Trojan Horse

Richard Bates gains yardage against Block in 1986 contest.

This is game No. 11 of the top 40 games featuring parish team.  

It wasn't the type of Homecoming opponent you would expect for a Friday night high school football game.

And to make matters worse, the 1986 Ferriday Trojans were welcoming a Block High team that was 3-1 and led by the leading rusher in the state in Dexter Butcher.

Butcher, who would sign with LSU before having to attend Grambling as a Prop 48, already churned out 707 yards on the ground through four games.

But it was another, much less heralded running back who stole the spotlight at Melz Field.

When Richard Bates scored from two yards out with 16 seconds remaining, the Ferriday stands erupted.

Ferriday sophomore quarterback James Davis scored on a quarterback keeper on the conversion run to give the Trojans an unlikely 20-18 win over the Bears.

"I just knew I needed to get in the end zone - whatever it took," said Davis, who went on to a standout career as quarterback at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and also served as principal at Ferriday High . "I wasn't called upon to run the ball a lot, I was more of a passing quarterback. So Block wasn't expecting me to run it. It was a great call by Coach (Larry Dantzler). That was a big win for us. We didn't have a lot of expectations coming into the season because we only had one returning offensive lineman. We finished 5-5, which I thought was decent considering what we lost. That game was big in us finishing at .500."

Ferriday, which had played for a state championship two years earlier, falling to John Curtis, lost 17 starters from the 1985 team. Richard Bates was moved from tight end to running back.

One of the losses occurred two weeks before the Block game as Ferriday fell to top-rated Class A Southern Lab 21-14.

Bates and Butcher went on to be teammates at Grambling.

"Dexter ran up high like Eric Dickerson," Bates said. "He is a great guy. He was a fantastic player and had good speed. He was averaging 200 yards a game and ran a 4.3. I ran a 4.42. I also played defensive back. They were basically a running team so we concentrated on stopping him. He still got his yardage. That was a big win for us. We had a winning tradition and had never lost to Block. My brothers (Vince, Nathaniel and Otis never lost to Block)."

McKinley Bates, the youngest brother, played at Vidalia High.

"Coach (Dee) Faircloth wondered when all the Bates would stop coming along," Richard said.

Vince, who is in his 18th year as a detective for the Natchez Police Department, played on the same team as Richard. 

"We had a game plan," said Vince, who played running back and defensive back on the 1986 team. "We kicked the ball away from Dexter. We knew he was fast, and he still got around us at times. It was a big win for us. We didn't want to lose to any local teams."

Block scored first as Butcher took in a Blane Hill punt at his 45 and returned it 55 yards to paydirt with 5:12 remaining in the first period to give the Bears a 6-0 lead.

Butcher then logged the ball for most of a 58-yard drive, going in from three yards out with 43 seconds remaining in the opening period for a 12-0 Block lead.

Robert Skinner returned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Block 49.

Davis then hit James Leonard on a 49-yard touchdown pass to put the Trojans on the board.

It was the first-ever touchdown catch for Leonard, who started as a freshman.

"It was my first Homecoming at Ferriday and I will never forget that game," Leonard said. "We tried that same pass in the first quarter, but Dexter was all over it. Later, Coach Cade (offensive coordinator Robert Cade) wanted to run it again. Dexter had moved over toward covering Alonzo Watson, who was having a record-breaking night (17 catches for 205 yards). I'll never forget that ball hanging up there. I knew if I caught it, it was going to be a touchdown."

A 60-yard interception return for a touchdown by Terrance WIlliams was called back because of a clipping penalty in the second quarter. 

Block led 12-6 at halftime.

"I didn't play well in the first half, I missed a lot of receivers," Davis said. "But I thought if we kept it close we would have a good opportunity to win. The second half we were able to get some stops and minimize Dexter on punt returns. He was a great athlete."

On the Bears' second possession of the second half, Butcher broke loose on a 64-yard scoring run. Butcher intercepted a pass to give the Bears possession.

Ferriday pulled to within 18-12 on their second possession of the final period after four complete passes by Davis led to a 1-yard TD run by Bates with 6:56 remaining.

The Trojan defense held and the final winning drive started at the Ferriday 23-yard line.

Seven passes, coupled with runs by Bates and Hill moved the ball to the 2-yard line with 16 ticks remaining.

That's where Bates and Davis became Homecoming heroes on this October 3rd night.

"A lot of our fans left at the start of the fourth quarter," Davis said. "They missed a great ending."

Block finished the year at , defeating Vidalia 32-8 in the first round of the playoffs as Butcher rushed for 188 yards before falling at home to South Cameron 32-12 in the second round. Block finished 8-4 as Butcher finished the year with just around 1,900 yards.

Richard resides in Ruston with his wife, Tiffany, a professor at Louisiana Tech. They have four children.

Richard is a recruiter and works with student services at Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College in Minden.

Richard and his brothers Vince and Nathaniel, all played at Grambling under legendary coach Eddie Robinson.

"Coach Robinson was phenomenal," Richard said. "He was a father figure. And when we went on the road, we always wore a coat and tie. He was a great mentor."

   

 

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