Airline’s 49th football season is scheduled to get under way in September, but the Vikings won’t play a Class 5A opponent until their District 1-5A opener at Captain Shreve on October 5.
It will be the Vikings’ second season with Bo Meeks as head coach. Airline was 7-5 in his debut last year.
Only 17 of the previous 48 Airline football teams have lost more games than they won. Eight of those were in the 1980s.
Airline hasn’t won 10 games in a football season since the 1998 team was 10-1. There have b been a total of five 10-win football seasons in Airline’s history.
The Vikings left themselves a tough act to follow. The 1967 team, coached by Jack Gray, won the state championship with a 10-2-1 record (the first 10-win season in school history) in the fourth year of the school’s existence after posting a 9-1-1 record the previous year.
The 1967 Airline team, led by halfback Eric Kilpatrick, was ranked No. 7 in Class 3A (then the top class) at the end of regular-season play and eliminated No. 1 LaGrange (Lake Charles). No. 2 Holy Cross (New Orleans) and No. 5 West Jefferson (New Orleans) in the state playoffs.
Coach Jack Gray’s 1967 Vikings played LaGrange to a 7-7 tie in their playoff opener, advancing with an 11-9 margin in first downs. Running back David Jett and offensive lineman David Campbell represented the Vikings on the All-State team. Their only losses were to a Woodlawn team quarterbacked by All-State Joe Ferguson, 28-14, and city rival Bossier High, 13-7. Ferguson went on to stardom at the University of Arkansas and a long National Football League career that included 12 years with the Buffalo Bills, two apiece with the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Bucs, and a brief appearance in one game with the Indianapolis Colts.
The 1967 Vikings were the first team ranked as low as No. 7 that won a state championship. They were also the only Bossier City team to win a state title in the top classification. Bossier High won two state championships (1942, 1948) in Class A when it was the second highest class. The 1942 Bearkats, coached by Ben Cameron, were 12-0. The 1948 team, coached by Loy Camp, was 9-2-1.
Eugene “Red” Knight, who later played at LSU, led Bossier High to its first state championship in 1942. The Bearkats wrapped up the school’s only perfect season with a 27-12 victory over DeQuincy in the Class A championship game at DeQuincy. Knight and tackle Camille Spataro were the only All-Staters on the 1942 team.
It was close, but no cigar for the 1950 Bearkats, who set a state scoring record with 522 points in 15 games but fell short in the championship game, dropping a 7-6 decision to Baker. Local newspapers proclaimed the point total to be a national record, but nobody was keeping up with national high school records at that time and several schools in other states had compiled bigger point totals.
Halfbacks Don Millen and Tony Montalbano accounted for most of those points, as both scored more than 150 points. Melvin Barefield and Charles Lewis shared playing time at the quarterback position for a Bearkat team that rarely threw the ball (19 of every 20 plays were runs).
Ironically, it was a Bossier High pass attempt that gave Baker its only touchdown in the championship game. With Lewis dropping back for a pass, the ball slipped out of his hand. Baker tackle Marvin Kohler scooped it up and ran 15 yards for a touchdown, and Harold Davis kicked the game-winning point through the uprights.
Bossier High ran for extra points throughout the 1950 season. At that time, high school rules allowed only one point for conversions, whether they were kicks, runs or passes. The Bearkats were usually successful, but came up short in the championship game at Bossier’s War Memorial Stadium against a Baker team that included Dudley Downing and Jerry Epperson, who were later collegiate standouts at Northwestern State..