 yard line. That play was largely due to a strong blitz put on by Strickland. Winnfield also had
the ball three times in the first quarter. Their first drive picked up one first down, but that all. The
other two possession were stopped by Tiger turnovers, with the first being a fumble and the second coming on an interception.
had the ball three possessions in the first quarter. Though neither team came close to scoring, the Tiger offense had looked
the best though. In three possessions, Winnfield had gained 56 yards and two first downs. In comparison, South Lafourche ended
the first quarter with a minus 15 yards of total offense and no first downs.
It was during
the second quarter that the field was starting to get churned up. The Tigers attempted to run wide on the Tarpons three straight
times, but failed to pick up much of anything on those three downs. On one play, John Wayne Williams took
a pitch from Adams like he had done so many times during the season, sprinted to the outside and planted
his foot to turn up field. There was no Tarpon defender within 10 yards of Williams but when he planted his
foot he completely lost his footing and fell down untouched. That scene would be repeated over and over as the field conditions
Over the course of the next six minutes the Tiger teams continued to throttle the Tarpon offense, allowing only one
first down and forcing the third Tarpon punt of the night in their first four possessions. The game turned real sloppy
at the midpoint of the second quarter. Both offenses finally got going with each moving into the opposing
side of the field only to have those drives halted by fumbles. While both teams had very strong defensive units, the high
number of turnovers in this game had to be attributed to the wet field conditions. As the game neared the
end of the first half Winnfield had lost the ball twice on fumbles and once on an interception. South Lafourche had coughed
up once on a fumble and once on and interception.
South Lafourche would have the
last possession of the first half in a drive that began at their own 44 yard line. With 56 yards to cover and under two minutes
to go in the half there was no time for the Tarpon ball control offense, so they opened up their offense for the first time
and they had immediate success. A completed pass and a draw play got the ball inside the Tiger 30 with the clock running.
Then the Tarpons nearly scored when another completed pass went all the way down to the Tiger 2-yard line. With twenty seconds
showing on the clock the Tarpons took one shot at the Tiger end zone, but were unsuccessful. So, with 00:07 remaining in the
half, South Lafourche head coach Ralph Pere’ sent in his field goal kicker, Danny Foret,
to attempt a 23-yard field goal which he made to give South Lafourche a 3-0 lead as the two teams broke for the half. The
Tigers trailed for the third straight playoff game.
During the first half, Winnfield
had the ball five possessions. Winnfield punted the ball three times in the first half and turned the ball over three times.
Two of those turnovers came after the Tigers had made their only penetrations into South Lafourche territory. The Tigers were
having less and less success running the football in the deteriorating field conditions as they only gained 20 rushing yards
in the second quarter. The Tigers would have to find some way to adjust.
fumble that was lost by Winnfield on the second half kickoff almost proved to be disastrous as the Tarpons recovered the ball
at the Tiger 29 yard line. However, the Tarpons returned the favor on the next play. After
that the two teams exchanged punts throughout the first half of the third quarter.
play of the night came on the Tarpons fifth punt return of the game. Tarpon return man Gerald Savoie caught
the ball at the South Lafourche 28-yard line and broke through the initial containment. He then bolted up the middle and got
to the Winnfield 31-yard line before he was downed; making that a return of 41 yards. There was a little over five minutes
showing on the third quarter clock. That would easily be the best starting point of any Tarpon series up to that point.
took three stabs at the line and netted only 4 yards to set up a fourth and six from the Tiger 27-yard line. On fourth down,
Tarpon quarterback Dwayne Galijour completed a 10-yard pass to Ivy Lasseigne to move the
ball to a first down at the Winnfield 17 yd. line. Three running plays gave the Tarpons just enough yards for another first
down, making it first and goal from the seven. Then, on first down, shifty running back Gerald Savoie ran
the ball into the end zone to give the Tarpons a 9-0 lead with 00:44 remaining in the third quarter. Foret
upped the lead to an even 10 points with his extra point kick. That was the widest deficit the Tigers had encountered all
Winnfield came into the game with a plan of passing the ball as much as possible. On a dry field, the Tigers would
have likely thrown the ball more than 30 times. The field conditions had cut that total in half. But, facing a 10-point deficit,
the Tigers had no choice but to open it up. Plus, for two weeks in a row the Tigers had come from behind in the fourth quarter
and on both occasions that comeback was orchestrated by the Tiger passing game.
the Tiger offense the best when they had to the most. That appeared to be happening yet again on the Tigers first possession
after the Tarpon touchdown. Key plays that included a 12 yard run by Keen on a draw play and a 19 yard pass
completion from Adams to Carter moved the ball to the Tarpon 44 yard line. Then a pass inference
call against the Tarpons moved the Tigers to a first down at the Tarpon 34. The Tigers were on the move.
After short gains on the next two plays Coach Payne went for it all on third down when he had Adams
throw to John C. Jones in the end zone. As the ball neared Jones the pass appeared to be
on target, but the ball sailed just off of his fingertips. On fourth down, Carter attempted a halfback pass
but that pass also fell incomplete. The Tigers gained 43 yards on the drive, the longest by either team on the night; but,
with 8:37 remaining in the contest the Tigers still trailed by ten points. A touchdown on that drive would have potentially
made the score 10-7 with plenty of time for the Tigers to find some way to get back onto the scoreboard.
took over and did exactly what they needed to do - run time off of the clock. Two first downs, coupled with a penalty against
the Tigers moved the Tarpons to the Winnfield 25-yard line. The Tiger defense held on three straight running plays and then
dropped Galijour for a 16-yard loss on fourth down to give the ball back over to the Tigers at the Winnfield
Winnfield took over with 3:30 remaining in the game. Simply put, the Tigers had to score on this series, and
for that matter, they had to score quickly. Again the Tiger offense moved the ball, first when
Adams completed a 23-yard pass to John Wayne Williams, and then when the Tarpons
were again flagged for pass interference to move the ball to the Tarpon 23. There was 2:11 showing on the clock. Adams
tossed the ball to Wagoner, but the ball bounced off of Wagoner’s hand and was intercepted
at the South Lafourche 7-yard line by Jack Dantin. It was at that point that the outcome of the game seemed
certain and tears started to flow.
Winnfield quickly got the ball back on a fumble recovery,
but the Tigers just as quickly turned the ball back over to South Lafourche on a bad exchange between quarterback and center
- the first time that had happened all season long. The Tarpons came in and ran two running plays for no gain and Galijour
was dropped for a 9-yard loss on third down. Several years later, Coach Joe Dosher relinquished his position
as head coach. When asked by an Enterprise reporter about his fondest memory as a head coach he said, "Probably
the most significant and memorable time in my career came in the 1971 season during the final six seconds of the state championship
game against South Lafourche. We were behind 10-0 with time running out and they had the ball. Every one of our players were
fighting and scrapping to get the ball. To me, that is the mark of true champions - never giving up until the final whistle
With 00:27 showing on the clock South Lafourche punted and the ball bounced off a Winnfield football player, which
South Lafourche recovered. The Tarpons came in and ran out the clock, handing Winnfield its first loss of the year.
that followed was a case of two extremes. The Tarpon faithful stormed the field, mobbed the players and attempted to tear
down the goal post, but no Winnfield player would see much of that. At the final horn, the players and coaches ran to the
dressing room, where the only sounds heard were a locker room full of sobbing football players.
was said in the dressing room except for occasional congratulatory remarks made by those supporters who were allowed in the
dressing room. Friends and family members greeted the players when they finally exited the dressing room, but it was one of
those times when words offered little relief.
When the Tigers filled the bus for the long ride home, the stadium lights shown on the deserted field. All the celebrations
had been carried to private homes and surrounding bars. Those players on the right side of the bus stared at the field as
the bus pulled out and soon everyone was asleep on the bus. When the bus pulled to a stop in Winnfield, the sun was just coming
up. The players collected their belongings and headed home. There would be no riding through the streets of Winnfield in celebration
of a state title like the players had planned. And, for the majority of the senior football players there would be no more
The biggest explanation for the loss was
no offense. And, the biggest explanation for no offense was the fact that the Tigers primary advantage (team speed) was negated
by the wet and muddy field. The Tigers were held to only six first downs, 29 yards rushing and 61 yards passing for only 90
yards in total offense. Turnovers also plagued the Tigers who gave up the ball once on an interception and three times on
fumbles. However, South Lafourche turned the ball over even more, giving up four fumbles and two interceptions. Though the
Tarpons offensive numbers weren’t that spectacular (135 yards rushing and 28 yards passing), they capitalized on one
drive and one good punt return to get both of their scores.
After a loss it is easy to speculate. The
biggest question mark will always be, ‘How would the Tigers have fared on a dry surface.’ It may very well be
that the much bigger Tarpon defense would have stopped the Tiger offense under any game condition. The Tiger defense certainly
played well enough for the team to win. The most frustrating aspect of the loss is that the Tigers didn’t get to use
their only advantage – that being their team speed on offense. On the other hand, in sports, like in life, you often
have to deliver at the moment you are called to and you only have one chance to do so. Though the Tigers had to contend with
the elements as much as they did the opposition in the title game, such was the case of pre-Superdome Classic state championship
games. The championship game and the 1971 season ended on ifs and buts and might-have-beens.
The 1971 loss
to South Lafourche was voted the most disappointing loss in school history by the fan poll taken 29 years later. That’s
because the team had taken the townsfolk on a thirteen-week trip through exciting punts returns, last minute touchdowns and
plays of every kind, as well as more wins than any other team had posted in a single season, only to have that end on a bitter
note. The loss was like a death to those closest to the program, requiring every bit the same grieving
process that a person must go through when facing the death of a person. In a season with so much good, it would be a mistake
to focus on the worst part.
wouldn’t do the season justice to break it down with numbers and statistics because the best that the season offered
was more than that. Suffice it to say that the team established new records in virtually every rushing, passing, scoring and
win category on both sides of the ball. What was more important was that the team drew the community together and placed a
giant stepping-stone in the Tiger football program. The season established a standard for future teams to shoot for. Just
one more win would have made the season as complete as a season can be, but by any standard the season was a resounding success.
The 1971 team combined talent with a driving will to win. The latter was most evident in the Haughton and
Hahnville games when the Tigers staged fourth quarter comebacks to keep the season going. No one left the South Lafourche
playing field thinking the Tigers hadn’t given it all, and that’s all you can ask of any football team. Those
individual players were positioned perfectly in all three phases of the game - the offense, the defense and the special teams.
The Tiger offense had weapons and enough versatility to give every defensive coordinator Winnfield faced worries.
Coach Payne had just the type of players he needed for his Pro-style offense. The offensive unit was later characterized
by quarterback Steve Adams as a finesse offense. “We were certainly not an over-powering offense,”
said Adams of the 1971 offensive unit. “We relied more on skill, speed, quickness and desire.”
Coach Payne said that his offense required “smart players”, rather than players who relied
on brute strength. The players fit the mold for that style of play. The offensive line only averaged a little over 170-pounds
a man and the team as a whole had no more than two players who weighed over 200 lbs. Adams described his
backfield mates as “explosive, good pass receivers and capable of scoring from anywhere.” In
Keen and Williams, the team had speed to burn and unprecedented quickness. Those two combined
to score 256 points during the season, 130 by Williams and 126 by Keen. Both shattered the
individual single-season scoring record of 69 points, as prior to 1971 only a hand full of players had ever scored more than
50 points in a season. To put Keen and Williams’ accomplishment in perspective, only
four Tiger teams had scored more than 250 points in a season, including the 1961(400), 1928 (385), 1969 (289) and
1960 (250). But, Winnfield’s scoring wasn’t a two-player affair, as 210 points were scored by 11 other players,
giving the team 13 players who scored points, the same number of players who had scored for the 1928 team and two short of
the total number who had scored for the 1961 team. As a team, the 1971 squad ended the season with a school record 466 points,
to break the school record by 66 points. To put that in perspective, only two teams prior to the 1971 season had ever scored
more than 300 points.
As prolific as the 1971 team’s offensive unit was (and it broke most offensive records), that phase of the team
was not nearly the strongest point of the team. Many teams practice their special teams so that they won’t make mistakes
in that phase of the game on Friday nights. In 1971, special team play became one of the team’s weapons in its own right.
All total, 9 kicks were returned for touchdowns, with the Tigers scoring on a kick return in all but one regular season game.
Prior to the 1971 season, the most single-season kick returns for a touchdown ever made by one team was two, that being done
by the 1948 team who returned one punt and one kickoff for a touchdown. When kick returns didn’t result in points for
the 1971 team they usually resulted in excellent field position. And, give the 1971 offense half a field to work with and
they usually capitalized. That is but one example how those two phases of the game complimented each other.
was strong and the teams’ kick return units were feared weapons, but those two phases of the game still weren’t
the phase of the Tiger team that gave opposing coaches the biggest obstacle to overcome. How to score on the 1971 Tigers was
the question coaches attempted to answer week after week and none found a satisfactory answer. Defensive coordinator Jerry
Bamburgh’s defensive team did their job better than any team who has ever suited up for the red and white.
one of the corner men of that defensive team described the unit like this. “We rarely blitzed. The inside linebacker
did occasionally, but the strong safety and cornerbacks never did. I think Coach Bamburg figured our people
were good enough to play it basic and get the job done.” And, get the job done they did. The 1971 defensive unit rewrote
every defensive record, most of which still stand today. Linebacker Lionel Johnson had one of the most prolific
years a defensive player has ever had at the school. He is credited with being in on 154 tackles and that’s just for
the regular season. If he averaged 15 tackles per game during the regular season and then played in four playoff games, it
is reasonable to assume that Johnson was in on close to 200 tackles. Only two other players have ever been
given credit for over 150 tackles in a season. Charles Poisso was the first who is credited with 174 tackles
during the 11-game 1967 season and Marcel Mills is the other. Mills was credited with 164
tackles in the 14-game 1982 season. The only other player who is known to have been in over more than 125 tackles in a season
is Lionel Johnson himself who is credited with 143 tackles for the 1972 season. So, Johnson
likely set the school record for tackles in a season during the 1971 season. What makes that especially spectacular is that
he did that while surrounded by a supporting cast of excellent defensive football players. On the other hand, in outstanding
defenses, linebackers are freer to do their job. Johnson is also the only defensive player who has ever recorded
two safeties in one season. For all of that, he was named the most outstanding defensive player in Class AAA and named to
the All-State and All-Prep teams.
The one thing opposing offensive units weren’t
going to do was run the football against Winnfield. Likewise, forget the long play against the 1971 unit. The pass rush was
too much and the coverage too good. Stewart added, “If I had been an offensive coordinator preparing
for the 1971 defensive unit I would have made me and Parker (cornerbacks) and Carter (safety)
play more man-to-man coverage.” Take away the long ball and the running game and all that leaves
is short passes out in the flat. That kind of offense requires the right kind of personnel and a whole lot of patience. Stewart
went on, “Of course, if that would have started happening (an offense chipping away at the Tiger defense), Coach
Bamburg would have had an answer, like more blitzing of the quarterback.” Plus, opposing
teams usually got behind so quickly against the Winnfield’s high scoring offense, making it difficult to “be patient”
against Winnfield. That was yet another example of how each phase of the Tiger team fed off of the accomplishments of the
other. The ‘71 offense didn’t feel like they had to score points, because they knew the defense was going
to shut everyone down. That relaxed attitude allowed the offensive unit to play a freer game than a unit who felt like they
had to outscore the opposition. Likewise, the offense knew that the punt return team was capable of scoring as well. So, when
opposing teams got behind and tried to open up their offenses, the Tiger defense feasted on a steady diet of interceptions
and pressure- induced turnovers. The defensive unit wrecked opposing team’s confidence and the offensive unit rubbed
salt in the wound by taking advantage of any subtle let down or the repeated great field position they got. Basically, opposing
teams couldn’t outscore the ‘71 offense, but, that didn’t really matter. They couldn’t score against
the defense anyway.
Offensive Coordinator Robert Charles Payne summed up one of the keys to the success of the 1971 team,
a “secret” that has been shared by other successful teams as well. He said, “I was trying to remember some
of the starters on the NLU team I was a part of when I was a freshman in college. I could not believe it, but I could not
name a single starter. So, I thought I would try to see if I could name the starters at Neville (High School) my senior year.
Well, low and behold, not only could I name the starters, but I could name every player on the squad. Bottom line: NLU went
2-8-0 my freshman year, while Neville went 14-0 my senior year. Do you win because you love each other or do you love each
other because you win? I think the answer is obvious.”
most impressive statistic related to the 1971 unit had nothing to do with offensive production, defensive prowess or special
team proficiency. The 1971 unit was the youngest team in the history of Tiger football to advance in the playoffs, if not
one of the youngest teams in the state to ever play for a state title. By the end of the century, the tactic of holding players
back in their middle school years so that they would be one year older than most other children once they reached varsity
level competition grew to a widespread practice. As a result, some of the teams who competed in Louisiana high school football
in the 1990s had a number of 18 and even 19 year old players on their starting unit. That gave those teams and those individual
players one or in some cases two more years to mature physically, emotionally and mentally. How many individuals have growth
spurts once they reach 18 or 19 years old? The answer is a lot. The 1971 team was the exception because
the 1971 team was a very young team. A young team is usually indicative of a team made up of underclassmen. It is an almost
certainty that a good high school football team needs a strong senior class. Ironically, the 1971 team had both the largest
senior class in the history of program and was one of the youngest team. In the case of the 1971 team, the starting 22 were
made up of 18 seniors and 4 underclassmen, so it was a senior-dominated team. The team had the most number of seniors on the
roster (22) and most number of senior starters ever fielded. However, there was not a single player on the team who began
the season more than 17 years old. In fact, most of the starters were 16 years old or younger when the season began. That
is because virtually none of the starting seniors had ever been held back and many had birthdays that fell late in the year.
The oldest starter on the team was Roy Cotton, who was 17 years old when the season began and didn’t
turn 18 until December of that same year. So, no player was 18 years old at any point in the season. Over half of the starters
turned 17 during the season or had just turned 17 before the season, while a handful of players were 16 or younger throughout
Likewise, there were essentially no transfer students that impacted the team. Every player on the team, save one, was
raised in Winnfield and had thus attended Winn Parish public schools all of their life. The only exception was James
Hutchins who moved to Winnfield during his elementary years when his father transferred in with the U. S. Forest
When the season ended, five Tigers were voted to the Class AAA All-State team. Five first team All-State players on
one football team was unprecedented in Winnfield football annals, as no previous Tiger team had ever had more than one first
team All-State player.
The 1971 Tiger team and the individuals who played on that team set numerous single-game, single-season or career records.
Some of the more notable records established during the 1971 season are listed below. In cases where one of those records
has been broken since the 1971 season, the current standing of that individual or team record is noted in parentheses.
Dosher concluded his first two seasons with a 19-5-0 record. That was the most wins any Tiger coach had gotten by
the end of their first two seasons. Prior to Coach Dosher, the best first two-year totals were posted by
Alwin Stokes (9-0-0) and Tommy Bankston (14-8-2). At the time Coach Dosher’s
19 wins was the fourth most by a Tiger head coach, just ahead of Ben Cameron and Emmett Cope
(both with 15 wins). Heading into the 1972 season, Coach Dosher needed 9 wins to tie Tommy Bankston,
who was in third place, but he had a ways to go to reach both Hoss Newman and Alwin Stokes
who each had over 40 wins as a Tiger coach.
Individual Records Set That Still Stand (as of 2012):
Punt Returns for TD (Season)
5 John Wayne Williams
for TD (Career)
6 John Wayne Williams
for TD (Season) 2
John Wayne Williams (tied by 2 others)
2 Lionel Johnson
175+ Lionel Johnson
TD's by 3 or More Means (Game)
John Wayne Williams
Touchdown Passes (Season) 24
Pass Completions (Season)
113 Steve Adams
Records Set That Have Since Been Broken (current position on all-time list):
14 Steve Adams (3rd)
228 Steve Adams (2nd)
Passing Yards (Season)
1,607 Steve Adams (2nd)
233 Steve Adams (2nd)
33 Steve Adams (2nd)
9 Greg Wagoner (2nd)
23 Jerry Keen (8th)
13 Jerry Keen (13th)
Jerry Keen (7th)
Total TD's (Game) 4
Jerry Keen & John Wayne Williams (8th)
Total TD's (Season)
21 John Wayne Williams (6th)
25 Jerry Keen (8th)
Extra Pt. Kicks
35 Jerry Keen (4th)
Extra Pt. Kicks
50 Jerry Keen (4th)
30 Jerry Keen (7th)
130 John Wayne Williams (5th)
207 Jerry Keen (4th)
3 Steve Adams (3 times)
3 John Wayne Williams (tied by two
9 John Wayne Williams (7th) T
Records Set That Still Stand (as of 2012):
Passing TDs (Season)
First Downs (Game)
31 vs. Leesville
First Downs (Season)
Punt Returns for TD
Kickoff Returns for TD
2 (tied by 4 others)
Qtrs. Held Opp. Scoreless
Comp. Allowed (RS)
Win Streak (Overall)
16 (tied in 1982-1983)
Records Set That Have Since Been Broken:
in a Season 13
Wins to start a season 13
Points Scored Season 466
Passing Yards (Season)
Total Touchdowns (Season)
Total Yards (Season)
Rushing Yds. Allowed (Gm) -25
vs. Peabody (3rd)
Rushing Yds. Allowed (RS)
Total Yds. Allowed (RS)
Post Season Honors:
WR, DB All-District, All-State (DB),
Lionel Johnson LB All-District,
All-State, All-Prep (M. V. Def. Player - AAA)
James Hutchins DE All-District,
John Wayne Williams RB All-District, (HM All- District
John C. Jones DB All-District
Steve Adams QB All-District
Eddie Jenkins C
Randy Strickland OT All-District,
(2nd Team LB)
Tucker Watts OG 2nd Team All-District
2nd Team All-District
Leonard Jones MG 2nd Team All-District
1972 (Overall - 9-2-0, *District
- 7-1-0) The headlines screamed it out
- "Rebuilding Year Faces '72 Tigers.” Any time team losses 21 lettermen, you figure that there
will be a lot of untested players the next year. That was the case heading into the 1972 season. Only seven lettermen returned
from the 1971 squad and only four of those had been starters the year before. The returning starters included Steve
Adams at quarterback and Hal Hickey in the offensive line. Adams shattered the school passing record
the season before, throwing for 24 touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. The only other returning letterman on the offensive side
of the ball was backup fullback Reynard Hamilton. The defense returned two starters in linebacker Lionel
Johnson and lineman James Johnson, but that was saying a mouthful. Lionel
Johnson had established himself as one of the school’s best defensive players of all-time the previous season
and that was rewarded when post season awards were handed out when Johnson was named the Outstanding Defensive Player in the
state in Class AAA. James Johnson was on the verge of the same type of season
. The team also had returning lettermen in linebacker Claude Smart and defensive back Mickey
Brewton. All of those players were seniors except Hickey, who was a junior.
Aside from the graduating seniors, offensive coordinator Robert
Charles Payne also departed after the 1971-1972 school year. The coaching staff that remained to
assist Coach Dosher was Jerry Bamburg, Chal Rascoe, Jerry T. Smith and new addition Mike
Tinnerello, quarterback at the school during the 1959 through 1961 seasons.
The good news was that Coach Dosher had 58 players out for football when summer drills ended.
Coach Dosher stated, "We have a bunch of bodies out there and we'll try to make football players out of them."
But, with only 13 seniors on the rosters Dosher knew he would have to play a lot of young and inexperienced
players, which is usually the formula for a trying season.
There was one thing that the 1972 team had in common with the 1971 team - relatively small linemen. Only four players on the team weighed in at over 200-pounds, with the biggest player being Martin Hutto,
a 220 lb. sophomore.
The team would
play the same exact schedule that had been played the season before and the Tigerswould
again compete in the nine-team District 3-AAA. Coach Dosher begged-off predicting an early-season favorite
in the district, but he pointed out that Natchitoches, Oakdale and Pineville were always tough.
When the Tigers ended summer two-a-days, Coach
Dosher spoke to the Rotary Club and he was a realist, stating "We don't have a solution for all our problems,
but we're optimistic.” The Tigers handed Jena a 14-8 defeat in the first annual Quarterback Club Jamboree, the first
jamboree game ever played in Winnfield.
By the time
the regular season began, Coach Dosher had settled on the following starting lineup:
Ronnie Crayton WR 5' 11" 155
Jr. James Johnson T
5' 11" 195 Sr.
6' 1" 170 Jr. Willie
Coleman T 5' 11'' 155
Phil Hoggard LG 5' 9"
170 Jr. Wilson Curry
E 6' 5" 205
Matt Milam C 5' 11"
165 Jr. Tommy Dowling E
6' 1" 185 Jr.
Hickey RG 5' 11" 190
Jr. Gary Jones
CB 5' 10" 170
Steve Williams RT 5' 11" 190
Jr. Rex Keiffer
CB 6" 2" 165
Glen Anderson WR 5' 10" 150 Soph.
Claude Smart LB 6' 5"
QB 5' 11"
165 Sr. Lionel Johnson LB 6'
2" 200 Sr.
Hamilton FB 6'
1" 185 Sr.
Charles Oliver HB 6' 2"
HB 5' 11"
170 Jr. Ronnie Johnson HB
6" 1" 180 Sr.
Robinson SB 6' 0"
185 Soph. Mickey Brewton S 5'
8" 155 Sr.
that the offense would have nine inexperienced underclassmen. In 1972, that was one of the biggest concerns of the coaching
staff. In contrast, the Tigers had seven seniors on the defense. So, the Tiger coaching staff pinned their hopes on the defense
getting the team through the first part of the season while the young offense developed. What was appealing about Coach
Dosher’s starting lineup is that it included 22 different players, so he did have some depth.
Coach Dosher knew he had a proven
talent in Adams at quarterback and he said so when he was quoted as saying that the Tigers would have to
throw the ball more than even the previous season. And, Reynard Hamilton gave the Tigers a dependable ball
carrier in the backfield, though he didn’t possess the breakaway speed that the Tigers lost with the departure of
Jerry Keen and John Wayne Williams. Crayton and Anderson had both
shown promise on the junior varsity level. But, the biggest question mark of the offense and the team as a whole was the offensive
line. For Adams to complete passes he would have to have time to throw the ball and for Hamilton
to get anywhere on the ground he would have to have holes to run through. Whether the Tigers young line could provide that
would go a long way in determining what kind of season the team had.
Winnfield traveled to Webster of Minden to open the season, carrying a preseason ranking of No. 7 with them. Young
teams need early success, so like all opening games of the year, this one came with an air of importance, and maybe more so
the game by taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field, but the Tiger defense stiffened at the Winnfield 13. That
would be the furthest penetration the Wolves would make until late in the fourth quarter.
The Tiger offense posted four first half touchdowns, with the first three coming on runs by Reynard Hamilton
(5 yards) and Roosevelt Robinson (7 & 19 yards). Then, just before the halftime
intermission the 1972 team picked up where the 1971 left off when Ronnie Crayton, took a punt and
raced 63 yards for a touchdown. The 1971 team had set a school record with seven punt returns for touchdowns. After the punt
return Rowell’s kick made the score 28-0 and the game was over for all practical purposes.
That kind of scoring production
was not anticipated in the opening game, much less the opening half. Plus, the defense was exceeding everyone’s expectation.
When Webster went in at halftime, they had only made one first down, hadn’t completed a pass, and had gained less than
20 total yards.
tacked on a fourth quarter touchdown when Pat Hemphill was on the receiving end of a Steve Adams
pass good for a touchdown. Rowell converted his third extra point of the night to close out all scoring at
It was a complete
team victory. The Tiger offense, who entered the game with so many question marks, passed their first test. That unit gained
212 yards rushing and 72 yards passing for a total of 284 yards. They put four touchdowns on the board and at times gained
yardage in huge chunks.
defense, meanwhile, completely shut down Webster. The Wolves ended the night with only 45 total yards, with all of that coming
on the ground. Webster's had trouble holding on to the football all night long. The Wolves fumbled 8 times and lost 6 of those,
with Winnfield converting three of those fumbles into touchdowns. What pleased the coaching staff even more is that they got
that kind of defensive performance without the services of two of their expected starters. Both James Johnson
and Claude Smart missed the opening game. Smart was still healing a broken hand he received
in summer practice and Johnson sustained a separated shoulder before the season started. So, the Tiger defense
would only get better with their return.
opened district play the following week against Leesville and they would do so on the road. The game would also provide Tiger
fans with two individual records. The Wampus Cats didn't figure to be one of the stronger teams in the district, but Coach
Dosher always respected every opponent. He summed up the match-up this way in an Enterprise interview, "Leesville
and Winnfield are just alike. We are both rebuilding."
In fact, Leesville took an early 7-0 lead, but the Tigers scored on their next series when Adams hit
Glen Anderson with a 53-yard scoring bomb. The game then slowed to a crawl until midway through the second
quarter. That all started when Winnfield fumbled near their own goal line, but the Tiger defense stiffened, prompting Leesville
to attempt an 18-yard field goal, which they made. When the Tigers got the ball back they put together a sustained drive,
capped by an 8-yard scoring toss from Adams to Mike Lewis. That gave the Tigers a 14-10
lead; a lead they wouldn't surrender the rest of the game.
Just before the half, the Tiger defense pinned Leesville against their own goal and forced them to punt from just outside
the goal line. Tiger speedster Mike Lewis hauled the punt in at the Tiger 45 and raced 55 yards for a touchdown.
Rowell added the extra point to make it 21-10 at the half. Lewis' punt return extended a
remarkable string of six-straight regular season games that the Tiger program had returned a punt for a touchdown. In fact,
the Tigers had scored on some sort of kick return in 9 straight regular season games, dating back to the Jonesboro-Hodge game
the previous season. From the opening game of the 1971 season to the second game of the 1972 season, there had only been one
game (vs. Tioga in 1971) where there hadn't been a kick return for a touchdown. So, counting the Leesville game,
the Tiger program had scored a touchdown by kick return in 11 of 12 games over the 1971 and 1972 seasons.
Nothing much happened in the third quarter, but Adams threw two more touchdown passes
in the fourth quarter. Both of those passes were to Glen Anderson, with the first covering 42 yards and the
second being a 32-yarder. That gave Adams four touchdown tosses for the night, making him the first Tiger
quarterback to accomplish that feat. Adams hit on 7 of 27 passes for 196 yards. That was the most pass attempts
by a Tiger quarterback in a game and the 196 yards was the third highest individual passing yards in school history. Anderson
made the record books also, joining David Harper and John Wayne Williams as the only receivers
to catch three touchdown passes in a single game.
In the end, Winnfield defeated Leesville 35-10 to open up district play with a win. Like the season before, the Tigers
won the opening two games of the season with impressive performances on both sides of the ball. There was one other similarity
between the 1972 and 1971 seasons. The biggest game of the year in the district was shaping up to be the Winnfield - Natchitoches
game. Natchitoches opened their season with two wins as well and was ranked in the top five of the Class AAA poll. But, Winnfield
couldn't afford to be looking ahead to Natchitoches. They still had games against Tioga and Jonesboro-Hodge to be played before
they entertained Natchitoches.
had surprised nearly everyone by scoring 70 points in the opening two games. In scoring ten touchdowns in two games, the Tigers
were showing a lot of versatility. Five of the ten touchdowns had come through the air, two had come on punt returns and the
remaining three came by rush. Winnfield's defense had set up three of those touchdowns with the recovery of fumbles near the
opposition’s goal line. The offense was playing a brand of football that no one expected that early
in the season, but it wouldn't last. In the third game of the year, the Tiger offense looked like they hadn't been on the
field all season. The Tioga game was marked with one penalty after another, dropped passes and fumbles. Most of the 110 penalty
yards the Tigers got in the game came in the first half. The Tiger defense, was shutting town Tioga, however,
so when the first half ended the score was deadlocked at 0-0. Tioga only gained one first down in the opening
two quarters and barely got any offense going at all, ending the half with only 32 total yards - all on the ground.
The Tiger offense settled down long enough midway
through the third quarter to put together back-to-back scoring drives. The first covered 54-yards and was capped by a six
yard keeper by Adams right over Matt Milam, his center. Rowell's kick made
the score 7-0. The next drive covered 91 yards and 15 plays, with most of those plays being made by Hamilton
from the fullback position, including a 1-yard plunge to cap the drive. Rowell tacked on the extra point
to end all scoring at 14-0.
"won ugly" but there is no designation in the won/loss column for those kinds of wins. The Tigers practically ran
up and down the field against Tioga, getting 244 yards rushing and 83 yards passing for 327 total yards. But, the Tigers fumbled
the ball five times and lost four of those. They also had one pass intercepted and picked up 10 penalties for 110 yards to
effectively stop themselves.
defense did more than keep Tioga off the scoreboard. In posting their second shutout of the young season, the Tiger defense
held their third consecutive opponent to under 100 total yards. Tioga got 66 yards on the ground and didn't complete a pass
in five attempts. In three games, the Tiger defense had only given up 28 yards through the air and 171 yards on the ground.
What was equally impressive was the fact that the Tiger defense had only allowed 12 total first downs in those first three
games, a total that most teams get in one game. Finally, the program had gone 21 consecutive games without giving up a touchdown
through the air.
their second district win, Winnfield stayed tied with Natchitoches and Peabody for the lead in the district race. All three
had 2-0-0 marks in district play and were the only teams in the district with undefeated records at that point in the season.
That logjam would be broken in the fourth week of the season as Natchitoches played Peabody. Winnfield entertained non-district
rival Jonesboro-Hodge the same night and had to keep from looking past the Jackson parish Tigers to Natchitoches, Winnfield's
next district opponent. That usually wasn’t a problem when Winnfield played Jonesboro. Winnfield headed into the fourth
week of play ranked fourth in Class AAA, while Natchitoches maintained the number two slot.
When the 1972 version of the Winnfield - Jonesboro-Hodge
game began, the skies over Stokes-Walker stadium were dark and threatening. That's because the area was under
a severe thunderstorm watch for the evening. The Tiger offense got going about the time the rains hit. With only five minutes
showing in the first half, the Tigers marched half the field on a series of passes to finally break into the scoring column,
with Reynard Hamilton getting the final yard of the drive. Rowell booted the extra point
to give Winnfield a 7-0 lead, which they took into halftime.
With the way the Tiger defense was playing that
seemed like enough points, but the Tigers got some insurance points in the second half when Charles Oliver
became the third Tiger return man to a punt the distance. His return went 63 yards and though the PAT was
missed the 13-0 lead Winnfield had seemed very secure because of the wall Winnfield was putting up on defense and the deluge
that fell throughout the second half. Up to that point in the game, Jonesboro-Hodge had not made a single first down, let
alone move into Winnfield territory.
Winnfield tacked on a third touchdown early in the fourth quarter to take a 19-0 lead, and soon thereafter the referees
ended the game early because of dangerous lightening that had made its way to the north side of Winnfield. The game was called
with 10:15 remaining on the clock but the outcome of this game was settled much earlier.
Through basically three quarters of play the Winnfield defense forced 10 punts and only allowed Jonesboro-Hodge 1 first
down, 4 yards rushing and 21 yards passing. The 10 punts were the most punts a Tiger defense had ever forced, breaking the
old record of 9 set jut two seasons earlier. That total could have obviously been more had the game lasted a regulation amount
of time. The 25 total yards allowed by the defense was 1 yard short of the school record for fewest total yards allowed.
The first four games of the 1972 season were
the most impressive display of defense ever shown at the opening of a season. In those four games, the Tiger defense had shutout
two opponents and only allowed 13 first downs, 175 yards rushing and 49 yards passing for a total of 224 yards. You don't
have to do much else on the football field to win games when you play that kind of defense.
The Tigers moved to 4-0-0 for the season with the win
over Jonesboro-Hodge and extended the school's regular season win streak to 17 games, the longest in school history. Natchitoches
knocked off Peabody 28-14 to set up the game of the year in District 3-AAA for the second consecutive year. The Chiefs and
the Tigers were the only two teams in the district with untied, undefeated records. Jena was in third place in the district
with a 1-0-1 record and Peabody was right behind with a 1-1-0 record. Winnfield's playoffs hopes would be decided the next
two weeks as the Tigers played Natchitoches and Peabody in back-to-back games. By all indications, the district champion and
runner-up slots would be decided by those two games.
It was only
the midpoint of the season, but Winnfield had reached that point of the season that all good seasons bring you to. All good
seasons have a game that “makes or breaks” a season - and, a game that “characterizes”
the season. The Natchitoches game, for the fourth season in a row, was that game. In 1969, the Tigers met Natchitoches in
a non-district game and went down to a defeat that would mark the beginning of a three game losing streak. Natchitoches went
on to win the Class AA state title that year. Winnfield came back the next year with hopes of avenging that loss, but dropped
a close 7-6 decision, with the lone Natchitoches touchdown coming on an interception return for a touchdown. That loss effectively
kept the Tigers from sharing in the district crown. Then, the 1971 team finally got over the hump, breaking Natchitoches’
backs with two long touchdown runs, one on a punt return just before half and the other on a 75-yard John Wayne Williams
dash in the third quarter. So, recent Winnfield - Natchitoches games had been exciting and decisive. During that four-year
span, Natchitoches was 35-6-0 overall, while Winnfield was 29-8-1.
Winnfield came into the game with an 11-game home win streak. That was the longest home win streak since the 13 consecutive
wins posted between 1927 and 1929. The only other home win streak of any length since the 1920s was the 7-game win streak
posted between 1960 and 1961.
the Jonesboro-Hodge game, it was a clear night and that bode well for both teams’ offenses. Natchitoches was led at
quarterback by three-year starter Stuart Wright. He was the second team All-District quarterback
the season before behind Adams, and was off to another good year. He was a dangerous passer, but he hadn’t
had his best games against Winnfield. As a sophomore he was 0 for 7 and during his junior year he completed 1 of 8 passes
and threw two interceptions; one each to Alan Carter and Bill Stewart. So
Wright into the Winnfield game with a career 15/1/2 passing record for only 5 total yards against Winnfield.
Wright was still a weapon but
he wasn’t the only weapon the Chiefs had. Halfback Perry Joe Gibson and fullback Jimmy Oliphant
provided Natchitoches a one-two punch in the backfield. Natchitoches had only given up four touchdowns for the season, so
they had earned their No. 2 Class AAA ranking with a solid defense and an offense averaging just under 28 pts. per game. Heading
into the fifth week of the season, Richwood maintained the No. 1 slot in the Class AAA polls, a position they had held all
year, and Redemptorist was ranked third, between Natchitoches and Winnfield.
Like the most recent two games, throughout the first half it was the respective defensive units and punters that dominated
the game. Late in the first quarter, Natchitoches appeared to gain the edge in the field position battle when they pinned
the Tigers at the 4-yard line on a well-placed punt. Then, the Chiefs got the break they were playing for. The Tigers fumbled
on second down and Natchitoches recovered on the Tiger 7-yard line. Winnfield’s defense held tight for two downs, but
Natchitoches scored on third down to take an early 6-0 lead. The point-after attempt was no good.
The Tigers put together a good drive on their next possession,
getting into Chief territory as the first quarter clock was winding down. Then, disaster struck again for the Tigers. Natchitoches
intercepted an Adams pass and returned it to the Tiger 25-yard line. Then, two plays later, Oliphant
broke through the middle for the Chiefs second touchdown in a three minutes time. Wright converted on the
extra point attempt this time, giving the Chiefs a 13-0 lead with 2:05 showing in the first half. Winnfield could have gotten down at that point, but the Tigers had a weapon that
had gotten them a touchdown in virtually every regular season game during the past two years - the kick return. In
fact, you didn’t have to ask any other team about the Tiger punt return unit because it had been an 82-yard punt return
for a touchdown the year before that thrust Winnfield into the lead
After the second Natchitoches touchdown, Ronnie Crayton fielded the ensuing kickoff
and headed for the sidelines, drawing the Natchitoches pursuit toward him. He was met by a criss crossing Charles
Oliver, who he handed off to at the Tiger 15-yard line. Oliver turned on the after-burners and set
sail for an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to get Winnfield right back in the football game. Oliver's
return matched the fourth longest kickoff return in school history, matching Jackie Givens (vs. Leesville
-1946) and Randy Poisso (vs. Winnsboro - 1968), who both made 85-yard kickoff returns. The two longest kickoff
returns had been made by Givens (95 yds. vs. St. Mary's - 1945) and John Harrington (92
yds. vs. Jena - 1955). Rowell converted the extra point kick after Oliver's touchdown to
make the score 13-7. With three quarters to play, it was still anybody’s’ ball game. Oliver’s
kick return extended the programs string of regular season game kick returns for a touchdown to twelve straight games and
fourteen of fifteen games.
received a gift on their kickoff to the Chiefs when the Natchitoches return men inexplicably failed to cover the kick. The
Tigers recovered the football at the Natchitoches 25-yard line and the dizzying momentum shift gave Winnfield a golden opportunity
to not only get back in the game, but also to take the lead as they were successful in covering the kick. But, the Tigers
didn't advance the ball at all, as three Adams passes fell incomplete and a fourth down conversion attempt
failed. In the first half Natchitoches had
capitalized on two Tiger turnovers, while Winnfield had come up short when they gained the ball deep in Natchitoches territory.
They would get another gift early in the third quarter when Tommy Dowling fell on a Chief fumble
at the Natchitoches 27. On first down, Adams bootlegged around the left end for a 14-yard gain down to the
Natchitoches 13, but the ball was jarred loose just as Adams was hit and Natchitoches recovered.
That became the deepest penetration Winnfield
would make in the second half. As a result they never were able to make up the 6-point halftime deficit. In fact, neither
team scored in the second half, as Natchitoches made their 13-7 halftime lead stand up.
The game was essentially won by the Natchitoches defensive unit whose two takeaways led to both Chief touchdowns.
Likewise, once the Tigers got inside the 20, the Chief defensive unit simply shut down the Tiger offense. In close
games, the team who makes the fewest mistakes usually win. Winnfield had five turnovers and Natchitoches had four.
The Tigers had trouble moving the ball all game
long. For the night, the Tigers only picked up 54 yards on the ground and 60 yards in the air. That was the lowest rushing
total for a regular season game in over five years. Adams was 4 of 14 and had two interceptions, but that
was a better night than Stuart Wright had. He was 0 for 4 with two interceptions, ending his career against
Winnfield by completing 1 pass in 19 attempts and throwing four interceptions in three games.
With the win, Natchitoches moved into sole possession of first
place in the district with a 3-0-0 mark, followed by Jena at 3-0-1 in second, Leesville in third with a 3-1-0 mark and Winnfield
in fourth at 2-1-0. Peabody, the Tigers next opponent had dropped to 1-1-1 in the district. That marked the first time Winnfield
hadn’t been in first place in a district race in two years. The loss also snapped the program’s regular win streak
at 17 games.
Tiger offense spoiled everybody by opening the season with two impressive performances. In those games, the Tigers played
relatively error-free ball on offense. Since then, the Tiger offense has been error-prone as they had turned the ball on fourteen
times in three games.
If the Tigers were going to have any chance at making
the playoffs, they would have to cut back on those kinds of mistakes and would likely have to win their remaining games. First
up would be Peabody, an opponent the Tigers were expected to defeat. Above all, Coach Dosher wanted a clean
game against Peabody, but we don't always get what we want.
The start of the game was filled with one turnover after another. Lionel Johnson intercepted the ball
on the very first play of the game to give the Tigers the ball at the Peabody 38-yard line. However, on second down the Tigers
fumbled the ball back over to Peabody on second down. The next time the Tigers got the back they worked the ball to the Peabody
6-yard line, where Adams was intercepted in the end zone to end that drive. Another Tiger fumble just before
the half gave Peabody the ball at the Tiger 18 and except for a staunch Tiger defense Peabody could have taken the lead.
As it were, the score remained tied at 0-0 as the two teams broke for intermission.
A turnover would decide this game and that turnover came in the third quarter Charles Oliver made
the play of the game when he stepped in front of a Peabody pass near the Peabody 20 yard line and returned it to the Peabody
4-yard line with 1:13 showing on the third quarter clock. Three plays later Hamilton
blew through a hole opened by Hickey and tackle Lionel Johnson to give
the Tigers a 7-0 lead. That would be the only score of the night.
got 124 yards rushing and only 28 yards in the air. Give this win to the Tiger defense. They held Peabody to minus eight yards
rushing and 109 yards in the air. Peabody only had the ball inside the Winnfield 20-yard line once. In two years time, Peabody
had netted -25 and -8 yards rushing against Winnfield, for a total of -33 yards.
Any bad taste Tiger fans had in their mouth about the less than impressive win was quickly changed the next morning
when they read the results from around District 3-AAA from the night before. Menard, Winnfield's next opponent, knocked off
Natchitoches by a score of 6-0 and Leesville defeated second place Jena. That made a horserace out of the district finish.
Four teams had one loss in district play, including Leesville, Natchitoches, Winnfield and Jena. Of those, Leesville moved
to first place in the district with their four wins, while the others had three wins. Jena also had one tie on their district
mark. Remarkably, Menard got only their second win of the season against Natchitoches, improving their overall record to 2-4-0
and their district mark to 2-2-0. Rounding out the district standings were Peabody (1-2-1), Tioga (2-3-0), Pineville (1-3-1)
and Oakdale (0-4-0)
When Winnfield prepared for Menard it was their poor showing during the season that was somewhat of a surprise. Against
Natchitoches the Eagles had out gained Natchitoches 260 to 73 in total yards. But, Menard wasn’t
all offense. They held Natchitoches to only 5 first downs and kept the Chiefs off the scoreboard.
Menard scored two first half touchdowns, almost literally on
the first and last plays of the half. The Eagles did score on the first play from scrimmage when
they intercepted an Adams pass and ran it back 36 yards for a score. Then, with forty-five seconds to go
in the half Eagle quarterback Wayne Mathews’ threw a 17-yard touchdown pass. That broke a streak of
24-straight games that the starting defensive units of the Tiger football program had gone without giving up a touchdown pass;
though the sophomore unit gave up a TD pass in the 10th game of the 1971 season. Ironically, the last team to score a touchdown
pass against a starting Tiger defensive unit was the 1970 Menard team. Menard’s second touchdown
gave them a 13-12 lead, as Winnfield had scored earlier in the half on a 77-yard pass completion from Adams
to Anderson and a 1-yard run by Hamilton which culminated an 80-yard drive. At the time
the 77-yard pass for the touchdown was the third longest pass completion for a touchdown in school history up to that point.
Brooks Broussard and Dale Reeves held the school record with the famous 80-yard pass on
the last play of the Neville game in 1955 and the Alan Carter to Robbie Richards 78 yd.
touchdown pass during the 1969 Ferriday game was the second longest.
The second half belonged to Winnfield as the Tigers first capitalized on a fumble recovery at the Eagle 31 yard line
when they mounted a short drive to take an 18-13 lead. Then the Tigers put together a long drive, with
virtually all of the yards coming on the ground, to up their lead to 25-13. That closed out the scoring.
The Tigers ripped the Menard defense for 302 total yards. That was the same defense that had held Natchitoches to under
100 total yards. The Tigers got 191 yards on the ground and 111 yards through the air. The Tiger defense shut down the Menard
attack, limiting the Eagles to 32 yards rushing and 99 yards through the air. Winnfield converted Mickey
Brewton's fumble recovery and interception into second half touchdowns to overcome a 13-12 deficit at halftime.
The topsy-turvy District 3-AAA race took another
turn after week seven. Winnfield moved back into a tie with Natchitoches for first place, with both holding a 4-1 record in
district play. Peabody dropped Leesville from the lead in the district with a 6-0 win. In four weeks time Winnfield had gone
from a tie for first, to fourth, to second and back into a tie for first. Such was life in District 3-AAA during the early
Winnfield got a breather
following the Menard game as they faced a winless Oakdale Warrior team. Coach Dosher didn't
need much help in convincing the Tigers of how dangerous Oakdale could be because he had the Natchitoches 14 Oakdale 7 score
from the previous week to show his troops that Oakdale was a team capable of playing with the best in the district.
However, Winnfield clicked on both sides of the
ball in posting a relatively easy 42-0 win. The Tigers took a 14-0 lead at the half, but Ronnie Crayton excited
the Tiger crowd by returning the second half kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. That was the second longest kickoff return
in school history, being 2 yards shy of Jackie Givens' 95-yarder that came during the 1945 season. That gave
the team five kick returns for touchdowns during the season; three on punt returns and two on kickoffs. Only two teams, including
the 1971 team (9) and the 1982 team (6) have ever returned more kicks for touchdowns.
The Tigers scored once more in the third and two times in the
fourth to account for their fifth, sixth and seventh touchdowns. Crayton almost got his second touchdown
by return of the half when he sprinted into the end zone on a punt return, but, the dreaded yellow flag called the play back
after the Tigers were penalized for clipping.
It was a night of good individual performances as well as outstanding team play. The Tiger defense held Oakdale to
only 4 first downs and 84 total yards. Oakdale ended 7 of their possessions with punts, one with an interception, and two
others with fumbles. The defense posted their fifth shutout in eight games. That was the 11th shutout in the past 18 regular
season football games. And, if you go all the way back to the start of the 1970 season (a period covering 28 football games),
Winnfield had either shutout or given up only one touchdown to 21 of those 28 opponents.
But, it was a night for Tiger offense as well. Reynard
Hamilton had the best night a Tiger back had had in years when he carried the ball 19 times for 168 yards to pace
the Tiger 282 yard rushing attack. By kicking 6 of 6 extra points, Rowell had the second best kicking night
any Tiger kicker ever had. Steve Stroud booted 7 of 7 kicks against Jena in the 1966 season and Jerry
Keen also kicked 6 of 6 kicks against Menard the season before.
With two games to go in the district race, Natchitoches and Winnfield remained tied with 5-1-0 marks. Right behind
were the Jena Giants with a 4-1-1 district mark and Leesville with a 5-2-0 district record. Every other team had at least
three losses in district play.
the next to last game of the regular season, Jena had a chance to make things interesting in District 3-AAA because the Giants
played Natchitoches and Winnfield in consecutive weeks. Winnfield could take-over first place in the district with a win over
Pineville, their next to last opponent and a win by Jena over Natchitoches. The only part of that equation that Winnfield
had any control over was their play against the Pineville Rebels. In The Winn Parish Enterprise, Coach Dosher
cautioned that "On any given night, any 3-AAA team can beat any other 3-AAA team." During the
1972 season, that axiom had been proven to be true more times than once, as Menard had knocked off Natchitoches and both Peabody
and Oakdale had played the Chiefs close. Peabody also came within a touchdown of defeating the Tigers. Despite their dismal
record, Pineville had only lost to Natchitoches by a 28-12 margin in a game in which the Rebels filled the air with 30 pass
attempts, 13 of which they connected on for 211 yards.
Playing the "what-if" game, if both Winnfield and Natchitoches lost in the ninth game of the season, Jena
would move into first place with a 5-1-1 record. That would leave Leesville, Natchitoches and Winnfield tied at second with
5-2-0 records. Leesville played a non-district opponent in the ninth week and squared off against Natchitoches in the final
week, the same night Jena and Winnfield faced each other. So, the district race was anything but settled.
The program had its first chance at back-to-back playoff berths
since the 1967-1968 season with a win in the final two games of the season. That would take a win over Jena in the season
finale, but the Tigers first had to get past Pineville.
Winnfield traveled to Pineville to take on the Rebels on a field soaked by daylong rains. There was still a drizzle
falling at game time so Winnfield would have to contend with both the Rebels and the elements. In the end, Winnfield got all
of the points they needed in the first half as the Tigers scored once in each of the first two quarters on a short run by
Hamilton and a keeper by Adams. The first score came on the tail-end of an 80-yard drive
and the second score was set up by a fumble recovery by Willie Coleman at the Tiger 48-yard line, which was
followed by a 47-yard pass from Adams tot Ronnie Johnson which set up Adams’
run. In the end Winnfield prevailed in a 14-0 win.
For the game,
Winnfield limited Pineville to a minus twelve yards rushing and 130 yards in the air. Pineville completed 13 of 27 passes,
but all of that went for naught as the Tigers recorded their sixth shutout of the season in nine games. Winnfield’s
offense found the going tough on the soggy field, getting 148 yards rushing and 47 yards passing. Coach Dosher
singled out Willie Coleman and Johnson for their play on the defensive line and Matt
Milam, Phil Hoggard and Charles Davis for their play on the offensive line.
The district race got a little clearer after
the ninth week of the season. Natchitoches defeated Jena 19-0 to drop the Giants to 4-2-1. The Winnfield and Natchitoches
wins moved their district leading records to 6-1-0 and Leesville lurked right behind at 5-2-0. The Tigers could assure themselves
of at least a tie for the district crown with a win over Jena. If the Tigers won, they still had a shot at an outright district
title if Leesville defeated Natchitoches. But, if the Tigers lost to Jena any number of possibilities loomed. Should the Tigers
lose and Natchitoches win, the Tigers would come in second because Leesville would have a 5-3-0 record and Jena would have
a 4-2-1 record. However, if the Tigers lost and Natchitoches lost, the district would end in a three-way tie between Winnfield,
Natchitoches and Leesville. In that scenario, the two representatives to the state playoffs would be decided by nothing more
sophisticated than a coin toss.
didn’t want the flip of a coin to determine whether they gained a playoff slot. There was one way to assure that didn’t
happen - beat Jena. Winnfield’s only shot at a district title would be a Leesville win over Natchitoches coupled with
a Tiger win over Jena. Natchitoches ended that possibility when they beat Leesville in a Thursday night game. Therefore, the
Tigers headed into the Jena game knowing they had to defeat Jena to gain a share of the crown. But, Natchitoches’ victory
over Leesville assured that Natchitoches and Winnfield would represent the district in the playoffs. Since Natchitoches had
defeated Winnfield, the Chiefs would get the nod as the first place team no matter if Winnfield beat Jena or not.
The Giants were a formidable opponent. Though
they were coming off back-to-back losing seasons, Jena was 6-2-1 heading into the final week of the season. The Giants had
played Natchitoches neck and neck until late in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs got a touchdown on a sustained drive. Then,
Natchitoches scored two more touchdowns on interceptions to take a 19-0 decision over Jena.
Against Winnfield Jena took a 7-0
lead in the first quarter, but the Tiger defense turned the game around with turnovers in the first half. Rex Keiffer
scooped up a Giant fumble and ran 22 yards for the Tigers first touchdown, then, Wilson Curry fell on a fumble
in the second quarter at the Jena 35, after which the Tigers scored in only three plays, with the drive capped by a 4-yard
run by Reynard Hamilton. Rowell made true on both of his conversion attempt to make the
On the ensuing
kickoff, Winnfield appeared to have Jena return man Derrick Lee hemmed up, but he broke free of the initial
containment and scored on an 80-yard return. Momentum shows no partiality, so just like that Jena got back in the game. The
Giants converted on the extra point kick to make it 14-14 with just over five minutes to go in the half.
In the closing two minutes of the half the two teams exchanged
the ball in a dizzying series of turnovers that began with a Mickey Brewton interception of a pass at the
Jena 49. Two plays after Brewton’s interception, Jena linebacker Dave Crawford picked
off an Adams pass and returned it to the Winnfield 38-yard line with just over a minute to go in the first
half. Jena then scored on a 20-yard pass with only five seconds remaining on the clock. Jena’s enthusiasm was hardly
dimmed when they failed to convert on the extra point and headed to the locker room with a 20-14 lead.
The back and forth nature of this game continued in the third
quarter, first when Winnfield regained a 21-20 lead when Hamilton followed pulling-guard
Claude Smart into the end zone for a score from five yards out. Jena answered on their next series by moving the
length of the field on a drive aided by two personal fouls against Winnfield. The Giants scored from the four to take a 26-21
lead. That was the fifth lead chance of the game. The Giants went for two on the ensuing conversion and failed leaving the
score 26-21 at the end of the third quarter.
After an exchange
of punts, Winnfield took possession at the Tiger 41-yard line. On first down, Adams went to his favorite
target, Glen Anderson, and the move paid off in a big way. Anderson caught the ball in the
flat and broke free for a 31-yard gain to the Jena 22-yard line. The two teams had been sparring at each other all game long,
with late hits setting up the previous Jena score. This time it would be Jena who drew a penalty when they were flagged for
a late hit at the end of Anderson’s run. That moved the ball to the Giant 13-yard line. After three
plays, Winnfield faced a fourth an inches from the Jena 3-yard line. Adams got the call on fourth down and
he sprung into the end zone behind a block made by guard Hal Hickey for the go-ahead touchdown. Rowell
upped the lead by one more point when he kicked his fourth PAT of the night to give the Tigers a 28-26 lead. There was still
over eight minutes to go in this game so no lead was safe.
Jena got some meaningless yards on their next drive, but they failed to make a third down conversion near midfield
and elected to punt to Winnfield at the 4:28 mark, hoping for a turnover or another stop by their defense. The Tiger offense
would give them neither as they kept the ball the remainder of the game to secure a co-championship.
The final statistics showed just how close the game was. Winnfield
out gained Jena in first downs by a 14-13 margin and in both rushing yards (169 to 106) and passing yards (86 to 70). Both
teams punted three times, both teams threw one interception and both team fumbled the ball twice. It was a game that either
team could have won, but it was Winnfield who did the little things to win, if converting extra point kicks is ever considered
a “little thing.”
The 1972 Tiger team finished the regular season with a 9-1-0 (.900) record, which tied them with the 1923 and 1928
teams for the fourth-best regular season winning percentage. The 1919 (7-0-0), 1961 (11-0-0) and 1971 (10-0-0) teams were
the only teams with a better record. The 9 wins of the 1972 season was tied for third-most single-season wins in school history,
matching the nine win regular seasons of 1923, 1928, 1948 and 1966 teams and trailing the 11 wins of the 1961 season and the
13 wins of the 1971 season.
offense ended the regular season with 1,430 yards rushing and 867 yards passing. That gave them 2,297 total yards. Those rushing
and passing marks were the fifth highest in school history at the time and the total yardage was sixth highest. The main factor
that kept the Tiger offense from getting more yardage was their propensity to turn the ball over. For the season, the Tiger
offense gave up the ball 9 times on interceptions and 20 times on fumbles. At the time, that was the most fumbles by a Tiger
team in a single season and the second most interceptions ever thrown.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tiger eleven put up impressive numbers that rank the 1972 defense among the
best that have ever played at the school and marked the third season in a row that had happened. In the ten-game regular season
the defense gave up 604 yards on the ground, which was only 12 yards more than the school record set just one season earlier.
For the third straight year, the Tiger defense limited the opposition to under 500 yard passing, as the 1972 team ended the
regular season with 485 yards passing yards allowed. Overall, the Tiger defense limited their ten opponents to just 1,060
total yards, which was 35 more yards than the 1971 defense allowed. The 1972 teams total is the second lowest total yards
allowed in the regular season. All season long, the Tiger defense seemed to follow every Tiger turnover with a turnover of
their own. For the season, the Tiger defense recovered 20 fumbles and intercepted 10 passes.
The squad became the 9th team in school history to score more
than 200 points by scoring 226 for the regular season. At the time, those 226 points were the 7th highest in school history,
right ahead of the 1919 (220) and 1966 (202) team totals. But again, it was the defensive against scoring that was the most
impressive number. The defense only allowed 66 points during the regular season. Even by the end of the century, that was
the sixth lowest total points allowed during the regular season, only surpassed by the 1919 (0), 1925 (7), 1971 (35), 1925
(51) and 1940 (63) teams. Finally, at the time, the 160-point differential (the difference between the total points scored
and points allowed) was the fifth highest in school history, exceeded only by the points differentials of the following teams:
1971 (363), 1961 (329), 1923 (229) and 1919 (220).
the team was the co-champion of District 3AAA and would represent the school in the playoffs. That made the 1972 team the
9th team in school history to compete in the playoffs. Since Winnfield was defeated by Natchitoches, the Tigers would represent
the district in the runner-up slot. That meant they would face a district champion in the first round and that district champion
would be the 4th ranked Crowley Gents. Eleven months earlier, Winnfield hoped they would meet Crowley in the playoffs because
had that happened the game would have been for the state title and the game would have been played in Stokes-Walker
Stadium. Both Winnfield and Crowley made the semifinals in 1971 and both played home games in the semifinals. Crowley lost
a close 16-14 game to the South Lafourche Tarpons after upsetting the top-ranked Richwood Rams in the quarterfinals. So, both
teams had advanced deep into the playoffs the previous years.
Crowley came into the 1972 game with an 8-0-1 record after waltzing through their district with an undefeated record.
District wins included victories over Jennings, Deridder, Eunice, Westlake and Washington of Lake Charles. Their only non-win
was a 0-0 tie with St. Martinville, the district champs of District-5AAA.
The Gents outweighed the Tigers around 15 pounds per man across the line and both backs in their backfield weighed
over 200-pounds. Crowley had a strong rushing attack, but they were just as adept at passing the ball. They averaged over
30 pts per game during the regular season. Awaiting the victor of the Winnfield - Crowley game was the winner of the Haughton
- Richwood contest. Crowley ended the season ranked behind Richwood (1), Morgan City (2) and Comeaux (3). Right behind Crowley
was Natchitoches (5), Redemptorist (6), Lutcher (7) and Winnfield (8).
When the Tigers traveled to Acadia parish to take on the Gents, they would do so with injuries to several key players.
Quarterback Steve Adams came into the game with a pulled thigh muscle and All-State linebacker Lionel
Johnson was hobbled somewhat by a sprained ankle. That injury list would be compounded during the game when starting
center Matt Milam went down with a shoulder injury.
got the first break of the game and it came in the one phase of the game Winnfield had been dominant in the past two seasons
- the kicking game; only this time, it wasn’t an impressive punt return that set up the first Tiger score. After holding
the ball for the first six minutes of the game, the Tigers were forced to punt after their opening series drive stalled out.
The Tigers got off a sky-high kick on the punt, giving the Tiger return unit plenty of time to cover the punt. The only thing
the punt return man for Crowley would have seen just before he caught the ball was No. 76 Lionel Johnson
breathing down his throat. Just as the return man caught the ball, Johnson leveled him with a brutal tackle,
sending the return man one way and the ball the other. Hal Hickey recovered the fumble on the Crowley 26
and the Tiger offense came in and immediately went to work.
In two plays the Tigers had a first and goal from the five. On the next play Adams rolled out and
scored on a keeper to give the Tigers an early 6-0 lead, which was increased to 7-0 after Rowell converted
the extra point.
Then the game
became a defensive battle throughout the rest of the first half. However, Crowley did put a scare in the Tigers just before
half when they got as far as the Tiger 7-yard line, but key defensive plays by the Tiger secondary at that point kept the
Gents out of the end zone. The Tigers, in turn, drove all the way down to the Crowley 37 with two and a half minutes to go
in the half. From there, Adams hit Hamilton who was all alone at the 10-yard line. After
making the catch, Hamilton turned and bolted over the goal line to give the Tigers an apparent two-touchdown
lead. Winnfield was flagged for an illegal receiver being down field, however, which brought the ball all the way back to
the midfield stripe. The Tigers couldn’t match their earlier scoring feat and ran out the clock trying.
The first half had been a defensive demonstration
by both teams. Crowley picked off three Winnfield passes and otherwise put a tight web around the Tiger passing game. Winnfield
had found some running room, but not enough to keep anything going. Crowley also found that their passing attack was severely
restricted by the tight Tiger defense as they completed only one pass in the first half.
In the third quarter, the game progressed slowly, with neither team getting anything going against the other’s
defense. Then, late in the third quarter Crowley won the field position battle when they began a series at their own 48-yard
line. After moving to the Winnfield 32-yard line in a half-dozen plays, Crowley completed a 32-yard scoring toss to move to
within one point of the Tigers. Crowley lined up to kick the all-important game-tying extra point, but the snap from center
was too low. What a break that turned out to be. The holder had to scramble to field the fumbled snap and in the process he
got past the Tiger containment and ran into the end zone for a two-point conversion to give Crowley an 8-7 lead. Sometimes
a disaster can turn into good fortune.
tried to battle back in the fourth quarter but two interceptions and a slew of penalties effectively stopped the Tiger comeback.
The Tiger defense gave the team a chance to win in the fourth quarter, not allowing Crowley to get anywhere near the Tiger
goal line. But, the Tigers weren’t able to overcome what had been their biggest enemy all season long - turnovers. For
the night, Winnfield threw 6 interceptions, the most interceptions ever thrown in a game by a Tiger team. Though the Tigers
didn’t fumble the ball once, 100 yards in penalties served to be just as disastrous to the Tiger drives. Winnfield gained
138 yards rushing and 87 yards through the air on a 7 of 34 passing night by Adams. The Tiger defensive played
well, but not well enough to overcome the offense’s mistakes. Winnfield held Crowley’s powerful offense to 136
yard rushing and 83 yards passing, allowing only 4 completions in 15 attempts. The Tiger defense intercepted one pass and
fell on two fumbles. But, the one fumble the Tigers didn’t recover, the fumbled snap from center on Crowley’s
lone extra point attempt proved to be the play of the game.
Winnfield finished the season with a 9-2-0 record. Considering the fact that everyone rightfully believed that the
1972 season would be a rebuilding year the degree of difference between the initial expectations and the eventual outcome
was as large as has ever been witnessed in Tiger football. Costly mistakes kept the team from being an even bigger success,
but a nine-win regular season and a playoff berth would be very acceptable goals for most any season. In the end, someone
forgot to tell the 1972 Tigers that it was a rebuilding year.
Any time you have a season such as the 1972 season, where the team exceeds everyone’s expectations, it would
be easy to assume that the group was a bunch of over achievers. That wasn't the case. There are several explanations for why
the 1972 team performed beyond what was initially expected of them. In general, the team would be characterized as a very
strong defensive team, one of the strongest in school history, coupled with a better than average offense. Add in one of strongest
special teams displays in the history of the program and you have a very good football team.
The 1972 season was part of an amazing 30-game stretch of the
best display of defensive football ever demonstrated at the schools. That all began in the fifth game of
the 1970 season and lasted until the final game of the 1972 season. In that 30-game stretch, the Tiger defenses shutout 14
opponents and 25 of 30 opponents scored one touchdown or less. The five other teams scored two touchdowns, so no opponents
during that stretch put more than 16 points on the scoreboard. All total, the program only gave up 21 touchdowns in those
30 games. The first team defensive units of the 1970 through 1972 season went 24 straight games without giving up a TD through
the air. Those defensive units also didn’t give up the big play. Only one of those 21 touchdowns covered more than 20
yards, with more than half (11) coming from 10 yards out or less and 16 of the 21 touchdowns came from 15 yards or less.
When the All-District team was announced in 1972
Winnfield led all teams with seven first team selections, followed by six from Natchitoches. James “Shoehorn”
Johnson was named the Outstanding Lineman in the district and was also named the Outstanding Defensive Player in
the State in Class AAA after also being named to the AAA All-State team. Joining him on the All-State team was Lionel
Johnson, who became the first Winnfield football player to repeat as a first team All-State player.
made over 100 tackles from his defensive tackle position, recovered 7 fumbles and even made one interception. Lionel
Johnson had equally impressive numbers, recording 146 tackles, recovering six fumbles and getting one interception.
That gave Johnson over 300 tackles in his junior and senior seasons alone. If you also add in the unknown
number of tackles that Johnson made his sophomore season, he likely had well over 350 career tackles. No
player playing before Johnson had come close to that mark and there is only one player who has played after
him who recorded over 300 career tackles, that being fellow linebacker Ricky Chatman. Those two would be
selected to the all-time Winnfield Tiger football team as selected by a fan poll during the 2000 football season.
The leader of the Tiger offense was Steve
Adams. He finished his career at Winnfield with the most prolific passing numbers in school history. Records Adams
set for single-season or career marks are as follows:
Passing Yds. (Game) 228
(vs. J-H 1971) 221 (Ricky Jordan-1966)
Passing Yds. (Season)
1,607 (1971) 1,063
(Gary Green-1967) 2nd
Passing Yds. (Career) 3,253
1,671 (Gary Green)
TD (Game) 4
3 - by several 2nd
TD Passes (Season)
13 (Ricky Jordan-1966)
TD Passes (Career) 33
20 (Mike Tinnerello)
Pass Attempts (Game) 31
(vs. Crowley ‘72) 24 Ricky Jordan
Pass Attempts (Season) 233
156 (Gary Green-1967)
Pass Attempts (Career) 455
(1970-1972) 220 (est.) Ricky Jordan)
Pass Completions (Game) 14
(vs. J-H 1971) 14 (Jordan-'66,
Completions (Season) 113
(Gary Green-1967) 1st
Dosher ended his third year at the helm of the Tiger program with a 28-7-0 mark. That tied him with Tommy
Bankston for third place on the all-time total win list. His winning percentage was .800, which was the second highest
in school history. During his first three years, Coach Dosher’s record in district games was 20-4-0.
That was one win shy of Coach Hoss Newman’s record of 21 district wins.
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1973 (Overall - 8-3-0; *District - 6-2-0)
For the fourth straight season the Tiger program experienced a flip-flop
in the team makeup coming into the season. The 1969 team was a senior-dominated group, followed by the junior-dominated 1970
team, followed by the senior-dominated 1971 team, which was followed by the junior-dominated 1972 team. It was an odd numbered
year, so, as if on schedule, the 1973 team was a team built around a solid group of players in the senior class. In actual
numbers, though, the team was fairly evenly distributed throughout the various classes, with 20 of the 59 players on the roster
being from the senior class, 19 coming from the junior class and 20 coming from the sophomore class. However, the 20 seniors
comprised one of the largest senior groups of all time at the school and those seniors would be expected to carry the load.
The seniors on the team had been on teams that had played in 25 games during
the previous two seasons. No group of seniors had ever been a part of teams who had played that many games during their sophomore
and junior seasons. That was because the seniors of the 1973 team had played on teams that had made two straight playoff appearances.
That, in effect, was like playing two and a half seasons. More than any group of seniors in the past, this group knew what
it took to make a playoff run. Winning football games and competing in playoff games wasn't something foreign to this group.
That was an advantage this group of seniors had over other teams before the season even began. This group of seniors had been
a part of two teams that had combined to win 22 football games. Prior to 1971-1972, the highest two-year win total was 19
wins compiled by the 1960 & 1961 football teams. Since the highest three-year win total was 25 wins (1959 to 1961 and
1960 to 1962), all the 1973 team had to do was win four games to be a part of the winningest three-year period in the school's
football history. Also, this group could join the seniors of the 1961 and 1968 teams as the only group of seniors to make
three straight playoff appearances.
The team certainly had the talent to not only win four football games, but also many more. As for individual talent,
start with the offense. The offense had to only replace two starters, one at the quarterback slot and the other at the full
back slot. Otherwise, there were nine starters and over a dozen returning lettermen that had played offensive football for
the Tigers the previous year.
The offense would be built around a talented offensive line that returned intact. Included in that group was All-District
center Matt Milam, second team All-District guard Hal Hickey and Honorable Mention All-District
Tackle Charles Davis. Phil Hoggard returned to man the left guard slot and Paul Harlan had
played at both the guard and center slot the season before. At the right tackle slot was Steve Williams,
who sustained an injury during the previous season after beginning the season as a starter. All were experienced, all were
a close-knit group and maybe most important, all were seniors.
Playing outside the interior linemen was a group of football players who had break-away potential. Glen
Anderson, Ronnie Crayton and Mike Lewis all possessed exceptional physical abilities. Anderson
was the leading receiver on the team the year before as a sophomore, Crayton had returned two kicks for touchdowns
the year before and Lewis, a senior, was the fastest man on the team and one of the fastest players in school
history. At the tight end slot was Allen Berlin, a sturdy 6' 3", 190 senior who played
the tight end slot with the mentality of a defensive player. Crayton was slated to play the slot-back position
and would be joined by Cody Cummings at that position. In the backfield, the Tigers had speedster Mike
Lewis at the halfback slot, senior Gary Jones at the fullback position and sophomore halfback, Freddie
King, who had been the scoring leader on the 9th grade team the season before. Coach Dosher also
had senior Pat Hemphill available for offensive duty if he was needed, but he was projected more as a defensive
player. The offense would be guided at quarterback by junior Richmond Gunter, who had been brought up in
the "Machen-System" at that position. The known strengths of the offense were the strong offensive
line and the capable receiving corp.
Where graduation losses hit the Tigers the hardest was on the defensive side of the football, though the team had six
returning starters from a defense that was one of the best in school history. Returning at the defensive ends slots were senior
Tommy Dowling and junior Al Long. Returning starters at the down linemen positions included
Roosevelt Robinson, a junior, who was playing his last year of eligibility, and 260 lb. junior Martin
Hutto, who was one of the largest players to ever start for the Tigers.
The least experienced group on the defense side was at the linebacker
and cornerback slots. The linebackers would include senior Pat Hemphill and junior Buster Davis.
Both had played the year before, but not as starters. At the cornerback slot, the team had a group of players who would have
to be tested because none of them had started at the position before. Those included senior Mark Shelton
and juniors Gary Gresham and Daryl Turner. The secondary would be led by solid senior Charles
Oliver, who was one of the best athletes on the team. He would be joined by underclassmen Henry Jones
(junior) and Markus Jones (sophomore).
Following the 1972 season, it was time to reclassify high schools in Louisiana.
Size requirements used for the upcoming school year were based on the number of male students enrolled and included the following
breakdowns: AAAA - 400 boys or more, AAA - 200 to 399.5 boys, AA - 100 to 199.5 boys and so on. For the October 1971 and October
1972 periods, WSHS had an average enrollment of 239.5 boys. At the time of reclassification, WSHS had 203 boys. Therefore,
Winnfield qualified as a AAA school, but just barely. The trend continued that Winnfield would be among the smallest school
in the particular class they played in. That had been the case seemingly every time reclassification rolled around.
With reclassification, District 3-AAA would lose three teams. Gone were Natchitoches,
who moved up to AAAA; Menard, who moved down to AA; and Oakdale who stayed in AAA but moved to another district. Those teams’
places would be taken in District 3-AAA by Marksville, Bolton and perennial rival Jonesboro-Hodge. As for non-district opponents,
Winnfield would replace Webster on the schedule with Ruston and would add Deridder as a non-district opponent. True historians
of the program could appreciate that schedule because it gave the program a chance to renew some old rivalries with games
against Bolton and Ruston. The schedule also continued the long-time rivalry with Jonesboro-Hodge and it preserved the newer
rivalries, such as Jena and Pineville.
Of the many goals the team had coming into the season, one was the chance to get the program to the playoffs for the
third straight year. That had only been accomplished two other times. The first group to accomplish that was the 1959 to 1961
teams, with the 1966 to 1968 teams being the only other. Obviously two other goals that the team had were to win the district
championship and, of course, defeat Jonesboro-Hodge.
To those who had followed Winnfield football during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the Tiger's first opponent of the season
would be a familiar foe because that opponent was the Ruston Bearcats. The Bearcats were a team that every high school football
player from the 1940 season through the early 1960s wanted to defeat because they were one of the premier programs in the
state at that point in history. From 1936 to 1959, Winnfield teams did not win a single game against Ruston, despite playing
every year. The 1960 team finally broke that drought when they tied Ruston 13-13 and the 1961 team went one step further when
they defeated Ruston 21-6. Then, the Tigers lost three straight to Ruston between 1962 and 1964 and the series halted with
reclassification. The 1973 game would be a chance for a Tiger group from a different era to have a shot at the Bearcat mystique.
Ruston was coming off back to back sub-par seasons, with the 1971 team going
2-8 and the 1972 team going 6-4. The Bearcats also came into the 1973 season with a new head coach in Jack Gray.
Winnfield, on the other hand, didn't show much in the opening Jamboree, scoring no points in a 0-0 tie with Jena.
If fans came to the opening game of the season looking for offensive fireworks,
they walked away disappointed.
The first half was
a battle-royal defensively. All in all, the two teams punted the ball to each other six times apiece in the first half and
neither team came close to scoring, making the halftime score 0-0. The two teams got two first downs each in the first half
and Ruston never entered Winnfield territory.
In the third quarter Ruston took advantage of the only time they had the ball in Winnfield territory all night and
that came after the Bearcats recovered a fumble at the Tiger 14-yard line. One play later Ruston scored to make the score
6-0, but the PAT try failed.
The Bearcats almost duplicated that feat at the start of the fourth quarter when they recovered another fumble, this
on at the Winnfield 15. But, the Tiger defense stuffed Ruston in three downs, prompting Ruston to line up for an apparent
field goal attempt. Coach Gray called for a fake and the Bearcats completed their pass on the fake but Winnfield
narrowly dodged a bullet when they dropped the Ruston receiver on the 1-yard line.
In three plays, Winnfield moved to a first down at the Winnfield 14 yard line.
That set up the biggest play of the game with just over four minutes to go in the contest. The situation called for a safe
play, but someone forgot to tell Winnfield that. On first down, Gunter took the snap from Milam,
dropped back inside the Tiger 10-yard line and lofted a 50-yard pass to a streaking Glen Anderson. When Anderson
hauled the pass in, he was past the mid-field stripe, and he out-ran all would-be tacklers the rest of the way. That tied
the score at 6-all, giving the Tigers a chance to take the lead with a successful extra point kick. Tiger kicker Bill
Rowell already had one year under his belt as the Tiger place kicker. That experience paid off as Rowell
sent the ball through the uprights to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead, which held up the rest of the game.
Gunter and Anderson's
86-yard connection was the longest pass completion for a touchdown in school history at the time. Ironically, the old record
had been a game-deciding play as well, coming on the last play of the Tigers 1955 game against Neville. That play was an 80-yard
completion from Dale Reeves to Brooks Broussard. Prior to 1973, there had only been 14 completions
for a touchdown that covered 50 or more yards. All but two of those had come since the 1965 season. Anderson
himself had been on the receiving end of another of those tosses when he scored on a 77-yard pass completion against Menard
the season before. So, at the time, Anderson had caught the longest and fifth longest touchdown passes in
school history. He joined Robbie Richards and Wayne Woods as the only players with multiple
50-plus-yard touchdown catches. Each of those had two such receptions. On the throwing end, both Ricky Jordan
and Alan Carter had thrown three touchdowns that covered 50 yards or more and Steve Adams
had thrown two such passes, with those being the only quarterbacks to be in on multiple passes that covered over half the
Winnfield only picked up 5 first
downs, 109 yards rushing and only 5 more yards through the air other than the 84-yard play. But, all of that was more than
Ruston got as the Tiger defense held Ruston to 5 first downs, 80 yards rushing and 9 yards through the air on a 1 of 4 passing
night. Ruston didn’t throw any interceptions and only lost one fumble. The two teams combined to punt the ball fifteen
Winnfield followed that win with a 21-10 decision over non-district foe Deridder.
The Tigers jumped to a first quarter lead on a five yard pass from Richmond Gunter to Glen Anderson.
That was Anderson’s seventh touchdown catch of his career, allowing Anderson
to move past Alan Carter into fourth place on the career touchdown reception list. Anderson
was two TD receptions behind the career marks of Tommy Wyatt (1959) and John Wayne Williams
(1970 & 1971). He was six behind Wayne Wood's school record of thirteen, established between 1965 and
Winnfield turned the ball
over the next two times they had possession, which resulted in ten Deridder points and enabled Deridder to take a 10-7 lead
at the half. However, the Tigers scored 14 unanswered points in the second half to get the win. The two
touchdowns came on the opening possessions of the third and fourth quarters and both were made on short runs by Gunter.
Winnfield got its second win of the season, in spite of two interceptions and
four fumbles, three of which the Tigers lost. But, the Tiger defense all but insured the victory by allowing only 93 rushing
yards and six first downs. Through the air, the Tigers allowed Deridder only one catch out of eleven attempts. That one catch
netted a minus 4 yards, tying the school record for fewest single-game passing yards allowed which was set in 1966 against
Coach Dosher was uncharacteristically upbeat about the team’s performance. He heaped praises
on the offensive line, singling out Berlin, Williams, Hickey, Milam, Hoggard, Davis, Anderson and Harlan.
"We looked good," declared Dosher to the Enterprise, "especially in the second half.”
two non-district games proved to be a good tune-up for district play. Every other game the Tigers would play the remainder
of the regular season would count toward the district standings. Bolton, Peabody and Winnfield had all jumped out of the gate
with undefeated records after two weeks of the season. Bolton looked to be the powerhouse of the district, after scoring 106
points in their first two games and allowing only 19 points. The Bears had moved atop the Class AAA rankings in the sportswriter’s
Winnfield traveled to Tioga
in week three for the first of three straight road games. Since the game marked the beginning of district play, it took on
a little more importance. The game had all the makings of a early season encounter because turnovers and penalties were in
abundance. Winnfield marched up and down the field the whole game but only had two scores to show for all of that offense.
The contest was a series of "off-side penalties, fumbles and errant passes" as the Enterprise reported.
All of the points in this game came in the first half, first when Tioga capitalized on a fumble recovery by taking
a short 42-yard drive in for a score to post a 6-0 lead. However, that would be the only points Tioga would
get for the night and would be the only time the Indians would move into the Winnfield red zone.
Winnfield got all of their points in the final four minutes of the first half.
The first came when Gunter connected with Anderson for their second long bomb of the season.
With the ball at the Winnfield 37, Gunter threw the ball 33 yards to Anderson, who caught
the ball in stride at the Tioga 30 and outran a Tioga defender to the goal line to complete the 67-yard play. Rowell’s
kick was no good leaving the score knotted at 6-6. The Tigers then shut down Tioga in three plays and got the ball back and
moved to the Tioga 10 with a half a minute to go until intermission. Winnfield went nowhere on first down, but the Tigers
got on the scoreboard when Freddie King broke through the line on a 10-yard run with just 18 seconds showing
on the second quarter clock. Rowell again missed on the extra point try, leaving the score 12-6 when the
two teams broke for halftime. Winnfield made it to the Tioga red zone twice in the second half without
scoring, while Tioga went nowhere offensively.
The Tiger defense played their third-straight good game, limiting Tioga to
only 5 first downs and 40 yards rushing. Tioga completed two passes for 62 yards. Winnfield gained 187 yards rushing and 84
yards passing, with most of those yards coming on the long Tiger drive to begin the second half.
With the win, Winnfield joined Peabody (2-0) and Bolton (1-0) as the only two
teams with undefeated records in district play. Every other team had one win and one loss except Jena and Marksville who were
looking for their first win after two district losses.
The relatively easy early-season schedule continued in the fourth week of the season when Winnfield traveled to Marksville
to take on the 1-3-0 Tigers from Avoyelles parish. Two of Marksville's losses had been to district foes, including a 15-0
defeat to Peabody and a 20-12 loss to Jonesboro-Hodge. But, in an interview for the Enterprise, Coach Dosher
repeated what he had been saying for the past three seasons, "There are no patsies in 3-AAA, they're all tough."
So, Dosher remained upbeat about his team’s chances but cautioned about over confidence.
The contest would be another low-scoring affair and for the third time
of the season, Winnfield allowed an opponent to score first, this one coming when Marksville gathered in a first quarter fumble
at the Winnfield 20. Marksville scored in two plays, with the touchdown coming on a 15-yard pass into the end zone. The PAT
failed and that ended Marksville’s scoring for the night.
Winnfield moved up and down the field throughout the first half but never got any closer than the Marksville 20-yard
line. As a result, Winnfield was moving the ball but had absolutely nothing to show for it at the half. That left the score
6-0 Marksville when the two teams broke for halftime.
The Tigers then erupted for two touchdowns in the third quarter to nail down
fourth win of the year, this one coming by a score of 14-6. The first touchdown came at the end of a long drive that was capped
by a 3-yard run up the middle by Gunter. Here’s the Enterprise’s account of the series
of events that led to Winnfield’s second touchdown: “With fourth and 11 at the 19, Marksville kicked to the Winnfield
48, and Oliver got 1 yard on the return, but the Avoyelles Parish unit was penalized and now stood at their
14. They then kicked again, but Winnfield was penalized for unkind treatment to the kicker, and the ball was moved out to
the 30. Henry Jones took the next punt from his 42 to Marksville 30, but Winnfield was penalized back to
their 31 for clipping and the stage was set for another long TD drive.”
On the drive, Gary Jones accounted for over 50 yards rushing,
picking up big chunks of yards after the Tigers got past midfield. Once Jones got the ball to the 3-yard
line, it was only a question of who would score. That question was answered when Jones broke through the
right side of the line for the score. Rowell added the extra point to up Winnfield’s lead to 14-6 as
time expired in the third quarter and closed out all scoring for the night.
In the end, Winnfield picked up their fourth win of the season in as many outings,
but it wasn’t a thing of beauty. For the night, Winnfield got 250 yards rushing and 20 first downs. Winnfield only completed
one pass for 14 yards but they didn’t have to pass much because they were having so much success on the ground. A combination
of four fumbles and eight penalties combined with poor execution at key times kept Winnfield from scoring more than what they
did. Winnfield only punted the ball once in the game. Winnfield had two running backs go over the 100-yard mark as
Darryl Turner ended the night as the leading rusher with 128 yards and Gary Jones added 127 yards.
The Tiger defense held Marksville at bay all game long, limiting them to 21
yards rushing and only 46 yards through the air. Marksville only picked up 5 first downs and they couldn’t hold onto
the ball either. They fumbled the ball six times during the game.
By winning the first four games of the season, the 1973 team added to
the string of wins that had been piling up during the past three seasons. From the first game of the 1971 season, through
the fourth game of the 1973 season, the program had a record of 26-3-0. That was already one win more than had ever been recorded
in any three-year period and there were still at least six games to be played in the 1973 season.
With the win Marksville, Winnfield stayed tied with Bolton in first place
with no losses in district play. But, right behind those two with only one loss was Jonesboro-Hodge, Winnfield’s next
opponent. Jonesboro-Hodge was coming off an impressive win over previously undefeated Peabody in a game in which Jonesboro-Hodge
running back Greg Jackson scored five touchdowns. Overall, Jonesboro-Hodge was 2-2-0 for the season, compared
to Winnfield's 4-0. When the two teams met for the 44th renewal of the rivalry, Jonesboro-Hodge carried a 24-17-2 lead in
the series. But, Winnfield had won two in a row and four of the previous five games.
For the third straight game Winnfield would be involved in a game where only
three touchdowns were scored. Winnfield scored the first of those and that came on the Tigers opening possession of the night.
After moving to the Jonesboro-Hodge 25, Winnfield got into scoring position when Gunter lofted a pass
to Allen Berlin, who won a tug-a-war for the ball at the Jonesboro-Hodge 2-yard line. Gunter
scored on the next play and Rowell booted the extra point to give Winnfield a 7-0 lead.
Just before the half Jonesboro-Hodge took advantage of good field position
from a punt return when they scored on a 30-yard drive to tie the game up at 7-all. Fullback Greg
Jackson caught a pass from 9 yards out for the touchdown.
Winnfield recovered two fumbles in the second half inside the Jonesboro-Hodge
20 but were unable to score on either of those drives. Jonesboro-Hodge also made it inside the Winnfield 20 twice in the second
half. Henry Jones got an interception to stop the first scoring threat. However, the next time Jonesboro-Hodge
got the ball they were 77 yards away from Winnfield’s end zone, however they covered 72 of those yards on one pass play
that went for a touchdown and enabled Jonesboro-Hodge to take a 13-7 lead with only minutes to go in the game.
Winnfield got the ball back with only minutes to go in the contest but fumbled
the ball over to Jonesboro. Jonesboro-Hodge fell on the ball four straight times and Winnfield took over with time for only
a couple of plays that went nowhere.
The gut-wrenching loss was hard to take considering Winnfield squandered two scoring opportunities from inside the
Jonesboro-Hodge 20-yard line. It took a tough Winnfield defensive effort to keep the game close, as Jonesboro-Hodge also moved
into scoring position two other times in the game and came away without points. All in all, it was a defensive battle that
was decided like most such games are decided - on one key play. That play was Jackson's 72-yard touchdown
catch late in the fourth quarter.
The loss dropped Winnfield to 4-1-0 for the season and 2-1 in district play. That dropped Winnfield out of a tie with
Bolton for first place in the district race. Sitting with one loss in district competition were Winnfield, Peabody and Jonesboro-Hodge.
Week six would be a telling week in the district as Winnfield faced Peabody and Jonesboro-Hodge had to travel to Bolton.
Winnfield's hopes of a third-consecutive playoff appearance hinged on
their performance during the next fourteen days. After taking on Peabody, Winnfield faced Bolton, the strongest team in the
district and, according to the sportswriters, the number one team in the state in Class AAA. The Tigers could ill-afford to
lose both of those games, because three losses in district play would likely keep them at home come playoff time. Considering
the strength of Bolton, the Peabody game suddenly became a "must-win” game. The Warhorses came into the game reeling
from their first loss of the season. Like Winnfield, Peabody opened the season with four straight wins. They too knew that
the winner of the Winnfield - Peabody game had an inside track to the playoffs. As usual, they had a stable of athletes who
had size and speed.
What they didn't have was home
field advantage. After playing three straight games on the road, Winnfield returned to Stokes-Walker Stadium
for a pair of games against Peabody and Bolton before returning the road again.
The game was played on Peabody's end of the field almost the entire first half.
Peabody only made two first downs and a handful of yards in the first half, while the Tigers moved into Peabody territory
four of the five times they had the ball in the opening two quarters. The first half played out like the whole season had
been played - a tight defense front by Winnfield and a Tiger offense that moved the ball well until it got in scoring position.
The Tiger defense set up the first Winnfield touchdown in the second
quarter when they got their first of four interceptions. Taking over at the Peabody 40, Winnfield scored in short order, with
the touchdown coming when Gunter hit Glen Anderson with a 27-yard scoring toss. Rowell
booted the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 3:10 left in the second quarter.
The ferocious play of the Tiger defense continued on Peabody’s next series
when Marcus Jones intercepted a pass at the Peabody 36. Five plays later Turner scored on
a run from the five, with the touchdown coming with 19 seconds remaining in the half. Rowell booted the extra
point to make the score 14-0, but, it might as well have been 114-0 the way Peabody was playing.
In the third quarter, Winnfield moved their margin to 17-0 with a 31-yard Bill
Rowell field goal, the first field goal of his career. Though Peabody did get on the board in the final quarter Winnfield
answered that score and walked away with a key 24-6 win.
The win allowed Winnfield to improve their record to 5-1-0 for the season and 3-1-0 in district play. As such, the
Tigers moved into sole possession of second place, with Bolton still holding down the number one slot with a 4-0-0 mark after
they defeated Jonesboro-Hodge the same night. Right behind Winnfield were three teams with 3-2-0 records, including Jonesboro-Hodge,
Peabody and Tioga.
Coach Dosher was upbeat after the win. "We can't say enough about
the way the boys performed", said Dosher in a post game interview with The Enterprise. He singled
out Hickey for blowing open holes all game long as well as Milam and Leland Wilson,
the later who played the game with a broken hand. Turner had one of the best rushing nights in Tiger
football history, getting 191 yards on 41 carries. That was the most carries by a Tiger back in school history and the second-highest
rushing total, trailing Terry Skains (1969) school record by only 10 yards.
Winnfield got a chance to test their ability against the No. 1 team in the
state when they took on Bolton for the 1973 Homecoming game. Since the two schools hadn't faced each other since the 1940s,
few people appreciated the role that Bolton had played in the history of Winnfield football, as Bolton had been a significant
fixture in the early years of the program. The 1973 game would mark the renewal of that old rivalry. The
two programs had met since the 1944 season. Bolton fourteen of the most recent meetings, making that the
longest win streak that an opponent had over Winnfield at the time. Overall Bolton led the series with
an 18-5-1 record.
The game was much more important than just a reestablishment of an old series. The district championship was likely
on the line, so for Winnfield the game meant the season. Bolton was seeking that school's first undefeated season and saw
Winnfield as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to that record.
The Bears had all the ingredients to go a long way in the playoffs. During
the first six games of the regular season they had only given up 33 points and only allowed two touchdowns in four district
games. But, they didn't just win with defense. They were a high-scoring group, having already piled up 252 points for the
season, a 42.0 point-per-game scoring average. They had scored more points than Winnfield and Jonesboro-Hodge had scored combined.
The bottom line was that Winnfield was the underdog and it would take an upset to uproot the Bolton Bears.
Bolton showed why they were the number one team in the state right off the
bat when they took the opening kickoff of the game back 85 yards for the touchdown. Bolton got back on the board two more
times in the first half, with the first touchdown coming at the end of a 10 play drive and the second touchdown set up by
a punt return to the Winnfield 25 yard line. As a result, Bolton went in at halftime with a 21-0 lead.
Nothing much happened in the second half for either team as the two defensive
units took over the game. In the end, Winnfield couldn't get on the scoreboard, and though the Tiger defense held Bolton to
half of their normal scoring production, Bolton increased their win streak over Winnfield to 16 straight games.
Winnfield only managed 113 yards rushing against Bolton and 8 yards passing
on a 1 of 7 effort. Coach Dosher had wanted his offense to look like King Kong, but King Kong doesn't get
shut out. The shutout loss was only the third time a Tiger team had been shutout in 42 games during the 1970s and only the
seventh time the Tigers had been shutout in the past 100 games, a period dating back to the 1965 season.
Bolton only completed 2 of 9 passes for 35 yards, but they got 206 yards on
the ground. Turnovers, in the form of two lost fumbles, halted two Bolton drives and the Bears picked up 120 yards in penalties.
But, the game was won at the line of scrimmage. Winnfield's smaller line couldn't handle the Bolton defensive line like they
had others and though Robinson and crew harassed the Bolton backs all game long, Bolton got the yardage when
they needed it.
While the loss made the Tigers
district title hopes something virtually out of the question, the team still had a shot at the playoffs as the district runner-up.
Winnfield and three other teams had two losses in district play. Those included Tioga, Peabody and Oakdale. Winnfield had
already defeated Tioga and Peabody and had a chance to knock Oakdale out of the running in the upcoming game. So, Winnfield
was still in a position where they controlled their own destiny. What they couldn't afford was one more loss in district play.
The same night that Winnfield traveled to Oakdale, Bolton played Peabody. So
it was likely that there would only be two teams with two losses following the night’s action. One of those would be
the winner of the Winnfield - Oakdale game.
Winnfield had been a relatively low-scoring bunch all year. Through seven games the team only scored 85 points, for
a scoring average of 12.1 points per game. There had only been two games where the team had scored 20 or more points. In the
final three games of the regular season the team would more than double their point total, getting 99 points in those games
and scoring over 30 points in each. The first of those opponents would be Oakdale.
The Oakdale game certainly didn’t start out like a high scoring affair.
The Tigers held only a 7-0 lead at the 5:00 minute mark of the third quarter. That lone touchdown came at the end of a long
13-play, 70-yard drive in the second quarter that was capped by a 4-yard Darryl Turner run. The Tigers had
moved up and down the field, but like they had done all season, once they got close to the goal line they couldn’t capitalize.
Oakdale didn't find the same success in the first half, picking up only three
first downs and ending every possession with either a punt or a turnover. But, at the 5:00 mark of the third quarter the Tigers
struck with a vengeance. Two Tiger possessions, sandwiched between a three and out by Oakdale resulted in two touchdowns for
Winnfield to extend the Tiger lead to 19-0.
Oakdale finally got on the scoreboard, but Winnfield answered with two fourth quarter touchdowns to take a 34-6 win.
King got both of the final two touchdowns on short runs.
Winnfield had their most productive offensive night of the season, getting
a season-high 278 yards rushing to go along with 76 yards passing for 354 total yards. The Tigers played ball-control, getting
21 first downs and only punting 3 times. The Tiger defense did their usual good job, limiting Oakdale to 98 yards rushing
and 31 yards passing. The secondary allowed only one pass completion in 11 attempts. Oakdale found themselves in punt formation
As expected, Winnfield (4-2)
and Bolton (6-0) won their games, clarifying the district race somewhat. Bolton wrapped up the district crown with their 16-6
win over Peabody and Winnfield beat one of the two other teams who had two losses going into the eighth week of the season.
Tioga (4-2) defeated non-district foe Menard to maintain a tie with Winnfield in second place. The Tigers had already defeated
Tioga earlier in the season, so Winnfield would get the nod as the district runner-up in the event those two ended the season
with identical records. But, a slip up by the Tigers in either of their final two games of the season could keep them at home.
Winnfield closed the season with games against Pineville and Jena. Those two were battling to stay out of the race for the
last place finish in the district.
Winnfield closed out the home portion of their regular season against 4-3-1 Pineville. Against the Rebels, Winnfield
didn’t wait until the second half to get going as they took a 31-0 lead into halftime.
Charles Oliver set the tone for the first half when he fielded
the opening kickoff at the 15 and returned the kick 85 yards for a touchdown. That was just a taste of what was in store for
the home crowd in the first half. Oliver's return was the fourth longest in school history at the time, matching
one other 85-yarder Oliver had in his career; that one coming his junior year. Winnfield scored two more
touchdowns in the first quarter, with both being scored by Darryl Turner.
In the second quarter, Rowell added a 25-yard field goal and
Gunter hooked up with Glen Anderson for a 33-yard touchdown pass, Anderson’s
10th career touchdown. That pass play came in the final minute of the half and upped the Tiger lead to 31-0.
Coach Dosher substituted
liberally in the second half, but the scoring didn’t stop. Late in the game Freddie King
scored on a 78 yard run. King's run was the 9th longest run from scrimmage for a touchdown
in school history, tying Randy Poisso who had a run of similar length against Tallulah.
On this night of the unusual, it was only fitting that the game would end with
fireworks as there would be three more touchdowns scored in the final four minutes – all by Pineville. The first touchdown
came on a short drive that was filled with passes. Then the Rebels picked off a halfback pass at midfield and scored in only
three plays to move the score to 39-12.
Finally, with 1:57 showing on the clock, Pineville executed an on-side kick and scored in three plays to move the score
to 39-20 with only 34 seconds remaining in the game. That closed out the scoring, however.
The Tigers got 303 rushing yards for the night, which was the most team rushing
yards posted in over four years. Pineville’s offense had great difficulty getting past Al Long, Roosevelt Robinson,
Gerald King, Buster Davis and Gary Gresham on the ground, getting only 68 total rushing yards. As
a result, they had no choice but to fill the air with passes. For the night, the Rebs got 158 yards in a 10 of 24 passing
night. Winnfield picked off 3 of those passes and also got three fumbles recoveries to seemingly be in possession all night
The last game of the season
had Tioga pulling for the Jena Giants. That is because Tioga needed the Giants to upset Winnfield in the season finale to
have a shot at the playoffs. Tioga played winless Marksville in their district closer so they felt confident about their chances.
But, Jena had only won three games all season Tioga was hoping for an upset.
Since the 1960 season there had only been one team (1967) that
had gone through and entire season without posting at least one shutout. If the 1973 team were going to avoid joining that
list they would have to shutout Jena in the final regular season game. What was most ironic about that was the fact that the
1973 defense was a very strong defense, with that phase of the Tiger team clearly being the strongest unit of the team.
The Tigers, in fact, got their shutout against Jena and posted three touchdowns
themselves to take a 26-0 win. The first half of the Jena game was hardly what Coach Dosher wanted to see
in the final game of the regular season. One mistake after another throttled the Tigers, but Jena was just as mistake prone,
so neither team could sustain any sort of drive. Finally, on Winnfield’s final two possessions of the first half, the
Tigers got going, scoring touchdowns on each to take a 14-0 halftime lead. Gary Jones scored both touchdowns;
one on a run of 10 yards and the other on a run of 1 yard.
In the first half, Jena had only gained one first down, hadn’t completed a single pass and barely had any positive
yards rushing. Once Winnfield cut back on their mistakes, they scored two touchdowns. All the Tigers had to do was play solid
football in the second half and a first round playoff appearance awaited them.
Winnfield got two more touchdowns in the second half, with Jones
getting the first one on a 6-yard run at the six minute mark of the fourth quarter and the other coming after Buster
Davis intercepted McCartney at the Giant 43 and returned the ball to the 24. A series of running
plays got the ball to the 2 where Gunter scored on a sneak. In the 26-0 win, Winnfield got 224 yards rushing
and didn't complete a pass in three attempts. The Tigers only punted the ball twice and picked up 18 first downs.
The Tigers ended up holding Larry McCartney to zero pass completions
in ten attempts and intercepted two of his passes. Jena only got 26 yards on the ground. At the time, that was the third fewest
total yards allowed in a game, behind the 24 yards allowed against Farmerville in the 1955 season and the 25 total yards allowed
against Jonesboro-Hodge the season before.
Winnfield finished the season with a 8-2-0 record overall and a 6-2-0 record in district play. Bolton finished the
season undefeated and Tioga finished with an identical record as Winnfield. The Tigers got the nod as the district runner
up and had to travel in the first round of the playoffs to play the champions of District 4-AAA, the Westlake Rams.
It was a season of extremes for the Tigers in many ways. During the first six
games, the Tigers only scored 85 points and were shutout against Bolton. But, the offense came together in the final three
games, scoring 99 points and rushing for over 800 yards. During the season, the offense gained yardage in big chunks at times
and scored four touchdowns that covered more than 50 yards. There were other times when the Tiger offense was their own worst
enemy, fumbling the ball a school record 28 times and losing 18 of those. But, of late, the Tigers had found a running game
and some measure of momentum heading into the playoffs. The one constant of the season was the play of the defense.
Bolton was the only team who managed to rush for over 100 yards against the Tiger defense. One of the most telling statistics
of the defensive prowess of the 1973 season was the fact that six opponents got 6 or fewer first downs. That meant that almost
nobody sustained a drive of any length against the Tigers.
With the playoff berth in hand, the seniors of the 1973 team became only the third group of seniors that had been to
the playoffs all three years of their high school playing days, joining the 1961 and 1968 seniors in that feat. But, the team
wasn't satisfied with just making the playoffs. Though the 1973 team became the tenth Winnfield team to make the playoffs,
after years of simply trying to get to the playoffs, the goal now was to advance in the playoffs, something only two Winnfield
teams had ever done, those being the 1968 and 1971 teams.
The Tigers seemed to match-up well against the 7-3 Westlake Rams. Both teams
had playedDeridder during
the season, with Winnfield taking a 21-10 decision and Westlake eking out a 6-point win. Westlake mainly relied on a running
game, but the Tigers were particularly strong against the run. Westlake was unranked in Class AAA, despite being the District
4-AAA champions. So, as first round draws go, Winnfield had a good one. The big advantage that Westlake had was not only the
home field advantage but also the advantage of playing a team who had to travel over three hours to get to their stadium.
Westlake scored on their first possession of the night, and they did
it on one of the longest runs by an opponent up to that point in the decade as a Ram misdirection play netted 61 yards and
Give the Tigers credit. Two
minutes later the Tigers were in the end zone when Darryl Turner capped a drive with a 27 yard run. Rowell’s
kick was wide, leaving the Tigers training the Rams 7-6.
Mistakes killed the Tigers the remainder of the first half. The first big one came after Winnfield fumbled near midfield,
which Westlake recovered. The Tiger defense stuffed Westlake in three plays, but another Tiger mistake kept that drive going
when Winnfield picked up a pass interference on fourth down to move to the Winnfield 23-yard line. Two plays later, the Rams
scored on a 20-yard pass to gain some breathing room and added the extra point to make the score 14-6 with 4:37 left in the
For the rest of the game, Winnfield played the defensive game everyone expected coming into the contest. During the
second half, Westlake never made it into Winnfield’s end of the field, so the defense did what they had to do to keep
the team in the game.
For Winnfield, the second half
was a study in frustration. The Tigers took their opening possession of the half inside the Westlake 10 and appeared poised
to score the potential game-tying touchdown. But, Turner was stopped at the Westlake 1 on a fourth down play.
After that, the Tigers couldn’t get anything going until the final minutes of the game, when the Tigers had the ball
and needed to find some way to score to keep the season going. With the ball resting just past the midfield stripe and twenty-one
seconds to go in the encounter, Gunter lofted a pass that was on the mark but was dropped at the Westlake
5-yard line. On the next play, he threw again to the end zone, where a Westlake defender out-jumped a Tiger receiver for the
ball. Westlake ran out the clock after that and moved onto the quarterfinals by virtue of their 14-6 win over the Tigers.
Statistics of the game reveal how close the game was. Westlake led in
first down 13 to 12, but trailed in yards rushing 116 to 176. Total yardage was 194 for Westlake, thanks to a 78-yard passing
night. Winnfield got 182 yards rushing but only had 6 yards passing. The Rams punted 6 times to 5 Tiger punts and both teams
were penalized 8 times. As for turnovers, both teams were intercepted once and Winnfield lost two fumbles, one more than Westlake.
Winnfield’s second turnover set up Westlake’s second touchdown.
Winnfield ended the season with an 8-3-0 record. That gave the program eight
straight winning seasons, dating back to the 1966 season. To show you how far the program had come, there had only been one
period between 1929 and 1965 when the school had back-to-back winning seasons, that coming between 1960 and 1962.
Otherwise, the only other time the Tiger football program had consecutive winning seasons was during the Stokes-era
of the late 1910s and early 1920s, and then between the 1927 & 1928 seasons. But, to really show you how far
the program had come, the 8 wins of 1973 improved the Tiger program’s record in the 1970s to 36-8-0. After four seasons,
that was already more wins than had been gained in the entire decade of the 1930s (31) and nearly as many wins as was earned
during the 1940s (40) or the 1950s (41). Finally, the 8-3-0 mark in 1972 combined with the 13-1-0 record of 1971 and the 9-2-0
record of 1972 gave the program a three-year record of 30-6-0. That was five more wins than had ever been gained during any
previous three-year period.
When you make the playoffs,
you either win the state title or you end the season on a losing note. For some people, that equates to success or failure.
But the season was far from an unsuccessful season. On the defensive side of the ball, the year was one of the best in school
history. For the regular season, the team only gave up 770 yards rushing. That marked the third season in a row that opponents
had failed to gain 1,000 or more yards rushing against the Tigers for the season. To put that in perspective, the fewest rushing
yards allowed by a Tiger team for a season prior to the 1970s was the 1,117 yards allowed by the 1961 team. The 1971 and 1972
teams combined total for rushing yards allowed was only 1,078 and the 1973 total was 347 yards below the 1961 total. All three
of those teams between 1971 and 1973 exceeded the previous school record for passing yardage allowed as well. That record
was set by the 1961 team, who only allowed 560 passing yards. The 1971, 1972 and 1973 were within 50 yards of each other in
regular season passing yards allowed, with the 1971 team allowing 431 yards, the 1972 team allowing 432 yards and the 1973
team allowing 462 yards. The 1973 season marked the fourth season in a row that opponents had failed to reach 500 or more
passing yards against the Tigers in the regular season. The Tiger defense of 1973 gave up a few more points than did the defenses
of recent years, but they still managed to hold opponents to below 100 for the regular season, allowing only 94 total pts.
The decade of the 1970s was the Golden Era for defensive football and the first four teams of the team established
team defensive records that stood up the throughout the first one hundred years of Tiger football.
The offense gained 2,067 yards rushing to become only the fourth team in school
history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. The 1961 team led that category with 2,975 yds., followed by the 1969 team
(2,194 yds.) and the 1971 team (2,039 yds.). Almost half of that yardage (47%) came in the last four games of the season,
which is also when the offense began scoring. The 1973 offense was geared around the running game, as the team only threw
66 passes all season long. That was the fewest number of passes thrown since the 1964 season.
The only game the Tigers were clearly out of was the Bolton game and even in
that game the Tigers played the No. 1 team in the state close in the second half after going in at halftime trailing 21-0.
The Tigers were a single touchdown away from their opponent in their only other two losses of the season and in both of those
the offense only managed one touchdown. The lack of an offense at the most critical times had been the downfall of the last
three Tiger teams. The 1971 team was shutout in the state final game, after scoring a school record 468 points. The 1972 team
only had two losses. In the first of those losses, which was to Natchitoches, the Tigers needed one touchdown to at least
tie the game and needed only two more points in their first round playoff loss to move forward in the playoffs Westlake. The
1973 team's playoff hopes came to an end when they ran up and down the field against but could only manage one touchdown.
Coach Dosher improved his record at Winnfield to 36-10-0. That moved him into third place on the all-time
win list and made his winning percentage .782, which was the highest winning percentage of any coach that had served two or
more years. He passed Hoss Newman (21) for most wins in district games, ending the season with 25 total district
wins in his career at Winnfield.
Enter content here
- 6-4-0; *District - 3-4-0) Teams come and go, but “the
program” remains. When the 1957 team became the first team to earn a playoff spot, and the 1959 through 1961 teams followed
that up with consecutive playoff appearances, the level of expectation changed forever in the Tiger football program. Prior
to that time, a “good” season typically meant a season where the team won more games than they lost. But, the
program had developed to a point to where “just winning” was no longer acceptable. The late 1950s-early 1960s
success, followed by Coach Tommy Bankston’s gospel-like “preaching” of championship-quality
football, culminating with the 1971 team’s progression to the state title game raised the bar far higher than it had
ever been. Winning district titles, advancing in the playoffs and competing for the state title became the measures of success.
Once the program began winning district titles and winning games in the 1966 season, the program kept on winning. Coming into
the 1974 season, the program was riding a streak of eight straight winning seasons and had made playoff appearances in six
of previous eight years, including three straight appearances, So, as the 1974 football season rolled around, the football
program at Winnfield Senior High School was on solid ground.
All of that
is to say that with the growth and evolution of a winning program comes higher expectations and thus expectations for higher
and higher levels of performance. Winning seasons became a minimum expectation, competing for the district championship became
the norm and advancing in the playoffs became the real challenge.
Coming into the 1974 season, it appeared that the chances of accomplishing any of those goals would be a tall order. For starters, the program
was hit hard by graduation losses from the season before as 22 seniors were lost to graduation. In addition, three lettermen
moved out of town, which further decimated the corp of experienced players the Tigers had. Seventeen players from the 1973
team had been selected to the All-District squad and a dozen of those were seniors. Three players had been selected to the
All-State team and they were gone. To top all of that off, the 1974 team simply didn’t have a lot of numbers in the
senior and junior classes. Whereas the 1973 team had 22 players from the senior class, the 1974 had just over that number
(26) in both the senior and junior classes. If 1974 were going to be a winning year of any sort, it would take almost
total dedication by players and a supreme coaching job.
indications that several teams on Winnfield’s schedule had improved from the season before after preseason scrimmages
and jamborees finished. But, Winnfield did little to impress anybody during that same time period, especially after coming
away from the Winnfield Quarterback Club Jamboree with a 0-0 tie against Jena.
Coach Dosher was a “play-‘em-one-game-at-a-time” type of coach, so he didn’t
openly fret too much about the formidable task that the 1974 team seemed to face. On the other hand, in an interview for The
Enterprise he flat-out said, “This is a rebuilding year for us. I’m not saying we’re not going
to win some ball games, but it will be a little harder this year than last year.” That all seemed reasonable, but Coach
Dosher had talked about a rebuilding year prior to the 1972 season, the year the team went 9-2-0 and were the co-champions
of District 3-AAA. Tiger fans knew by now that when Coach Dosher expressed concerns about an opponent or
a season as a whole, they had to take that with a grain of salt.
had ten returning lettermen to build a team around. Most of that experience was evident on the defensive side of the ball
where the team had seven starters that had a season of playing time under their belt. That defense would be built around senior
lettermen Mike Kelly and Buster Davis at linebacker, and an all-senior line of Martin
Hutto, Gerald King and Mike Shows. The coaching staff moved Richmond Gunter, the
team’s quarterback the season before, to the defensive side of the ball for his senior season where he would man the
defensive end position. He would be joined by fellow senior Philip Whitehead on the other side of the line.
One of the most experienced players of the defense, though, was two-year letterman Henry Jones. He would
play the important safety position. Aside from those seniors, the team had juniors Tommy Chatman and sophomore
Bruce Shephard to play in the line and would depend on a pair of juniors in Danny Parker
and Randy Brewton to round out the defensive backfield.
The offense would be a lot younger than the defense. Taking over the quarterbacking duties wassophomore Lyn Bankston. He was
the son of former head coach Tommy Bankston and was cut out of the same cloth that his father was - which
is to say that he was a competitor. The Winnfield football program hadn’t had many individuals that had started at quarterback
as a sophomore, but the most recent ones who had were among the best the program had ever produced. That short list included
Mike Tinnerello (1959), Alan Carter (1969) and Steve Adams (1970).
To start at any position as a sophomore takes talent. That was especially true at the quarterback slot.
Joining Bankston in the backfield would be only one senior, Darryl Turner. Turner
was the leading rusher from the season before and he was quite capable of either breaking a long one or carrying the ball
20 or 30 times a game. The rest of the backfield would be underclassmen but they were all very talented. Two were returning
lettermen in juniors Marcus Jones and Freddie King and the other was talented sophomore
Nathan Johnson. At the end position, Coach Dosher had a pair of juniors in Mike
Kimble and Keith King, as well as senior Randy Hemperly.
The interior line was a mixture of experienced seniors and untested underclassmen. But, there was no hiding the fact
that every starting lineman from the season before was no longer available. So, the biggest question mark on the whole team
was the offensive line. Coach Dosher had two lettermen he would use in the offensive line; those being seniors
Gerald King at guard and Martin Hutto at tackle. Other seniors available in the offensive
line were center Keith Elliot and tackle Howard Wilson. The other guard position would have
to be filled by underclassmen and Coach Dosher planned on using either junior Buford Jordan
or sophomore Oberal Merchant.
Winnfield opened the season on the road against the Ruston Bearcats. The last time the Tiger football program played
in James Stadium was the 1961 season. Winnfield won that game 21-6, but that was the only game Winnfield
won on Ruston’s home field in twelve meetings between 1937 and 1959. So, James Field specifically,
and the Ruston program in general were well respected by Tiger football followers who had seen Ruston dominate the series
in the 1940s and 1950s.
Ruston had a huge size advantage in the interior line and as predicted, the game was won at the line of scrimmage.
What wasn’t expected was that it would be Winnfield who would control the line of scrimmage. Ruston was frustrated all
night long, making only 5 first downs and 76 total yards. No one expected a record performance by Winnfield but they almost
got one, as the Tiger defense forced Ruston to punt 9 times, one short of the school record. In the end, Winnfield scored
once in the opening quarter and again in the third quarter to walk away with a 14-0 win. Aside from a rock-solid defensive
front, a large measure of credit was due to the Tiger defensive secondary that held Ruston to only 2 pass completions in 12
attempts for 15 yards. Winnfield picked off 4 Bearcats passes, with Henry Jones getting three of those in
one of the best nights a Winnfield secondary man ever had up to that point. Scoring for Winnfield were
Freddie King from 34 yards out and Turner on a 1-yard plunge.
The Tiger offense was surprisingly effective against Ruston, getting 191 yards rushing. Young Bankston
only attempted 5 passes and he completed 2 of those. Winnfield had one other touchdown taken off the board after Henry
Jones returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown, only to have the run nullified by a clipping penalty. But, the showing
of the whole team in the opening game was impressive enough, especially since Ruston never made it inside the Winnfield 20-yard
line. The pollsters didn't think it was a rebuilding year in Winnfield when they made the Tigers the sixth best team in Class
AAA when the first poll of the year was released.
The next week
the Tigers took on Deridder and their Veer offense that had produced a 28-6 win in week one. However, against
Winnfield the Deridder Veer never got untracked. The only time Deridder came near the Tiger goal line was late in the third
quarter when they moved to the Winnfield 7. However, Martin Hutto fell on a fumble at that point and Deridder
never threatened to score again. So, the Tigers could have won the game with the late first quarter touchdown they scored
or the safety they got in the second quarter. Likewise, they could have won with just the 4-yard touchdown run by Freddie
King to make the score 14-0 with 4:39 to go in the game. However, the most dramatic play of the game came in the
closing minutes of the game when the Tigers were really only focused on running the clock out. The Tigers got the ball back
at the Tiger 18-yard line following a punt. On the first play from there, one sophomore (Lyn Bankston)
handed off to another (Nathan Johnson) and the result was one of the longest runs in school
history. Johnson burst through the line and quickly got into the Deridder secondary. After that, it was a
foot race, but Johnson opened the gap between himself and his nearest pursuer as he sprinted 82 yards for
a touchdown to make the score 20-0 with just over two minutes to go in the game. The run tied Johnson with
Thomas Straughan (1951) for the fourth longest scoring run from scrimmage in school history. Only
Ronnie Parker (1961) and Dan Carr (1948), who ran for 85-yard touchdowns, and John Glyn
Jackson (1943), who had a 97-yarder, had runs that covered more distance.
Winnfield won their second game of the year following the same formula they had used in the opening game: good defense
and a good enough offense. Deridder got 121 yards rushing and 66 yards passing, but they had trouble holding on to the ball,
losing three fumbles and 1 interception. The Tigers managed 235 yards rushing, but over one-third of that came on Johnson’s
long run. Basically, it was a defensive struggle, with both teams punting six times and the two combining for twenty first
downs. What defensive coordinator Jerry Bamburg liked the most was that his defense had played eight quarters
and not been scored on yet.
Winnfield moved to the No. 5 spot in the AAA polls with their impressive win over Deridder, however, there were two
other 3-AAA teams ranked even higher. Like the season before, the Bolton Bears were putting together another outstanding regular
season and were the No. 1 ranked team in the AAA. Pineville, after two solid wins to open the season, was the fourth-ranked
AAA team. That marked the first time Winnfield had been part of a district in which three teams were ranked in the Top Five.
The Tigers began district play in week three against the winless Tioga Indians. Tioga had only scored 14 points all
season and in two outings Tioga had given up 60 points, so Coach Dosher was looking for some scoring from
his offense. Going into the game, Dosher stated, "Our offense is getting more balanced each week, but
I'm looking for them to bust it wide open. We're due for some big scoring." On the other side of the
ball, what more can you ask from a defense that had yet to yield a touchdown.
As if he had ordered just what he wanted out of a catalog, Coach Dosher got everything he wanted in
the Tioga game, including two record-breaking performances. The defense extended their scoreless streak to twelve straight
quarters as they pitched their third shutout of the season. But, it was a night for offense and a passing performance never
before seen in Tiger football game. Prior to the Tioga game of 1974, there had only been six football games played in which
a Tiger quarterback tossed more than two-touchdown passes. The first player to accomplish that feat was Ray Jenkins,
who threw three touchdown passes against Oakdale in 1936. It would be 30 years before that feat was duplicated when Ricky
Jordan also tossed three touchdown passes against Jena in their rematch game of the 1966 season. Steve Adams
tied those two and he did it three times during the 1971 season, passing for three touchdowns against Webster, Pineville and
Jena. Then, he claimed the single-game touchdown passing mark the following year when he passed for four touchdowns against
Leesville. Lyn Bankston vaulted to the head of that list against Tioga by throwing six scoring passes as
Winnfield routed Tioga 42-0.
Bankston got his first touchdown midway through the first
quarter after Buster Davis blocked a Tioga punt and Winnfield recovered it at the Indian 22. Bankston’s
toss came on the first play after that when he hit Freddie King coming out of the backfield. Bankston's
extra point attempt was blocked leaving the score 6-0.
later, Henry Jones got the ball back for Winnfield on an interception, which he returned to the Tioga 45.
Bankston came in and again completed a touchdown pass on first down, this one going to Nathan Johnson
coming out of the backfield. The try for the extra point was no good, but Winnfield had clearly taken over control of the
That was only highlighted on the next series of plays. Winnfield nailed the
Tioga return man on the 2-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. After Tioga was penalized on first down, Mike Shows
and Buster Davis combined to drop the Tioga ball carrier in the end zone for a safety, making the score 14-0.
Winnfield got on the board one more time in the first half. The Tigers put together a time-consuming, 13-play drive
that took up the bulk of the second quarter. With 3:34 remaining in the half, Bankston completed the drive
by hitting Henry Jones with a 16-yard scoring toss and added the extra point to give the Tigers a 21-0 cushion
at the half. That gave Bankston three touchdown passes for the half.
In the second half, the Tigers scored three of the six times they had the ball. The first score came at the end of
another time-consuming drive in the third quarter when Bankston hit King with a 15-yard
scoring pass. King was also on the receiving end of the final touchdown of the night, this
one covering 11 yards. Sandwiched in between was a 42-yard pass from Bankston to Mike Kimble
at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
joined David Harper (1936 vs. Oakdale), John Wayne Williams (1971 vs. Jena) and Glen
Anderson (1972 vs. Leesville) as the only players to catch three touchdown passes in a game. But, young Bankston
showed no signs of sophomore inexperience in completing 13 of 27 passes for 207 yards and six touchdowns. His attempts and
completion totals were among the highest in school history as well, with his completion total being one short of the school
record and the total passing yards being the third most ever thrown.
The Tiger defense held their third opponent of the year to under 100 yards rushing, allowing only 84 rushing yards
and 80 passing yards. The opportunistic defense jumped on four fumbles and intercepted one pass in doing their share in a
game where it would have been impossible to single out any one player. But, on a night when the stars were in alignment for
Winnfield football, Lyn Bankston had one of the most incredible nights ever seen on the Tiger gridiron. The
icing on the cake was that it all happened in Stokes-Walker Stadium.
The Tigers battled Marksville in a 14-6 win in the fourth game of the season. Winnfield took at 7-0 lead at the half
on a first quarter touchdown by Freddie King. Then Marksville made it close in the third
quarter when put together a sustained drive to narrow the gap to 7-6, however the Winnfield secondary broke up a try for two
points, leaving the score 7-6, with just over half of the third quarter to go.
The Marksville offense got going again at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Marksville moved to a first and goal
at the Winnfield 3, but the Winnfield defense held strong from there and eventually took the ball over when Richmond
Gunter fell on a fumble. Winnfield responded by putting together a drive that ate time off of the clock and resulted
in a 20-yard scoring toss from Bankston to Mike Kimble. The touchdown came with thirty-five
seconds remaining in the game, giving Winnfield a hard-fought 14-6 win.
The win moved the Tiger's record to 4-0-0 overall and 2-0-0 in district play. Both Pineville and Bolton moved to 4-0
for the season the same night and Pineville maintained a half-game lead in district play by virtue of their 3-0-0 record.
As impressive as Winnfield had been up to that point in the season, both Bolton and Pineville had been equally outstanding.
Through four games, Winnfield had outscored the opposition 90-6. Pineville was seven points better than that, outscoring their
opponents 97-6. But Bolton had put up even more impressive numbers as they had scored 135 points through four games, while
allowing only 20 points.
The season before, Winnfield came into the fifth game of the year with a 4-0-0
record and, in fact, the Tiger program had gone 16-0-0 in the first four games of the 1971 through 1974 seasons. Like the
season before, Winnfield was ranked No. 4 in the Class AAA polls. To say that District 3-AAA was competitive would have been
an understatement. Bolton still held down the No. 1 slot and Pineville was No. 3.
After playing a "too close for comfort" game against Marksville, Winnfield had a breather against Jonesboro-Hodge
in week five. Winnfield shutout Jonesboro in the first half and scored one touchdown, but the Tigers put the game out of reach
in the third quarter. Winnfield scored on their opening possession of the second half, forced Jonesboro-Hodge into a three
and out and then took possession at their own 14-yard line. On the first play of the drive, King ran off-tackle,
broke into the clear and left everyone behind for an 86-yard touchdown run. Bankston added his third straight
extra point to make the score 21-0.
Then, on the first play following
the ensuing kickoff, Richmond Gunter picked off a Jonesboro-Hodge pass at the 24-yard line and strolled into
the end zone, giving the Tigers three touchdowns in a four-minute span.
The rest of the game was pretty much scrimmage work, as the Tiger defense completely shut down Jonesboro-Hodge and
Winnfield got two more scores. The first came with 9:24 remaining in the game when Bankston hit Kimble
with an 8-yard pass for a touchdown. The second touchdown came on a straight-up-the-middle, 65-yard punt return by Nathan
Johnson. Bankston's touchdown pass to Kimble gave him 8 touchdown tosses for the year, which was
already the fourth highest single-season mark in school history, behind Mike Tinnerello (12 in 1959), Ricky
Jordan (13 in 1966) and Steve Adams (24 in 1971). Since Tinnerello was a sophomore
at the time, he also held the sophomore TD passing record, while Bankston’s eight TD passes were the
second most ever thrown by a sophomore quarterback.
avoided a shutout when they recovered a fumble against the Winnfield second unit and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown
with only 00:58 remaining on the clock. That made the score 41-6, a win assistant Coach Bamburgh called "our
best effort of the year, both offensively and defensively.” Bamburg had good reason
to be happy. His defense limited Jonesboro-Hodge to only 3 first downs and 45 total yards. Jonesboro-Hodge got 43 yards on
the ground and only 2 yards in the air on a 4 of 14 passing night. It's hard to make yardage when you don't have the ball.
The Tiger defense recovered three fumbles and had two interceptions. But, the biggest reason Jonesboro-Hodge didn't have the
ball was because the Tigers offense played ball-control all night long. Jonesboro-Hodge only ran 38 plays compared to Winnfield's
55. In doing so, Winnfield ground out 275 yards rushing and added 66 yards in the air.
Excuse Coach Dosher for feeling somewhat content, though he never was completely comfortable at any
point during any season. Though he had a team who began the season with question marks, he had a team riding the crest of
a five-game win streak, a team vying for a district title and a team who carried a top five ranking. The 1974 team became
only the fourth team in the 66-year history of the school to open the season with five wins, joining the 1919, 1961 and 1971
teams in accomplishing that feat. In a season labeled a "rebuilding year" at the start of the season, the 1974 team's
contribution to nine-straight winning season seemed to be a lock, a playoff appearance seemed within grasp and a district
championship seemed like a possibility. All the Tigers needed to do was keep playing like they had been.
The second half of the season would prove that in football, like in life, you should never take anything for granted.
After all, Winnfield did have five district games remaining and four of those games would be against the two teams the Tigers
were tied with in first place, as well as the fourth place team (Oakdale) and fifth place team (Peabody). Winnfield would
play each of those in consecutive weeks before ending the regular season against currently winless Jena. What made the remaining
schedule even tougher was that Winnfield would face Peabody, Bolton and Pineville on the road, with the only games remaining
in Stokes-Walker being the Oakdale and Jena games.
Peabody would be the first of the four district hurdles the Tigers had to clear. The Warhorses were 3-2-0 for the season
and 2-2-0 in district play. On paper, Winnfield appeared to have the edge. Games aren’t played on paper.
The game was a defensive battle from start to finish. Winnfield got on the board in the first quarter after recovering
a Peabody fumble at the Warhorse 24 yard line. The Tigers found the going tough, however they were able to get outside of
Peabody on a pitch from Bankston to Freddie King from 1 yard out. Bankston
added the extra point to give Winnfield 7-0 lead.
In the second
quarter Peabody separated Nathan Johnson from the football and recovered the fumble at the Winnfield 7-yard
line. The Tiger defense held strong for three downs, but on fourth down, Peabody attacked the middle of the Tiger defense
and were successful in getting in the end zone. Though it was early in the game, Peabody faked the extra point kick and were
successful on a two point conversion to take an 8-7 lead.
be the only points Peabody would score in spite of the fact that they ran four plays inside the Winnfield 5 yard line on one
possession of the second half. Meanwhile, Winnfield never moved inside the red zone until the final minute
of the game. Winnfield began their final possession of the night at mid-field with 1:28 left in the game
trailing 8-7. Peabody dropped five back to protect against the pass and it backfired on them. In five plays, the Tigers moved
to a first down at the Peabody 12-yard line, with just enough time to run one more play. On the final play of the game, the
outcome of the contest hinged on the running ability of Nathan Johnson. Though Johnson picked
up 7 yards on the carry, Peabody dropped him at the 5 as time ran out.
It was a hard loss to take for many reasons. First off it was the first loss of the season and the
loss appeared to significantly damage Winnfield’s hopes of a district title. Second, it was a game the Tigers felt they
could have won. Winnfield led Peabody in virtually every statistical category. Both teams ran 41 rushing plays, but Winnfield
made the most of their possessions. Winnfield had 161 total yards to Peabody’s 98.
In a decade known for the best defensive units in the history of the program, the most impressive display of defensive
came in the 50-game period that began with the third game of the 1970 season and stretched to the sixth game of the 1974 season,
the Peabody game. During that 50-game stretch, the Tiger football program went 40-10-0. In all ten of those losses the Tigers
scored one touchdown or less and likewise in five of those ten losses the Tiger defenses held the opposition to one touchdown
or less. It’s not like quality defensive play was the only thing witnessed by Tiger fans during that particular 50-game
stretch. The highest scoring offensive unit (1971) in school history up to that point was fielded during that period. There
were recording-breaking offensive accomplishments during that stretch, including the longest pass reception for a touchdown,
the most single-season passing yards and the most points scored in a game in modern times, just to name a few. Likewise, the
1971 and 1972 season’s fielded the most potent kick return teams ever put together at the school. But, the one constant
was the play of the Tiger defensive units fielded from the 1970 season through the 1974 season. There was one other constant:
all of those units were guided by one person – Jerry Bamburg.
The numbers are staggering. The primary goal of any defense is to keep the opposition from scoring. During that 50-game
stretch Winnfield only gave up 45 touchdowns, for an average of less than one touchdown per game. Only one opponent scored
as many as four touchdowns in a single game during that stretch (Jena, 1972) and only three other opponents scored more than
two touchdowns in a single game (Tioga, 1970; Bolton, 1973 and Pineville, 1973). Turn that around and you can say that Winnfield
held 46 of those 50 opponents to two touchdowns or less. Winnfield didn’t have to get into too many scoring battles
during this period. Eighteen teams were shutout, with an additional nineteen teams held to one touchdown. That means that
37 teams (74%) of the teams Winnfield played during that period were held to one touchdown or less. That took a lot of pressure
off of the Tiger offenses to score.
One thing that occurred time
and time again during this period is the number of times the Tiger defense gave the ball to the respective Winnfield offensive
units in excellent field position. Takeaways gained on the opponents side of the field or series that begin at mid field or
further makes for much less work by an offense. That is what the defensive units of the early and mid 1970s
did for Winnfield football.
To keep a team from scoring,
a defense has two simple, basic missions – keep the opposition from running or passing. Most any offensive coordinator
will tell you that they need to gain at least 200 yards rushing for a game, and if they have any kind of passing attack at
all, a 100 yard outing would be something to shoot for. During the 50-game stretch beginning with the third game of the 1970
season and extending to the sixth game of the 1974 season, Tiger offensive units gained either 200 yards rushing or 100 yards
passing in 33 of 50 games. By comparison, Winnfield’s opponents only cracked the 200-yard rushing barrier five times
during that period and only passed for 100 or more yards five times. Even if you use more conservative numbers, the
results are just as impressive. During the same 50-game period, Tiger defensive units held the opposition to under 100 yards
rushing 31 times (62%) and under 50 yards passing 33 times (66%). In over half of the games in that 50-game
stretch, the Tiger opposition failed to reach 100 total yards, as 26 of 50 teams failed to reach the century mark
for total yards.
Collectively, in those fifty games the opposition rushed for 3,271 yards and passed for 1,691. If that sounds like
large numbers, consider that this total represents an average of 65.4 yards rushing per game and 33.8 yards passing per game.
That is an average of only 99.2 total yards per game. Any defensive coordinator in the country will accept that average.
Where the Tigers were stingiest on defense was in the passing game. The lowest regular season totals ever amassed in
the program came during this stretch, as the 1970 team set the standard for fewest passing yards allowed (413 yds.), a record
which still stands today. It wasn’t until the 2001 team held the opposition to under 500 yards passing that the teams
from the early 1970s held the first four spots for fewest passing yards allowed. As it stands, there have been only six teams
in modern times that have held the opposition to under 500 yards passing during the regular season. In rank order, those include:
Fewest Regular Season Passing Yards Allowed
attempted 626 passes during that 50-game stretch and only competed 195 (31%) of those. Tiger defenders picked off 74 of those
passes. Only five of the 45 touchdowns allowed came through the air and Tiger reserve players allowed three of those.
But, it’s not like opposing teams had much more success on the ground. Five opponents were held to negative rushing
yards and an additional twenty-nine teams failed to gain 100 yards rushing – a figure typically seen as a good rushing
night for a single back. So, over two-thirds (68%) of the Tiger opponents during this particular 50-game stretch failed to
cover the length of the field on the ground for all of their carries in the game.
That kind of defense would be needed
as the 1974 team headed into the final four games of the regular season. That wouldn’t happen because almost inexplicably
the yardage came in chunks and even more staggering than that, the points came in totals unheard on in the Bamburg-era.
In short, the wheels were about to come off the 1974 season.
hopes of regrouping after the disappointing Peabody loss couldn’t have come against a tougher team. In week six, the
Tigers traveled to Alexandria to take on Bolton, the No. 1 team in District 3-AAA and the No. 1 team in the Class AAA rankings.
The Bears were, by far, the strongest team the Tigers had faced all year. Simply put, Bolton had no weaknesses. They had a
strong passing game, complete with three receivers who were game-breakers. But, Bolton led the district in rushing and had
the leading scorer and rusher in the district. All of that was made possible by an offensive line who averaged over 200-pounds
per man. Bolton had scored more points than anyone in the district (208).
If possible, Bolton was even stronger on defense. The Bear’s first team defense had yet to yield a point all
season long, and the second team had only given up four touchdowns. Bolton beat people by frustrating them with their defense
and then ringing up the points with their offense. They had fresh bodies on the field most of the time because they only had
one player who played both ways.
Winnfield came into the game
a little banged up, with the most noticeable loss being running back Daryl Turner. Only four seasons earlier,
four teams tied for the District 3-AAA title with two losses. Since then, every champion had either gone through the season
with an undefeated record or only had one loss. Since the creation of District 3-AAA in 1970, no team had made it to the playoffs
with more than two losses. In 1974, it appeared that Pineville and Bolton would battle it out for the district crown as both
teams headed into the home stretch with no district losses. Winnfield's loss to Peabody meant that the Tigers would likely
have to beat both of those teams if they were to have any shot at the district title and at beat at least one of those if
they were to earn a spot in the playoffs. And, of course, the Tigers would have to win every other game as well.
Coming into the Bolton game, Winnfield had only been shutout in three games during the 1970s. That was 3 games out
of 52 that had been played. The Bolton game made it 4 out of 53 as the Bears rolled to a 28-0 win over the Tigers. That was
the most points a Winnfield team had given up since the 1969 season. Bolton had the type of team that had Winnfield
played them five times, they still wouldn’t have beaten them any of those. It was Bolton’s year in District 3-AAA
and almost Bolton’s year in Class AAA as the Bears went on to take the district crown with a 10-0-0 regular season.
After that, Bolton won three straight playoff games and traveled to Monroe to take on the Richwood Rams at their home stadium
for the AAA state title. Richwood had been a fixture in Louisiana high school football during the 1970s. They regularly put
together one of the best teams in the state during the regular season, only to lose out early in the playoffs. The Rams finally
got their first state title in 1974 when they defeated Bolton 28-8.
Bolton defeated Winnfield with a solid ground game that piled up 258 yards rushing, the most rushing yards allowed
by a Tiger defense in the 1970s. The Bears nearly cracked the 100-yard mark through the air as well, posting 91 passing yards
to give Bolton 349 total contrast. In contrast, only two of the Tigers six playoff opponents during the 1970s had managed
to gain over two-hundred total yards; those being Hahnville in 1971 (212 yds.) and Crowley in 1972 (219 yds.).
The loss dropped Winnfield to 5-2-0 overall and 3-2-0 in district. Bolton and Pineville remained on top of the district
with 5-0 record. Tied with Winnfield in third place was Peabody (3-2-0) and right behind was Oakdale with a 2-3-0 record.
The tail spin ending to the season continued the next week when Oakdale took a 22-20 win and like the Peabody game
earlier in the season this was one of those losses that tends to stay with you. Oakdale took a 16-0 lead
in the first half and some teams would have rolled over at that point. Not the 1974 Winnfield Tigers. Winnfield
took control of the game in the third quarter when they pounded on a fumble 45 yards away from pay dirt on Oakdale’s
first possession of the half. Seven plays later, Nathan Johnson got the Tigers on the scoreboard with a 3-yard
run. Lyn Bankston booted the extra point to make the score 16-7 with just over eight minutes to go in the
third quarter. The comeback had begun.
The next time the Tigers
had the ball the Tiger offense went right back to work. Nathan Johnson got 17 yards in three straight carries
to give the Tigers a first down at the Winnfield 40. The Tigers went for it all on first down and they got it when Bankston
hit Mike Kimble 40 yards down the field, after which Kimble strolled into the end zone from
20 yards out. Bankston added the extra point to make the score 16-14 with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The next time Winnfield had the ball they were driving for the go-ahead touchdown when Bankston was
intercepted at the Oakdale 28-yard line. The Oakdale defender returned the ball to the Winnfield 40 and Oakdale moved that
distance in nine plays to extend their lead to 22-14 with 6:09 remaining in the game. Winnfield still had a chance to tie
the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion and the Tigers still had fight in them.
Bankston directed the Tigers on a 62-yard, seven-play drive, culminated
by a 34-yard Bankston to Kimble pass for the score. With the scoreboard reading 22-20 and
3:39 remaining in the game, the Tigers obviously went for two. Bankston rolled out, and under a heavy rush,
threw the ball into the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete. The game wasn’t over with yet, though.
An inspired Tiger defense came in and shut down Oakdale in three plays, forcing a punt with just over two minutes to
go in the game. Winnfield only got to the Tiger 12-yard line on the return and were pushed back even further when they were
flagged for a clipping penalty. With the ball resting on the Winnfield 2-yard line, Winnfield got to their own 16 in two plays,
setting up one of the most thrilling plays of the season. With the clock showing just under a minute to go in the game and
the Tigers trailing by two, Bankston found Mike Kimble all alone on the sidelines and hit
him with a pass. Kimble appeared to be headed for a touchdown as he easily got past mid-field and neared
the Oakdale goal line. But, Oakdale’s safetyman had an angle on Kimble and brought him down just short
of the goal line at the Warrior 3. Winnfield had forty five seconds to get the 3 yards they needed to win the game. On first
down, the Tigers tried the same play they had scored their first touchdown on, sending Darrell Turner straight
ahead on the wham play. But, Turner was rocked at the line of scrimmage and he fumbled, which Oakdale recovered
at the 1-yard line. Oakdale ran out the clock and walked away with the win.
If the Tigers psyche wasn't shattered coming into the game, it certainly was now. Like the Peabody game, Winnfield
came away from the Oakdale game thinking they could have won this one. It was a game of ifs and buts. The 5-0-0 start and
No. 4 ranking seemed like 100-years ago. After losing three straight and facing the powerful Pineville Rebels, there was an
air of disgust in the Tiger camp.
into the next to last week of the season, both Pineville and Bolton were tied for first place in the district, with the two
scheduled to meet the final week of the season. Though many Tiger fans hoped that Pineville would be looking ahead to Bolton,
those who knew football knew that Pineville would not be overlooking Winnfield. A loss to Winnfield would make the Bolton
game meaningless. Plus, Winnfield was a team every kid from Pineville wanted to beat. Winnfield came into the 1974 came riding
a five-game win streak over the Rebels.
In the first
eight games of the 1974 season, Pineville had scored 214 points and given up only 18. By comparison, Winnfield had scored
156 points and given up 70. The game would be played on Pineville’s home turf where Winnfield had not lost since the
1965 season. The Tigers hopes of avoiding four-straight losses in 1974 seemed slim at best.
Pineville came into the game ranked No. 3 in Class AAA and they proved from the start that they were one of the best
teams in the state. Rebel quarterback Bud Cespiva connected on 9 of 13 passes for 157 yards and continually
got the Rebels into scoring position. When he did, the Rebels capitalized to the tune of four touchdowns, with a fifth touchdown
added by a recovered the end zone. Pineville showed a balanced attack, getting 212 yards on the ground and 157 yards through
the air for 369 total yards and 16 first downs. Pineville moved to a 35-0 lead through three quarters and then coasted to
their ninth win of the season in the final quarter. The 35 points that Pineville scored represented the most points scored
by a Tiger opponent in the 1970s, the most points ever scored against a Bamburgh-led defense at Winnfield,
and only the fourth time an opponent had scored thirty or more points against a Winnfield team since quarterback Lyn
Bankston’s father became head coach at Winnfield during the 1966 season. The loss to Pineville
marked the program’s fourth straight loss. That was the longest losing streak since the 1965 team lost seven consecutive
Winnfield turned their attention to the season-ending game against the Jena
Giants. Winnfield had the opportunity of finishing the season at home and they still had one thing to play for. Heading into
the final game of the year with a 5-4-0 record, the team had a chance to extend the school’s streak of winning seasons
to nine years with a win over Jena. When the team was 5-0 and needed only one more win to secure the winning season, that
seemed like a modest goal. That now became the talking point of the week heading into the Jena game.
The Giants had only won two games all year and had given up the second-most points in the district (200). While Jena
lacked strength up front, there was no shortage of talent in the backfield. Junior running back Connie Hatcher
was the type of back who, according to Coach Bamburg, “will run off and leave any man on the field
if he gets a good opening.”
At the end
of the first quarter, Jena led 7-0 and it appeared the Tigers would have to work much harder than anyone expected to get the
win over Jena. But, the Tiger offense got going in the second quarter and by the time the two teams broke for halftime, Winnfield
had scored more points than they had in any game since the fifth game of the year.
Buford Jordan, Tiger linebacker, set up the first Tiger touchdown when he recovered a Jena fumble
on a punt return at the Giant 19-yard line. On second down, Nathan Johnson caught a pass from Bankston
and ran right up the middle of the field for a 14-yard touchdown. Bankston tied the game up with his extra
point kick with 6:56 showing on the second quarter clock.
later, Tiger defensive lineman Bruce Shepard fell on a loose ball in the end zone to up the Tiger lead to
13-7. The play was set up after the Tiger kick return team nailed the Jena return man inside the Giant 10-yard line.
Winnfield’s defense continued their mastery over Jena on the next series when they dropped the Giants for losses
totaling 21 yards, forcing them to punt from their 1-yard line. The Jena punter shanked a punt off his foot, giving Winnfield
the ball at the Jena 27. On first down, Bankston hit Kimble with a 25-yard pass, good for
a first and goal from the Jena 2. Johnson got the score on the next play to enable Winnfield to move to a
21-7 lead. Johnson’s touchdown culminated a four-minute span in which the Tigers had scored 21 points.
Winnfield scored the first three times they had the ball in the second half to move to a 42-7 lead. Jena scored a meaningless
touchdown with 17 seconds showing on the game clock to make the final score 42-13. Winnfield had their most productive offensive
night of the year, getting 218 yards rushing and 158 yards passing for 376 total yards. The Tigers only ran 46 plays all night
for an average gain of over 8 yards per play. Lyn Bankston threw 17 passes and connected on 10 of those,
with two of those going for touchdowns. Leading rushers for Winnfield were Darrell Turner who got 86 yards
on four carries and Nathan Johnson who had 58 yards on 12 carries.
Winnfield ended the season with a 6-4-0 record overall and a 4-4-0 mark in district play. That was good enough to finish 5th
in the district, the first time a Tiger team had finished out of the top two spots since the 1970 team, who also finished
fifth. Bolton polished off Pineville 32-14 to take the district crown, while Pineville finished second. Peabody came in fourth
with a 5-3-0 mark and Marksville took the fourth spot with a 4-3-1 record.
Tiger football fans entered the season with guarded expectations, considering the number of holes that had to be filled
and the necessity of playing sophomores at key positions. Before the season began, a 6-4-0 season didn't seem unreasonable.
But, the team performed beyond what anyone expected in the first half of the season, rolling to five wins and allowing only
two touchdowns in the process. When the Tigers rose to the No. 4 spot in the state, that probably was a case of Winnfield
being rated higher than what they were capable of sustaining. The Tigers were clearly over-matched against Bolton and Pineville.
The fact that Winnfield played two teams during the regular season who were among the top five teams in the state shows the
level of competition the Tigers had to face in the second half of the season.
It could be argued that the Tigers could have won the losses to Oakdale and Peabody. In both of those games turnovers
and missed opportunities inside the opponent’s goal line spelled the difference in the game. At best, the team could
have finished at 8-2-0. That still would have kept Winnfield at home during the playoffs.
It is best to focus on the team and individual accomplishments during the season. Anyone who followed the Tigers during
the 1974 season saw their share of exciting, record-breaking plays and tough, tough defense. True, winning is why you play
the game. But, is it possible to focus on winning without being consumed by it? There are other measures
of success to a season than the bottom line. All things considered, the 1974 season was a success.
Lyn Bankston ended the season with 12 touchdown passes. That tied him with Mike Tinnerello
for third place on the single-season touchdown-passing list. Like Tinnerello, he accomplished that feat in
his sophomore season, so he tied the sophomore touchdown passing record. His favorite target on almost half of those touchdown
passes was Mike Kimble, who ended the season with 5 touchdown catches. That was tied for the third-most touchdown
catches in a single season, behind Tommy Wyatt's 9 TD receptions (1959) and John Wayne Williams'
8 TD catches (1971). Kimble tied seven other Tiger receivers.
A month after the season ended Coach Joe Dosher turned in his letter of resignation, leaving behind
the head coaching position he had held for five seasons. Coach Dosher cited personal health reasons as the
explanation for his departure. He elected to stay in the Winn Parish school system in a teaching capacity. During Dosher's
five-year tenure he guided the Tigers to a 42-14-0 record. He left the position with the third-highest number of wins by a
coach, trailing only Hoss Newman (53) and Alwin Stokes (47). Dosher got
his wins in a five-year tenure, while Stokes and Newman coached 12 and 10 years respectively.
Coach Stokes won .746 of the games he coached, highest among coaches that had coached two years or more at Winnfield
High School. Joe Dosher won .750 of the games he coached, which at the time was just ahead of Stokes’
feat, but trailed the .900 winning percentage posted by Zollie Bennett who only coached one season (1928).
Bennett’s mark was the highest winning percentage ever posted by a Tiger coach.
Dosher left the program with a 30-10 record in district games. That topped Hoss
Newman’s record of 21 district wins and remains the most district wins during the first 100 years of Tiger
By the end of the 1974 season, only three Tiger coaches had taken teams to
the playoffs, including Hoss Newman, Tommy Bankston and Joe Dosher. Coach Dosher's 1971
team went further than any team in school history, making it to the Class AAA finals. In five seasons, Dosher
coached in six playoff games. That was more playoff games than Coaches Newman or Bankston
coached in combined. Coach Dosher led the school to one out-right district title, one co-championship and
one runner up. In the process, his teams won 30 district games; the most district game wins by any Tiger head coach who coached
during the 20th century.
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- 5-5-0, *District - 5-3-0) In February 1975, Jerry
Bamburg was hired to take over the head coaching duties at Winnfield Senior High School in actions taken by the Winn
Parish School Board. Considering his credentials, his selection should have been the easiest personnel hire the school board
ever made. Bamburg had been the defensive coordinator at the high school since 1970. During that time, he
was the driving-force behind the most dominant defensive units ever put together at the high school. For that five-year span,
70% of the offenses he designed defensive plans against scored one touchdown or less. When a Bamburg-defense
was on the field, the Tiger offense usually only had to score a couple of touchdowns to enable Winnfield to win the game.
Specifically, the Tigers were 40-1-0 between 1970 and 1974 whey they scored 12 points or more. His defenses consistently gave
the Tiger offense the ball in or near scoring territory and effectively demoralized teams with their overpowering play.
So dominate were the Tiger defenses during the first half of the 1970s that those units rank among the top-four of
teams who played in the twentieth century in almost every statistical category. When you consider just the regular season
statistics, here's how the defensive units from 1970 to 1973 rank when compared to other Tiger football teams during the first
100 years of Tiger football:
Rank yds. Rank
97 11 1,306
1,533 5 35
1 (T) 567
4 1,004 2
The Winnfield job would be Bamburg’s second stint as a head coach. After coming to Winnfield as an
assistant under Coach Tommy Bankston in 1966 Bamburg left Winnfield in 1969 to take over
the Ferriday head-coaching job. He returned to Winnfield in 1970, where he orchestrated the amazing run of defensive units
who gained a statewide reputation. Under his guidance, six Tiger defensive players were selected to a first-team All-State
slot and two players were named the Most Outstanding Defensive Players in the state. Upon accepting the head-coaching job
at Winnfield Bamburg stated, “This is one of the best head coaching opportunities in the state of Louisiana
because of the interest shown by the town and the kids that play the game.” That was one of the key reasons for the
success of the program.
The program lost one assistant coach following the 1974 season when Chal
Rascoe requested to be assigned solely to the classroom. New hires in the football program were David Elkin
and Clay Bohanan. Elkin had coached in the high school ranks since the 1969 season, serving as head coach
at Wisner High School prior to coming to Winnfield. Bohanan came to Winnfield from Bossier City, where he
had been the head football coach at Green Acres Jr. High School.
lost 11 seniors from the season before, but those would be replaced with 14 seniors on the 1975 roster. Nine of those seniors
were letterman, and the team as a whole had 17 returning lettermen. Bamburg, of course, would stay with his
4-4 defense and he had a slew of seniors to choose from to man that defense, including eight lettermen that had played in
the secondary at one time or another. On offense, Bamburg choose to go with an I-slot to take advantage of
the stable of backs that he had. The offense, like the defense, would be made up of a core group of seniors.
high school team needs senior leadership. Coach Bamburg knew he had a number of seniors who could play. No
coach knows whether his seniors will step-up and provide the leadership the team needs. Heading into the opening game, here’s
the starting offensive and defensive unit announced by Coach Bamburg.
Lyn Bankston QB Jr.
Tommy Chatman DT
Freddie King RB
Sr. Rankain Curry
Travis Luther FB Sr.
Nathan Johnson RB Jr. Keith
Buford Jordan C Jr.
Bruce Shepherd OT Jr. Buford
Ricky Gray OG Sr.
Randy Brewton CB/P
Steve Jones OG Sr. Oberal
Howard Wilson OT
Sr. Marcus Jones DB
Keith King OE Sr.
Danny Parker DB
Mike Kimble WR Sr. Freddie
Winnfield again competed in the highly competitive District 3-AAA. After
sitting out of the playoffs the year before, the team entered the season with three goals. First, win the district title.
That hadn’t been done since the 1972 season when the Tigers shared the title with Natchitoches. Second, make the playoffs.
It had been two years since the seniors were on a team who played in a playoff game and the underclassmen had never been on
a playoff team. Third, have a winning season. The program had gone nine years without having a losing season. Prior that streak,
the longest streak of winning seasons since the 1920s was three, which came between 1960 and 1962.
The Tigers opened the season at home against the West Monroe Rebels. Coach Bamburg went into the game
knowing that he would have his hands full against the AAAA club, but he also knew that such a non-district game could pay
dividends once district play began. Bamburg said in an interview with The Enterprise, “We
know that West Monroe likes to play leather-popping, helmet-cracking, gang-tackling type football, but then we have a reputation
for that ourselves.” The two teams traded scores as if the game
was being scripted by some Hollywood movie writer. In the first quarter the Rebels got on the scoreboard