By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Eighth in a series
One of the great pleasures in Will Marston’s life these days is sitting along the back row in the stands at Haughton football games. His son, Michael, is a coach on the Bucs’ staff. His grandson, Maddox, is about to be a sophomore at Haughton.
Not only is there pride in what he sees with his family on the Bucs’ sideline, there is also the pride in having former players routinely stop by during the game, if only for a moment.
“We sit up in the stands and talk about old times,” Marston says. “It feels great to still be included and involved.”
Yep, there’s a lot of pride in the Haughton community and Will Marston, 76, is a big part of that. It’s been 53 years since he first arrived and his fingerprints are all over the school’s athletic programs.
When Marston began, Haughton was a Class A school with a football program nobody really noticed and a baseball program that didn’t exist.
Today, it is a Class 5A school that routinely produces championship teams in multiple sports. Marston’s had more than a little bit to do with that.
A Coushatta native, he graduated from Northwestern State and came to Haughton in 1969 and began coaching football (and just about anything else) under Bobby Ray McHalffey.
Marston was defensive coordinator when the Bucs won the Class AAA state championship in 1977 and reached the state finals the next year. He became head football coach during mid-season in 1984 when McHalffey stepped down to become assistant principal.
Marston coached the Bucs through 1999, won 101 games (including four district championships) and reached the state semifinals and quarterfinals in back-to-back years (1989-90).
“It was a lot of fun, but there was a lot of wear and tear, too,” Marston says. “We had some good years and had a lot of the same coaches. We had a lot of good players.”
But before that, he started the Bucs’ baseball program from scratch in 1973 and reached the state championship game in 1981 before losing 10-5 to Minden. Ever the coach, Marston remembers how close the Bucs came.
“We were supposed to play the (championship) game on a Saturday, but it got rained out,” he says. “We couldn’t play on Sunday and so we had to play it on Monday, and that gave Minden’s ace a couple of more days of rest and he did the job on us.”
When you look at what the Haughton baseball program and facility are today, you quickly realize how far it has come.
“We had a backstop and six red benches and that was it,” Marston says of the first season in 1973. “If you look at it now, you can see how it progressed. But we had players who had been in the summer leagues and we had some pretty good athletes in that group.”
Asked if he considered himself a football coach or a baseball coach, Marston says “I just consider myself a coach. I’ve done just about all of them. When I started, I did football, basketball and track. And that was before we even started baseball.”
Here’s how much of a “coach” Marston was: When he stepped away from being a head coach in 1999, he still coached two more years as an assistant to his replacement, Rodney Guin.
“It was still fun, but it got to where someone younger needed to take it,” Marston says of the decision to move away from being a head coach. “With all the changes and sports being added, I figured it was time to step down.”
There is no shortage of legendary figures in the Haughton athletic program. It is the only school in Caddo-Bossier with three football coaches who have won 100 games or more.
Will Marston is one of them.
In 50 years of Haughton baseball, there have only been three coaches.
Will Marston is one of them.
“I got to coach a lot of great players and then coach their sons,” he says. “We have had a lot of quality athletes that went on to become coaches or are still in the community. They just don’t leave, and that helps keep that continuity. Once you are in Haughton, you never leave.”
Will Marston never has.
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