Football season is here! Millions of us love it; millions hate it or just don’t care. Count me in the lover’s category.
I didn’t get exposed to football early. When your dad is a U.S.Air Force Sergeant stationed in Japan, or the northernmost tip of Maine, OR Newfoundland, football is kind of scarce.
During junior high school in the mid-60’s, while at Kincheloe Air Force Base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I discovered football.
Enter 1976 and I find myself in Vernon Parish working in radio. Here comes the interest in local football.
The love I have witnessed from Vernon Parish fans for their teams has been truly amazing! There have been great years at Leesville, Rosepine, and Pickering. There have also been lean years, but fans of these programs have never wavered in their support.
The first games we broadcasted locally on 105.7 FM were Leesville Wampus Cat games. When Pickering and Rosepine began their programs, our station decided to give local listeners a taste of all the talent in Vernon Parish with our Big Dog Game of the Week.
Who remembers the Leesville homecoming game in 1981? Junior running back Oscar Joiner hydroplaned 95+ yards on one play to upset #1 ranked Washington-Marion. He was the fastest running back I have seen from Leesville High! His knee injury in the 1982 season opener at St. Mary’s in Natchitoches curtailed his promising career at LSU. They had offered him a scholarship and kept their commitment. Joiner returned punts and kickoffs for the Tigers for a year. He is still a treasure in Vernon Parish.
In another part of Vernon Parish in 1982, Rosepine Coach Bobby Dye had built the foundation of the program and had a freshman running back named Eddie Fuller. One night Fuller torched the St.Edmond Bluejays for over 300 yards rushing and three TD’s. Too bad that St. Edmond’s had their own running back that rushed for nearly 500 yards! Fuller and his younger brother Vincent both ended up at Leesville and LSU where they had stellar careers.
Die-hard Pickering Red Devil fans vividly remember Coach Dell Ashley’s 1992 squad that beat Payton Manning and Newman High in the AA quarterfinals in New Orleans. Pickering led Newman 20-7 in the fourth quarter before Manning rallied the Greenies to a 21-20 lead. Three seconds remained in the game when Spanish exchange student Manuel Pastor hit a 41-yard FG to win it for Pickering 23-21. The reaction of the loud, boisterous Pickering fans was classic!! Coach Ashley led a rugged squad including LB Ricky Conn, QB Kyle Ashley, and OL Dow Warwick that fell next week to Welsh in the state semi-finals.
I have amassed a boatload of sports stories from Vernon Parish, and I would like to share them with you periodically. One Question please — Are You Ready For Some Football??