Vernon Lions Legacy

L-R: J.T. Smith, Vernon High Alumni; James Williams, Vernon Parish Superintendent of Schools; Lisa Haymon, LHS Principal; Donald Mallet, Vernon High Alumni; Vincent Cacioppo, LHSAA Representative; Vernon Travis, Vernon Parish School Board Member; Donnie Gilbert, Vernon High Alumni

A ceremony honoring past State Championship Football Teams from Vernon High School took place prior to the Leesville-Opelousas football game Friday, September 29.  Vernon High opened in 1936 as the only school black students could attend in Vernon Parish.  Vernon High closed in 1969 when it merged with Leesville High School.

The “Mighty Lions” were a football powerhouse among black football programs in Louisiana, winning Class A State Titles in 1963, 1967 and 1968.  The title games were all won in dominating fashion by shutout!

Local historians used information and video footage they could find to piece together a tribute to those teams.  The video was also a tribute to influential educator Foster Thomas.  He bridged the gap when Vernon and Leesville merged and was a stabilizing force in Vernon Parish Schools for decades following.

The ceremony last week was a fitting and long-overdue acknowledgement of what the Vernon Lions meant to Vernon Parish. The three State Championship Trophies were found and refurbished.  They were presented to the players during the ceremony.  Those will now occupy a special place at Leesville High School.

Prior to the stadium ceremony, Gallery One Ellleven hosted a reception for players and families.  The meal was presented by Deep South Catering.  More than thirty former players and family members attended the special event.