This is game No. 12 of the top 40 games featuring Concordia Parish team.
Frank Brocato was part of four state championships at Ferriday High School and part of a 54-game unbeaten streak that still stands as a state record.
The streak started in 1953 as the Class B Bulldogs lost their opener 20-19 to eventual Class A state champion Westlake, but would not lose again until the season-opener in 1957 against Block.
Ferriday won the Northeast title for the second straight year on Thanksgiving Day of 1953, defeating previously unbeaten Waterproof 14-0 before 3,200 fans, many from Ferriday making the short trip up Hwy. 65 to Waterproof.
“It was a tradition for us to somebody in the district on Thanksgiving Day,” said Brocato, who was a freshman that year and would go on to be a highly successful high school coach. “Everybody in town came, nobody was worried about eating turkey.”
Especially with rival Waterproof on the other sideline.
“That was extra special,” said running back Bobby Glenn Harmon. “The school bus to Tensas and Concordia parishes went by my house. I went to church in Waterproof. But I wanted to play piano, so I asked my parents if I could switch to Ferriday because they had music. Mr. (Forest) Griffin was the band director and he was very good. His wife taught music. At the same time, the seventh grade started pee wee football. Baker D. Newton was an English teacher and the pee wee coach. He was a real good guy and a good coach. In the ninth grade. I decided at the last minute to try out for the high school team. They had just enough equipment, I had leather headgear that was wrapped in plastic.
“I knew a lot of their players,” Harmon said. “J.D. Stockstill was really good and Doonie Preis went on to play at Auburn. Clyde Ray Webber (who finished third in the district in scoring) came in to hold for an extra point and he said to let him kick one of the extra points. I told him, “not this time, some other time.”
Webber, who retired this week after 54 years as Concordia Parish Clerk of Court, ended up being kicked unintentionally above the eye by Preis while holding on a conversion kick.
“Waterproof had a Preis boy who was hard to stop,” said Ferriday head coach Johnny “Red” Robertson. “If you did not get to him before he reached the line of scrimmage he would be tough to bring down. He was quick and fast. They also had a young quarterback. Frank and Max would talk to him the whole game and made him real nervous.”
Robertson was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and died in 2013.
Waterproof attempted to punt away from Harmon, resulting in a 4-yard punt to the Waterproof 42. Harmon capped off the short scoring drive with a 1-yard run.
A 54-yard run by Don Horton inside the Waterproof 10-yard line in the second half went for naught after a Bulldog fumble, but a short Waterproof punt led to a 6-yard TD scamper by Guy Hill.
Hill scored 20 touchdowns in 1953.
“I always called Guy Hill a ‘stomping runner’ because he ran so hard and always wanted to run over you,” said Ferriday All-American Max Fugler, who was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last year.
Each team had a TD called back as Johnson recovered a fumble and raced 70 yards for a score, only to have that negated. Stockstill completed a screen pass to Neal Fletcher that went the distance, but was called back. Horton intercepted a Tiger pass at the Bulldog 10-yard line and returned it 25 yards to end that drive.
Marion Newman was a senior lineman on the team.
“It was just knock-down, drag-out all the time,” Newman said. “We had some hard practices. And we ran a lot of sprints with no water breaks. We played real football at practice. When we got through on Wednesday afternoons, Friday nights were easy. That’s what we looked forward to. It was a picnic compared to the practices.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Hill, who was one of the top running backs in the state when he played from 1952-54. “Just about every boy in the school played football. We practiced real hard and everybody knew they were going to play. In 1958, LSU created the Chinese Bandits, letting their third string play first string. We were doing that before then. The thing I remember most, though, is how hard we practiced. It was rough. We didn’t really have any water breaks. And we ran a lot of sprints and gassers.”
“I think the 1955 team was our best team, but beating Tallulah that year helped our confidence going into the playoffs,” Brocato said. “Without a doubt, they were a contender, too
“It was like riding a magic carpet,” said Leo Young Jr., who played on the 1953 and 1954 teams before playing college ball at Tulane. “We had a lot of good football players. And during the latter part of the games, coaches were able to play the younger boys. The next year they would come in with playing experience. Someone like Donnie Daye played a lot when he was young and it was like that for a lot of the guys. Every year that goes by I am more and more amazed the record is still intact. It was a thrill to be a part of that. We had some wonderful coaches who knew how to get everything out of everybody.”
“Coach Robertson was always driving us to get to where we needed to be and we were fortunate enough to get there,” Fugler said.
It was the first state championship team for Donnie Daye, who was in his first year at Ferriday after moving from Sunset, La., where he played 6-man football in junior high.
“I was still trying to figure out where you put 11 players,” Daye said. “But that was a special group and a good glimpse of what was to come.”