“It’s been a long time coming,” Haughton High football coach Bobby Ray McHalffey said after his 1977 Bucs beat Vandebilt Catholic 21-0 at Houma to win Haughton’s first state football championship.
It would also be a long time before the next state championship, for Haughton or any other Bossier Parish school. We’re still waiting for that one.
Haughton didn’t win a district championship in 1977, thanks to a 22-20 overtime loss to North Caddo. But that was the Bucs’ only loss in 13 games.
Four Haughton players were first-team selections on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 3A (which was then the second highest class) All-State team: linebacker Bobby Strogen, defensive end David Grappe, defensive back Everett Williams and offensive guard David Pope. Grappe was selected the Outstanding Defensive Player on the All-State team.
College recruiters rated linebackers Strogen and Jesuit’s Drew Dossett at the top of their list of blue-chip prospects in 1977. Both went on to play major-college football – Strogen at Texas A&M, Dossett at Southern California.
Many people felt the 1976 Bucs were the best Haughton team, with the speedy Joe Delaney making All-State as an offensive end. But that team didn’t finish the job in the state playoffs, and the 1977 team did. Jesuit (now Loyola) won its second and last state football championship in 1976, beating Winnfield 7-0 a week after Winnfield eliminated Haughton.
Bossier High is the only Bossier Parish school that has won two state football championships. A team coached by Ben Cameron wrapped up a 12-0 season in 1942 with a 27-12 victory over DeQuincy at DeQuincy, and Coach Loy Camp’s 1948 Bearkats finished a 9-2-1 season with a 21-0 win over Reserve in the Class A title game at Bossier City. The 1942 team was led by halfback Eugene “Red” Knight and tackle Camille Spataro, with both selected on the Class A All-State team. The 1948 champs had three All-Staters: halfback Gene Yarbrough, fullback Searle Walton and end Tommy Woodall.
Of course, all of that is ancient history for the coaches and players now going through spring practice in preparation for the 2012 season.
While the 1977 Haughton Bucs are the last Bossier Parish team that won a state football championship, there are several others that could have won state titles with a few breaks. This applies to any parish.
In most football seasons, the most successful teams produce the most All-Staters. But geography is also a factor, with South Louisiana teams having a definite advantage because of the distribution of votes. This has been especially obvious when All-State teams were selected before the completion of the state playoffs.
In 1967, after Holy Cross (New Orleans) beat District 1-4A champion Woodlawn 25-13 in the playoff semifinals, six Holy Cross players were first-team selections on the writers’ All-State team and Coach John Kalbacher of Holy Cross was voted “Coach of the Year.” But Coach Jack Gray’s Airline Vikings, who had only one All-Stater (halfback Eric Kilpatrick), beat Holy Cross 20-7 in the playoff finals after Kilpatrick returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
Starting with Billy Laird of Woodlawn in 1961, Shreveport schools had a run of All-Staters at the quarterback and wide receiver positions because their coaches were installing pro-set offenses that had been introduced at the collegiate level by Louisiana Tech’s Joe Aillet. But Bossier Parish quarterbacks (especially Airline’s Hayden Hildebrand) have attracted plenty of attention in recent years.