Rhett Powell

It was a picture as good as what you would see in Sports Illustrated or any major newspaper in the nation. And this was when there were no digital cameras, and you really did not know what you had until you returned to the newsroom darkroom and processed the film. On deadline, What Rhett Powell devoloped in that small, musty darkened cubbyhole was an absolute classic. It was a black and white shot of LSU kicker Bobby Moreau jumping up with his feet looking as if they were pedaling a bicycle and his arns spread wide with a big grin under his facemask. Moreau just kicked the game-winner in LSU’s 27-24 win over Kentucky on October 18, 1975. Rhett told me about the picture later, saying for some reason he kept his camera on Moreau while other photographers were snapping the kick. “I had the photographer next to me say, ‘You got that, didn’t you.” And, indeed he did. The picture deservedly won numerous awards. But for Rhett it was all about being in the middle of the action. When Rhett sauntered onto the sideline he was greeted warmly and with so much respect. Players gave him plenty of room to operate. And everyone knew his mission. Even the fans screaming ‘Take my picture, take my picture.” Most of the time Rhett would hold up his camera and snap away, knowing that picture would never see the light of day. We joked about the good ol’ days when photographers shot the first half of five games, having to get back to the newsroom to process the film and have pictures available to beat deadline. Thankfully, the stress was not near as mounting in his later years. I saw Rhett walk up to a game once, put his camera on motor drive, take pictures of two series, look at his camera and say “Ok, I got you some stuff.” But more times than not, Rhett would hang around because he loved football in Concordia Parish, and was very interested in the outcome. And he loved Tiger Stadium and Alex Box. His shot of Jarvis Landry, Tyrann Mathieu, Russell Shepard and Ron Brooks hunched over outside the tunnel preparing to run on the field for a 2011 game was his one of his favorites. And rightly so as you could see the intensity on the faces inside the helmets. In between the picture taking, Rhett would drop in to chat and talk about the good ol’ days and the present. His laugh was infectious. His stories were unmatched. Even before that fateful night of September 29 when Rhett was caught by a leg-whip from a player on the opposing team playing Vidalia, Rhett was having health issues. I was at another game, so I was not there to see it unfold. And it was all kind of ironic, but Rhett was the one who always told me to walk on the sidelines in the direction where the play was coming from to keep from getting hit during extended action on the sidelines. That night would be the last high school sporting event in Rhett Powell’s illustrious career. Rhett said the hit really didn’t seem that bad. But when it started looking worse days later, he went to have it checked. Of course, he had already sent me pictures from the Ferriday and Vidalia games. Deadlines may not have been as pressing as before, but they were still intimidating. Unfortunately, it would be the final pictures Rhett Powell would take for the Concordia Sentinel. Congestive heart failure at the start of this year added to his problems. Rhett is now in a place where the scenery is unlike any of the thousands and thousands of pictures he took. Even that picture of Bobby Moreau. Well done, good and faithful servant.

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