Undoubtedly, when you get around your old football-playing buddies and reminisce on the good ol’ glory days, you might recall an opponent that cleaned your clock or put on a show in front of the Tide faithful. All former athletes take some sort of pride knowing they played against ol’ so-and-so. I know my wife groans and rolls her eyes when we’re watching football, and I say (for the 57th time), “I played against that guy.” Like I’m sharing his achievement for making it that far in his football career. This week we’ll look at those guys – specific “Tide Killers.”
We’ll highlight some early attention-getters and record-setters and follow with current record holders in each category. To shake things up a bit, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
Kickers: In 1923, “Toots” Womack (Marshall, TX) drilled a 40-yard FG to defeat the Tide 3-0 in the season opener. Although matched in 1924, 1971, and 1990, “Toots’” 40-yarder would be the standard bearer for 79 years until 2002 when Nick Presley (Neville) blasted a 51-yarder to claim the top spot. Parkway’s Alex Christ came close by nailing two 47-yard FGs (2009, 2010), but 51 remains unbeaten.
Punters: Benoit from Shreveport High uncorked a 60-yard punt in 1915. Then in 1932, “Little” Jay Ambrose (Bossier) blasted a 74-yarder! Just six years later in 1938, Bob Votieu flipped the field in favor of Opelousas with a whopping 85-yard punt in the State Championship game versus Minden. It didn’t help his team win the State Championship, but it safely landed for the longest punt against the Tide.
Special Teams: In 1923, Mason (Homer), and an unnamed Monroe player in 1927, each returned a punt for a TD for their respective teams, but from undisclosed distances. (Remember what I said about unreported information?) However, in 1937, Bossier’s J. Thibodeaux outraced the Tide post-punt from 90 yards out for a Bearkat TD. That record still stands today.
The first kick-off return TD on record versus the Tide was in 1951 when Jonesboro’s Joe Harveston sliced and diced his way to glory from 85 yards away. Then in 1955, Wayne Banks (Homer) got as close as one could get from returning the kick-off the full length of the field with a 99-yarder for paydirt. In 2013, current Buffalo Bill and former Northwood Falcon, Marquez Stevenson, tied Banks’ long kick return TD of 99 yards in a 67-34 drubbing of the Tide. A 100-yard kick-off return is technically possible if the returner is standing 1” from the goal line, but it may still be scored as a 99-yarder due to any part of the ball or returner crosses the goal line, it’s ruled a touchback.
However, that rule doesn’t apply to interception (INT) returns. The rarer INT return TD against Minden first occurred in 1922 with Murphey (Marshall, TX) phoning home from 50 yards away. That record distance was pushed several times over the next several decades but was officially pushed to the limit in 1970 when another Northwood Falcon, Larry Griffin, tested his 100-yard dash time after snagging an errant Minden pass. Huntington’s Cecil Tuiel duplicated the feat in 1993 aiding his Raiders to a season-opening shutout of the Tide.
Sticking with INTs, Joe “Polly” Phelps from Shreveport High was the first Tide foe to swipe two INTs in a game in 1924. Seventy-four Minden adversaries have accomplished this same task, but only seven have intercepted three in a game. The earliest to do so was Monroe’s Godwin in 1928. However, it wouldn’t be until 1981 that that number was repeated by yet another Neville Tiger, Johnny Ray Ambrose. Comedy comes in threes, folks. The most recent to have 3 INTs versus the Tide is Myron Elam in 2020… from Neville.
Receiving: Monroe High’s Sawyer was the first to log two receiving TDs in 1926. This record would only stand two years after another Monroe Tiger, Buddy Maxwell, grabbed three TDs. However, two players have received four TDs versus the Tide – Malcom Williams (Northwood – 2013) and Donovan Thomas (Bolton – 2014). Donovan Thomas also has the second-most receiving yards in a game with 216. Thomas is second to Former New York Giant and Wossman Wildcat, Odessa Turner, who put on a show at The Pit snatching 248 yards and two TDs on just 9 catches in 1981.
Two North DeSoto Griffins hold the top spots for longest opposing receiving TDs. Kyler Radford hit Damien Boone for a 98-yard TD pass in 2013, then Jaden Procell synced up with Delmonte Hall for one yard more in 2016.
Rushing: The Stamps, AR crew did their share of “stamping” in 1926 with initial record-setting long TD runs by Huffman (60-yds) and Wells (70-yds) en route to a 21-0 shutout of the “Greenies”. The longest TD run against Minden was set in 1964 by Jim West (Airline) when he ran 98 yards towards daylight.
A pair of Byrd backs solidified their place in the Minden record book when Joe Almokary (1928) and Lee Stokes (1931) set the high-water mark for rushing TDs in a game with five. Since then, five other opposing running backs have matched that mark – the most recent being Leesville Wompus Kat, Caleb Galleshaw in 2021.
George Hubbard from Ruston had the earliest dominant rushing attack against the Tide with 250 yards in 1929. West Ouachita’s Mark Henderson matched the 250-spot, in 1996, but the rushing record wouldn’t be broken until a Covid-induced impromptu matchup with Cedar Creek in 2020 when Bryson Fields ran roughshod over the Tide D with 288 yards.
This fun fact has nothing to do with dominant performances, but the running back group dominates the nickname game: “Bootsy” Watson (Menard, 1957), “Jabbo” Stell (Byrd, 1934), “Lefty” Leonardos (Fair Park, 1942), Don “Moon” Mullins (Fair Park, 1955), Gene “Red” Knight (Bossier, 1942), and Erick “The Red” Kilpatrick (Airline, 1966)
Passing: The aforementioned, George Hubbard (Ruston), found his way into the Minden record books in the passing department as well. Completing only nine passes, Hubbard managed to set the early record for passing yards with 300. This all happened in the same game he set the record for rushing yards. Hubbard had the most dominant performance ever recorded against the “Greenies” or Crimson Tide: 650 total yards and 6 TDs.
Hubbard’s passing record would stand until 2001 when Gary Cooper (BTW) slung it for 345 yards. Of course, in the era of pass-happy offenses, the numbers kept climbing: 355 – Jerrick Peterson (Northwood, 2013), 370 – Regginald Williams (Bolton, 2014), and 403 – Logan DuBois (Tioga, 2015). DuBois also set the record for most pass attempts in his 403-yard performance (58).
Just when you think 403 could never be touched, it got demolished this past 2022 season. Huntington’s Kamron Evans put on a passing masterclass with 491 yards and SEVEN passing TDs! He only threw two incompletions in the effort. Until Evans’s seven, five passing TDs was the previous record with five players sharing it.
Based on both installments of the “Tide Killers”, I’d have to say the Neville Tigers hold the heavyweight title.
Mercy, this one was long. But sometimes those classic beatdowns seem they will never end. So, I guess the length of this article was appropriate. This concludes this season’s “For the Love of the Tide” segment. I’ll see you closer to kickoff next season. ROLL TIDE ROLL!
Historical Footnotes: Monroe High = Neville High; Shreveport High = Byrd High. If only a player’s last name was mentioned above, it was because that was all that was originally reported. Also, Minden’s mascot was the Greenbacks (Greenies) until 1934.
(Jake Chapman works with Mark Chreene on Friday nights in the fall to bring you the Minden High Crimson Tide games over the air on KASO/KBEF Radio.)
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