Former Daily News sports editor shares BHS football memory from 1969

Published 9:37 am Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Former Daily News Sports Editor Bob Lawrence sent in a memory of a Bogalusa game he covered during the 1969 football season. Here’s his memory:

“In 1969 I was sports editor of the Daily News, my last year before giving the job to Buck Bennett and taking over the editorial page. 

“I really enjoyed that year and gave the Lumberjacks coverage usually reserved for college teams and the Morning Advocate or the Times Picayune — play by play, stats including tackles and blocks, pictures and everything else. I remember that it took me all Saturday morning after the game writing the story, calculating stats and picking out the pictures to be used. I even wound up the year designing, doing the artwork and editing the championship program for the LaGrange game.

“Here is my story from 1969: 

“Bogalusa and Central Memorial High Schools had just merged, and the football teams followed suit, with Gary Magee joining Lewis Murray, Tommy Leos and Mack Barlow coaching the football team and fleet footed Don Short becoming the star running back behind an all-state offensive line.   

“In Shreveport, the crew from The Daily News was not given seats in the pressbox for the semifinal game with Captain Shreve.  So I, Al Hansen, my spotter; Leonard Parker, stats on defensive tackles and offensive key blocks; Alden ‘Pep’ Nugent for running commentary notes; and Elton ‘Boots’ Adams, photographer, took general admission seats on one of the upper rows, working out of our laps since we had no table. The seats were very close together, and it was uncomfortable working conditions, but we did our jobs. The game started out with a passing attack by Bogalusa, and Captain Shreve was able to defend that with apparent ease. Having heard about the great running back, Don Short, some slightly intoxicated Captain Shreve fans behind me began heckling the Lumberjacks by shouting their racially charged attack, ‘Give the ball to Leroy.’ 

“Race had been introduced to the game, and several other men in the upper decks picked up the same shout, ‘Give the ball to Leroy,’ meaning, of course, Bogalusa star runner Don Short.

“Bogalusa’s first running play on the next series, best of my memory, only got a few yards. 

“But on second down there was a handoff to Short, and he swept the left end for a very long gain. It was possibly a touchdown. I cannot remember that detail.

“Stunned, the Captain Shreve fans around me dropped their jaws in wonder. 

“The inebriated men sitting behind me shouted loudly, ‘Who the h… was that?’

“I stood up and shouted, as loudly as I could, ‘That was Leroy!’ 

“Then I shouted, ‘That was Don Short, the guy you’ve been waiting to see, sports fans!’

“I have never laughed so hard in all my life.  Bogalusa, of course, went on to win the game and then the state championship.

“I will never forget that incident and thought it might be appropriate to share it now, less than a month short of 45 years from the beginning of that great season where everything came together from a great little league football program with many dedicated volunteer coaches for the competitive little league teams of the years before. Those were one dedicated bunch of men who imbedded into those boys the desire to win and the knowledge to play well. I can only remember a few of them: Jock Branch, Buster Olsen, Mitchell Graham, ‘Buttermilk’ Wilson, ‘Bozo’ Riley and I am sure people who read this can follow up by naming all the others. Sorry I cannot remember everybody, but that was a long time ago and a lot of these folks have passed away since then.

“Of course most of the credit goes to Coach Murray and his staff, but the crop of seniors and juniors that year was something else. 

I loved every minute of it.