|Object Name||Clipping, Newspaper|
Bossier City 1907-1982"
"Diamond in the Rough"
Journal Salutes Bossier City
"Those athletes from Bossier"
The teams, the games, the athletes who have made sports history in Bossier
By Nico Van Thyn
Journal Sports Writer
Great athletes? Great teams? Bossier City has produced them in abundance. The list of athletes is led by two individuals from different eras and different backgrounds.
No one heard much about Gary Johnson until after he left Charlotte Mitchell High School. He was a quiet kid who received little publicity because he was at all-black Mitchell - which also received little publicity - in the last year before schools integrated. :
His fame - and presence on a football field - grew at Grambling College, where he developed into an All-American defensive tackle.
Now "Big Hands" the nickname he acquired at Mitchell - is an all-pro defensive lineman with the San Diego Chargers.
Cecil Upshaw was a star - and well-known in Bossier City - early in his athletic career. As a teen-ager, he pitched a Bossier VFW baseball team to a "World Series" championship. He was an All-State basketball and baseball player at Bossier High, leading the Bearkats to the Class AAA state basketball championship in 1960. He starred in both sports at Centenary College, too, then signed a professional baseball contract in 1969.
He was with the Atlanta Braves by 1967 and pitched almost nine seasons in the major leagues, almost exclusively as a relief pitcher.
Another Bossier City product who made the major leagues was an umpire. Alaric Smith was a fair athlete at Bossier High in the early 1940s and later worked his way through the recreation leagues in Shreveport-Bossier to the Texas League and finally to the American League for nearly seven seasons. He umpired the World Series in 1964.
If you're looking for a "first family" of Bossier athletics - or education - it might be a tie between the Redings and the McConathys.
E.L. Reding was the head football coach at Bossier High in the late 1920s and early 1930s, later became the school principal and then a supervisor in the Bossier Parish School Board.
Oldest son Dick was an all-conference end at Northwestern State, caught a TD pass in the Senior Bowl and set an NSU shot put record; youngest son Joe was a `superstar" in track and field - the first 60-foot shot putter in state history - and an outstanding football player, too, who went from Bossier High to a fine career as an offensive tackle at LSU.
(Speaking of track "superstars" and the shot put, Joe Reding's records are now being wiped out by another brother combination from Airline High, John Campbell - now setting records at Northwestern State - and Arnold Campbell.)
John "Hound" McConathy is now the superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools and was the Bossier High basketball coach in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Bearkats dominated the sport in Shreveport-Bussier. Oldest son Mike was an all-star basketball player at Bossier High, then at Louisiana Tech; another son, Bill, followed Mike's path. Mike is now the basketball coach at Bossier High.j
Bossier High was the starting place for the coaching career of Jack Clayton in the mid-1930s. He went on to become the popular head coach of Northwestern State from 1957-66.
Maybe the first football star of any magnitude from Bossier was Eugene "Red" Knight, the ace running back of the 1942 Bossier High Class A state champions (coached by Ben Cameron). A high school All-American, he also starred at LSU.`
Bossier High had an outstanding crop of athletes in the late 1940s and coached by Loy Camp and Randall Kirkland, won the Class A state football title in 1948 and finished second in 1950. And Kirkland commanded three straight state championship track teams.
Bobby Ray McHalffey quarterbacked that '48 football team; Gene Yarborough and Tommy Woodall went on to become all-conference players at Louisiana Tech; and the team's strongest man may have been tackle Charles Faulkinberry, also a standout in track and field (the discus). On a powerhouse 1950 football team that lost 7-6 to Baker in the state finals and aver
. aged 34.8 points a game, running backs Tony Montalbano and Don Millen combined for 313 points.
Successful prep and college players in the early 1950s included halfback J.W. Slack and Pete Moore and linemen Lawrence Pounders, Bill Harris and Bill Mosely.
Bossier High was solid again in football in the late 1950s and early 1960s under head coach Bill Maxwell. Stars of the era were two-time All-State guard Rupert Procell, tackles Richard Enis and Robbie Hucklebridge (later LSU's MVP one season), running backs Henry Brown, John Mercer and Neal Prather and tight end Robert Hamlett.
A new school took over the spotlight in 1965, though. Airline's Vikings were "uncrowned champions" in 1965 under coach John Ropp with running backs Rudy Estess and Jim West a dynamite combo and tackle Jack Estep an All-State lineman. West later played at LSU.
In 1967, Airline got its crown. A charismatic, determined team won the Class AAA state championship under head coach Jack Gray. Eric Kllpatrick was the star running back whose touchdown kickoff return began the state championship game upset of Holy Cross (New Orleans).
Mitchell High lost only seven games in a five-year period under coach Gerald Kimble (now at Green Oaks High) and had such standouts as Willie Ray Harris, who scored 37 touchdowns in 1968, Clarence Shelmon (who played at University of Houston and now coaches at Indiana University) and, of course, "Big Hands". Johnson. In its final year of existence, Mitchell had an 11-1 record.
Airline was back with 'another powerhouse in 1972, making the Class AAAA state championship game before 'losing to Neville (Monroe). The Vikings had an aerial circus quarterback in Steve Haynes, later a big star at Louisiana Tech, and All-State players Jack Tuttle (offensive tackle) and aim Williams (defensive back).
Bossier High made the Class AAA state semifinals in '72, then had a super season in '75 when Jimmy Blackshire was an AllAmerica linebacker and Charlie Lewis was a sprinter-type running back.'
other football stars of the late 1960s and 1970s were Bossier center Logan Killen, offensive tackle John Watson, linebackers Joe McNeely, Mike Briggs and Don Smith, tight end Mike Almond (a four-sport letterman for the Bearkats), running backs Jack Fraser and Hal Fulghum and quarterbacks Jimmy Gilbert, Jerry Harris and Bill Bowman, Airline end Ron Johnson, tackle Mike Thompson, defensive back Terry Slack and receiver Clark Givens and Parkway running back Roy Spencer. In 1980, Mark Bass made All-State at linebacker for Bossier.
For kicks, there were Bossier High's Wayne Walker and Randy Walker and Jerry Pope, all blessed with strong legs that earned them good college careers - the Walkers at NSU; Pope at Tech - and short stints in the pros.
James Harris and Pat Roberts should be mentioned, too, for a couple of reasons. Both were outstanding football players - Harris as a quarterback at Bossier, Roberts as an Airline running back - and even better baseball players. More on that in a moment.
Three other football standouts from Bossier City played in Shreveport. 'Long-, time Fair Park High coach Roy Wilson grew up in Bossier, then moved over to play at Byrd High and later at LSU. Tony Sardisco became a big star at St. John's High and Tulane University and made the pros with the Boston Patriots. And linebacker Louis Cascio starred at Jesuit High and later LSU.)
In baseball, Robert Clifton was an AllState infielder for Bossier High who went on to a pro career in the early 1960s. Another infielder going pro was Airline's Donnie McLaughlin, one of three All-State infielders (Mike Timms and Ken Chaffin) for the Vikings in the late 1960s.
Upshaw was Bossier's biggest baseball star, but Harris wasn't far behind. He was part of Coach Tommy Henry's dynasty at Bossier, High from 1971-75 when the Bearkats won 43 straight district games, 66 straight regular-season games and twice (1972, 1973) went into Class AAA state championship unbeaten, only to lose.
Harris had a 31-2 record as a pitcher in his career and batted .634 as a senior with eight home runs.
Pope and Don Smith preceded Harris as "Outstanding Players" in the state, and Pope was 25-2 as a pitcher in three years. Maybe the best hitter of the dynasty was Craig Knight, who batted .604 as a junior and signed a pro contract after a senior year in which he hit .563 with a broken wrist.
Roberts was the state's AAAA "Outstanding Pitcher" pitcher for Airline and a strong hitter, too. Airline won three district titles and made the playoffs six times in a decade (1972-81); Parkway, led by powerhitting Ricky Slade, won a district title in '76 and Slade and All-State catcher Steve Brumfield from Bossier High led a Bossier American Legion team into the state finals in '77.
Bossier had another outstanding pitcher, Matt Ford, in 1977-79.
In basketball, Bossier High always had a strong tradition and top-notch coaches - Frank Lampkin, who later became the principal; John McConathy; George Nattin Jr.; Bill Collinsworth and Larry Toms. The parade of top players goes back to Tom Herrin in the late 1940s. He played at Louisiana Tech and nearly made the major leagues as a baseball pitcher.
Larry Teague led Bossier High in the early 1950s and played at Centenary. And the oustanding player of the decade was Nattin, a multi-talented guard who dominated games and went on to all-conference honors at LSU.
Maybe the best player out of the city in the 1960s was Earl "The Pearl" Hill from Charlotte Mitchell, who played at Ashland (Ohio) College under future pro coach Bill Musselman and had a shot at the pros (Virginia Squires).
Upshaw and Tommy Thigpen starred in the early 1960s; Jim Krajefska and Charles Deville were all-stars on Airline's first couple of teams and Bill Tynes and David Stevens led Bossier to the Class AAA state runner-up spot under Collinsworth in 1968. Ricky Rayl and Rodney Bailey were Bossier standouts in the 1970s.
Mike McConathy was Airline's star of - the early 1970s, then the Vikings put together four straight district titles under coach Miles Holladay as guard Steve Kelly became Shreveport-Bossier's second leading scorer ever (behind Robert Parish).
Top players at Parkway were Bill McKellar in the mid-1970s and Jimmy Disbrow, the city's "Outstanding Player" in 1981.
In track and field, Airline's John Kipp, who competed in the mid-1960's, is still among the state's best-ever half-milers. And the Vikings' Steve Cate, a senior this spring, is No. 2 on the all-time discus list.
And in a relatively new prep sport, wrestling, Parkway built a powerful program under coach Ricky Howard in the late 1970s.
|Title||The Shreveport Journal|
|Caption||Big Hands Johnson|
|Lexicon category||8: Communication Artifact|
|Lexicon sub-category||Documentary Artifact|