While conducting research on Minden football, it was apparent the running backs and quarterbacks were the most heralded by the various publications. Rightfully so since there are only two options for football plays – run or pass. Of course, one can get as cute or creative as one wants with those two options, but that’s it. Not much was mentioned about wide receivers and tight ends in those articles. For example, in 1952 I read of Charlie Hennigan catching a forty-four-yard TD pass from Derald Kirkland with no mention of Hennigan having any additional catches in the game. Occasionally, the reporter would mention a catch here and there in other games, but that was pretty much all I had to work with in logging receiving stats. It wasn’t until 2005 that I started seeing more mention of a wide receiver’s game stats reported – Minden began playing football around 1909.
Again, bear in mind that Minden has historically been a run-heavy team, so there may have only been five to ten passes attempted in a game. Of course, the running backs were mentioned more due to the sheer volume of run plays. And then there’s the quarterback who threw all the passes. Once you figured in as many as five wide receivers and tight ends on the field, and the running backs as pass options, too, it immediately watered down a receiver’s chance of having more than one or two catches in a game. Who would want to report on a receiver having two catches for seventeen yards? I get it. But Mr. 1952 Reporter, I’m trying to compile a statistical record book in the future!
October 26, 1917 – Webster Signal – “Clement, Harkness and Riley did their work at end in first class fashion, Clement receiving two passes for good gains.” This is the first mention I found of a Minden player logging a reception in a game. It wasn’t until 1921 that I saw another reported catch. Do you see what I had to work with here?
O.H. Haynes, Jr. caught three TD passes in a game in 1938, but those were his only receptions reported that year. We can safely assume that Haynes caught more passes that year, but it simply wasn’t reported. Haynes’s three receiving TDs in a game set the record very early. Since then, only eight players have had three receiving TD games in EIGHTY-FOUR years. No Crimson Tider has ever had multiple three receiving TD games. Ever.
In 1945 Edward Kennedy was the first Minden receiver to eclipse the century mark in a game with 130 yards on two catches. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. These were the only catches recorded for Kennedy that year. In 1949 Lamar Pace caught four passes for 127 yards and three TDs versus Natchitoches. This was probably the first mention of complete receiving stats in a game. It was over a decade before a Tide receiver would reach the 100-yard mark receiving in a game again. That player was David Lee.
David Lee played tight end, or simply “end” as the papers called them. There were quite a few Minden “Ends” that received All-State honors before Lee in 1960. However, David Lee was the first end to receive All-State notoriety where his full season receiving stats were reported – 46 catches for 685 yards and 5 TDs. David Lee’s season catches and receiving yards records would stand for forty-six years. Lee accounted for almost 50 percent of Edwin Greer’s passing yards that year. They were the Brady-Gronk connection before there was such a thing. By the way, Lee was also first team All-State punter that year. He’s the only player in Minden history to make All-State at two different positions in the same year. Speaking of his punting talent, Lee set a few punting records at Minden that would stand for over twenty years.
Mike Day was the first Tide pass-catcher (“pass-catcher” is purposely used here since Day mostly played running back) to have two, 100+ receiving yard games in a season in 1965. It’s wild to think that it took almost sixty years for that feat to happen for a Crimson Tider. After Day, it would take another forty years for another Tide receiver, “end”, pass-catcher, whatever to have at least two, 100+ receiving yard games in a season (Dakota Haynes, 2005). The next year, Greg Booker pushed that number to five, 100+ receiving yard games in 2006. Jared “Bird” Johnson would match Booker’s five in 2010 and raise it to eight, 100+ receiving yard games in 2011.
The century mark is an exclusive club for the Crimson Tide receiving corps since it has only been accomplished seventy-nine times in Minden’s recorded 1,069 games. However, even more exclusive are the number of times a Tide receiver has surpassed the 200-yard mark – THREE. That didn’t happen until 2012. Let’s make that list smaller, shall we? There are only TWO Tide receivers in that 200-yard club – Elgin Moore (2012) and L’Jarius Sneed (twice in 2015).
At the beginning of this article, I was mully-grubbing about the lack of information on Minden receivers, yet here I am extending this series to two parts. Join me next time as I delve a little further into the history of Minden’s pass-catchers.
This article is written in memory of Mike Leach, current Head Football Coach of the Mississippi State University Bulldogs, lover of the Air Raid offense, who suddenly and tragically passed away last week.
Long live “The Pirate.”
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