Winnfield High School Football 1980-1989
The Winnfield Tiger football program entered the 1980s in the best shape it had entered any new decade. Winning does
that to a program and especially winning playoff games. Winnfield football had been doing a lot of the later lately. All good
football programs are built over time, so the success achieved in the Tiger football program had been a progressive, steady
development. Players of the early 1980s took all of that for granted. They couldn’t remember when Winnfield wasn’t
a contender for the playoffs. A player on the 1980 team, for example, would have been born well after Winnfield first made
a playoff appearance in 1957 and even after the great three-year playoff run from 1959 to 1961. The Winnfield program would
have made nine playoff appearances during the lifetime of every player on the team because the Tigers had been in the playoffs
that many times in the previous 15 years. Those players on the team who grew up in Winnfield (which was most) were raised
knowing that Winnfield football always won more games than they lost and they knew that the Tigers were usually in a title
hunt, if only a district title. The program was riding a 14-year string of non-losing seasons, so the players of
the early 1980 weren’t even in elementary school yet when Winnfield had its last losing season in 1965.
All of that success set the stage for the great playoff runs of the early 1980s. In just the first three years of the
decade the program would witness some of the biggest regular season and playoff wins in school history, post some of the most
impressive seasons, and field some of the greatest players the school had ever produced. In just the first four years of the
decade, the school would win more games than all of the teams from either the decade of the 1930s or the 1940s. In terms of
overall wins, the combined teams of the 1980s won 79 football games, the second-most wins of any decade, trailing only the
1970s. Conversely, the program only lost seven football games between 1980 and 1983, which gave the program an overall record
of 41-7-0 in the first four years of the decade. That was easily the best start of a decade.
Winnfield dominated the most during the early 1980s was in district games. The program brought a 15-game win streak in district
games into the decade. That string was snapped in the second district game of the 1980 season, but Winnfield’s record
in district games in the first half of the decade (1980-1984) was 16-2-0. That translated to playoff appearances. In just
the first five years of the decade, the Tigers made it to the playoffs four times and played in 11 playoff games, which alone
was the second-most number of playoff games played for an entire decade. Teams from the 1980s would continue the
trend of a steady climb in playoff game appearances that had begun in recent decades. The real success of a high school football
program is seen in how well they do in playoff games. If you want to measure the steady improvement of the Winnfield High
School football program, the number of playoff game appearances and playoff wins by decade tells the story.
Number of Teams Number
Prior to 1950s
For the decade of the 1980s, the program
had an overall record of 79-33-0, the second-most wins of any decade and the second highest winning percentage (.705) of any
decade. But, the one major claim to fame for the decade came during the 1982 season when the program finally climbed on top
of the mountain, winning the school’s first state title on the playing field. The 1982 Class AA title game, played on
a Saturday morning in the Louisiana Superdome, was the win that fan’s voted their favorite for the All-Century poll
conducted during the 2000 football season, and rightfully so.
But, the decade was more
than just about winning. If that is all that makes a football season successful, then every team that has lost a football
game is a failure in some measure and certainly that’s not so. Aside from winning games, the decade of the 1980s was
most characterized by the success the program had in the passing game. That’s what Tiger football was all about in the
second half of the decade. Team and individual records were rewritten in most major passing categories during the 1985-1989
period. That made for an exciting brand of football and mirrored the development of the wide-open nature of high school football
across the country. Winnfield football was just keeping pace, like it always had.
KEY PLAYERS/COACHES OF THE 1980s
Doug Moreau (1979-1984, Head Coach) Moreau is the only coach in the
history of the program to lead a Tiger team to a state title win on the playing field. That occurred in 1982 when the
Tigers defeated John Curtis 23-14 for the Class AA title. True, Coach Alwin Stokes and his 1919 squad
won a title, but that was a declared title, not one decided in a game. When Moreau arrived in 1979 he had
immediate success. He took his first team to the semi-finals and his first four teams went a combined 43-7-0 overall and 13-1-0
in district play. Three of those teams won the district crown, with the only exception being the 1980 team who was district
runner-up. His three playoff teams in that span reached two semi-final round games and one state title game. Moreau
finished his career at Winnfield with an overall record of 58-14-0 and a district record of 20-2-0. He won four district
titles in his six-year tenure and sent five of his six teams to the playoffs. Moreau won more district titles
than any other Tiger head coach. His playoff record at Winnfield was 11-4-0. Moreau’s overall winning percentage of
.804 is the highest of any Tiger coach who had a tenure of two or more years. He ranks second on the overall win list
and first on the playoff win list. His regular season winning percentage of .825 (47-10-0) is the highest of any Tiger
coach and he and Larry Dauterive (.714 between 1976 & 1978) are the only coaches in the program with
a winning percentage in the playoffs. Moreau’s playoff winning percentage was .833. His eleven win total in the
playoff is double that of second place Larry Dauterive and Joey Pender (1998-2005) who both
had five. All six of Moreau’s teams had winning records. That is the most winning seasons produced
by any Tiger head coach.
Chip Little (1979-1980,
OT & DL) Two year starter in both the offensive
and defensive lines. Was a two-time first team All District selection at offensive tackle and also earned first team All District
honors as a defensive lineman in 1980. Little is the only lineman in the history of the program to
earn first team honors on both sides of the ball in the same season. The only other player to earn first team honors
as both an offensive and defensive lineman in separate seasons is Roger Williams (1983-1984). Was the sixth
ranked defensive lineman and fourth-ranked offensive tackle by the Expert Panel voting on the All Century poll of 2000. The
fans made Little their fifth choice at offensive tackle.
Latham (1978-1981, PK, OG & DL) Latham
is one of the most prolific kickers in the history of the program. He currently holds the school record for extra point kicks
made in a game (8) – tied). When he booted 36 extra points in 1981 that broke Jerry Keen’s
(1969-1971) single season record by one. Latham’s single season record was broken the next season
by Garlon Powell who booted 39.
Latham first came on
the scene as a freshman when he shared kicking duties with Tommy Campbell. In that 1978 season Latham
booted 24 of 29 PAT kicks. He also became the single game, single season and career field goal leader in one game, that coming
in the Haynesville game of 1978 when he kicked four field goals, with three of those being in overtime and the final one giving
the Tigers a 16-13 win. He booted six other field goals to end his career with ten field goals. That not only makes him the
career leader but is more than double that of any other kicker.
Latham holds the school
record for longest field goal (47 yds.) and in fact has kicked the school’s three longest field goals (47, 46 and 45
yards). Latham kicked 27 of 34 attempted PATs in 1979, 38 of 49 attempted in 1980 and 23 of 27 attempted
Latham also played offensive guard and in the defensive line his
final two seasons. Latham was a three-time first team All District selection as kicker. That makes him one
of only nine players to earn first team All District honors three times at one position. Latham also
earned first team All District honors at nose guard his senior season. Latham scored 150 career points, which
included 112 extra points, ten field goals, one safety, one two-point conversion run and a 9 yard touchdown run. At the time
that was the third highest total ever amassed, trailing only Jerry Keen (1969-1971) and Ricky Chatman
(1976-1979). Latham remains one of only a dozen players to score 150 or more career points. He was
the consensus place-kicker by both the Expert Panel and fans voting in the All Century poll. He received six first place
votes by the eight-member Expert Panel. The only players to get as many or more first place votes from the Expert Panel are
Anthony Thomas (1993-1996) and Lionel Johnson (1970-1972) who both received 7 first place
votes; Thomas at running back and Johnson at linebacker.
Ken Maloy (1980-1981, C & DL) Two-year starter at center and in the defensive line as a junior. Earned second-team
All District honors as a junior and first team All District and All State honors at that position as a senior. Maloy
is one of only three Tiger centers to earn first team All State honors (see Harold Wood, 1920 and Ryan Porter,
1998) The Expert Panel ranked him sixth among centers and the fans voted him seventh.
Perry Myles (1980-1982, RB & DB) Three-year starter at running back. Started in the defensive backfield as a sophomore and junior
but used primarily on offense his senior season. Myles was the most prolific rusher in the history
of the program up to his time and the exact extent of his accomplishments are not known. That is because the complete rushing
totals from both his sophomore and junior seasons are not known. The only single game rushing total known from Myles’
sophomore season is the Many game where he rushed for four touchdowns and ended the night with 132 yards. That feat tied a
single game rushing touchdown record, as Myles joined five other players that had rushed for four touchdowns in a single game.
Myles was the first sophomore to accomplish that feat and in fact at the time he was the only underclassmen
to rush for four touchdowns in a single game. He rushed for three other touchdowns during his sophomore season, with those
touchdown runs alone totaling 31 yards. Therefore, all that is known about his rushing total from his sophomore season
are those 163 yards, though he was running the football throughout the season. During his junior season his rushing total
is known for only five of the team’s thirteen games. Myles had over 100 yards rushing in four of those
five games and his total for those five games was 579 yards. He recorded twelve rushing touchdowns his junior season and his
rushing total for touchdowns scored in games where his rushing total is not known adds 55 more yards to his total. Therefore,
what is known about his junior season is 634 rushing yards, though he was the leading rusher on a team that gained 2,846 yards
rushing. Myles undoubtedly rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1981, but that is not known for sure.
His full statistics from his senior season on the state championship 1982 team are known. During that season Myles
became the program’s first 1,500-yard rusher by ending the year with 1,557 rushing yards. When you add the “known”
rushing totals from his sophomore and junior seasons to his senior season total that gives Myles 2,354 rushing
yards. In short, his complete game rushing totals are only known for 20 of the 37 games he carried the ball in. Even
his known total was second all-time at the time, trailing only Nathan Johnson (1974-1976), who had 2,825
career rushing yards, though he too had unaccounted for games that totaled five in number. So, Johnson was
likely the school’s first 3,000-yard career rusher, but Myles undoubtedly rushed for over 3,000 yards
in his career as well.
Myles ranks eight on the career rushing list when comparing
his known total to other rushers. He most likely ranks fifth on the all-time list because he would have only needed
to have rushed for 800 yards in those 16 games in which his rushing total is not known to move into fifth place. He
would have had to have average 50 yards rushing per game to do that. Since his single game rushing average for the 20
games where is rushing total is known is 113 yards per game and since he never rushed below 66 yards in the 20 games where
is total is known, it is reasonable to assume he gained at least 800 or more likely well over 1,000 more rushing yards that
his total shows. He would have had to have gained an additional 1,500 more rushing yards to move into the fourth spot
on the all-time career rushing list.
After rushing for 7 touchdowns as a sophomore and 12 as
a junior Myles shattered the single-season rushing touchdown total set by Ricky Chatman
in 1979 (16) by rushing for 23 touchdowns in 1982. That gave Myles 42 career rushing touchdowns which was
11 more than second place Ricky Chatman at the time. In fact, Myles’ single
season total of 1982 was tied with Jerry Keen’s (1969-1971) career total.
Myles had two games where he rushed for four touchdowns. He is the first player to do that twice and
is the only player other than Anthony Thomas (1993-1996) to accomplish that feat more than once. Myles
was the scoring leader of the semi-finalist 1981 team with 74 points. He and teammate Garlon Powell
combined to score 310 points the next season, as Powell ended the 1982 season with 166 points and Myles
added 144 point. The single season scoring record up to that time was the 130 points scored by John Wayne Williams
in 1971. Therefore, both Powell and Myles broke that record. Those two totals by Powell
and Myles are still the highest single season scoring total by any player other than Anthony Thomas
who had three seasons in which he scored over 180 points. Myles finished his career with 244 points, which
broke Jerry Keen’s (1969-1971) career mark of 207 points. Myles is one of only nine
players to score 200 or more points in their career and he currently ranks fifth on that list.
had 16 known games in which he rushed for 100 yards or more in his career, with 10 of those games coming in the 1982 season
alone. That was a career and single season mark at the time. His post-season honors included back-to-back first team All District
honors at running back between 1981 and 1982. The Expert Panel ranked Myles in a tie with Jeffery
Dale at ninth on the all-time running back list. He was ranked tenth by the fans, just behind John
Wayne Williams (1970-1971).
(1980-1981, FB, DE & LB) Mills is the only player from the 1982 state champion team named to a first team All State squad. That came at the linebacker position where he was credited
164 tackles during the 1982 season. That ranks as the second highest single season total of all time, trailing only Lionel
Johnson’s 1971 total. His 1982 tackle-per-game average was 11.7.
Mills actually began his career as a defensive
end during this sophomore season. He played his last two seasons at linebacker and was named by the Expert Panel of the All Century
poll as the program’s fourth-best linebacker behind Lionel Johnson (1970-1971), Ricky Chatman
(1976-1979) and Charles Poisso
Mills’ career ended slightly earlier
than he would have liked as he broke his arm in the third quarter of the 1982 state title game against John Curtis. He also
played three seasons at the fullback position, where he recorded fifteen career rushing touchdowns. That total placed him in a tie
for 7th on the all-time list at the time and still ranks in the top twenty.
Mills was a first team All District defensive
end as a sophomore and a two-time first team All District linebacker. He earned second team All District honors at back his junior season.
Mills is the only sophomore to ever earn All District status at a defensive end position and one of only nine sophomores
All District honors at any defensive position. The only three-time first team All District performers at a defensive position are
Mills, Ricky Chatman (1977-1979), Oshay Booker (1996-1998), DeCarlus
and Freddie King (1997-2000) Benny Mitchell (1980-1982, WR, KR & DB) Along with Eric
Caldwell (11 in 1986) and Freddie King (10 in 1998), Mitchell is the only player
to catch double-digit TD passes in a single season. He had 10 in 1982. His 15 career TD receptions are second highest in
the history of the program, trailing only Freddie King’s
total. Catching multiple (2 or more) touchdown passes in a single game is a rarity in the program. That feat has only happened
a total of 28 times. Only seven players have done that in more than one game. Prior to 1982 four players had two games in the
same season in which they had caught two touchdown passes. In 1982 Mitchell had three games in which he caught multiple
touchdown passes to become the first player to do that three times. Since then that has only happened twice, first in 1986 when
Eric Caldwell had four games
in which he caught multiple touchdown passes and then in 1998 when Freddie King had four games with multiple TD catches.
The leaders for career multiple touchdown catch\games are King
with 6, Caldwell with 4 and Mitchell
with 3. All total he had 10 touchdown receptions in 1982, which broke Tommy Wyatt’s single season record of 9 that had
stood since the 1959 season. Mitchell’s total has only been topped once, that coming in 1986 when Eric
Caldwell had 11 touchdown reception. Mitchell finished his career with 15 touchdown reception with
was two more than Wayne Woods (1965 -1967) career total of 13. Only Freddie King (1997-2000), with 20, has more career touchdown receptions.
In 1982 4 of his 10 touchdowns by reception came in the playoffs against those talent-rich playoff opponents. Only five players
have ever caught more than one touchdown pass in a playoff series in one season with four of those have two touchdown catches
in the playoffs, compared to Mitchell’s four touchdown catches. He also had a touchdown catch in
1981 to give him three career touchdown catches in the playoffs. No other player has more than two. Mitchell and
Mickey Zimmerman (vs. Haughton 1976) are the only players to have multiple touchdown catches in the same playoff game
and Mitchell did that twice; first against Rayville in the opening round and then against E. D. White in the semi-final
round. Mitchell was an opportunist when it came to his pass receptions because he is
no where near the single-season or career leaders in receptions. For example, in the 1982 season he only had 23 receptions total,
since 10 of those went for touchdowns he almost scored once out of every two times he touched the ball. His reception totals
from 1980 and 1981 are not known.
One measure of a gifted football player is whether that player excelled at more than one position. Include Benny Mitchell
among those players who was among the greatest of all-time at two functions. Besides being a career leader at wide receiver
Mitchell was one of the most successful return men in the history of the program. Mitchell
had five career punt returns for a touchdown. He trails career leader John Wayne Williams (1970-1971) by one and is two better than third place Jeffery
Dale (1977-1980). Only four other players have as many at two punt returns for scores. Mitchell
scored those punt return this way: one each his sophomore and junior seasons and three his senior season. He is the only player in
history of the program to have punt return touchdown in three different seasons. His three touchdown total is the second most of any single
season, trailing only John Wayne Williams
five. Only Mitchell and Dale have three punt returns for touchdowns in the same season and
four other players have as many as two punt returns for scores in the same season. The only players with three or more career
kick returns (punt or kickoff) for touchdowns include John Wayne Williams (1970-1971) with eight; Benny Mitchell
(1980-1982) and Freddie King (1997-2000) with five, Garlon Powell (1981-1983) and Andrew Riggs (1982-1984)
with four and Charles Oliver (1972-1973), Jeffery Dale (1978 -1980) and Viron Smith (1994-1996) all with
Another measure of a football threat is a player who can break the long
one. A total of nine (almost half) of Mitchell’s career twenty touchdowns covered 50 yards or more.
At the time that trailed John Wayne
Williams by one and tied Ricky Chatman’s total of 50-yard touchdowns. Currently, Mitchell’s
is tied for fifth highest in the history of the program.
Mitchell scored 15 total touchdowns in 1982, including
his 10 by reception, three by return and two by rush. At the time that was he third highest single-season total ever amassed.
Currently that ranks as the fourteenth-best single-season total. He ended his career with 23 total touchdowns, which is the
total as John Wayne Williams (1970-1971) and Nathan Johnson (1974-1976), all of which are
in fourteenth place.
Mitchell finished his career with 126 points scored, making him one of only 31 players to score 100 or more career points. He scored
90 of those points in 1982, which was third behind teammates Perry Myles and Garlon Powell for the team
lead. At the time, Mitchell’s total was higher than all but five players that had ever played for
Winnfield. His single-season total of 1982 still ranks in the top twenty.
The only post-season honors that came Mitchell’s way came during his senior season when he earned
team All District honors at wide receiver. However, the Expert Panel of the All-Century poll certainly recognized Mitchell’s
value to the program as that group gave Mitchell the most votes at the end position. In fact, only Anthony Thomas
at RB (1993-1996), Nathan Johnson at RB (1974-1976) and Greg Wagoner at TE (1969-1971)
earned more total points on the offensive side of the poll as voted on by the Expert Panel. The fans ranked Mitchell
number five as a return man and number seven as their wide receiver.
Jess Grigg (1981-1982, DL & OT)
Grigg alternated at offensive tackle his junior season but was a two-year year starter in the defensive line where
he was a two-time first team All District pick. Grigg is a fan favorite as he ranked third by the fans in balloting
for the all-time defensive lineman pick. That put him behind his brother Woody (1977-1978) and James Johnson
(1971-1972). The Expert Panel thought highly of Jess Grigg as well, placing him fifth among defensive linemen. Thomas King (1981-1983, DB & QB) King first broke into the lineup in the
defensive backfield as a sophomore where he earned first team All District honors.
He was the first sophomore to be named All District at defensive back and
is one of only six sophomores to earn that honor to date. However, he took over as the starting quarterback in 1982 and helped the program secure
22 wins between 1982 and 1983 as a prototypical Veer quarterback. King was a
first team All District quarterback in 1982 and 1983.
His rushing statistics and passing statistics
are equally impressive, though not in ways that most people
look at statistics. In 1982 King had two 1,000 yard rushers joining him in the backfield and two backs who broke the single
season scoring record (see Garlon Powell and Perry Myles). So, if all you knew was that King
rushed for 368 yards and rushed for ten touchdowns in 1982 you might conclude that he had a decent, though not impressive season.
The fact is that three of King’s touchdowns covered 70 or ore yards, including a 76 run for a touchdown
against John Curtis in the state title game, a 71 yard scoring run in the semi-final round game against E. D. White and a 71 jaunt against rival
Jonesboro-Hodge. Tiger quarterbacks have scored on runs of 70 or more yards only six times. King, therefore, has
half of the 70+ scoring runs by Tiger quarterback and holds the record for the longest touchdown run by a Tiger quarterback with his 76-yarder
against John Curtis. He rushed for one touchdown as a sophomore, with that one going 67 yards and he rushed for five touchdowns
as a senior, with one of those covering 60 yards. So, all total King had five rushing touchdowns that covered
60 or more yards. There have only been ten scoring runs by a Tiger quarterback that covered 60 more yards. King
has half of those. To take that one step further, only twenty Tiger players have two or more touchdown runs from scrimmage
60 or more yards. King and Mike Tinnerello (2) are the only quarterbacks from among that
There are only four players in the history of the program with five or more touchdown runs from scrimmage that covered 60
or more yards, including Anthony Thomas (17 between 1993 and 1996), Cornelius Patterson (8 between 1997 and 1999), Antonio Robinson
(7 between 2003 and 2004) and King
with his five.
As a passer King
threw for 1,169 yards in 1982 to become the sixth Tiger quarterback to throw for 1,000 yards in a single season. He is one of
only nine Tiger quarterbacks to accomplish that feat. King added 770 passing yards in 1983 to end his career
with 1,969 yards, which was third highest at the time. His career 102 completions ranks him eighth on the all-time list.
King threw 10 touchdown
passes in 1982 to become the seventh Tiger quarterback to reach the double-digit mark for TD passes in a season. He currently
ranks in the top ten on that list. He added 6 more touchdown passes in 1983 to finish his career with 16 touchdown tosses, which
is tied with Ricky Jordan
(1965-1966) for eighth place on the all-time list.
King was the clear choice by the Expert
Panel as the program’s all-time quarterback as he not only received the most votes from that group but five of the
eight members made him their first choice. Two others made him their second choice and the third made him their third pick. The
fans voting in the All Century poll had the same opinion of King as they too made him their top pick at quarterback.
Garlon Powell (1981-1983,
RB, PK & DB) Powell was a scoring machine. Give him credit for touchdowns by way of: rush, reception, punt
return and kickoff return; as well as by interception and fumble return. He also was a kicker who booted extra points and
has a field goal to his credit. That is eight means of scoring, which was the most ways any Tiger football player had scored
up to his time. John Wayne Williams (1970-1971), the previous leader, had scored in six different ways. The
only other players to match Powell’s total are Anthony Thomas (1993-1996) and Freddie
King (1997-2000). All total Powell
scored 337 career points. He was the first player to score as many as 250 career points and he remains the second highest scorer in school
history behind Anthony Thomas (1993-1996). Powell scored 54 points his sophomore season, which
established a new sophomore scoring record at the time and has only been topped by Anthony Thomas. The next season he
shattered the single season scoring mark of 130 pts. set by John Wayne Williams (1971) when he scored 166 points.
That is currently the fourth highest single season total but only Anthony Thomas, who had three seasons where
he scored more
has ever scored more points in a single season than Powell. During Powell’s senior
season he scored
135 points. Powell, Anthony Thomas and Jeffery Dale(1977-1980) are the only players in the history of the program to score 50 or more points in
three different seasons. Against Coushatta in 1983 Powell scored 32 points. That broke Jerry Keen’s 12
year old record of 30 pts. for single-game points scored. The only players in the history of the program to score 30 or more
points in a game are Powell, Keen, Anthony
Nash (1993) and Anthony Thomas (1993-1996).
All total Powell had 42 career rushing touchdowns, which tied Perry Myles (1980-1982)
at the time for the career lead and is currently the third most. Myles and Powell’s
total was 11 more than the school record prior to their participation in the program. In 1982 Powell rushed for 19 touchdowns,
which trailed teammate Perry Myles’ total that year by four. At the time those were the two highest
totals. In fact, only four players had ever rushed for more touchdowns in a career, including Nathan Johnson (20),
(23), Jeffery Dale (31) and Ricky Chatman (31). Powell rushed for four
touchdowns in a single game twice which tied a school record for rushing touchdowns in a game. One of those games was the Jena game of 1982; a game
in which Powell also returned an interception for a touchdown. That made Powell the first player to score 5 total touchdowns
in a single game. That has been matched or topped by only two other players, including Anthony Nash in 1993 and Anthony
Thomas six times between 1995 and 1996. Powell ended his career with 49 total touchdowns which included 42
rushing touchdowns, 3 by kickoff return and 1 each by reception, interception return, fumble return and punt return. That career total broke Jeffery
Dale’s school record of 36 and is currently the third most in the program.
His three career kickoff returns for scores set a new record that has only been
topped by one when Freddie King
(1997-2000) ran four kickoff returns back. Powell’s 95 yard kickoff return against Rayville is tied for the longest kickoff
return in school history.
in Powell’s career was his proficiency as a place kicker. He set a single season record when he booted 39 extra point in 1982.
While he had many opportunities to attempt extra points on the school’s all-time scoring team (595 pts.) he did convert on 39 of 45
attempts for an .867 percentage. That is the fourth best kicking percentage of all time. His career 64 PAT is third all-time.
There have only been
five games in which a Tiger kicker has successfully booted 8 extra points. Powell was the kicker in two of those games (vs. Ringgold & Coushatta, 1983).
He only booted one field goal in his career but that field goal may have been the most crucial field goal in school history. In the
title game the Tigers were holding a slim 20-14 second half lead and momentum appeared to be shifting to John Curtis. Powell
came in and booted a 25 yard field goal in the third quarter to account for the Tigers final 23-14 margin in that win. That
boot took pressure off of the Tiger defense the rest of that game. It was Powell’s only field goal of his career.
Powell’s rushing totals are quite impressive. His best rushing season was his junior year when he rushed for 1,314 yards. He
joined teammate Perry Myles (1,554) as the first Tiger tandem to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. That has only been matched
two other times. Powell had 1,190 rushing yards as a senior. He is one of only seven Tiger backs to have
more than one 1,000-yard rushing seasons. His complete rushing totals from his sophomore season are not known. What is known
is that he rushed for 208 yards on his 8 touchdowns alone that season. Therefore, it is known that Powell had
at least 2,712 career rushing yards, though he obviously had several hundred more rushing yards his sophomore season. His career total is thus
likely over 3,000 yards which would put him in the same company as only six other career 3,000-yard backs. Compared to the
other 3,000 yard backs Powell easily had the fewest barries. In almost half of his games he had under double-digit
carries and it was almost unheard of for him to carry the ball more than 15 times. The highest known single game carry total
of Powell’s career came in 1983 when he toted the ball 20 times against North Natchez. He gained 171 yards
that night. What was common was for him to gain that kind of yardage with half as many carries. Powell holds
the school record for highest single game per carry average (4 carries minimum), with that coming against Jena in 1982 when he gained 156 yards
on 4 carries for a 39.00 yard per carry average. There are several other examples like that, including: vs. Coushatta (1983),
182 yards on 6 carries for a 30.33 average; vs. Many (1983), 188 yards on 8 carries for a 23.50 average and vs. Many (1982) 117 yards
on 5 carries for a 23. 40 average.
One of the most remarkable
individual performances in the history of the program came in a two-game stretch during the 1982 season. Against Jena and
Ringgold in 1982 Powell carried the ball a combined 10 times. In those 10 carries Powell gained 278 yards
and scored touchdowns on 6 of those runs. The shortest of those runs was an 18-yarder and all the rest were 30 yards or longer. It
is not known how many times Powell carried the ball in 1982. What is known is that in seven games (half of
he carried the ball 70 times for 791 yards, an 11.3 yard per carry average. Included in those 7 games were three playoff
games which were theoretically the Tigers toughest opponents of the year. In the remaining 7 games he gained 523 yards and
it is unlikely he carried the ball more than 50 times. Assuming, then, that Powell carried the ball an even 120 times that would have
made his per carry average right at 11 yards per carry. Other individual game impressive rushing totals include the state championship game of 1982
when he was the teams leading rusher with 137 yards on 12 carries.
In 1983 he teamed with backfield mate Andrew Riggs (1982-1984) to gain 413 rushing yards against Ringgold. That marked the
first time two Tiger backs had gained 150 yards each in the same game. The team as a whole gained 555 rushing yards, which is still
the single-game team record.
If all of that weren’t
impressive enough, Powell also tied a school record with a 95 yard kickoff return against Rayville in the first
round of the 1982 playoffs and his 99 yard run from scrimmage against Many in 1983 is the longest run from scrimmage in the history
of the program.
All total Powell
had fourteen touchdown runs that covered 50 or more yards including 9 by rush, 3 by kickoff return, 1 by punt return and 1 by interception
return. The only player with more 50+ yard touchdown runs is Anthony Thomas.
Powell is one of only nine Tiger players (and
one of only six offensive players) to earn first team All District honors at the same position three years running. That came when was named
a first team All District running back in 1981, 1982 and 1983. The only other running backs to accomplish that feat are Anthony Thomas and Cornelius Patterson
Powell placed third at running back in balloting by the Expert Panel in the All Century poll and eighth by the fans. The fans also
voted Powell the sixth best place kicker in the history of the program.
Gary Irvin (1982-1983, DE)
Irvin manned a defensive end position for two years, earning first team All District and All State in
1983. He first started at defensive end on the state champion 1982 team. Irvin received the second most
votes from the Expert Panel and third most votes from the fans voting on the defensive end spot in the All Century poll.
Riggs (1982-1984, DB, KR & RB) Riggs is one of the more underrated players in the history of
program. All he did was set school records and put himself in several top ten career categories for rushing and kick returns.
In 1984 he tied the school record for the longest touchdown with a 100 yard interception return against Caldwell. He is the
first player to rush for 250 yards in a game, that coming in 1983 when he rushed for 257 yards against Ringgold. That was just under half of
the team 555 yards rushing which is still a school record. He also scored four touchdowns in the 1983 Ringgold game which tied the school record for
rushing touchdowns in a game.
Riggs didn’t carry the ball much so his single season totals aren’t that impressive. His best rushing
was his junior year when he rushed for just over 900 yards. However, he took advantage of the opportunities given him. He has the second-highest
single game rushing average, that coming in a 1984 game against Coushatta when he only carried the ball 4 times but he gained 147
yards for a 36.75 yard per carry average.
In 1983 he scored 14 rushing touchdowns, which at the time was the 5th
best on record and is currently still in the top twenty. He had a 90 yard touchdown run from scrimmage in 1983 and a 97 yard
run from scrimmage in 1984. There have only been ten 90+ yard touchdown runs from scrimmage and Riggs is the only
player to do that more than once. His two 90-yarders currently rank 3rd and 5th on the all-time list.
Riggs had 9 rushing touchdowns in 1984, as well as two touchdowns by reception, two by punt return and one each by kickoff return,
fumble recovery and interception return. Riggs is one of only six players to have multiple punt returns for touchdowns
in the same season. He ended his career with 23 rushing touchdowns, with tied Jerry Keen in 5th place at the
time and is still in the top ten. His 32 total touchdowns was also in the top five then and in the top ten now. Riggs was the leading scorer of the 1984 team,
posting 98 points that season. That total ranks in the top twenty of all time. His 188 career points was the fifth best up through the
1984 season and is currently the 11th best.
Riggs earned second team All District
honors at running back in 1983 and was a first team pick in 1984.
Al Simmons (1984-1985, OG &
DL) Simmons was a two year starter in the offensive line and a regular in the defensive line his
senior season. Earned first team All District and All State at offensive guard position in 1984 and was a second team All District
pick in 1985. The Expert Panel of the All Century poll ranked Simmons their second choice at offensive guard,
while the fans ranked Simmons fourth.
Eric Caldwell (1984-1986, RB, KR
& E; 2000-2005, Assistant Coach) Caldwell is one of only six players to earn first team All State honors at offensive
end. Caldwell is the school record-holder
for single-season TD receptions with 11 in 1986. That season he caught 46 passes for 858 yards; an 18.65 per yard average
per catch. That set a record for pass receptions in a season at the time and is currently second. His yardage total in 1986
is the third most all-time. Caldwell also holds the school record for multiple-touchdown
reception games in one season with four in 1986. That is also his career total, which is third best all-time.
As a sophomore Caldwell rushed for two touchdowns and
his 11 touchdowns by reception gives his 13 career touchdowns. He ranks fourth by the Expert Panel in the All Century poll and ranks in
the top ten
by the fans.
Clark (1987, P & PK) Sophomore kicker who transferred to Winnfield as a sophomore when his father took a job coaching
the freshman team. He finished the year with the highest single-season punting average in school history at 46.1 yards per kick.
He earned second team All District honors, but first team All State honors as a punter. Clark also booted 14 of 17 PAT
tries, connected on a 36 yard field goal and even ran a reverse from his wide out position 62 yards for a touchdown. Clark
moved away from Winnfield after his sophomore season.
Jeff Howard (1985-1986, DB & QB)
Howard is the school recorder holder for single-game passing yards. That came in a 237 yard performance against Oakdale in
1986. Also had another 200-yard passing game in 1986, that coming against Breaux Bridge. Howard joined Steve
Adams (1971-192) and Lyn Bankston (1974-1976) as the only quarterbacks with multiple 200-yard passing
He is the leader in single-game completions with 18 vs. Breaux Bridge in 1986 and he hold the record for most pass attempts
in a game with 45 in that same game against Breaux Bridge.. Had 13 touchdown passes in 1986 which is tied for fourth most
in a season. Had one other TD toss the season before to give him 14 career touchdowns which is still in the Top Ten. Howard
has 113 pass completions in his career which is ranked in the top ten and his 106 completions in 1986 is ranked third most
of all time.
Carey Broudy (1986-1988,
E & DB) Broudy had a school record three interceptions against Winnsboro in 1987. Broudy
received the third most votes at defensive backs by both the Expert Panel and the fans at large voting on the All Century Poll of 2000.He
was a two-time All District pick in 1987 and 1988 and the MVP defensive player in the district as a junior. Broudy
was a first team All State selection in 1988.
Machen (1987-1989, EB) Along with Steve Adams (1971), Machen is the only other
QB to throw for 20 or more TD passes in single season when he had an even 20 in 1989. Machen had 30 career
touchdown tosses, which is third most all-time. He is the single-season leader for passing yards with 1,852 yds. (in 1989)
and the career leader for pass completions with 199. Machen passed for 2,925 career yards, which is second
most all-time. He also holds the single-season record for highest passing completion percentage by completing 54.27% of his
passes (108 of 199) in 1989. That 1989 completion total is second highest of all time. His career completion total of 199
leads the program and he is one of only three quarterbacks to attempt more then 400 passes, as Machen attempted 404. There
have only been five games in the history of Tiger football when a quarterback completed 15 or more passes. Machen
has three of those. Machen was a first team All District selection in 1989 and was named co-MVP offensive
player in the district that year.
Michael Spangler (1989, WR & PK) Spangler is the single season leader for pass receptions, with
49 in 1989. He is one of only three players in the history of the program with three touchdown receptions that covered 60
ore more yards. He was a first team All District pick in 1989.
1980 (Overall - 8-2-0; District
3-1-0) After the 1979 season, the Winnfield football program
lost 17 lettermen, three All-State players, eight All-District players and a player who many considered to be among the top-ten
best football players in school history. After those kinds of losses, programs usually face rebuilding years unless you consider
this about the 1980 team: Winnfield returned 18 lettermen, three players who would earn All-State honors, eight players who
would earn All-District honors and a player who many considered to be among the top-ten best football players in the school’s
history. As is true in all good programs, 1980 would be a reloading year for Winnfield.
While the team had plenty of players who had playing
experience, what Coach Moreau lacked was proven starters. That was most notable on defense where only two
starters returned from the season before. One of those was team leader Jeffrey Dale. He entered his senior
season as a bonafide blue chip football player who Division 1 football programs already wanted. The season before, Dale
joined Darrell Mayes (1957), Don Jones (1960), Mike Spangler (1966), Lionel
Johnson (1971) and Ricky Chatman (1978) as the only players in school history to earn first team
All-State honors as a junior. Only Johnson and Chatman among that group repeated that feat
their senior season. By the start of summer practice, Dale had grown to 6' 4", 210 pds. Since Dale
was one of only two returning starters on the Tiger defense, he would simply have to carry the load in 1980.
Like Ricky Chatman,
Dale had established himself as one of the best defensive players in the history oaf the program and if that
was all he had accomplished as a Tiger, his reputation would have already been secured. But, like Chatman,
Dale was used in more than one facet of the game. Dale would be the Tiger’s go-to
guy in the offensive backfield in 1980. He already had two solid years at running back as he had alternated with Ricky
Chatman at the halfback slot. As a sophomore running back, Dale had gained 608 yards in only 97
carries and he topped that his junior season with 668 rushing yards. That gave him 1,276 career rushing yards heading into
this senior year. He was already fifth on the career rushing list at the school and with a good senior season he could become
only the third player to rush for 2,000 or more career rushing yards. The top five career rushers at the school heading into
the 1980 season were.
Ricky Chatman (1978-1979)
Jerry Keen (1970-1971)
Randy Poisso (1967-1968)
Jeffery Dale (1978-1979)
In a program rich in running back talent, Dale came into his senior
season ranked fifth on the all-time career rushing touchdown list with 18 rushing touchdowns to his credit. Ahead of Dale
were Ricky Chatman (29), Jerry Keen (23), Nathan Johnson (20) and Jimmy
Bolton (19). All total, Dale had scored 25 touchdowns as a Tiger, getting three touchdowns on punt
returns and four on pass receptions. Dale got all three of his punt returns for touchdowns as a junior. That
made him, John Wayne Williams (5) and Alan Carter (2) the only players in school history
to return more than one punt for a touchdown in a single season. In fact, those were the only three players to return more
than one punt for a touchdown in their entire career, with Williams adding one more punt return his junior
year. Dale's 25 career touchdowns were tied with Jerry Keen (1969-1971) for second-most
career touchdowns in school history, six behind career leader Ricky Chatman. With a respectable senior season,
Dale would take over the lead in that category.
The only other returning starter on the defensive side of the ball was second team All-District linebacker Greg
Lewis. Standing 5' 11" and weighing in at 180, Lewis was known for his aggressive play and
like Dale, would be expected to play on both the defensive side as well as in the Tiger backfield, where
he was a slashing runner.
Though he had few returning starters
(two on defense and five on offense), Coach Moreau would not have difficulty in finding 22 football players
to man his offense and defense. Among the 17 returning lettermen were enough players to fill nine defensive positions and
ten offensive positions. But, the two biggest problems Coach Moreau faced were the lack of depth and the
relative youth of the team. The team had approximately 20 football players who would have to carry the load the whole season.
In 1980, over half of the offensive and defensive starters would be made up of players going both ways. It was not unusual
for a Class AA school to have so many players going both-ways. But, team depth had been one of the strong points of the past
two Tiger teams. That was something missing on the 1980 team.
the team was young. When the starting lineup was announced for the opening game of the year only four seniors dotted the offensive
lineup and only five seniors were penciled in at starting defensive positions. The senior starters were, without a doubt,
solid football players, but it is hard to win in high school football with a team made up primarily of underclassmen.
Guiding the Tiger offense at quarterback would be junior letterman
Greg Powell. He had moved into a starting role at the tail of the 1979 season and had performed exceptionally
well. His backup would be senior utility man Chuck Jurek, who had been used primarily on the defensive side
of the ball during his varsity career, but he had taken snaps behind center and had lined up at a wide receiver spot as well.
Seniors Greg Lewis and Jeffery Dale would carry the load in the offensive backfield with
Dale running out of the halfback slot and Lewis manning the fullback position. Junior Earl
Funches also figured into the fullback position, while a pair of sophomore running backs in Perry Myles
and Marcel Mills also caught Coach Moreau’s eye in preseason drills. The offensive
backfield is a prime example of the Tiger’s dilemma - they had excellent people figured into the starting rotation,
but the backup players were short on experience.
The receiving corp was the
youngest group of the team because no senior player figured into any significant role there. Juniors Richard Williams
and Cedric Huey were joined by sophomores Benny Mitchell and Shad Roberts.
The interior offensive line consisted of five players who had
all earned letters the year before. Those included Ken Maloy at center, Glynn Creel and
Mark Hennigan at guards and Chip Little and Andy White at tackles. Like Jeffery
Dale, Hennigan and Little were returning first team All-District performers on offense and were
the sole returning starters in the offensive line. Coach Moreau also had senior Chris Carter
available for duty in the line as well as sophomore lineman Jay Huckaby.
Almost all of those players on the offensive side of the ball would see duty on defense as well. Across the line, Moreau
planned on starting Marcel Mills at one end slot and Richard Williams at another. Positioned
between those two were down linemen Chip Little, Chris Carter and Ken Maloy. All five players
across the defensive front had lettered the season before with the exception of Mills.
The line backing crew consisted of returning starter
Greg Lewis and junior returning letterman Earl Funches. Providing back up duty for those two was
sophomore Kenneth Gorham. It would be the first time in four years that a Tiger defense didn’t have
Ricky Chatman playing in it. But, Lewis had played alongside Chatman the season
before, so he was well versed in what it took to play that position.
Probably the most experienced group on either side of the ball was the defensive secondary. Dale,
of course, headed up that group, but both Chuck Jurek and Cedric Huey had lettered the season
before. Sophomore Perry Myles was also being given a look in the defensive backfield.
The Tiger kicking game was in the reliable care of Tommy Latham.
Though it seemed like he had been kicking for the Tigers for an eternity, Latham was only entering his junior
campaign. He first came on the scene as a freshman and already owned every place kicking record at the school. He set the
single-season record for most field goals his freshman year when he kicked four field goals, all in overtime against Haynesville.
That also gave him the career lead in that category, breaking Steve Stroud's 11-year old record of three
field goals. Latham added to that total his sophomore season by kicking three more field goals, giving him
seven field goals to his credit. At the time, only Stroud (3) and Bill Rowell (2) had ever
kicked more than one field goal in their career. In fact, the only other Tiger kickers who had ever kicked a field goal were
Carroll Long (1961) and Jerry Keen (1971). All total, there had been 14 field goals kicked
in the school’s history, making Latham the kicker in half of all field goals kicked. One of Latham's
field goals in the overtime game required him to kick a school record tying 32-yarder. All of his kicks during the 1979 season
exceed that distance, with his first being a 36-yarder and the other two covering 46 and 47 yards.
Only eight players in school history had ever kicked more than 20 extra points
during a single season. Latham had done that twice. In his freshman year, Latham kicked
24 extra points, even though he shared kicking duties with Tommy Campbell. Campbell booted
32 extra point kicks that season, including eight in one game, which was the single-game high at the school. In two years
time, Latham had kicked 51 extra points, one more than Jerry Keen's school record for career
extra point kicks. Besides Keen, Campbell and Latham, the only other kickers to kick more
than 25 extra points in a season were Carroll Long (29 in 1961) and Lyn Bankston (27 in
1976), Steve Stroud (21 in 1967) and Roger Long (20 in 1968). All total, Latham
had connected on 51 of 64 extra point attempts, a kicking percentage of .797.
About the only difference in the 1980 and 1979 schedules was the location of the games. The only change in the district
alignment was the departure of Coushatta from the district. Otherwise, Winnfield's district opponents remained the same in
Jonesboro-Hodge, Many and Mansfield.
The program was coming off the
best two-year period in school history, having gone 23-3-0 in 1978 and 1979, which included a 5-2 record in the playoffs.
That was one win better than the previous two-year best, which came during the 1971-1972 seasons in which the Tigers went
22-3-0. Likewise, that was two more playoff games than had ever been played in a two-year period (the previous high was five
between 1971 and 1972) and two more playoff wins than had ever been attained in consecutive years, with the three wins between
1971 and 1972 being the previous standard. So, the main goal that Coach Moreau had coming into the season
was to simply continue the success the program had experienced in recent years. The Tigers had won consecutive district championships,
so one other goal Coach Moreau had was to win a third straight championship. If the 1980 Tigers did that
they would be part of the second tandem to accomplish that feat, as only the 1959, 1960 & 1961teams had combined for back-to-back-to-back
district titles. Another goal was to make the playoffs. If the 1980 accomplished that feat, that would be the third consecutive
year the program had made it to the playoffs. There had only been two periods when the Tigers were in the playoff three seasons
in a row, that being the 1959-1961 period and the 1971-1973 span.
To win a championship and make the playoffs the team would have to win district games. The program had been doing a
lot of that lately because the program was riding a 15-game win streak in district games, the longest such streak in school
history. The other goal was to keep another streak going - that being the 14-year streak of non-losing seasons.
One streak came to an end in the annual Natchitoches Jamboree.
After going 11 years without losing a jamboree game, Winnfield was defeated 6-3 by AAAA Natchitoches. The matchup saw Winnfield
play without the services of Jeffrey Dale, who had been slightly injured the week before in a scrimmage.
He was held out of the jamboree game to rest his bruised shoulder.
Coach Moreau used one word to describe the play of his team in the jamboree - "sloppy.”
Jamborees are for uncovering weaknesses and giving the players a little more playing experience. Of the latter, Coach
Moreau told the Enterprise, "We've got so many young kids that just need to get some experience. We
had a lot of dropped passes and missed assignments, but we expected to have those."
Things counted for real the next week when Winnfield traveled to Sicily
Island to take on the Islanders and their Notre Dame Box offense. Fans who remembered the game of the season before remembered
a Sicily Island team that was clearly physically whipped by Winnfield. Least the Tigers think they could simply show up and
win, Coach Moreau reminded his troops that Sicily Island only lost two games during the 1979 season, including
the first game of the year to Winnfield and a 21-14 decision to Port Sulphur in the Class A semifinals. Between those two
losses, Sicily Island won twelve straight games.
In season-openers you hardly expect great execution and you usually don’t get any sort of performance to get
excited about. If you had asked Coach Moreau what kind of game he wanted in the Sicily Island game, what
he ended up getting would have far exceeded his highest dreams. His Tigers rolled to a 28-0 halftime lead behind a ferocious
ground game and a stifling defense and cruised to a 34-14 opening-game win.
There was nothing especially fancy about the way the Tigers dominated on offense because most scoring drives were long,
sustained drives. However fans did get to see one sophomore player have a moment that would be repeated
over many times over the course of the next three years. That came just before the half with wide receiver
Benny Mitchell scored his first touchdown as a Tiger and this one came on a 48-yard toss and catch from Greg
Powell to Mitchell.
In the end the Tigers built a 34-0
lead, which allowed Coach Moreau to give a lot of players playing time.
It was a complete game on both sides of the ball, but you had to take notice of the offense who produced 374 rushing
yards for the night, making that one of the ten-best team rushing nights in school history up to that point.
In the process, the Tigers had the rare distinction of having two players rush for more than 100 yards, with Dale
getting 103 yards on 8 carries and Greg Lewis leading all rushers with 140 yards in 10 carries. Coach
Moreau used nine different ball carries in the game.
Talk about a confidence builder. An opening game blowout win against a good program gave Coach Moreau
just the kind of outing he wanted prior to moving into the portion of the schedule that would match the Tigers against larger
schools, with that group including Pineville from District 2-AAAA and Minden from District 1-AAA. The state's sportswriters
rewarded Winnfield with a No. 3 ranking in the weekly poll following the win over Sicily Island.
Pineville was the opponent for the Tiger's home opener.
The Rebels were guided by second year head coach Don Shows who had gone 4-6 in his first year at Pineville.
The Rebels ran a Gap 8 defense, which essentially was dedicated to stopping the run. That prompted Coach Moreau
to proclaim to the Alexandria Towntalk, "If our line can control the line of scrimmage, we'll beat Pineville."
The Tigers play this one without the services of kicker Tommy Latham who was sidelined with an injured
leg that had kept him out of the Sicily Island game as well. Typically, the kicking game is not the most critical
aspect of any particular high school football game, but there is always the exception to the rule and the Pineville game would
be one such game.
Pineville was effective in shutting
down Winnfield in the first half and as a result the Tigers only scored once. The PAT try was no good,
so the effects of Latham’s absence was felt immediately. The Tiger defense played just as good of a half, however Winnfield
did give up one score in the first half and that came against the punt unit when the Rebels blocked a Tiger punt and also
returned the ball for a touchdown. The Rebels were true on their extra point kick and thus took a 7-6 lead to halftime.
Winnfield made it inside the Pineville 20 two times in the second half but could
not score either time. One of those penetrations came when Winnfield marched from their own 10-yard line to a first and goal
at the Pineville 10-yard line with under two minutes to go in the game. With Tommy Latham suited up, the
Tigers would have been in chip shot range for a field goal, but Latham wasn't. To add to the frustration,
the Tiger recovered a fumble and had the ball at the Pineville 19 yard line with eight seconds remaining on the clock.
That too would have been an opportunity for regular kick Latham to attempt a game winning field goal.
With nothing to lose and a win to gain, Moreau opted to send in Tiger kick off man Greg Powell to attempt
a 36-yard field goal; the first field goal attempt of Powell’s career. Powell had
to the leg to make a field goal of that distance because he routinely sent his kickoffs beyond the 20-yard line. But, kicking
field goals, much less in pressure-packed situations, is much different from kicking a stationary football from a kicking
The accuracy of Powell’s kick will never
be known because Pineville blocked their third kick of the night on the play (they had also blocked a punt earlier in the
game, in addition to the blocked PAT try). The program thus lost only its second regular season game since the 1977 season
with the 1-point loss to Pineville. Though Winnfield
led Pineville statistically, the Tigers made too many mistakes. Coach Moreau told the Enterprise,
"We beat ourselves. It's a terrible feeling to know you are much better than the way you're playing."
Except for two blocked kicks, the Tigers could have very well won the game with a shutout.
Winnfield had another good rushing night, getting 230 rushing yards for the night.
Dale paced all rushers with 145 rushing yards in 16 carries, giving him a second consecutive 100+ yard rushing
night. That set up a matchup between two of the best running backs in north Louisiana the following week.
The loss dropped Winnfield to 1-1-0 for the season and the Tigers fell from a
No. 3 ranking to completely out of the top ten when the sportswriters voted Winnfield No.14 following the loss to Pineville.
Heading up the poll was John Curtis, with the only other District 3-AA teams being Jonesboro-Hodge (10) and Mansfield (20).
KEY GAME: Winnfield entertained the Minden Crimson Tide in Stokes-Walker Stadium in week three.
Minden was led by returning All-State running back Raymond Tate. The year before, the 6' 1", 205 lb.
tailback helped guide the AAA Tide to a 6-3 record, and he made All-State in spite of the fact that Minden
was not a playoff team. Tate started the 1980 season right where he left off, getting 135 yards against Byrd
and 153 yards against Natchitoches. Minden came into the contest as the No. 3 ranked team in AAA. The Tigers appeared to be clearly overmatched against
Minden. Besides Tate, the Tide had two good fullbacks who they alternated throughout the game, giving them
a fresh player at that position to block for Tate. Across both the offensive and defensive lines, Minden
outweighed Winnfield by an average of close to 20 pds. per man. One thing was clear - if Winnfield was going to stay with
Minden, they would have to play a better brand of football than they had demonstrated the week before. On the one hand, you
hoped that playing in Stokes-Walker Stadium would give the Tigers some sort of edge. For sure, you hoped
the Tigers didn't get blown out in their own back yard.
expected Tate ended the night as the leading rusher in the game, getting 216 yards in 21 carries. He gained
111 of that in the first quarter alone with that total greatly aided by a 79-yard touchdown run the very first time he touched
the ball. If that was all you knew about the game, you would have thought that the Tigers were blown out as some expected
they would be and you would have been wrong.
Tate's run to open the contest, Minden tacked on a two-point conversion to take an early 8-0 lead. Since
Winnfield had been held to only one touchdown the week before, some thought the game was already over. Then again, it takes
four complete quarters to finish football games.
only took three plays to score on their first series when Jeffrey Dale tossed a 51-yard scoring pass to
Benny Mitchell. Following Mitchell's touchdown, Coach Moreau used the "swinging
gate" play on the conversion attempt to get two more points on the board and knot the score at 8-all.
After that outburst of early-game scoring, neither
team threatened to score the remainder of the opening period. Then, at the halfway point of the second quarter, Minden made
it down to the Tiger 39-yard line, where Tate bulled his way through what seemed like the entire Winnfield
defense in route to his second touchdown of the night. Minden moved to a 15-8 lead when they converted their PAT kick.
Winnfield responded with a 69-yard drive, which was
greatly aided by a 44-yard run by Greg Lewis. It was Lewis who also capped off the drive
with a 16-yard touchdown run. Winnfield again went for two on the conversion attempt and they got it. On the play, Powell
rolled out, found all of his receivers covered and tucked the ball in. Powell had to jump over a Minden defender
at the goal line, but when he came down he had given Winnfield a 16-15 lead.
That would have been enough to send the Winnfield crew into the locker room at
halftime with a ton of confidence, but good fortune struck the Tigers when Marcel Mills pounced on a Minden
fumble on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Tigers the ball at the Minden 24-yard line. After moving to the Minden 3-yard line
in four plays, sophomore running back Perry Myles ended the drive with a burst across the goal line after
initially being stopped at the line of scrimmage. Powell came in after that and upped the lead to 23-15 with
a successful PAT kick.
time a favorite gives an underdog reason to think they can win, they have given up one of the advantages they had coming into
the game. Winnfield came out of the locker room thinking the game was theirs to lose. The eight-point halftime lead gave the
Tigers a little more swagger than usual.
third quarter played out pretty much like Coach Moreau wanted. While he certainly would have taken more points,
he was satisfied when the fourth quarter began and Minden hadn't scored any more points themselves. But, he was a realist
so he knew it would have been asking a lot for his defense to hold Minden scoreless throughout the entire second half. In
fact, his defensive would not give up a single point in the second half, but Minden’s defense made things interesting
in the fourth quarter then they forced a fumble by Winnfield’s Perry Myles and returned the ball 60
yards for a touchdown. Trailing 23-21, Minden went for two on the conversion, but it was poetic justice when Myles
knocked down a pass in the end zone to preserve the Tiger lead. Nevertheless, that put Minden within one big play of taking
the lead with half of the fourth quarter to play.
Winnfield needed was to play good defense the rest of the way, but sometimes the best defense is a good offense. That was
made immediately clear when the Tigers responded to the Minden touchdown by having Greg Powell direct the
Veer offense about as well as it can be run, getting the ball from the Tiger 30 to the 47-yard line in two plays. Then, on
the third play of the drive, Powell took the snap, rolled down the line and cut up field for a 53-yard touchdown
run to enable the Tigers to gain an eight-point lead. Winnfield failed on their conversion attempt but moved to a 29-21 lead
with Powell's electrifying run.
never got past the Winnfield 48 the remainder of the contest and the Tigers protected the football the rest of the way. When
the final horn sounded the Tigers had claimed a hard-fought 29-21 victory over the Class AAA’s 3rd-ranked team and with
it gained one of the biggest upsets in school history.
Coach Moreau was jubilant following
the win. He told an Enterprise reporter, "To stop a team like Minden, it takes a team effort,
and that's what our boys gave us." Nevertheless, he singled out Chuck Jurek, Marcel Mills
and Greg Lewis on defense, as well as the entire offensive line.
Though Tate got his yards, Dale rushed
for his third-straight 100+-yard effort, ending the night with 110 yards on 12 carries. Lewis added 93 yards
and Powell had 68 yards to contribute to the Tiger's 274 rushing yards. That was 17 yards more than Minden
gained. The Tide added 75 yards passing, while Winnfield only completed 1 of 8 passes and lost a yard on that reception. Both
team lost one fumble and Winnfield gave up two interceptions to Minden's one.
Wins like that can help to define a season.
The enormity of the win became clearer each week as Minden won ten more games the rest of the season in route to the 1980
AAA state title, which they won with a 12-6 win over Washington. Minden concluded the season with a 12-2-0 record. For the
Winnfield program, the game was the 24th time a Winnfield team had faced a team who ended the season as the state champion.
The 1980 team could lay claim to being only the second Tiger team to win one of those games, with the 1955 Winnfield defeat
of Neville being the only other time a Winnfield team had defeated a team who won the state championship in the same season.
After three weeks of the season, the strength of District 3-AA was
being shown by three teams. Those included Jonesboro-Hodge and Mansfield, both with 2-0-1 marks and Winnfield with a 2-1-0
record. Ringgold won their first game of the year in week three, defeating a weak Southfield School team, and Many was winless
in three outings, getting pasted by St. Mary's 43-14 the previous week.
The Tigers got their first breather of the year in week four when they took
on Grant. The Cougars, who were in their second year of varsity competition, came into the game with a 2-1-0 record, but one
of those wins came by way of a 7-0 victory over the Natchitoches Central JV unit and the other came over perennial patsy Coushatta.
The Tigers struggled unexpectedly in the first half as they posted only two touchdowns to take a 12-0 lead into the locker
room. Scoring for the Tigers were Greg Lewis on a 79-yard run and Mitchell on an 18-yard touchdown reception from Greg
Myles got two touchdowns in the third quarter (39 and 24 yard runs) and a continuation of the first
half shutout by the Tiger defense all added up to give the Tigers a 27-0 fourth quarter lead. That enabled
Coach Moreau to substitute throughout the final quarter. In the final quarter sophomore quarterback Sampson
Collins completed an 18-yard pass to Chuck Jurek for one touchdown and Greg Powell
returned a punt 70-yards to give Winnfield a 41-0 win. Winnfield got 261 yards rushing and 112 yards passing on a 9 of 10
passing night. The Tigers got all of that without the services of Jeffrey Dale, who sat out the game to rest
a late summer shoulder injury he had aggravated during the Minden contest.
The win propelled Winnfield to a 3-1-0 record. That same night,
Mansfield opened district play with a 52-0 thrashing of Many to up their record to 3-0-1. Jonesboro-Hodge sustained their
first loss of the season when they dropped a 26-19 decision to Neville, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAA. Both of those
scores by future Tiger district opponents were eye-openers.
Winnfield had one more game to play before district competition began. After
three straight home games, the Tigers traveled to Ruston to take on the Bearcats who were struggling through an early season
1-3-0 record. They had already lost to Neville (14-6), West Monroe (14-10) and Springhill (21-0). Their lone victory came
against Ouachita, who they took a convincing victory over by the score of 33-7. The game saw the return
of Jeffrey Dale to lineup and what a return it was. For the night, Dale rushed for a career
high 161 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 34-0 crushing of the Bearcats.
One of the highlights of the night was a 93-yard
return of a fumble for a touchdown by Earl Funches. scooped up and returned 93 yards for a touchdown.
Greg Powell booted the PAT following Funches. That return is the second longest fumble return for
a touchdown in school history, exceeded only by a 95-yard return of a fumble by Wayne Wood during the 1967
The win was as decisive of a win
by a Winnfield team over a Ruston team has had ever been carried out. Except for way too many mistakes, Winnfield could have
scored a lot more. The Tigers fumbled the ball four times and lost three of those. They also gave the ball away once on an
interception. Most notably the Tigers were flagged nine times for 75 yards in penalties, with the most damaging penalty coming
after the Tigers reached the Ruston 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. Winnfield never recovered from that penalty.
The win moved the Tigers to a 4-1-0
record and gave the Tiger defense two consecutive shutouts. As the Tigers prepared for their district opener against Ringgold,
the District 3-AA race was fast becoming a three-team race. Mansfield had the week off in the fifth week of the season, so
they preserved the district's only overall undefeated record at 3-0-1. Winnfield had the second-best record, followed by Jonesboro-Hodge
with a 2-1-1 record. Both Ringgold, with a 1-3-0 record, and winless Many at 0-5-0 were facing a losing season.
In spite of the impressive win
over Ruston, Winnfield actually dropped in the LSWA poll, moving from 6th to 7th place. Conspiracy theorists thought that
the sportswriters had a south Louisiana bias because fellow District 3AA members Mansfield (12th) and Jonesboro-Hodge (11th)
dropped out of the polls even though both were idle the week before. Heading the polls at the midpoint of the season was John
Curtis (1), Patterson (2) and Notre Dame (3), each with 5-0 records Coach Moreau viewed the Ringgold game as a chance to work
on fundamentals. He told the Enterprise, "We've played two teams that weren't that strong (Ruston and Grant),
yet we've had some problems with our blocking. We'll have to get that worked out." He had nothing
but praise for Greg Powell, however, who he said, "Has done an exceptional job of reading the defense
on the Veer plays."
There was one incentive heading into the Ringgold game that few, if any, knew about. The program entered the 1980 season
with a 15-game win streak in district games. That matched the longest win streak in district games, with the first teams to
accomplish that feat being the combined efforts of the 1958 to 1961 teams. A win over Ringgold would give the 1978 to 1980
teams that record.
If there had been a betting line on the Winnfield - Ringgold game, the Tigers would have been at least a 40-point favorite.
You could have given those points and still won your bet because the Tigers rolled to a 54-7 win.
The highlights of the game were a 35-yard field goal by Latham,
as well as a 7 of 7 night in extra point kicks. Latham joined Steve Stroud (vs. Jena, 1967)
in second place for most extra point kicks in a game. Those two trailed Tommy Campbell, the leader in that
category, by one. Campbell had 8 extra point kicks against Arcadia during the 1978 season. Also,
by kicking seven extra point kicks and one field goal, Latham ended the night with 10 points. That was the
second-most points ever scored by a kicker in a single-game, trailing Latham’s own record of 13 points
made in 1978 against Haynesville when he booted four field goals and one extra point kick. The Top Ten scoring nights by kickers
up to that point in Tiger football history were:
Pts. Year Opponent
Tommy Latham 4 FG,
Tommy Latham 7 PAT,
Tommy Latham 4 PAT,
3 PAT, 1 FG
1978 Plain Dealing
3 PAT, 1 FG
3 PAT, 1 FG
3 PAT, 1 FG
Other highlights included Doyce
Gorum and Cedric Huey combining to tackle the Ringgold quarterback in the end zone to score a rare
safety. Finally, Jeffery Dale rushed for four touchdowns on runs of 4, 12, 19 and 39 yards.
Dale’s feat allowed him to join Mickey Frazier (1955) and Jerry Keen
(twice in 1971) as the only players to score four rushing touchdowns in a game up to that point in Tiger football history.
It was a fairly typical Winnfield - Ringgold game. In the two-game series, Winnfield
had already combined to score 109 points and Ringgold hadn't come close to scoring on Winnfield's starting defensive unit.
In the 1980 game, Winnfield gained 257 yards rushing, with Jeffrey Dale getting 85 of those yards before
he was pulled to allow the reserves to take over.
The Tigers finally got the recognition they deserved from the LSWA as that group made Winnfield the No. 5 team in the
state in their weekly poll. Rounding out the top five were John Curtis, Patterson, Kinder and Haynesville. In District 3-AA,
Jonesboro-Hodge (11) and Mansfield (12) were the only two teams who received any votes.
Winnfield had one final non-district game against Richwood of Monroe before concluding
the season with three district games. The Rams would be the Tiger's homecoming guests and they offered the type of competition
that most coaches want at the end of the hectic homecoming week. Richwood brought a 1-5 record into the game, with their lone
victory being a 20-6 win over McCall. Though Richwood had been a Class AAA semifinalist the season before, graduation losses
had obviously taken a toll on the team. The Rams would offer the Tiger defensive secondary their biggest
test of the year, because they liked to throw the ball and they did that very well, according to Coach Moreau.
Across the offensive line, Richwood went 265, 180, 180, 200 and 240.
Threatening skies on game day turned into a downpour at kickoff. In those types of games, the contest usually becomes
a test of who can hold onto the ball the best. By all indications, the game should have been a defensive struggle, but apparently
Winnfield didn't get the message.
The Tigers erupted for three touchdowns
in each of the first two quarters to roll to a 42-0 halftime advantage. Leading the Tiger assault was Jeffery Dale
who carried the ball only five times in the first half and twice in the third quarter before being relegated to the sidelines.
However, he took advantage of the opportunities he was given, gaining 162 yards rushing and scoring three touchdowns in only
seven carries. That was a 23-yard per carry average for the game, easily the highest rushing average any Tiger running back
had ever run for with five or more carries. Specifically, his first half carries went for 4, 5, 27, 56 and 23 yards, with
the latter two carries being for touchdowns. His two carries in the second half gained 4 and 43 yards, with his final carry
of the night being a 43-yard touchdown.
Winnfield scored every time they
had the ball in the first half, with one of those coming on an 85-yard run by Greg Lewis. That was tied for
the third-longest touchdown run from scrimmage in school history behind John Glyn Jackson's 97-yarder in
1943 and Freddie King's 86-yard run in 1974. Lewis' run matched Dan Carr
(1948) and Ronnie Parker's (1961) run of similar length.
The Tigers streaked to a 42-0 halftime lead behind six touchdowns and six Tommy Latham extra point
conversions. On a homecoming night spoiled by a deluge, the offensive production was unanticipated but most appreciated.
At that particular point in the season, the Tigers were beginning
to look like a contender. The 42-pointfirst half explosion was the second most points
ever scored by a Tiger team in the first half of a football game. Only the schools scoring leaders, the 1971 team and the
1978 team had ever scored as many or more first half points, with the 47 points scored against Menard in the 1971 season being
the standard and the 42 points by the 1978 team against both Mansfield and Acadia being the second most.
The Tiger reserves played most of the second half, but not until
Dale took a pitch and raced down the sidelines for a 43-yard touchdown. After Latham booted
his 7th extra point of the night, the score was 49-0, which is where it stayed the rest of the game.
Richwood only made it into Tiger territory once in the ball game, that coming after
the Tigers final touchdown. The Rams returned the kickoff to midfield and moved to a first and goal at the Tiger 8-yard line,
where Winnfield put up a brilliant goal line stand, stopping Richwood 2 yards short of a touchdown on fourth down. Moreau was quick to attribute much of the credit
to his offensive line. Moreau told the Enterprise, "The holes were there and our backs hit
them fast and hard." He credited Jeffery Dale with playing "the best game in
the two years I've been here." Moreau added, "He just went
out there and had fun."
The win moved Winnfield to 6-1 on the
season, making the 1980 team only the 12th team in the 72-year history of the program to make it through the seventh game
of the season with no more than one loss. With a five-game winning streak and a rise to the No. 4 slot in the LSWA poll, the
enthusiasm surrounding Tiger football was at fever pitch. John Curtis and Kinder had been the steadiest teams in Class AA,
going 7-0 through the first seven games of the season. Patterson, who had been No. 2 all season long, was upset by E. D. White
in week seven, dropping them to No. 7 in the polls. Just ahead of Winnfield by only one point was 7-0 Belle Chasse.
In the previous two seasons, the program not only made the playoffs
but moved past the first round in each season, making that the first time two consecutive teams had advanced in the playoffs.
The 1980 Tigers appeared to be headed in the same direction. The huge win over Minden, one of Class AAA's top ranked teams,
really kick-started the team. Since that time, the Tigers had rolled over four opponents, averaging 44.5 points per game and
giving up only one touchdown in the process. Winnfield not only looked like the team to beat in the district, but
the Tigers looked as though they were a top contender for the Class AA crown.
With only three games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Tigers had virtually everything to play for and
in fact the season up to this point had only been a lead-in to what lay ahead. The district title was still up for grabs because
Winnfield hadn't faced either Jonesboro-Hodge or Mansfield, and Mansfield and Jonesboro-Hodge hadn't met either. A win over
both would give the school its third straight district title. After the Tigers win over Ringgold, the team improved the program's
district game winning streak to 16 games. That became the program’s longest win streak in district games, breaking the
record 15-game win streak between 1959 and 1961 and being three wins better than the 13-game streak between 1970 and 1972.
Those were the only other times a district game win streak had reached 10 games or more.
In the eighth week of the season Winnfield traveled to DeSoto parish to face district-leader
Mansfield. Though the Wolverines weren't ranked in the top ten in the state, they were the only team in the district without
a loss on their record. Mansfield's wins came over Center, Tx (40-7), South Cameron (38-16), Many (52-0), North Caddo (33-10)
and Ringgold (36-11). The tie on the Mansfield record came in a 12-12 draw against Plain Dealing.
Mansfield was the district runner-up the season before, but the program was strengthened
when DeSoto High School was shut down and consolidated with Mansfield High School. The 1980 Mansfield team comprised the best
players from both of those schools and they were described as “big and fast” by Coach Moreau.
Across the line, Mansfield averaged close to 210 pounds per man, which was almost 15 pounds per man heavier than Winnfield.
Since one of their linemen weighed in at 165 pounds, that average was somewhat skewed. The two tackles for Mansfield weighed
250 and 210 pounds and one of the guards weighed 215 pounds. Mansfield's linemen were tall, with two players standing 6' 3",
two standing 6' 1" and the shortest player standing 5' 10" .
The primary weapon for Mansfield was 6' 5", 205 lb. receiver Arthur Wells. For the season, he
had caught 21 passes for 638 yards and 9 touchdowns. Throwing to Wells was 6' 3" Roy Hudson,
who had completed 54% of his passes and thrown for 720 yards and 9 touchdowns. Mansfield liked to throw the ball, but when
they ran it they relied on Patrick Henry. He came into the game with 561 rushing yards and 7 TD's.
On paper, the Tigers appeared to have the edge. Winnfield countered with
Jeffery Dale in the backfield, who had already gained 756 yards rushing and scored 12 TDs despite sitting out the
Grant contest. In six games, he had rushed for 100 yards or more five times. The Tiger’s fullback, Greg Lewis,
had rushed for over 500 yards, including an 85-yard run the week before.
Since Winnfield ran a Veer offense, they didn't throw the ball much, but the pass had been friendly to the Tigers,
as the team had scored seven touchdowns through the air, four of which covered 30 yards or more. Greg Powell
had connected on more than 50% of his attempts and was averaging just over 50 yards rushing per game.
The Tiger defense came into the game having played 16 straight quarters of shutout
football. Winnfield appeared to have the better offense, as well as the better defense. The Tigers certainly had the better
kicking game, with Latham capable of putting points on the board from 50 yards in and Dale
and Powell being more than capable of breaking a long one on every kick return.
The Tigers put up a goal line stand in the first quarter and then drove 98 yards
for a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. Mansfield responded by scoring on their next series and tacked
on a two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead. The only other scoring threat by either team in the first
half came when scored what appeared to be a touchdown on a 17-yard run. However, that play was called back
after Winnfield was flagged for a clip at the 2-yard line. As time ran out in the second quarter Tommy
Latham attempted a 35-yard field goal but the kick sailed wide left.
The opening minutes of any half are important and it was Mansfield who struck
first in the second half when they connected on a 43-yard scoring pass from Hudson to Roy Hill
on the Wolverine’s first possession of the half. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 14-7.
Winnfield responded with a 10-play, 67-scoring drive which was
capped by a 1-yard plunge by sophomore running back Marcel Mills. Latham booted the extra
point to tie the score at the 1:28 mark of the third quarter.
What Coach Moreau
needed as the fourth quarter began was for the Tiger defense to play shutout ball. The Tiger offense had shown they could
move the ball against Mansfield, so Moreau would have liked to hold Mansfield out of the end zone, get one
more score and get back home. We don't always get what we want.
Mansfield quarterback Roy Hudson riddled the Tiger defense on the Wolverines next possession.
Thought the Tigers had pretty much bottled up Mansfield leading receiver Arthur Wells all game long,
it was a 33-yard Hudson to Wells completion that got Mansfield back into the end
zone. Following the score, those two connected again on a two-point conversion to make the score 22-14.
An interception stopped Winnfield on their next possession and
ball-control by Mansfield kept Winnfield from getting the ball back until there was less than a minute left in the contest.
There would be no miracle finish to this game.
With the win Mansfield retained
sole possession of first place in the district by knocking off the No. 4 ranked Tigers. For Coach Moreau,
the loss was a bitter pill to swallow. In an Enterprise interview, he complemented Mansfield saying, "They (the
Mansfield coaching staff) did a good job of getting their people ready to play us. They played ball. We're the ones that didn't
play ball." Moreau went on, "They played as good as they could and we played
as bad as we could."
of Winnfield in 1980 ranks among the biggest losses in the history of the program. It wasn’t a playoff loss, but given
the strength of the 1980 team and the manner in which the season would end for them, hindsight will show that the loss to
Mansfield severely impacted the 1980 team’s entry in to the playoff, where all teams “must” go to even be
considered among the best.
The real meaning of the loss wouldn’t
be known until weeks later. For the time being the Tigers had to get past Many in week nine before ending the season against
district foe Jonesboro-Hodge. Many appeared to offer the Tigers the easiest match-up of the year. They were mired in a 0-8-0
season, had only scored 65 points (8.1 ppg) and had given up a district-leading 351 points (43.8 ppg). They couldn’t
score and they couldn’t keep the opposition from scoring. Against the top two District 3-AA teams, Many had gone down
to defeat by considerable margins, including a 52-0 loss to Mansfield and a 58-7 loss to Jonesboro-Hodge. Many was a sophomore-dominated
Coach Moreau’s biggest
job was keeping his player’s heads in the game. There were several factors converging at once that would make that task
difficult. For one, the Tigers were coming off a very disappointing loss. Plus, anytime you play a team that is as much of
an underdog as Many was, it is hard to get up for the game. But, if the Tigers were going to have any shot at the playoffs
they simply had to defeat Many. That’s because the final game of the season pitted Winnfield against Jonesboro with
a playoff spot in the balance. Thus, the third factor Coach Moreau had to contend with was the liability
of his players looking ahead to Jonesboro. The loss
to Mansfield dropped Winnfield from 4th to 11th in the LSWA poll and to third place in the district standing with a 1-1 district
mark. Sitting at the top of the district standings was Mansfield with a 3-0 league mark and Jonesboro-Hodge with a 2-0 record
in district play. Those two squared off the same night Winnfield faced Many, giving Mansfield the opportunity to secure the
district crown with a win.
Any thoughts of a letdown by Winnfield
against Many were quickly erased in the first half as the Tigers jumped to a 20-0 first quarter lead and extended that margin
to 41-0 at the half.
What a half it had been. The Tiger
defense had held Many to only one first down, with the deepest penetration by Many being the Winnfield 43-yard line. Two forced
turnovers by the Tiger defense had set up two Winnfield touchdowns. The defense couldn’t have played much better.
As good as the Winnfield defense was playing, the Tiger offense
was playing even better. Winnfield had the ball for six possessions and had scored all six times. Perry Myles
was having one of the best nights a Winnfield back had ever had. His four-touchdown performance tied him with Mickey
Frazier (1955), Jerry Keen (1971) and Jeffery Dale (earlier in the season against
Ringgold) as the only players to ever rush for four touchdowns in a game.
Winnfield could have doubled their point total in the second half had they wanted to and had Coach Moreau
not agreed to let the clock run continuously in the second half. Winnfield scored twice more an preserved a shutout in the
The impressive win moved Winnfield's record
to 7-2-0 for the season and 2-1 in district play. The pollsters moved Winnfield back into the Top Ten following the victory,
giving Winnfield the No. 9 slot. The Tiger's gained some measure of confidence back with the win and they would need it. The
same night they were dismantling Many, Jonesboro-Hodge knocked off Mansfield by a decisive score of 23-6.
KEY GAME: The Tigers, of course,
needed a Jonesboro-Hodge win over Mansfield to have any chance of being the district champion. But, ironically, the Tigers
had a better chance of making the playoffs had Mansfield defeated Jonesboro, though that would have knocked the Tigers out
of the running for the district title. Here’s why: Following the loss two weeks earlier to Mansfield, Winnfield knew
they would have to defeat Jonesboro-Hodge to get into the playoffs. Most people figured a win in that game would give the
Tigers an entry into the playoffs as the district's runner-up. Had Mansfield defeated Jonesboro, that would have been the
case. In that scenario, all Winnfield would have needed was a win over Jonesboro to secure the programs third-straight
appearance in the playoffs. However, Jonesboro's defeat of Mansfield complicated the picture. Jonesboro was undefeated in
district play, while Winnfield and Mansfield had one loss. That set up the potential for a three-way tie in the district if
Winnfield defeated Jonesboro. The tie-breaking system used to settle the Nos. 1 and 2 slots in the district were comparable
scores. Since Mansfield had defeated Winnfield by an 8-point margin, it would take a 9-point win by Winnfield over Jonesboro-Hodge
to secure the runner-up spot in the district. And, since Jonesboro had defeated Mansfield by 17 points, Winnfield would have
to exceed that margin to overtake Jonesboro-Hodge as the district champion.
No matter the outcome, Jonesboro-Hodge was in the playoffs. Mansfield was
in the playoffs by either a Jonesboro-Hodge defeat of Winnfield or a win by Winnfield of eight points or less. As a result,
Winnfield went into the game against Jonesboro looking for more than just a win. If ever there was a game where a Tiger coach
was playing for points, this was it.
On the positive side, Winnfield was back in the title hunt. The Tigers were in
a position of controlling their own destiny. The task was easy to sum up: win by 9 and you are in the playoffs. Win by 18
and you are the district champion, win by less than 9 or lose the game and you are out of the playoffs.
Jonesboro-Hodge entered the game with a 6-1-1 record.
The only impressive win Jonesboro had posted all year was the huge win over Mansfield. Otherwise, Jonesboro-Hodge’s
other wins were not by particularly large margins. On the other hand, the only loss that Jonesboro-Hodge had faced was a very
impressive 26-19 defeat at the hands of Neville, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAA. Likewise, the Tigers of Jackson parish
had tied Class AA Top Ten ranked Haynesville 14-14. If Winnfield thought they were going to have an easy time with Jonesboro,
they were wrong.
Coach Moreau stated that the key to the Winnfield victory would be defense.
With the need for as large a margin of victory as could be attainted the strategy coming into the game was a little different
than normal. Coach Moreau said, "If we're gonna beat Jonesboro by 18 points, we can't let them put many
points on the board. We are going to have to play good defense and aggressive offense Friday night."
In a sense the Tigers started the game as if they
were trailing in a contest. It is thus natural for any coach, player or fan to want to “catch up” when you are
behind. So, those associated with Winnfield were looking for a quick score and that is what they got when
Earl Funches intercepted a Jonesboro-Hodge pass in the opening minutes of the game and returned it to the
Jonesboro 17. It only took the Tigers four plays to get into the end zone, with Marcel Mills getting the
score for the Tigers. Needing points, Coach Moreau called on Jeffrey Dale for a two-point
conversion. Dale took a pitch and sprinted into the end zone to make the Tiger lead 8-0. Suddenly the 9-point
margin the Tigers needed to cover to make the playoffs didn't seem so large.
However, Jonesboro-Hodge settled down and played good defense the remainder
of the first quarter and then scored in the second quarter to make the score 8-6. It would be a night that tested the math
abilities of everyone in the stands. The 8-6 score meant that Winnfield still needed 7 more points to get their nine-point
Give Winnfield credit. In the final
minutes of the first half, the Tigers put up a furious battle to get back into the end zone. Winnfield got down to the Jonesboro-Hodge
25-yard line with only 12 seconds showing on the clock. From there, Jeffrey Dale tossed the ball to Aubrey
Craig who was standing in the end zone. When the ball reached the end zone a collision occurred between Craig
and the Jonesboro-Hodge defender, sending the ball falling to the turf and penalty flags flying into the air. Jonesboro was
called for pass interference. That gave Winnfield a first and goal from the 10-yard line with only 5 ticks remaining on the
clock. On the final play of the half, Greg Powell responded with the cool of seasoned veteran when he connected
with Cedric Huey in the end zone for six crucial points. That gave the Tigers a large measure of hope as
the two teams prepared to head to the half time locker room. Though Winnfield had an 8-point lead at 14-6, Coach Moreau
called on Latham to up the lead by only one with a PAT kick, but Latham had one of his rare
misses on that attempt. Still, Winnfield had an 8-point lead with two quarters to go.
basically shut down the Jonesboro offense all game long. But, in football games, it doesn't matter how you score your points
because they all still count. That's what made Jonesboro’s only points of the second half so maddening because it wasn’t
the Jonesboro offense who put points on the board, it was their defense. Early in the third quarter Jonesboro-Hodge intercepted
a Winnfield pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The PAT failed following the touchdown, but suddenly Winnfield
only led Jonesboro by two points, meaning Winnfield again needed a touchdown and a PAT to get the 9-point margin they needed
in order to make the playoffs and two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions to get the district title. All the while,
they had to keep Jonesboro from scoring, which they would do.
Fans in the stands became clock-watchers the rest of the way as the two teams
battled on even terms . While Jonesboro didn’t score again, neither did Winnfield. In the end, Winnfield
won the battle, but lost the war as they took their fifth straight win over Jonesboro in Stokes-Walker Stadium
but they didn't win by enough. The final 14-12 score left Winnfield seven points shy of making the playoffs. In a season where
the Tigers lost two games by a total of 9 points, it just didn't seem right that the Tigers would be sitting home during the
playoffs. The 1980 team thus joined a number of other Tiger teams who were every bit as good as the teams who went on to compete
in the playoffs, but who missed out by the slimmest of margins. What made missing the playoffs even harder to take was the fact
that Winnfield had to sit home and watch Jonesboro-Hodge win three straight playoff games in route to an appearance in the
Class AA title game. Their opponent was the John Curtis Patriots, who defeated Jonesboro-Hodge 21-3 to win the schools second
consecutive title and fourth overall.
as the pollsters had recognized all season long, Winnfield was legitimately one of the top teams in the state in Class AA
and could have very well advanced deep into the playoffs had they had the opportunity. Those types of situations later led
the LHSAA to change the playoff structure to allow wild card teams into the playoffs, initially allowing teams from districts
that had three-way ties into the playoffs and then enacting a power rating system by the end of the century which theoretically
allowed the top 32 in each Class into the playoffs.
the season Coach Moreau spoke highly of his boys, saying in an interview for the Enterprise that
"They really wanted this game and played their hearts out." The saddened Moreau
added, "I'm proud of this group of athletes. They had their backs to the wall, but came back fighting."
Up the road, the Jonesboro-Hodge head coach said, "They (Winnfield) whipped us everywhere we played. The way we
played, they deserve to represent our district. We don't deserve anything."
The final Class AA rankings had Winnfield ranked No. 9. The headline
in the Winn Parish Enterprise said it all, "Winnfield Stays In Top Ten But Out of Playoffs."
The sportswriters had little regards for either Jonesboro or Mansfield, voting them 15th and 14th respectively in the
poll. Heading the Top Ten list was undefeated John Curtis.
When post-season awards were handed out, Winnfield was well represented
on both the All-District and All-State teams. The Tigers had six players named to the first team All-District squad. Defensive
end Marcel Mills became only the fifth sophomore at the school to earn first team All-District honors.
Jeffrey Dale was
named to virtually every post-season team that a high school football player could be named to. In addition to the All-District
team, Dale was selected to the All-Area, All-State, All-Southern and Parade All-American squad. Like Ricky
Chatman, his teammate from the season before, Dale ended his career as a dominating football player
on both sides of the ball. At defensive back he earned All-State honors two seasons, but Dale was a dangerous
player once he got the ball in his hands on either offense or on punt returns. Dale scored 31 touchdowns
by rush, 3 by reception and 3 by punt return. He ended his career as the school’s leader in rushing touchdowns (31)
and total touchdowns (37).
Dale rushed for 980 yards his senior year on only 109 carries for an
8.99 per carry rushing average. He ended his career with more than 2,000 rushing yards as a Tiger, which included 668 rushing
yards his junior year and more than 400 yards his freshman and sophomore years. That made Dale only the third
player to gain more than 2,000 yards rushing, joining Nathan Johnson and Ricky Chatman in
The 1980 season was a season marked with cruel
ironies. The Tigers defeated Minden, the eventual Class AAA state champions, yet they didn't even play in the Class AA playoffs.
They also defeated district champion Jonesboro, who advanced to the finals in Class AA.
The season highlighted the importance of looking beyond mere won-loss records to evaluate a team’s worth. If
you viewed the team as "only an 8-2-0 team" you would have missed the strength that this team showed. Between 1978
and 1982, every Winnfield football team advanced to at least the quarterfinals except the 1980 team. Yet, the 1980 squad certainly
was a group that fit right alongside those other teams. The average margin of victory in their 8 wins was 26 points, in spite
of defeating Minden by 8 and Jonesboro-Hodge by 2. Their two losses were by a combined total of 9 points.
Three critical mistakes led to the Tigers down fall. A penalty nullified one touchdown against Mansfield, which
could have changed the complexion of that eight-point loss. Two turnovers led to both of Jonesboro-Hodge’s touchdowns
in a game where the point spread was critical.
The 1980 team scored 329 points
during the regular season, making them only the fifth team in school history to score 300 or more points in a regular season.
On defense, the team held their opponents to 83 points, which was the eighth lowest total since 1950 and one of the twenty
lowest totals of all time. Only two opponents, Minden and Mansfield, scored more than two touchdowns against the Tigers.
By ending the season with an 8-2-0 record (.800) during the
regular season, the team had the 11th besting regular season winning percentage in school history up to that point. The loss
to Mansfield in the second district game of the season snapped the programs 16-game win streak in district games. That was
a school record for most consecutive district wins.
Though the team didn't make the playoffs, that would have absolutely no negative effect on the development of the program,
as the next two years would show. While the 1980 squad possessed an offense and defense that ranks among the top twenty in
most major categories, the squad may be remembered as one of the best squads in school history to not play in a playoff game.
However, the highlight of the season will always be the defeat of the Class AAA State Champion Minden Crimson Tide. The team
won more games than 57 of 71 Tiger teams who played before them. They were in every game they played in.
KEY SEASON: 1981(Overall - 11-2-0; *District - 3-0-0)
W, 32-0 (HC)
W, 27-6 (Bi-district)
W, 35-0 (Regional)
W, 28-17 (Quarter-final)
E. D. White
L, 7-15 (Semi-final)
The players returning to the 1981
team learned one valuable lessons during the 1980 season: there’s not much difference between playoff teams and some
of the teams who sit home during the post season. At least that was true before the days of wildcard teams or the present-day
power point system. For that matter, the players returning to the 1982 team learned that the margin between a legitimate title
contender and not even making the playoffs is quite small. Some folks think that if you just have enough talent you should
contend for a state title, forgetting (or not knowing) that the favorites don’t always make it to the title game or
even deep in the playoffs and that “Cinderella teams” really do exist. There is much more to the game of football
than just talented players and coaching. It certainly helps to have talent and you do need good coaching, but successful seasons
are built around good bounces, catches of tipped balls, cutting the right way, a thunderstorm that just missed drenching the
stadium and a flagrant penalty that just wasn’t seen - in other words, some measure of chance.
Heading into the 1981 season, the most obvious thing
the team lacked was a large number of senior football players. Only 10 seniors were listed on the roster, making that the
smallest group of seniors on a Tiger team since the 1965 season. What the returning seniors lacked in quantity, they made
up for in quality because half of the returning seniors had earned a position on the All-District squad the season before
and virtually all were penciled into some spot in the starting rotation.
The one thing the team had was depth, but that was because the
team had so many underclassmen who could play. All total, Coach Moreau had 30 football players who figured
into regular duty. Labeled the “Dirty Thirty”, that group of players would give the team fresh bodies throughout
each game – a rare commodity for a Class 2A team. Most of the underclassmen lacked varsity playing experience, but they
had too much talent to sit on the sidelines. All total, the Dirty Thirty was made up of 9 seniors, 15 juniors and 5 sophomores.
Half of the Dirty Thirty would play both ways, with 8 specializing on offense and 8 specializing on defense.
The other glaring characteristic
of the 1981 team was the relative small size of the team. Only two players on the roster weighed over 200 lbs., giving Winnfield
one of the smallest set of linemen in over a decade. However, in Coach Moreau’s Veer offense, quickness
was a more desirable than bulk, so he was not hitting the alarm button.
The Tiger depth chart was made up of skill players
with experience and raw underclassmen who needed game experience. Greg Powell returned for his senior season
to guide the Tiger offensive attack from the quarterback position. He would be backed-up by talented sophomore Thomas
King. During his two-year playing career, Powell had only thrown 5 touchdown passes, but in Moreau's
offense you didn't throw the ball a lot. Nevertheless, Powell's numbers placed him 10th on the career touchdown-passing
list. His biggest asset was his running ability. He was most dangerous when he turned the ball up field on the option. Powell
had already rushed for 10 touchdowns, which placed him eighth on the all-time list for rushing touchdowns at the school. That
list was headed by Ricky Chatman with 31 rushing touchdowns, followed by Jeffery Dale (28),
Jerry Keen (23), Nathan Johnson (20), Jimmy Bolton (19), Mike Tinnerello
(13) and Mack Martin (13). Since Mike Tinnerello was the only quarterback on that list,
Powell’s ten rushing touchdowns was the second most by a Tiger quarterback.
Powell was surrounded
by a backfield that consisted entirely of underclassmen. Those included junior Perry Myles and sophomore
Garlon Powell at tailback. At fullback, the team had three junior players, with Marcel Mills
being the starter, and Chester Brinson and Kevin Collins slated for a support role.
The receiving corp started
with returning second team All-District tight end Richard Williams. He was a senior and was used mainly for
his blocking skills in Moreau's offensive scheme, but he was one hard-nosed football player. Fellow senior
Earl Funches provided depth at the tight end spot. At split end, speedsters Benny Mitchell
and Sampson Collins, both juniors, provided the team with breakaway speed. Though the Tigers had not thrown
the ball much during the past two years, Moreau had the best opportunity to throw the ball since he had been
at Winnfield. At the flanker spot were senior Donnie McKenney, also one of the fastest players on the team,
and junior Edward Pearson.
Where the Tigers were the most experienced was across the offensive line, where the team had four starters returning.
Heading up that group was second team All-District center Ken Maloy (5' 11", 185 lbs.), who was entering
his senior year. At guard, the Tigers had senior Doyce Gorham (5' 9", 160 lbs.) and junior Johnny
Williams (5' 11", 180 lbs.). Rounding out the starting offensive line were senior tackle Andy White
(6' 0", 215 lbs.) and junior Glen Nelson (5' 11", 190 lbs.). The depth chart in the offensive line
was extensive, consisting of seniors Tommy Latham and Scott Fullerton at guard, but the
remainder of the offensive linemen were underclassmen. Representing the junior class were Todd Wold at center,
fellow juniors Kenny Crawford at guard and Jay Huckaby, Jess Grigg and Doug Lawrence
at tackles. An additional lineman expected to provide backup duty was sophomore lineman Jay Crooks at tackle.
The defense was especially young
with 3 senior starters, 6 juniors and 2 sophomores. The leaders of the defense consisted of the three returning All-District
performers. Those included junior Marcel Mills (5' 1", 195 lbs.), who had earned first team All-District
honors as a sophomore defensive end. He would be moved to a linebacker spot to play alongside returning second team All-District
performer Earl Funches (5' 11", 185 lbs.), who was a senior. The other returning All-District selection
was senior Richard Williams (6' 4", 185 lbs.) at one of the defensive end slots. At the other end position
was junior Kevin Collins (5' 10", 175 lbs.). The Tigers used a five-man front consisting of three down
linemen. At nose guard would be the only senior lineman in the group in Tommy Latham (5' 10", 185 lbs.).
The defensive tackles would be juniors Jay Huckaby, Johnny Williams and Jess Grigg
(6' 5", 195). There wasn't a single senior in the defensive backfield, but what the group lacked in age, they made up
for in speed. Junior Sampson Collins was one of the team’s fastest players. He and fellow junior Perry
Myles were the two returning lettermen in the backfield. They would be joined by sophomores Thomas King
and Garlon Powell.
There was no question who would handle the placekicking duties because senior Tommy Latham had first
come on the scene three years earlier as a freshman kicker. Latham was the career leader in every kicking
category, including most career extra point kicks (84) and most career field goals (8). He had kicked five of the six longest
field goals in school history and was the only player at the school to ever kick a field goal longer than 40 yards. Coming
into his senior season, he held the school record for longest field goal with a 47-yarder he kicked during the 1979 season.
Latham had already kicked two field goals in the 40 - 49-yard range, three in the 30 - 39-yard range and
three under 30 yards
The schedule for 1981 was much different from the 1980 schedule, partially because of reclassification and partially
because of changes in the non-district opponents. Winnfield remained in District 3-AA and were joined by Jonesboro-Hodge,
Many and Ringgold, with Mansfield departing from the district. That left the Tigers with seven weeks to schedule non-district
opponents. Coach Moreau found opponents for six of those seven weeks, leaving Winnfield with an open date
the second week of October.
The non-district schedule was completely revamped. Dropped from the schedule were Sicily Island, Minden, Ruston and
Richwood. Coach Moreau was not one to duck any opponent and that became clear by the non-district schedule
he worked out. All five of the non-district opponents came from classes above Winnfield, including powerhouse Neville from
the Class AAAA ranks and newcomer Parkway out of Bossier City, who also played in Class AAAA. The other opponents were Class
AAA teams, including Pineville, Tioga, Grant and perennial rival Jena, who the Tigers had played every year between 1948 and
1976, but had not played the previous four seasons.
What were the chances for the 1981 team? The two biggest concerns
entering the season were the number of underclassmen that would have to step up and play, and the relative small size of the
team’s linemen. Those concerns were countered by the fact that Winnfield was playing in Class AA, where size within
the line was not as important as skill and technique. The team had plenty of game-breakers, so it appeared as though the team
could put points on the board. And, there didn't appear to be a glaring weakness on the defense. It would be hard to peg such
a young team as a title contender, but the experienced and talented seniors, coupled with the raw underclassmen, certainly
seemed capable of contending for the district crown and making some noise in the playoffs.
When the preseason rankings came out the Winnfield
program in general, and the 1981 team in particular got a vote of confidence from the Louisiana Sport's Writer's Association.
As was customary, the defending state champion was awarded the top spot in the preseason poll. That would be John Curtis,
who had dominated Class AA play since the mid-1970s. At the end of the 1980 season, Curtis won their second consecutive state
title and fourth overall. They were clearly the most dominant high school football team in the state in the lower classifications.
Since winning their first title in 1975, the program had posted an overall record of 76-8-1. The 1980 team was the school’s
first undefeated team, so the Patriots entered the 1981 season as the team to beat in Class AA. Jonesboro-Hodge,
the reigning Class AA runner-up, began the season as the ninth-ranked team, while Winnfield began the season ranked No. 3.
Rounding out the top ten were Notre Dame-Crowley (2), Springhill (4), Opelousas Catholic (5), Plain Dealing (6), Kinder (7),
Belle Chasse (8) and Patterson (10). The only other north Louisiana team to receive votes was Farmerville, who was ranked
Winnfield's biggest challenge of
the year came in the opening game of the season when the Tigers of Winnfield took on the Tigers of Neville High School. The
mere mention of Neville football sent shivers up the spine of many a high school football player in the second half of the
twentieth century because Neville High School had been one of the premier programs in the state since the mid 1950s. Playing
in the highest classification in the state, Neville had been in the playoffs 11 of the 13 years leading up to the 1981 season.
During that time, the program had played in 6 title games, winning 5 of those. Equally impressive was the fact that since
1950, the school had only had one team end the season with a losing record, that being the 4-5-0, 1977 team. Though the Neville
program was steeped in history and tradition, they had been on a rise in recent years. After the 1977 losing season, the program
had made steady advances in the Class AAAA state playoffs making it to the bi-district, regional and quarterfinal rounds of
the playoffs in each succeeding year since the 1977 season. Neville would continue that trend by making it to the semifinals
of the Class AAAA playoffs in 1981 and would play for the state title the following year. When you played Neville, you played
against all of that tradition as well as the present-day team.
Neville was coming off of a 9-3-0 season. Returning for Neville were the
Ambrose brothers, with Laraun Ambrose being the team's leading rusher the season before
and brother Johnny Ray showing the same potential as his brother, though he was only a sophomore. When you
played Neville, you faced a 4-4 defense that was run as well as any defensive unit in the state. Neville Head Coach Charlie
Brown was a defensive-minded coach. Since taking over the Neville program in 1963, Coach Brown had
compiled a 141-39-4 record. Most of that success was due to the Neville defensive units Coach Brown developed.
In the 188 games he had presided over as head coach, only 25 teams had managed to score more than two touchdowns against Neville
and no team had scored 30 or more points. When you played Neville you knew you weren't going to score much, so you had better
play good defense yourself. Winnfield came into the game with a four-game win streak in opening season games. That streak
appeared to be in serious jeopardy.
bad news was that Winnfield was totally and thoroughly outclassed by Neville in a game that Neville controlled on both sides
of the football. The good news was that Neville Head Coach Charlie Brown was not the type of coach who would
run the score up on anybody. In his thirteen-year career as a head coach, his teams had scored 40 or more points only 15 times.
In the end, Neville prevailed in a 35-13 win. By allowing Neville to score 35 points, the team gave up
the second most points ever scored by an opponent in Stokes-Walker Stadium. The 22-point margin of defeat
was the second highest ever allowed in that venue, trailing only the 33 point margin the Tiger’s suffered through in
the 33-0 defeat to Jena during the 1965 season.
Lauran Ambrose ended the night with 224 yards rushing on 19 carries to pace a Neville attack that
ground out 391 rushing yards. That was one of the most productive individual rushing performances ever amassed against a Tiger
defense and Neville's rushing total was the third highest ever allowed by a Tiger team, behind only the 449 yards allowed
against West Monroe in 1975 and the 424 yards yielded to Neville in the 1957 game.
Nobody likes to open the
season with a loss. Plus, the Winnfield program wasn’t used to being below .500 at any point of the season, but it’s
not like the loss was totally unexpected. Coach Moreau had given his players a chance to compete against
one of the top programs in the state. In doing so, he gave them a shot at knocking off one of the big boys. More realistically,
he gave his players a chance to see what top level competition is like, figuring the competition would only make his players
a tougher bunch - win, lose or draw.
Winnfield traveled to Pineville the second week of the season in hopes of breaking into the win column. They would
have to do so against a Pineville team that Rebel head coach Don Shows called, “experienced on offense”
in an interview for The Alexandria Towntalk. Pineville played in District 2-AAA, where they were the reigning district
champions. Coach Shows said coming into the 1981 encounter that his inexperienced defense was his biggest
concern. His worries were borne out in the opening game of the season when ASH trounced Pineville 34-14.
Each team scored twice in the opening
half. Pineville scored two touchdowns, while Winnfield got points from a 9-yard run by Greg Powell
and an extra point kick and 25-yard field goal by Latham. As a result, Pineville
carried a 14-10 lead into the half.
The Winnfield defense shutout Pineville in the second half. In fact, sophomore defensive end Gary Irvin
ignited a Tiger comeback when he recovered a Rebel fumble on their first snap of the second half. Irvin’s
recovery was made at the Pineville 22-yard line. On first down, Perry Myles got the hand-off and ran through
no less than three would-be tacklers in route to a touchdown. That enabled the Tigers to reclaim a lead at 17-14 which they
would never surrender.
Later in the fourth quarter Garlon Powell blew the close game wide open with a 79-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers tacked on two more points after that touchdown to take a 25-14 lead which held up until the end of the game. At
the time, Powell's run was the 12th longest touchdown run from scrimmage in school history and the second-longest
run by a sophomore. The only run by a sophomore that was longer was a an 85-yard scoring run by Dan
Carr during the 1948 season.
After two tough games, Winnfield faced a breather the third week of the season when they entertained the Grant Cougars.
The Cougars, who were playing in only their third year of football, came into the game with a 0-2-0 record, having lost to
Tioga and Leesville by a combined margin of 69-7. Winnfield and Grant had only faced each other once before, that coming the
year before when Winnfield shelled the Cougars 41-0.
Coach Moreau came into the game with guarded optimism about his team. He told The Enterprise,
"Right now, I'd have to say we don't have the strongest team in Class AA, but we're going to by the time the playoffs
get here." He continued to focus on the relative inexperience of his team and he knew that there was
simply no substitute for playing-time to cure that. With the way his underclassmen were performing, he had every reason to
look ahead with a great deal of optimism.
Though the competition wasn't the greatest, the Grant game gave Coach Moreau a
chance to play a lot of players. That's because the Tigers opened up a 34-0 lead by the start of the third quarter and extended
that to 41-7 before the Tiger reserves allowed two touchdowns by Grant to account for the final 48-21 margin. Garlon
Powell scored a pair of touchdowns and Myles ended the night with 150 yards rushing in 12 carries
to lead all rushers.
Following the win, Coach Moreau was most impressed with the play of both his offensive and defensive
line. He felt like his defensive secondary and line backing corp was improving, but he voiced the opinion that both groups
were still not playing up to their capability. They wouldn't have another cream puff to perfect their technique against the
following week because Winnfield hit the road in week four to take on the Tioga Indians.
Tioga, brought a 3-0-0 record into the contest. They
had opened the season with impressive 39-0 and 45-0 shutout wins over Grant and Bunkie. The Indians were sky-high after rolling
over quad-A Alexandria Senior High 31-7 the week before. As a result of their early season success, the Indians had moved
to the No. 6 slot in the LSWA Class AAA poll.
Tioga had all the makings of a good football team. They relied on a punishing ground game to get most of their offense.
The Indians ran a 50 defense and had allowed only an average of just over 130 total offense in three games. Up to that point
in the season, Tioga had only allowed one touchdown. Coach Moreau warned that his team couldn’t make
any mistakes if they were going to beat Tioga. In an interview for the Enterprise he said, “Our offensive and
defensive lines will have an enormous challenge."
had been involved in every sort of game up to that point in the season. The Tiger opened the season by getting soundly beaten
by Neville and then they administered the whipping in the blowout win against Grant. Against Pineville, Winnfield was involved
in a tight, physical struggle throughout the whole game. The Tioga game would follow a similar pattern
as the Pineville game.
As expected, Tioga put up a strong defense, holding Winnfield to only 163 total offense. However, it was the Winnfield
defense who shown the brightest on this night as they played their best game of the year, holding the vaunted Tioga rushing
attack to only 85 yards, while limiting the Indians to 40 yards passing. Neither team got on the scoreboard in the first half, though
Winnfield drove inside the Tioga 10 yard line twice. The Tigers missed a 27 yard field goal on the first
drive and had a pass intercepted in the end zone on the second drive. Tioga, meanwhile, only picked up three first downs in
the first half and never put up a serious threat to score. It was a Tioga fumble and Sampson Collins recovery near midfield
that set up the first score of the game. After the Tigers drove to the Tioga 21-yard line Perry Myles
carried the ball in from there to give Winnfield a 6-0 lead.
For the remainder of the contest, Tioga relied on their passing attack as
much as possible, but give the young Tiger secondary credit. They stopped everything Tioga threw at them.
With the Tigers still clinging
to a 6-0 lead, the Tiger offense put together a 10-play scoring drive in the fourth quarter and essentially put the game out
of reach on a 9-yard scoring toss from Greg Powell to Earl Funches. That
gave the Tigers a 12-0 lead which held up the rest of the way.
The 1981 Tiger team "arrived" with the win over Tioga. That was
particularly so on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers allowed Tioga only one second half first down, making that only
four first downs that Tioga gained for the whole game. The young Tiger secondary had been a concern of Coach Moreau.
That secondary limited Tioga to only two pass completions.
Moreau bragged about his linebackers and defensive tackles,
and rightfully so. Marcel Mills ended the night with 13 tackles, while Earl Funches had
12 solo tackles. Moreau complemented the play of his defensive line for putting pressure on the Tioga quarterback
all game long.
After knocking off the No. 6 ranked Class AAA team, Winnfield moved back into the Class AA top ten. After beginning
the season ranked No. 3, the Tigers dropped all the way out of the top ten with the opening game loss to Neville. The Class
AA poll continued to be headed by John Curtis but there were seven other Class AA teams with identical 4-0 records, including
Notre Dame (2), Patterson (3), Springhill (4), Plain Dealing (5), White Castle (7), South Cameron (9) and Ferriday (10). Besides
Winnfield, the only team in the top ten with a 3-1 record was Opelousas Catholic (6).
In the fifth week of the season, Winnfield returned
to Stokes-Walker Stadium and continued their non-district competition. This time they would face the Panthers
of Parkway High School, a Class AAAA team. Parkway was not nearly the same caliber as Neville, the other Class AAAA team Winnfield
had faced in 1981. The Panthers were coming off a 5-5-0, 1980 season that saw them finish third in District 2-AAAA. Parkway
had been hit hard by graduation and had yet to taste victory in 1981. Two-thirds of their squad was made up of underclassmen,
but their team had 62 players, almost double the number Winnfield had.
Coach Moreau never sold any opponent short. If he wasn't focusing on
his next opponent, he was focusing on his team's need to improve each week. He saw Parkway as a "dangerous" team.
Coach Moreau told the Enterprise, "We can't take Parkway lightly. Parkway has played some real
good teams. They'll be coming down here looking for their ray of light."
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Tigers scored
17-unanswered points to take command of the game. Garlon Powell got the Tigers on the scoreboard
first with a 68-yard scoring run at the start of the second quarter. Turnovers then led to the next two scores by Winnfield.
Just before the half Thomas King sacked the Panther quarterback, separating him from the football in the
process. Winnfield's Benny Mitchell came up with the fumble recovery giving the Tigers excellent field position
at the Parkway 12-yard line. Two plays later Perry Myles ran 3 yards for a touchdown. Then Myles
fell on a loose football at the Winnfield 26-yard line on Parkway's first possession of the second half. The Tigers put together
a long drive from there, but bogged down once they reached the Parkway 28-yard line. Facing a fourth and 8, Moreau
sent in Tommy Latham to boot a field goal, which he did from 45 yards out to make the score 17-0. The kick
was Latham's 10th career field goal and third over 40 yards. To put that in further perspective, there had only been 17 field
goals kicked in school history, so Latham had kicked 59% of all field goals kicked at the schools. There
had only been 8 successful field goals that traveled 30 yards or more with Latham kicking 6 of those. A turnover led to the next touchdown
as well, only this time it was Winnfield who lost the ball when Perry Myles fumbled the
ball at the Parkway 39-yard line. The Panthers moved the 61 yards in 7 plays, getting a touchdown on a 1-yard plunge. The
PAT failed following the touchdown leaving the score 17-6 with just under two minutes to go in the third quarter.
Each team scored once more to make
the final score 24-12 in favor of Winnfield. The Tigers got 245 yards rushing and added 47 yards through the air in claiming
their fourth win of the year against one loss. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers gave up 173 passing yards to Parkway
on a 16 of 30 passing night. That was one of the most productive passing nights any opponent had ever had against a Winnfield
team. Leaders in those categories included:
Passing Yards Allowed: 242
yds. vs. Caldwell (1965)
Most Passes Attempted By Opponent: 31 vs.
Most Passes Completions Allowed: 19 vs. Westlake
Coach Moreau was still upbeat about his secondary. He told The
Enterprise, "Our secondary is not that bad. We've got some good people, they are just having to mature as the
season goes on." The secondary consisted of Sampson Collins (jr.), Thomas
King (soph.), Garlon Powell (soph.) and Perry Myles (jr.), all underclassmen.
Winnfield's final non-district
game of the year came in week six. It would also be the Tiger's homecoming as Coach Moreau selected the Jena
Giants to be the Tiger's homecoming opponent. Winnfield and Jena had not met since the 1976 football season and the Tigers
came into the game with an 11-game winning streak against the Giants. The Jena program had been down in recent years and was
1-5 for the 1981 season. All total, Jena had been outscored 34-101.
Jena was not a passing team. They ran out of the I formation and were averaging
only 164 yards rushing per game, so they weren’t much of a running team either. The Giants had yielded an average of
just over 200 yards per game rushing. The game appeared to match Winnfield strength's (their rushing attack and defense against
the run) against Jena's weaknesses (their inability to run or stop the run).
In the end, turnovers and too much “Winnfield” spelled
doom for Jena. The Tigers pitched their second shutout of the year and scored five touchdowns to take a relatively easy 32-0
win over Jena.. The Tigers scored
the first four times they got the ball to move to a 25-0 first half lead. Two of those scores were set
up by turnovers, with the first coming after Ken Maloy blocked a Jena punt that the Tigers recovered at the
Jena 11-yard line and the other coming when Tommy Latham recovered a fumble at the Jena 11 on the ensuing
Jena also lost the ball on their
first possession of the second half when Kevin Collins recovered a fumble at the Winnfield 38-yard line.
Marcel Mills got the call on successive plays and he responded by taking the ball in from 12 yard out on
his second carry. That closed out the scoring for both teams and allowed Coach Moreau to give a lot of players
game-experience throughout the remainder of the contest
The most telling statistics came in the punting and turnover categories. For only the ninth time since the 1950 season
(and second time during the 1981 season) the Tigers didn't punt the ball even once. Winnfield only committed one turnover
in the game, that coming a Powell interception late in the second quarter. Jena, on the other hand, threw
two interceptions, lost three fumbles and had one punt blocked. Those mistakes killed any chance Jena had of making the score
respectable. Ironically, in the error-filled game, Jena was not flagged once for a penalty and Winnfield only picked up one
At that point in the season, Coach
Moreau had his team about where he wanted them. He had moved through the non-district portion of the schedule with
a 5-1 record, which was as good as could have reasonably been hoped for. Coach Moreau knew coming into the
season that he had a young, inexperienced bunch and he also knew that he had six non-district games to mold his team into
a playoff team. Coming into the first district game, he felt like he had accomplished that, but you never know until that
is shown on the field.
While perfectionist would hope for an undefeated record, only four Winnfield Tiger teams had ever made it through the
sixth game of the season with a 6-0 record. Those included the 1919, 1961, 1971 and 1978 teams, which also
were the only teams in school history to finish the entire regular season undefeated.
On the other hand, the 1981 team joined eleven other
Tiger teams who had sustained only one loss through six games. What made that seemingly common place is that six of those
eleven teams had played since the 1972 season, meaning that only two teams in the previous ten years had reached the sixth
game of the season with more than one loss.
The Tiger football program had failed to make the playoffs the season before. The Tigers were facing their first district
opponent in week season and the team was eager to get back into a playoff hunt. That is what prompted Coach Moreau
to tell an Enterprise reporter, "We've been looking forward to this week for 365 days."
When you fall off the horse, the best medicine is to get right back on it. After sitting out the 1980 playoffs, the
Tiger mentor couldn't wait to get back into district competition to earn his way back into the playoffs. He had been assuring
his players all year that they wouldn't let the opportunity to compete in the playoffs pass the program up two straight years.
In fact, the Tiger football program hadn't missed out on the playoffs for two straight years since the 1974-1975 seasons.
Winnfield only had three games
remaining on the regular season schedule, but they were all district games. Normally, you wouldn't think that you had
to win all three to make the playoffs, because the district runner-up still made the playoffs and one loss in district play
usually meant you were the district runner-up. But, Winnfield learned the season before that even one loss could knock you
out of the playoffs. Therefore, Coach Moreau entered district play telling his players that they needed to
win all three district games. In doing that they would not only claim the district crown but would erase any doubt about whether
they would make the playoffs.
Heading into district play, Winnfield had climbed back into the thick of things as far as statewide title contenders
go. After seven weeks of play, Winnfield was the fifth-ranked team in Class AA. The Tigers were the only team from District
3-AA to receive any votes in the weekly poll. Therefore, Winnfield was the odds-on favorite to defeat district foes Ringgold,
Many and Jonesboro-Hodge and return to post-season action.
Coach Moreau never took any opponent
lightly and that included teams like Ringgold, the Tiger's first district opponent of 1981. During district play Winnfield
would have to win two of the three district games on the road as they traveled to Ringgold and Jonesboro-Hodge and entertained
Ringgold came into the game with
a very respectable 5-2 record overall. Their only losses of the year were the Class A No. 1 ranked Haynesville Golden Tornado
and a 13-0 defeat to St. Mary's the week before. That game was tied 0-0 with only five minutes to go when St. Mary's got two
quick touchdowns. One of Ringgold's wins had come against district foe Many, meaning the Redskins were 1-0 in district play.
Though Winnfield had defeated Ringgold the past two seasons by a combined margin of 109-14, Coach Moreau
called the Redskins "a much improved ball team." Ringgold's biggest weapon was their 6'1", 185 running back
who was a converted nose guard. He had rushed for 245 yards against Many. The biggest weakness of Ringgold was a lot of their
players played both ways. Coach Moreau said, "We'll have to use a fast pace and take the fight to them,"
to take advantage of the team depth that Winnfield had. Simply put, the game was one of those "must-win" types of
Ringgold never had a chance. The
Tigers piled up 373 yards rushing and added 123 yards passing to roll over Ringgold 45-8. The 496 total yards was the fourth
highest single game total yardage total ever amassed by a Tiger team up to that point and the 373 rushing yards was the fifth
highest ever gained by a Tiger team.
Greg Powell had a career game, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing
for two others. Powell's touchdown runs weren't token quarterback sneaks either as his first touchdown run
went for 40 yards and his second run was 8 yards further. His touchdown tosses included a 14-yard pass to Earl Funches
and a 45-yard toss to Benny Mitchell to begin the second half.
The Tigers climbed to a 27-2 halftime lead and built
that lead to 45-8 at the end of the third, which is where the scored stayed the rest of the way. About the only bright spot
for Ringgold was their passing game, which they got their lone touchdown off of. For the night, Ringgold was only 7 of 24
for 126 yards in the passing category.
The win moved Winnfield to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in district play. The Tigers also moved up a notch in the LSWA poll,
jumping to the No. 4 slot behind a group of undefeated teams including John Curtis, Plain Dealing and Ferriday.
As Winnfield prepared for the final
regular season home game against Many, they did so with the knowledge that they still had a lot of unfinished business to
take care of. Both Winnfield and Jonesboro-Hodge were atop the district standings with 1-0 records, followed by Ringgold with
a 1-1 league mark and Many with a 0-2-0 record in district play. A Winnfield win over Many and a Jonesboro-Hodge win over
Ringgold meant the district title would be settled in the final week of the season when Winnfield and Jonesboro-Hodge squared
off. Mainly, a win by Winnfield coupled with a Jonesboro-Hodge win clinched a playoff spot for both teams. In three seasons
of play, Winnfield had a 17-1-0 record in district play, with the lone loss being the 1980 loss to Mansfield. All season long
that had served as a motivator to the 1981 team, who fully intended on completing the season with an undefeated record in
Many came to town with a 1-7-0
record, with their lone win being a 12-0 decision over Montgomery. Winnfield had thoroughly dominated Many throughout the
series, holding a 16-0-0 record in games played up to that point. Winnfield had held Many scoreless in five of the previous
six games. The season before, Winnfield defeated Many 54-0. In games played since the year the seniors of the 1981 team were
freshman, Winnfield had defeated Many four times by a combined total of 142-0. That made it hard to take Many seriously.
On the first punt of the game (which
came four plays after Many was shut down by the Tiger defense), Greg Powell took a handoff from Sampson
Collins and sprinted down the sidelines 54 yards for a touchdown. All of the scoring the rest of the night would
be just that easy.
The Tigers scored on each of their first four series to take a 30-0 lead. The longest of those touchdowns
was a 48 yard pass from Powell to Sampson Collins. At that point in the game, Winnfield had not been
stopped on any of their four series and Many had not made a first down. On Many’s next series they did make two first
downs before being halted by the Tiger defense and at least gained some leeway in the field position battle as they lined
up to punt from near midfield. When Tiger return man Benny Mitchell fielded the punt at the 15-yard line,
Many would have stopped Winnfield in their worst field position of the night had they tackled Mitchell at
that spot - but they didn't. Mitchell was the type of player who you never wanted to get up a head of steam
if you were an opposing team, but that’s what Many allowed as they failed to cover the punt adequately. As a result,
Mitchell returned the punt 85 yards for a touchdown. That was Mitchell's second career punt
return for a touchdown, as he had returned a punt for a touchdown the previous year against Many. Greg Powell's
punt return earlier in the game was also his second career punt return for a touchdown. That made Powell
and Mitchell only the fourth and fifth Winnfield Tiger players to return multiple punt returns for touchdowns
in their careers. The other three included career leader John Wayne Williams (1970-1971) who returned six
punts for touchdowns, Jeffery Dale (1977-1980) who had three and Alan Carter (1969-1971)
who had two. Powell and Mitchell became the first pair to return a punt (or any type of
kick) for a touchdown in the same game
Winnfield scored once more in the first half after recovering a fumble. That made the halftime score
44-0, which at the time was the second-most points any Winnfield team had ever scored in the first half, trailing only the
47 pts. piled up by the 1971 team against Menard.
Coach Moreau came out of the locker
room for the second half with the luxury of emptying his bench and that is exactly what he did. Though Many scored three times
in the second half, Winnfield scored twice more, with the first coming when freshman kickoff return man
Andrew Riggs fielded the football following the second Many touchdown and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown,
followed by Latham's seventh extra point kick of the night which upped the Tiger lead to 51-14. Riggs'
return gave the Tigers an amazing three kick returns for touchdowns against Many. That has to be seen in the proper context.
Coming into the 1981 season, Winnfield Tiger football had been played for 72 years. In close to two-thirds (45) of those seasons
NO kick (punt or kickoff) was returned for a touchdown in the entire season, yet the 1981 Tigers had returned three
in one game. Further, there had only been six seasons in the history of the program where there were multiple kick returns
for touchdowns. As far as kick returns are concerned, nobody had come close to matching the fete of the 1971 team who returned
9 kicks (7 punts and 2 kickoffs) for touchdowns. The 1971 team returned a kick for a touchdown in 9 of 10 regular season games.
They were followed by the 1972 team who returned 5 kicks for touchdowns, the 1979 team who had 3 and the 1928, 1948 and 1980
teams who each had two kick returns for touchdowns. The three kick returns for touchdowns against Many gave the 1981 team
4 kick returns for touchdowns for the season, the third-highest total ever amassed in one season. But, prior to the 1981 Many
game, no other Winnfield team had ever returned more than one kick return for a touchdown in a game, let alone three.
With the score reading 51-20 Winnfield
in the fourth quarter Tiger fans got a taste of what was in store for the future when sophomore quarterback Thomas
King took the ball 67 yards on a keeper to give Winnfield one final touchdown. Latham booted his
eight extra point of the night to close out all scoring at 58-20. Latham's eight extra point conversions enabled him to tie
Tommy Campbell (1978) for most extra point kicks in a single game, one of the few kicking records Latham
didn't have his name on. There had only been 14 occasions when a Tiger place kicker had booted 6 or more extra point kicks
in a game. Tommy Latham was the kicker in 9 of those 14 games.
Despite the gaudy score, Winnfield didn't pile up huge statistical
numbers. For the game, Winnfield had 161 yards rushing, with half of that coming on Winnfield's four touchdown runs from scrimmage.
The Tigers also got 131 yards passing, with 52 yards of that coming on Collins' touchdown catch. Interestingly,
Winnfield gained more yards on kick returns (212 yards on their three kick returns for touchdowns alone) than they gained
on rushing yards.
The win moved the Tigers to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in district play. Above all, it gave the Tigers a lot of confidence
as they headed into the final regular season game. A seven-game win streak alone gives you a lot of momentum,
but the way in which the season had progressed since the loss to Neville at the start of the season gave Coach Moreau
reason for optimism about his team’s chances in the coming weeks. During the season, his troops had been involved in
a range of game situations. Little did Coach Moreau know what lay in store for the final game, the Jonesboro-Hodge
game, where the Tigers would get a chance to show what kind of character they had.
KEY GAME: Every season has “stories within the story” – single plays, single games or single events that are
stories by themselves. In the final week of the 1981 regular season you had one such “story”. Here is the story
of arguably the greatest comeback in the history of the program.
If you had followed Winnfield football for any period of time, you couldn't have
asked for a better set-up heading into the final
week of the regular season. For starters, Winnfield was playing their most bitter rival in Jonesboro. Though the two teams
had been competing against each other for more than 70 years, the series record was amazingly close, with Winnfield having
a 23-26-2 record against Jonesboro. Winnfield had controlled the series for most of the recent years as they came into the
game with a three-game win streak. In fact, Winnfield had won six of the previous seven meetings, with the lone loss in that
stretch being a 7-0 overtime-loss during the 1977 season. Coach Moreau was 2-0 against Jonesboro-Hodge, making
him the only coach in the school's history who had guided multiple teams against Jonesboro and never lost.
Both Winnfield and Jonesboro-Hodge had already clinched
a playoff spot with 2-0 records in district play. So, the contest between Winnfield and Jonesboro would decide which team
would wear the district crown into the playoffs. Winnfield was eager to recapture the title they had won two of the three
Jonesboro came into the game with a deceptive
3-5-0 won-loss record. Their wins had come against district foes Many and Ringgold as well as a 43-6 shellacking of Farmerville.
All of Jonesboro-Hodge's losses had come against teams from a higher classification. Scores from those five losses give some
sort of indication of the strength of the Jonesboro-Hodge team. Like Winnfield, Jonesboro played Neville and came away with
a 37-21 defeat in the fourth game of the season. Other losses were to AAAA Ouachita High School (18-17), AAA Mansfield (30-20),
as well as Carroll (7-0) and Ruston (23-0).
area of his team that had been a concern of Coach Moreau all season long was the secondary. He knew he had
talented players there, but he also knew he had young players. Before the Jonesboro-Hodge game, Coach Moreau
told an Enterprise reporter that his secondary had improved each week, but he knew that his secondary and linebackers
would have their hands full against Jonesboro-Hodge. The Jackson parish squad relied heavily on their passing attack. Moreau
said that stopping Jonesboro quarterback Anthony Anderson was the key to the game for Winnfield.
It was a bitterly cold night in Jonesboro when the
two squared off. Whether it was because of the frigid air or raw nerves, Winnfield did everything they could to give the game
to Jonesboro-Hodge in the first half. On the second play of the game, Winnfield turned the ball over on a fumble that Jonesboro-Hodge
recovered at the Winnfield 28-yard line. Jonesboro-Hodge didn’t squander that opportunity as they covered that distance
in six plays, with the touchdown coming on a 11-yard end around. The PAT was made, giving Jonesboro-Hodge an early 7-0 lead.
Winnfield got out to midfield on their next series,
but dropped the ball on the turf again, which Jonesboro recovered at their own 47-yard line. Though the Winnfield defense
made Jonesboro-Hodge work for it, Jonesboro-Hodge again capitalized on the Winnfield miscue when they put together a 14-play
drive that ate up most of the first quarter clock. The drive was culminated by a 2-yard run by Anderson,
after which Jonesboro-Hodge converted the PAT to move the score to 14-0.
It is said that bad luck comes in "threes.” When
Winnfield got the ball back, they ran two plays and lost yet another fumble, this one coming at the Jonesboro-Hodge 41-yard
line. Anderson came in and wasted no time on this series he connected on a 41-yard scoring toss to up the
Jonesboro-Hodge lead to 20-0, which is where it stayed after the PAT attempt was missed.
With 13 seconds showing on the first quarter clock, Jonesboro
had scored three touchdowns and Winnfield had run only 9 plays from scrimmage, with their three fumbles being a major factor
in the game.
When the second quarter began, you would
think that Winnfield would have been overly conscious about holding on to the football. Maybe they were and maybe that's why
the Tigers fumbled yet again, only this time Winnfield recovered their own fumble. After the recovery, Winnfield went nowhere
so they ended their fourth series of the night with a punt.
Jonesboro-Hodge then took the ball down the field yet again, and though that drive stalled out deep in Winnfield territory
Jonesboro went for and made a 29-yard field goal to forge a 23-0 lead. Winnfield's district title hopes were quickly fading
with each turnover. Though Winnfield certainly had the firepower to move the football, they couldn't hold onto the ball long
enough to get anything going.
when it was beginning to seem that Winnfield surely couldn't do much else wrong, they fumbled the ball for the fifth time
of the first half when the kickoff following the Jonesboro-Hodge field goal was dropped. A wild scramble ensued but Jonesboro-Hodge
came up with the football at the Winnfield 36-yard line. Nine plays later, Anderson completed his second
touchdown pass of the night to up the Jonesboro lead to 29-0. There was 4:14 showing on the second quarter clock and Winnfield
was mired in a game that had quickly gotten out of hand. For some in the stands, the game was already decided, but that’s
why games are played until time runs out and not until a certain score is reached.
Character is shown in both how you handle success and adversity.
Facing a 29-point deficit, Winnfield would have to play error-free football on offense to have any sort of chance, and oh,
by the way, Winnfield would also have to keep Jonesboro from continuing their scoring onslaught. Getting the Winnfield offense
going certainly seemed possible. Stopping Jonesboro-Hodge was another thing altogether.
When Winnfield got the ball back for their fifth
series of the night they did one thing they hadn't done on any of the previous four series - they held onto the football.
Beginning play at the Winnfield 30, Greg Powell got the series started with 22-yard pass to Benny
Mitchell. Powell than ran for 31 yards on the second play to move the ball to the Jonesboro 17-yard
line. Two more plays moved the ball to the Jonesboro-Hodge 5-yard line, where Perry Myles took the ball into
the end zone to finally get Winnfield on the scoreboard. Needing points, Moreau called for a two-point conversion
attempt, which Myles got on a run around right end. That made the score 29-8 as the first half came to an
end. You can't really say that Winnfield had gotten back into the game, because they were still three touchdowns behind Jonesboro.
But, you have to start somewhere, so the touchdown right before the half gave Winnfield some reason to believe they could
move the ball against Jonesboro if they could hold onto it.
In the first half Winnfield had fumbled the ball on all but one of their possessions. Winnfield had fumbled five times
and lost four of those. Jonesboro scored touchdowns after recovering each of those four fumbles and added a field goal after
the only Winnfield punt of the half. Winnfield held onto the ball on only one drive in the first half and scored a touchdown
on that drive.
In the locker room at halftime,
the team was well aware of how their own mistakes had contributed to Jonesboro's success. Cut back on the mistakes and you
can play with Jonesboro, Moreau said to his troops. He preferred to take a business-like approach to the
task that lay ahead. With hard work, the Tigers could still claim the district title.
Winnfield took their opening possession of the second half 80
yards down the field for a score and it only took six plays to do that. Winnfield at
least show Jonesboro-Hodge (and themselves) that they had no quit in them. That marked two drives in the game that Winnfield
held onto the ball and scored. Winnfield quarterback Greg Powell was as talented as anyone on the field,
and he could hurt you with his running ability. However, it was Powell’s arm that
hurt Jonesboro on that opening drive when Powell hit Sampson Collins for a
50-yard scoring toss. Following the touchdown, the two-point conversion attempt failed when Powell failed
to connect on a pass into the end zone. That left the score 29-14.
Obviously, Coach Moreau needed points but what he needed equally
as well was for his defense to hold Jonesboro. He didn't want to get into a scoring duel in the second half. The best thing
his defense could do was get the ball back into the offense's hands. That's exactly what they did on the next series, when
the Winnfield defense ran Jonesboro-Hodge off the field after only five plays.
The Winnfield offense went right to work, taking the ball 57
yards in 7 plays with the final 18 yards of the drive coming on a pass from Greg Powell to Earl Funches.
For the third straight series Winnfield held onto the ball and for the third straight series Winfield scored a touchdowns.
Winnfield again failed to connect on a two-point conversion attempt, leaving the score 29-20 as the third quarter came to
an end. If you weren't thinking comeback before the previous touchdown you certainly were now. In only 16 minutes of playing
time, Winnfield had whittled a 29-0 Jonesboro-Hodge lead to a 29-20 margin. With a whole quarter to play, Winnfield had taken
control of the football game, yet they still needed two scores to overtake Jonesboro. Talk about a flip-flop. Jonesboro-Hodge had scored
the first five times they had touched the ball in the game, but had been shut down the next three times. Conversely, Winnfield
had turned the ball five of the first six times they had the ball but had scored on three straight possessions, closing a
29-0 gap to a 9-point 29-20 margin. The fourth quarter would determine who the district champion would be.
The game continued a familiar pattern for Winnfield
at the start of the fourth quarter - one good pattern and the other a bad pattern. The Winnfield defense shut Jonesboro-Hodge
down yet again at the start of the period, forcing a punt. However, Winnfield failed to protect the football on the punt and
ended up losing their fifth fumble of the night. Soon after, Jonesboro gave the back right back to Winnfield when they lost
a fumble at Winnfield 31-yard line.
plays netted Winnfield nothing, but that set up one of the biggest plays of the game. Facing a third and 10 from the Winnfield
31, Powell rolled out and hit Kevin Collins with a pass. The defender guarding Collins
slipped down just as the catch was made, allowing Collins a free run to the end zone to make the score 29-26.
Latham moved the team one point closer with his PAT, making the score 29-27.
As the second quarter was coming to a close, it appeared that Winnfield had
thrown away (or fumbled away) the district title when Jonesboro surged to a 29-0 lead. Since that time, Winnfield had scored
27 unanswered points to make a game of it as the clock showed 7:30 in the fourth. Winnfield still had some work to do but
the district title was there for the taking.
put together a modest drive the next time they had the ball but they were left with no reasonable choice when they faced a
fourth and long. So, with 3:25 showing on the clock, Jonesboro elected to punt to Winnfield and preserve the win with good
Winnfield got a short return on
the kick, but they did begin play at their own 40-yard line. Greg Powell, who had been a running quarterback
all of his career, had already passed for three touchdowns in the second half. On the final series you would have thought
he was Joe Montana as he guided the team down the field with one precision pass after another. His first
hit Kevin Collins 12 yards down the field to move the ball to the Jonesboro 48-yard line. On the next play,
Powell connected with Benny Mitchell for 20 yards, which put the ball at the Jonesboro-Hodge
28. With just under two minutes showing on the clock, the Tigers were just shy of scoring range with several possibilities,
not the least of which was the leg of Tommy Latham. He had already kicked four 40+-yard field goals in his
career and a successful boot by him would give Winnfield a lead.
Facing a first and ten at the Jonesboro 28, Powell
took the snap, feigned a drop back and took the ball right up the middle of the Jonesboro-Hodge defense, weaving his way the
full 28 yards into the end zone to enable Winnfield to take the lead for the first time in the game. Latham
came in and added the extra point kick to move Winnfield to a 34-29 lead.
Some people may have joked that Winnfield had scored too quickly because
Jonesboro got the ball back with 2:44 showing on the clock – plenty of time to mount a game-winning drive. They too
had the weapons to move down the field, but the Winnfield defense would have none of that when they knocked down a fourth
down pass six plays into the Jonesboro drive, thus enabling the Tiger offense to regain control of the football with just
over a minute to go in the game. Winnfield simply ran the clock out at that point.
There have been great comeback wins in Winnfield Tiger football
history, but this one clearly tops the list considering what was at stake in the game. Each of the previous three decades
had seen outstanding comeback wins. One of the most notable comebacks came during the 1955 season when Winnfield overcame
a 12-6 deficit against Neville, the eventual state champions. In that game, Winnfield scored from 80 yards away on the final
play of the game and converted on the extra point to take a 13-12 win. During the 1966 season, Winnfield fell behind perennial
power Tallulah 14-3 in the opening district game of the season. It took a fourth quarter comeback, but in that game the Tigers
scored not one, but two touchdowns in the last half of the fourth quarter to take a 17-14 win. In the 1971 season, the team
got two fourth quarter comeback wins in the playoffs when they overcame a 13-12 Haughton High School lead in the final two
minutes of that quarterfinal game. The following week, the team earned their way into the AAA title game with a fourth quarter
touchdown that allowed the team to move from a 13-7 deficit to a 14-13 win. But, by overcoming a 29-point deficit against
Jonesboro-Hodge, the 1981 team had overcome the largest deficit any Winnfield Tiger team had ever made up. Two things made
the comeback even more special - it got the team the district crown and it came against Jonesboro-Hodge.
district crown was the 9th for the school in football, all coming in a 25-year period that began in 1957. During that same
span, Winnfield had finished as the district runner-up 5 other times. The win over Jonesboro-Hodge moved the Tiger’s
record to 8-1 for the season and a perfect 3-0 in district play. That moved the 1981 team into a tie for ninth place for most
regular season wins. That list was headed by the 1961 team with 11 wins, followed by the 1971 and 1978 teams with 10 wins.
A total of five other teams had won 9 games during the regular season, including the 1923, 1928, 1966, 1972 and 1979 teams.
The other teams who had won 8 regular season games were the 1954, 1960, 1968, 1973 and 1976.
Regarding the Jonesboro win, Coach Moreau
told The Enterprise, "We were just too tight in the early stages of the game. We can't take anything
from Jonesboro, but we helped them out a lot. I think the most important thing from the game was that the boys proved to themselves
they can be great if they work hard and play together as a team." After falling behind 29-0 near the
end of the second quarter, the team could have cruised for 24 more minutes and still made the playoffs as the runner-up in
District 3-AA. But, second place wasn't good enough and if it meant scoring five touchdowns in a little over 24 minutes to
get the title, that's what they would do. That's what champions are made out of.
The final Class AA rankings looked like this:
John Curtis (10) 10-0
2. Ferriday 9-0
4. Plain Dealing
5. E. D. White
6. Notre Dame
10. White Castle
Others: Vidalia, Mamou, Cathedral, Varnado, Benton and Opelousas Catholic
Winnfield opened the bi-district round of the playoffs against Vidalia. Both schools entered the playoffs with 8-1
records, with Vidalia’s only loss being to the No. 2 ranked Ferriday Bulldogs. That loss came by a score of 30-16. The
Vikings had scored 276 points during the year (31 ppg. avg.) and allowed just 90 points (10 ppg. avg.). But, Vidalia hadn’t
play the toughest schedule in the state and they had exactly blown out they weaker opponents such as Waterproof (23-0), Delhi
(28-0) and Buckeye (19-6).
Vidalia relied on a half-dozen players to play on both sides of the ball, but they did have one weapon who had could
hurt you. They had ridden the coattails of tailback/linebacker Keith Woodside all season long. In the backfield,
Woodside had gained more than 1,300 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.
The Vikings were mainly a running team, with their
fullback gaining more than 700 yards rushing, though he was used mainly as a blocking back for Woodside.
Coach Moreau talked about the overall athleticism of Vidalia and warned that his team would have to play
aggressive football to defeat Vidalia. The winner of the match-up would play the winner of the Plain Dealing vs. McCall encounter.
Winnfield found Vidalia to be a
surprisingly tough defensive team in the first half as the Tigers only scored once. That game on an 11-play
drive in the first quarter. Vidalia didn’t score in the first half but the Vikings went into the halftime locker room
believing they could play with Winnfield.
On Vidalia’s first possession of the second half, Benny Mitchell intercepted
a pass at the Tiger 31-yard line. Again, it took a long drive (12 plays) but the Tigers put some distance between themselves
and Vidalia when Garlon Powell finished that drive with a 4-yard run, giving the Tigers a 14-0 lead.
Though Vidalia got right back in
the ball game with a 77-yard drive on their next possession, that would be the only points the Vikings would get for the night.
The 14-6 lead the Tigers took into the fourth quarter was expanded to 21-6 when Winnfield put together a 10-play fourth
The game was highlighted by the defensive play of both teams. Winnfield’s defense completely bottled up Woodside
all night long. The games leading rusher was Perry Myles who had 101 yards rushing on 12 carries. Right behind
him was Marcel Mills who had 79 yards rushing on 14 carries. Except for a few defensive breakdowns, Vidalia
stopped Winnfield’s running game. The win propelled Winnfield into the regional round against McCall, who was a 14-6
victor over No. 4 ranked Plain Dealing in the regional round of the playoffs.
For the Winnfield program, the win over Vidalia evened the program’s
overall playoff record at 13-13. For playoff games played in Stokes-Walker Stadium, that record was 8-3,
with the all-time home playoff record being 8-7. By winning the opening round playoff game, the 1981 team became only the
sixth team in school history to win a playoff game. The win also improved the 1981 team’s record to 9-1-0.
In McCall, Winnfield played a dangerous
team. McCall had not received any recognition all season long and when the final Class AA poll came out, McCall had not received
a single vote. That’s what made them so dangerous. The school had made one of the biggest turnaround’s in LHSAA
high school football history during the 1981 season. The season before, the school went 1-9, but they entered the 1981 season
with 16 seniors and an equal number of juniors who almost turned the program completely around, going 7-3 during the regular
season, before knocking off one of the top-ranked schools in the Class AA in the opening round of the playoffs. McCall had one of those teams who
didn’t know any better than to think that they would be state champions. During the regular season, losses to No. 2
ranked Ferriday (52-14) and to Tallulah (21-18) had done nothing to dampen their championship quest. Even though McCall dropped
a 20-18 decision to Lake Providence in a game that determined the No. 1 and 2 teams in district 2-AA, the Dragons began the
playoff believing they would still win a state championship. The encounter with Winnfield would be played on McCall’s
home field, giving their fans their first opportunity to see their team play at home during the playoffs.
Coach Moreau was more than a little concerned about his team as they prepared for the regional-round playoff game.
For starters, he was concerned about his teams play against Vidalia. He told an Enterprise reporter, “Maybe
we were stale after coming off a big win against Jonesboro for the district title. I don’t know, but we can’t
play like we did last week and win (against McCall).”
Another concern was the loss of defensive lineman
Jess Grigg, who fractured his tibia in the game against Vidalia He was thus lost for the
remainder of the playoffs. The Tigers had avoided the injury bug all season long but they lost a key defensive player with
the injury to Grigg.
The head coach of the McCall program was Levi Washington, who had a career won-loss record of 184-26-3.
He had spent three of his 21 years of coaching at McCall, with his first two years there coming during the 1978 and 1979 seasons
when he compiled an 18-1-1 record. After leaving for one season, he returned in 1981. When asked about his chances against
Winnfield by an Enterprise reporter, Washington said he didn’t know much about the Tigers,
but he added, “From what I hear from other coaches, we need to pray a lot if we are going to beat them.”
McCall ran out of a variation of
the Notre Dame box. That meant that they didn’t throw the ball much. Mainly it meant that they ran an offense that most
of their opponents had no experience defending against. As a result, McCall won a lot of game with their offensive scheme
alone, rather than will overall team talent, but McCall used more than gimmicks to win games. The Dragons had relied on their
defense all season long, giving up only 26 points in their 8 wins. It shaped up as just the type of game that Winnfield could
lose unless they went over to Tallulah with their heads screwed on right.
Though it was totally unexpected, Winnfield administered one
of the most lopsided playoff wins in school history against McCall. The Dragon offense didn’t fool the Tigers at all
as the Tiger defenders played as if they knew what was coming at them on each and every play. At halftime McCall had only
made two first downs and they attained only seven first downs for the whole night. When a team who relies on their running
games manages only 47 total rushing yards for a game, you know they have been shut down. That’s what the Tiger defense
did to the McCall rushing attack. In shutting down the Dragon offense, the Tigers shut down 1,400-yard rusher Burl
Dunlop who ended the night with but 27 yards rushing on 12 carries, by far his worst rushing night of the season.
The Dragons added 47 more yards through the air, but none of that got McCall into the end zone, meaning the Dragons were shutout
for the first time all year.
Winnfield scored twice in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead. The first touchdown came after
a 9 play, 73-yard drive. Soon after Funches intercepted a McCall pass
at the Dragon 24 and returned it to the 5-yard line. On second down, Myles burst over the goal line from
3 yards out to up the Tiger lead to two touchdowns.
Winnfield added a touchdown in the second quarter when they put together a 51 yard, 8-play drive, with Greg
Powell connecting with Earl Funches for a 13-yard pass play to end the drive. Latham’s
third extra point of the night enabled the Tigers to take a 21-0 lead into halftime.
Winnfield then scored on their first two possessions
of the second half to open up their 35-0 lead. After that Coach Moreau substituted liberally.
Greg Powell was
one of the most impressive players on the field as he was the game’s leading rusher with 82 yards on 11 attempts. He
also connected of 8 of 13 passes for 142 yards, with two of his incompletions coming on two bombs he attempted in the closing
minutes of the first half.
Winnfield improved to 10-1 for the season with the win. That made the 1981 team only the fifth team in school history
to get double-digit wins for a season. The teams in the history of the program with more wins were the 1971 team (13), followed
by the 1978 (12), 1961 (11), 1976 (11) and 1979 (11) teams.
By reaching the quarterfinals of the playoffs, the 1981 team joined an elite
group of Tiger football teams. In the first 49 years of Tiger football no team competed in a playoff game. The 1981 team became
the fourteenth team to make the playoffs since the 1957 team finally broke the dry spell. But, by making it as far as the
quarterfinal round, the 1981 team became one of only six Tiger teams to advance that far. The others included the 1968, 1971,
1976, 1978 and 1979 teams.
When the 1981 playoffs began, Winnfield couldn’t have been happier with their placement in the playoffs because
they were the highest ranked team in their side of the bracket. That was because only three top ten-ranked teams were placed
in the 16-team bracket that Winnfield was a part of. Those three teams included No. 4 Plain Dealing, No. 5 E. D. White, and
No. 3 Winnfield. Plain Dealing had, of course, already been eliminated by Winnfield’s second round opponent McCall,
but E. D. White was still alive after drawing a first round bye and rolling over their bi-district opponent 34-0.
Ironically, five of the six teams
who “also received votes” in the final Class AA poll were in Winnfield’s bracket. Winnfield had already
knocked off the highest vote getter from among that group when they defeated Vidalia. All of the rest of those teams were
eliminated in the regional round of the playoffs.
In contrast, the other bracket was filled with seven of the top ten teams, including Nos. 1 and 2 John Curtis and Ferriday.
Additionally, that group included Nos. 6 Notre Dame and Catholic-Pointe Coupee, as well as No. 8 Springhill, No. 9 Welsh and
No. 10 White Castle. All of those teams reached the regional round, where all but John Curtis, Ferriday and Catholic-Point
Coupee went down to defeat. Clearly, the most impressive team in the playoffs thus far was John Curtis who had rolled to a
62-6 first round win over Independence and followed that up with a 33-0 pasting of White Castle.
In quarterfinal-round action, it
was a case of clear favorites taking on underdogs. In the upper bracket, both No. 3 Winnfield and No. 5 E. D. White played
teams who weren’t ranked in the top ten, while in the bottom bracket No. 1 ranked John Curtis took on No. 6 ranked Catholic-PC
and Ferriday played unranked St. Louis. On the other hand, when you get to the quarterfinal round, every team is good.
Winnfield’s opponent in the
quarterfinals was Vinton, champions of District 5-AA. The Lions of Vinton, located in far off southwest Louisiana, would have
to come to Stokes-Walker Stadium. They brought an 8-3-0 record to the game, with a perfect 3-0 record in
district play. The key win for Vinton was an 8-7 victory over St. Louis for the district crown. After drawing a first round
bye in the playoffs, Vinton just got past 12th ranked Mamou in the regional round when they escaped with a 14-8 win. Two of
the Lions three losses were decisive, as both Westlake (28-0) and Ville Platte (35-0) recorded shutout victories over the
Like Winnfield, Vinton ran from
the Veer. They had a good, but not exceptional backfield to run that attack. Coach Moreau described Vinton
like this for the Enterprise, “They run out of a lot of formations and use a bunch of trick plays.” For
the year, Vinton had scored 242 points (22 ppg. Avg). The Lions relied on a stunting, blitzing defense to keep them in games.
Besides their three losses, no opponent scored more than two touchdowns against Vinton. That’s what they did best -
keep people out of the end zone. It was not usual for teams to pile up yardage against Vinton only to bog down once they got
close to the goal line. That was most evident in Vinton’s district title game win over St. Louis, who rolled up 470
total yards and 21 first downs but only had one touchdown to show for their effort. Winnfield got a taste of Vinton’s bend-but-don’t-break
defense on their first possession of the night which took the Tigers down to the Vinton 15-yard line. However, after moving
almost 70 yards on the drive, the Tiger’s stalled out, prompting a Tommy Latham 33-yard field goal
attempt that was off line.
If that wasn’t disheartening enough, Vinton took the ball after Latham’s field goal attempt
and marched 80 yards in 10 plays to get on the scoreboard. The touchdown came on a 5-yard run with 3:24 left in the opening
quarter. The PAT was good making the score 7-0.
The Tigers tied the game up on their next series when they took the ball from the Winnfield 34-yard line to the Vinton
36 in only two plays. From there, Garlon Powell broke free, running untouched into the end zone for a touchdown,
which was followed by Latham’s PAT to tie the score at 7-all.
Three plays later, Sampson Collins
fell on a loose football at the Winnfield 31, after which the Tigers drove to the Lion 13. However, the Vinton defense stiffened
for the second time and Tommy Latham missed his second field goal attempt of the night, this time from 30
Up to this point in the game, each
team’s offense looked nearly unstoppable. That continued on Vinton’s next series when they took the ball right
down the field, but the Lions stopped themselves when they fumbled at the Winnfield 31, which Doyce Gorham
recovered at the Winnfield 24-yard line.
The see-saw game continued when Winnfield took only three plays to score, with the big play being a 70-yard scoring
completion from Powell to Benny Mitchell. Latham sailed the
ball through the uprights, upping the Tiger’s lead to 14-7 just before the half.
Winnfield had the ball four times in the first half.
They put together two 65+-yard touchdown drives and made it inside the Vinton 20 on their other two possessions, where they
failed on two field goal attempts after the Vinton defense stiffened. Vinton scored the one time they held onto the football
in the first half and fumbled the ball away the other times they had the ball.
The dominance of the two offensive units continued
in the third quarter when Vinton took nine minutes off of the clock in mounting a 19-play, 80-yard scoring drive. After moving
to a first and goal inside the Winnfield 10-yard line, they found that the Winnfield defense could be just as stingy around
the goal line as they were. Facing a fourth and goal from the 13, Vinton elected to go for a field goal which they got to
make the score 14-10. The field goal came at the 2:48 mark of the third quarter. Garlon Powell electrified the crowd when he
returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for an apparent touchdown, but the run was nullified when the Tigers were flagged for
clipping. Winnfield then fumbled the ball over the Vinton on that series thus adding insult to injury. However, Vinton returned
the favor when they too fumbled after reaching the Winnfield 21-yard line.
Winnfield then moved to the Vinton 13-yard line in only three
plays, with the big play of the drive being a 57-yard run by Perry Myles which got the Tigers to the 13.
From there, Greg Powell found Earl Funches alone in the end zone and drilled a pass to him
to extend the Tiger lead to 20-10. Latham upped that by one when he converted the PAT. The touchdown came
with just over 9 minutes to go in the game.
Vinton responded with a 6-play, 79-yard drive that got them within striking distance of the Tigers. After moving to
their own 48-yard line, Vinton pulled a play-ground type play out of their play book. They had their entire team, except their
center, quarterback and wide receiver, line up 10 yards left of the football, setting up a one-on-one situation with their
wide receiver and Sampson Collins. On the play, Collins went for the interception but came
up short, allowing Vinton to complete the 52-yard pass for a touchdown. The PAT following the touchdown made the score 21-
17 with just under five minutes remaining in the game.
Winnfield went nowhere on their next series, turning the ball back over to Vinton after only three plays, thus giving
them one last chance at a comeback. Vinton was driving for the game-winning touchdown as they moved to a first and ten at
the Winnfield 27. However, three plays only netted 5 yards, setting up a fourth and five from the Tiger 22 at the two-minute
mark of the final quarter. The Vinton quarterback found all of his receivers covered on the fourth down play, so he attempted
to scramble to buy some time, but he was hauled down 2 yards past the line of scrimmage by Kevin Collins
to effectively kill Vinton’s last hope.
Winnfield could have just killed the clock at that point, but Myles found plenty of running room,
getting 18 yards on one carry and 20 yards on another. With only 12 seconds remaining in the game, Winnfield had the ball
at the Vinton 2-yard line, where Marcel Mills bounded into the end zone to get one final touchdown. Latham
followed that with his fourth PAT of the night to make the final score 28-17.
Winnfield gained 276 yards rushing in the contest with Perry
Myles leading all rushers with 133 yards in 15 carries. Greg Powell connected on 5 of 7 passes for
118 yards. Vinton, meanwhile, connected on 13 of 21 passes for 228 yards. That was the third-most passing yards ever amassed
against a Tiger team and the most compiled in a losing effort. The Lions added 151 yards rushing. The two teams were fairly
evenly matched, with Vinton's three fumbles looming large in the outcome of the game.
Coach Moreau was not pleased with
the performance of his Tigers. In a post-game interview with The Enterprise, Moreau summed
up the contest by saying, "Offensively we played alright and defensively we played O.K., but we weren't mentally prepared."
He added, "I don't know if it was the holidays, too much turkey or what, but we just didn't have the concentration
and we weren't mentally prepared."
You like to play sharp in the playoffs, but the name of the game is winning. The win propelled the program into the
semifinals for only the fourth time in school history. The first two times the program made it that far in the playoff (1971
and 1976) they went on to reach the championship game. However, the most recent time the program made it to the semifinals
(1979), they fell 15-points shy in a loss to perennial power John Curtis.
The Tiger's quarterfinal win over Vinton gave the
program a 11-1-0 record for the season. All eleven wins had come in consecutive weeks, giving the 1981 team a tie for the
third longest winning streak in school history. Coming into the 1981 season, the longest winning streaks were:
8th game 1970 through the 13th game 1971
13 10th game 1977 through the 12th game 1978
1st game 1961 through the 11th game 1961
2nd game 1981 through the 12th game 1981
The semifinal matchups made the
pollsters look like geniuses. That's because the top three teams in the final regular season poll were still alive as was
the No. 5 team. The marquee semifinal matchup came in the bracket opposite Winnfield, which pitted No. 1 ranked John Curtis
against No. 2 ranked Ferriday. Those two had held down those two spots all season long and both came into the contest with
KEY GAME: The other bracket boasted two 11-1-0 teams in No. 3 Winnfield facing No. 5 E. D. White of Thibodaux.
The game would be contested on E. D. White's home field in Houma, giving the Tiger football program the longest road trip
they had made since they had to travel just down the road from E. D. White to face South Lafourche in Galliano in the 1971
Class AAA title game.
Winnfield, E. D. White was a district champion, as they had claimed the District 10-AA crown. The only blemish on the Cardinal's
record was a 18-7 loss to Port Sulphur, a semifinalist in the Class A ranks. E. D. White had relied on their running game
most of the year, boasting a 1,200-yard rusher in halfback George Robinson and a 700-yard rusher in fellow
halfback Craig Gauthier. The Cardinals could certainly pass if they needed to, as evidenced by the numbers
put up by returning All-District quarterback Bryan Clement. He had topped the 1,000-yard mark in passing
yards for the year. The one impressive thing about the E. D. White offensive attack was their relative youth, as 8 of the
offensive starters were underclassmen. In the playoffs, E. D. White had enjoyed a first round bye before blowing out Varnado
34-0 in the second round. In quarterfinal round action. E. D. White narrowly escaped with a 14-7 win over No. 13 ranked Cathedral-Carmel.
Since both Winnfield and E. D. White had strong running
games you just knew that both team’s rushing attack would play a huge factor in this game and it did. For
the case of Winnfield that came in the form of quick-strike and in the case of E. D. White that came in the form of ball possession.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, though Latham
attempted a 50-yard field. E. D. White had the next scoring opportunity and that came in the second quarter when they moved
to a first down at the Tiger 12-yard line, but could only gain 2 yards in three plays. They too attempted a field goal from
26 yards out when they faced a fourth and 8 from the 10-yard line. However, like Winnfield, they could not convert on that
scoring attempt either.
took over at the 20-yard line. In close games it is often one big mistake or one big play that makes a difference. For the
Tigers it was a case of the latter. On second down, Greg Powell kept the ball himself. After taking the snap
from center, Powell feigned a cut into the interior of the Tiger line, got to the outside of the E. D. White
defense and ran 74-yards for a touchdown. It was that kind of speed at the quarterback slot that had given Tiger opponents
fits all year long. Latham came in and booted the extra point to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead early in the
On E. D. White's next series, Tiger
defensive lineman and place kicker-supreme Tommy Latham was taken from the field and to the hospital when
he sustained an injury to his eye, requiring emergency surgery to repair a ruptured tear duct. That left the Tigers without
one of their scoring weapons.
in the second quarter E. D. White put together a 10-play, 46-yard scoring drive. The touchdown was made on a 12-yard run and
came with just over two minutes to go in the half. Following the touchdown, E. D. White went for a two-point conversion and
made it to take an 8-7 lead into halftime.
D. White played a ball-control style of offense in the third quarter, running 19 offensive plays to Winnfield's 8. The Cardinals
had the ball for two possessions in the third quarter and the Tigers had it once, with none of those possessions producing
any points. Up to that point in the game the Cardinals had run nearly three times as many plays as had Winnfield, holding
the ball for 44 plays to Winnfield's 17.
That trend continued at the start of the fourth quarter when the Cardinals put
together a 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive. The touchdown came on a 3-yard run and was recorded at the 10:08 mark of the final
quarter. The PAT following the Cardinal touchdown was good, making the score 15-7
At that point in the game, it's a wonder Winnfield was anywhere close to
E. D. White. The Cardinals had run a total of 59 plays to Winnfield's 25. In doing so they had managed to move to an 8-point
lead and make the game a fourth quarter contest.
an exchange of punts, Winnfield got the ball back at their own 35-yard line with 6:12 remaining in the game. Greg
Powell took charge of the game at that point, moving the Tigers 55 yards down the field to a first down at the Cardinal
12-yard line. Powell gained 47 yards on the drive by himself.
Since the Tigers were in need of eight points, the effects of
Tommy Latham being out of the game weren't as great as they could have been had the Tigers only needed a
field goal or one point conversion. However, Winnfield had to get into the end zone first before they could start thinking
about conversion attempts anyway.
Myles got 2 yards on first down, but Powell kept the
ball himself on second down and nearly picked up a first down before being hauled down at the E. D. White 3-yard line. That
set up a third and one play. Needing only 1-yard for a first down and 3 yards for a touchdown, Perry Myles
hit the line and was stopped cold. That set up a fourth and one, giving Winnfield one more chance to extend the season. There
was but 1:49 remaining on the clock.
got the call again on fourth down and he was met by the same wall he had encountered the play before. All he needed was a
half yard to at least pick up a first down, but he appeared to not gain any yards when he was stopped at the line of scrimmage.
When the officials measured for the first down, the Tiger's were a mere 6 inches short, thus giving the ball to E. D. White
with only a minute and a half remaining in the game. The Cardinals ran out the clock from there, sending Winnfield home with
yet another season-ending, heart breaking loss.
Powell did his share to help the Tigers, posting his best night rushing as a Tiger. For the game, Powell
rushed for 157 yards in 18 carries. That was a school record for rushing yards in a playoff game and was the most rushing
yards a Tiger quarterback had ever gained in any game. However, on a night when rushing records were set, maybe it’s
a little bit ironic that it was the Tiger's inability to gain the single yard they needed to pick up a first down on the final
drive and they had two attempts at it.
Coach Moreau summed up the loss this way, "They whipped us at the
line of scrimmage. They deserved to win. They just played better than we did." What disappointed Coach
Moreau the most was the inability of his defense to stop the Cardinal offense. The most decisive aspect of the game,
other than the defensive play by E. D. White on the Tiger's final series, was the Cardinal's control of the football throughout
the contest. By keeping the ball out of the hands of the Tiger offense, the E. D. White offensive eleven effectively kept
the Tigers out of the end zone. The Cardinals won the game by controlling the football and scoring just enough points to win.
Coach Moreau credited E. D. White for being "well disciplined.” Though he was
disappointed in the loss to E. D. White and the opportunity to compete in a title game, little did Coach Moreau
know how prophetic he would be when he declared "We'll be back."
One week later, E. D. White faced John Curtis in
the state title game. In that game, John Curtis completed their second-consecutive undefeated season and won
their third straight Class AA state title in the process. The Patriots of John Curtis had to work
for it, taking a slim 21-17 victory over E. D. White, making that the second-closest margin of victory in John Curtis' five
state title games.
At the time, the 1981 season was clearly one of the most successful seasons in school history. Finishing the year with
an 11-2 record, the 1981 team had won more games than only two previous Tiger teams and the 1981 squad was one of only four
Tiger teams to make it to the semifinals. For those two reasons alone, the 1981 team deserves their rightful place among the
best. At the conclusion of the season, the 1981 team ranked fourth behind only the 1961, 1971 and 1978 squads in most major
offensive categories, including: points scored (388), total touchdowns (55) and rushing touchdowns (41). Although they were
primarily a running team, the 1981 squad trailed only the 1971 (25), 1976 (20), 1966 (14) and 1978 (12) teams for most passing
touchdowns with 11 for the season.
The team was a mixture of a hand-full of senior players and a large group of talented underclassmen who
meshed together well in dedicating themselves to winning the district title, making the playoffs and winning a state championship.
They accomplished the first two of those goals, which were goals every program would cherish. Greg Powell was certainly one of
the leaders of the team. He had been the quarterback in close to 30 Tiger wins in his career, with six of those wins coming
in playoff games. No previous Winnfield quarterback had ever contributed to as many playoff wins. He was certainly one of
the best, if not the best running quarterbacks in school history up to that point, having several 100 yards rushing efforts,
with the 157 rushing yards gained against E. D. White being the most rushing yards ever gained by a Tiger quarterback. One
measure of a football players scoring threat is his ability to break the long one. Powell scored two rushing
touchdowns that covered more than 50 yards and he returned two punts for touchdowns, both over 50 yards. During his senior
year, Powell rushed for 9 touchdowns, tying Mike Tinnerello for most rushing touchdowns
in a single season by a quarterback. For his career, Powell rushed for 17 touchdowns, which was not only
4 better than Mike Tinnerello's career mark for quarterbacks but good enough for sixth on the all-time list
regardless of position.
But, Powell wasn't just a running threat at quarterback. He was on the throwing end of three 50+-yard
touchdowns. During his senior year he threw 11 touchdown passes, fifth most in school history. For his career he threw 17
touchdowns passes. That was exceeded by only three Tiger quarterbacks. Those included Lyn Bankston
(37), Steve Adams (33) and Mike Tinnerello (20).
All total, Powell scored 111 points
as a quarterback and punt returner. That made him only the 12th player to go over the career 100-point mark and was the 10th
highest points scored at the time. The only other Tiger quarterbacks among the 12 who had scored 100 more points were Lyn
Bankston (115), Dan Carr (103) and Mike Tinnerello (102). Like Powell,
all three of those players had scored points from multiple positions on the field.
Fellow senior Ken Maloy was the leader of the
offensive line. While he joined a long list of All-Star centers who had played for the Tigers, Maloy was
the first Tiger center to be named to an All-State team. As for players who had dominated a position like no one else ever
had, no one on the team could compare to senior Tommy Latham. He owned every Tiger kicking record by the
time he graduated. During the 1981 season he broke, by one, Jerry Keen's record for most extra point kicks
in a single season (36). That gave him an amazing 120 extra point kicks for his career. To put that in perspective, before
Latham, the career mark was 50 set by Jerry Keen. Only two other kickers, including Lyn
Bankston (43) and Carroll Long (40) had ever kicked over 40 extra point kicks in a career. That
gave Latham more than three times as many extra point kicks than almost every other kicker that had come
before him. Latham only missed 24 extra point kicks out of 144 attempts, a kicking percentage of .833. He
kicked 10 field goals in his career, which was all but nine of the field goals ever kicked at the school. His longest
three would have been school records, including kicks of 47, 46 and 45 yards. Latham ended his career with
149 total points scored. That placed him near the top of the career scoring list at the school. At the time, the list of players
that had scored 100 or more points for the Tigers included:
Players (years played)
Jeffery Dale (1977-1980)
Jerry Keen (1969-1971)
Ricky Chatman (1976-1979)
Tommy Latham (1978-1981)
John Wayne Williams (1970-1971)
Nathan Johnson (1974-1976
Lyn Bankston (1974-1976)
Jimmy Bolton (1960-1962)
Wayne Wood (1965-1967)
Greg Powell (1979-1981)
Dexter Holden (1976-1977)
Dan Carr (1948-1950)
Mike Tinnerello (1959-1961)
Perry Myles led the team in rushing with 1,022 yard. That marked the fifth highest single-season total at the time and made Myles
only the fifth Tiger player to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a single season. The 1,000-yard rushers
at the time were Nathan Johnson (1,432 in 1976), Ricky Chatman (1,210 in 1979), Ricky
Chatman (1,173 in 1978), Randy Poisso (1,088 in 1968), Myles and Jerry
Keen (1,008 in 1971). Greg Powell was second on the team with 760 rushing yards and younger brother
Garlon Powell, who was only a sophomore, began his varsity career with 556 rushing yards. That was only the start of a stellar
career for the younger Powell, but both Garlon Powell and Perry Myles were returning for another season and would be part
of what would be one of the most potent backfield units in the history of the program.
The 1981 team will always be remembered for one thing
- winning football games. Their 11 straight wins during the season remains tied for the fourth most consecutive wins within
a single season. In speaking of the 1981 squad, Coach Moreau said, "These boys worked harder than any
group I've ever coached. They really wanted the title." He added, "They stuck
together and worked long and hard. They are real winners." For those with an "all or nothing"
mentality, the season was a disappointment. For those who truly understand the game, the season was a resounding success and
one more reason why the term "winning football" is associated with the Winnfield Tiger program.
Seniors: Greg Powell, Richard
Williams, Earl Funches, Donnie McKenney, Ken Maloy, Doyce Gorham,
Tommy Latham, Scott Fullerton, Andy White, Roy Walton
Juniors: Perry Myles, Kevin
Collins, Chester Brinson, Marcel Mills, Sampson Collins, Benny
Mitchell, Edward Pearson, Johnny
Williams, Kenny Crawford,
Jay Huckaby, Glen Nelson, Jess Grigg, Kenneth Gorum, Jay
Crooks, Todd Wold
Sophomores: Garlon Powell, Steve Canerday, Thomas
Greg Powell QB
All-District, HM All-State
Earl Funches OE/ LB All-District
Tommy Latham K/ NG All-District
Doyce Gorham OG
Perry Myles RB/DB
Jess Grigg DT
Marcel Mills RB/LB
All-District (2nd team RB)
Thomas King DB
2nd Team All-District
Glen Nelson OT
2nd Team All-District
Kevin Collins DE
2nd Team All-District
2nd Team All-District
KEY SEASON: 1982 (Overall -13-1-0; *District - 3-0-0)
W, 75-0* (HC)
W, 45-6 (Bi-district)
W, 14-12 (Regional)
W, 32-14 (Quarter-final)
E. D. White
W, 50-8 (Semi-final)
W, 23-14 (Final)
You could say that preparations for the 1982 season began well before the season started with spring football and you
would have been correct, but only partially so. Championship seasons don’t just appear out of nowhere. It takes a lot
of hard work in the offseason to prepare for any season. You could also say that the foundation for the 1982 season was laid
the season before when many of the players of the 1982 team gained valuable playing experience, especially playoff playing
experience. It would be just as true to say that part of the foundation for the 1982 season was laid with the playoff losses
of the previous four seasons, each of which seemed to end too soon, as well as with the title game losses in 1976 and 1971.
You would also be correct if you said that the foundation for the 1982 season began with the expectation of winning that had
been instilled in the program since the arrival of Tommy Bankston in 1966. Since that season, the Winnfield
Tiger program had gone sixteen straight seasons without a losing record. That certainly contributed to the development of
expectations both within the Tiger program itself and within the community as a whole, such that winning was not just sought
after - it was expected. And, if you gave credit to Tommy Bankston and the head coaches who followed him
with helping to build the program to where it was one of the most respected programs in the state, then you had to also credit
Hoss Newman with the development of championship teams in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including the school’s
first playoff team in 1957 and the schools second undefeated team in 1961. Finally, the 1982 season began like all 73 season
before it - that is, built on the promise of winning and bringing home honor to the Winnfield community. That was something
every previous Tiger team shared in common. So, in a sense, every team that had played before the 1982 season helped lay the
foundation for the season.
High school football programs are not built overnight and respect must be earned. Winnfield’s winning tradition
had been clearly established by the early 1980s and it was the players of the 1982 team turn to add to that tradition. Heading
into the 1982 season, the program was in about as good a shape as it had been at any point in its history. The Tiger football
program had reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs in three of past four years and had reached the semifinal round in four
of the previous eleven years. In those same eleven years the program had appeared in two title games. In 7 the previous 11
seasons, the program had been ranked at least 3rd in the sports writers poll at some point during the season. Additionally,
17 of the previous 21 teams had been ranked in the top ten at some point in the season.
the 1982 team would not have to rely solely on history and tradition. They had the players to claim their own spot in the
history of Tiger football. The 1982 team had all the makings of a bonafide title contender. Consider the following:
- A total of 15 seniors filled the 40-player roster, with 7 of those slated to start in offensive
positions and an equal number penciled in on the defensive side of the ball. The team returned 17 lettermen, with the offense
returning 6 starters and the defense returning 7 starters. Not only did this core group of players have game experience but
they also had playoff experience. The team had a nucleus of players that had made the semifinals the year before.
- Coach Moreau had around 26 players he could insert in positions throughout the team. He had the luxury of playing
many players only on one side of
the ball and only used a handful of players both-ways. No player had to play both ways, and there would be times when he would use 22 different players on his offense and defense.
- The team returned 10 All-District players from the year before. As far as skill players go, you would be hard pressed to find another team in the history
of Tiger football that had more game-breakers.
The skill on the offensive side of the ball made
this one of the most explosive offensive teams in school history. However, coming into the season, the
defensive unit was viewed as the most solid aspect of the football team. The defensive unit returned most of the defensive line and defensive backfield from the season before and the line backing corp
would be solid.
In particular, here’s what Coach Moreau
and his assistants had to work with. Moreau’s Veer offensive needed a mobile quarterback. Though Greg
Powell had been that quarterback for the bulk of the previous three seasons, athletic junior Thomas King
had been an understudy to Greg Powell. There was no question that he had the tools. He had become only the
sixth player in school history to earn All-District honors as a sophomore when he was placed on the mythical team as a defensive
back. He had size (6' 1", 165 lbs.) and more than enough speed to handle the option offense.
The team was strongest was in the offensive backfield where the Tigers had three returning All-District performers
in seniors Perry Myles (HB) and Marcel Mills (FB), as well as junior Garlon Powell
(HB). Like King, Myles and Powell were bonafide threats to break the long one. All three
of those backs were very durable. Any single player in the Tiger backfield would have been the go-to guy on any other
team. Winnfield was fortunate to have all four in the same backfield. Expected to provide relief duty in the offensive backfield
where a stable of sophomore running backs that included Tony Abron, Randy Johnson, David Foster and Clint
If the only thing that the Tiger offensive had was the “can’t-miss” running game that they had, they
would have still been one of the biggest offensive threats around. Coach Moreau called his top six backs
“the best six backs on one team in the state.” But, as strong as the team was at the running
back slot, they were equally deep at the end positions. Start with two-year lettermen Benny Mitchell (5'
5", 155 lbs.). He had come in second in Class AA in the 100 meter finals as a junior and had been clocked at 4.3 in the
40-yard dash, making him one of the fastest wide receiver prospects in the state. Joining him at the other wide-out slot was
fellow senior Sampson Collins, a two-way player who was the team’s leading receiver the year before
with 22 catches. Between the Tiger backfield and those two receivers, the question on opposing defensive coordinators minds
would have to be - Who do you stop? Chester Brinson, a 6' 0", 200 lb. senior, would
play the tight end slot, where he could be counted on for both blocking and an occasional pass reception.
About the only question mark on the whole team was the offensive line, where four lettermen had to be replaced. The
only returning starter was tackle Glen Nelson (5' 11", 200 lbs.). He had earned second team All-District
honors as a junior. Moving into the center spot vacated by All-Stater Ken Maloy was senior Todd Wold
(6' 0", 210 lbs.) He and Nelson would be the only seniors in the offensive line. Backing up Wold
in the middle of the line was junior Jon Zeagler. Returning letterman Steve Canerday (5'
9", 160 lbs.), a junior, would be put in the quick guard slot, though at the start of the year Moreau
penciled in Jess Grigg at that slot. Early in the season, Grigg was shifted to defensive
duty only, allowing Canerday and Raymond Durbin to fill the quick guard slot. The strong
guard position would be filled by a pair of sophomores in Jed Martin and Roger Williams.
Junior Jay Crooks (5' 11", 220 lbs.) was put in the strong tackle slot, where he held that position
all season long.
Coach Moreau and Defensive
Coordinator Tony Acosta toyed with the idea of switching from a 4-3 defense to a 50 defense and even
went through the preseason scrimmages and opening game of the year with the 50 defense. But, they switched to the 4-3 defense
in the early part of the season and stuck with that throughout the remainder of the season. The defensive
front was a good one, consisting of a pair of returning All-District linemen in seniors Jay Huckaby (6' 6",
210 lbs.) and Jess Grigg (6' 4", 190 lbs.). Playing outside of those two at the defensive end slots
was one returning letterman in senior Johnny Williams (5' 10", 185 lbs.) and an up and coming stand-out
in junior Gary Irvin (6' 3", 200 lbs.)
defenses have great linebackers. Marcel Mills was prepared to join the list of former Tiger linebackers like
Charles Poisso, Lionel Johnson and Ricky Chatman at one of the linebacker slots. He came
into his senior year as a two-year letterman. Two years earlier he became the fourth sophomore in school history to earn All-District
honors when he was voted to the All-District unit as a defensive end. But, he earned All-District honors at the linebacker
position the season before, where he also garnered Outstanding Defensive Player honors. Mills had also played
fullback the past two seasons. He came into his senior year standing 5' 11" and weighing in at 215 lbs. Mills
was defensive coordinator Tony Acosta’s middle linebacker in the 50 defense. When the Tigers went to
the 4-3 defense Acosta moved senior Kevin Collins, an All-District performer the year before
at defensive end, to the weak-side linebacker slot and placed Mills on the strong side.
The Tigers had five returning lettermen
in the defensive backfield, but only two of those would see regular playing time there in 1982. That’s
because three of those included Thomas King, Garlon Powell and Benny Mitchell. Each of those
would focus almost exclusively on offense. The two other returning lettermen were Sampson Collins (5' 6",
120 lbs.) and Edward Pearson (5' 6", 145 lbs.). They would be joined in the defensive backfield by a
pair of sophomores in Randy Johnson (6' 0", 190 lbs.) and Andrew Riggs.
Having talent, experience and depth is good, but you have to have a coaching staff to guide those players. Coach Doug
Moreau was entering his fourth season at the helm of the Tiger program. In three short years he had compiled an impressive
won-loss record of 30-6-0 at Winnfield. That moved him into fourth place on the all-time win list for coaches at the school,
one win ahead of Tommy Bankston and 12 behind Joe Dosher. He was still 17 wins behind second
place Alwin Stokes and 23 wins behind Hoss Newman, the all-time leader. What made Moreau’s
30 wins all the more impressive is that he accomplished that in only 35 games, which was the fastest any coach had won 30
games at Winnfield. The former head coaches that had won 30 games took the following lengths of time to attain that number:
Joe Dosher (37 games), Alwin Stokes (42 games) and Hoss Newman (60 games). Six
of Moreau’s wins had come in playoff games. That made him the career leader in playoff wins as he moved
one win ahead of Larry Dauterive with his win over Vinton in the quarter-final round of the 1981 playoffs.
The only other Tiger coaches that had ever won even a single playoff game were Joe Dosher (3) and Tommy
But, Doug Moreau couldn’t
do all of the coaching himself. He had a stable crew of assistants, with Tony Acosta serving as his defensive
coordinator, Randy Poisso assisting with backs and Joe Dosher helping
mold the Tiger linemen. Also assisting the varsity was longtime Winnfield coach Jerry Bamburg, as well as
Winnfield Middle School coaches Andy Pyles and Allen Parker.
team began the season knowing that if they were going to achieve their goals of winning a district and state title they would
likely have to go through two teams - Jonesboro-Hodge on a district level and John Curtis on a statewide level. Either Winnfield
or Jonesboro-Hodge had won the District 3-AA crown for five straight seasons. On the state level, John Curtis had won three
straight Class AA titles and five of the past seven. Coach Moreau knew he couldn't afford to be looking ahead
to Jonesboro-Hodge, who the Tigers would play the final game of the regular season; nor could he even think about John Curtis,
who the Tigers wouldn't face until playoff time. There was too much work to be done before then.
only thing that changed from the 1981 football schedule was the location of the games. Winnfield played the same opponents,
except that in 1982 they would travel to Neville, Parkway (Bossier City), Jena and Many. Home games included dates with Pineville,
Grant, Tioga, Ringgold and Jonesboro-Hodge. District 3-AA remained the same, consisting of Ringgold, Many, Jonesboro-Hodge
and Winnfield. So, Winnfield’s task during the regular season was identical to the task of the season before. The Tigers
had six non-district games against teams from a higher classification to prepare for district and playoff competition.
Moreau got a taste of the quick-strike nature of his offense in preseason scrimmages and in the annual jamboree game
against Natchitoches. His team scored three touchdowns from 30 yards away or farther against Natchitoches, including Benny
Mitchell’s 68-yard punt return, Perry Myles’ 31-yard run from scrimmage and a pass completion
from Thomas King to Benny Mitchell’s for 48-yards. You want good execution in all
phases of the game in jamborees, so Coach Moreau couldn’t have been more pleased. He was equally satisfied
with his defense, which held Natchitoches to two touchdowns.
on the team knew what they were up against coming into the opening game of the regular season as the team prepared to play
Neville. That’s because most had been a part of the 35-13 shellacking Neville had handed Winnfield in the opening game
of the previous season. To make matters worse, though, Winnfield would have to travel to Neville’s stadium, one of the
hardest places in Louisiana for a visiting high school football team to win a football game. As usual, Neville head coach
Charlie Brown had his team well-conditioned and primed for the new season. In his tenure, Brown
was 16-2-1 in opening games and the Neville program had gone ten straight years without losing an opening game.
Like Winnfield, Neville had made it to the semifinal round of the playoffs the season before, only to lose a 21-14
decision to John Ehret, the eventual 4A state champion. Neville came into the season ranked No. 2 in Class 4A behind Ehret,
and rightfully so because the Tigers of Forsythe Ave. were loaded. Losses from the 1981 team included leading rusher Lauran
Ambrose and most of the offensive line. But, Neville returned junior running back J. R. Ambrose,
1,000-yard rushing fullback Anthony Gibson and Toby Caston at linebacker.
They also had a new quarterback in the person of Conroy Hines, who was being tagged as a quarterback who
was as good as any of the long line of exceptional Neville quarterbacks. Nothing would have been sweeter than a little ole
Class AA school going into Monroe and knocking off the No. 2 4A team in the state. On the other hand, nothing would be harder
Winnfield began the season as the No. 3 ranked Class AA team. Ahead of them were John Curtis, who received 9 of 10
first place votes, and Ferriday. The only other team who received a first place vote was Patterson, who despite the optimism
of one sportswriter only gathered enough votes to begin the season as the No. 10 team. Right behind Winnfield in the polls
was E. D. White.
Winnfield hung with Neville for the first quarter, with neither team getting on the scoreboard in the opening period.
But, Winnfield was brought back to reality in the second quarter when Neville scored two touchdowns. The first touchdown came
after Neville recovered a Winnfield fumble at the 41-yard line. Three plays later Ambrose bolted 33 yards
for a touchdown. The next time Neville got the football Conroy Hines connected with Ambrose
for a 38-yard touchdown pass. That enabled Neville to take a 14-0 lead into halftime.
had gone head-to-head with one of the top football teams in the state and held their own. Staying with Neville for two quarters
was one thing – doing that for four quarters was something altogether different. Though the Tigers had depth, so too
did Neville. The strength of Neville in the second half would tell the tale of the game.
can't make mistakes in big games and expect to win but that's what Winnfield did on their first possession of the second half.
The Tigers fumbled the ball at the start of their first series, which Neville recovered at the Winnfield 26. After Neville
moved to the 3-yard line, Anthony Gibson got his first touchdown of the season. Neville went 90 yards late in the third quarter to
add another touchdown and got yet another TD in the final period to take a 35-0 win over Winnfield. Though the margin of defeat
was considerable, it was no indication of how well Winnfield played. Neville was clearly the better football team, but two
of their touchdowns came after Winnfield fumbled in their own end of the field. Moreau said as much when
he stated that a huge difference in the game was the Winnfield mistakes. He had no illusions that his team was as good as
Neville. But, he said that Neville essentially did not make mistakes while Winnfield beat themselves. Ever the optimist, Moreau
told the Enterprise, "We are too good to have a showing like that. We will be back on the winning track next
Following the win over Winnfield, Neville went 9-1 in the regular season, dropping only a 15-14 decision to Ruston.
During the regular season Neville only gave up five touchdowns, including two to Ruston. Those two teams also met in the 4A
state finals, where Ruston again defeated Neville, this time by a score of 8-0. For the year, Neville scored 448 points, with
West Monroe (21), Ruston (14 & 0), Huntington (20) and John Ehret (29) being the only teams to hold
the Neville offense to under 30 points.
Neville was one of the best teams in the state, so
the loss was not critical. Devastating losses are those that prohibit a team from capturing a district or state crown or one
that keeps a team out of the playoffs. Despite the 35-point margin of defeat, Winnfield had lost games that were much closer,
yet much more disturbing. Besides, the loss to Neville would not keep Winnfield from pursuing their ultimate goal - win the
state championship. What is most important is that the game allowed the Tiger team to see what it took to compete against
what was easily considered one of the best football teams in the state. Defensive Coordinator Tony Acosta
would later attribute the lessons learned in the Neville game to the success of the whole season. In that respect, chalk this
one up as one of those “good” losses.
While the 35 point margin of defeat matched the loss to Pineville in 1974 and to Caldwell in 1965 for the highest margin
of defeat in the previous 16 years, it was not nearly the worst loss the program had ever sustained. As for margins of defeat
and points allowed, the top five in both of those categories up to that point in the Tiger football program included the following:
(The points Winnfield allowed in the following list is also the margin of defeat in these games as the Tigers were shutout
Most Points Allowed & Highest Margins of Defeat
dropped to the No. 7 spot in the AA polls following the loss to Neville. The top two spots stayed the same with John Curtis
securing all ten first place votes, followed by Ferriday. E. D. White moved into the third place spot formerly occupied by
Winnfield. Besides Winnfield, the only other north Louisiana team in the top ten was Springhill and the only other north Louisiana
teams to receive any votes were Jonesboro-Hodge (14th), Plain Dealing (15th) and Vidalia (16th). Winnfield's home opener came the next week against the Pineville Rebels. The series
had been a close one since it began in 1954. Even so, Winnfield held a 12-8-1 edge in the series record and had won 9 of previous
11 games. The season before, the Tigers used a hard-fought 25-14 win over Pineville as a springboard for an 11-game win streak.
In 1982, Winnfield faced a Pineville squad who returned only 7 starters. However, the Rebels gave highly regarded ASH all
they wanted in the opening game of the year before finally losing by a slim 14-13 margin.
It was in
preparing for Pineville that Coach Moreau decided to abandon his 50 defense and go with the 4-3 scheme he
had used since being at Winnfield. That move, as well as his decision to go with a platoon style of substituting, necessitated
several personnel changes. The changes he made basically gave him an offensive and defensive unit, with no player having to
go both-ways. That move payed off the rest of the season.
For the second straight week, the Tigers gave
up a lot of points as they allowed Pineville to put 38 points on the board. By giving up 73 points in the first two games
of the year, the team had allowed the most points ever allowed in the opening two games of a season, easily surpassing the
63 points allowed to begin the 1943 season and the 54 points allowed in the first two games of the 0-10-1, 1938 season. In
fact, the 73 points were the most points allowed in back-to-back games since the 1965 season. What made that so unusual was
that Coach Moreau came into the season having the most confidence in his defense unit. While he had few concerns
about his skill people on the offensive side of the ball, his biggest concern of the whole team was his offensive line. However,
had it not been for his offense, the team would have opened the season with two losses. As it were, the 38 points scored by
Pineville would not be enough for a win, making that the most points scored by an opponent in a losing effort in Stokes-Walker
Stadium or any Tiger opponent in other venue for that matter.
It was a night for offensive football and it
all began on the opening kickoff of the game when Garlon Powell ran 82 yards for a touchdown. The return
was the first of nine kick returns for a touchdown that the Tigers would have for the season. What is most important, it gave
Winnfield its first points of the game and of the season. Powell also booted the extra point following his
run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Though Winnfield held Pineville on their opening possession, Thomas King fumbled the opening punt
of the game, which Pineville recovered at the Winnfield 25-yard line. Nine plays later, Pineville turned that turnover into
points when they went in for a score from 1 yard out. Winnfield blocked the extra point to preserve a 7-6 lead. The two teams exchanged touchdowns the next time each had the
football. For Winnfield, their score came at the end of a 63-yard, 5-play drive which was capped by a 3-yard run by Myles.
The PAT failed leaving the score 13-6 in favor of Winnfield.
Pineville responded with a long drive, with
over 60 yards of the drive covered by three passes, with the score coming on a 5-yard run. The try for the conversion after
the touchdown failed, leaving the score 13-12.
Winnfield’s offense took half of the clock off of the scoreboard at the beginning of the second quarter when
they put together a 12-play, 72-yard drive which ended with Benny Mitchell getting his first touchdown of
the year. After the Tigers moved to a fourth and 6 from the Pineville 10, Mitchell got the score on a reverse.
Powell upped the Tiger lead to 20-12 with a successful PAT.
That's when the offensive fireworks really
began. Late in the second quarter Pineville moved down the field again on the strength of their surprisingly successful passing
attack, getting into the end zone on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line. Pineville failed to convert their third straight
PAT leaving the score 20-18. Those missed extra points would come back to haunt Pineville.
In the final four minutes of the first
half there would be two more touchdowns scored. Winnfield moved down the field and got a 20-yard touchdown run by Perry
Myles with 2:52 remaining on the clock. A 32-yard pass from King to Sampson Collins
got the Tigers into scoring position. Winnfield also missed their PAT attempt leaving the score 26-18.
plays following the Winnfield kickoff, Pineville was back in the end zone. Facing a second and six from their own 24, Pineville
quarterback Mike Cowley hit his intended receiver with a short pass. The Winnfield defender went for the
interception and came up short, resulting in a 76 touchdown run by the Rebel receiver. Pineville also failed to convert that
extra point, which left them trailing Winnfield by a score of 26-24. There was 1:47 remaining in the first half. Winnfield
moved to the Pineville 1-yard line in the final 90 seconds of the half, but a goal line stand on the final play of the half
kept King out of the end zone. The dizzying first half thus finally came to a merciful end with the two teams
combining to score 50 points in the first half.
Pineville took their first lead of the game just minutes into the second quarter after they recovered a Tiger fumble
at the Winnfield 43-yard line on the second play of the half. The Rebels converted that miscue into points six plays later
to take a 30-26 lead.
The game then flip-flopped during the remainder of the third quarter, first when Winnfield retook the lead with a touchdown
and extra point to make the score 33-30 and then with an 8-yard Pineville touchdown pass to enable the Rebels to move back
into the lead. Following the Pineville touchdown, the Rebels made their first PAT when Cowley ran the ball
in for a two-point conversion to give his team a 38-33 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
the final period Pineville threatened to up that lead, but the Tiger defense held the Rebels once they made it to the Winnfield
36-yard line. The Tiger offense finally got back on track after that, moving 64 yards to retake the lead at 39-38. Two big
plays in the drive were a 26-yard run by Myles and a 24-yard pass from King to Benny
Mitchell. The PAT following the touchdown was missed.
the Tiger defense stopped Pineville in only three plays the next time they got the ball, Winnfield turned the ball right back
over to Pineville when they too couldn't get any offense going. In a game that had been an offensive exhibition, the two team's
defenses were suddenly taking control of the football game.
Following the Winnfield possession, Pineville took over at the 50-yard line. Though there were only 111 ticks remaining
on the clock, a passing team like Pineville could easily cover half of the field in that amount of time. But, on first down,
Garlon Powell, who was playing in the linebacker slot, intercepted a Cowley pass at the Winnfield
18 and returned it 8 yards. After that, Winnfield ran out the clock.
The two teams combined for over 800 total yards.
Winnfield had 329 yards rushing with 170 of that coming on a 170 yard rushing night by Perry Myles. That
was one of the top five rushing nights ever by a Tiger running back, with the top five looking like this:
Terry Skains vs. Caldwell (1969)
Turner vs. Peabody (1973)
Nathan Johnson vs. Pineville (1975)
Johnson vs. West Monroe (1976)
Perry Myles vs. Pineville (1982)
For Pineville, it was Mike Cowley's passing that kept them in the game, as he connected on 6 of 12
passes for 235 yards. That matched the performance of Allen Dennis of Westlake who had the same number of
passing yards against the Tigers in the 1968 quarterfinal game of the playoffs. That was the most passing yards ever gained
against a Tiger team by either an opposing team or an opposing player.
The 38 points scored by Pineville was the most
points ever scored by a Tiger opponent in a losing effort and the 77 points the two teams combined to score equaled the 7th
most total points ever scored in a Tiger football game. As recently as the season before, Winnfield and Many combined to score
78 points. The most points ever amassed in a Winnfield Tiger football game came way back in the 1919 season when 94 points
were scored in Winnfield’s game against Coushatta. In that game, Winnfield scored all of those points. Since the 1920s,
the most points scored by both teams in a Tiger football game were the 84 points put on the board in Winnfield's 60-24 win
over Winnsboro during the 1969 season.
In a game where there were twelve touchdowns scored and so much offense, it's ironic that the outcome of the game was
settled in one of the most fundamental aspects of the game - the extra point conversion. Though Winnfield and Pineville scored
six touchdowns apiece, Winnfield outscored Pineville in extra points 3 to 2. That was the difference in the game. Winnfield
didn't have much to brag about there, however, converting on only 3 of 6 extra point attempts. But, those three points were
one better than the two points Pineville got on the lone two-point conversion following their final touchdown.
win didn't seem to impress the pollsters because the Tigers dropped from 7th to 8th place in the weekly poll. That same night
John Curtis lost their first football game in over three years when they were defeated by Bogalusa. Though the loss didn't
knock John Curtis out of the No. 1 spot, it did scatter the first place votes over six teams, with each of the top five teams
in the poll getting at least one first place vote. Those included John Curtis, Ferriday, E. D. White, Notre Dame and Patterson
respectively. The other team who received a first place vote was Teurlings Catholic, the No. 7 team in the poll. Right behind
Winnfield in 9th place was Jonesboro-Hodge with their 2-0 record.
After two battles to begin the season, Winnfield entertained the Grant Cougars in week three in a game many figured
the Tigers could dial up the number of points they wanted. The Cougars were coming off of an 0-9 season and were 0-2 for the
1982 campaign. Prior to summer practices, Grant had 25 players quit the team, leaving the squad with only 25 players. Despite
all of that, Coach Moreau was focused on the one thing he had control over - his own team. More specifically,
he was focused on his defense. He proclaimed that the team could not accomplish their goal of winning either the district
or state title if the defense didn't come around. He was particularly focused on the play of his linebackers and secondary,
neither of which Moreau thought had played as aggressively as they could against Pineville. There was only one personnel change made coming into the Grant
game, but that change was caused by an injury to starting guard Roger Williams. He broke a bone in his foot
against Pineville, prompting Coach Moreau to use Jess Grigg and Steve Canerday
in the quick guard slot.
In a game reminiscent of the high-octane scoring of the 1978 team, Winnfield rolled over Grant by a whopping 60-0 margin.
That made the 1982 team one of only four teams since the 1920s who had put at least 60 points on the board in a game, with
the others being the 1969, 1971 and 1978 teams.
Winnfield moved to a 34-0 halftime lead on the heels of two touchdowns in the first quarters and three second quarter
scores. The first quarter touchdowns were made by Marcel Mills (11-yard run) and Garlon Powell
(1-yard run). In the second quarter, Mills got another touchdown (2-yard run) and Perry Myles
got two touchdowns (29 and 39 yards). Powell converted on 4 of 5 extra point kicks.
In the second
half, the Tiger reserves took over and had similar success. Early in the third quarter, backup quarterback Tony Abron
guided the team into scoring position and sophomore running back Clint Turner got the first touchdown of
this varsity career when he carried the pigskin in from 13 yards out. The PAT was missed after the Turner touchdown leaving
the score 40-0. Later in the third quarter Turner scored again to up the Winnfield lead to 46-0.
added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with the first coming after the Tigers moved to a first and goal at the Grant
1. From there, the Tigers fumbled the ball but flanker Darrell Smith pounced on the loose football in the
end zone to up the Tiger lead to 52-0, which was increased by another point following Garlon Powell’s
After the Tigers again halted Grant in four plays, Benny Mitchell fielded a Grant punt at the Winnfield
35 and raced 65 yards for a touchdown. That run and Powell's PAT made the score 60-0. The return was Mitchell's
third career punt return for a touchdown, tying him with Jeffery Dale for the second-most career
punt returns for a touchdown. John Wayne Williams was the career leader in that category with 6.
Winnfield ball carries combined to gain 406 yards rushing, the third highest single-game rushing total in school history.
Only two other teams had ever rushed for more than 400 yards in a game, including the 1978 squad, who got 451 yards against
Mansfield, and the 1961 team who got 450 yards rushing against Natchitoches. Winnfield added 26 yards passing to end the night
with 432 total yards, the 10th highest total in that category.
Winnfield moved to 2-1 with their win over Grant,
which was good enough to keep Winnfield in 7th place in the statewide poll of Class AA schools. There weren’t many changes
in the Class AA poll. Ferriday and E. D. White exchanged places, with Ferriday moving out of the No. 2 spot for the first
time since the 1980 season. They moved to the No. 3 spot formerly occupied by E. D. White. Right behind Winnfield in the No.
8 slot was Jonesboro-Hodge
It was still hard to get a handle on the Tiger team. The team showed a lot of grit in the opening game, but still gave
up five touchdowns and failed to find the end zone. Then in the second game the offense came to life and posted six touchdowns
on the board and it’s a good thing they did because the Tiger defense also gave up six touchdowns. While the Tigers
totally dominated Grant, the Cougars were hardly a team where anything less would have been acceptable. So, it was easy to
dismiss the blowout win over Grant because of who they were.
The fourth game of the year against Tioga figured
to give the Tigers a test of how far they had come. The Indians were 2-1 for the year and were coming off of their first loss
following a 34-0 defeat at the hands of a tough A.S.H. team. Coach Moreau told the Enterprise he
wanted to "show the fans the Tigers can handle a good football team." The Indians would be the
fourth straight team the Tigers had played from a higher classification.
The game started sloppy, with the two teams combining
to turn the ball over on three consecutive possessions. Late in the first quarter King got the Tigers into
the end zone, with the score coming from 3 yards out and was followed by a missed PAT, leaving the score 6-0.
next time Winnfield got the ball Perry Myles ran 49 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the drive.
That was Myles' 25th career rushing touchdown, moving him only 4 shy of career-leader Ricky Chatman
and 3 behind Jeffery Dale, the player occupying the No. 2 spot. Following Myles' run, Raymond
Durbin booted the extra point to give Winnfield a 13-0 lead.
Then, after recovering Tioga’s third
fumble of the night on the Indians next series, King hit Benny Mitchell with a pass near
midfield which Mitchell turned into a 69-yard touchdown. At the time, that was the 10th longest touchdown
pass in school history and the sixth longest in Stokes-Walker Stadium. The school and stadium record was
the 86 yd. completion that Lyn Bankston and Mike Kimble combined on during the 1975 season.
Durbin made his second consecutive PAT following Mitchell's long run to up the lead to 20-0.
Tioga's next series, two trends continued for Winnfield - both good. The Indians committed their fourth turnover of the night
when Sampson Collins picked the ball out of the air at the Winnfield 38-yard line and raced 62 yards for
another long distance score. Winnfield moved ahead 27-0 when Durbin again booted an extra point.
Winnfield came into the game riding a 400-+-yard rushing effort the previous week, it wasn'tthe Tiger's rushing game that had helped them stake a four-touchdown, first half lead. The first half of theTioga game ushered in the much anticipated strong Tiger defense. True, the Tigers had gotten two of
theirtouchdowns on runs, but the Tiger defense had setup the first Winnfield touchdown
with a fumblerecovery in the red zone and had scored a touchdown themselves with Collins'
Winnfield hadn't needed any sort of sustained drive to get in the end zone. That was true the last time they got the
ball in the first half as well following 30-yard punt return by Powell to the Tioga 40-yard line. Myles
got the call on first down and again bolted the full distance for a touchdown. On the carry, he passed the 100-yard rushing
total after only 3 carries for the night. Durbin kicked his fourth consecutive PAT to give the team a 34-0
lead, which held up until halftime.
The relative ease in which Winnfield was dominating Tioga was unexpected. The style of play the Tigers were exhibiting
was just the way Coach Moreau wanted his team to perform. He wanted an aggressive defense that made things
happen and he liked a wide-open brand of offense. The first half of the Tioga game gave him all of that.
scored on their first two possessions of the second half, with Myles getting back in the end zone with a
6-yard run on the first drive and the Tiger second team putting together a 7-play drive that produced points when Tony
Abron bolted into the end zone from 3 yards out. Abron carried the ball 5 of the 7 plays on the
drive and picked up 38 yards. The PAT was no good, leaving the score 47-0 with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter. Tioga
scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to make the final score 47-14.
It was another good rushing night for the Tiger
offense, with Perry Myles leading all rushers with 149 yards in 9 carries. That gave him 447 yards rushing
for the first four games of the season, a 112-yard per game average.
After four weeks of the season, Coach
Moreau's assessment of the team was a complete reversal of what he had expected coming into the season. Before the
Neville game, Coach Moreau had stated that the strength of the team was his defense and his biggest concern
had been his offensive line. Following three straight outstanding rushing performances that saw the Tigers gain over 1,000
yards rushing, Coach Moreau saw his offense as the most stable aspect of the team. He knew coming into the
season that he had outstanding backs and they were getting a chance to run through holes that the untested offensive line
was blowing open. Moreau was not
satisfied with his overall defensive play, particularly his secondary. He told an Enterprise reporter that against
Tioga the secondary had too many dropped interceptions and some blown coverages. That particularly concerned Coach
Moreau as he prepared for the Tiger's fifth opponent of the year, the Parkway Panthers. Parkway ran the Veer offense
like Winnfield, but they relied on the passing game much more than Winnfield. That had been demonstrated the year before when
Parkway filled the air with 30 passes and got 173 passing yards against Winnfield. Parkway returned the quarterback and receiver
who inflicted most of that against the Tigers.
Though Parkway was only 1-3 for the season, they were coming off of their first win. That came with a 27-7 shelling
of Byrd. While Parkway was not a title contender, they were a 4A school with big school size. Their defensive line had three
200 pounders and the Panthers had team depth. Since the Winnfield starters had sat out the second half of each of the previous
two games, Coach Moreau was somewhat concerned about conditioning heading into the Parkway game.
Moreau built up the Parkway game as a real test for the Tigers. Moreau’s
biggest concern at that point in the season was his secondary and Parkway had a good passing game. This would give him a good
idea of how well his secondary could compete against a sound passing quarterback who had good receivers. The game would be
played in Airline Stadium in Bossier City. The only other time a Tiger football team had played a game in Bossier parish was
in 1971 when Winnfield faced Haughton in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. That game was also played in that same Airline
to 1982, only three opponents had ever attempted 30 or more passes against a Winnfield Tiger team. One of those was the 1981
Parkway team who attempted 30 passes. That equaled the number of passes Westlake tried in their 1968 quarterfinal game against
Winnfield and was one less than the 31 passes that the 1961 Many team attempted against Winnfield. The 1982 Tiger secondary
would face 40 passes thrown against them by Parkway which, as Coach Moreau predicted, would give them their
biggest challenge of the season.
Parkway jumped to a quick lead when they returned the opening kickoff to midfield and moved to the Winnfield 7-yard
line. The Tiger defense stiffened from the, but Parkway did pick up a 24-yard field goal making that the third time the team
had trailed in a football game, including the Neville, Pineville and now Parkway games.
Though Parkway allowed Winnfield to drive 90 yards on the Tigers opening possession of the game, the Parkway defense
stiffened once the Tigers got inside the Panther 10 yard line. However, as is sometimes the case, bad things can happen to
a team when they make a goal line stand. One of those bad things happened on first down when Parkway fumbled the football,
which Winnfield recovered at the 6-yard line. Thomas King took advantage of that miscue when he ran the ball
the full distance for a score on the next play. The PAT was missed leaving the score 6-3.
Winnfield was also the next team to score, that coming
when Perry Myles ran 49 yards for a touchdown at the 10:07 mark of the second quarter. That
gave Winnfield a 12-3 lead. However, Parkway answered that scored with a 77-yard drive to tighten the game
at 12-10. That drive only took five plays. With Parkway's passing attack, they were always one play away from scoring.
the other hand, Winnfield knew something about taking little time to move down the field. After the Tigers received the following
kickoff, they moved to their own 41-yard line in two plays. From there, Thomas King and Benny Mitchell
connected on their second touchdown pass of the year, this one covering 59 yards. Though the extra point attempt failed, Winnfield
spread their lead to 18-10 with the touchdown. There were almost seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. Coach Moreau got what he wanted from his secondary
on Parkway's next series when Andrew Riggs intercepted a Parkway pass and returned it past midfield. A personal
foul thrown against Parkway on the play moved the ball to the Panther 32-yard line. Four plays later Perry Myles
recorded his second touchdown of the game when he went 17 yards for a score. Raymond Durbin converted the
PAT to move Winnfield to a 25-10 lead just before the half.
The touchdown gave Myles 29
career rushing touchdowns. That tied him with Ricky Chatman (1978-1979) for the lead in that category. Since
Myles still had at least four more games ahead of him, he was a veritable lock to move to the head of that
list if he stayed healthy.
The Winnfield offense had been the most stable aspect of the Tiger team all season long. In the season half of the
Parkway game that all came apart. At game’s end, Winnfield would have sustained 117 yards in penalties, with many of
those called against the Tiger offense in the second half of the game. As a result of that and a stubborn Parkway defense,
Winnfield would not crack the goal line in the second half - but Parkway would.
The Panthers began their bid at a comeback
on their first possession of the second half when they moved 61 yards for a touchdown in a half dozen plays. All but 14 of
those yards came on the ground. The score came on a 7-yard run and was followed by a successful PAT which moved the score
Parkway was right back at it again in short order after their defense stuffed Winnfield on three straight plays. On
the next drive, Parkway moved 62 yards behind the passing of Ron King, their quarterback. Once the Panthers
got to the Winnfield 10-yard line, King and tight end Perry Jostin connected on their second
touchdown of the game to move the score to 25-23. About the only good thing the Tiger defense did in that span of five minutes
was stop Parkway on their two-point conversion attempt to keep the Panthers from tying the game.
in this game had clearly shifted to the Panther side of the field. With the way Parkway was moving the ball on offense and
the inability of Winnfield’s offense to get anything going, it appeared as though Parkway was about to take this game
over. Winnfield had a battle on their hands and this would be a game the Tigers would have to win in the fourth quarter. Not
only had Moreau come into the game questioning his secondary, but he had wondered about his teams conditioning.
He would find out the answer to the latter in the game’s final period.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Winnfield
finally got something going on offense again when they moved to the Parkway 2-yard line. However, the Panthers put up their
second goal line stand of the game to keep Winnfield from widening their lead.
On the next Parkway series, Sampson
Collins picked off a Parkway pass and returned it for an apparent touchdown, but the Tigers picked up one of their
many second half penalties on the play, thus nullifying the return. The Tigers didn't take advantage of that turnover either,
but the Tiger defense preserved the win by shutting Parkway down throughout the fourth quarter, giving Winnfield a hard-fought
The Tigers withstood a 15 of 40 passing night by Parkway quarterback Ron King. He threw for 193 yards,
the fifth best night an opposing quarterback had ever had against Winnfield. Tight end Perry Jostin caught
two touchdown passes and 9 receptions total for 139 yards. Those two players would be as good of a passing combo as Winnfield
would see all season long. But, it takes a whole team to win a football game. Parkway had just enough talent in those two
players to stay in the game, but not enough overall team skill to defeat the Tigers.
The win moved Winnfield to 4-1 for the season
and since they had an open date the following week, that gave Coach Moreau a chance to have a mid-season
break. Moreau told The Enterprise that he normally didn't like open dates in the middle
of the season because he said they usually halt momentum. But, he said he planned on using the time to work with the young
kids he had used during the year, as well as work on the kicking game. As a team, the Tigers had converted 16 of 24 extra
point kicks. Garlon Powell was 9 of 12 and Raymond Durbin was 7 of 12 in converting extra
point kicks. Moreau knew that he would have to have more consistency in that aspect of the game if he was
going to contend as a championship team. Finally, the open date gave the team a chance to heal some injures and bruises, with
the most serious being the broken foot Roger Williams had sustained early in the season. Additionally, Benny
Mitchell had sustained a hip-pointer in the game against Parkway and Marcel Mills had been slowed
by nagging injuries throughout the early part of the season, though you would not have known it by the 14 tackles he got against
the week off, the Tigers resumed preparations for their final non-district opponent. The remainder of the season boiled down
to three phases: one more non-district game, followed by three district games and then the playoffs. The first of those phases
appeared to be a cakewalk for the Tigers because Jena, the Tigers next opponent, was arguably the Tigers easiest opponent
they had faced all season long, and that included Grant.
Though the Giants were a AAA school, the program
was contending with problems usually associated with Class A schools. Numbers were a problem for the team, as the squad only
had 28 players and 9 of those players played both-ways. As a result, the Giants had difficulty staying with teams for four
quarters because their starters were usually worn out by the second half. Jena had not won a game during the 1982 season.
wouldn’t be the second half where Winnfield would walk all over Jena. The team shattered the school record for most
first half points in waltzing to a 53-8 halftime lead in route to a 78-16 blowout of the Giants. That was tied for the fourth
most points ever scored by a Winnfield Tiger football team, equaling the modern-day record set by the 1978 team against Coushatta
and trailing the 94 points scored by the 1919 team (vs. Coushatta), the 88 points put on the board by the 1923 team (vs. Natchitoches)
and the 84 points scored by the 1928 team (vs. Oakdale). There had only been 10 other games where a Tiger team had scored
60 or more points, including 6 during the 1920s and 4 times during the 1960s and 1970s.
Against Jena, the scoring feast began in the
first quarter where a school record 33 points were scored. The first time Winnfield got the ball, Garlon Powell
went 30 yards for a touchdown, which was followed by Durbin's extra point to make the score 7-0. After the
Tigers held Jena, the team quickly moved 56 yds. down the field on a drive capped off by a 1-yard run by Perry Myles.
The touchdown was set up by a 35-yard reception by Benny Mitchell. The PAT was missed following the touchdown
leaving the score 13-0.
The best thing Jena could do was keep the ball out of the hands of the Winnfield offense. But, the Tiger offense got
the ball back quickly after Randy Johnson intercepted a pass at the Jena 25 at the start of the next Giant
series. In short order, the offense moved into scoring position with Myles recording his second touchdown
of the night, followed by David Foster's PAT to make the score 20-0. Myles's first touchdown
run of the night had enabled him to move out of a tie with Ricky Chatman and into the lead for most career
rushing touchdowns. His second touchdown gave him 30 career rushing touchdowns.
Senior defensive back Calvin
Durham got an interception on the Jena's next series to give the ball right back to Winnfield. The Tigers were right
back in the end zone when King passed to Brinson for a 22-yard gain down to the one, which
was followed by a quarterback-sneak to up the lead to 26-0.
Jena held onto the ball on the next series
but they couldn't keep the ball the rest of the game. They also failed to make a first down, forcing Jena to punt to Winnfield
and Mitchell got off a 44-yard punt return. It was only a matter of time before the Tigers were back in the
end zone, with this score coming on an 18-yard run by Garlon Powell. Foster made his second PAT of the night
to give the team a 33-0 lead as the touchdown-filled first quarter came to an end.
out of hand when teams keep turning the ball over to the opposition. Though this game was already out of hand, Jena added
to their misery on their next series when Winnfield got their fourth interception of the night, this one by Andrew
Riggs. After the Tigers moved past the midfield stripe, Garlon Powell bolted 48 yards for a touchdown,
his second touchdown in as many carries. Foster nailed the extra point to up the Tiger lead to 40-0.
coaches substitute in the second half when a game has become a rout. But, teams usually don't have 40 point margins at the
start of the second quarter. Though his starters had already had a two-week break, what with the open date the team was coming
off, Coach Moreau inserted his second offensive unit when the team got the ball for their second possession
of the second quarter.
The results would be the same. After the Tigers got to near midfield, backup quarterback Tony Abron
hit Darrell Smith with a pass near the line of scrimmage. Smith, broke one tackle and turned
the short pass into a 57-yard touchdown run which was capped off by Foster's fourth extra point kick of the
night, making the score 47-0. That total tied the 1982 team with the 1971 team (vs. Menard) for most first half points in
school history, but the second quarter still had more than eight minutes remaining in it.
On Jena's next series, they got on the scoreboard
when their halfback ran 67 yards for a touchdown against the Tiger reserve unit. The Giants also made good on a two-point
conversion to make the score 47-8.
The Giants got the ball back quickly when their defense shut down the Tiger's second team offense and it appeared that
the game had settled down at that point, as least as far as Winnfield's scoring onslaught. However, Jena threw their fifth
interception of the night on their next series and this one was picked off by Garlon Powell. When Powell
snared the ball at the Tiger 20-yard line, he had more running room than he was accustomed to at his running back position.
Give Garlon Powell running room and you will have what occurred on the play - a touchdown. Powell's
touchdown made the score 53-8, giving the team the record for most first half points ever scored by a Tiger team. In fact,
between 1930 and the 1982 Jena game, there had only been 16 games when a Winnfield team had scored as many as 53
A recap of the first half reveals just how big a difference there was between Winnfield and Jena. Winnfield had the
ball eight times in the first half and scored a touchdown at the end of all eight possessions. In sharp contrast, Jena had
the ball seven times, with four of those possessions ending in interceptions, one ending with a punt, one going for a touchdown
against the Tiger reserve unit and the final one being stopped by the end of the second quarter.
Powell got back into the scoring action on the first play from scrimmage of the second half when he ran 62 yards
for a touchdown. That increased the Tiger lead to 59-8 and capped one of the most remarkable individual performances in school
history. Powell's touchdown run to begin the third quarter was only his fourth carry of the night, yet he
had scored touchdowns on all four carries. His touchdown runs were hardly of the chip-shot range, as he had gone 18, 30, 48
and 62 yards for touchdowns. That gave him 158 rushing yards for the night in only four carries, for a 39.5-yard per carry
rushing average, easily the highest single game rushing average in school history. The only player who had come close to that
rushing performance was Jeffery Dale, who got 162 rushing night on 7 carries, a 23.14 rushing average.
four rushing touchdowns by Powell enabled him to become only the sixth player in school history to rush for
four touchdowns in a game. The other players on that list included Gabe Durham (1928), Mickey Frazier
(1955), Jerry Keen (1971), Jeffery Dale (1980) and Perry Myles (1980)
also added an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown, giving him five touchdowns for the night, which in total covered
238 yards. He thus became the first player to score five touchdowns in a football game while playing for Winnfield.
the remainder of the second half, Winnfield got three additional touchdowns on runs by Clint Turner, Tony Abron
and David Foster. Jena also added a touchdown and a two-point conversion which accounted for the 78-18 margin.
For the game, Winnfield had 323 yards rushing and 145 yards passing for 468 total yards. Jena had 201 total yards, with almost
all of that occurring in the second half except for their long touchdown run in the first half.
through the non-district portion of the schedule with a 5-1 record, the Tigers faced district games in each of their final
three games. Winnfield was the only District 3-AA team who had not played a district game. Leading the district with a 1-0
record was Jonesboro, followed by Many with a 1-1 district mark and Ringgold with a 0-1 district record. Many and Jonesboro-Hodge
had identical overall 4-3-0 records, while Ringgold had a 1-6-0 overall record.
Winnfield headed into district competition
on Homecoming night against the Ringgold Redskins. The two teams had met three consecutive years, with Winnfield not only
winning all three games, but doing so by a combined point total of 154-22. The Tigers lowest point total of the series came
in the 1981 game when they scored only 45 points. Ringgold had never scored more than one touchdown in any game against
Winnfield. Since Winnfield was coming off a 78-point outing and Ringgold had not fared well against much less competition,
the outcome of the game was really not in question. The only hope was that no one would get hurt.
disappointed no one by taking a 27-0 first quarter lead. Perry Myles got two of those touchdowns, with the
first coming from the one yard line and the second coming on a draw play that went 68 yards for touchdown. The rest of the
Tiger backfield got in on the scoring action as well with King capping a 73-yard drive with a 6 yard run
and Garlon Powell giving the Tigers a one-play drive by going 59 yards for a touchdown. David Foster
booted three first quarter extra points to give the Tigers their 27-0 lead.
Benny Mitchell added his name
to the list of scorers when he scored on a 32-yard reception from King on a flag route. Mitchell had set
up the touchdown with a 23-yard punt return. Foster's kick made the score 34-0.
the rest of the second quarter Perry Myles added two more touchdowns to the total on a pair of
9 yard touchdown runs. David Foster ended the first half with five PAT kicks, which contributed to
the Tigers 47-0 lead at the half.
Like the week before, Winnfield had put up some gaudy numbers in the first half. The 47-point total tied the 1982 squad
with the 1971 team for second most points scored in a half. That gave the 1982 squad 100 first half in two weeks time. By
scoring 27 points in the second quarter, the 1982 team tied the 1962 squad (vs. Jena) for second most second quarter points.
The most points ever scored in the second quarter came when both the 1978 (vs. Arcadia) and 1979 (vs. Delhi) recorded 28 second
Winnfield got their first half points in a very efficient manner. Winnfield scored all seven times they had the football
and only ran 23 plays. One of their drives took 10 plays, but all the rest were five plays or less including one 5-play drive,
one 3-play drive, a 2-play drive and three one-play drives. Ringgold had just the opposite success, making only one first
down, never making it into Tiger territory, and not getting on the scoreboard.
Perry Myles scored four of
Winnfield's seven touchdowns – all by rush. Before the 1982 season, the school record for most rushing touchdowns in
a single game was four. Garlon Powell added his name to that list the week before against Jena and Myles'
feat against Ringgold gave him two four-touchdown rushing performances in his career. He had the whole second half
to add to that total, but in this blowout Myles did figure into the second half offense that much.
the second half, Coach Moreau did the same thing he had done the week before in letting his reserve players
take over, but not before Garlon Powell got one more touchdown, this one coming on a 37-yard run. After that,
Tony Abron led the second offensive unit on a drive and scored on a 10-yard touchdown run himself. The snap
from center was bobbled on the extra point try, but holder Sampson Collins picked up the fumbled snap and
tossed a two-point conversion to Marcel Mills in the end zone. That made the score 63-0.
played shutout football in the fourth quarter and added two more touchdowns, with one coming on a 12-yard run by Clint
Turner and another on a 42-yard run by Tony Abron. That closed out the scoring at 75-0. In two weeks
time, Winnfield had put 153 points on the scoreboard. That was more points than more than two-thirds (46) of all the previous
Tiger teams had scored in a single season.
The 153 points the Tigers had scored in consecutive
games was the second-highest two-game point total ever amassed by a Tiger team. There had been 9 teams who had scored 100
or more points in consecutive games up to the 1982 153-point outbreak. Those included:
1928 Bunkie (71) and Oakdale (87)
1982 Jena (78) and Ringgold (75)
1978 Arcadia (62) and Coushatta (78)
1919 Coushatta (94) and Minden (43)
1978 Coushatta (78) and Mansfield (55)
1971 Pineville (56) and Jena (54)
1961 Natchitoches (53) and Jena (50)
Ringgold (55) and Coushatta (48)
Ringgold (54) and Richwood (40)
Ringgold (45) and Many (58)
1969 Winnsboro (60) and Jena (42)
Ironically (or maybe it is not so ironic), Winnfield amassed their 153 points against Jena and Ringgold. In the other years in which 100 points or more was scored in consecutive games, those same two schools
were the opponent in three games each, second only to Coushatta (four times) among schools on that dubious list.
the season as a whole, the 1982 team had scored 324 points, already the fifth most points ever scored in a single season.
That was a 46.3 point per game average. Since the 1982 team only played a 9 game regular season schedule, they would be hard-pressed
to overtake the 1978 team’s school record 482 points scored during the regular season. The team needed 158 points to
get that record, which would mean the team would have to average 79 pts. per game in the final two games. A more realistic
scoring milestone would be for the team to become only the third team to score 400 or more points in the regular season. They
could get that with 76 more points in the final two games. That would take a 38 pt. per game average, which is what the Tigers
had been averaging per half in recent weeks.
Against Ringgold, the Tigers rolled up 483
yards of total offense, including 363 yards rushing and 120 yards in the air. That was the fifth highest total yards gained
in school history. Winnfield had two backs go over 100 yards rushing, including Myles with 127 yards on 10
carries and Powell with 126 yards on 6 carries, a 21-yard per carry average. In two weeks times, Powell
had carried the ball 10 times and gained 284 yards. He had scored touchdowns on 6 of those 10 carries, with none shorter than
18 yards. Not to be outdone, Myles upped his team-leading rushing total to over 800 yards, with his 127-yard
rushing total against Ringgold being his sixth straight 100-yard performance.
But the only statistic Coach
Moreau was really concerned about was wins. The victory moved Winnfield to 7-1 on the season and 1-0 in district
play. That moved Winnfield into a tie with Jonesboro-Hodge for first place in the district race. Those two were the only undefeated
teams in the district. Coach Moreau improved his record while at Winnfield to 37-7-0 overall and 12-1-0 in
Winnfield's goal of reaching the playoffs could be realized with a win over their next opponent. That's because they
faced a Many team who was 1-1 in district play, having already defeated Ringgold and losing to Jonesboro-Hodge the previous
week by a score of 37-13. Since Winnfield and Jonesboro were both undefeated in district play, Winnfield could guarantee themselves
no worse than second place in the district with a win over Many.
Many was 4-4 for the season but most
of their losses had been close encounters, other than the Jonesboro-Hodge game. Coach Moreau told The
Enterprise that Many was the most improved team from the previous season that his squad would face. Many ran from
the Wing-T formation, which played into the hands of the Tiger's defensive strength because the Tigers had been strong against
the run all season long. On defense, Many ran a split-six and sometimes stacked the line with all 11 players. As a result,
the thought of Benny Mitchell running free in the Many secondary had to have been on the minds of the Winnfield
coaching staff as they prepared for Many.
Against Many, Garlon Powell continued his string of impressive carries. The first time he touched
the football in the game he went 24-yards for a touchdown. On his second carry of the half he responded by going 48 yard for
a touchdown. Plus, the last time he carried the ball in the game (which came on his opening carry of the
second half) he went 40-yards for a touchdown. Sandwiched between those runs were two other runs for the night. That improved
Powell's remarkable run over a three-game period to 401 yards in 15 carries (26.7 ypc). He had scored 9 touchdowns
in those 15 carries with the TD runs alone accounting for 371 yards, including runs of 62, 59, 48 (twice), 40, 37, 30, 29
and 18 yards.
Powell’s two touchdown runs to begin the first half were the first of six
touchdowns the Tigers would score to enable the team to take a 39-0 halftime lead. Myles added one more touchdown
to up the Tiger’s lead to 20-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
The second quarter belonged to Benny
Mitchell. He finally got his hands on the ball at the start of the second quarter on a Many punt and he took full
advantage of the opportunity by returning the punt 58 yards for a touchdown. That increased the Tiger's lead to 26-0. That
was Mitchell's second punt return for a touchdown of the season and fourth career punt return for a touchdown,
moving him into sole possession of second place in career punt returns for a touchdown. The leader in that category was
John Wayne Williams with 6.
Mitchell was right back in the end zone on the Tigers next series after he caught a 14-yard pass from
King to cap a three-play drive. Foster added a PAT to move the score to 33-0.
Many's next punt it appeared that Mitchell would return his second punt for a touchdown. Mitchell
did go 59 yards for an apparent score but the Tigers were flagged for clipping on the play. That backed the Tigers up to their
own 26-yard line. After that, Winnfield moved down the field and scored in nine plays, with the touchdown coming on a scoring
toss from King to Benny Mitchell to make the score 39-0.
Mitchell three touchdowns in the second quarter and five touchdown receptions for the season. The latter
put him within sight of one of the oldest offensive records still on the books. The individual reception scoring record was
held by Tommy Wyatt, who got 9 touchdown receptions during the 1959 season. That was also Wyatt's
career total for touchdown receptions, which was broken eight years later by Wayne Wood who ended his career
with 13 touchdown receptions. Other than Wyatt, the only other players who had matched or exceeded his career
mark were John Wayne Williams, who had 9 touchdown receptions between the 1970 and 1971 seasons, and Glen
Anderson, who had 10 touchdown receptions in 1972 and 1973. Mitchell's second touchdown reception
against Many gave him 10 career TD receptions.
After coming out of the locker room at halftime with a 39-0 lead, Coach Moreau decided to follow the
same strategy he had employed in the previous two blowout wins - let his first offensive unit have a crack at the football
on the first possession of the second half and then turn the game over to the reserves.
After Powell's touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half, Winnfield added one more touchdown
in the third quarter when Tony Abron ran 6 yards for a touchdown, which was followed by a David Foster
PAT to move the score to 52-0.
Many got on the scoreboard on their next series when they moved 62 yards in 8 plays, with the touchdown coming on a
1-yard plunge by their quarterback. The PAT kick was good on the extra point try moving the score to 52-7. Winnfield responded
by adding one more fourth quarter touchdown, which Foster followed with his 13th extra point of the year
to make the final score 59-7.
Winnfield had another impressive night statistically, getting 336 yards rushing, with Powell getting
117 of those yards and Myles getting 106 yards on 10 carries. That was Myles' 7th 100-yard
rushing effort of the year and 13th of his career. Myles moved one behind career-leader Nathan Johnson
for most 100+-yard rushing efforts. Right behind those two were Ricky Chatman (10), Jeffery Dale
(7) and Jerry Keen (5). But, Garlon Powell was rising up that list fast, with four 100+-yard
rushing efforts to his credit, with all coming during the 1982 campaign.
Thomas King had his best night
as a passer against Many, hitting 8 of 12 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. That gave King five touchdown
tosses for the season. Though the Tigers didn't throw much, when they did it was usually effective because most teams were
prepared to stop Winnfield's high-powered running attack. However, with Thomas King, Benny Mitchell, Sampson Collins
and Chester Brinson in the offense, the Tigers were more than capable of moving the ball through the air.
336 rushing performance against Many, Winnfield moved their season total to 2,206 team rushing yards. That made the 1982 team
only the 8th team in school history to gain more than 2,000 yards rushing during the regular season. The single-season record
still belonged to the 1961 team who got 2,975 yards on the ground.
The final regular season game of the 1982 season
was everything that Winnfield Tiger football is about. The game pitted Winnfield against arch-rival Jonesboro-Hodge with the
winner taking the district crown and the loser heading into the playoffs as the district runner-up. This would be the sixth
straight year one of those two teams was the district champ in District 3-AA, with Jonesboro-Hodge taking the 1977 and 1980
titles and Winnfield getting the 1978, 1979 and 1981 crowns. This would be the fourth straight year the outcome of the district
race was settled on the final game of the season.
Jonesboro-Hodge came into the game with memories of not being able to hold a 29-0 lead against Winnfield the season
before. However, they never needed any special incentive to get up for the Winnfield game and neither did Winnfield. For the
year, Winnfield had a 7-1 record and 2-0 mark in district play. Jonesboro-Hodge came into the encounter with an overall record
of 6-3 and a 2-0 district record. Both teams had been handily defeated by Neville during the season, Winnfield by a 35-0 margin
and Jonesboro-Hodge by a 40-0 margin. Like Winnfield, Jonesboro-Hodge had rolled over the other district competition, with
Jonesboro getting a 40-0 win over Ringgold the previous week.
The 1982 game would be the 53rd meeting of
the two teams and the series record was amazingly close. Though Winnfield trailed Jonesboro-Hodge 24-26-2 in the overall record,
they had made up considerable ground in recent years, winning 8 of the previous 10 games and 12 of the previous 15. But like
they say, none of that ever mattered when these two squared off.
Like Winnfield, Jonesboro-Hodge ran from the
Veer offense. They had used that scheme quite effectively through the air, with Jonesboro quarterback Bob Garrett
being called by Coach Moreau in an interview for the Enterprise "the best
throwing quarterback we have faced all year.” Garrett came into the game with more
than 1,000 passing yards for the season. If you stopped Jonesboro's passing game you pretty much stopped Jonesboro because
they hadn't shown much of a rushing attack during the season. What they had was good receivers and an offensive line that
could protect their quarterback. On defense, Jonesboro would come at Winnfield with a six-man front. They had one of the best
linebackers in the district outside of Winnfield's Marcel Mills and Kevin Collins. Jonesboro-Hodge
had some players, but, by any measure Winnfield was a prohibitive favorite coming into the game that would be played at
Unlike the year before when Jonesboro-Hodge jumped out to a 29-0 first half lead, Winnfield played the explosive first
half brand of football they had shown since mid-season in rolling to a 27-0 lead at intermission. However, it must have felt
like déjà-vu when Winnfield fumbled the ball over to Jonesboro-Hodge the first two times they had the ball,
to start the contest the same way the previous season’s game had begun. To make matters worse, both fumbles came after
Winnfield had driven inside the Jonesboro-Hodge 20-yard line. On the other hand, unlike the year before, Jonesboro-Hodge was
unable to convert either of those turnovers into points, which isn’t surprising considering how deep Jonesboro-Hodge
had the ball when they recovered the two fumbles. The Winnfield defense completely shut down Jonesboro in the first half,
allowing the visiting Tigers only one penetration inside of Winnfield territory and stopping that drive well short of the
Garlon Powell finally got the Tigers on the scoreboard in the final minute
of the first quarter and he did it in a way that was now becoming familiar. With the ball sitting squarely on the 50-yard
line, Powell took a pitch and ran half the field for a touchdown to make the score 6-0. That was all of the
scoring in the first quarter. The Tigers got three
touchdowns in the second quarter and spread that scoring between three different players. Reliable Perry Myles
got the first of those on a 10 yard run.
Andrew Riggs broke the 12-0 game wide-open midway through the second quarter when he intercepted a
Bob Garrett pass at the Winnfield 20-yard line and returned it for a touchdown on a weaving run. Perry
Myles followed with a run on the two-point conversion attempt to give the Tigers a 20-0 lead.
Riggs' second interception return for a touchdown during the season. It is rare for a defensive player to
get a touchdown on an interception. Coming into the 1982 season, there had only been 33 interceptions returned for touchdowns
in the 73-year history of the program, so it is even rarer when a defensive player gets two interception returns
for a touchdown in their career. Prior to Riggs, only five other Tiger defensive players had returned two
interceptions for touchdowns in the same season, including John Williams Warner (1948), Conrad Swilley
(1950 & 1952), Gerald Long (1961), Mike Tinnerello (1961) and Bob Wyatt
(1961 & 1962).
Winnfield’s final first half touchdown came with just minutes to go in the half. When the Tiger offense came
onto the field for the final time of the half and almost a full field to go for a score they could have
been content to just run out the clock. But, the Tigers were more than capable of scoring on any play and that's what happened
when quarterback Thomas King ran 71 yards for a touchdown to join Garlon Powell, Perry Myles
and Benny Mitchell, all who had run more than 50 yards for a touchdown at some point in the season. It is
rare for a quarterback to go that distance for a touchdown. While King's run wasn't the longest touchdown
run ever by a Winnfield quarterback, it was one of the longest. Only two other quarterbacks had scored from a greater distance
than King's 71-yard run including Mike Tinnerello (75 yds. vs. Jena, 1961) and Greg
Powell (74 yds. vs. E. D. White, 1981).
King's run and Garlon
Powell's extra point gave Winnfield a 27-0 first half lead. Winnfield had scored 27 points in the final 15 minutes
of the first half and Jonesboro was going nowhere offensively. It appeared as though it would take a second half miracle by
Jonesboro-Hodge to pull this win out and Winnfield had proven that miracles do happen in this series just 365 days earlier.
a comeback Jonesboro-Hodge would have to keep Winnfield from scoring, which they were unable to do. Andrew Riggs
fielded a short kickoff to begin the second half and returned it 26 yards to the Jonesboro 37-yard line. On first down, Thomas
King hit Benny Mitchell in the end zone for a touchdown and just like that Winnfield was ahead 33-0.
responded with their only touchdown of the night when they went 75 yards in 17 plays to finally get on the scoreboard. It
took a 1-yard plunge by quarterback Bob Garrett to avert the shutout.
Later in the third period Randy Johnson
intercepted a pass and returned it to the Jonesboro 11-yard line. Myles got his second touchdown of the night
three plays later when he ran one in from the 3-yard line. Powell booted the extra point to make the score
40-6 as the fourth quarter began.
Sometimes it appeared the Winnfield offense toyed with people. That's what it looks like with an offense that is so
good. The next time the Tiger offense got the ball they were deep on their end of the field. Benny Mitchell
received the ball on a reverse and turned that into a 69-yard touchdown run which was followed by Powell's
fifth extra point boot of the night. That closed out all scoring at 47-6.
Perry Myles had his best night rushing
as a Tiger, getting 171 yards rushing on 17 carries. Garlon Powell added 77 yards on 7 carries and Thomas
King got 82 yards on 5 carries. Those three alone gained 330 yards rushing on 29 carries, for an 11.4 per carry rushing
average. The team as a whole gained 393 yards rushing.
Thomas King also had another good night passing, connecting on 7 of 10
passes for 95 yards. That, added to the team rushing yards gave the Tigers 488 total yards against Jonesboro. About the only
negative aspect of the game was that Winnfield fumbled the ball four times, with three of those occurring inside the Jonesboro
On the other side of the ball, the Tiger defense completely shut down Jonesboro's heralded passing attack, holding
Garrett to only 8 completions in 27 attempts. For the night, Jonesboro only got 168 total yards in offense.
Garrett's "off" night was due mainly to the fact that he didn't have near the time to throw the
ball as he had grown accustomed to. Winnfield's defensive line, consisting of ends Gary Irvin and Johnny
Williams and interior linemen Jay Huckaby and Jess Grigg pressured Garrett
all night long, with Irvin getting two sacks and Huckaby and Grigg each
getting one. Marcel Mills led all tacklers with 15.
With the win, the Tigers claimed the school's 10th
district title, all coming in the amazing 25-year period of 1957 to 1982. In that 25-year span, Winnfield entered the playoffs
15 times and finished in the top three in their district 18 times.
From 1957 (the first year Winnfield placed
a team in the playoffs) to 1982, the Tiger's record in district games was 100-41-2, a winning percentage of .700%. But, it
was in recent years that Winnfield had completely dominated district opponents, as they were undefeated in the past two years
and had only lost one district game in five years, going 23-1-0 in district games between 1978 and 1982
ended the regular season with an 8-1-0 record, the same record they ended the previous season with. Like the previous season,
they began regular season play by getting trounced by Neville and then improving each week, only more so during the 1982 season.
Many of the starters of the 1982 team were in the same position they were in the season before only they were better prepared.
They had been to the playoffs before, not to mention that they simply were better football players, given that they were a
year older. Since the start of the 1981 playoffs alone, most of the starters of the 1982 team had played in 13 football games
- four during the 1981 playoffs and 9 during the 1982 season. That kind of experience would prove to be indispensable to the
1982 teams title run.
During the regular season the team scored 430 points. That was the second most points a Tiger team had scored during
a regular season. The leader of that category was the 1978 team who scored 482 points. Just behind the 1982 team’s point
total was the 1961 team, who scored 400 points during the regular season and the 1971 who got 398 points. The thing that separated
the 1982 team from those other teams was that they only played a 9-game regular season, contrasted with the other top four
teams who played 10 games, except the 1961 team who played an 11 game regular season.
Coach Moreau came into the
season knowing he had strong skill people on offense. He had to rebuild his offensive line, so that was certainly one of the
biggest question marks of the team. What he saw his team do over the course of the regular season was jell into a dominating
offensive unit and become the strong defensive unit that he had envisioned before the season even started. He saw his offensive
squad rush for close to 2,000 yards in the final five games alone. That rushing attack scored with lightening-like
quickness. That was due to the excellent team speed the offensive unit had and good blocking across the offensive line. During
the second half of the season, that offensive unit displayed one of the most dominating offenses ever seen by Tiger football
fans. After moving to a 4-1 record to begin the season, Winnfield had an open date to regroup and take stock. When they resumed
play against Jena, the Tiger offense was, quite frankly, unstoppable. In fact, the Tiger offense was so dominate in the final
four games of the year that the starting offensive unit only played in the first half of each of those games - here’s
why. In the first half of the Jena game the offense ran the ball six series with the result being six touchdowns. The following
week against Ringgold, the offense had the ball for seven first-half series with the result being seven touchdowns. That continued
the next week against Many when the Tiger offense scored six touchdowns in six series. That was nineteen straight first half
possessions that the starting offensive unit scored a touchdown on. In the final game of the year, the Tigers failed to score
the first two times they had the ball but they fumbled on each of those possession so whether they would have scored had they
held onto the ball will never be known. Draw your own conclusions because both fumbles had come inside the Jonesboro 20-yard
line. After that, the Tigers scored the third and fourth times they had the ball and were forced to punt on their fifth possession,
with that being the first time the starting offensive unit had been in punt formation since mid-season. The sixth and seventh
times the offense had the ball in the first half against Jonesboro they scored touchdowns. In summary, in the first half of
the final four games of the season the starting offense had the ball 25 times, with those series ending in 22 TD’s,
2 fumbles and 1 punt. Moreau went into the playoffs knowing he had the offense to be a championship team.
the defensive side of the ball, he had been pleased with his defensive line all season long. They were the most consistent
group on defense from the first through the ninth game of the regular season. As a result, Moreau knew he
could count on his defensive line. But, the satisfaction that he felt as the playoffs began was that his secondary had come
around like he knew they could. That secondary got its best test of the year in the final game of the regular season and they
withstood everything Jonesboro threw at them. His secondary played the aggressive style of defense that breaks up potential
completions, gets interceptions and even scores. Finally, his line backing corp had fed off of the dominating defensive front
they played behind, dominating games like Coach Moreau liked. He also had a defensive unit
that was capable of leading the team in a title run. Coach Moreau liked his chances heading
into the playoffs.
On Friday, November 12, 1981 Winnfield Senior High School sent its fifteenth football team to the playoffs. For the
first six teams (1957 to 1967), it was one game and out. The fortunes of the next eight playoff teams (1968 to 1981) were
much better as only two of those eight failed to win a playoff game. Heading into the 1982 playoffs, each of previous four
playoff teams had made it deep into the playoffs, with the program having the following results to show for their recent effort:
finals (1976), quarter-finals (1978), semifinals (1979) and semifinals (1981). That’s the kind of recent memory the
senior players of the 1982 team entered the playoffs with. For them, Winnfield always made good playoff runs, because for
them, that had been the case since they were old enough to really keep up with Tiger football. Winnfield’s first round opponent would be the Rayville Hornets. They had
finished in a tie with Delhi for second in district 2-AA and ended the regular season with a 7-3 record. Rayville was a running
team who only threw the ball when it was absolutely necessary. Where they won games was on defense. A typical Rayville game
was a low-scoring affair, because the Hornets didn’t score much and they didn’t allow many points. The Hornets
ran a basic 4-3 defense and they liked to stunt and send their linebackers on blitzes. They didn’t have the athletes
Winnfield had and that would pose some match-up problems for them. The game would be played in Stokes-Walker Stadium,
where the Tigers had a 9-3 playoff record. Cost of admission was $3.00 in advance and $4.00 at the gate.
Powell set the tone for the 1982 playoffs by taking the opening kickoff of the game at the 5-yard line and racing
95 yards for a touchdown. That tied him with Jackie Givens (1945 vs. St. Mary's) for the longest kickoff
return in school history. At the time, there had been over 700 football games played by Winnfield Tiger teams and there had
only been three touchdown runs of any kind that had covered more distance than Powell's return, including
a pair of 100-yard interception returns by Brooks Broussard (1955) and Mike Kelley
(1965) and a 97-yard run from scrimmage by John Glyn Jackson (1943). So, Powell’s
return was the longest touchdown run in 17 years.
Winnfield's offense, which had been so prolific in the first half the recent games, had trouble getting untracked in
the first quarter of the Rayville game. On their first series following Powell's kickoff return, they fumbled
the ball over to Rayville, only to get the ball right back on a pass interception by Sampson Collins. Rayville
stopped Winnfield on that series, forcing the Tiger starting offensive unit to punt the ball for only the second time since
the fifth game of the year. But, Winnfield scored the next two times they had the ball in the first quarter, getting one score
on a 1-yard run by Perry Myles, which culminated a 46-yard drive, and the other on a 3-play, 64-yard drive,
capped by a 55-yard completion from Thomas King to Benny Mitchell. Powell booted the PAT
to give the Tigers a 19-0 lead as the second quarter began.
Winnfield toyed with Rayville in the second
quarter by getting the ball three times and scoring all three times. Perry Myles set up the first score of
the quarter with a 33-yard run, which came halfway through a 5-play, 60-yard drive. Mills bolted over the
goal line from 1-yard out to get the score. After the Tiger defense held Rayville to no first down on their next series, Winnfield
got the ball following a short punt. King and Mitchell wasted no time in combining for a
41-yard pass completion for a touchdown. The final time the Tigers got the ball in the first half they went 65 yards in 6
plays on a drive capped by 5-yard run by Thomas King. Garlon Powell set up King's run with
a 43-yard carry on a draw play. All of that made the score 38-0 in favor of Winnfield as the two teams broke for halftime.
Winnfield dominance in the first half continued
an impressive string of first half superiority by the starting Tiger offensive unit. In the five games which included the
final four games of the regular season and the first round playoff game, a summary of the Tiger’s production in all
of their first half series reads like this: 33 possessions which ended with 28 touchdowns, 3 fumbles and 2 punts.
38 points the Tigers scored in the first half were the second-most points ever scored by a Winnfield Tiger team in a playoff
game, trailing only the 47 points the 1979 team scored against Delhi. But, the 38 points were the most first half points
ever scored in a playoff game, breaking the record of 34 point mark set in the 1979 Delhi game. Winnfield led Delhi 34-7 at
halftime of that game, which was the largest winning margin a Tiger team had ever gone into halftime with. The 38 point margin
the 1982 team had over Rayville thus became the new standard.
Coach Moreau’s game
plan for the second half followed the same one he had been able to enjoy since the middle of the season - let his starters
open the second half and then turn the game over to his reserves soon thereafter.
He got the results he wanted from both his
defense and offense on their first opportunities of the second half. Defensive back Andrew Riggs intercepted
a pass at the Winnfield 12-yard line on Rayville’s first possession of the second half. The Tiger offense then moved
88 yards in 9 plays, with Garlon Powell doing most of the damage of that series. He didn’t break a
long run but he got 63 of the total yards gained in the drive, including the final 3 yards. His touchdown and extra point
kick gave Winnfield a 45-0 lead.
That’s the way the score stood until Rayville averted a shutout with a touchdown midway through the final quarter.
In the end, Winnfield showed that they would be a force to be reckoned with in the 1982 playoffs by taking a 45-6 win over
Both Perry Myles and Garlon Powell rushed for over 100 yards for the Tiger offense
which gained 397 total yards. All total, Winnfield got 269 yards rushing and 128 yards in the air, with Thomas King
connecting on 6 of 8 passes for all of the Tigers passing yards.
The Tiger defense held Rayville to only 60
yards rushing and 89 yards passing, in spite of the fact that the Tiger reserves logged more playing time in the second half
than did the Tiger starters. Winnfield’s secondary limited Rayville to 7 completions in 25 attempts and they picked
off 4 Hornet passes.
The 1982 team came into the playoffs having scored 430 points. That was the third-most points ever scored by a team
in an overall season. By scoring 45 points against Rayville, the 1982 team raised their season total to 475, nine more points
than the second-highest scoring team (the 1971 team) had scored over the course of the entire season. The 1982 team still
had a ways to go to catch the school’s scoring leader, who was the 1978 team. They had scored 560 points in their 13-game
hit the road in the regional round of the playoffs to take on the Springhill Lumberjacks. They were the District 1-AA champions
and had drawn a bye in the first round of the playoffs. During the regular season, Springhill had compiled an 8-1-1 record
Moreau told an Enterprise reporter that Springhill would offer Winnfield the toughest competition they had
faced since the Neville game. The Lumberjacks offered both a sound running and passing game, as well as a tough defense that
averaged over 200 lbs. a man across the defensive front, in spite of having a nose guard who only weighed 140 lbs.
a field dampened by rain, the Tigers began the game like they had each of the previous five contest. After a good return on
the opening kickoff, Winnfield took their opening possession and proceeded to march 59 yards in nine plays to stake an early
6-0 lead. Garlon Powell got the touchdown for the Tigers when he ran 14 yards for a touchdown. Powell
pushed the try for the extra point.
Winnfield should have known they were in for a battle when Springhill responded by moving into scoring position on
a methodical drive of their own. However, a fourth down pass fell incomplete once Springhill reached the
Winnfield 15-yard line.
The two teams exchanged punts the next two times they had the ball but it was the Tiger kicking game that made the
play of the game when Springhill lined up to punt the ball early in the second quarter. Benny Mitchell had
already returned two punts for touchdowns during the year. When he caught the ball on the Winnfield 30-yard line he faked
a handoff to fellow return man Garlon Powell. All Mitchell needed was some running room
and that’s what he saw when he turned up field. Mitchell never broke stride in going the full 70 yards
to up the Tiger lead to 12-0. The Tigers hadn’t been involved in very many close games and not many games where one
play made the difference. Though it didn’t appear so at the time, Mitchell’s return would go
a long way toward keeping the season alive. So too would Perry Myles’ run for a two-point conversion
following Mitchell’s run. When the Tigers took a 14-0 lead with just over ten minutes to go in the
first half, the Tigers appeared to have this game well in hand. But, this would be a game where the Tiger defense would play
Winnfield could not get back into the end zone the remainder of the first half, but neither could Springhill. As a
result, Winnfield went into the locker room with a two-touchdown margin. That seemed comfortable enough, but the Tigers starters
knew that their services would be needed in the second half for the first time in a long time.
Though it would have been
just as effective for Winnfield to win this game with good defense in the second half, Tiger fans were spoiled. They were
accustomed to the Tigers blowing people away by piling up the points. That wasn’t happening in this second-round game.
On the other hand, the Tigers had this game won as long as Springhill didn’t get in the end zone. In other words, good
defense could preserve the Tiger’s 14-point lead. And, that’s what the Tigers appeared to be doing when they held
Springhill on their first possession of the second half and backed the Lumberjacks all the way up to their 3-yard line following
a good punt to start their second possession.
But, Springhill responded by moving the ball 97 yards for a touchdown - all on the ground. The 13-play drive took almost
all of the time remaining in the third quarter and it showed that Springhill could move the ball against the Tigers. Suddenly
the 14-6 lead didn’t seem so large. But, Winnfield maintained an 8-point lead when Springhill missed their extra point
Powell appeared to give the Tigers some breathing room on Winnfield’s next series when he broke one run 55
yards for an apparent touchdown. However, the play was called back when the Tigers were flagged for clipping. The Tigers didn’t
recover from that penalty and were also forced to punt the next time they had the ball.
got the ball halfway through the fourth quarter, needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the score. Winnfield’s
defense came into the series knowing that this could very well be Springhill’s last series, so a stop on this possession
could preserve the win. But, the Lumberjacks again moved the ball down the field and into scoring position. That drive reached
its most dramatic moment when Springhill faced a fourth and 16 from the Winnfield 26. From there, Springhill quarterback
Rusty Slack found a receiver open 20 yards down the field and hit him with a perfect spiral to keep the drive going
at the Winnfield 6-yard line. Slack also connected with a wide-open receiver in the end zone on the next
play to move Springhill to within two. With the score 14-12 and 2:30 remaining on the game clock, the Lumberjacks had no choice
but to go for a two-point conversion in an attempt to tie the game and potentially throw the game into overtime. Springhill
had just connected on two big passes, but the third pass attempt on the two-point conversion fell incomplete, leaving Winnfield
ahead by two.
Springhill attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Winnfield recovered the ball at the Tiger 40-yard line.
After that, Winnfield ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Maybe Winnfield needed a game like the Springhill
game to show them that they couldn’t simply walk over every opponent they would face. It’s one thing
to have your coach tell you how tough every team is in the playoffs. It’s another thing to experience it for yourself.
Winnfield offense did get 223 yards rushing, but penalties, mistakes, and a passing attack that appeared to be grounded by
the wet field halted the Tigers as much as the good Springhill defense. For the night, Winnfield only got 20 yards through
the air. Springhill became the only team besides Neville to out-gain the Tiger offense, getting 177 yards on the ground and
100 yards through the air.
Coach Moreau told The Enterprise that he was disappointed in the way the Tigers
played but indicated that he got a taste of the team’s chemistry. Moreau said, “A tight game
like this makes the team band together and realize they need each other. He went on, “They kept their poise during the
game and just kept fighting.”
The competition only got tougher in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. The Tigers got to return to Stokes-Walker
Stadium, but they faced one of the best teams in Class AA during the past two years in the Ferriday Bulldogs. The season before,
Ferriday had been ranked No. 2 all through the regular season. After going through the season undefeated, it was their fate
to meet John Curtis, another undefeated team, in the semifinal round of the playoffs. In a game most considered the “true”
state championship, Ferriday dropped a close one to Curtis.
They had repeated that success from the season
before during the 1982 season. The Bulldogs won the District 4-AA title and would have put together their second consecutive
undefeated regular season had it not been for a 17-14 overtime loss to North Natchez. After going through the regular season
with an 8-1 record and drawing a bye in the first round of the playoffs, Ferriday took a 30-0 win over DeQuincy in their regional
round game. That win gave Ferriday a 21-2-0 record for the 1981 and 1982 seasons.
Ferriday was an outstanding team, but they
were led by one of the best running backs any Winnfield team had ever faced. The go-to guy in the Ferriday offense was returning
All-State halfback Nathaniel Williams. He came into the game with just under 5,300 career rushing yards and
89 touchdowns. For the 1982 campaign he had rushed for 2,034 yards and scored 250 points. Williams ran behind
what Coach Moreau described as one of the best offensive lines in the state. But, Moreau
felt like he had the best defensive line in the state so he saw that as a draw. What made the Ferriday offense so dangerous
was quarterback Keith Henderson. He came into the game with passing numbers that were as good as anyone in
Class AA. There would be no mistake that Winnfield would have their hands full with Ferriday. If the Springhill game was a
wake-up call, it certainly came at the right time.
Winnfield came into the game with a 10-1 record.
By reaching the double-digit win total, the 1982 team joined the 1971 (13) and 1961, 1976, 1979 and 1981 (11 each) teams as
the only Tiger squads to wins 10 or more games. Additionally, the 1982 team became only the fourth team in school history
to win at least 10 straight games in a single season. The leader of that category was the 1971 team who won 13 straight, followed
by the 1978 team who won 12 straight and the 1981 team who won 11 consecutive games.
Winnfield got a taste of their own medicine
when Ferriday took the ball on the opening drive of the game and marched 71 yards for a touchdown. And though everyone was
watching Nathaniel Williams on the series, it was quarterback Keith Henderson who connected
on 5 of 7 passes on the drive that accounted for 71 of the 75 yards of the drive. Williams scored the touchdown
on a 6-yard pass from Henderson. Ferriday went for two on the conversion and came up short, but they ate
up eight minutes off of the clock and put the Tigers behind in a football game for the first time since the Parkway game.
picked up some old habits when they fumbled the ball away the first two times they had the football. The Tigers lost the first
fumble at their own 49-yard line. After that, Ferriday moved to the 38-yard line where the Winnfield defense stiffened and
got the ball back when a fourth down conversion attempt failed.
On the next series, Winnfield again moved the ball close to scoring position but lost another fumble at the Ferriday
26-yard line. In playoff games, turnovers and mistakes usually send teams packing. Ferriday was too good a team for Winnfield
to make mistakes and expect to win.
The two teams exchanged punts the next two times they had the ball, though Ferriday picked up a couple of first downs
before they were forced to turn the ball over. Though the Tiger offense went nowhere the next time they had the football,
the Tiger defense seemed to shock some life into the Tiger offense when they pulled down an interception in the end zone midway
through the second quarter.
Taking the ball at their own 20-yard line, Winnfield finally put together a scoring drive, moving 80 yards in only
six plays, with the score coming on a 39-yard run by Garlon Powell. The extra point was also added by Powell,
giving the Tigers a 7-6 lead which held up until halftime.
Winnfield came out of the dressing room knowing
they were embroiled in another battle. But, they had more than enough fire-power to answer the defense that was thrown at
them. Powell got things going when he returned the kickoff to begin the second half 68 yards to the Ferriday
22-yard line. Two plays netted 8 yards, setting up Perry Myles’ third down, 16-yard touchdown run.
One of the most questionable aspects of the Tiger football team was the kicking game on extra points. Coach Moreau
had tried three kickers during the season including Garlon Powell, Raymond Durbin and David Foster.
Those three had combined to kick just over half of their extra point attempts (38 of 66). Other than the Pineville game, no
other game in the regular season had hinged on the outcome of an extra point. But, only one week earlier the Tigers defeated
Springhill in a game where both teams scored two touchdowns, but Winnfield won the game because they made one two-point conversion
and Springhill failed on both of their PAT attempts. Therefore, when Winnfield moved to a 13-6 lead, only to miss their extra
point attempt, the Tiger lead did not seem safe.
That became immediately clear when Ferriday took their next possession 67 yards for a touchdown, with the score coming
on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Like their first drive, it was the Ferriday passing game that got the Bulldogs into scoring
position, with completions of 19 and 27 yards doing most of the damage on the drive. Ferriday also went through the air on
their two-point conversion attempt which was good, giving Ferriday a 14-13 lead with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter. The game see-sawed back and forth at that point, with Winnfield
stopping a fake punt attempt on Ferriday’s next possession and the Bulldogs getting an interception on Winnfield’s
next possession. But, Winnfield may have gotten the break of the game when they threw the Ferriday punter for a 10-yard loss
at the end of Ferriday’s next possession. That gave Winnfield the football at the Ferriday 39-yard line with just over
half of the fourth quarter to go. The Tigers trailed by one point.
Winnfield took advantage of that kind of field
position, getting those 39 yards in only 6 plays, with Powell going over from 2 yards out to enable Winnfield
to take a 19-14 lead. The attempt at a two-point conversion failed but Winnfield moved to a five-point
lead with only 5:49 remaining in the game. After
running three plays, Ferriday failed on a fourth down conversion attempt, thus giving Winnfield the football at the Bulldog
31-yard line. It only took the Tigers five plays to score from there when Thomas King raced in from 9 yards
out to give the Tigers an 11-point lead at 25-14. Powell upped that by one with an extra point kick.
took over with a little over two minutes to go in the game. They had no choice but to go for broke, so they opened up their
passing game. Tiger defensive back Benny Mitchell took advantage of that by swiping a Ferriday aerial at
the Winnfield 45-yard line and returning it 55 yards for an apparent touchdown. A clipping penalty brought the ball back to
the 45-yard line, but Winnfield again moved down the field for a touchdown in only five plays. Myles got
the score on a 24-yard run, making the final score 32-14.
Anyone reading the score would have never guessed
that the Tigers had trailed Ferriday entering the fourth quarter. But, that final period showed the team how an offense can
feed off of the performance of a good defensive effort. By handing the football over to the offense three straight times inside
of Ferriday territory, the Tiger defense put the offense in a position of doing what they did best - score. Moreau
told and Enterprise reporter, “When we (finally) got some breaks, we really took advantage of them."
He praised his defense for playing “very aggressively” and for “gang tackling.”
singled-out Marcel Mills who was in on 21 tackles. But, he was pleased with the performances of Tiger defensive
linemen Johnny Williams, Jay Huckaby, Chester Brinson and Gary Irvin who combined to sack
Ferriday quarterback Keith Henderson four times. Henderson did complete 17 of 29 passes
for 193 yards, but the Tiger secondary got three interceptions.
Nathaniel Williams was held
to a season-low 83 yards rushing in 23 carries. In contrast, Winnfield’s backfield duo of Myles and
Powell had their usual double 100+-yard efforts, with Myles getting 127 yards on 17 carries
and Powell leading all rushers with 131 yards in 13 carries. Tiger quarterback Thomas King
had a 3 of 7 night for only 8 yards.
The Tigers were in the same position they had been in only a year earlier. In fact, on the surface, the two seasons
were mirror-images of each other as both had begun with opening-game losses to Neville, followed by 11 straight wins that
got the Tigers into the semifinal round of the playoffs, on the road against E. D. White of Thibodaux. After the 1981 team
lost their semifinal game to E. D. White, Coach Moreau proclaimed that the Tigers would “be back.”
Whether he said that to mean: the playoffs, in the semifinals, or in the semifinals against E. D. White in Thibodaux,
all of that was true.
Winnfield moved into the final four of the Class AA playoffs against one of the strongest teams in Class AA in E. D.
White. The Cardinals had gone through the season with a perfect 12-0 record, including a 9-6 win over Notre Dame in quarter-final
round action. Like Winnfield, E. D. White was eager to atone for a season-ending loss from the season before, only their loss
came in the 1981 title game where they dropped a close 21-17 decision to John Curtis. If Winnfield was going to win the state
title in 1982 there would be no one who could say the win was a fluke. Were the Tigers to win the semi final round game against
E. D. White, it was likely they would face John Curtis in the championship game. And, if that was the case, Winnfield would
have faced the top three teams in Class AA in consecutive weeks in Ferriday, E. D. White and John Curtis.
Ferriday, E. D. White came into the game boasting a strong running game and a very good offensive line. The Cardinals ran
from the Power I and they had their two leading rushers from the season before. Their leading rusher was halfback George
Robinson, who had gained over 1,100 yards coming into the Winnfield contest. His fellow backfield mate, Craig
Gauthier, added 600 yards rushing to the E. D. White attack and fullback Brian LeJune, son of Cardinal
Head Coach Percy LeJune, had gotten 500 yards rushing.
E. D. White ran a 50 defense and did very little
stunting and blitzing. Coach LeJune’s game plan coming into the game was to stop the big gainer. He
told an Enterprise reporter, “If (Winnfield) can grind it out on us, they deserve to win.”
Winnfield’s high-risk Veer offense was designed to get around strong defenses like E. D. White’s, who essentially
shut down the middle of the field. Winnfield would likely have to get outside of the Cardinals to whip them, but even Cardinal
Head Coach LeJune was in awe of the Tiger offense. He told The Enterprise, “Winnfield
runs the Veer offense as well as anyone in the state, regardless of classification.”
Unlike Winnfield, one of the strong points of the E. D. White team was their kicking game. Their placekicker had kicked
field goals in each of the Cardinals’ playoff games, including a game-winning boot the week before.
Tiger team left Winnfield one day before the game and the remainder of the Tiger followers followed suit the following morning.
But, the entire contingent would have to spend one more night than they had planned in Cajun country as torrential rains on
game day left the playing surface unplayable. As a result, the Tiger team, fans and supporters stayed over and faced E. D.
White in a rare Saturday night game to decide which team would earn the right to travel to the Louisiana Superdome to compete
for the Class AA state title.
The one day layover meant that the team had to stay one more day in a strange place or it gave them one more day to
acclimate to the “foreign” environment. Whatever the case, the first half of the game wasn’t something anyone
ever imagined would happen in a semifinal football game.
If there is one advantage that is almost impossible
to defend against that advantage is team speed. Superior size and strength are valuable assets, but even those qualities can
be overcome with speed. Give a team an advantage with speed and you usually have a team who wins football games. The Tigers
had seen that all season long, running up and down the field like touchdowns were supposed to be made from 30+ yards away.
Up to the E. D. White game, the Tigers had already scored 30 touchdowns that had covered 30 yards or more. That was all due
to superior speed. To get some idea of how impressive that is, here are the total number of touchdowns of 30 yards or more
scored by other great Tigers teams who had played prior to the 1982 season:
But, the 1982 team could still add to their total as they potentially had two more games to play. In all actuality,
those who followed the Tigers were on the verge of seeing some of the most explosive football ever shown by a Tiger football
Garlon Powell got the game going with a 27-yard kickoff return that got out to the Winnfield 33-yard
line. After the Tigers moved to the 40-yard line, Thomas King and Benny Mitchell burned
the Cardinals with a 60-yard scoring pass to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead on their first possession of the night. The reception
enabled Mitchell to tie Tommy Wyatt (1959) for most TD catches in a season with 9. Powell
added the extra point to give Winnfield a 7-0 lead after only 2:17 seconds had ticked off of the clock.
defense then shut down E. D. White in only six plays forcing a punt. That set up the dangerous Winnfield punt return unit,
who Coach LeJune knew was capable of scoring. The true mark of great execution in football is executing when
a team has prepared all week to stop the very thing you are good at.
Benny Mitchell fielded the punt and headed across the field where he was met by Garlon Powell on
a criss-cross pattern. Mitchell handed the ball off to Powell at the Winnfield 20-yard line.
Powell then turned up the field and ran unscathed down the sidelines for an 80-yard touchdown run, giving
the Tigers two touchdowns; with both over 40 yards in length. Powell also booted the extra point to give
Winnfield a 14-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.
Marcel Mills got the ball back into
the hands of the Tiger offense when he intercepted a Cardinal pass and returned it to midfield. With ease, the Tigers ran
one play before Myles broke loose on a 47-yard touchdown run, followed by Powell’s
PAT to give Winnfield a 21-0 lead. Winnfield fans were beginning to think about the Louisiana Superdome at that point.
two teams exchanged punts the next time they each had the football, but it was another turnover, this one a fumble recovery
by Gary Irvin at the Winnfield 28, that stopped another E. D. White drive. Winnfield then moved straight
up the field, mainly behind the running of Perry Myles who gained 56 of the 70 yards it took to get the Tigers
to the 2-yard line. From there, Powell got his second touchdown of the night and followed that with a good
PAT kick to enable Winnfield to stake a 28-0 lead as the game neared the middle of the second quarter.
On the next
series, Winnfield got their third turnover of the night when Myles intercepted a pass and made it up to the
50-yard stripe before being downed. In what would be the final drive of the half, Winnfield moved in for a touchdown in seven
plays, with Powell getting the touchdown from 10 yards away. It was a 16-yard pass from King
to Sampson Collins that got the Tigers in scoring position. Powell made it a perfect 5 of
5 for the half for extra point conversions when he kicked the Tiger’s 35th point of the half. Coming as it did against
a quality opponent in the semifinal round of the playoffs, the five-touchdown first half outburst was one of the most impressive
halves of football in Tiger football history.
E. D. White went into the locker room not only knowing they would have to score five touchdowns to get back into the
game, but that they would have to score five touchdown s only if they could find a way to stop Winnfield. Either
prospect was enough to demoralize any football team.
In the third quarter, the Cardinals did neither, as they failed to score and Winnfield added two more touchdowns. The
first came on a 71-yard run by Thomas King on the Tigers first offensive series of the second half and the
other came on a 45-yard pass from King to Benny Mitchell. Powell added PAT’s after
one of those touchdowns to give Winnfield a 48-0 lead. Mitchell’s touchdown catch gave him 10 touchdown
receptions for the year, one more than the school record set by Tommy Wyatt during the 1959 season.
was all of the touchdowns the Tigers got in the game but it wasn’t all of the scoring. Late in the third quarter, Coach
Moreau began substituting freely and even the Tiger second-team defense got points for the Tigers when Doug
Lawrence tackled the E. D. White quarterback in the end zone for a safety. That made the score 50-0, the most points
a Tiger football team had ever scored in a playoff game.
The Cardinals averted a shutout in the fourth
quarter when they took a punt return 75 yards for a near touchdown, as the return man was brought down near the Tiger goal
line. But, E. D. White scored on a 2-yard run and added a two-point conversion to make the final score 50-8.
42-point margin of victory was the largest such spread ever made by a Tiger team in a playoff game. The Tigers got those points
with seven touchdowns, with all but two of those covering 40 yards or more. The game was a highlight film of the Veer offense.
Sitting among the many individuals in the stands that night was the coaching staff from John Curtis Christian
School. John Curtis had won their semifinal playoff game the night before, so they got a first-hand look at their opponent
in the following weeks title game. What those coaches saw was more team speed than they were accustomed to seeing. Each of
the Tigers primary speedsters had touchdowns that covered 40 yards or more, with Powell scoring 3 total touchdowns
and Mitchell, Myles and King getting one touchdown each.
Perry Myles led all rushers
with 142 yards in only 12 carries. He was followed by Garlon Powell who had 72 yards rushing in 9 carries
and Thomas King who had 59 yards in 5 carries. King also completed 3 of 7 passes for 114
yards. The Tiger defense limited E. D. White to only 123 total yards.
By erupting for 50 points against E. D. White,
the 1982 team pushed their points scored for the season to 571 points. That was 11 points more than the school’s scoring
leader, the 1978 team, had scored in the same number of games. With one more game to play, the 1982 team would only add to
that record total. On the other hand, the Winnfield program had sent two of its highest scoring teams to a title game and
had not scored a point in either of those championship games (1971 and 1976).
No coach or team enters a season with a goal of just reaching the state title game. Goals like “winning
the state crown” or even “winning a district title” are often cited as goals. Even “making the playoffs”
is an oft cited goal, but there must be something superstitious about saying “we would be tickled to just make the title
game.” Inwardly, most coaches and players would love to “just” make the title game. That’s
because most coaches and players have never played in a game with the state championship on the line, so “just getting
there” is a rarity indeed and is an opportunity most players and coaches will never have.
By the 1982 season,
the Louisiana High School Athletic Association had been conducting state title games since 1921, a period of 62 years. In
that time, only 147 high schools had ever competed in a title game in football. And, if that number seems large, that actually
represents less than one-fifth of the high schools who competed in football during that time period, as more than 750 high
schools had fielded a football team in that span.
For nearly half of the schools who had competed
in a title game it was a onetime occurrence, because by the 1982 season only 79 high schools had competed in multiple title
games. In the case of Winnfield Tiger football, this would be the third appearance in a title game, making them one of only
51 schools statewide who had appeared in three or more championship games. That represented less than 7% of all schools who
had ever competed in football.
The numbers are even more impressive when you examine the recent accomplishments of the Winnfield Tiger football program.
Winnfield Tiger football first competed on the playing field for a state championship during the 1971 season
and followed that up five seasons later with their second appearance. Thus, the 1982 championship game appearance marked the
third title game appearance in a twelve-year period. In that same time span, there were only six other schools statewide who
had made as many or more appearances. Joining Winnfield with three title game appearances between 1971 and 1982 were University
High School (1971, 1974, 1982), Southern Lab (1977, 1980, 1982) and Lutcher High School (1973, 1975, 1978). The two schools
that had made four appearances in title games in that same time span included Second Ward (1971, 1972, 1975, 1976) and St.
Augustine (1971, 1975, 1978, 1979). But, the one school who made the most title game appearances between 1971 and 1982 was
John Curtis Christian School who had competed in seven state championship games between 1971 and 1982. They had appeared in
every Class AA title game between 1975 and 1982 except the 1978 game. Nevertheless, the Winnfield Tiger football program was
one of the most successful high school football programs in the state in the 1970s and early 1980s.
you are going to compete in a state championship game and win a state title, you might as well do it against the best. Winnfield
would have that opportunity because John Curtis was one of the premier programs in the state. There was no
program in the state who had more success on the football field since 1975. During the previous seven years, John Curtis had
won five state titles and lost one. One of their victims in two of those state title games was Jonesboro-Hodge, who had lost
the 1977 game by a score of 45-0 and the 1980 game by a 21-3 margin.
Though John Curtis Christian School had only
been competing in football since the late 1960s, the five state titles they had won was good enough to place them 5th on the
all-time list for championship trophies earned, trailing only Istrouma (9), Tallulah (9), Byrd (7) and Jesuit-NO (7). Curtis’
five titles tied them with Haynesville, Neville and Minden. But, of the teams who had competed in at least three state title
games (which included schools like Haynesville, Ruston, Istrouma, Byrd and others) only one school had a higher winning percentage,
that school being Hahnville High School who was 3-0 in title games. Curtis’ .833 winning percentage tied them with Neville
High School for second highest winning percentage among schools who had competed in three or more title games. In contrast,
Winnfield, who was about to play in their third championship game, needed a win to avoid tying DeQuincy and St. Edmund (each
with 0-3 records in title games) for the lowest winning percentage among schools who had competed in three or more title games.
1975, the John Curtis program had an overall record of 114-7-1. Only three of those losses had come against schools playing
in the same classification or lower as John Curtis. In the 1980s, John Curtis was 43-1-0 with their lone loss being a loss
earlier in the 1982 season to Class 4A Bogalusa. Curtis came into the 1982 championship game as the holder of the Class AA
crown for each of the previous three years. By reaching the title game in 1982, Curtis joined Ferriday High School, Sulphur
High School and Tallulah High School as the only schools to ever play in four consecutive championship games.
Curtis’ three consecutive title game wins matched Istrouma (1953-1957) and Tallulah (1932-1934) for consecutive wins
and was one win shy of the mark set by Ferriday High School (1953-1956), for most consecutive championships won. History would
show that John Curtis would also compete in the state championship game the next six years after the 1982 game and would win
the state title in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Thus, the 1982 game was sandwiched between six state championship wins by Curtis -
three prior to the 1982 season and three after, meaning that if Curtis won the 1982 game they would have won seven straight
championship trophies, nearly double the previous record.
John Curtis Christian School was led by Head
Coach John Curtis, Jr., son of school founder John Curtis, Sr. He had led Curtis to all
7 of their title game appearances, placing him second on the all-time list for title game appearances by a coach, trailing
only James Brown, who guided Istrouma to 8 title games during the 1950s and early 1960s. Curtis’
five title game wins were also the second most by a coach, tying Gernon Brown who led Jesuit of New Orleans
to five state championships. James Brown held the record by winning all eight championship games he competed
Tiger football program had been declared state champions during the 1919 season when they had no takers for an end-of-the-season
game to determine the state champion. That squad went 7-0-0, playing two years before the Louisiana High School Athletic Association
was formed and before a playoff format was adopted to determine the state champion. The 1982 team was the third Winnfield
Tiger team to compete in an L.H.S.A.A. sanctioned title game, placing the program in a tie for 31st for most title game appearances.
Included in the group tied in 31st place along with Winnfield were Lutcher, Jesuit-Sp, Southern Lab, University, Hahnville
and Covington. Among the schools who had competed in more title games than Winnfield were the leaders Byrd, Tallulah, Jesuit-NO,
each with 12 title game appearances as well as schools like Istrouma (11), Haynesville (8) Neville (7),
Ruston (6) and Jonesboro-Hodge (4).
One mark of a good football program is one where multiple coaches take the school to a title game. That is not to take
anything away from school like Neville who had appeared in 7 championship games with two coaches (Bill Ruple
and Charlie Brown) or John Curtis Christian School who had appeared in all 7 of their title games with only
one coach. But, when different coaches take a school to the championship games, that says a lot about the program's capacity
to succeed without the need for one, single dynamic coach. Doug Moreau was the third Winnfield Tiger coach
to guide a program to the state championship game, joining Joe Dosher (1971) and Larry Dauterive
(1976) in accomplishing that feat. In 1982, the Winnfield Tiger football program joined Jennings High School and Ruston High
School as one of only 24 schools in the state who had been led to a state championship game by three or more coaches. That
same year, Chick Childress at Ruston and Ronnie Chaumont at Jennings took their 1982 squads
to the championship game, becoming the third coaches at those respective schools to accomplish that feat. The 1982 championship games for all classes would be played in the Louisiana Superdome.
Billed the LHSAA-Lions State Football Championship Classic, the 1982 games marked only the second time all championship games
had been played in the Superdome. Prior to that, all championship games had been played in the local high school stadiums.
The relocation of all state championship games to the Louisiana Superdome was not accomplished without criticism. The critics
argued that football needed to be played out-of-doors, on natural grass and in high school football stadiums. For some, the
cavernous Superdome took away from the atmosphere you can only get at a high school stadium. But for others, the relocation
of the championship games had not come soon enough. Under the original format, all four classes played for the state championship
on the second Saturday in December. The AA game began at 11:00 a.m., followed by the Class AAA game, a late afternoon A game
and the 4A game as the nightcap. For die-hard high school football fans, that allowed them to feast on day-long championship
high school football and watch the title games of all four classes on the same field. By playing games in the Superdome, no
team enjoyed a home field advantage, though New Orleans area schools certainly had the advantage of sleeping in their own
beds the night before such an important game. One final argument to support the playing of games in the Superdome was the
relatively ideal playing conditions that the Superdome offered, what with a constant 72 degree temperature and an absolute
guarantee that the playing surface would be dry.
Followers of Winnfield Tiger football could certainly side with the rationale that the Superdome offered ideal playing
conditions. One of the most disappointing losses in Winnfield Tiger football came in the 1971 title game. That Tiger team
faced virtually all of the elements that backers of the Superdome Classic argued against. For starters the 1971 team had to
travel more than 300 miles to a place most players had never been to. The 1971 team would have to overcome the home field
advantage that their opponent, the South Lafourche Tarpons, enjoyed. That advantage not only included playing on their home
field but also playing before a hometown crowd that numbered over 8,000 in local fans. But, one of the major factors that
played a decisive role in the outcome of that game was the condition of the field. Like the 1982 team, the 1971 team had relied
on its overall team speed to roll over 13 straight opponents. Winnfield came into the 1971 title game with a decided advantage
in overall team speed, while South Lafourche held an advantage in overall team size. The one thing that would neutralize Winnfield’s
team speed was a wet field and that’s exactly what the team faced as they played on a field that had standing water
on it at game time and turned into a quagmire as the game wore on. In contrast, the 1982 team came into
their championship game boasting one of the fastest set of skill players in the state. The fast track of the Louisiana Superdome
guaranteed that Winnfield could unleash that speed on John Curtis Christian School. Though Winnfield players and fans had
a long way to travel, and the team would have to adjust to playing not only on an artificial surface but also and to indoor
football game, Coach Moreau and his crew of assistants could prepare a game plan without having to worry
about field conditions.
But, any coach preparing for a state title game has plenty to worry about. John Curtis began their quest to win four
straight state championships with a young team. That was particularly true on offense where only one starter returned. But,
the players of John Curtis were drilled in the Patriot Veer offense from the time they reached the 7th grade until they played
varsity football. The proficiency of the John Curtis offense had been demonstrated in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs
when John Curtis faced a Teurlings Catholic team who had not been scored on in the 12 games they had played during the 1982
season. Curtis posted four touchdowns against that Teurlings team.
John Curtis used a lot of misdirection, but
like Winnfield they relied on a lot of option plays. Also like Winnfield, Curtis preferred to run the football, though they
were more than capable of throwing the football. Patriot junior Quarterback Randy Becnell had thrown for
just under 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns during the season. But, the bread and butter of the John Curtis offense was their
running game where they had three running backs, all sophomores, who had combined to gain close to 2,000 rushing yards. None
of those would make anyone’s All-State team, rather, each were run interchangeably through the Patriot offense, with
Richard Parker being the team’s leading rusher with 850 yards. Those backs were fronted by a young
offense line that was led by senior tackle Tom Boyer (6' 0", 245 lbs.) But, what had gotten John Curtis back to the title game was their experience-laden
defense. That group was led by a pair of senior linebackers in Darren Malbrough (6' 2", 235 lbs.) and
Troy Wetzel (6' 2", 205 lbs.). The defensive backfield fielded two of the best secondary men in the
state in senior John Paul Young (6' 1", 185 lbs.) and Eddie Tourelle (6' 1", 180
lbs.), also a senior.
Patriot head Coach John Curtis, Jr. had seen the Winnfield offense first hand as he had attended the
Winnfield semifinal game. Though Curtis had seen Winnfield explode for 50 points the previous week, in an
interview with The Enterprise he expressed more concern about his team’s chances of moving the football
against the Winnfield defense. He particularly focused his comments on the Winnfield defensive front. On the other hand, Curtis
stated that the Tiger victory over E. D. White was as awesome a display as he had seen by a high school team.
game time, the Tigers were playing in front of a crowd estimated at 16,000, the largest crowd to ever witness
a Winnfield Tiger football game. Approximately 3,000 of those were from Winnfield, while no more than that were associated
with John Curtis Christian School. The nature of the Superdome Classic event as it were enabled high school football from
across the state to descend on the Crescent City, swelling the crowds at the state title games. By comparison, the 1971 title
game the Tigers played in Galliano, Louisiana drew approximately 10,000 and the 1976 title game in Stokes-Walker Stadium had
approximately 6,000 in attendance.
Winnfield began the day by winning the coin toss and electing to receive the football. The Tigers got a decent return,
getting the ball up to their own 32-yard line. If ever there is a time of a game that has everyone’s attention, that
time would be the opening minutes of a game. How well each team has prepared is often revealed in those opening possessions.
only took Winnfield four plays to move to the Curtis 35 yard line. Then, after King tripped while dropping
back on first down, he failed to connect with tight end Chester Brinson on second down, setting up a third
and 14 from the 39. Coach Moreau then had Thomas King go to the airways, and he was successful
in completing a 10-yard pass to Sampson Collins at the Curtis 29-yard line. Collins coughed
up the football just after the catch, but the ball bounced rolled on the carpet for a few precious moments before nearby
Garlon Powell scooped up the ball, broke a tackle at the Curtis 19 and sprinted into the end zone. Powell
also booted the extra point to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead at the 9:19 mark of the first quarter. If there was any question
as to whether the Winnfield offense could move the ball against the Patriot defense, that had been answered somewhat by the
7-play, 68-yard drive.
When Curtis got the ball for the first time they appeared to be just as capable of moving the ball as Winnfield. They
held the ball for ten plays, moving to a fourth and three at the Winnfield 26-yard line. However, the Winnfield defense stuffed
Curtis on their fourth down conversion attempt, taking over on the Tiger 24-yard line.
Winnfield came into the game predicted by some sportswriters to be a 9-point underdog to Curtis. But, a touchdown on
the Tigers first series and a key defensive stop by the Tiger defense on their first series gave Winnfield confidence early
in the game - just the kind of start Moreau wanted.
That all set the stage for one of the most
dramatic moments of the entire season. Winnfield began their second series on their own 26 yard line. On the first play of
that series, Thomas King rolled down the left side of the offensive line, with the option of pitching the
ball or keeping it himself. He choose the later. The only man near King when he turned the ball up the field
was the right defensive end for Curtis, who was covering Winnfield’s pitch man, and was thus way out of position to
stop King. Therefore, King got into the clear quickly. He wasn’t met by a Curtis defender
until he was ten yards down the field. At that point, King faked a cut to his right, which temporarily froze
the Curtis defender. Just as quickly, King cut to his left, headed to the sidelines and was already past
all of the Curtis secondary by the time he reached the 40 yard line. One Curtis defender tried a desperation shoe-string tackle
at mid-field but he only grazed King’s feet. The lone Curtis player who had a shot at King
was coming across the field and appeared to have an angle on King. However, just as that defender was in
a position to make a tackle at the 40 yard line, King slowed just enough to cause that Curtis defender to
sail by him. After that, King went the remainder of the distance untouched. The score came at the 4:19 mark
of the first quarter. Just that quick Winnfield appeared not only be every bit the equal of John Curtis, but Winnfield’s
speed seemed to clearly be superior to that of Curtis’. The Superdome floor was being kind to Winnfield. After King’s
dramatic run, Garlon Powell added the extra point to give Winnfield a 14-0 lead.
touchdown run was tied for the third longest scoring run by a Tiger quarterback. The longest touchdown runs made by Tiger
quarterbacks during the twentieth century include the following list. It is interesting to note that King's
name is listed four times on that list and that only three of the eleven runs have come by quarterbacks other than Thomas
King, Mike Tinnerello or Greg Powell.
Scoring Run by a Tiger Quaterback
99 yds. Tony
Abron vs. Caldwell (1984)
75 yds. Mike
Tinnerello vs. Jena (1961)
74 yds. Thomas
King vs. John Curtis (1982)
Greg Powell vs. E. D. White (1981)
Rod Todd vs. Ouachita (1987)
yds. Thomas King vs. Jonesboro (1982)
Thomas King vs. E. D. White (1982)
60 yds. Conrad Swilley vs. Farmerville (1952)
Mike Tinnerello vs. Ville Platte (1961)
Thomas King vs. Many (1983)
yds. Greg Powell vs. Minden (1980)
yds. Jeff Howard vs. Fair Park (1985)
Patriot head coach John T. Curtis, Jr. did not get to his seventh title game by panicking in football
games and his teams always played with poise and discipline. On the other hand, at the time, the next Curtis series appeared
to be a significant one. A touchdown on that possession would put the Patriots right back in the football game, while another
failure to score would only add to the Tiger's growing confidence.
Curtis received the kickoff and only got a
modest return to their own 23-yard line. After that, the Winnfield defense played a much tougher brand of football than they
had shown on Curtis’ first series, holding the Patriots to 9 yards in three plays, which prompted a Curtis punt.
well-drilled Curtis return team managed to keep Winnfield’s speed in check on the punt return because they forced a
fair catch on the ensuing punt, giving Winnfield the football at their own 29 yard line. Though the Curtis offense had not
gotten anything going, the Patriot defense found themselves in an even more critical position than the offense had been on
their most recent series. It was the John Curtis defense who most thought would be the key aspect of the Patriot team. The
Patriot style of play during the 1982 season had been to shut down opposing offense with a tenacious defense and win with
a couple of touchdowns. But, the Curtis defense was 0 for 2 in stopping Winnfield’s offense. During the 1982 season,
no one had run on the Curtis team like Winnfield was. But, head coach John T. Curtis was one of the best
at making adjustments during a game and especially so on the defensive side of the football.
offense came onto the field brimming with confidence. Two running plays moved the ball 15 yards up the field to the Winnfield
44, with the majority of that coming on a second down pitch to the left side of the line. Then, just like Winnfield had done
against the likes of the Ringgold’s of the football world, the Tigers ran past the Patriot defense yet again.
the first down play from the 44-yard line, Garlon Powell took a pitch from Thomas King and
took a somewhat shorter route to the outside. Many of the previous pitches strung the play out to near the sidelines, where
the ball carrier then turned the ball up the field. Powell angled for the sidelines lines just after getting
outside of the right tackle. He got an excellent block from wide receiver Sampson Collins ten yards down
the field and though Powell had to momentarily tip-toe down the sidelines to avoid the lone remaining Curtis
defender, he basically ran 56 yards untouched for a touchdown. There had never been a single moment in any of Winnfield’s
previous two title game appearances where anyone associated with the Tiger program had a feeling like they had at that moment.
That’s because there had never been a moment when either of the previous two Tiger finalists had led in a championship
game, let alone hold a first quarter 20-0 lead. Following Powell’s run, John Curtis did the first good
thing they had done all game long when they blocked Powell’s extra point attempt. After seeing Winnfield
take apart an E. D. White team in the semifinal round by scoring 50 points, and seeing the Tigers jump to a 20-0 lead with
1:27 remaining in the first quarter, many thought this game was in the bag. After all, after scoring on all three of their
first quarter possessions, it seemed as though Winnfield was going to score every time they had the football. But, this was
no ordinary program Winnfield was playing.
Curtis came storming back with two pass plays; with the first one moving Curtis from the 26 to the 40 yard line and
the second going from the Curtis 40 to the Winnfield 43. At the end of the second Curtis pass, Winnfield forced and recovered
a fumble, making that the second turnover, in what would be a turnover-filled game. The fumble came with 1:04 showing on the
first quarter clock.
Winnfield held the ball for six plays before they were forced to punt the ball back to Curtis. Virtually all of the
plays of that series were pass plays.
After Curtis took over at the Patriot 14-yard
line, they quickly moved up to the 30 yard line with a pass completion and went back to the airways on the second play of
that series. That pass was thrown over the middle and was intercepted by Winnfield at the Curtis 40 yard line. At the 10:19
mark of the second quarter, Winnfield was in complete control of the football game, having scored on three of their four possessions
and causing turnovers by way of a fumble and an interception.
King went back to pass on
first down and was blind-sided, which caused him to fumble the football. The ball rolled backwards for twenty yards, but thankfully
for Winnfield the ball was angling for the sidelines the whole time it was rolling on the Superdome carpet. Though a group
of Curtis and Winnfield players made a play for the ball, no one was able to recover the ball before it rolled out of bounds
at the Winnfield 39 yard line. That set up a second down and thirty. The Tigers did pick up 10 yards on second down and nearly
the full twenty they needed for a first down on third down, but they were not able to pick up the host yards needed to keep
the series alive on fourth down. They had dug themselves in too big of a hole with the first down fumble.
the Winnfield defense came in and shut down Curtis in three plays on their next series. The Patriots offense attempted to
run right at Winnfield with straight dives that were met by a wall of Winnfield defenders each play of that drive.
got off a booming punt and again allowed no punt return with good coverage. That put the ball in Winnfield’s hands at
the Tiger 37 yard line. Winnfield then went back to their running game and immediately picked up 20 yards on first down. However,
after reaching the Curtis 44 yard line, that drive fizzled out once the Tigers made it to the Curtis 30.
In full command
of the game with a 20-point lead and half of the second quarter to go, Winnfield got off a short punt that was downed at the
Curtis 4-yard line. With a 20-point lead, Winnfield could just as easily win this game if they played good defense the rest
of the way. By backing Curtis up against their own goal line, the Tiger defense had the comfort of knowing any sort of miscue
by the Patriot’s could lead to more Tiger points.
Curtis was too good for that. They took over the
football with just over 6:46 remaining in the half and moved the ball 96 yards in a time-consuming 15-play drive. Everyone
in the stands was watching the clock as Curtis methodically drove down the field. With under a minute to go in the half, Curtis
managed to work the ball to the Winnfield 4-yard line. For Winnfield, a 20-point halftime lead seemed a whole lot better than
the two-touchdown lead they would have if Curtis scored. But, Patriot head coach John T. Curtis knew that
one of the most important times to score is right before the half. He knew that would send his players into the locker room
with much needed confidence.
Patriot quarterback Randy Becnell
finally got John Curtis on the scoreboard when he rolled to his right, stopped and threw a 4-yard pass for a touchdown to
the left side of the end zone with 19 seconds to go in the half. The Patriots also made good on the conversion attempt to
narrow the Winnfield lead to 20-7.
Curtis’ length-of-the-field drive for a touchdown
certainly put the Patriots back into the game. With two quarters to go, this was still anyone’s ball game. Though the
game had settled down since the three-touchdown first quarter, Winnfield still had an explosive offense and a defense that
had all but closed off the middle of the field.
Everyone in the Dome knew how important the third quarter would be in this game. Winnfield could reclaim the three-touchdown
lead they had once enjoyed with a touchdown or John Curtis could move within six points of the once seemingly unstoppable
Tigers with a touchdown. At the very least, Patriot head coach John Curtis knew that if he kept the game
close he could enter the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game. That’s all any football coach wants - a chance
in the fourth quarter.
Curtis received the second half kickoff and
drove to midfield in five plays where the Tiger defense finally put a halt to that critical Patriot drive. The Tiger defense
appeared to pick up where they had left off in the first half, not allowing Curtis much running room at all on that series
and forcing a punt when John Curtis faced a 4th and long. Curtis showed good coverage on the play when they nailed Winnfield
at the Tiger 25-yard line.
Winnfield picked up a quick fifteen yards on first
down to move the 45 yard line. After that, two plays went nowhere and a third down 10-yard pass completion by King
appeared to give the Tigers a first down. However, the Tigers fumbled the ball after the reception and though Winnfield came
up with the football on the fumble they did so after the ball rolled 4 yards backwards, leaving Winnfield 1 yard shy of a
first down. Facing a fourth down near midfield, Moreau elected to punt the ball and play defense.
Winnfield got off a booming kick on the punt, sending the Curtis return man back to his own 15-yard line where he promptly
fumbled the football. Just as quickly, the Patriot return man picked up the ball and almost broke the return for a touchdown,
getting the ball to the Winnfield 40 before he was downed. However, Curtis was called for clipping on the return and the ball
was returned all the way back to the 7-yard line.
John Curtis struck like lightening when they completed
a pass to get out of that hole and were in possession of the ball at the Winnfield 40 yard line before the Tiger defense could
catch their breath. From there, the Patriots ran fourth straight dives which moved the ball to the Winnfield 26. It had been
the best drive of the game for Curtis. However, just when it appeared John Curtis was about to get right back in the football
game they started self-destructing. On first down, Curtis mishandled a pitch and lost 8 yards on the scramble for the fumble,
which they recovered. The next two plays netted 10 yards, setting up a 4th down and eight from the Winnfield 24. Curtis elected
to go for it all on fourth down when they passed into the end zone, but the Tiger secondary batted down the football to preserve
the two touchdown lead.
After the big stop, the Winnfield offense only ran
three plays before they were forced to punt. That meant that Winnfield had only run six plays in the third quarter. What is
more important, that meant that Winnfield’s offense had gone four straight series without making a single first down.
The Curtis defense appeared to have the Tiger option figured out, but they still had to find a way to get two touchdowns.
After the second Winnfield punt of the second half, Curtis took possession at their own 36-yard line. Two plays netted
7 yards, setting up a 3rd and 3 from their own 43. On the final play of the third quarter, Curtis bolted 15 yards for a first
down to the Winnfield 45-yard line.
The Tiger defense dropped Curtis for a 2-yard loss
on first down, setting up a 2nd and 12 from the Winnfield 44. Becnell then completed a 22-yard pass to move
the Patriots to the Winnfield 22. From there, Curtis got 7 yards on first down and when the pile cleared, Winnfield’s
linebacker Marcel Mills still lay on the Dome carpet. He sustained a broken arm on the play, forcing his
removal from the game. Winnfield would have play the decisive fourth quarter without the services of their leading tackler.
Curtis took immediate advantage of the loss, sweeping right and running 15 yards for a touchdown on the next play.
They also converted their extra point to make the score 20-14. With 10:25 remaining in the game, the Winnfield offense going
nowhere, and Tiger linebacker Marcel Mills out of the game with a broken arm, Curtis appeared to have Winnfield
on the ropes. In spite of the explosive first quarter, this became a game where either team could win or lose the game in
the final ten minutes. Winnfield no longer had a lead they could rest on. They needed points. But, most of all Winnfield needed
to play defense, because they had lost virtually all of the momentum they had once enjoyed, though they were still leading
In the high risk Veer offense, mistakes are common. That had already been proven by both teams who had already combined
to fumble the football nearly a dozen times. Fundamentals of the game thus came into play when Winnfield received the Curtis
kickoff and began play at their own 29. The first order of business was to hold on to the football, with the second priority
to move out of their end of the field. Finally, any sort of points would give the Tigers needed breathing room, but those
who understood football were looking to see whether Winnfield could accomplish the first two.
picked up 13 yards on a first down pass. King kept the ball on a option on the next play and broke a big
running play past midfield. Just as King was being brought down, Curtis forced a fumble at their own 45.
A huge scramble for the football forced the ball out of bounds at the Curtis 38, with Winnfield remaining in possession of
the football. It takes skill and it takes luck to win state championships. Winnfield had enjoyed both in this game.
As if to further prove that point, King also kept the ball on the next play and was about to break
into a section of the field totally devoid of any Curtis defenders when the Curtis defensive end dove and just tripped up
King at the line of scrimmage. Had that tackle not been made, King only had one man to beat
to the goal line and that one back was ten yards down the field and being harassed by Sampson Collins.
The Curtis defense allowed Winnfield nothing after that, forcing Winnfield into a fourth and ten from the 38-yard line.
Coach Moreau sent in his punting team in hopes of pinning Curtis against their own goal line. Winnfield got
off a short kick, but that enabled the Tigers to down the ball without a return at the Curtis 23 yard line. There was 8:16
showing on the game clock.
When the Curtis offense came onto the field, they took
possession of the football for the first time with a chance to take the lead in the game. They were still playing catch up,
but a touchdown and extra point would give the Patriots their first lead of the contest.
netted only 5 yards on their first two plays, but on 3rd and 5 the Patriots broke a 17-yard run for a first down. However,
turnovers continued to plague John Curtis and the “game of inches” was yet again realized at the end of that play.
Just as the Curtis ball carrier was nearing the sidelines at the end of his big run, the ball popped into the air and was
caught by a Winnfield defender, who just managed to keep two feet in bounds before coming down with the football. Yet another
Curtis fumble gave the ball back to Winnfield. With only 6:45 showing on the clock, that would prove to be one of the key
plays of the game.
On first down, Powell ran for 13
yards to the Curtis 32 but was forced from the game with leg cramps. The Tigers then went to the Curtis 15 on the next play
and the explosive Tiger offense appeared to be back on track. But, the Curtis defense stiffened as Perry Myles
ran three straight times for 8 yards, setting up 4th and 2 at the Curtis 7-yard line. Coach Moreau called
time out to think over his options and to give Garlon Powell more time to recover his legs. Though Winnfield’s
kicking game had been shaky all season long and Tiger kicker Garlon Powell was struggling with leg cramps,
Moreau elected to attempt a 25-yard field goal which would give him a 9-point lead. Powell
came onto the field never having kicked or even attempted a field goal in a game situation. But, he faced the pressure-packed
situation like a seasoned veteran when he booted the ball through the uprights. That gave Winnfield a 23-14 lead with 4:22
remaining in the game and what seemed like a whole lot of breathing room. The feeling that Winnfield fans had enjoyed throughout
the first quarter returned.
But, this game was still far from over. Curtis took
the kickoff and got an excellent return to their own 47-yard line. Then, as if to silence the increasingly boisterous Winnfield
crowd, Curtis completed a 43-yard pass play on first down to move to the Winnfield 8. From there, the Winnfield defense yielded
only 4 yards to Curtis on their first two running plays. Then, on 3rd and goal from the 4, Gary Irvin sacked
the Curtis quarterback for a loss of 11 yards, moving the ball back to the Winnfield 15. Needing two scores, head coach J.
T. Curtis attempted a 33-yard field goal with 2:42 remaining but the kick sailed wide.
that Winnfield was about to win a state championship began to spread throughout the sidelines and stands. Winnfield took over
on its own 20 and no one from Winnfield was sitting as the Tiger offense simply wanted to run out the clock. Winnfield did
keep the ball for six plays, accomplishing most of what they wanted to do by taking the ball to midfield and running off all
but a minute on the clock before being forced to punt.
over and ran three plays before the clock ran out on the Patriot’s bid for a fourth consecutive state championship.
Winnfield thus became the 1982 AA State Champions.
Winnfield was the first school in Class AA, other
than John Curtis, to hold the state crown in four years. Winnfield became only the second team to defeat John Curtis in the
1980s and ended up being the only team to defeat John Curtis in the playoffs between 1979 and 1985. The Tigers essentially
kept John Curtis from winning seven straight championships.
people, Winnfield had played a spoiler role, but Coach Moreau wasn't one of those people. He said after the
game that the better team had won. Specifically, he told The Enterprise that the game pitted two evenly
matched teams and the team that played the best won the game. Moreau said that the team downplayed the fact
that they were playing John Curtis and instead just lined up and played football.
two teams were evenly matched from a statistical standpoint. Winnfield had 15 first downs to John Curtis’ 16. Winnfield
had an edge in rushing yards, getting 270 yards to Curtis’ 198. But, the Patriots had almost double the amount of passing
yards of Winnfield, getting 207 yards in the air to Winnfield’s 107. Curtis attempted and completed twice as many passes,
as they threw 22 passes and completed 12. Winnfield tried 12 passes and completed 6. Neither team threw an interception, but,
the two teams combined for a state title game record 12 fumbles. That record stood throughout the remainder of the 20th century.
Though Winnfield only lost one fumble and Curtis only lost two, those fumbles played a big role in determining the outcome
of the game.
For Winnfield, a fumble at the end of a pass play on their first series of the night was turned into a touchdown, so
the play had the same effect as a hook and lateral. But, the Tigers next two fumbles were critical. The only fumble Winnfield
lost all game long came on their fourth series. After scoring each of their first three series and moving to the Curtis 20
on the fourth series, Winnfield coughed up the football and the complexion of the whole game changed after that. Winnfield
offense went into hibernation the remainder of the second quarter. On Winnfield first possession of the second half, the Tigers
converted a key third down play only to lose ground on another fumble. Though the Tigers recovered that fumble, the turnover
effectively stopped that drive.
Curtis fumbled the ball the first time they really
got anything going on offense. The turnover came early in the second quarter when the Patriots were already three touchdowns
behind. But, it was the two fumbles that Curtis lost that were their biggest killers. While trying to play catch up late in
the third quarter, it was a fumble that halted one Curtis drive. But the biggest Curtis turnover of the game came midway through
the fourth quarter. Curtis had just scored to move within six points of Winnfield. After the Curtis defense shut down Winnfield,
the Patriot offense came onto the field with their first opportunity to take the lead in the game. The situation was made
even more critical for Curtis because there were only eight minutes to go in the game. Though the Patriots began a modest
drive, it was a fumble that not only forced Curtis to give up possession of the football, but it was Winnfield who took advantage
of the recovery inside of Curtis territory to gain some breathing room. After recovering the final Curtis fumble, Winnfield
moved into position to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter which enabled them to take 9 point lead into the final four
minutes of the game.
Individual leaders for the game were Garlon
Powell, the games leading rusher, with 137 yards in 12 carries. Thomas King had 67 yards in 8 carries
and Perry Myles was held to 66 yards in 17 carries. For John Curtis, their leading rusher was Richard
Parker who had 99 yards in 18 carries. Behind him was Danny Michael who got 67 yards in 14 carries
and quarterback Randy Bicnel who had 66 yards in 11 carries. Becnell attempted 21 passes
and completed 12 for all of Curtis’ 207 passing yards.
six pass completions, all made by Thomas King, went to Garlon Powell (2 for 51 yards), Kevin
Collins ( 2 for 28 yards) and Benny Mitchell (2 for 28 yards). The leading receiver of the game
was Curtis’ senior wide receiver Frank LaBiche, who had 7 catches for 166 yards.
The only way to fully appreciate the win is to view it as the fulfillment of a dream and the culmination of a lot of
hard work. It was the dream of the players of the 1982 team to win a state title and they did just that. But, the dream of
winning a state championship had been shared by every player who had played football for Winnfield, so the win was one that
was a fulfillment of the collective dreams of anyone associated with Winnfield Tiger football.
the win also was the culmination of a lot of hard work. The only teams who go home happy each year are those who win a state
title. So, the win capped a year’s worth of preparation and drive for the players and coaches of the 1982 team. But,
it was more than that. The win culminated three years of work for the senior players, who had seen the Tigers miss out on
the 1980 playoffs, and come oh-so-close to the title game in 1981, losing out in the semifinals after posting 11 straight
wins. But even that was too short sighted. Beginning with the 1978 season, Winnfield Tiger football dominated district opponents
and had taken their place among the elite teams of Class AA. Between 1978 and 1982, Winnfield only lost one district game
and posted an overall record of 55-8-0. Half of those losses were to teams playing in classifications higher than Winnfield,
including Neville (twice), Minden and Pineville. Three of the other four losses came in the playoffs, with the loss to Mansfield
during the 1980 season being the only regular season game Winnfield lost to a Class AA opponent. Between 1978 and 1982, Winnfield
reached the playoffs four times; reaching the quarterfinals once, the semifinals twice and capping that time-period with the
state championship. All of that success does not come easy. Programs are built by hard work and the success of one team carries
over to the next. The recent success in the Tiger football program certainly contributed to the win. But, the road to the
1982 state title certainly went further back than the 1978 season. The 1982 title game was the third attempt by a Winnfield
Tiger team to win a state title game since the 1971 season. The wounds of the 1971 and 1976 losses in title games were healed
somewhat by the 1982 win. The win was also the culmination of a 25-year period that began in 1957, the first year that a Winnfield
team ever won a district championship in football and the first year that a Winnfield team ever played in a playoff game.
That period saw Winnfield compete in the playoffs 15 of 25 years. During that 25-year period, Winnfield Tiger football was
thrust into a statewide spotlight with the emergence of championship football started by Hoss Newman, propelled
forward by Tommy Bankston and carried on by Joe Dosher, Jerry Bamburg, Larry Dauterive
and Doug Moreau
an individual high school football team succeeds, the whole program succeeds. That includes those who have
helped build the program and those who are yet to contribute to the building of the program. The 1982 team earned their state title with record-breaking
performances and success against the top teams in Class AA. A selection of some of the records set by the 1982 team include:
Highest Winning Pct.
Largest Margin of Victory (Playoffs)
42 pts. vs. E. D. White 35
pts.vs. McCall (‘81)
Most Pts. Scored (Season) 594
Most Pts. Scored (Game)
Tied modern day record set in 1978
Scored (Game-Playoffs) 50
45 (1979 vs. Delhi)
Most Pts. Scored (Total Playoffs)
Most Touchdowns (Season)
Most Touchdowns (Game)
10 vs. Ringgold
8 vs. Coushatta (1978)
Most Total Yards
Most Rushing Yards
Points Scored (Season) 166 - Garlon Powell
130 - John W. Williams
TD's By Rush
(Season) 23 - Perry Myles
16 - Ricky Chatman ('79)
TD's By Rush
(Career) 42 - Perry Myles 29-Ricky
Total TD's (Season)
23 - Perry Myles & 21
- John W. Williams (‘71)
Total TD's (Career)
43 - Perry Myles 35
- Jeffery Dale
TD's By Reception (Season)
10 - Benny Mitchell 9
- Tommy Wyatt (1959)
TD's By Reception (Career)
15 - Benny Mitchell
13 - Wayne Wood
Highest Rushing Avg. - Game
39.5 - Garlon Powell
23.14 - Jeffery Dale
158 yds. - 4 carries
162 yds. - 7 carries
There were other individual performances that while they didn't set new school records, they represented the one of
the highest ever attained by an individual player. Those included:
1982 Player (rank)
1,557 - Perry Myles (2)
1,577 - Nathan Johnson
1,314 - Garlon Powell (3)
1,169 - Thomas King (3) 1,607
- Steve Adams
- Benny Mitchell (2) 1,092 - Terry
23 - Benny Mitchell (3)
39 - Terry Joey Ramsey
10 - Thomas King (5)
24 - Steve Adams
Returns for a TD (Career) 5 - Benny
Mitchell (2) 6 - John
Punt Returns for a TD (Season)
3 - Benny Mitchell (2)
5 - John W. Williams
164 - Marcel Mills (2)
166 - Lionel Johnson
Points Scored (Season) 144 - Perry Myles
(2) 166 - Garlon
In the most prolific scoring year in Tiger football history, credit must be given to every player who participated
in the 594 point scoring outburst. Those players included:
166 (Highest of all-time)
144 (Second highest of all-time)
Benny Mitchell 90 (Sixth highest of all-time)
Thomas King 60
Tony Abron 30
David Foster 27
Marcel Mills 20
Darrell Smith 12
Raymond Durbin 7
Sampson Collins 6
Andrew Riggs 6
Doug Lawrence 2
Make no mistake
about it, Winnfield had superstar talent and that helped guide the team to the state title. But, few teams win a state title
on the merits of a few good players. This was a team who jelled to become championship caliber. The season can be viewed three
phases. The first phase involved the non-district schedule, where the team began the season an incomplete unit and that showed
in the first two games of the season when the defense, who was expected to be the most stable force of the team, allowed 73
points. The Tigers lost the first of those games to Neville, but the Tiger offense hung in there in a scoring battle against
Pineville in the second game of the season to pull out a one point win in a scoring battle. The team seemed to come together
against the pesky Parkway bunch in a close battle on the 4A schools home turf. But, the non-district portion of the schedule
was concluded with an exclamation point when the Tigers completely dismantled the 3A Jena Giants by a score of 78-16.
That set the stage for the second phase of the season which involved district competition. The 1982 Tigers waltzed
through district competition by a combined score of 181-13. And though that only involved three games, that was more points
than 55 of the previous 73 Tiger teams had scored in an entire season. During the Tigers three-game district stretch,
the Tiger offense was all but unstoppable, getting touchdowns on all but three of their first half possessions.
Brimming with confidence, the 1982 Tigers entered the third phase of their season, the playoffs. You could say that
any team who makes the playoffs "belongs" there, but there is a big difference between teams who are capable of
making a title run and teams who aren't. Certainly you show you belong there by winning games, but you also show you belong
by the margin of scores once you get there. Three of Winnfield’s playoff wins in 1982 came by margins of 42, 39 and
18 points, all comfortable margins of victory. In the playoffs the Tigers defeated three of the top four teams in the state.
Just because a team is defeated in the playoffs, that doesn't mean they didn't belong, and it certainly doesn't mean
the team wasn't good enough. After all, many great teams at all levels of football have failed to win it all. That also pertains
to Winnfield football. Tiger football history is littered with outstanding teams who lost key close football games that kept
the school from winning even more state titles. Both the 1923 and 1928 teams rolled over every opponent during the season
but both came within a single touchdown of securing a spot in the championship game. The 1961 team came up two touchdowns
short of defeating Tallulah in a early-round playoff game that pitted the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the state, and the 1971 team
came up 10 points shy of South Lafourche in the state title game after opening the season with thirteen consecutive wins.
Those teams showed that there is not a lot of difference between those who win a title and those who don't. But all of the
Tiger teams who had made the playoffs in the late 1970s and early 1980s showed they belonged because in most cases the team
was within a key play, a key conversion or a key break of either advancing in the playoffs or winning a title. That was particularly
true for the 1976 team who lost by only 7 points to Jesuit as the Tigers only allowed one pass completion all night, but that
pass completion went for the lone score of the game. Likewise, the undefeated 1978 team dropped a heart-breaking 1-pointer
to St. Louis in the quarter-finals to end their perfect record. But, the Tigers kept knocking at the door with the 1979 team
who were two touchdowns behind John Curtis at the end of their semifinal match up and the 1981 team who were edged by E. D.
White by 8 points one game shy of the finals. Each of those teams was just as capable of winning a state title as the teams
who won the state titles those years.
On the other
side of the coin, teams show they belong in the playoffs when they continue to blow out playoffs opponents like they did lesser
competition during the regular season. That was shown by the 1971 team who entered the playoffs with a 34-0 win over Jennings
and the 1976 team who took apart a strong Catholic team in the semifinal round by a score of 37-13. Decisive wins in the playoffs
continued with 1978, 1979 and 1981 teams who each have at least two 20-point plus margins of victory in the playoffs.
But, no Winnfield team had ever rolled over playoff caliber opposition like the 1982 team. Though the team had a two-point
nail-biter against Springhill in the second round, the other games weren't nearly that close. The team opened the playoffs
with a 39-point margin of victory over Rayville, the largest margin of victory in a playoff game by any Tiger team at the
time. They followed that up two weeks later by rolling over a Ferriday team who had only lost one game in two years and they
did it by a three-touchdown margin. The most over-powering playoff win in school history came in the semifinal round, where
games are "supposed" to be close. The Tigers bolted to a 35-point lead at halftime and ended
up taking a school record 42-point margin of victory. Even the championship game was a display of mastery by the Tiger team
when they jumped to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. These Tigers not only belonged - they showed they were the most dominant
team in Class AA. By scoring 194 points in the playoffs alone, the team scored more points against playoff caliber teams than
all but 16 of Winnfield's previous 73 teams had against all competition.
has their own theory about how you measure the greatness of a team, including the number of wins they get, how far they went
in the playoffs, the number of college signees they have, the number of players to earn post-season honors and how well the
team fared against the competition of its time. Comparing statistics of a team from one year to the next is fraught with problems,
if for no other reason than the fact that the level of competition that one team faces is different from another. The fact
of the matter is that you have to take many variables into consideration when evaluating the success of a season. But, by
any measure, the 1982 team was truly one of the greatest teams in the history of the Tiger program.
team they were. This was not a team that rode the coattails of three or four great players, though the team did have some
of the school's best players ever at the running back, wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker positions. This was a
team comprised of a collection of players who combined to garner seven spots on the first offense unit of the all-district
team, as well as seven positions on the first defensive team. Three more were added to the second offensive unit, giving the
team a total of 10 positions on the first or second offensive unit and 7 on the defensive squad. That was the most offensive
players from a Winnfield Tiger team to ever make an all-district squad and the 17 total players were the second highest number
of players from any Winnfield team to be named to an All-District team, trailing only the 1971 and 1981 teams who placed 20
players on the all-district team.
When the All-State team was announced, it should
have come as a surprise when only one Tiger, Marcel Mills, was selected to the as a first-teamer. Players
making honorable mention included offensive tackle Glen Nelson and running back Perry Myles.
In the case of Myles, he had the misfortune of playing in the same class as two of the state’s leading
rushers in Nathaniel Williams of Ferriday and Keith Woodside of Vidalia, both of whom gained
over 2,000 yards rushing in 1982. On the other hand, the sportswriters didn't favor any one team, as John Curtis also only
had three players named to the All-State team and semifinalist E. D. White only had two. All total, there were 19 schools
represented by the 35 players selected to the All-State team. The team who had the most number of players selected was Teurlings
Catholic, who had five players selected all to the first team. They were knocked out of the playoffs by John Curtis.
You could go on and on about the 1982 team. You could talk about the lightening-like strikes that the Tiger running,
passing and kicking game was capable of. You could talk about the strong defensive line, the swarming line backing corp and
the defensive secondary that came of age. But, most of all, the season could be summed up by the motto that the team wore
that said, "We Can, We Will.” The most important thing you can say about the 1982 team is that
they simply got the job done. And in doing so they brought recognition to themselves, to Winnfield Tiger football and to the
community as a whole.
Seniors: Chester Brinson, Kevin
Collins, Sampson Collins, Jess
Grigg, Jay Huckaby, Marcel Mills, Benny Mitchell, Perry Myles, Glen Nelson, Edward Pearson, Johnny Williams, Todd Wold, Calvin Durham, Kenny Crawford, Doug Lawrence
Canerday, Jay Crooks, Gary Irvin, Thomas King, Garlon Powell, Jon Zeagler
Abron, Raymond Durbin, David Foster, Randy Johnson, Jed Martin, Andrew Riggs, Darrel Smith, Clint Turner , Roger Williams Roy Williams, Rafis Brew, Randy
All-District, HM All-State
All-District, HM All-State
Sampson Collins DB/WR All-District/2nd Team
Todd Wold C
Johnny Williams DE
Chester Brinson TE
Benny Mitchell WR All-District
2nd Team All-District
2nd Team All-District
Enter content here
1983 (Overall - 9-2-0; *District - 4-0-0) “Defending State Champions” - that’s the label the
1983 team would have (get) to wear during the 1983 season. That brought instant recognition, but it also meant that every
team the Tigers faced would be trying to defeat the “defending state champion,” as if that offered a special notch
in their belt.
Tigers returned Thomas King at quarterback and Garlon Powell at running back. They also
returned three of the five starting offensive linemen, as well as All-District defensive back Randy Johnson
and Andrew Riggs in the secondary, and Gary Irvin at a defensive end slot. All the Tigers
had to do was reload, right? - Wrong! Those players made up the only returning starters on the team. The
offense would have to replace six starters and the defense would have to replace eight starters. Plus, those replacements
would have to come from underclassmen, because the 1983 team was one of the youngest Tiger teams of all time.
High school football teams need
a strong contribution from the senior class. While the 1983 team had six starters returning from the senior class, that group
made up the entire senior class. Those six seniors gave the 1983 team the smallest group of senior players in 24
years in the Tiger football program and the third smallest group since the 1920s. So, the relative youth of the team would
be a major concern heading into the new season.
Along with concerns about youth, the other related concern centered around the inexperience of the new starters. But,
many of the new starters on the 1983 team were backups the year before and therefore got to play more football than most backups
usually do. Since the Tigers had rolled over so many opponents the year before, the underclassmen on the 1982 team logged
many more minutes of playing time than most get to. In fact, the underclassmen played the second half of virtually every game
in the last half of the regular season because the 1982 team had a 40+-point third quarter lead in all of those games. So,
the degree of inexperience on this team was unlike that of any other team in Tiger history. The team had around 16 players
who lettered the season before, but only half of those had been starters. It’s one thing to play as a starter and another
thing to come in when the game is already wrapped up.
The final major concern of Coach Moreau heading into the season was the schedule his 1983 team would
play. Moreau told an Enterprise reporter that the schedule was the toughest the Tigers had faced
since he arrived at the school in 1979. That was because the team not only faced much larger schools in the non-district portion
of the schedule, but also the quality of those teams was much higher than in recent years. Start with a rematch against Neville.
Though they were the 4A runner-up the season before, they were projected to be even stronger in 1983. Winnfield would again
travel to Monroe for that match-up. Moreau added another strong 4A school, that being North Natchez, a traditionally
tough team out of Mississippi. Add those two to an improved group of teams from the AAA ranks, which included Pineville, Tioga
and Alexandria Senior High and you can see why Coach Moreau held such a high opinion of the teams he faced.
The district race would again consist of Jonesboro-Hodge, Ringgold and Many, but Coushatta would join the mix to give District
2-AA a five-team field.
Moreau came into the season with a 43-7-0 record at Winnfield, a winning percentage of .860%. Those wins moved Moreau
one ahead of Joe Dosher into third place on the all-time win list. He only needed 10 more wins to catch second
place Hoss Newman and 15 more wins to overtake Alwin Stokes, the all-time leader with 57
wins. But, Moreau’s .860 winning percentage was by far the highest winning percentage of any coach
who had ever served more than one season at Winnfield. The highest winning percentage ever posted by a coach was .900 by Zollie
Bennett, but he only served one year, going 9-1-0 during the 1928 season. Beyond him, the next highest winning percentage
was Alwin Stokes, who ended his tenure at Winnfield with a winning percentage of .775.
One of the most impressive aspects
of Moreau record was that he had won eight games during each of the four regular seasons he had been at Winnfield
to give him 24 regular season wins and 11 wins during the playoffs. That was more than double the number of playoff wins of
Larry Dauterive, who had the second highest number of playoff wins at the school with five. Moreau’s
playoff wins were more than the total wins by 9 of the 18 coaches who came before him.
didn’t accomplish that on his own and he would not have two of his most able assistants for the 1983 campaign, as two
of his assistants stepped out of coaching following the conclusion of the 1982-1983 school year. Those included Jerry
Bamburg and Joe Dosher; both of whom had been former head coaches in the Winnfield program, combining
for 47 wins in their tenures as head coach. Remaining to the Tiger staff were Tony Acosta, who would serve
as the defensive coordinator and Randy Poisso who would be in charge of the defensive backs. On the offensive
side of the ball, Moreau handled the backs and receivers, while Andy Pyles would coach the
Tigers edged Natchitoches 12-7 in the annual Jamboree, making that three consecutive wins over Natchitoches in the pre-season
jamboree and twelfth jamboree win of the past thirteen jamborees the Tigers had played in.
As was common, the defending state
champion began the year as the No. 1 team in the LSWA’s poll. The Tigers came in with 8 of 10 first place votes and
a three-point margin over John Curtis, who garnered the remaining two first place votes. The remainder of the preseason poll
consisted of Notre Dame (3), Springhill (4), E. D. White (6) and Jonesboro-Hodge (7), all familiar teams to the Tiger program,
because Winnfield had faced all of those teams in Moreau’s tenure except Notre Dame. Rounding out the
top ten were DeQuincy (8), Ferriday (9) and Vandebilt (10).
By the opening game of the regular season, Coach Moreau
had decided on the following players as his starting units:
Thomas King Sr.
Garlon Powell Sr.
Raymond Durbin Jr.
LB Randy Johnson
LB David Foster
Sr. 170 LB
Randy Whitley Jr.
G Jed Martin
CB Eugene Myles
Steve Canerday Sr.
SS Andrew Riggs
Roger Williams Jr.
Alain Jones So.
That essentially gave Coach Moreau
two complete platoons to work with. He, of course, could use Garlon Powell on the defensive side of the ball
like he had during the past two seasons, and Randy Johnson was given some early consideration at the tight
end slot. But that’s the starting lineup he would begin the season with.
Able backups included Clint Turner and Eugene Myles
in the offensive backfield, with Tony Abron backing up King at the quarterback slot. But,
it was on the defensive side of the ball where the team was the most inexperienced, so many more players were being given
a look on that side of the football. Moreau’s two-deep chart had junior Byron Curry
and sophomore Kevin Clark penciled at defensive ends slots. Playing in a reserve role across the line were
a group of juniors Sam McFarland and Charlie Holmes, while Roger Williams
could also provide duty in the defensive line if needed.
Other defensive replacements were sophomore David
Sullivan at linebacker and juniors Darren Yocum and Charles Williams at linebacker
and defensive back respectively. Garlon Powell would carry the load as the Tiger ‘s primary return
man, as well as providing extra point kicking duties. Raymond Durbin would serve as the team’s punter.
The opening game of the regular
season pitted Winnfield against Pineville in the Rebel’s Stadium. Tiger fans saw a familiar sight when Garlon
Powell got the ball on the second play of the game and raced 65 yards for a touchdown and then booted the extra point
to give Winnfield an early 7-0 lead. That was Powell's 10th touchdown run that covered 50 yards or more,
tying him with John Wayne Williams for the lead in that category. The list of the players who had the most
touchdown runs of 50 or more yards included:
Garlon Powell (1981-1983)
( 6)- rush, (1)-punt, (2)-kickoff, (1)-int.
John Wayne Williams (1970-1971) ( 2)- rush, (6) - punt, (2) -
(1980-1982) ( 5)- receiving, ( 4) - punt
Ricky Chatman (1977-1979)
( 8)- rush
Wayne Wood (1965-1967)
( 3)- recpt., (1) - punt, (1) - fum.
Robbie Richards (1967-1969)
( 2)- rush, ( 2) - receiving, (1) - fum.
Jeffery Dale (1978-1980)
( 3)-rush, ( 2) - punt
( 2)- recpt., (1) - kickoff, (1) - int.
game was filled with errors in the form of fumbles and penalties over the course of the remainder of the first half. It was
also poor execution by Pineville on their first punt of the night that lead to more points for Winnfield when Clint
Turner blocked the Pineville punt for a safety to raise the score to 9-0.
That is the way the score stood until late in the first half when Pineville downed a short punt at the Winnfield 30-yard
line. The Rebels took advantage of that good field position when they covered that distance in five plays to score their first
touchdown of the game. However, the PAT was missed, leaving the score 9-6, which held up until half.
Pineville got back into the ball game when they returned the
opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards for a touchdown. Though they missed the extra point, they claimed their first
lead of the game by moving ahead by a 12-9 margin.
responded with a scoring drive that was capped by a 36-yard scoring toss from Thomas King to Rafis
Brew. That and Powell's second PAT of the night enabled Winnfield to reclaim the lead at 16-12.
That is how the score stood until
the end of the fourth quarter. Both teams moved up and down the field in the first part of the fourth quarter but neither
could get back in the end zone. It appeared Winnfield would secure the win with a good second half defensive effort, but it
was the Pineville defense who shook things up.
With four minutes showing on the clock, Pineville intercepted a Thomas King pass and returned it 45
yards for a go-ahead touchdown. Pineville also tacked on a two-point conversion to take a 20-16 lead. That meant that Winnfield
would have the ball for one more drive and they needed a touchdown to avoid losing a game they had held the lead throughout.
The Tigers’ final series
started off about as badly as you would want a final drive. A pass on first down fell incomplete and then the bottom dropped
out. King was sacked for a 11-yard loss on second down and the Tigers were penalized five yards for an illegal
procedure before the third down play was ever gotten off. That set up a third and 26 from the Winnfield 29-yard line.
What followed was the play
of the game, when King found a wide-open Darrell Smith, who turned a third down reception
into a 58-yard gain. One minute earlier it looked as though the Tigers wouldn't even make a first down on the drive. Following
the reception, Winnfield not only had a first down, but they had the ball at the Pineville 13-yard line, with plenty of time
on the clock.
Two plays got the ball to a first and goal from the 1-yard line, where King finished off the drive
with a 1-yard plunge. That enabled Winnfield to reclaim the lead at 23-20 after Powell booted his third extra
point of the game following King's touchdown.
Pineville got the ball back with just under two minutes to go,
but they were unable to pull off a miracle similar to what Winnfield had managed on their final drive. That gave Coach
Moreau the kind of game he could build on. He could use this game to show his young team that if they worked hard
and played for four quarters anything was possible. After two straight seasons of opening-game losses to Neville, Winnfield
finally won a season-opener. That enabled the program to extend its win streak to 14 games, two shy of the school record 16
game win-streak established between the 8th game of the 1970 season and the 13th game of the 1971 season. Garlon Powell
had one of his best rushing nights as a Tiger, getting 144 yards on 21 carries to lead the Tiger's 179 yard rushing effort.
Riggs got the remainder of the Tigers rushing yards, getting 40 yards on 6 carries. Thomas King
ended the night connecting on 4 of 8 passes for 110 yards.
Turnovers killed the Tigers, as they lost the ball twice on fumbles
and once on an interception. But that's not what concerned Coach Moreau the most after the opening game.
The Tigers came out of the Pineville game banged up. No fewer than four players sustained injuries serious enough to limit
their playing time in the coming weeks. The most serious was middle linebacker David Foster who sprained
his ankle severely enough to sideline him for at least one game. What made the injury situation significant was that all of
the injured players came off of the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Clint Turner hyper-extended
his knee, while lineman Roy Williams sustained a hip-pointer, and defensive back Tony Abron
bruised his thigh.
Despite the win, Winnfield dropped to second place in the Class AA poll. It was as if the sportswriters just had
to give John Curtis the top spot and that's what they did. Notre Dame and Springhill remained the No. 3 and No. 4 teams, but
Ferriday lead-frogged over four teams to secure the No. 5 spot, which was formerly held by E. D. White. Jonesboro-Hodge and
E. D. White were the only preseason top ten teams to lose in the opening week of the season, with Jonesboro's loss coming
to Ruston, the defending Class 4A title holders. Ruston defeated Jonesboro by a score of 27-0.
Winnfield played their home-opener
the following week when they took on the Tioga Indians, 28-6 losers to Deridder in their opening game of the season. Moreau
predicted a physical game against Tioga, as they averaged over 200 lbs. a man across the offensive and defensive line. The
Indians ran a Veer offense like Winnfield, but their style was to pound the ball. Tioga relied more on their defense, who
Moreau called their strongest asset.
It was an error-filled first half that saw both Winnfield and
Tioga score one touchdown. For Winnfield, that touchdown came on a one yard run by Andrew Riggs, which was
followed by Powell’s extra point kick. The Indians failed to convert their PAT making the score 7-6
at the half. The first half was marred by a number of penalties and turnovers by both teams, many of which were attributed
to the physical nature of the game.
position is the game-within-the game that often determines the outcome of close games. That sums up the opening minutes of
the second half. After Winnfield went nowhere on their first series of the half, Raymond Durbin got off a
65-yard punt to back Tioga up to their own 36-yard line. The Winnfield defense then sent Tioga backwards on their opening
series of the half. After a short punt by Tioga the Tiger offense took over at the Tioga 45. That exchange
of field position at the beginning of the second half put Winnfield in a position to score, which they did when Andrew
Riggs got the call on a third down play from the Tioga 41-yard line. Riggs bolted down the sidelines
and ran untouched into the end zone to give the Tigers some breathing room. Powell maintained his perfect
extra point string by booting his fourth PAT of the year to make the score 14-6 halfway through the third quarter.
Turnovers continued to half Tioga
in the third quarter, with Winnfield taking advantage of one of those when Riggs picked off a pass, returned
it just past midfield and completed a six-play drive with a 5-yard run to give Winnfield a 20-6 lead.
his defense to finish off the game for him, though didn't necessarily expect his defense to add to the point total. Stopping
any scoring by Tioga would have been good enough. But, Randy Johnson didn't get that message because on Tioga's
first play from scrimmage on their next series Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards for a
touchdown to drive the final nail in the coffin. Powell booted his third PAT of the night
to close out all the scoring at 27-6.
Though Coach Moreau liked the aggressive play of his young team and was especially pleased with a
second-straight excellent fourth quarter showing, two disturbing trends continued in the second game of the year. Turnovers
continued to plague the Tiger offense as they lost the ball twice on interceptions and twice on fumbles, dropping the ball
a total of five times throughout the contest. But, Tioga was even more fumble prone, having 7 fumbles during the game, two
of which they lost.
But, the most disturbing trend was the continuation of the injury-bug that seemed to have grabbed ahold of the team.
Both Thomas King and Garlon Powell sustained ankle injuries, and nagging illness and injuries
also affected offensive linemen Jay Crooks and Steve Canerday.
see-saw battle for supremacy in the LSWA' poll, Winnfield regained the top spot, despite a John Curtis 27-6 win over Class
4A Bogalusa. Winnfield got 6 first place votes to Curtis' 4, which was enough to propel the Tigers back into the top spot.
The rest of the top ten remained unchanged.
Winnfield sought to tie the school record 16-game win streak win at home against the A.S.H. Trojans in the third game
of the season. The game would give the Tiger defense a challenge they hadn't faced all year, that being a strong passing attack.
Like Winnfield, A.S.H. was young, having only two seniors on the offensive side of the ball. The Trojans had used two quarterbacks
in the early part of the season, with senior Brent Brown and sophomore Scott Stoker splitting
time at that position. Moreau stated before the game that the Trojans would throw the ball between 25 to
30 times during the game. The Tiger defense had shown their ability against the run in the opening two games of the year,
holding Pineville to 195 yards rushing and topping that by limiting Tioga to only 128 yards on the ground. So, A.S.H. would
offer the defensive squad their first challenge by a passing team. With all of the injuries on both sides of the ball, Coach
Moreau went into the game with as many uncertainties as he had ever had as a Tiger mentor.
Garlon Powell's ankle injury did not respond
to treatment during the week, so he was limited to kicking duties only during the game. That put the rushing responsibilities
squarely on the shoulders of juniors Andrew Riggs and Clint Turner. Those two responded
like seasoned veterans, with Riggs getting 127 yards on 22 carries and Turner
getting 64 yards on 16 carries. The Tiger running game enabled the Tigers to control the football all game long, with the
Tigers getting 18 first downs to A.S.H.'s eight. All total, Winnfield finished the night with 244 yards rushing and added
68 yards though the air. All of that yardage only resulted in two Tiger touchdowns, but that was all the Tigers needed in
a 14-0 win.
first touchdown came late in the first quarter when a hobbled Thomas King ran 2 yards for a touchdown, which
was followed by Garlon Powell's extra point to make the score 7-0. The touchdown was set up by a fumble recovery
by Gary Irvin at the Trojan 30-yard line. King came in and hit tight end Randy Johnson
with a 16-yard pass, which was followed by six running plays. King's touchdown came on a fourth and goal
play from the two.
After that, Winnfield won the game with an outstanding defensive effort that held A.S.H. to but 42 yards rushing and
67 yards passing. What is most important, the defense recorded their first shutout of the year, as A.S.H. only made it past
the Winnfield 20-yard line once. But, the Trojans did make it into Winnfield territory several times during
the contest only to be stopped by either their own mistakes are a tenacious Tiger defense.
A.S.H. took their first possession
of the second half down to the Winnfield 29-yard line, but sophomore defensive back Alain Jones got the first
interception of his varsity career to snuff out that drive. Following that turnover, Winnfield put together an 11-play drive
to get back into the end zone. Thomas King had alternated with Tony Abron at quarterback
in the first half because of his injured ankle. But, he guided the Tigers down the field on the opening drive of the second
half and hit Randy Johnson with a 10-yard pass once the Tigers got down to the A.S.H. 12-yard line. Johnson
was met by two Trojan defender just after he caught the ball, but the hard-nosed Johnson carried the two
defenders over the goal line with him. Powell booted the extra point to up the Tiger lead to 14-0 with just
over five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The manner in which Winnfield opened the season must have been very satisfying to Coach Moreau. He
came into the season knowing he had a number of young, inexperienced players he would have to move into starting positions.
With the way his team clawed and scratched their way to open the season with a 3-0 record, they appeared to be gaining confidence
each week. Following the A.S.H. win Moreau told an Enterprise reporter, "That's as proud as
I've ever been of a football team since I've been coaching." All any coach wants is effort and that's what Moreau
was getting. He went on, "With our injuries and the way things were happening in the game (against A.S.H.), the boys
exemplified the type of character it takes to call yourself a Winnfield Tiger." He stated that the
Tiger defense seemed to come of age against A.S.H. He noted that at one point in the game he had three sophomores and one
junior in the defensive secondary. He was thrilled that his team was able to shut down a wide-open attack like A.S.H. possessed
and to do so with so many players sidelined with injuries
The Class AA poll remained unchanged, with Winnfield still clinging
to a slim one point lead over John Curtis for the top spot. None of the top ten teams had lost a football game during the
season. The 3-0 start to the season gave the Winnfield program 16 straight wins, which tied the school record win streak set
during the 1970-1971 seasons. But the chances of extending that streak couldn't have come against a tougher opponent as the
Tigers prepared for their fourth opponent of the year.
In the fourth week of the season Winnfield had the daunting task of taking on the Neville Tigers in their own stadium.
Neville was the last team to defeat Winnfield and in fact had claimed two of the three losses that the Tigers had sustained
over the previous two seasons. In those two wins, the final score wasn't even close, with Neville taking a 35-13 win to begin
the 1981 season and they followed that up with a 35-0 win to start the 1982 season. That was against Winnfield's 1981 semifinal
team and 1982 state champion team. Neville appeared to be every bit as strong as they had been in previous seasons, as they
had opened the year by whipping Bogalusa 34-6 and followed that up with a 27-0 shutout win over Wossman.
This was a typical Neville team
- strong on defense and possessors of a bruising running game on offense. On offense, Neville ran eight
backs in and out of the game, assuring themselves of having a fresh back throughout the game. But, Neville had some weapons
on offense, with one being running back Darren McFuffey, who also handled line backing duties, and the other
being returning quarterback Conroy Hines. Though Neville was primarily a running team, Hines
had a strong throwing arm and his favorite targets were 225 lb. tight end Oliver Lawrence and flanker Joseph
Had you had a crystal ball, you would have known that Winnfield was about to go down to defeat to one
of the best Neville teams of all time. Given the storied history of Neville football, that would have been intimidating. Not
only did Neville defeat Winnfield, but they defeated every team they played in 1983, going 12-0 in route to the Class 4A state
title, which they got with a 40-14 whipping of Terrebonne. The 1983 Neville team thus became that school’s fourth untied,
undefeated team and their sixth state champion - all since 1955.
Only one team - Ruston - scored
more than one touchdown against Neville in 1983 and six of twelve teams didn't score any points. One of those shutout victims
was Winnfield, who entered the game with both Garlon Powell and Thomas King playing at less
than 100%. But, it's doubtful whether a healthy 1983 Winnfield team or any other Winnfield team could have defeated this Neville
bunch. After all, they were arguably one of the strongest high school football teams ever assembled in Louisiana up to that
time, with their 12-0 record and 448 to 59 scoring margin attesting to that.
Give Winnfield credit. They went into halftime behind
by only a 14-0 margin. Neville got their first score of the night when Thomas King was tackled in the end
zone for a safety. Neville then followed that up with a 10 play, 53-yard drive to up their first quarter lead to 8-0. Neville
also got on the scoreboard the next time they had the ball and that drive only took two plays. The killer of that drive was
a 69-yard run by Hopkins and it appeared the romp was on at that point. However, the Winnfield defense stiffened
and shut down Neville the remainder of the first half. Sophomore Alain Jones got his second interception
of the year to stop one Neville drive in the first half.
Meanwhile Winnfield could not get anything going in the opening
two quarters, with first downs unattainable, much less points. During the first half Winnfield had a minus 10 yards rushing
and they ended all five first half possession with punts.
In the second half, Neville showed that they had too many horses
as their seemingly endless supply of fresh backs and over-sized linemen took advantage of the crippled and out-manned Winnfield
team. Neville erupted for three touchdowns in the third quarter, all long distance ones at that, including runs of 22, 50
and 87 yards. That gave Neville a 35-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Neville was down to their third
string players but they still scored two more touchdowns, one coming on a 63-yard run and the other coming on a 24-yard run.
That closed the scoring at 47-0, the most points a Tiger team had given up since Jesuit of Shreveport scored an equal number
of points against Winnfield in the opening round of the 1967 playoffs. The 47 pt. margin of defeat was the highest in nearly
40 years and was tied for fourth highest of all time. That list included:
1926 vs. Bolton (0-71)
1943 vs. Byrd (0-63)
1937 vs. Jonesboro (0-57)
1944 vs. Bolton (0-47)
1983 vs. Neville (0-47)
Coach Moreau told The Enterprise, "our boys know they went on the field with the best."
But, Moreau knew he had other things to work for in the season. He went on, "We
can't cry about the game. We have to put it behind us and go on.” He did see some bright spots in
the game. He was especially proud of the defensive play that his boys showed in the first half. But, he told The Enterprise
that the score got out of hand because the defense spent so much time on the field. That was because the offense couldn't
move the ball all game long. The offense was Moreau's biggest disappointment. Not only was the offense shutout,
but that unit only recorded 3 first downs, 8 yards rushing, 41 total yards and 10 punts. Each of those tied or broke the all-time
record for a Tiger team, with each record formerly held by the 1967 Tiger team against Jesuit (Sp), when that team recorded
3 first downs, 10 yards rushing and 51 total yards and 8 punts. Two other former Tiger teams had 8 punts in a game including
the 1973 team (vs. Ruston) and the 1976 team(vs. Jesuit).
But it was Neville's offense who took control of the football game in the second half and totally shattered several
Tiger defensive records in the process. Prior to the Neville game, no previous Tiger opponent had ever gained more than 450
total yards against a Winnfield defense. In fact, only three other teams had ever gained as many as 400 total yards against
a Tiger team. Neville got 617 total yards, with 605 of that coming on rushing yards alone. Only two other opponents had ever
gained over 400 yards rushing against a Tiger team, with those being West Monroe (449) in 1975 and Neville (424) in 1957.
Moreau concluded, "Somewhere in the future, the things that happened at Neville will make us a stronger
football team. We just got beat by a better football team."
The loss wasn't as damaging as it could have been to the Tigers in the weekly LSWA poll. Winnfield fell from first
to fourth place, with John Curtis taking over the top spot. Though Notre Dame moved to second place with five first place
votes, one more than John Curtis, they still trailed Curtis by a single vote. In third place was Springhill.
Winnfield's hopes of rebounding from the sound
defeat would have to come on the road against the Caldwell Spartans. Moreau described Caldwell as a team
with good size but one who was not near as fast as Winnfield. On the other hand, Winnfield was not as fast as Winnfield, what
with their primary speedsters slowed by nagging injuries. Winnfield entered the game with an injury list that was still filled
with Tiger players. All of the Tiger's backfield was still hobbled, including Thomas King and Garlon
Powell. Since Caldwell was so big up the middle, Moreau speculated that they would they would be
hard to run right at. So, he planned on trying to get outside of the Spartans and he planned on using Andrew Riggs
to accomplish that, though he was slightly injured too. Moreau also expressed confidence in reserve running
backs Clint Turner and Eugene Myles. But, the injury list didn't stop there. Raymond
Durbin, Tiger punter and tight end was held out of the Neville game because of a back injury he sustained against
A.S.H. He was listed as doubtful for the Caldwell game.
The two teams exchanged touchdowns on their first possessions, with the Tigers getting their points on a 48-yard Andrew
Riggs run and Caldwell driving the ball 78 yards for a touchdowns. Both teams missed their PAT attempts, leaving
the score tied at 6-6. The manner in which Caldwell drove the ball was cause for early concern, and that concern was heightened
even more when Caldwell recovered a King fumble three plays later at the Winnfield 38
and then quickly moved into scoring position. However, they had to settle for a field goal, which they got with a 29-yard
boot. That gave the Spartans a 9-6 lead.
game had all the makings of a scoring shootout, except that Caldwell didn’t keep pace with Winnfield the remainder of
the first half. Winnfield scored touchdowns on each of their second quarter possession to move to a 20-9 lead. Scoring for
Winnfield was tight end Randy Johnson who caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from King after
the Tigers reached the Spartan 33 yard line. Powell followed with a PAT to give Winnfield a 13-9 lead, which
they would never surrender. Powell almost got a touchdown on the next punt return when
he carried the football from the Tiger 15 to the Caldwell 17-yard line. But, Powell got a touchdown anyway,
when he scored from 6 yards out on the fourth play of that drive. He also added the PAT to give Winnfield a 20-9 lead which
lasted until the half.
third quarter can be summed up quite simply - Caldwell turned the ball over both times they had it and Winnfield converted
those into touchdowns. The first Spartan turnover came when they fumbled at the Winnfield 33-yard line. Winnfield gained possession
there and moved 66 yards in 9 plays, with the score coming on a run by Andrew Riggs.
Alain Jones got the ball back for Winnfield
on Caldwell's next possession when he fell on a loose football at the Winnfield 40-yard line. Powell got
8 yards on a first down carry and then bolted 52 yards on the second play of the drive to up the Tiger lead to 32-9 as the
third quarter came to an end.
more of the same in the fourth quarter when Winnfield held Caldwell on their first series of the period and then scored on
their first possession. Riggs got his third TD of the night when he carried the ball in from 12 yards out
to make the score 38-9.
that, Winnfield scored the final two times they had the ball with Tiger reserves Eddie Russell scoring on
a 6-yard run and Gerald Crump getting six on a 5-yard run. Caldwell also got a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns
to make the final score 52-25.
piled up 401 yards rushing, with Andrew Riggs leading all rushers with 173 yards in 12 carries. That was
the fourth-highest single-game rushing total in school history at the time, trailing the single-game record of 212, set by
Terry Skains during the 1969 season, by only 28 yards. Garlon Powell also
added 98 yards in 9 carries.
had a 4 of 7 passing night to add 81 yards to the Tiger's total offense numbers. Whereas the Tigers had set a school record
by punting 10 times the week before, they became the 12th team in school history to go through a game without having to punt
against Caldwell, thus tying the school record for fewest punts in a game.
The win moved Winnfield to 4-1 for the season, but they stayed at the No. 4 spot in the weekly poll. There were no
changes in the top ten, with Curtis still clinging to the top spot and Springhill (3), Winnfield (4) and Jonesboro-Hodge (10)
making up the teams from North Louisiana in the poll.
As Winnfield entered the second half of the regular season, four of the five games they would play would be district
games. The opening district game of the year came against Many in week six when Winnfield finally returned to Stokes-Walker
Stadium after a two-week absence.
Tigers headed into district competition in the best physical shape they had been in since the opening game of the season.
The only player still not in the Tiger lineup was Raymond Durbin. Garlon Powell's ankle
injury had healed and lineman Kevin Clark was working his way back into playing shape. Overall, Moreau
was pleased with the position his team was in, especially the improvement he had seen on the offensive side of the football.
But then again, you can't ask much more of an offense who scores eight touchdowns and never punts the ball, which is what
the Tiger offense did against Caldwell. On the other side of the ball, Moreau expressed the same concerns
he always did when his defense was not performing the way he wants. He told an Enterprise reporter, "We're just
not aggressive enough (on defense). We’re allowing far too much yardage in the middle."
Many came into the game with a 1-4 record. Moreau
told his team that Many was better than their record, however, that would be a hard sell since Winnfield had defeated Many
seven straight years, with the closest margin in that span being a 21-0 win by Winnfield in the 1977 season. Overall, Winnfield
held a 16-0-0 advantage over Many in a series that first began in the 1941 season. The players on the 1983 team had seen Winnfield
score over 50 points in the previous three games against Many.
Winnfield didn't break the 50 point mark against Many in 1983
but they got more than enough points in taking a 47-0 win. It would be a night for long distance scores, with the Tigers touchdown
runs totaling 250 of the Tigers 430 rushing yards.
Like they had been doing for most games during the past two and
a half seasons, Winnfield scored on their opening series of the night, with the drive going 73 yards and the touchdown coming
on the only pass that went for a touchdown for the game. After the Tigers moved to the Many 10-yard line, Thomas King
hit Darrel Smith in the end zone to give the Tiger a 6-0 lead. Powell increased that by
one with his extra point kick.
King showed that his ankle was fully healed when he ran 60 yards for a touchdown the next time Winnfield
had the football. King's touchdown came after he kept the ball on the option and skirted the sidelines for
Garlon Powell got in on the first quarter scoring action when he returned a Many punt to midfield
and then carried the ball into the end zone seven plays later. The scoring run came on an 18-yard jaunt by Powell.
The PAT failed following the third Tiger touchdown, leaving the score 20-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Many got their initial first down
of the night on their next series and in fact moved down to the Winnfield 6-yard line. However, that drive was halted when
Gary Irvin sacked the Many quarterback on a fourth down conversion attempt.
After the two teams exchanged punts,
Andrew Riggs got the Tigers back into scoring position when he intercepted a pass at the Many 35 and returned
it to the 26. Two plays later, Darrell Smith got the ball on a reverse and carried it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Powell booted the extra point to up Winnfield's lead to 27-0, which is where it stayed until halftime.
Many bogged down on their first
possession of the second half, but they got off a 58-yard punt that rolled dead at the Winnfield 1-yard line. That set up
a historic run by Garlon Powell. On first down, Powell got the ball on a handoff, quickly
got to the outside and carried the ball the full distance for a 99-yard touchdown run. That not only set a stadium record,
but was the all-time longest run from scrimmage in Tiger football history, breaking the oldest rushing record on the books.
Prior to Powell's run, the longest touchdown run from scrimmage was a 97-yarder which John Glyn Jackson
got against Ruston in 1943. Other than Jackson's run, there had only been nine other touchdown runs from
scrimmage that covered 80 or more yards, with
86 Freddie King vs. Jonesboro
85 Dan Carr vs. Logansport
Ronnie Parker vs. Jena (1961)
Greg Lewis vs. Richwood (1980)
Thomas Straughan vs. Jena (1951)
Brooks Broussard vs. Natchitoches (1956)
J. D. Wood vs. Selma (1933)
Jackie Givens vs. St. Mary’s (1948)
Ricky Chatman vs. Homer
only touchdown runs of any kind that had covered more ground than Powell's run were a pair of 100-yard interception
returns, one by Brooks Broussard against Natchitoches in the 1955 season and the other by Mike Kelley
against Mansfield in the 1965 season.
next time Powell got his hands on the football he was right back in the end zone. After Winnfield took over
the football at the 50-yard line, Riggs got three yards on first down. That set up a 47-yard run by Powell
on second down. Raymond Durbin, who had been relegated to kicking duties only, kicked the extra point following
Powell's run to up the Tiger lead to 41-0.
The Tiger reserves got one more touchdown in the final quarter
when Tony Abron kept the ball on an option and ran 11 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was missed leaving the
nearly avoided a shutout in the closing minutes of the game when they moved all the way down to the Winnfield 10-yard line.
However, sophomore linebacker Derrick Duncan intercepted a Many pass to keep the visitors out of the end
another impressive rushing night for Winnfield as the Tigers rolled up 430 yards on the ground. That was the third-highest
single-game rushing total in school history, trailing only the 451 yds. the 1978 team got against Mansfield
and the 450 yds. the 1961 team got against Natchitoches. Powell gainedalmost half of Winnfield rushing yards, getting 188 yards in only 8 carries (23.5 per carry),
with his three touchdown runs totaling 164 yards. That total alone would have given Powell the 10th best
rushing night in school history. As it were, his 188 rushing yards was the third highest ever, 13 yards short of the all-time
high and three yards short of the second highest, which was the 191 yards gained by Darryl Turner in the
1973 season. Thomas King also had over 100 yards rushing, getting 106 yards in 9 carries. He also added 56
passing yards to the total offense to give the team 486 total yards, the fifth highest of all-time.
Moreau was well pleased with the progress of this team. He told The Enterprise
the Tigers were "beginning to play together as a team." In fact, he flat-out stated that
he felt like the Tigers were "one of the top Class AA teams in the state." Though the team
was young and relatively inexperienced when the season started, Moreau stated that the team "finally
figured out that they all had the same goal and were willing to pay the price to achieve that goal." He
was especially pleased with the improvement he had seen in recent weeks in his defense and offensive lines. Because of the
success of those two aspects of the team, the Tiger offense was set to blow people away. That because the
defense was repeatedly giving the offense the ball in good field position and the offensive line was moving people off the
the beginning of the 1978 season, the program had played 66 football games. In nearly one-third (32%) of those game, Winnfield
had gained more than 300 yards rushing, with four games producing over 400 rushing yards. To put that into perspective, prior
to 1978, there were only 11 recorded games where a Tiger team rushed for 300 or more yards and only one game that had produced
400 or more yards (450 vs. Natchitoches, 1961).
But, the biggest rushing night in school history was in store for the seventh game of the year when Winnfield
traveled to Ringgold to take on a 4-3 Redskin team. Prior to the game Moreau quite frankly said that if the
Tigers play well they would not have a problem with Ringgold. In four consecutive years, Winnfield had not only defeated Ringgold
four times but had done so by a 229-22 margin, including the previous year’s 75-0 whipping. Ringgold had never scored
more than one touchdown in any game against Winnfield and the Tigers had never scored less than 45 points.
Tigers would get over 300 rushing yards against Ringgold, but that would be on touchdown runs alone. Andrew Riggs
and Garlon Powell appeared to be trying to outdo each other in the first quarter.
When Winnfield got the ball the
third time of the night they did so at the Ringgold 43-yard line following a punt. On first down, Andrew Riggs
blew through a hole opened over left tackle, got to the sidelines and ran the full distance for the touchdown.
But Winnfield let their guard down on
the ensuing kickoff, allowing Ringgold to get a 69-yard return down to the Winnfield 7-yard line. The Redskins then scored
on their first play with a run by their quarterback. The PAT was missed, leaving the score 7-6 with just over two minutes
to go in the opening quarter.
Powell got those six points back in short order when he fielded the Redskins kickoff and ran 80 yards for a touchdown
and added the extra point to up the Tiger lead to 14-6. That was Powell's third career kickoff return for
a touchdown, making him the career-leader in that category.
Touchdowns on kickoff returns are relatively rare events. Including
Powell's return, there had only been 18 kickoffs returned for touchdowns in the 75-year history of the program.
Half of those had been recorded by four different players, the only players to get multiple kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Powell was the leader of the group with three, followed by Jackie Givens (1945-1946),
John Wayne Williams (1971) and Charles Oliver (1972-1973)with two each.
Just when it looked like Winnfield
was going to take command of the game, Ringgold took the ball nearly the full length of the field. It took a Tiger fourth
down defensive stand from the 5-yard line to keep the Redskins out of the end zone on that drive.
On first down from the Winnfield 5-yard
line, Andrew Riggs took the ball and blew through a wide-open hole straight up the middle of the offensive
line. He didn't stop until he had run 95 yards for a touchdown, giving him the third longest touchdown run from scrimmage
in school history. In consecutive weeks, the Tiger backs and offensive line had produced two of the three longest runs from
scrimmage, when Powell's 99-yard school record run against Many was added to Rigg's 95 yarder.
This game thus quickly became a mismatch.
The Tiger defense held Ringgold without a first down on their next series and gave the ball back to the Tiger offense
at the Ringgold 46-yard line after the Ringgold punt. After that, two plays netted 9 yards, setting up a 37-yard touchdown
run by Garlon Powell. Ringgold's split-6 defense was proving to be easy fodder for the Tiger offensive linemen
and Winnfield certainly had the backs to take advantage of the holes the Tiger front was blowing open.
But, this was no typical Ringgold
team, at least not on offense. The Redskins got their second touchdown on the game on their next series when they drove the
length of the field and ran two yards for a touchdown to pull within two touchdowns of the Tigers. They also converted a two-point
try to make the score 28-14. While that may not seem like much of an achievement, the fact that Ringgold had scored twice
in the first half against the Tiger's starting defensive unit was something Coach Moreau had never seen before.
The Ringgold defense, however, made little
adjustment to the Tiger's running game, preferring to slug it out one-on-one with their defensive front. Winnfield again took
advantage of that on their next series when they drove 80 yards, with Riggs getting 61 one those yards including
the final 9 yards. Powell booted his fifth extra point of the half to make the halftime score 35-14.
the third quarter, Powell and Riggs added touchdowns on runs of 15 and 22 yards to up the
Tiger lead to 49-14. Then, in the fourth quarter, Eddie Russell got the final Tiger touchdown on a 4-yard
run to cap a 54-yard drive. Sandwiched around Russell's touchdown were two Ringgold fourth quarter touchdowns,
one an 85-yard run by Ringgold leading rusher Terry Anderson. He ended the night with 186 yards on only 13
carries. The Redskins also got a late fourth quarter touchdown on a 25-yard pass play which made the final score 56-26.
You needed a calculator to add
up all of the offense exhibited on this night. The Tiger offense became the first Tiger offensive unit to break the 500-yard
rushing barrier when they rushed for 555 yards, shattering the school-record of 451 yards set by the 1978 team against Mansfield.
Prior to the game, there had only been three times when a Tiger team had rushed for 400 or more yards. So, this was by far
the most impressive rushing night in school history. What made that possible, according to Coach Moreau,
were three things - good blocking by the Tiger offensive line, hard running by the Tiger backs and a weak Ringgold defense.
Specifically, Andrew Riggs
and Garlon Powell had the best rushing night any pair of Tiger backs had ever combined for in a single game
as those two alone rushed for 413 yards. Riggs became only the second Tiger back to cross the 200-yard rushing
barrier by gaining 257 yards. In doing so he broke the school's single-game rushing record by 56 yards. He also became the
seventh player in school history to score four touchdowns in a football game.
Garlon Powell added 156 yards rushing, the 16th best rushing
night ever. That pushed Powell's season rushing total to 676 yards despite missing one game and being hobbled
throughout two other games. But, Riggs' outing gave him the team lead in rushing with 730 yards on the year.
The effort was Rigg's third 100+-yard effort for the year. Two other Tiger backs figured prominently in the
overall rushing total with Eddie Russell getting 71 yards on 9 carries and Thomas King adding
52 yards on 7 carries.
It's not like Winnfield abandoned their passing game totally in the Ringgold game. In fact, Moreau
came into the game with intentions of working on that phase of the offense which he had not been satisfied with. For the game,
Winnfield ran 42 running plays for a 13.2-yard per carry average. But, the Tigers also threw 27 passes in the game, with King
connecting on 8 of 19 passes for 110 yards. That gave the team an amazing school record 675 yards in total offense. To put
that in perspective, fewer than a dozen Tiger teams had ever gained as much as 400 total yards in a game and only three teams
had gained more than 500 yards in a game. The first to accomplish that was the 1971 team who gained a total of 500 yards against
Leesville. Six years later, the 1978 had two games where they gained over 500 yards, including a 509-yard performance against
Many and a school record 625 yards against Mansfield. By gaining 665, the 1983 team gained almost 200 more total yards than
the 1982 team gained in their 78 and 75 point wins against Jena and Ringgold. Finally, by gaining 665 yards in 69 plays from
scrimmage, the team averaged 9.64 yards per play, which is, of course, the equivalent of a first down every time they