By Doug Ireland, Journal Sports
Minden High School senior Connor Heard was among nine north Louisiana football standouts honored last Thursday night at the annual National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet.
Receiving NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards and scholarship grants along with Heard were Caleb Aillet of Byrd, West Monroe’s Tag Banks, Tonzaiha Bland of Logansport, St. Mary’s Graeme Fidelak, Luke Gibson of Mangham, Benton’s R.J. Moore and Jed Worthey III of Cedar Creek.
Evan Howe of North DeSoto is the first recipient of the KTBS/Johnny’s Pizza Bob Griffin Scholarship, named in tribute of the iconic local TV sportscaster who covered area high school football and other sports for over a half-century. Griffin was also on the local NFF chapter’s board of directors.
A center and left guard on the Crimson Tide football team, Heard is a two-time All-District 1-4A lineman and a Composite Academic All-State selection.
Heard owns a perfect 4.0 GPA and ranks second in his class of 168. He posted a sky-high 34 on the ACT.
He is the Webster Parish and Minden High Student of the Year, a National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar and has earned his school’s Student of the Year designation in English I and III, College Algebra, Psychology, Physical Science and Biology.
Heard is on the Minden Student Council, the Minden City Council Youth Advisory Committee and is a Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry Volunteer. He was a delegate to Louisiana Boys State last summer. He has a presidential scholarship to attend Louisiana Tech, and plans to major in engineering.
Head football coaches around north Louisiana nominated senior players who carry at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average, have earned all-district honors and are involved in extracurricular activities.
The event was hosted by the NFF’s S.M. McNaughton Chapter of North Louisiana, which awards eight $500 college scholarships each year to top football senior scholar-athletes.
Also honored during the event at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport: legendary retired Northwestern State football coach Sam Goodwin and longtime KTBS-TV general manager George Sirven.
Goodwin received the McNaughton chapter’s Contributions to Amateur Football Award. He is the winningest football coach in Northwestern history with 102 wins from 1983-99. His Demons won conference championships in 1984, 1988, 1997 and 1998, making FCS playoff appearances in the latter three seasons and reaching the national semifinals in 1998.
Thirty-eight of his players reached the NFL, and 22 won All-American honors, including College Football Hall of Fame member Gary Reasons. Goodwin also coached 1998 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete winner Dr. William Broussard and two other Academic All-Americans, along with 42 all-conference selections. After ending his collegiate coaching and administrative career, his love for coaching the game returned him to prep football sidelines in Arkansas and then back in Louisiana at Pineville, Alexandria Senior High, Natchitoches Central, Lakeview and St. Mary’s.
The winner of the McNaughton Chapter’s Distinguished American Award, Sirven has managed KTBS as the station emerged as a significant community partner with its sponsorship of major events such as the Freedom Fest Fourth of July celebration, and promotion of many civic causes including St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Last fall, KTBS celebrated the 25th anniversary of its popular Friday Football Fever scoreboard show, which was just named Best Sports Show by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. The native Cuban is a naturalized American citizen who early in his television career shot high school football footage for Griffin when both worked for KSLA-TV.
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