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|Vikings upset Cathedral|
This is the third in a 30-part series on the top football games played in Concordia Parish.
Louisiana High School Athletic Association Compliance Officer Billy Calvert has been involved in a lot of memorable football games as a player at Vidalia High in the 1950s and as a football coach for more than 20 years.
But one game will always stick out more than any other.
"I get goose bumps just talking about it now," Calvert said. "It's something I will never forget."
That game was played on Thanksgiving Day of 1955.
Calvert was a sophomore at Vidalia High, which began its football program in 1952 under Walter Stampley. stampley would be the head coach until 1958 when he took the job as principal at Vidalia High.
The Vikings scrimmaged Cathedral two weeks before their scheduled game on Thanksgiving and were dominated by the talented Natchez team.
"They beat the living heck out of us, something like 56-0," Calvert said. "It was horrible. They ran all over us. And then the schedule came out and we saw where we playing them son of a guns in the second-to-last game of the year. They had Eddie Verruchi and Pat McDonough and they were loaded for bear. We were pretty good, but we weren't that good."
Bill McDonough, who would transfer to Vidalia his junior year, was a freshman who played in the scrimmage against the Vikings.
"The junior high actually played most of the scrimmage," McDonough said.
Calvert, a member of the LHSAA Louisiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, remembers going over to Rex Sporting Goods the week of the game to buy some socks.
"I ran into (former Natchez Democrat sports writer) Glenvall Estes and he asked me if we were ready to get the heck beat out of us. I told him, 'Thanks Mr. Glenvall.' But he knew it. They had the biggest ball club."
But Calvert said rains before the game helped the Vikings' chance. That, and the fact the Greenies were without fullback Pete Frank, who had suffered an injury prior to the game.
"But they were still a really good ball club," he said.
And maybe a bit overconfident."They got to flapping their jaws and it hacked us off a little bit," said former Viking lineman Ed Bruce.
McDonough said Cathedral arrived at the game in a Trailways bus.
"That's how we always traveled," he said. "We pulled up right where the lunch room is now."
Vidalia scored after Calvert punted to the Greenies 9-yard line. Two plays later, a Cathedral fumble was recovered by Vidalia at the Greenie 8-yard line.
Calvert ran a bootleg to the right and scored from four yards out. Calvert passed to Guthrie Knighten for the conversion point. Conversion runs and passes counted for only one point at that time.
Stampley remembers well what happened in the final quarter of that game.
"We punted to Pat McDonough, who was back to receive the ball," Stampley said. "John Holland went down and touched the ball and turned around walked off the field. Pat grabbed the ball and ran 75 yards for a touchdown. I argued with the official. He told me, 'Coach, the only thing that kills the ball is my whistle.' They missed the extra point kick, but we were offsides on the extra point and then they tried to run it and didn't make it."
"I remember chasing Pat, but he made it to the end zone before I could catch him," Calvert said.
Cathedral had 11 first downs to three for Vidalia, but the Greenies lost six of seven fumbles in the contest. Cathedral outgained Vidalia 184 yards to 15 on the ground.
Other members of the Cathedral team were Pat's brother, Mike McDonough, quarterback Henry Cooley, Anthony (Man) Martello and Sammy Eidt. Mike would graduate from Vidalia.
Ray Morace, Malcolm Barlow, Bruce, David Goss, Holland, Calvert and Sonny Franklin led the Viking defense.
Barlow said water was three-to-four feet deep on the field in some places.
"Frank Byrnes knocked the stew our of me in that game," Barlow said. "I had braces and we didn't have face guards. He did a number on my braces."
Vidalia would finish that season 5-6, winning four of its last six games.
Calvert would go on to coach at Jena, Liberty and Baker before serving as head football coach at Delhi from 1971-1984 after one year as an assistant at the school.
He took over as principal at Delhi after stepping down as head coach and served in that capacity until 1995.
He began working for the LHSAA in 2003.
Calvert said back then the players were not as scared of their parents or the police as they were of Stampley.
"He demanded a lot of you," Calvert said. "But we had a lot of respect for him and would run through a brick wall for him. Everybody loved him. He was very instrumental in my coaching and principal careers. I can't begin to say how much I learned from him."
"Of all my playing and coaching career, that was the one game I will always remember," Calvert said. "We backed into the playoffs one year and beat Vinton, but even that game does not stick out like that ballgame."
McDonough will remember that game, as well, for a long time.
"That's what makes sports so great," McDonough said. "Anybody on any given day can beat you. I did tell Coach (Don) Alonzo to put the junior high in."
|Frank Morris Murder Series|