“Keep Going Long!!” – A historical look at Minden quarterbacks – Part 3 of 3

This will be the final installment in a look at the Crimson Tide QBs as we’ve managed to make our way through the most influential QBs in Minden history since 1915.  

Coming off the Tide’s only winless season in history in 2003, Derek Cupples (2004-2005) led the Wing-T running Tide out of the decade-long doldrums and sparked a new era of Quarterback play. Cupples slung the ball around the yard with a quick release and anticipation of the Wide Receivers’ whereabouts.  In 2005, Cupples hit the new school record with 2,386 yards and became the first single season 2,000+ yard passer.  Cupples was the first Minden QB to pass for over 300 yards in a game.  In his final game, Cupples set the record for passing yards in a game with 367, which would stand until 2015.  Cupples also set the record with 23 passing TDs that year.  Cupples was the first Tide QB with 2,000+ passing yards and 20+ passing TDs in a single season, and 3,000+ career passing yards and 30+ career passing TDs in just two years’ work. 

All of Cupples’ record setting feats were short-lived with the arrival of T.Q. Mims (2006-2008).  In 2006, Mims set the single season records for pass completions, attempts, yards, and TDs.  Mims became the first Tide QB to pass for five TDs in one game – one of which was the longest TD pass ever recorded (94)!  I should add, eleven of Mims’s 54 career passing TDs came from fifty yards or greater.  Mims was the first Minden QB to have 4,000+ career passing yards and 50+ passing TDs.  T.Q. Mims would hold the title of greatest Minden passer for at least a few more years with career pass completions (309), attempts (567), yards (4,833), and TDs (54).  Along with a run to the Semi-Finals in 2006, Mims was selected as Honorable Mention All-State QB. 

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better at QB, Hunter Leppert (2009-2010) would play a year after Mims.  During Cupples’ and Mims’s tenure, Minden still held some semblance of balance.  However, during Leppert’s stint, Minden would be, wait for it and wince… a pass-heavy team.  For proof, Leppert completed 200 passes in 2009, which is still a record.  Up to that point, 200 passes had ever been attempted four times in Minden’s history.  That year, Leppert pushed the record number of attempts up to 359 where it stands today.  Leppert surpassed the 2,000 passing yards mark and had 20+ passing TDs in back-to-back years, which was another feat never yet accomplished in Minden’s history.  Mims also had multiple 2,000+ passing yard seasons in 2006 and 2008 but missed the mark in 2007.

Like Cupples-to-Mims and Mims-to-Leppert, Leppert’s time as top dog would also be short-lived in this break-neck pace of record setting QBs.  Foreshadowed two articles ago, Turner Francis (2011-2013) is the grandson of Minden QB trendsetter, Bobby Lyle.  Francis, a “gunslinger” in his own right, is the only QB in Minden history to attempt 200+ passes and complete 100+ in three seasons.  He posted seven, 300+ passing yard games and joined Mims and Leppert with two seasons of 2,000+ yard passing and 20+ passing TDs.  Turner Francis holds the Championship Belt as Minden’s greatest passing QB, holding nine out of twenty-three passing records.  Of course, no one celebrates holding records in INTs, but here’s an interesting historical nugget.  In INTs thrown in a season, Francis’ 19 is second to none other than his grandfather, Bobby Lyle (21).  

Antonio Rivette (2014-2016) carried the torch with stellar QB play, retuning balance to the Force with his rushing and passing.  Rivette received ample, yet appropriate, praise in the review of the great Minden Running Backs as a Top 10 rusher and the all-time leader in total career offensive yards and TDs.  Rivette, another three-year starter at QB, is a Top 5 passer, too – including the second-most career passing yards (4,929).  He is the third Minden QB with 4,000+ career passing yards and 50 passing TDs.  Eighteen of Rivette’s fifty career TDs came from fifty yards or greater.  One game that Rivette’s big-play ability was on display was in 2015.  Aided by current NFL cornerback, and younger brother of T.Q. Mims, L’Jarius Sneed, Rivette set the record for most passing yards in a game with 417 and tied the school record with 5 passing TDs.  To date, he’s the only Minden QB to pass for over 400 yards in a game.  Rivette and company would make it all the way to the state quarterfinals that year. 

Last, but not least, is another three-year starting QB, Trenton McLaughlin (2018-2020).  McLaughlin’s numbers might not jump off the page like his predecessors, but his passing stats are worthy of Top 5 billing all-time.  McLaughlin joined Francis and Rivette as only the third Tide QB to pass for 1,000+ yards in three consecutive years.  Even though McLaughlin doesn’t hold any records, probably the most exciting memory for him came when he tossed the game-winning TD in overtime to beat Bastrop for the first time since 1984.  Despite losing McLaughlin to injury in the thrilling overtime victory at Leesville, the Tide finished the 2020 season in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. 

This concludes our look at the history of Minden QBs.  Next, it’s only natural to cover the group that operates in tandem with the QBs – the Wide Receivers.