On Sept. 27, 1957, the fourth Friday night of the first football season in my sports writing career, I saw the Homer “Iron Men” and the Bossier Bearkats battle to a 6-6 tie at Bossier High’s Memorial Stadium.
I later covered other teams that won state championships, but none of the others did it with only 18 players.
The Bossier game was the district opener for Homer in Glenn Gossett’s first season as head coach. The team was playing without halfback Sammy Camp, who had suffered a shoulder separation in a season-opening 13-6 win over Ouachita.
With 127-pound Daryl Ackley replacing Camp in the lineup, the Pelicans had only one first down and 32 yards total offense in a scoreless first half.
In the second half, Bossier guard Nathan Allen blocked a punt by Homer’s Bobby Flurry and the ball rolled out of bounds at the Homer 14-yard line. But Bossier wasn’t able to score.
Ray Wilkins gave Homer a 6-0 lead with an 80-yard touchdown run, but the extra point attempt was smothered after a bad center snap.
Bossier then drove 63 yards in a dozen plays for its touchdown, a one-yard run by Johnny Mercer.
The “Iron Men” outgained Bossier 63 yards to three after Mercer’s touchdown, but neither team scored again.
Gossett, who was later head coach at Northwestern State, took the 1957 Homer “Iron Men” to a state championship matchup with Morgan City. But Morgan City won that game, 19-7. Wilkins, who set a Claiborne Parish rushing record with 1,782 yards and won a berth on the All-State team, had cartilage torn from his ribs in an earlier playoff game and wasn’t a major factor at Morgan City.
Fred Miller, who was later an All-American at LSU and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, represented Homer on the 1957 Class 2A All-State team, along with center Ray Weaver and halfback Wilkins. Bossier High’s only All-Stater that year was guard Rupert Procell.
Bossier High won state football championships in 1942 and 1948. The 1942 Bearkats, coached by Ben Cameron, wrapped up a 12-0 season with a 27-12 victory over DeQuincy in the title game at DeQuincy.
Halfback Eugene “Red” Knight, who later played at LSU, and tackle Camille Spataro were All-Staters on that Bearkat team.
The 1948 Bearkats, coached by Loy Camp, finished a 9-2-1 season with a 21-0 victory over Reserve in the championship game. Both of those were Class A titles, which was the second highest classification at that time.
Bossier didn’t win a state championship in 1961, but Coach Bill Maxwell’s Bearkats scored a 21-20 upset victory over Byrd, which was in the middle of its last hurrah as the dominant power in the top classification of North Louisiana high school football.
Trailing by 20-7 in the third quarter of that game, the Bearkats turned it around with a screen pass from Raymond Shewmake to Neal Prather for 54 yards and a touchdown. Bossier drove 63 yards in the fourth quarter for the winning touchdown in that game. Charles Glover scored it on a one-yard run and Shewmake passed to Lee Harville for the winning point.
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