Teshadi Talton, who was a member of West Monroe’s 2009 Class 5A State Championship team before joining River Oaks’ 2010 MAIS-AA State Championship squad, lost a battle to cancer on Dec. 23 at the age of 28.
Both West Monroe and River Oaks’ coaching staffs remembered the quiet, mostly reserved Talton for his expressive plays on the field, which were anything but restrained.
“It didn’t take long to realize this guy had to get his touches,” West Monroe offensive coordinator Glenn Hunt said. “We played him in so many positions from slot to wide out to halfback. He scored in just about every way you could except on defense. On any field, he was pretty much the best athlete on the field.”
That’s saying a lot considering Talton shared the field with players like Paul Turner, who went on to play in the National Football League, and Tyler Cain, who was a difference maker from the jump. Thinking back on Talton’s career, West Monroe assistant John Green said he moved Cain to receiver so Talton could run the ball more during freshman ball.
“Back when they were freshmen, Cain was the guy,” Green recalled. “So we would just throw it up to him for scores, but we moved him to receiver so we could use Teshadi more. We don’t keep freshmen records, but we would’ve shattered the points record that year. I remember one time nobody blocked up front and Teshadi still scored.”
Of course, when you’re talking about memorable plays that involved Talton, the infamous punt return against Ouachita is usually the first one brought up. Though it was called back for a penalty, Talton made several defenders miss as he ran for what coaches estimated to be 160 yards east and west during an electrifying return.
“Have you ever tried to catch a chicken in the yard? That’s what it looked like,” West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge said. “He would dart, dip and stop. I loved watching him play.”
After helping West Monroe win the 2009 state title, scoring 20 total touchdowns along the way, Talton transferred to River Oaks since he was above the LHSAA age limit.
River Oaks head coach Robert Hannah said it was a smooth transition.
“He was a great young man everybody loved to be around,” Hannah said. “(His quiet demeanor) was one of the things that endured him to River Oaks. He wasn’t about all the other accomplishments he had. He just wanted to help the team.”
When Talton joined River Oaks, he added his noteworthy speed and athleticism to a backfield that already had a bonafide playmaker in Vincent Moore. Moore, who went on to play at Louisiana Tech, said the play he’ll remember the most from Talton was, you guessed it, a punt return.
“So we were down by a touchdown in the semifinal game (against Brookhaven Academy) with a few minutes left,” Moore said. “Teshadi ran another punt return back. We later won that game with a walk-off field goal. But the fact that two of his biggest plays were returns is crazy. I think he has to be up there for one of the greatest returners in the history of Northeast Louisiana football.”
Though that helped bring a state championship to River Oaks, that play pales in comparison to the tribute Talton paid Moore. Because Moore suffered a season-ending injury in the third game of that 2010 season, he unfortunately did not get to play in River Oaks’ 40-13 MAIS-AA State Championship victory over Leake Academy. One week later, Moore was getting ready to watch Talton in the MAIS All-Star Game when he noticed something different.
“So the No. 9 was like Teshadi’s brand,” Moore said. “He wore it at West Monroe. He wore it at River Oaks. He went on to wear it in junior college. But he passed up No. 9 in that all-star game. He was arguably the best player in the association, and he chose to wear No. 5, which was my number. After the game, he told me that was his plan all along. That just tells you what kind of a guy he was.”
Talton went on to play for the Northwest Community College Rangers in Mississippi, where he continued to dazzle crowds with his sudden big-play ability.