LOUISIANA HALL OF FAMERS

By Ron Brocato

This weekend’s LHSAA/State Farm Prep Classic will feature the 10 best high school football teams in Louisiana and several athletes that will continue their playing careers at the collegiate level. Our state has produced some of the nation’s greatest schoolboy talent. It has been documented by USA Football that Louisiana has more players per capita in the National Football League than any other state.

According to a study by the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels, there is one NFL player for every 55,862 people in Louisiana. Currently, Louisiana has 80 players on NFL rosters. And those who excel at the professional level of the sport will eventually attain the highest honor the state can bestow: induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Established in 1958 by a group of sports writers working for Louisiana newspapers, the LSHOF has 285 members, both men and women who rose to the top of their expertise in a myriad of sports. They include athletes, coaches and contributors. Among them are two Heisman Trophy winners – John David Crow of Springhill, who was named college football’s top player of 1957 while playing for Coach Bear Bryant at Texas A&M, and Baton Rouge’s Billy Cannon, who claimed his prize in his senior year of 1959 at LSU.

Two other hall of famers and a future inductee are Heisman Trophy runners-up. New Orleans’ Hank Lauricella, an All-American tailback at Tennessee in 1951 and West Monroe’s Jerry Stovall, who starred at LSU, finished second in the 1962 voting. And New Orleans’ Peyton Manning, one of Tennessee’s greatest quarterbacks, was runner-up in 1997. Manning will become eligible three years after his pro career ends.

Those men are an example of Louisiana’s outstanding home grown football talent. And the names those already inducted read like a Who’s Who of gridiron immortals. Among the notables are:

Terry Bradshaw, the Shreveport product who starred at Louisiana Tech and quarterbacked Pittsburgh to four Super Bowl titles. He was named the Super Bowl MVP in 1978 and 1979 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Billy Cannon is probably one of the greatest folk heroes in Louisiana. At Istrouma High, Cannon once won a 100-yard dash in 9.5 seconds and threw the shot 55 feet in the same meet. As a halfback and defensive back at LSU, Cannon led the Tigers to the 1958 National Championship and won the Heisman a year later. He had a long career with the Houston Oilers and Oakland Raiders of the AFL and NFL.

Tommy Casanova, the three-time All-American defensive back at LSU became an All-Pro player with the Cincinnati Bengals during his six-year career. The Crowley native was named to the Sporting News’ All-Time College Team in 1971.

John David Crow, the Heisman winner of 1957 went from the Aggies to an 11-year career with the NFL Cardinals in Chicago then St. Louis. He was the first Cardinal to rush for 1,000 yards and held the Cardinals’ single-game rushing record-holder long after his retirement.

Fred Dean of Ruston starred at Louisiana Tech before his Hall of Fame career as a defensive end with San Francisco.

Billy Joe Dupree of Monroe played collegiately at Michigan State before becoming one of the NFL’s premier tight ends with the Dallas Cowboys. He played on three Super Bowl teams, made the Pro Bowls in 1977, 1978 and 1979, and never missed a start in 159 regular-season games and 22 playoff games.

Marshall Faulk of New Orleans was considered too small to play at LSU. San Diego State took a chance and he became its all-time leading rusher. As a running back at Indianapolis, Faulk was a three-time All-Pro pick and seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He set a then NFL single season record of 2,429 yards from scrimmage in 1999 with the St. Louis Rams and was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame following his 12-year career.

Joe Ferguson, the Shreveport native set a national prep passing record at Woodlawn High before his brilliant college career at Arkansas earned him a pro career as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills for 11 years. He started 171 of his 185 games before ending his career with Detroit then Tampa Bay in 1989.

Nicknamed the “Cajun Cannon," Bobby Hebert of Cut-Off led the Michigan Panthers to the USFL championship in the league’s inaugural season. Later he helped bring the Saints their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Hebert was inducted to the Saints Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

Rich Jackson of New Orleans was nicknamed “Tombstone” for his vicious tackling as a defensive end at Southern University and the Denver Broncos. He made the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons (1968-71) and is on the Broncos’ Ring of Honor, an accolade rarely awarded.

Bert Jones of Ruston was an All-American quarterback at LSU in 1972 and an All-Pro signal-caller with the Colts of the NFL. During his pro career, Jones passed for 18,190 yards and 124 touchdowns.

Richie Petitbon of New Orleans and Tulane went from the quarterback position in college to become an All-Pro safety with the Chicago Bears. He made four Pro Bowl appearances in the mid-1960s and later coached the Washington Redskins.

Isiah Robertson, born in New Orleans and played at Southern University, this legendary linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams has a 12-year career during which he intercepted 25 passes and scored three touchdowns.

Jerry Stovall of West Monroe and LSU went from a great college ball-carrier to an All-Pro safety and punter with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played in two Pro Bowls and still holds the Cardinals’ single game punting record.

Jimmy Taylor is the hard-hitting fullback from Baton Rouge who was an All-American at LSU in 1957 and All-Pro with the Green Bay Packers. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in five straight seasons and ranked third on the all-time NFL rushing list when he retired at the end of the 1967 season as a New Orleans Saint. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.

Doug Williams, a graduate of Zachary High School, is one of Grambling’s
all-time great players and was the only African American quarterback to be named a Super Bowl MVP. That happed in Super Bowl XXII when he led the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 victory in 1988.

These greats are just a sampling of the many young men who began their careers on the fields of Louisiana. The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches is scheduled to open in 2012.

Another important hall of fame to honor those men and women who have enhanced Louisiana’s standing as one of the country’s birthplaces of athletic greatness is the Louisiana High School Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in Baton Rouge. This museum, located in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s administration building located at 12720 Old Hammond Highway in Baton Rouge not only honors some of this state’s great high school athletes, but coaches, administrators, officials and contributors to the development of young athletes.

Founded in 1979 by a small group of principals, the LHSAA/LHSCA Hall of Fame was first displayed in the lobby of the Belmont Motor Hotel in Baton Rouge, where the association rented a small office. It later moved to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for a number of years.

Then when Kenny Henderson became the LHSAA Executive Director in 2009, he envisioned an administrative building that would also house a permanent museum in which to honor the inductees. The 2,000-square foot room off the office’s grand foyer became the showcase of the $3 million building. It is open to the public during weekday office hours.

 

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY

In any of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s 21 sanctioned sports, a state championship is the reward for the rigorous journey for the team that earns it.

And the championship trophy is the symbol that schools use to adorn their showcase. It is indeed a prized award.

The LHSAA has honored its boys and girls champions and runners-up for decades by presenting trophies at the end of each title contest. However, for many years, trophies in the sports of football and basketball were noticeably larger than trophies presented in other sports.

The Executive Committee of the LHSAA decided to come up with a uniform look to a state championship trophy that would be awarded in all sports because, no one sport is considered “minor” to the athletes who compete. So the members decided that all trophies would be similar in dimensions and size, would feature the state of Louisiana, and yet would still be distinguishable based on individual sports.

For several years now, high school fans across Louisiana have become familiar with the style of trophy the LHSAA awarded at state championship events. The walnut base featured a prominent Louisiana shaped carving, also made of walnut, on the left side of the trophy with a large metal figurine depicting the particular sport in which the trophy represented. The trophy also displayed an engraved LHSAA logo as well as specific event information such as date and location. The large, walnut base prominently displayed the State Farm logo as well as silver writing for state runners-up or gold writing for state champions.

The trophy has become synonymous with participating in the state finals, and this style of trophy can be seen in trophy cases of high schools throughout Louisiana.

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain consistency with this style of trophy due to the figurine and the decreasing number of manufacturers throughout the country. Figurine manufacturers have tried several different components in the making and designing of the figurines, yet all had various problems in design including durability and consistency. As the LHSAA spoke with representatives of other states, many complained of similar trophy obstacles. The trophies were also produced outside of Louisiana and shipping also presented additional problems.

This past summer the LHSAA looked to revamp the state championship trophy entirely. Taking a page from the NCAA, the LHSAA looked to have a more modern style trophy with the look of a plaque, but with a free-standing base in order to still be displayed in the hundreds of trophy cases across Louisiana. Several Louisiana trophy companies were contacted and all were given similar guidelines, yet allowed to use their own creativity. The LHSAA wanted the state of Louisiana prominently displayed and clear distinction between one sport and another, but without the problem figurines. The trophy should also clearly depict what the event was and when and where the event took place.

After several prototypes were considered, it was decided that Gold Star Trophies of Baton Rouge had created the modern version of the LHSAA state championship trophy. The first of its kind was awarded this past November at the state volleyball tournament. Gold Star Trophies will not only provide state championship and runner-up trophies in all 25 LHSAA sports, but will also provide outstanding player award in each. Schools and players can also purchase mini-versions of the state championship trophies for their personal use.

 

LHSAA/LHSCA SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

By Robin Fambrough

Three coaches, one athlete and one administrator make up the 2012 induction class for the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame. Former Jesuit High and Major League Baseball star Will Clark is the only athlete.  

Port Barre High softball and girls basketball coach Claudia Blanchard is joined by two legendary New Orleans area coaches, the late Edward J. “Skeets” Tuohy, who coached Newman to basketball prominence and Otis Washington, who built St. Augustine into one of Louisiana’s top football powers in the 1970s.

Longtime Lafayette Parish Athletic Director James Simmons is the administrator who will be part of the induction set for 6:30 p.m. January 25, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza.

Will Clark
Clark helped lead Jesuit to the Class 4A baseball title in 1980 and lettered three years for the Blue Jays. He hit .560 as a senior in 1982 and also had 81 career runs batted in and 71 career runs scored.

After high school, Clark won the prestigious Golden Spikes Award given to the top collegiate player while at Mississippi State. He went on to play 15 seasons in the majors after being drafted by the San Francisco Giants.

Claudia Blanchard
Blanchard was Port Barre’s girls basketball coach from 1981-1997 and head softball coach from 1982-2002. She also was a softball assistant from 2003-06. Blanchard coached the Red Devils to four parish titles, five district titles, a Class 2A runner-up finish in 1985 and the 2A title in 1987.

In softball, Blanchard coached PBHS to a 2A state title in 2000 and runner-up finishes in 1985, 1986, 2001 and 2002.

Edward J. “Skeets” Tuohy
Tuohy coached at Holy Cross-New Orleans from 1956-59, then at Newman from 1960 to 1975. He served as Newman’s head football coach from 1960-68 and was head basketball coach from 1960-75. Tuohy’s Newman teams made nine Top 20 tournament appearances and won Class 1A state titles in 1961, 1963 and 1964, while also garnering a runner-up finish in 1966.

Otis Washington
Washington coached for 18 years at St. Augustine and was head coach from 1969-79, compiling a 113-17-1 record that included seven district title and Class 4A state titles in 1975, 1978 and 1979, along with a runner-up finish in 1971. His Purple Knights were the first team to win back-to-back 4A titles and the 1975 squad posted Louisiana’s first 15-0 finish.

James Simmons
Simmons, who coached track and cross country at Crowley High from 1972-84 and Acadiana High from 1984-90, has been the Lafayette Parish athletic director since 1990. His track teams won seven district titles, four regional titles and were the state runner-up twice.

As an administrator, Simmons was voted Louisiana’s top athletic director in both 1993 and 1994. He also was voted the Southern District Athletic Director of the Year in 2007 and has received distinguished service awards from numerous groups, including those from the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (2005) and Louisiana High School Coaches Association (1999). He also received the Louisiana Track & Field Coaches Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

High school fans can go to the LHSAA website, wwwlhsaa.org, as well as Gold Star Trophies for more trophy information and viewing.