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|Guey: Strong ties to Vidalia|
Dr. Stuart Guey, a dentist who lives in Belle Chasse, will never forget his first visit to Vidalia.
Not only because he was quarterback of the 1966 Buras football team that defeated Vidalia 17-13 to win the state championship. But more because of what that championship meant to members of that team which had been through so much and would go through so much more because of hurricanes named Betsy, Camille and Katrina.
"Those guys on the Vidalia team then are part of our lives," Guey said. "They have a place in our hearts. I would love to develop some kind of relationship with them. That was a special game. And they were a special group. I have people who come into my office now and say they were at that game. We had so much to overcome, even in that game. It kind of mirrored what we had to go through to get there."
As teenagers, Guey and his teammates went through a lot of turmoil, caused by desegregation orders and Hurricane Besty in 1965.
"In 1964, someone dropped molotov cocktails down pipes sticking up through classrooms at a Catholic school and all those kids had to come to public schools," Guey said. "There were rumors about who did it and jobs were threatened. It was an explosive situation and there could have been some real violence. Then Hurricane Betsy came through in 1965 and we were not able to start school until 1965. We had four junior players transfer and we had to play our football games on Saturday because we did not have lights. We used makeshift bleachers. We lost another starter because of the desegregation order. It was a hot, political climate between private and public school people. Our principal left and Coach (Buddy) Rhodes was the only head coach left. Everyone knew 1966 could be a special year for our football team and our parents were able to convince government officials to wait. But they backed off doing anything about the lights."
Guey said despite Buras being ranked No. 1 all year and finishing unbeaten, that was probably why the state championship game was played in Vidalia.
"We played Mansfield in the semifinals on Friday during the day and their fans had to travel back Friday night because they was not place to stay," Guey said. "We had one playoff game on the West Bank in West Jefferson."
But Buras High survived and was rewarded with an undefeated season, culminating with the state championship win in Vidalia.
"That was really something," Guey said. "Some magical moments occurred. It seemed everyone in Plaquemines Parish headed to Vidalia. We said the last one to leave needed to turn the lights out."
And a wild group of fans it was. After a second Buras touchdown was called back, a Wildcat fan ran on the field.
"We were able to get him back in the stands," Guey said.
Guey said there was another play where he was rolling out toward the Buras bench and stepped out of bounds before throwing a completed pass.
"We had a doctor on our sidelines and about that time someone reached over, grabbed his black bag and threw it and hit the referee in the head," Guey said. "The referee reached for his flag and I said, 'Please don't throw that flag, That wasn't our fault and you see that mob. I don't know what they will do."
Guey said the official tucked his flag back in his pocket and play resumed with the completion.
Buras coach Buddy Rhodes shared Coach of the Year honors with University High's Glenn Brady.
Buras lineman Malcolm Jurisich was named Outstanding Lineman in Class A.
"Malcolm injured his knee and missed all the playoff games," Guey said.
Buras running back Carlos Guttry and Jurisich were named to the Class A All-State team.
"We had two sophomores backing up Carlos," Guey said. "One was 'Where Do I Go' and the other was 'What Do I Do,' because every time they came into the game after the play was called they would ask that."
But they were part of the brotherhood.
"We had a bunch of boys who became men that year because of all the circumstances even though we didn't realize it at the time," Suey said.
And the circumstances would continue.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina practically wiped out the small town of Buras and flooded Buras High School.
"The first floor was inundated with water," Suey said. "The second floor was untouched. Most of us felt the school could have been saved."
The sad thing is that the film from the state championship game was lost.
"I would love it if someone from Vidalia had a tape of that game and would not mind making a copy of it for me," Suey said. "I would drive all the way up there."'
That's where Buddy Spillers, who was named most outstanding lineman in District 2A that season, stepped in.
Spillers, who played center and noseguard for the 2A state finalist team, called Guey and invited him on a golf, fishing and hunting trip with some of the former Vidalia players.
"We'll have him and any of his former teammates come here for a visit," Spillers said.
You can rest assured Guey will take Spillers up on his offer. At least he won't have to turn out the lights when he leaves.
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