This is game No. 9 of the top 40 games featuring parish team.
Huntington School snapped Valley Forge’s 15-game winning streak in the third game of the 1971 football season, beating the defending and first-ever Louisiana Independent School Association AA state champion, 18-13 in Amite, La.
It was the first-ever loss for Valley Forge as Russell Huber rushed for 138 yards and scored a touchdown after Charles Clayton picked up a fumble and returned it 20 yards to the Valley Forge 6-yard line.
When the two teams met again in the Louisiana Independent School Association AA semifinals two months later on November 26, 1971 in Ferriday, the Hounds would make sure there would not be a repeat winner for the state title.
The Hounds were also much more comfortable on their own field.
Jimmy Darden remembers the game at Valley Forge very well.
“I saw my first DIxie Beer truck,” Darden said. “It was parked at the game. Everybody’s mouths were wide open. I said to Coach (Bobby) Marks, ‘Coach, that’s a beer truck.’” He just told me to shut up and get focused.”
Huber, who would go on to play running back at Tulane, remembers another pre-game incident.
“I remember the bus trip there and it was so hot,” Huber said. “We got off the bus and they had this great campus. We go in their dressing room and we had two hours to kill. Me, Gerald (Vaught) and Jimmy (Darden) took cold showers. Coach Eddie Hunter ran in and screamed, ‘What are y’all doing?’ He thought we were taking hot showers, which takes a lot of your energy away. We told him we were taking cold showers. At that time I realized this was a big game.”
Many Hound players said stopping at Fernwood Truck Slop near McComb, Miss., after the game as a special moment.
“We walked in and the fans from Ferriday there gave us a standing ovation,” Darden said.
John Rife remembers the re-match, especially a play he called the most important play in Huntington School sports history.
With Huntington leading 12-7 and less than three minutes remaining at Hound Stadium on Lake Concordia, Valley Forge moved from their own 18-yard line to the Hound 16, facing a third down with 48 ticks remaining on the clock.
Rebel quarterback David Simmons then threw a pass into the end zone to Wayne Mitchell, who grabbed the ball, but was hit immediately by senior Hound defensive back Terry Powell as the ball fell helplessly to the ground.
On the next play, another pass attempt was deflected, by Darden into the hands of teammate Gerald Vaught to end the threat.
Powell said the Valley Forge receiver ran the same pattern on third down as he did on second down.
“On the play before I told John to watch the receiver going to the flag, “Powell said. “They snapped the ball and the end headed toward me. All of a sudden he broke back to-the flag. I hesitated a second and looked over and saw John had fallen down. Their quarterback and receiver were on target the entire game, I mean the quarterback could put it on the money. I just took off that way as fast as I could go and went up and hit .him and he came down on top of me. I couldn’t see if he caught it or not. And then John came running over and I got up-and saw he didn’t catch it.”
There was also dramatics leading to the game-winning score.
Neither team scored in the first half.
Huntington scored 53 seconds into the second half as Robert Webber scooped up a botched handoff and ran 27 yards to paydirt to put the Hounds on the board.
“I was a nice guy when I had my helmet off, but when I put it on I was not very nice,” Webber said. “I learned a lot playing defense under Eddie Hunter. He was a great teacher.”
Valley Forge took its only lead early in the final period as Simmons raced 15 yards for the score.
The point after was blocked, but the Hounds were penalized on the play and Ronald Adams connected on the second one to give the Rebels the lead.
Vaught then returned the ensuing kickoff from his 18-yard line to the Valley Forge 48.
With just under four minutes remaining the Hounds faced fourth down on the Rebel 2-yard line trailing 7-6.
“We called time out,” said Marks, who referred to co-head coach Eddie Hunter, who always wanted to go with the field goal with Ole Miss signee Billy Weeks doing the kicking.
“I asked Eddie what he wanted to do and he said he didn’t know,” said Marks, who then turned to assistant coaches Ernest Davis and Marion Newman.
“Ernest wanted to pass and Marion said he didn’t know,” Marks said. “But I had already made up my mind. We were going to go with a 33 wham with Russell Huber at fullback. He barely got in there and we won the game.”
Huber said Eddie actually wanted to pass the ball, while Davis, who also served as principal of the school, wanted to run Huber up the middle.
“They had a linebacker who was the coach’s son,” Huber said. “I ran right up the back of Mike Everhart, who was our outstanding center. The linebacker stood me straight up, but I turned and fell back into the end zone. They were screaming I didn’t score, but I was laying down in the end zone.”
Huntington advanced to the state championship against Riverside Academy of Reserve, which defeated the Hounds 21-6 in Reserve during the regular season. The Hounds won the coin flip to host the state finals and defeated the Rebels 12-0.
“We worked hard in practice and we hit, hit and hit some more,” Vaught said. “When Friday came around it was the easiest day of the week. We had that mentality that we knew we were going to win.”
“That first year it was mostly about adapting to the situation,” Darden said. “It was great at Huntington. We had a bunch of people we didn’t know before from all over and it was a lot of fun.That was some of the best times of my life. I was glad to be a part of it. And by the second year we knew we could play with anybody.”
While Huntington captured the LISA AA title, Tensas Academy defeated Claiborne 15-14 to capture the LISA A state championship.
Tensas was coached by former Ferriday Junior High football coach Sonny Franklin.