LSWA contest results certify SBJ provides some of state’s best sports coverage

BREAKTHROUGH:  Journal writers (l-r) Doug Ireland, Teddy Allen, John James Marshall and Tony Taglavore hauled in honors in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s 2022 Writing Contest, with results announced Sunday in Natchitoches.


The Shreveport-Bossier Journal enters its second season of football coverage providing talented reporting that is as good as any in Louisiana.

That was reflected Sunday when the Louisiana Sports Writers Association issued its annual writing awards during the organization’s Awards Brunch in Natchitoches. The SBJ, which first published in mid-January 2022, ranked among the LSWA’s elite publications – the only one that is completely free, and always will be, to readers.

Journal writers Teddy Allen, Doug Ireland, John James Marshall and Tony Taglavore combined to score 13 points in the LSWA’s 2022 Writing Contest. Sportswriters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune/ scored 19 points, while the Baton Rouge Advocate writers combined for 16. After the Journal’s 13, no other publication in Class I (for the state’s largest publications) approached double figures in the sweepstakes.

LSWA members entered categories judged by well-regarded editors and writers from around the country.

Marshall won a major honor, Class I Columnist of the Year.

The judge (they are anonymous) wrote: “The column about the lives and deaths of Devin Myers and Jimmy Orton was powerful and did a great job juxtaposing a young life being lost to senseless violence and an older life lost after having what can be considered a full life of accomplishments. One had so much to look forward to, the other had so much to look back on, and the column did an excellent job of expressing that.

“The column about goodbye letters from college athletes entering the transfer portal is interesting and I like how it was written by ‘translating’ what it means. I don’t necessarily agree with every point made, but I did enjoy reading how it was written and the overarching point. The final column had a good anecdote about a player who was not voted all-state and who that player turned out to be (Marshall Faulk). I happen to agree with this stance about too many players being on all-district teams and why that may be the case. But connecting it to the anecdote was also very good.”

Marshall also claimed second in Prep Writer of the Year in a decision the judge noted “the gap between the first two places was incredibly narrow.”

In judging ranking the top three entries in each category and sometimes issuing one honorable mention commendation, Marshall and Allen received two honorable mentions for stories.

Allen won the College Event category for his story on Louisiana Tech’s baseball season ending in the Austin Regional.

The judge wrote “Great lead. Really sets up the emotion of the story and the culmination of a year-long journey. I love the way the story works its way through the tournament’s ups and downs, and the way the writer points out the cruelty of baseball not coming down to the final seconds, and the hopefulness of that two-out rally to continue your season. The writer puts you at the tournament, in the players’ and parents’ minds. Just an overall great use of fun writing.”

He earned second in Prep Event coverage for his account of the 78-71 Benton-Haughton football scorefest. Allen earned a third place in the Prep Feature division for profiling SBJ Football All-Metro Coach of the Year Justin Scogin of Airline and his pregnant and very supportive wife Bonnie.

Ireland took first in Pro Columns for his reflections on Bill Russell’s legacy following the basketball legend’s death.

“An incredible job of taking a story about a national figure in Bill Russell and tying it back to his complicated roots in Louisiana,” wrote the judge. “Great anecdote about not signing autographs. Though he might never be honored in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, his legend should certainly live on, as the writer notes at the end. Good, well-rounded, thoughtful piece.”

Ireland claimed two thirds. He placed in the Prep Event category for his story of Byrd’s win at Natchitoches Central that featured a 76-yard free kick attempt at the end of the first half narrowly missed by Yellow Jackets’ kicker Abram Murray. His column on local ties to the Boston Marathon scratched in the Amateur Sports division.

Taglavore took second place in Breaking News for his story on Louisiana Downs racetrack canceling its signature event, the 2022 Super Derby.

Allen was third and Ireland sixth in individual sweepstakes for scoring by writers at LSWA Class I publications – which by contest rules did not include Columnist of the Year or Prep Writer of the Year points.

Marshall and his brother, Ben, took top honors in a broadcasting category for Best Radio Show Host (Solo & Team) for their Sports Talk with JJ & Bonzai Ben on 1130 The Tiger (KWKH-AM).

The prize-winning SBJ stories can be found by using key words on the Journal’s search engine at the top right of the home page.

A brand-new addition to the Journal staff, veteran sportswriter Ron Higgins, scored six points as he was named the LSWA’s Beat Writer of the Year for 2022 while working for Tiger Details. Higgins announced Monday night on Facebook that he is joining the Journal as the LSU beat writer.