By Jerry Byrd
When Evangel Christian Academy won its first state football championship in 1993, it was the first football title for any local school since a Haughton team coached by Bobby Ray McHalffey won the Class 3A championship in 1977 with a 21-0 victory over Vandebilt Catholic at Houma.
But the winning was only beginning for the Evangel Eagles. They won another Class A title in 1994 with a 44-14 Superdome victory over West St. John, a Class 3A title in 1996 with a 28-27 win over St. James, a Class 2A title in 1997 with a 51-13 win over Independence and a Class 3A title in 1998 with a 28-14 win over Independence. Then they moved into Class 5A and won championships in 1999 (20-14 over West Monroe) and 2001 (34-27 over West Monroe).
Many Louisiana high school principals wanted to legislate Evangel out of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association in 1998 — even if it meant kicking out all private schools. Brock Berlin passed for more than 4,000 yards in three separate seasons while Phillip Deas, John David Booty did it once apiece. At that time, no other Louisiana quarterbacks had done it.
In eight seasons, Evangel averaged 41.7 points and 302.8 yards passing per game for 116 games, posting a 108-8 record. The Eagles scored three or more touchdowns in 111 consecutive games before a 37-13 loss to West Monroe in the fifth week of the 2001 season.
In the 2003 edition of the National High School Sports Record Book, Evangel had:
(1) Three of the top eight players with career totals of more than 11,000 yards passing;
(2) Three of the nine single season totals of more than 4,500 yards passing (two by Berlin, one by Deas);
(3) Three of the eight players with career totals of more than 125 touchdown passes;
(4) Four of the nine team totals of more than 4,800 yards passing – the last four years of the 20th century;
(5) Four of the 13 team totals of 55 or more touchdown passes in one season.
All of these records were established in a city which was known for its quarterbacks and pass receivers long before the existence of Evangel.
Terry Bradshaw, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl championships before moving into the television booth, led the parade of Shreveport quarterbacks into the National Football League in 1970.
Trey Prather was Woodlawn’s first All-State quarterback in 1964. Bradshaw played behind him for two years before breaking into the starting lineup in 1965, setting a Class 3A state record for touchdown passes with 21 while Fair Park’s John Miller was setting a composite state record for passing yardage with 2,727. State champion Sulphur beat both teams in the playoffs — Fair Park in the semifinals and Woodlawn in the championship game.
Ferguson followed Bradshaw at Woodlawn, and followed him into the National Football League, spending most of his pro career with the Buffalo Bills. Other Shreveport quarterbacks who helped their pro teams reach the Super Bowl were David Woodley of Byrd High and the Miami Dolphins, and Stan Humphries of Southwood and the San Diego Chargers. Both Woodley and Humphries originally went to LSU. Humphries transferred to Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) and led the Indians to a national Division 1-AA championship.
Jerry Byrd is the former sports editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune and an award-winning columnist. You can contact him by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org