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|Huntington advances past Rebels|
This is the fourth in a 30-part series on the top football games played in Concordia Parish.
Huntington School advanced to the 1988 Louisiana Independent School Association playoffs by defeating Tensas Academy 20-6 to win their district and finish with a 7-2 regular season record.
One of those losses was a 7-6 setback to Claiborne Academy. But the Hounds would get a chance for revenge in a first-round quarterfinal playoff contest at Huntington.
"The first time we played them it was a nasty night," said then Huntington coach Leto Lanius, who was in his first year at Huntington and first year as a head football coach. "It was raining and foggy and you could hardly see to the other side."
"We had a particularly gritty squad that did not like to lose, so we were greatly motivated to whip Claiborne that night after they had beaten us by one point earlier in the year," said former Hound quarterback John Barker.
Lanius said he is still not to sure that Huntington did not win the first game.
"I thought for sure we picked up the two-point conversion," Lanius said. "And he told me he got in. But the official said he did not."
"The second time around our guys were really fired up and excited," Lanius said. "Our defense was up to speed, but I should have made some changes on offense. There was quite a repoire between those two teams. We were a little better prepared the second time around. I struggled a bit as a first-year coach and made a lot of mistakes. But that was an outstanding group of young men."
Claiborne led the contest for most of the three quarters by a 7-0 score.
"It took a half to get a feel for what was going on," Lanuis said. "We came back in the second half and played much better."
But with 3:32 remaining in the contest, Yancey Gray received a handoff from John Barker up the middle, cut to the right and scored on an 18-yard run to put the Hounds on the board.
Hound head coach Leto Lanius elected to go for the win, and Kerry Ellis, playing on a bad leg, bulled into the end zone for the deciding points and an 8-7 win.
"The call to go for two to take the lead was no surprise," Barker said. "We had been moving the ball pretty well all night, we just had not been able to put the ball in the end zone. We had a powerful running game with Kerry Ellis at fullback, Yancey Gray at tailback, and me at quarterback, so we had the tools to make the conversion. I handed the ball to Kerry on a dive play and he barreled through the hole and across the goal for the conversion. Our offensive line was big, tough and smart. We ran off their blocks all year long, so we knew what they could do on the conversion. And our strong defense was able to hold them off for the rest of the game."
"I'll never forget, Barker came over to me and asked if we were going for two," Lanius said, 'I told him, 'well, yeah.' He said, 'That's what I thought.' Fortunately, Kerry got it in there. That was an excited kid when he came over to the sidelines after he scored those points. He was certainly a fine young man."
Ellis died May 25, 1990 in a car accident in Monterey when he was thrown from a car and landed in a bayou on Hwy. 565. He was 16 years old and just completed his sophomore year at Huntington.
Claiborne's only score in the came on a 15-yard fumble return for a score.
Huntington moved down to the Claiborne 1-yard line after the Rebel score as John Barker passed 31 yards to Bill Horne to the Rebel 8-yard line.
Barker carried the ball to the Claiborne 1-yard line, but Gray was stopped twice for no gain and the Rebels took over and moved the ball out from the shadows of their own goal line.
Huntington threatened twice more but a 40-yard field goal by Horne was just short and the Hounds were stopped on downs on the Rebel 9-yard line.
The Hounds would not, however, be denied in the final quarter.
"That was an awesome quarterfinal game," Barker said. "The entire game was a defensive struggle. We had a tremendous defense and formidable offense."
"That was an awesome team and we all got along real well," said former Hound lineman David Hedrick. "We cared for each other and were great friends. And we remain that way."
Huntington defeated Glenbrook 24-21 in Minden the following week. But the Hounds lost at Plain Dealing 45-3 in the championship game.
Lanius and his wife later moved to Washington state where her mother was dealing with Alzheimer's.
Lanius coached high school football, including serving as head coach at Pateros HIgh.
The Lanius' are planning on moving back down to Louisiana by September.
"My wife's mom passed away and I've been wanting to come back home," Lanius said. "My wife's daughter lives in Zachary and she is expecting her third child. She missed the first two, so she wants to be there for this. We're looking at places in Slaughter, Ethel and west Zachary."
|Frank Morris Murder Series|