Ferriday coaching legend dies
by Joey Martin - posted Thursday, February 7th, 2013 @ 9:48 am
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Johnny "Red" Robertson, who led Ferriday High to four state championships and a 54-game streak without a loss, died Tuesday at Camelot Leisure Living.
He was 88.
Visitation will be held Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ferriday First Baptist Church and funeral services are slated for Friday at 2 p.m. under the direction of Young's Funeral Home.
Robertson led Ferriday High to a Class B state championship in 1953 and three straight Class A state titles from 1954-57.
The 54 straight games without a loss is still a state record.
"I look back and remember how much I enjoyed what I was doing and sometimes wonder how we could get that many talented boys together that many years in a row," Robertson said when talking about the streak seven years ago. "You may have success once out of every four years, I was fortunate to be part of good teams for four years. That was really special. The wins were a tribute to those boys. I was glad to be a part of something like that. There is always a chance it will be broken, but that's what records are made for."
"It's a sad day in my life," said former high school All-American Max Fugler from his office in Spring, Texas. "For me to say everything about what he meant to me would take too long. He was a great mentor to all of us. You just can't say enough about Johnny 'Red' Robertson. Not only was he my mentor, he was my friend during the time he coached me and afterwards. We lost a great human being."
Concordia Parish Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Webber played for Robertson.
"Coach Robertson touched so many lives," Webber said. "Other than my dad and Coach (James Otto) Lancaster, he had more influence on my life than anybody. He was a super guy. And when football season started, you didn't have to worry about us being on the streets, we were on the football field."
Vidalia High head football coach Dee Faircloth got to know Robertson when Robertson worked for the Concordia Parish School Board.
"Coach Robertson was one of the greatest coaches in the history of Louisiana High School football," Faircloth said. " And an even greater person. I always enjoyed talking to him when he visited the school or ate in the cafeteria. Coach developed a lot of youngsters into great players and great young men. He definitely left his mark on this earth."
Robertson was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 in a class that included LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman, former Tulane standout Steve Foley and former jockey Eddie Delahoussaye.
Robertson was born June 28, 1924 in Shreveport, where he played football and ran track at Bossier High. As a senior in 1942, Robertson helped Bossier to an undefeated season and Class A state championship.
He joined the service after graduation, and spent three years as an aircraft mechanic, mostly in Hawaii. He was discharged in February of 1946 and headed to LSU to play football.
Unfortunately, with World War II history, thousands of G.I.s were coming home and going to college. Enrollment and rosters expanded.
LSU coaches advised Robertson to attend junior college until the ranks thinned out, but the hard-nosed athlete opted to attend Northwestern State, where he lettered four years at guard and end under legendary coach Harry Turpin.
Robertson arrived in Ferriday in spring of 1950 as a teacher only. In the fall of 1950, Robertson returned close to home to coach football at Haughton, while also starting summer classes that would eventually lead him to a Master's degree from the University of Arkansas.
"My sister (Jacquelyn) told me since I went to college I should take up something I can make money at," Robertson recalled. "But it wasn't about money. I wanted to do something I liked to do. And I wouldn't do anything different. I was very happy coaching and teaching. I could have taken a job with more money, but I may not have enjoyed it."
In 1951, the 27-year-old Robertson returned to Ferriday to take over the football program.
"The job came open here and I came back to start coaching," said Robertson, who made Ferriday his home ever since.
Robertson got out of coaching after the 1957 season when the Bulldogs went 6-2-1 and became principal of Ferriday Junior High.