Friday, May 12, 2017

Bossier High memories (cont.) ... and bearkatsforever

    (Fifth in a series)
    More Bossier High School memories:
    Pesky Hill -- A basketball/baseball athlete in the Class of 1968, he became a sportswriter/sports information director and is now a medical sales representative living in Shreveport, working parttime writing sports for The Times.
     "I earned the nickname "Pesky" from an older brother and cousin when I was 7. I could have been given it by my Dad because I pestered him constantly to take me to games, mostly at Bossier High. I loved the Bearkats and dreamed of playing for them.
      "I remember going to the old Bossier gym in 1960 (I was 10) and sitting on the floor beneath the west end basket during the state championship game. There was even a photo in The Shreveport Times the next day. I was sitting on the floor of a packed gym in an action shot of the game.
       "Cecil Upshaw and all the starters were heroes of mine. I also would go to Walbrook Park and other venues to see Cecil pitch in the summer.
       "In the summer of 1967, my parents moved from the Central Park subdivision to Sun City, near the new Parkway High School. The Bossier Parish School Board gave me the option of staying at BHS or becoming part of Parkway's first senior class. It was not a decision. I wanted to stay at Bossier with my friends where I knew we would be competitive in basketball and baseball.
     "We were a very solid if not great basketball team in 1967-68. Bill Tynes (6-foot-2) was our leading scorer at forward with an excellent fallaway jumper. Dave Stevens (5-10), who held the state record for most free throws in a playoff game, was an excellent point guard. Mike Wood (6-4) was just an all-around fine athlete; he signed a football scholarship to play as a tight end/defensive back. Bill Triplett (6-2) was a solid rebounder and took up plenty of space under the boards. Then there was me. I was solid defensively, but I knew we won or lost through Tynes, Stevens and Wood. I was honored when they voted me a co-captain.
     "We finished second to Byrd in District 1-AAA, but advanced to the state finals before losing to undefeated Baton Rouge High (Little Apple Sanders).
    "I could not believe the support of the entire student body all season for the games and especially during our run to the Top Twenty in Alexandria. Rapides Parish Coliseum was packed for the state championship game. It seemed all of Bossier City was there. I was so disappointed we could not bring the trophy back to BHS. But it was a highlight of my prep career.
     "My best sports was baseball. I did lead the Bearkats in hitting (.383), total bases, RBI, runs, doubles and hits. ... We lost a couple of district games before basketball season was over. Tynes, Jack Fraser and I were still playing basketball, so that probably cost us from winning district.
     "We all loved playing for T.K. Henry. He was the best. I played on a national junior college championship team at Panola and Coach Henry was by far the best coach I had at any level. I just hated we could not win him a championship.
     "The teachers at BHS really cared about students. Of course, I was partial to the coaches because we had some real characters. Among the ones I cherished, other than Henry, were Thomas Mitchell, Earl Haynes, Bill Collinsworth, Roy Underwood, Billy Hudson, Jerry Burton, Jim Coleman and Lowell Morrison.
    "My favorite teachers who did not coach were Carol Ezernack and Mrs. Hudson, both English teachers and huge sports fans.
     "And Frank Lampkin, a former coach himself, was our principal. He supported athletics, so I liked him, too. His wife was a much bigger sports fan than he was. God bless them all.
     "Did I mention the girls? I thought the girls that were seniors when I was a freshman were the most beautiful ever. Wow! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
      "It really is a great school and I was humbled when they inducted me into the BHS Athletics Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. Just really blessed to have been a part of BHS."
     Billy Don Maples -- A football/baseball athlete, a college baseball player (second base) at Louisiana Tech, he went to  crosstown rival Airline High as a football assistant and head baseball coach. Retired, he remains a Bossier City resident.
      "I remember playing high school and summer baseball with Cecil Upshaw, Robert Clifton, and Kenny Young. All later played professional baseball, with Cecil making it to the big leagues.
      "Our championship high school band.

      "Trying every Friday to pass English teacher Mrs. Ruby Tatum's vocabulary exam.
      "The fall of 1961, my senior year, playing in the football game vs. Woodlawn High School at State Fair Stadium. Packed crowd. It was for the district championship, and we lost 12-7. Got my chin busted open by future Louisiana Tech great Wayne Davis.
      "The spring of my sophomore year (I was about 5-foot-7, 125 pounds) playing baseball at Fair Park against one of those great Fair Park teams. I led off facing a tall left-hander, Sammy Ladatto (who later played professionally). He walked me. Big Sam Wilkinson was playing first base. When I got to first, Sam said, 'Nice eye, half-pint.'
     "Remembering John McConathy as assistant principal and basketball coach. A few years later, when I returned to Bossier Parish to teach and coach, he became a mentor until his recent death."

     The group most responsible for the 100th anniversary celebration of Bossier High School this Saturday is the school's alumni association.
     It also is responsible for the school's Hall of Fame, and information on it can be found on its web site,
     A 2014 story for the Bossier Press-Tribune written by Buzz Wojecki -- another ex-Bearkats football player (Class of '66) and one of the alumni group organizers -- explained that the Hall of Fame has three sections: (1) Lifetime Achievement (for alumni, faculty and honorary Bearkats); (2) Sports and Spirit (players, coaches, bands, cheerleaders, etc.); (3) Legion of Honor (for Bearkats who died in military service). 
      Many great Bearkats in those Halls. I'm sure many will be talked about Saturday.
      Worth noting that the master of ceremonies for Saturday afternoon's celebration will be Rick Rowe, who has done poignant features on North Louisiana people and topics for KTBS-TV (Channel 3) for four decades. His slight build now belies that before his TV days he was a tough little nose guard -- one of football's demanding positions -- for the Bossier Bearkats.
        Another tough nose guard for Bossier in the early 1970s, an All-City player, was D.C. Machen. He would become superintendent of Bossier Parish schools.
         Rowe and Machen were successors at nose guard to an All-State player, Kenny Craft (1970).

         For decades, it has been a fairly common practice in Bossier Parish schools that coaches move into school or parish administrations.
         An example is Bossier High principals who were once coaches. The list -- not a complete one, I'm sure -- includes E.L. Reding (1933-36, 1949-52), Frank Lampkin (1956-80), Freddy Shewmake (1982-85), Wayne Tinsley (1985-91), Richard Concilio (1991-97), Wayne Earp (2002-03), Bud Dean (2001-06) and David Thrash (2006-present). 
       Thrash is proud of many additions in academic programs, including mentoring for standardized tests (a "Win Wednesday" endeavor), to help students prepare for college or, with the help of community businesses, give the non-college students a route to find work.
      The alumni group has helped in those programs and with physical aspects at the school, such as lighting, painting, artificial turf for the football field, and auditorium improvements.
       "As the winds of change swirl around us with the revitalization of downtown Bossier, we look forward to the many changes to come," Thrash added. 
       "Our future is strong and we could not be more excited about the opportunities ahead."
        Forward, forward, Bossier High School.


  1. From Maxie Hays: Really enjoyed the Bossier High series. Great high school. It would fun to read about all the high schools in the Shreveport-Bossier area.

  2. From Ron Hill: Thanks for the series on BHS, which was one of our competitors during our Woodlawn days.

  3. From Teddy Allen: Pesky and Billy Don, two of my faves. Plus a mention of Big Sam (Charlie in his Fair Park days) Wilkinson! (Nico uses the cleaned-up version of what Big Sam REALLY said to Billy Don that day ...)

  4. From Pesky Hill: I made an appearance at the Bossier Civic Center for the BHS 100-year celebration Saturday afternoon (3-6 p.m.). I had some family obligations so I didn’t get there until around 4:45 p.m. I was shocked that the parking lot was full, as was the civic center. They were in the middle of having someone from each decade speak when I got there. The oldest person there was 94-year old Randol Kirkland. They let him speak for a few minutes. He was passionate and almost talked like he was at a pep rally. The crowd loved it. Rick Rowe of KTBS was the emcee and did an excellent job. Surprisingly, there were Bearkats from almost every class represented. You would have known a lot of people there, too. Thanks again for writing about BHS.

  5. From Chuck Baker: Enjoyed the Bossier High stories even though I knew very few of the names.