Trip of a lifetime with my old team

It’s been 28 years since I have traveled with the Louisiana Tech football team. In November of 1995, I went to Nashville, Tennessee with the Bulldogs as their right tackle. We had a forgettable date, 29-6, with the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Last Friday, as the sideline reporter for the LA Tech Football Radio Network, I traveled with the team to Lincoln as the Bulldogs faced Nebraska on Saturday.

In some ways it seems like a hundred years ago since I’d traveled with the team. In other ways it seems like it was yesterday.

Something about packing in the old Tech charter bus with my brothers and heading east on I-20 to the airport in Monroe. Going to battle!

In my day, the bus would pull up on the tarmac – about 40 yards from the plane – and “the race” would be on.

The race was between the taller offensive linemen who coveted those seats on the wing with the extra leg room. The defensive linemen were not in play. They didn’t have a chance. They were on Bus No. 2.

Back then, the last people to get on the plane would be the administrators, coaches and wives, and supporters.

The late Dr. Guthrie Jarrell was always with us on those trips. Always. He sat in first class where – being a tall man himself – I’m sure he appreciated the extra leg room, too.

“It must be nice.” If I didn’t say it back then, I thought it. It must be nice to be able to take in a college football game and root, root, root, for ol’ red and blue. It must be nice to not have to worry about your blocking assignments and taking the proper first step before trying to knock the block off a guy who is a 6-3, 245-pound, five-star SEC defensive end who runs like a deer.

Don’t get me wrong.

There is nothing like the rush of trotting out on the field in some of the sport’s biggest and best venues in front of thousands of people and playing the greatest game God ever created. Williams-Bryce. Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. Been there. In the trenches. Hand-to-shoulder pad combat. Hat on a hat. At the bottom of the pile. There is nothing like it.

Even back then, I said I always wanted to take a trip with the team and experience it…without the pressure. Thanks to Learfield and the Tech administration, I was able to do that last Friday.

The trips are a little different now. There were no security checks back then. Now, you get your snacks before getting on the plane. Assigned seats. A little thank you note from Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie.

It was nice…even with knees jammed into the back of an airplane seat and praying to God a sixth grader sitting in front of me doesn’t want to see how far his seat back can go.

The University of Nebraska is known for storied tradition, 100-year old Memorial Stadium, the fumblerooski, and their loyal fan base. Among other things. 391 consecutive sellouts! Are you kidding me, Cornhuskers? Wow.

When the Louisiana Tech entourage arrived in Lincoln, everyone went straight to the stadium and walked out on Tom Osborne Field. Red signs reading “There is no place like Nebraska” were lit up all over the stadium.

Back in the day, we would get in our shorts and T-shirts and have a walk-through practice after arriving Friday. The walk-through for the Bulldogs on this trip happened in the parking lot of the Marriott in Omaha, Nebraska early Saturday morning.

Impressive was the adjective for when Memorial Stadium was empty. Incredible would be the word for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. when Big Red took the field against my Bulldogs with 85,000 Cornhusker fans in the stands.

When the announcer says “and that will bring up THIRRRRRDDD DOOOOWWWNNNNN!!!,” most in the sea of red stand on their feet and scream their heads off. On third down, I’ve never heard a louder stadium…ever.

The score was 7-7 at halftime and I could not have been more proud of how the Bulldogs competed.

Things got away from Tech as the second half started. The big offensive line from Nebraska, with the smallest lineman being 6-3, 315, leaned on the Tech defense. Pulling the left guard and running off tackle to the right side all the way down the field.

Penalties. Personal fouls. And one flag – a pass interference call – which was thrown and then picked up, hurt the Bulldogs. A good fight, but 28-14 was the final.

While the outcome was not what Louisiana Tech wanted, it was a memorable time – at least for this old Dawg, able to take the trip of a lifetime with the Louisiana Tech football team.

Contact Jerry at

Social media often leapfrogs the boundaries of social acceptability

BATON ROUGE — Wednesday on my 67th birthday with my wife out of town on business, my imagination ran wild.

But not too far and for too long. I get mentally exhausted loading a dishwasher.

What I did before my two dogs left me birthday presents in different parts of the house (“Surprise, it’s a birthday tootsie roll, Daddy!”) was wistfully ponder what life was like without social media.

It made me smile. For a millisecond.

And then I wondered how such a society-transforming communication tool instantly greenlighted unfiltered cruelty and flipped the “on” switch for 24-hour-a-day anger.

It erased the boundaries of simply being mean and advanced to the point of senselessness. School classroom shootings have now become shootings at high school athletic events. Friday Night Lights has become Friday Night Frights.

We’re doomed if a teenager can’t be safe in an innocent social setting like a high school football game. Does the tuba player have to be strapped with a semi-automatic rifle to finish a song? Are you supposed to train one of your cheerleaders to handle a bazooka?

Without social media, we lived in a kinder world where issues and differences were settled with civility and respectful discussions.

It was a more innocent universe that didn’t seem so hurried, so accelerated. Everything wasn’t so sudden because it didn’t have to be. When something happened, good or bad, it wasn’t in front of your face within seconds. There was time to digest, ponder and have a rational thought process.

Now, like last Saturday if you see a Colorado State football player deliver a vicious hit that sends a Colorado player to the hospital, you can quickly go to social media to find published cellphone numbers of the Colorado State player and his mother and the Colorado State player’s campus address and his family’s home address.

It gives you the option of making a death threat online, over the phone, or in person.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

I try hard to ignore the fact we now live in a society in which there has been a complete deterioration of the English language and basic grammar use. Nobody wants to read anything longer than a tweet. How can we expect them to understand the difference between their, there and they’re?

In my little plot of the planet having chronicled college sports for 44 years, the advent of social media in college athletics has proven to be mostly beneficial, but it’s also fraught with challenges.

Schools with the most money and resources employ innovative and imaginative social media departments that are marketing tools stretching beyond reaching just the average fan. The true purpose is extending all the way to recruits.

Ask LSU women’s head basketball coach Kim Mulkey if she could have turned a doormat program into NCAA national champions in just two seasons without steady exposure provided by a tireless social media department.

“We (LSU) have our own social media department and they’re off the charts,” Mulkey told me in mid-May. “They are literally so creative, young, and they’re into what they do.”

What they do is pump out a constant stream of tweets and videos. No doubt recruits have seen Angel Reese dancing in the dressing room or Flau’jae Johnson breaking out in a freestyle rap.

Recruits look at that and think, “That looks like fun. Plus, they’re winning championships and playing for a coach who embraces big personalities. I want to play THERE.”

Mulkey is an old-school soul who understands the value of social media, yet she played for a coach at Louisiana Tech (Leon Barmore) who was all business. He would have nipped at the bud any individual self-promotion by his players.

But having and growing a personal “brand” for a college athlete through social media to attract NIL money is the ultimate recruiting tool.

If you don’t think the rich get richer, there’s no better recruiting exposure than having Reese and LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne featured on the cover of the recent Sports Illustrated “Money Issue.”

The accompanied story pointed out the Tigers have four of the six female athletes ranked in the On3 top 100 in NIL evaluations – Dunne No. 3 at $3.2 million, Reese No. 8 at $1.7 million, Johnson No. 19 at $1.1 million and new basketball signee Hailey Van Lith No. 79 at $550,000.

How will Mulkey this season handle a player (Reese) who now drives a more expensive car (a Mercedes) than she does? Welcome to the new millennium of college coaching.

It’s probable most college coaches approaching or past 60 years old privately abhor social media on several fronts.

Coaches have to motivate players now making bank to play their best.

Coaches often sell their dignity when comes to the “anything goes” approach by using social media in recruiting. Dancing with recruits in videos is simply creepy. Watching LSU head football coach Brian Kelly getting jiggy with recruits is painful. Body parts are falling off.

Coaches assign a staff member to monitor the players’ social media accounts, hoping nothing inappropriate will pop up that will embarrass the player, the program, or the school.

It’s why I can’t imagine past Hall of Fame coaches, from human powder kegs like basketball’s Bobby Knight and football’s Woody Hayes, to basketball’s consummate team fundamentalist John Wooden, could survive in today’s social media tsunami.

If you think Knight could throw a courtside chair far, can you imagine him grabbing one of his player’s cell phones after discovering he made a social media post from the locker room after a game?

That player would be thrilled to tweet using the hashtag #Firstcellphoneorbitingearth.

Contact Ron at

Caution urged for hunters using deer stands

There’s something about the deer we hunt. They’re sharper than we are and the blink of an eye or a slap at a mosquito may be all it takes to cause a deer to turn tail and run.

As a result, it’s more to the hunter’s advantage to hunt from elevated positions as deer usually are looking for danger at eye level or lower. Sitting 16 feet up a tree gives the hunter an advantage and when it comes to waylaying a wily buck, we need all the advantages we can get.

When I started deer hunting years ago, there were no tree stands on the market. If you hunted from an elevated position, it meant gathering up a bunch of two-by-fours, hammer, nails and saw to construct something that would keep you above a deer’s line of vision.

Some of the first ones I constructed were not only weird looking contraptions, they were also unsafe. Switching your Red Man from one jaw to the other was often all that was needed to flip you out and send you to the ground.

Years later as climbing stands and ladder stands came on the market, these proved safer than the man-made contraptions. Because they were so heavily used, news began filtering in of accidents resulting in falling out of stands. 

Dr. Bobby Dale, a life-long hunter, is also an emergency room physician who practices medicine in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. Visiting with Dr. Dale at the annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association in Johnson City, Tenn., several years ago, we had occasion to talk about what is more likely to injure hunters while hunting. Dale noted that contrary to what many believe, it’s not the older and more fragile hunter who is more apt to be injured; it’s the strong, virile, younger guy.

“From what I’ve observed from patients I have seen in the ER where I practice, it’s the younger one more prone to suffer serious injuries while hunting. This is particularly true concerning falls from elevated deer stands. In fact,” Dale said, “I recently read a report that revealed the majority of bow hunters who fall from tree stands are in their 20s and 30s. Also, about 10 percent of these injuries are alcohol-related.

“While it is true that guys in their 50s and 60s and older have bones that are more easily broken, I don’t see nearly as many injuries from falling from a stand from this older group. It’s just a fact that the older guy is more cautious,” he added.

Dr. Dale noted that a fall, even one from just a few feet, can result in serious injury. Obviously, the further you fall, the more serious injuries become, he said.

“I’ve seen victims who fell from stands come to the ER with everything from closed head injuries, bleeding on the brain, spinal fractures with paralysis, broken arms, legs and ribs, collapsed lungs, ruptured spleens in addition to profuse external bleeding,” Dale said. 

While mishaps using home-made deer stands are more likely to result in serious injuries, manufactured stands can also cause falls if not used properly.

“Manufactured stands have to meet a safety code and the vast majority of these stands are safe when properly used. However, they still have to be secured to the tree in the proper manner to be completely safe. Climbing stands are quite safe but when care is not taken in using them, they can result in twisting or slipping when not correctly secured to the tree. The result can be disastrous,” he added.

With deer season rapidly approaching – archery season begins October 1 — make sure your tree stands are in top-notch working order and that you practice all the safety rules having to do with elevated deer stands. It takes only one moment of lapse in judgement or one misstep to make looking for a big buck the least of your concerns.

Contact Glynn at

Who impressed local coaches when they were in high school?


High school coaches are major influences on their players, and other students, too.

For this week’s Coaches’ Roundtable, we thought it would be interesting to see who were the biggest influences on our local head football coaches when they were in high school.

But we added a request: please try to cite somebody who made a big impression on you but was NOT your coach. A teacher, a principal, a staff member, even a best buddy or a girlfriend.

None of our coaches mentioned girlfriends. One wrote: “my wife is the only woman in my life that was ever of any significance. That’s my official answer, forever.” Smart man! 

The answers reflected how classroom teachers and others of a generation ago are having significant impact today, on students and athletes who never met them. 

Clint Walker, Plain Dealing – “Ron Festavan. He was the principal of Northwood and a great leader. He made sure I ‘toed the line.’ He is now the mayor of Vivian, I believe, and I always enjoy when I get to see him. He made sure I did things the ‘right way.’

“Also, Marilyn Beach, my English teacher. It was hard work and she kept things rigorous for us, but it instilled work ethic in the class that bled over to now. I hated English, but have come to enjoy some of it.”

Denny Duron, Evangel – “I attended Captain Shreve High School, and the most influential individual other than my coaching staff was an amazing English teacher by the name of Dr. Bridger. I couldn’t wait to get to her class every single day… she was a fascinating lecturer.”

Reynolds Moore, Benton – “At Carthage High School in Carthage, Miss., Mr. Burns taught several different social studies classes. He was one of those special teachers who allowed each one of us to be himself and listened to our questions. I learned a lot about life from him, and a lot of the way I teach reflects how he treated us.”

James Bradford Jr., Green Oaks – “I graduated from CE Byrd. Mrs. Vienne, my history teacher, made a huge impact. Being a former athlete, she understood how hard to push and motivate us. She had an incentive to treat us to dinner for top students. I worked hard to see if she was being for real. Made me feel it was OK to be a smart athlete. 

“Also in the school administration, Mr. Crosby always kept it real. I went to his office one time as a freshman for a tardy. He never saw me again my entire high school career.”

Chase Thompson, North Caddo – “I went to Sarepta High School and North Webster High School. In no particular order … 1) Mr. Kerry Phillips — His English classes always came with unpredictable creativity and laughter.

2) Mr. Michael Corley — He was an elite educator and a prominent member of the Sarepta community. He was a great role model for professional excellence.

3) Mrs. Karen Applegate — Her class changed my opinion of math. She taught the class in a way that gave me confidence. Without her class, I probably would not have become a math teacher.

4) Mr. Drew (Sarepta janitor) — His enthusiasm and positive attitude permeated throughout the school. He was a friend to everyone who came through the doors at Sarepta High School.” 

Mike Greene, Loyola – “I attended Jesuit (now Loyola) and played all three sports so I was around coaches 24-7, but the person other than coaches would have to be the English teacher. Sharon Duhon Smith. She was soooo tough on you in class. You better wear your uniform correctly, and you worked your behind off in there! 

“It was nothing to stay an hour every day after school until you got your work done! I was throwing darts at her picture at home! Then when I got to college and was making A’s in literature and my other English classes, it hit me what she was doing! 

“Any time you have a coach doing well in literature, someone worked overtime. What is even better is when I came back to coach, she was one of our biggest football supporters. She moved to Marshall (Texas) and is now retired.”

Austin Brown, Northwood – “My answer might be a little different. It’s my ninth-grade principal, Rick Mahaffey at Lawton High in Oklahoma. 

“I did not know his impact until I became social media friends with him almost 20 years later and I saw how good of a man he is and how much pride he takes in my growth and maturity!

“Although I don’t remember much of the talks we had when I got called to his office, I do remember feeling like this is someone I should respect and listen to. Now I understand why. I hope to be that type of educator!”

Stephen Dennis, Huntington – “I’m Parkway HS, class of ’03. It’s hard to not include a coach, when Coach Jim Gatlin made such an impact in my life. I don’t know that I would be a coach today if not for him. He was literally the first person that told me I needed to be a coach, that I was pretending if I tried to do anything else!”

Gary Smith, Bossier – “I’m sorry, but I have to point out two of my coaches at Bossier High School, Jim Gatlin and Mitch Downey (now Bossier Schools superintendent). They had great influence on many.”

Stacy Ballew, Byrd – “I want to point to the older players on the 1993 Byrd football team. We had some good ones back then and they taught us all how to play. There was a bunch of good ones. That was the class that went 10-0. My last year to play was ’95 and they made a big difference for us.”

And since it’s Brotherton Bowl week, we finish with …

Coy Brotherton, Parkway – “I went to Haughton, and was lucky enough to have both my brother and dad as coaches at the school to look up to. I grew up in the coaching office and at school, so a lot of people made an impact on my life. One non-coach was Mrs. Renee Stewart, who was my best friend’s mom and treated me like her own son.”

Jason Brotherton (older brother), Haughton – “I went to Haughton and my coaches were the most influential people to me at that time. But I also had an English and drama teacher named Kelli Shaw who was influential to me because it seemed like she never had a bad day. 

“She truly loved her job and always had a smile on her face. I eventually was able to work alongside her, call her a friend, and also see her become one of my daughter’s favorite teachers!”

Hunting season is here!

There are many ways that we as outdoorsmen can enjoy the great outdoors. There’s fishing, a very popular hobby by many, and there’s camping which takes the outdoor experience to another level. Maybe your idea of being outdoors involves playing golf or maybe exercising. But for thousands of others, there’s hunting, which for many is the main reason they wake up every day!

Hunters, in most cases, are very hard-core outdoorsmen who have a serious passion for pursuing wild game from doves and squirrel to ducks and bucks. But why?

To understand a hunter, you need to be a hunter or live with one. This group has the same mind set and passion for the outdoors that LSU Tiger fans have for football — they’re crazy! Hunters put in a lot of time and effort to not only hunt, but to get ready for the hunt.

Just like a bass tournament angler, preparation is key to being successful and is a part of the grind that hunters must go through to increase their chances for success in the fall. For most hunters, all the preseason planning is just as much fun as the hunt itself…or is it?

Whether they are on a lease or hunting public land, hunters have a lot of work to do. They tend to have more flexibility on a private lease than they might on public hunting land. But most owners of leases, public and private, do not want hunters to put nails into trees since at some point, the landowner or timber company will probably be harvesting the timber. Most of the time, they’re okay with you cutting a few shooting lanes, bush hogging pipelines, or planting food plots on old logging roads.

For deer hunters, the next season begins only a few months after the last one ended. Deer hunters do not get much of a break as they start the process of preparing for next season by planting food plots, fixing feeders, and repairing deer stands. Most take their ATV or UTV vehicles in for service due to the abuse their machines have gone through.  

For duck hunters, the biggest job is building the blind. Some simply rebrush blinds they’ve used for years, while others may build new blinds in different locations.

Make no mistake, the amount of work to build a duck blind is no less than what a deer hunter must do. Duck hunters must go out and gather moss and cut brush so they can brush-in their blind. This takes time and lots of work to secure the brush to the blind. Of course, all this takes place when temperatures are usually in the 90’s, so sweating is a major part of both a duck and deer hunter’s world as they prepare for another season.   

Ladies who aren’t hunters, now you know why your husbands are gone so long during hunting season, and especially during the months leading up to the hunting season. Hunting requires hard work and long hours of preparation to guarantee success.

Don’t try and justify the cost of hunting because when it comes down to dollars spent versus pounds of meat put in the freezer. You’ll see it does not come out very well for the hunter. But it’s all worth it when that back strap comes straight off the grill and is sitting in front of you at dinner time. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

‘Til next time good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to invite me for supper when back strap is served!

Contact Steve at

Robinson made widespread impact in various roles


(Editor’s note – Local legend Doug Robinson, a coach at several local high schools and also a key figure for sports at LSUS, passed away in his sleep Friday night at age 79. A couple of months ago, he was a pallbearer for his longtime friend Lee Hedges. Robinson was the subject of this June 28, 2022 ‘Coaches Corner’ SBJ feature. He’s still the right answer.)

If you ever need to win a bet on local sports trivia, put this one in your back pocket: Who was the last Shreveport-Bossier baseball team to win a state championship in the highest classification?

Most likely, you’ll get plenty of wrong guesses, because the last high school to win a state title in the highest class isn’t even a high school any more. It’s the 1970 Fair Park Indians, coached by a man who always considered himself as a football guy, even though he has played a significant role on more than one occasion in local baseball.

Doug Robinson, 78, has fond memories of coaching the Indians to that state title. But that’s no surprise because it seems like Robinson has nothing on fond memories of every coaching stop he has made.

“There were some great, great moments in just about everywhere I went,” he says. “I don’t know how these coaches win all these state championships because it’s so hard just to win one. I was young and probably didn’t understand. I guess I thought it was easy.”

He was only 26 when he led the Indians to the state championship, just a few years removed from his first coaching job at Bunkie. But he was a Fair Park graduate and he wanted to get back to his alma mater as soon as he could. That opportunity came soon.

“I had actually gone down to the coaching clinic with Woodlawn,” he remembers, “and came back with Fair Park.”

After winning the state championship in Class AAA (at the time, the highest class) with a 7-5 victory over Jesuit (New Orleans), Doug Robinson would only coach one more year of high school baseball in his lengthy career. And not at Fair Park.

Following the 1970 season, Robinson found himself in what almost all coaches at that time now call “the changeover” as schools were desegregated. He was assigned to Green Oaks – finding out just a few days before the school year started — and he spent the next few decades going from one opportunity to the next.

He left to become at graduate assistant at Northwestern State but legendary coach James Farrar, who had been at Fair Park in the 1960s, brought him back to help start a baseball program at Southfield, a Class A school that, like Fair Park, no longer exists as a high school.

Robinson coached football and only one season of baseball at Southfield before moving to Woodlawn, first as an assistant for some deep playoff runs by the Knights and then as head football coach from 1981-83. But his sons were at Captain Shreve “and I didn’t want to coach against them,” so he became an assistant for the Gators.

But that’s not all he did during that time.

While serving as an assistant for the Gators, Robinson also started the baseball program at LSUS and coached the Pilots from 1990-95. That fall, he returned to being a head football coach, this time at Southwood, where he would stay for five seasons.

When LSUS wanted to expand its athletic program, Robinson got the call. He instituted basketball and soccer teams for both men and women. He stayed as the school’s AD for 10 years and was inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2021.

Still, he says it wasn’t easy to stop being a coach. “It was horrible, but I realized I had the opportunity to make something big at LSUS,” he says. “I always thought that was a gold mine sitting out there. There are so many players in the area that get overlooked. It was a struggle at first; there wasn’t much money.”

What he remembers the most are the players and coaches that he worked with. And just like a life-long coach, he can still rattle off specific plays and scores from game after game, from decades long gone by.

Also just like a veteran coach, he is quick to offer advice for any coach.

“The number one thing is to work as hard as you can and be fair to those kids,” he says. “I was always going to play the best players I got. But the bottom line is you got to work because there’s someone out there looking to take your place.” 

Contact JJ at 

Former Shreveporter Jack Brittain Jr. set for Saturday recognition at NSU home opener

WORTHY RECIPIENT:  Jack “Britt” Brittain Jr. was pleasantly shocked when presented the LSWA’s 2017 Mac Russo Award by the prior year’s winner, Teddy Allen. Brittain will be honored posthumously Saturday at Northwestern State.


NATCHITOCHES – One of Northwestern State’s and Natchitoches’ biggest advocates, former Shreveport resident Jack O. “Britt” Brittain Jr., is being posthumously honored Saturday evening at the Demons’ home football opener at Turpin Stadium.

Brittain, who died July 11 after a brief illness at age 67, was a four-year letterwinner for the Demons from 1974-78. For his service to the university and its athletic program, he is being recognized as the first Exchange Bank and Trust “Demon Great of the Game” for the 2023 season.

He played defensive back, fullback and wide receiver, getting on the field as a true freshman and playing in the historic 1974 NSU-Grambling game. Brittain played receiver in his final three seasons, catching passes from Bobby Hebert, Eric Barkley and Stan Powell while helping block for record-shattering running back Joe Delaney in coach A.L Williams’ wide-open offenses.

Following his graduation from NSU, Brittain earned his law degree at LSU in 1982 and became a highly-effective and respected cog in local and state politics. He resided in Shreveport while representing U.S. Senators J. Bennett Johnston and John Breaux in the 1980s. He later practiced law in Natchitoches.

A tireless promoter of his hometown and of his alma mater, Brittain also supported numerous Northwestern endeavors both athletically and university-related.

His legal and political expertise allowed him to dispense advice to university administration at all levels while he gave his time and money to a plethora of fund-raisers and charitable acts, both connected to the university and for worthy causes throughout northwest Louisiana.

Brittain, the colorful sideline reporter for the Demon Sports Network radio broadcasts from 1997-2014, was awarded the 2013 N-Club Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award. Brittain’s volunteer involvement and legal work with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, which holds its annual convention in Natchitoches each summer, earned him lifetime membership and the organization’s Mac Russo Award, which is given to an individual who “contributes to the progress and the ideals of the LSWA,” in 2017. 

He was a catalyst in celebrating Delaney’s memory and heroism. Brittain played a pivotal role in the filming of the ESPN short film, “Delaney,” which premiered in 2015 with a screening at the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport. Brittain also represented NSU at various Kansas City Chiefs functions honoring Delaney, who died 40 years ago while trying to rescue three drowning children in Monroe.

Following his passing, the Jack Brittain Junior Memorial Scholarship, benefitting a Northwestern State female student-athlete, was established in his honor. The scholarship already has reached the endowed mark and is still receiving donations. For information on how to donate, visit

Brittain was the proud son of former Louisiana Tech running back Jack O. Brittain Sr., who played for the Bulldogs shortly after World War II and became a prominent attorney and Democratic Party activist in the state.

Wilson, Guerrero retain crowns as Downs’ thoroughbred meet ends

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports 

A couple of familiar names finished atop the trainer and jockey standings, as Louisiana Downs’ 2023 thoroughbred meet came to an end Tuesday.

For the third straight year, Haughton’s Shane Wilson won the trainer’s title. In 210 starts, Wilson’s horses won 45 races, and earned $861,315. Joey Foster picked up two wins on the final day, to edge out Steve Asmussen for second place. Foster had 23 winners in 109 starts, which earned $356,892. Asmussen had 21 winners in 113 starts, which earned $338,040.

From the jockey colony, Jose Andres Guerrero was the best rider for a second straight year, with 70 wins in 336 starts. His mounts earned $1,189,953. Joel Dominguez was second with 53 wins in 314 starts, and the horses he rode earned $918,289. Emanuel Nieves finished third with 49 wins in 287 starts. His mounts earned $887,660.

Racing at the Bossier City track is scheduled to resume January 2, with the 2024 quarter horse meet. Next year’s 76-day thoroughbred meet is scheduled to start May 3.

Contact Tony at

Wildfires create devastation for timber and wildlife

There was a time years ago when I worked as a journalist for Willamette Industries, creating and producing newsletters about how the company’s policies promoted good habitat for wildlife. One of the events I visited as an observer was watching as professionals in the industry deliberately set fires, prescribed fires, for the good not only for timber growing on the lands but for wildlife living on the company’s acreage.

There are fires burning now on timber lands, especially in southwest Louisiana that are anything but prescribed; these are out of control wildfires like the ones we often read about devastating hundreds of thousands of acres out west.

Todd Martin is President and CEO of Southern Loggers Cooperative. Martin provided insight into prescribed fires versus wildfires.

“One of the most valuable tools used in the forestry industry are prescribed fires. These are intentionally set. Weather conditions have to be right where there is little or no chance that the fire intentionally set doesn’t turn into a wildfire,” said Martin.

Wildlife such as deer, turkey and quail benefit from prescribed fire in that beneficial browse and tender forage plants are generated. When a wildfire goes through, it chars and burns everything which seriously limits what wildlife have available, according to Martin.            

“What we are seeing now in Louisiana is an outbreak of wildfires from a standpoint I have never seen in my career,” he added.      

Martin gave some mind-boggling information about the extent of these fires raging around the state, especially in southwest Louisiana.

“In the month of August alone,” he said, “our state has responded to 522 fires covering over 61,000 acres. The two biggest fires are the one known as the Tiger Island fire involving over 31,000 acres with the Highway 113 fire near Pitkin covering some 8500 acres. Most of these fires are only about 50 percent (until recently) contained so there is much work to continue until they’re extinguished. What is needed is a good prolonged rain over the affected area, something that is not in the long-range forecast as of now.

“We held meetings in Lake Charles and you could look out the window of the building where we met and actually see the Tiger Island fires burning 40 miles away. This situation is more serious than people realize,” Martin said.

Three years ago, the forests in southwest Louisiana were devastated when Hurricane Laura destroyed much of the timber in the area where the fires are located today. According to Martin, the timber destroyed by the hurricane was replanted with new trees that were growing and doing well. The fires blazing in that area today have virtually wiped out all the new growth of timber that was replanted.

How did these wildfires get started? A TV news report indicated that fires were deliberately set and cited a hefty reward waiting for someone who can identify the culprit who set southwest Louisiana ablaze.   

Right now, the entire state is under a burn ban. If heeded, that should keep other fires from igniting under these extremely dry conditions.

Keeping our eyes on the skies for rain clouds and praying that we’ll soon get more rain – not just what many of us were blessed with in the last 48 hours — seems to be an obvious plan of action that will extinguish these raging fires and preventing new ones from cropping up. 

Contact Glynn at

Local prep coaches share their college football teams to watch


Coaches study other teams each week devising game plans. They also look elsewhere for inspiration.

And entertainment.

When it comes to watching college football, local high school coaches watch as a form of continuing education. They see concepts and plays that could fit into their team’s future, and often put them to use.

But it’s not just a schematic thing. There are alma maters, personal relationships, former players to cheer on, and pure pride in the home state’s flagship football program – all factors in this week’s Shreveport-Bossier Journal Coaches Roundtable answers.

The question: What college football teams do you watch?

Coy Brotherton, Parkway – “I love college football. Georgia is my favorite team. First game I remember going to was the 1991 Indy Bowl when Georgia beat Arkansas. I’ve been a fan ever since. (Thank God Arkansas lost that game!)

“I’m a big Rice fan this year because Geron Hargon plays there and I’m a fan of his. I keep up with LSU and Louisiana Tech because of the local players and local fans.  I’m an alum of Northwestern State.”

Thedrick Harris, Woodlawn – “Louisiana Tech: my alma mater. Colorado: absolutely love what Prime is doing.  Georgia: defensive scheme and play is off the charts.

“Penn State: Always solid and old school. Grambling: near and dear to my family. Wisconsin and Ohio State: OL/DL play.” 

Austin Brown, Northwood – “1, Any school my former players play for.  2, Oklahoma, and 3, Oklahoma State, my home state schools, and I respect both head coaches. 4, Baylor, because I have friends on the staff. 5, LSU, the passion of the fan base has won me over.”

Stephen Dennis, Huntington – “LSU, because it’s LSU and I’ve lived in Louisiana my whole life. Louisiana Tech: I like what Sonny (Cumbie) is doing there. He is recruiting Shreveport well, plus two of our former players are there.

“Michigan: I’ve always been a fan of (Jim) Harbaugh. North Carolina: I’ve always loved Mack Brown and how he coaches.” 

Clint Walker, Plain Dealing — “LSU: it’s the epitome for football in our state – usually. Texas A&M: I have a family friend that coached down there for a long time. They retired and also, I have had the opportunity to coach a couple of kids that got scholarships there for football.

“Northwestern (State): it’s where I graduated from. SAU (Southern Arkansas): “lots of local kids go there. It’s fun to go watch those games and see the smaller schools play. I’ve always enjoyed going to watch them, especially being so close by.” 

Justin Scogin, Airline – “Georgia, because they play a lot with a tight end. USC. I’m a big Lincoln Riley fan and now since they have Tackett Curtis (from Many), it makes it more fun.

“Army/Navy/Air Force, because they are so unique. LSU is my alma mater. LCU (Louisiana Christian). The guy I look up to most in my profession calls the offense (David Feaster) and I like to see how colleges play his stuff.”

Mike Greene, Loyola – “I love watching any of the academies. They play hard and are not worried about getting in the portal or NIL money. Maybe the last of the pure amateur programs.”

Adam Kirby, Captain Shreve – ”LSU. I have four friends on their staff so it’s always fun to go down there, hang out and talk ball. Great guys who are very knowledgeable and open to share things with me as a young coach.

“Arkansas. I love the fact that Sam Pittman is an offensive line guy who got his chance to run a program. Hopefully because of this, it will open more doors for OL coaches. 

“Texas. I love what Sark does on offense so I’m always trying to study them and pick up an idea here or there.  Tennessee. I love what they do with their tempo packages and their RPO’s so when they’re on, I’m usually tuned in.

“USC. Lincoln Riley is an offensive genius when it comes to creating mismatches for defenses so I’m always trying to study his stuff and pick up one or two things.”  

Reynolds Moore, Benton – ”Ole Miss. I’ve been a fan my whole life and it’s my alma mater. Plus, who doesn’t love watching Kiffin?? Alabama now that one of my daughters is in school there and I also love watching Saban because he’s so competitive and detail oriented.

“I’ll probably try and catch Colorado now just to see if they can sustain this start they’re off to. Auburn, because I always enjoy watching Hugh Freeze-coached teams. I think he’s as innovative as anyone else out there.” 

Gary Cooper, Booker T. Washington – “1, Florida State, I’m a big fan, have been since the days of Charlie Ward. 2, LSU, our state’s major national championship contender with a lot of our in state kids on the team.

“3, Texas, because I love to watch Steve Sarkisian’s offense. 4, THE Grambling State University. I had the honor and privilege to wear the black and gold and be a part of that historic university.” 

Gary Smith, Bossier – “LSU, Georgia, UL Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and Centenary. I’m from Louisiana, so of course LSU. I coached Georgia’s co-defensive coordinator, Glenn Schumann, in high school, and that’s a no doubter, too.” 

Denny Duron, Evangel Christian – “1, Colorado, same as everyone else on the Prime Time bandwagon. 2, Louisiana Tech, I played there. 3, LSU, I’m a Louisiana boy. 4, Alabama, because I love ‘The Coach.’ “ 

James Bradford Jr., Green Oaks – “LSU is the top tier school for the state. Louisiana Tech since I have many former players on their current roster. Northwestern State is my alma mater.

“Colorado because Coach Prime is doing some amazing things in a short period. Grambling, since I have a strong family tradition of GSU graduates.”

What drives a tournament angler? 

Often, I’ve been asked why do I fish tournaments? After a poor finish, I too often ask myself that same question!

After I stopped competing as an athlete in the late 1980’s, I needed something to fill the void that competition gave me, something that would fan the competitive fire that still burns in me today. I feel that most athletes never really retire; they find another avenue that satisfies that desire and urge to compete. For me, that has been tournament bass fishing. 

The Lord blessed me with athletic ability that has led me on a path of great success – from winning a state championship in high school to a college athletic scholarship to being drafted by Major League Baseball. Growing up, no matter the sport, the desire to be the best burned inside of me. I would do whatever was necessary to be successful. But understand, the day comes when you can no longer compete at a high level. You’re no longer the fastest player, the strongest or have the best arm. Father time has a way of letting us know that the playing days are over.

 Since 1990, I have competed on all levels from local club events to fishing the boater/pro side of the ABA Tour, B.A.S.S. Opens, along with the MLF series of the BFL’s and Toyota Series. When it comes to knowledge gained, I learned the most fishing the co-angler side of the FLW Tour in 2004-05. Each one of these can be very competitive including at the club level. 

Just because you’re fishing the club or lower level of tournament fishing does not mean the competition is any different. Some of the best anglers in the country fish the club level and are just as serious as the guys who fish the pro side of the MLF or the Bassmaster Series. But not everyone wants or can afford to travel the country following a pro tournament trail chasing little green fish we call largemouth bass.

One thing you’ll gain from fishing the higher level of tournaments is knowledge. If you want to learn and increase your ability to catch fish, follow one of the higher-level circuits. Just being around and spending time with other anglers from across the country will expose you to new techniques that will make you a better angler. 

Even on the Pro/Am trails where you’re paired up with a co-angler who fishes out of the back of the boat, you can learn so much. I’ve always said that there’s never been a co-angler get in my boat that I did not learn something from. It might not be anything major, but if you pay attention, you’ll pick up something that might help you down the road. It might be a particular bait or maybe an organizing tip, but the best teachers for anglers are anglers themselves.  

 A true athlete wants to win and be the best no matter what. Their desire to win and compete is on another level than the average Joe. This is what separates the average athlete from the great one — the desire to win!

Ever since I fished my first tournament back in 1990, nothing has been more satisfying than to win or at least have a high finish and get a check. It’s not even about the money for me, it’s about competing. The desire to compete is something you’re born with, it’s not something you can develop. So, to answer the question of what drives a tournament angler? It’s simply one word — competition!

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing and wear your sunscreen and UV protective clothing. Melanoma kills and does not discriminate.

Contact Steve at

 Info you can use while diving into dove season

Hunters have had a tough time this summer. Stalemated by the lingering drought and daily temperatures 100 degrees and above for days, deer hunters needed to be preparing food plots and getting stands set up and ready. Bow season kicks off in less than a month but it’s just been too blasted hot to do what needs to be done.

The nice showers and cool down last weekend will help immensely. In the meantime, hunting seasons officially began last Saturday as dove season kicked off.

The first of the three-way split seasons opened in the North Zone (see wildlife and fisheries regulations as to the location of the line separating North from South zones) September 2 giving hunters a long Labor Day weekend to engage in the year’s first hunting season.

I did some research on these birds and found some interesting things about doves that inhabit Louisiana. Did you know there are seven sub-species of doves in our state?

The most common one, the Mourning dove; they can be so difficult to hit. The tendency is to frequently hit where they recently were; their darting, diving, twisting maneuvers and ability to turn on the after-burners result in more mourning doves escaping the barrage of shots than those ending up on the grill. Daily bag limit is 15.

A second dove, much more uncommon up this way than Mourning doves, is the White-winged dove, a bird much more common in Texas and states to the west than here. I saw my first one a couple of seasons ago when a hunter on the field I was hunting downed one. These birds are legal to take with the same regulations as mourning doves; daily bag limit is 15.

There are two sub-species of doves in Louisiana that have no daily bag limit. However there is one caveat – one fully feathered wing and the head must remain attached to the bird after dressing and cleaning. Otherwise, they become part of the 15 bird daily limit.  

The most common of these no-limit birds is the Eurasian Collared dove. They are larger than mourning doves and are lighter in color. The most telling feature is a dark ring around the bird’s neck. Another no-limit dove is the Ringed Turtle dove. These look similar to a slightly smaller and lighter colored version of the Eurasian Collared dove but are uncommon.

Louisiana has two species of doves that are protected; there is no season on the Common Ground Dove and the Inca Dove. 

The Common Ground dove is the smallest of the Louisiana seven and is one you’re not likely to see; there have been no reported sightings in north-central Louisiana. The population of the Inca dove is increasing over the state; I have seen these beautiful birds at my feeders on several occasions. Their most telling feature is a layer of feathers that appear more like small scales than feathers.

The seventh species is one you’re not likely to consider a species of dove. You see them around town, sitting on the top of buildings or on phone wires. We know them as pigeons but technically, they’re Rock doves. These birds are not protected and can be taken any time year round. Just don’t go walking down town. with your shotgun plunking pigeons off the roof of tall buildings. The authorities might not find that amusing.

Keep it legal, folks. You can grow crops and then manipulate them so that seeds that are grown in the field are more available to doves. You can bush-hog crops to knock down seeds, which is legal. Where you get in trouble is adding seeds to a dove field that didn’t grow there or harvesting grain and return some to the field. That’s a big no-no and not a good way to get your name in the paper.

Have fun, be safe, stay within the boundaries of the law and enjoy Louisiana’s first hunting season of the year. From personal experience I can tell you; dove gumbo is not bad.

Contact Glynn at

A day to savor, and build from, at Louisiana Downs

It wasn’t like old times, but it was much better than recent times.

On the way to Louisiana Downs for last Saturday’s Super Derby, I saw something for the first time in a long (as in years) time. Driving on the overpass off I-20, I looked to my right and down, and saw lots of cars in the Bossier City track’s parking lot.

Now, it wasn’t like it used to be on Derby Day, when the parking lot was full. But the scene caught me by surprise.

A pleasant surprise.

As soon as I opened the front door and walked into the facility, I heard something for the first time in a long (as in years) time. There was a buzz — the sound of excitement. It didn’t take long to find out from where that sound was coming. As I strolled through the first floor, I saw people.

Lots of people.

Not shoulder-to-shoulder people, like it used to be on Derby Day, but also nothing like what I’ve seen in recent years on a normal racing day (The Super Derby had not been run since 2019.) The first floor is mainly for people who like to walk around and informally sit at tables. Not only were most of the tables full — there were people sitting on things that aren’t designed for sitting.

I took the escalator to the second floor. Yes, there were plenty of seats available, but there were plenty of seats that weren’t available. I heard the sound made when there’s a large gathering, and with the grandstand acoustics, it sounded like there were more people.

Guess what else I saw for the first time in a long time — lines of people. People waiting to make a bet, preferring to speak with a person instead of punching a kiosk screen. People waiting to get a fish basket, or a margarita.

A ride to the 3rd floor, the clubhouse level, had me seeing lots of box seats filled. Again, there were some boxes available, but there were many which weren’t. I’m not sure if the track was serving a buffet — I didn’t want to hang around a place I wasn’t entitled.

When I was a kid, my mom and dad would go to the Downs. They liked to sit outside on the steps below the grandstand. That’s not for me (I like my air conditioning), but Saturday, it was for many people. They were smoking and throwing their cigarette butts and worthless betting slips on the concrete.

Now that was just like old times.

As the Super Derby 41 field of seven horses — none of which were considered elite — ran toward the finish line, the crowd roared. Okay, maybe cheered would be a more accurate word. Still, it was the sound that helps make racing so much fun to watch in person.

Even though the Super Derby isn’t what it used to be — a graded race with a $1 million or even $750,000 purse — the track’s hard-working, always friendly, rank-and-file staff did what it could to make the race look and feel big. Each horse’s name, and the Derby logo, were embroidered onto specially-made saddlecloths.

Instead of the usual recording of a bugler calling the horses to post, there was a gentleman doing the bugling. It was a well-intentioned touch, but his sound wasn’t as smooth and on-key as the recording.

There was a special Super Derby backdrop in the winner’s circle, which made for an attractive photo op.

It was a nice day to be at the track.

I say all this with a message for the Downs’ leadership team, which starts at the top with owner Kevin Preston, finishing his second year in charge.

See what happens when you promote horse racing just a little?

The bigger-than-normal crowd wasn’t there for food trucks, bounce houses, face painting, or weiner dog races. It was there because the Super Derby has a four-decade (give or take a few years) reputation of being a major sporting event. I can promise you most folks didn’t know the winner — Big Data — from Big Brother. They were there for the pageantry and excitement a “big race” brings.

So please open your eyes and reconsider (I’ve asked before) the way you promote horse racing. Use last Saturday’s Super Derby as a catalyst for bridging the large gap between the races and fans.

You might find that old times are the new times. 

Contact Tony at

Whitetails Unlimited’s success in Lincoln Parish is a great example

It began with a dynamite meal earlier this month at the Ruston Civic Center when the 8th annual fund raising banquet for Whitetails Unlimited was launched. Have you ever had the Log Cabin’s “Catfish Opelousas” meal? A catfish filet resting on a bed of rice with crawfish etouffee drizzled over the top was “slap yo mama” good.

What followed was a series of events that saw multiple attendees put their hands around valuable prizes from dozens of guns, prized works of art, gun safes, hunting bows topped off by a trio of unusual but coveted prizes, a Lane Burroughs helmet donated by the Louisiana Tech baseball coach, a guitar autographed by Hank Williams Jr and a Cincinnati Bengals helmet autographed by none other than Heisman Trophy winner and quarterback of LSU’s national championship, Joe Burrow.

There was one “fly in the ointment” that kept the crowd a bit lower than in years past. Several other events in the community were taking place at the same time which meant scores of folks who would have attended were obligated to take part in some of the other important activities.

Even so, there were more than 350 men, ladies and youngsters in attendance who forked over some $70,000 in gross proceeds. Once expenses were paid to finance the banquet half of the net proceeds stayed in my community to assist local groups that promote outdoors activities.

Since the banquet was first held eight years ago and despite COVID knocking out the event for two years, here are some of the groups that have received benefits from funds raised at the annual banquets. It’s no small piece of change when you consider that over the years, Whitetails Unlimited has invested over $100,000 in this one particular community.

A partial listing of groups that have benefitted from these funds include the Lincoln Parish Archery Range, Lincoln Parish 4-H Shooting Sports, Med Camps of Louisiana, Tech Scholarship Fishing Team, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fund, Lincoln Parish National Rifle Association chapter, Lincoln Parish Ducks Unlimited, Trailblazer, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Lincoln Parish Livestock Club and Louisiana AIM.

This year’s banquet was spearheaded by a heads-up group of volunteers headed by chairman Brandon Williams.

“Knowing that we had competition this year because of other events being scheduled the same night, we ended up about where we thought we would,” said Williams.

Since the Lincoln Parish chapter of Whitetails Unlimited became a popular organization eight years ago, the attendance and funds raised caught the attention of national headquarters.  After the first year of local operation the national chairman of the organization, Jeff Schinkten, flew down from Wisconsin to present the Lincoln Parish chapter with national honors as the chapter had immediately risen to the top nationally in raising funds and in banquet attendance.

Except for the two years when COVID stopped things, this event has caught the attention of area folks as well because of the popularity of the annual get together. However, for the success to continue, something is badly needed, something chairman Williams addressed.

“Although we have had a fantastic group of volunteers working with us to put on our annual banquet, we are always looking for other folks willing to work with us,” said Williams. “We would love to have more volunteers.”

If you’d like to have a hand in seeing this organization continue to grow, visit Lincoln Parish Whitetails Unlimited on Facebook to offer your services. If you’re elsewhere, look for your local Whitetails Unlimited group and consider getting involved if you’re not already.

Contact Glynn at

Burns makes the most elite cut, picked for U.S. Ryder Cup Team

BOUND FOR ROME:  One of Sam Burns’ youthful dreams became reality Tuesday when he was chosen to play in the Ryder Cup for the USA.

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Sam Burns fans didn’t have to wait to see if their favorite PGA Tour pro was chosen Tuesday morning for one of six at-large spots on the United States Ryder Cup Team.

Burns was the first of those six announced by team captain Zach Johnson, from PGA of America headquarters in Frisco, Texas. He was joined by four major championship winners and Ryder Cup veterans — Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas – and another familiar Ryder Cup figure, Rickie Fowler.

He got the good news from Johnson Monday, and was clearly delighted when interviewed in the Tuesday morning press conference, speaking from his home in Choudrant. The six at-large choices all participated by Zoom.

Burns nearly made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago on American soil at Whistling Straits, but team captain Steve Stricker didn’t find a spot for him then. Burns was considered a bubble pick this time, too, but to his relief, Johnson went with him.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was my Number 1 goal. It’s something I wanted to be part of, didn’t want to miss out on (again),” said Burns, who is based out of Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant. “When Zach gave me the call, (I was) just incredibly honored.

“For me personally, there’s no higher honor than to represent your country, to be a part of this Ryder Cup and tee it up alongside these world-class players and guys. I’m extremely, extremely excited,” said the native Shreveporter, a Calvary Baptist alumnus and an All-American at LSU who won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation’s top collegiate player.

The Ryder Cup will be staged Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Rome at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

Burns is not new to international team competition. He was part of the USA’s 2014 Junior Ryder Cup Team (a combined boys and girls roster) that posted a 16-8 win over Europe in Scotland, and played for his country in the 2022 President’s Cup, won 17 ½ to 12 ½ over the International team.

But this is the ultimate international competition, and the 27-year-old is elated.

“I definitely dreamed it, many, many times. As a kid you watch every Ryder Cup and I always had this idea in the back of your head that you want to be a part of that, and you’d get to experience that one day,” he said. “It’s a very surreal experience when the opportunity presents itself. I can’t wait to be there, tee it up alongside these guys, and hopefully bringing the Cup home.”

What did Johnson see that set Burns apart from Keegan Bradley, Cameron Young and other high-ranked contenders?

“Sam is a stud athlete, number one,” said Johnson. “He won the World Match Play Championships this year. Tremendous putter, which is always good in the Ryder Cup.

“To say he meshes well with the other guys on the team would again be a massive understatement. A versatile teammate. Guys want to be around him, guys want to play with him. It’s nice to lock hands, lock shoulders with somebody you want to be around, and Sam fits that to a T.”

Burns is one of four Ryder Cup rookies on the 12-man squad making his Ryder Cup debut, along with automatic qualifiers Wyndham Clark (the reigning U.S. Open champion), Brian Harman (winner at The Open) and Max Homa. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and 2020 Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele were other automatic selections based on money won in 2022-23 before last week’s Tour Championship taken by Norway’s Viktor Hovland.

Burns is the fourth Shreveport-Bossier product to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Tommy Bolt played in 1955 and 1957. Hal Sutton teed it up the Ryder Cup in 1985, 1987, 1999 and 2002. David Toms was a teammate of Sutton’s in 2002, played for Sutton’s 2004 team (Sutton captained that squad) and played again in 2006.

Two other Louisiana golf greats, brothers Jay and Lionel Hebert from Lafayette, made Ryder Cup squads in 1957 (Lionel), 1959 and 1961 (Jay). Current LIV Golf pro Patrick Reed, who graduated from high school in Baton Rouge, made the roster in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Burns’ putting ability, and his strong friendship with Scheffler, has made him a popular choice to partner with the Dallas native in the Ryder Cup. Scheffler has struggled putting all season long, and although he ranks No. 1 on the Tour in most statistical categories, he did not capture a tournament this summer after early wins at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and The Players Championship.

They did partner in the President’s Cup, with Burns going 0-3-2 and scoring one point, but golf analysts agreed that was mostly due to Scheffler being badly out of form as they partnered in all but the closing singles play.

Contact Doug at

Local prep coaches take a look ahead at the NFL season


Football is here, finally. That brings back another Shreveport-Bossier Journal weekly feature from last season – the Coaches’ Roundtable. We ask the local head coaches questions that are far-ranging, and we get some great responses.

This season’s opener:  The Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans or New Orleans Saints – which area NFL team will have the best season, and why?

Some coaches went with their hearts. Some went with their heads. And trust us, more than one are Pittsburgh Steelers fans, although just one said so right up front.

In the least surprising answer, one stayed true to his school, basing his pick on its most prominent alumnus in the NFL. Of course he did!

Jason Brotherton, Haughton – “The Dallas Cowboys, because they have a Buccaneer leading the way!”

Dak Prescott is universally admired, and justifiably so, around here. However, there’s a strong discord between Cowboys fans and Dallas haters. That came through a bit in this week’s responses.

Clint Walker, Plain Dealing – “Being from Louisiana, I would hope the Saints do well this year. It’s always good to see an in-state professional team do well. But I think the Dallas Cowboys are the team to watch this year. They have made some interesting pickups that could pay off this season.”

Rodney Guin, Calvary Baptist – “It’s the Cowboys. They have the best talent and a proven coach.”

Reynolds Moore, Benton – ”Man, that’s tough. I’m a pretty big Cowboys hater, so I’m a little biased. Let’s go with the Saints even though it’ll probably be the Cowgirls.”

Chase Thompson, North Caddo – “The New Orleans Saints will be the best area team this year. Derek Carr is going to bring some much needed consistency to the QB room. The defense is going to be improved as well.”

James Bradford Jr., Green Oaks – “The Dallas Cowboys will have the best season. Why? First, because that’s my team — and also, Jerry made moves this offseason that should allow the offense to prosper.”

Austin Brown, Northwood – “The Dallas Cowboys! It’s our year! My boys won’t let me down this year!”

Adam Kirby, Captain Shreve – “The New Orleans Saints will have the best season. They have a core group of returning offensive linemen, Derek Carr has a chip on his shoulder and the defense is going to be strong with Demario Davis back.”

Thedrick Harris, Woodlawn — “The Cowboys will have the best season because of the depth and experience they have, as well as picking up good off-season acquisitions.”

Justin Scogin, Airline – “I think the Cowboys are equipped to be the best team. Proven QB, really good WR in CeeDee Lamb and some guys up front. Not to mention Trevon Diggs and arguably the best player in the league with Micah Parsons. Really excited to watch Derek Carr in New Orleans and more so C.J. Stroud with the Texans.”

Coy Brotherton, Parkway – “I grew up a Bears fan, when they were good, but now we are Cowboys fans. My six-year-old Broox loves them and Dak, and it’s fun pulling for all the local kids they have.”

Gary Cooper, BTW – “Neither!! I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan!!! But if I had to choose one, I would choose the Saints just because they’re in state.”

Denny Duron, Evangel Christian – “I would be bluffing if I answered any question about the NFL. I rarely watch it, am absolutely not familiar with the rosters or stats and probably won’t engage until the AFC and NFC championships. Over the last several years, I’ve just not had the time or the patience to sit through long NFL games. I really am an avid college football guy.”

What can you do for me?

It’s always been a part of human DNA to be a little selfish. While we try not to be, it’s human nature to want more than the next person. 

All of us are trying to keep up with the Jones’s and I don’t mean the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. The Lord tells us in James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” As humans, we try to obey God’s commands, but the sinful side seems to prevail more often than we would like to admit.  

Today’s professional anglers have a tough time trying to avoid being selfish with so many of them seeking sponsorship from specific companies. There’s only so much money companies are willing to part with to sponsor an angler, and the pool is shrinking. 

Twenty years ago, anglers could go out on tournament day, catch a good five-fish limit and cash a big check in order to draw the attention of sponsors. But times have changed. Fast forward to 2023 and that’s no longer good enough. Anglers now must have a personality and the ability to talk to people. They need good communication skills and must have a big social media presence. 

Sponsors today want anglers who can sell a product and can represent their sponsors in a good way. Catching fish on tournament day is secondary. When anglers approach sponsors today, it’s not about how good an angler you are or how many tournaments you’ve won. Sponsors want to know what you as an angler can do for them and how much product you can sell. It’s all about what the business world calls ROI (return on investment). 

These companies can be very demanding of an angler’s time by using them for promotional events like boat shows and speaking engagements. Catching fish today is not high on a sponsor’s list of what’s important to the sponsorship agreement. 

These anglers today are paid and, in some cases, paid extremely well to represent certain companies. But these demands can put a strain on an angler’s ability to compete consistently and can hinder his or her ability to prepare for an event. So, there must be a happy balance for both the angler and the sponsor. 

When I am speaking to high school fishing teams, the first question asked almost every single time is, “How do I get sponsors?” My response is always the same. First, don’t worry about sponsors. Learn how to find fish and develop your fishing skills so you can be competitive. 

Next, take speech in high school and college. Anglers today must have the ability to talk to people, make a good impression and sell a product. Then make sure you have a strong social media presence with a lot of followers. If you can do these things really well, sponsors will come to you. 

‘Til next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget your sunscreen. Melanoma does not discriminate! 

Contact Steve at

Night racing on the table for Louisiana Downs

NIGHT MOVES:  Evangeline Downs, now in Opelousas, has been racing under the lights at night for decades. (Photo by BRENNAN LEBLANC,, courtesy Evangeline Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

This time next year, you could be watching horse racing under the lights at Louisiana Downs.

Monday, the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) requested the Bossier City track get two proposals for the installation of lights. The LSRC expects to hear back from the Downs at the commission’s October meeting.

“It’s been proved the later the post time, and the less (Louisiana Downs) tries to run against the California tracks and the big tracks on the (East) coast — the later we start, the better the (betting) handle,” LSRC member Mike McHalffey told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal Monday afternoon. That’s been proven dramatically this year.”

The Downs is the only thoroughbred track in the state which does not have lights. McHalffey emphasized that night racing would be beneficial not only to bettors, but to horses.

“Right now is a great example,” McHalffey said. “It’s been averaging 110-115 degrees, and (Louisiana Downs is) running in the middle of the day, the hottest part of the day. I don’t think it’s good for the horses. I don’t think it’s good for the handle. It’s time to go a different direction.”

McHalffey said the Downs will be responsible for the cost of installing lights.

“The HBPA (Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association) has requested it. We have now asked for the proposals. So, we’re going to go forward with that, in my opinion, in the next six months.”

The LSRC also met last Saturday and approved a 76-day thoroughbred meet at Louisiana Downs in 2024. Opening day will be Friday, May 3 — the day before the Kentucky Derby. The meet will end Tuesday, September 24.

“At the last committee meeting, they proposed 56 days, but we told them the (state) Legislature said 76 days unless you have an economic excuse not to do that,” McHalffey explained. “Obviously, they didn’t.

“According to management, their handle is up and their slot machine (revenue) is up. So, they got 76 days. The Legislature said they wanted as little overlap as possible, so we’re running Louisiana Downs basically Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Evangeline Downs is going to run Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”

The Downs’ proposal indicated the track did not want to start next year’s meet until after the Kentucky Derby, which will be May 4. That, despite — according to McHalffey — Derby Day traditionally being one of the local track’s biggest-bet days of the year.

“The HBPA wanted them to catch the Kentucky Derby weekend, which they didn’t have in (their proposal.) They wanted to start later. I had to add 10 days, so I added to the beginning. The HBPA wanted it, so we decided to do it.”

Another topic of conversation during the two days of LSRC meetings was Louisiana Downs’ overpayment of purse money.

“They’re projected to be half-a-million dollars overdrawn,” McHalffey said. “They’ve paid out half-a-million dollars too much out of their purse account … . (At the end of the year) we will look at the purse account and see how much it actually comes to, but the HBPA estimated (the Downs) is going to overpay $500,000 at the end of this meet, and there are 10 days (now nine) left until the end of the meet.”

McHalffey said it will likely take a few months for accountants, the Louisiana State Police, and auditors to look at the final numbers.

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Taking a Flyer: Loyola’s Smith snags stunning Long Drive championship

UNLIKELY WINNER:  Seeded eighth, Loyola College Prep alumnus Jack Smith swept through the final three rounds Monday and claimed the World Long Drive golf championship.


When Jack Smith was a sophomore at Loyola, he was voted as “Most Likely to Become President.” Whether he lives up to that remains to be seen, but in the meantime, he’s got another title to handle: World Long Drive Champion.

The 23-year-old, who postponed medical school to go on the World Long Drive Tour, was seeded No. 8 in Monday’s event in Kingsport, Tenn., but took down three challengers in the championship round.

Smith, a rookie on the Long Drive Tour and playing in only his fourth event, had the longest drive of any competitor in all three rounds – 389 in the quarterfinals, 403 in the semifinals and 401 in the finals.

Of the 84 balls that were hit on the final day, only three measured longer that 400 yards.

Smith hit all three.

In the final round, Smith defeated No. 2 seed Kyle Berkshire, who had a drive of 388 yards that Smith had to beat. With three drives remaining, Smith did just that with a 401-yard drive. Berkshire couldn’t match that with his final three drives.

Smith, who earned $30,000 for the victory, said the win was a little surprising since he was coming off a forearm injury.

“I went home last week and did some extra PT (physical therapy) and I tried some new stuff and it was the first time my arm didn’t hurt,” Smith told Golf Channel, which telecast the event. “I got a couple of practice sessions in and usually I’m just trying to figure it out the day of (the event). To me it made all the difference. I was just fortunate enough to pull through in the end.”

Smith, a 2018 graduate of Loyola, was down to his last drive on Sunday to try to make it to the final eight. He had to beat a 373-yard drive and hit one 380 to qualify for Monday’s finals.

The next event on the WLD Tour is in Oceanside, Calif., in late September.

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Burns is possible pick for Ryder Cup team named today

ON EDGE:  Shreveport native Sam Burns won the Match Play Championship in March and will learn this morning if he gets to take part in the golf world’s most prestigious team championship, when the USA Ryder Cup Team is announced.


Shreveport native and Calvary Baptist graduate Sam Burns finished strongly on the PGA Tour in the last two weeks, strengthening his bid for one of the six at-large spots on the United States Ryder Cup Team to be announced this morning.

Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson will make his decision public today from Frisco, Texas, at the new home of the PGA of America in a show airing on multiple platforms, including Golf Channel, from 9-10 a.m. CST.

The 12-player team will represent America at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The USA will try to win on European soil for the first time since 1993.

Six players were automatic selections based on their top-ranked performance during the 2022-23 PGA Tour season. Johnson will name the other six this morning.

Burns finished with the fourth-best score (by actual strokes) in Atlanta at last week’s Tour Championship, a week after a 15th-place tie in the BMW Championship semifinal round in Chicago.

The former LSU All-American picked up his fifth PGA Tour triumph in March by taking the World Golf Championship Dell Match Play crown in Austin. He is one of the best putters on the tour, ranking 11th in strokes gained putting.

Among other players in contention for the six at-large slots are Keegan Bradley, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Denny McCarthy, Lucas Glover and Cameron Young.

Burns would be a Ryder Cup rookie, but acquitted himself well on the USA’s President’s Cup Team in 2022.

Making the toughest choices on the state sports scene

You know that business meeting you dread? The Louisiana Sports Writers Association just held their version Sunday in Scott, the boudin capital of our state, just off I-10 west of Lafayette.

A four-hour discussion that occasionally slipped into a friendly debate ensued. Incredibly, as 40 voters scattered to race storm clouds home around the state, there was boudin from Best Stop left over.

I said voters, as in the members of the selection committee for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Every year, just before football kicks off, the committee finishes a month-long review of roughly 150 candidates by convening to pick the handful who will be inducted the following summer.

Why, you ask, would anyone dread that? A chance to talk sports with friends who are experts, and choose the best of the best to join the legends forever honored in the amazing Hall of Fame museum at 800 Front Street on the bricks in beautiful, historic downtown Natchitoches. Sounds great.

It is. And it’s not.

In a couple of weeks, you’ll see the announcement heralding the election of nine people from the “competitors’ ballot” to be the cornerstone of the LSHOF Class of 2024.

“What a great class.” That’s the reaction the announcement always solicits. That’s how each of the 40 selection committee members feel in the aftermath of voting.

Yet, every one of them (I’m one, along with local pals Teddy Allen, J.J. Marshall, Roy Lang III and Shreveport native Kent Lowe) leaves with an equal, if not bigger, sense of remorse. As deserving, as worthy, as the new inductees always are – and the 2024 class will at the very least hold its own with its predecessors – there’s regret and frustration about those incredible candidates who don’t make the cut.

They roll over to next year’s ballot – at least, the 46 finalists considered Sunday will, along with most of those others who didn’t get enough support in the semifinal round of online voting earlier this month.

But staying power is no guarantee they’ll ever get elected. Every year, roughly 50 new candidates are nominated, and 20 or so survive vetting and make their first appearance on the full ballot.

Some of those are absolute locks – I am not betraying any secrets by telling you Drew Brees is in his first year of eligibility, having been retired for three years as of 2024. The “Future Hall of Fame Candidates” list – not a complete one, but just a compilation of some of the prominent possibilities – is included in each year’s commemorative program, a full-color 108-page publication that each guest receives at his seat for the induction ceremony.

It’s a challenge for voters to not succumb to the “new and shiny” urge and give first-year candidates more consideration than those who are repeaters on the ballot. Some of those holdovers, though, have been strong contenders in previous years, and many of them are unquestionably impressive enough to take a place in the Hall.

Many are names you know. Others aren’t. The full 2024 ballot listed nominees from 27 – yes, that’s right – different sports categories, including chess, sailing, shooting, swimming, athletic training and women’s boxing, along with more mainstream pursuits.

There are world champions, Olympic gold medalists, multiple Pro Bowlers, and pro bowlers. Voters compare apples to Corvettes. Is that outdoorsman more remarkable than the world top 10-ranked tennis pro, or are the All-Star Game participants in baseball and basketball better than a four-time USA Olympian  who won a silver medal in one of his appearances?

The choices are brutal, and personal. The standards are not absolute, they’re subjective for each voter.

But in rounds of voting, like the political conventions used to have, there’s ebb and flow. That comes after a robust discussion of each sport, with committee members touting their favorites and weighing compelling points about others.

The toughest part? In each round, voters can list only five picks, in descending order, in a point system. By design, dating back to the words of Otis Harris, the Shreveport Journal sports editor of the 1950s: “only the state’s immortals in the sphere of athletics will be enshrined.”

I can’t tell you who got picked – yet. But I can tell you, that credo was honored once again with a star-studded, diverse and fascinating Class of 2024. Mid-September, I think you’ll agree. Next year, I hope you come see for yourself at the Induction Celebration.

Check for tickets. They’ll go fast.

Seven-horse field set for Super Derby 41, Asmussen entry favored

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

How Did He Do That, under the schooling of the nation’s all-time winningest thoroughbred trainer, has been tabbed as the 2-1 morning line favorite for Super Derby 41 presented by Lip Chip, LLC, next Saturday, September 2, at Louisiana Downs.

As the Journal first reported Friday morning, Steve Asmussen committed to bringing the Iowa Derby winner to Bossier City for the $200,000, non-graded race over a-mile-and-an eighth on the dirt.

Post positions were drawn Friday, with the favorite slotted for the number 5 post in the seven-horse field.

At second-best odds is Promise Me A Ride (5-2), trained by Brad Cox. This year, Cox is the country’s leading trainer in money earned (18.8 million). Asmussen is second.

The Super Derby is returning for the first time since 2019. Asmussen-trained horses have won the last two.

Two of the top eight jockeys at Louisiana Downs’ current meet have Derby mounts — Joel

Dominguez (How Did He Do That) and J.P Vargas (Donegal Arrow).

The seven-horse field (from 32 nominations) is scheduled to break from the gate just before 5 p.m. next Saturday. 


  1. Machine Gun Man (6-1)
  2. Tiz Donegal (15-1)
  3. Donegal Arrow (15-1)
  4. Big Data (9-2)
  5. How Did He Do That (2-1)
  6. Promise Me a Ride (5-2)
  7. No White Flags (8-1)

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Country’s winningest horse trainer commits to Super Derby

(Photo courtesy Louisiana Downs)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports 

Steve Asmussen, North America’s all-time leading thoroughbred trainer with more than 10,000 wins, has committed to running one of his horses in next Saturday’s Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Thursday afternoon, Asmussen told the Shreveport-Bossier Journal he plans on running How Did He Do That in the $200,000, mile-and-an-eighth, non-graded stakes race for three-year-olds on Sept. 2.

How Did He Do That is capable of winning the Super Derby, but has been inconsistent,” Asmussen said. “He needs to run the same race as in the Iowa Derby to win this.”

In the July 8 race at Prairie Meadows, How Did He Do That pulled off the upset. At odds of 48-1, the colt finished in a dead heat with One in Vermillion. However, the Judy and J. Kirk Robison-owned horse,  bumped in deep stretch, won by way of disqualification. How Did He Do That has run once since, a sixth-place finish in the Ellis Park Derby August 13.

In six starts this year, How Did He Do That has a first and second place finish, while earning $208,745. For his career, How Did He Do That has 12 starts — with three first and one second place finishes, earning more than $300,000.

How Did He Do That will be a first-time starter at Louisiana Downs. Joel Dominguez — who leads the Downs’ jockey colony with 50 wins in 261 starts — will get the mount.

Post positions for Super Derby 41 will be drawn today.

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Doing what was necessary to become a City tennis champion

It’s getting to be late August and people of a certain age all have this “I can’t believe they start school this early” feeling when that happens. For me, not being in school at this time is a reminder of that horrific ritual of football two-a-days – a friend recently reminded me that he can still remember the “smell of cut grass and fear” — but even before that, there was another August event that marked my calendar.

This marks the time when the City Tennis Tournament was played. A great part of my pre-teen summers were spent at Querbes Tennis Center. No lessons or personal instruction; just go out there and play.

I wasn’t any good, but it was something to do. We’d play challenge matches or hit against the backboard or anything we wanted as long as we kept the tomfoolery to a minimum. Upstairs, they had the world’s greatest Slushes for a couple of quarters.

But there at summer’s end, it was always capped off by The City. And you had to play in it, because everybody else did.

I don’t think I have ever been so nervous as the first match I ever had in the 12-and-under boys singles. I was still a few weeks away from turning 10, but I was thrown into the bracket with kids who were about to start shaving.

They stuck me with the top seed – let’s call him “Scott” – and I got dusted. It was Men against Boys, only both of us were boys. Not only did I not win a game, I’d bet I didn’t win a total of 10 points the entire match.

But Scott was The Dude and everybody knew it. It was my first year to play tennis and he was probably born with a racquet in his hand.

The next year, I avoided Scott in the draw and actually won a match in the 12s. Even at age 11, Scott coasted to the title that year.

Which brings us to the next year, when I was in my final year of the 12-and unders. My high hopes were quickly dashed on the opening day of the tournament. Not by Scott, but by another kid (who would also go on to become a sports writer), 6-1, 6-1.

I didn’t enter the doubles, so that was it for me in the tournament. I had looked forward to it all summer and after one day, I’m done.

Until …

Two days later, I get a phone call. It’s Scott, who wants to know if I wanted to be his partner for the 12-and-under doubles. There were only two teams entered and because Scott was ranked so high, we would have a bye to the finals.

I’m pretty sure Scott didn’t know who I was (and still doesn’t), so it was a complete trophy-grab for him. But I was a willing participant.

When our match arrived, there on the other team was the same future sportswriter who had just dominated me in singles a few days earlier. Revenge!

We start playing and I’m acting like I’m John Newcombe or Rod Laver. Going after every shot, serving as hard as I can, working on my spin game. The only problem is that none of it worked. I would have been better off playing left-handed.

We lost 2-6 in the first set. Scott’s trophy was in real jeopardy and I could sense that he knew he could have called anybody else and done better than this.

So let me tell you what happened next. I remember it so vividly that I could take you to the exact spot at Querbes Tennis Center on Court 2 where it happened.

Scott walked over to me and whispered in my right ear these fateful words:

“Just stay out of the way from now on.”

And let me assure you that I did just that. I did the minimum I had to do – no double faults and somehow managed to return any serve that came my way – and after I did that, I might as well have been on the next court over while Scott finished the point.

How did that strategy work out for us? Second set — 6-0. Third set – 6-1 (I’m sure I had something to do with us losing that one game.)

I was – and am – happy to remind people that I was once a City Tennis Champion. Yes, I still have the trophy.

Until today, there were only four people who knew this story. And I can assure you, Scott isn’t one of them. 

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