1994 Crowville Bulldogs pulled off 10-0 regular season, district championship

When you are underdogs no one expects you to pull off a 10-0 regular season record and a district football championship, especially if you were a Crowville Bulldog.

But the 1994 Bulldogs did just that, surprising locals and regional high school football fans alike. The Bulldogs cruised through the regular season being led by the two previous all-state nominated players: five foot nine inch, 155 pound Chris Bobo and 6 foot, 177 pound receiver T.J. Wesley.

“Historically, Crowville had not won a lot of district championships,” said 1994 Head Coach James Shirley. “Winning the district championship was something we were not used to. No one expected us to win, but things just began to click.”

Crowville “clicked” throughout the entire regular season as the squad overcame solid programs such as Newellton, Delhi, Mangham and Sterlington on their way to the championship. Along the way, they gained fans and respect but most importantly the group gained camaraderie among themselves that comes only from the gridiron field.

“This group loved to play football,” Shirley said. “They had chemistry with one another. They enjoyed practice and being out there. They worked hard and played smart.”

Crowville started their season at the annual Wildcat Jamboree held at now Patriot Stadium in Winnsboro. Franklin Sun reported Crowville used a well-balanced offensive attack to down the Gilbert Demons, 36-14.

Bobo began his 1994 march scoring twice on a six-yard run and a one-yard plunge. He finished the night with 94 yards on six carries.

“(Chris Bobo) was very quick and very good at reading a play,” Shirley said. “Ninety percent of the time he made right decisions with the ball.”

Week 1: Crowville 48 - Gilbert 20

Crowville would have to face Gilbert again for their first regular season matchup.  The Demons proved to be an afterthought as the Bulldogs rolled to a 48-20 win.

Wesley had a big night on offense for Crowville with three receptions for 140 yards, two receiving touchdowns and one on the ground.

During the matchup, Bobo completed four passes totaling 151 yards and one touchdown. Crowville ran over Gilbert in several different directions with James Williams rushing for 92 yards, Calvin Birden running for 68 yards and Donnie Shaw chalking up 47 yards.

Crowville’s defensive effort was led by Russell Caldwell, Mario Wilson, Wesley, Williams and Greg Carson.

Week 2: Crowville 36 -

Wisner 14

“Battle of the Bulldog”

In Franklin Parish, there were two Bulldog teams: Crowville and Wisner. Each year, the two teams battled it out for a prized stuffed bulldog whose colors were green and gold (Crowville) and blue and white (Wisner). The victor of the game took the Bulldog “home” until they met again. For years, Wisner predominantly took the prize home, but this was 1994 and things were different for the green and gold Bulldogs.

“Our kids just took care of business,” Shirley said. “It was always a feather in your cap when you beat (Wisner Head Coach) Billy Reed’s team.”

Shirley admits it was still early in the season, and he hadn’t grasped his team’s talent.

“At that point, we didn’t realize how good we were.” Shirley said.

In the first quarter, Bobo hooked up with Wesley on a 12-yard scoring strike and Birden ran in the two-point conversion to give Crowville the early lead.

Wisner responded to the challenge and came back with a drive of their own. Faced with a fourth and goal on Crowville’s five-yard line, Wisner quarterback Dasma McIntyre ran around the left end for a touchdown.

McIntyre would again sweep around the left end for the two-point conversion to tie the score 8-8.

In the second quarter, Crowville drove the ball down to Wisner’s 20-yard line. Faced with fourth down and five at the 20, Bobo found Hunter Todd for a ten-yard completion while Williams later carried the ball down to the four. Bobo then drove into the end zone four yards out. The conversion attempt failed and Crowville held a 14-8 lead.

Late in the first half, Crowville recovered a Wisner fumble at the 36. During the ensuing possession, Bobo lofted the ball into the end zone, only to be intercepted by McIntyre.

In the third quarter, Wesley broke out of the backfield on a 56-yard touchdown run and Bobo hooked up with Wilson for the two-point conversion to give Crowville a 22-8 lead.

Later in the third quarter, Bobo hit Wilson for a 30-yard touchdown, assuming a commanding 28-8 advantage.

Crowville kept the pressure as Bobo scored his second rushing touchdown of the night following a Wisner fumble in the fourth quarter. The green and gold Bulldogs kept pressure on Wisner as Wilson caught a Bobo pass again in the fourth cushioning the lead to 36-8.

Wisner attempted a comeback as McIntyre hit Johnny Jones for a 60-yard touchdown pass but fell 36-14.

Week 3: Crowville 8 - Newellton 0

Up until week three, Crowville had relied on their high power offense but this would change when they faced Tensas Parish foe Newellton.

“We proved our defense could play and was solid against Newellton,” Shirley said.

After three scoreless quarters, Bobo connected with Wilson for a long gain which would set up the quarterback’s one-yard keeper. Bobo then hit Welsey for a two-point conversion.

“Our offensive line did a great job, especially in the last drive,” Shirley said in a past Sun interview. “Also a lot of credit goes to T.J. Welsey who provided some big first downs for us.”

The win avenged the previous season’s 49-18 loss to Newellton.

Week 4: Crowville 22 - Delhi 14

Delhi High School is located in Richland Parish and was classified as a Double A program. Even with those differences many of the players on each squad knew each other due to Crowville’s close location to the school. The common knowledge forged a rivalry between the programs.

“This game proved we could play,” Shirley said. “I was thinking, ‘Hey, we’re not that bad.’”

Crowville upset the larger Delhi team 22-14 to improve their record to 4-0.

Bobo drew first blood in the contest when he hit Wesley for a 7-yard touchdown pass which was the first half’s only score.

Dallas Calhoun of Delhi raced 66 yards for a touchdown to open the second half up and tie the score 6-6.

Crowville’s James Williams scored on an eight-yard run later in the third quarter to re-capture the lead. Not to be denied, Delhi’s Damien Parker hooked up with receiver Wesley Mock for a 69-yarder later in the third quarter to knot the score 14-14.

Wesley caught a 10-yard pass from Bobo in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs the eventual 22-14 non-distict win.

Week 5: Crowville 22 -

Waterproof 14

Crowville fought to a thrilling overtime win against Waterproof, 22-14.

“Waterproof is probably going to be the fastest team that we face this year,” Shirley said, in a Sun interview after the Delhi game.

The Bulldog defense proved ferocious against Waterproof quarterback, James Cephus.

“We hit him all night long, but he kept getting back up every time,” Shirley said.

Waterproof started the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run by Robert Clark in the first quarter.

Crowville would answer in the second quarter with a score from five-yards out by James Williams to make the score 7-6.

Waterproof would add another touchdown later in the second quarter on a 72-yard burst by Darryle Gillis. Waterpoof held a 14-6 lead as the fourth quarter got under way.

Bulldog offense came alive in the fourth as Bobo hit Wilson for a three-yard touchdown. Welsey ran the ball in for the conversion to tie the score 14-14.

Neither team could gain an advantage as the clock ran out, and Crowville received the first possession in overtime.

With the ball placed on the 10-yard line, Williams ran to the left for a five-yard gain. On the next play from scrimmage, Birden put the ball in the end zone on a five-yard scoring play around the right end. Wesley ran in the two-point conversion to give Crowville a 22-14 lead.

On Waterproof’s first possession in overtime, Crowville’s Todd came up with another big sack. Cephus, being beat up all night, coughed up the ball and Russell Caldwell recovered it to give Crowville the win.

Week 6:  Crowville 44 - LaSalle 22

Crowville went to the ground against LaSalle and pounded out a 44-22 victory.

Bobo piled up 200 yards on just eight carries.

Birden added 126 yards on six carries and James Williams pitched in with 68 yards on six attempts.

Wesley added another 55 yards on the ground and also had two receptions for a total of 25 yards.

The Bulldogs fell behind early in the first as LaSalle scored from three yards out. But, later in the first, Williams scored on a 57-yard scamper to put Crowville on the board. Bobo connected with Wesley on the conversion.

Crowville scored two times in the second quarter to widen their margin while LaSalle managed just one more score in the first half.

Bobo opened the scoring for Crowville in the second half with an 82-yard TD run in the third quarter and converted the two-point play with a pass to Todd. LaSalle kept chipping away at the Bulldog lead with a Paul Steen one-yard plunge. Steen connected with Kyle Boyd for the conversion to cut the Bulldog lead to 30-22.

Crowville put the game out of reach with Wesley’s 10-yard TD reception from Bobo late in the third and padded the lead with a fourth-quarter score by Williams on a four-yard run.

Week 7: Crowville 36 - Buckeye 20

The Bulldogs moved their winning streak to seven games and remained perfect for the season with a win against Buckeye, 36-20.

The Bulldogs scored all their points in the first half and rolled up 330 yards of total offense while the defense held Buckeye to 235 yards.

Buckeye drew first blood in the game on a 64-yard punt return score by Heath Paul. The PAT was blocked, giving Buckeye a 6-0 lead.

Bobo got the Bulldogs right back in it with an 11-yard scoring strike to Wesley. Bobo then hit Wesley with a two-point conversion.

The Bulldog defense put some points on the board later in the first quarter as Todd picked up a Buckeye fumble and raced 30 yards for a touchdown. With a 14-6 lead after one quarter, Crowville erupted for a 22-point second quarter to secure the lead.

Crowville would travel to Mangham the next week. In a 1994 Sun interview, Shirley’s confidence in his team was growing.

“Mangham has a solid team and can run the ball well,” Shirley said. “But, I feel that our team will be ready for them and it should be an exciting football game for everyone involved.”

Mangham was coming off a District 2A win against Sterlington 34-0. During the contest, the Dragon defense shut down one of the area’s top rushers in Willie Carr, limiting him to just 25 yards on 12 carries.

Week 8: Crowville 44 - Mangham 29

Shirley’s predictions were true as his Bulldogs scored an impressive 44-29 victory over the Dragons.

Crowville fell behind 17-8 in the first half before the Bulldogs got back on track and took command of the game. Just before the half, Bobo hit Wesley on a one-yard scoring play. Bobo again found Wesley for the two-point conversion to cut Mangham’s lead to 17-16 at the half.

On the second half’s opening play, the Bulldogs kept the momentum going when Bobo went deep to Wesley for a 64-yard touchdown.

Crowville went on to score 22 more second-half points to put the game away.

Bobo passed for a total of 151 yards and rushed for 49 more and scored one rushing TD. Wesley caught six passes for 147 yards.

Adding to the Bulldogs scoring attack were James Williams with 75 rushing yards, one TD, Birden with 65 yards on the ground and one score and Todd with a 14-yard touchdown reception.

Week 9: Crowville 36 - Sterlington 28

The eighth-ranked Crowville Bulldogs beat Sterlington 36-28.

“I was pleased with the overall performance of our team,” Shirley said in a 1994 Sun interview. “Our line, which has been solid all year, played well on both sides of the ball.”

Birden scored on runs from 15 and 79 yards to give Crowville a 16-0 lead in the first quarter. Birden ended the night with 151 yards on 13 carries.

In the second quarter, Bobo hit Wesley with an eight-yard pass to give the Bulldogs a 22-6 lead at the half.

Crowville kept cruising in the second half to improve their record to 9-0 and a matchup against powerhouse Cedar Creek for the sole possession of the district crown.

Week 10: Crowville 32 - Cedar Creek 21

Crowville had their eyes set on the district crown as they traveled west to a 6-3, 2-1 Cedar Creek. If Crowville would have lost, there would have been a three-way tie for district with Cedar Creek, Newellton and Crowville, but this was 1994. It was the Bulldog’s year.

Crowville handled Cedar Creek, 32-21 and kept their perfect regular season - 10-0.

“Our guys played an excellent game,” Shirley said in a previous Sun interview. “Our line which has played great all year, deserved a lot of credit. Williams, Russell Caldwell, Nick Greer, Colby Peppers, and Homer Lee have been solid and have enabled our offense to make things happen.”

Bobo scored from five yards out to give the Bulldogs the early lead. Wesley added to the Crowville lead in the second quarter with a  45-yard touchdown run.

Cedar Creek got on the board before the half as Andy Durrettscored rumbled to a one-yard run to narrow Crowville’s lead to 14-7. Crowville tallied with a  touchdown from James Williams on a one-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 20-7 lead at the half.

Cedar Creek came out swinging in the second half with touchdown runs from Brett Schoonover and Durrett to take the upper hand 21-20. The Bulldogs rose to the challenge and took the lead for good on a Bobo 62-yard touchdown run. Wesley added a 16-yard rushing TD in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Bobo led the Bulldog ground attack with 121 yards followed by Wesley with 94 and Calvin Birden with 93 yards.

Schoonover carried Cedar Creek with 209 rushing yards on 30 carries.

With the district championship in hand, Crowville hosted Ringgold in the opening playoff game.

First round: Ringgold 30 - Crowville 22

Unfortunately, Crowville’s hopes for a state championship were dashed and their 10-0 run ended with a first round battle against Ringgold.

The Bulldogs fell to a strong Ringgold team, 30-22.

“Both teams were evenly matched but we came up a little short,” Shirley said in a previous Sun interview.

With just six minutes to play in the game Crowville appeared to be in control as the Bulldogs held a 22-20 lead over the Redskins. But fate intervened when a Crowville player picked up a Ringgold fumble and raced 70 yards in the wrong direction to give the opposing team a safety which tied the score at 22-22.

After receiving the free kick Ringgold drove the ball down and eventually scored the winning touchdown on a 40-yard scoring strike from Travis Moore and Dwight Thomas.

“Our guys played great as they have all year long,” Shirley said. “All the players deserve a lot of credit from the effort that they put forward this year.”

The Crowville Bulldogs may have exited the playoffs earlier than expected, but they were district champions with a perfect regular season record.

In their minds and the hearts of Crowville fans, they were the Bulldogs of 1994 - the team that went from the underdogs to the big dogs, and they had the record, the district championship and the stuffed dog in their trophy case to prove it.

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