By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Seventh in a series
It was the day after Bossier had defeated Springhill 13-7 in the second round of the 1993 Class 3A football playoffs and Billy Don McHalffey’s coaching staff gathered to prepare for the next game. The playoff win was a little closer than maybe it should have been, due in great part to Bossier having three punts blocked.
As the staff gathered to talk about the quarterfinal matchup, in walked McHalffey’s father, Bobby Ray, with a three-page report on how to completely change the punting team. “We went to a whole different setup,” the younger McHalffey says now. “Not one of the coaches said a word.”
Which was probably a good idea, seeing as how Bobby Ray had won more than 100 games – including a state championship – during a 13-year head coaching career at Haughton.
Listening to his father for coaching advice came naturally for Billy Don, who figured being a coach was part of his birthright.
“That was a given from as long as I can remember,” he says. “With Dad being a coach, I went everywhere with him when I was young.”
But by not following fatherly advice, Billy Don McHalffey became the winningest coach in Bossier football history.
“He told me not to go into coaching, so my first year in college I went into forestry,” he says. “That lasted about one semester. After that, I just knew I was going to coach. That was just part of it.”
He coached his entire career at Bossier High and became head coach in 1991, staying put for 16 years. His 108 wins are 40 more than any other coach in Bearkat history.
“I was lucky,” he says. “I had a great coaching staff and we had some really great players come through Bossier while I was there.”
Enough to put the Bearkats in the playoffs in all 16 seasons of McHalffey’s years as head coach. He took two teams that didn’t have a winning record in the regular season (1993 and 2004) to the quarterfinals, and he earned a quarterfinal berth with the No. 4 seed in the 2001 playoffs.
From 1999-2001, Bossier went 29-6 overall. The 1999 team was 10-0 in the regular season – one of three district championship teams under McHalffey.
“It was just fun,” McHalffey says. “It was a good time and I really enjoyed it. We were lucky enough to make the playoffs every year, so that meant we got to travel. A lot of our kids had never been out of Bossier City, so it was neat to watch them and meet people from around the state.”
McHalffey’s teams ran the wing-T that had been installed at Bossier by Dick Concilio. “We just went with it and built off it,” he says. “We didn’t change a whole lot other than maybe a few formations. It was really fun to watch. When the wing-T starts working and you start confusing a defense, they don’t know where the ball is going. Our offensive linemen were small but we usually had a team that could run. All 11 of them.”
Now 70, McHalffey retired after the 2006 season to take a job with the Bossier Parish Truancy Office. “I just knew it was time,” he says. “I didn’t have but two more years left before I was going to retire anyway, but it felt like the right time and the right job came along.”
He says he had no withdrawal pains from coaching after he gave it up. “That first year out was fun,” McHalffey says. “I realized I hadn’t had a fall in 31 years and there are things you can do in those months. My wife and I had a great time that fall. We were all over the place.”
He finished with a record of 108-76 – seven more wins than his father at Haughton – and is one of only 14 coaches to win 100 games in Caddo-Bossier.
“I miss the kids,” McHalffey says. “That’s the fun part about it. What I don’t miss is all the extra stuff like mowing the field and taking care of all the equipment around there. But that just came with the job.”
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