Spartan football legacy still shines bright

Kyle Riviere
Some of the members of East Ascension's first ever football team as they were honored last Friday night. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

It was a special night for East Ascension, but there have been many special nights since the football program first took the field in 1966.

This year's team is the 50th Spartan squad to ever don the royal blue and yellow. To celebrate that milestone, members of the first ever East Ascension football team were honored before the Spartans' game with Zachary last Friday night.

They all wore jerseys with their high-school numbers from the '66 season, and they even joined the 2015 Spartan squad when they hit the field prior to kickoff.

"I thought it was very special, and I'm happy that I was the head coach that was able to be a part of it," East Ascension head coach Paul Bourgeois said. "For those men to come back after so many years was just great. They have plenty of personality, and they loved every minute of it. It actually started earlier today when they came to the field house. It was a full day for them, and it went off really well for the school."

The excitement of the "founding fathers" of East Ascension football seemed to rub off on the school's current players.

"The best part was our kids. I was so proud of them. They were so excited about our former players coming back," East Ascension Principal Traci McCorkle said. "They came out to our locker room and shook hands with all of our players before the game. It's like we always say: once a Spartan, always a Spartan. Our school, our players and coaches and the community embrace them."

The 1966 team managers were: Johnny Berthelot, Ernie Guidry, Lynn LeBlanc and Mert Smiley.

Living team members are: Robert Clouatre, Jeff Wiley, Bill Roux, Mark Gautreau, Tommy Savoy, Jerry Campbell, TC Cannon, Miles Bourque, Johnny Babin, George Valentine, Paul Duplessis, Gilly Berthelot, Velford Melancon, Treville Templet, Ronnie Trabeau, Jerry Braud, Aaron Duplessis, Donald Lanoux, Steve Wickbolt, Ronald Lanoux, Loyson Porta, Lionel King, Tommy Price, Ronnie Forsyth and Van Lambert.

Lambert went on to become one of the school's most successful coaches in the '80s.

Members of the 1966 team that have passed away over the years were: Randall LeBlanc, Marc Daigle, Paul Reine, Ray Stafford, Richard Kramer, Curtis Langlois, Ronnie Richey and Harold Marchand.

The 1966 team was led by East Ascension's first ever head football coach, Coon Schexnaydre.

Schexnaydre laid the foundation for what the program would eventually become. He also led the Spartans to their first ever district title.

Over the years, East Ascension has been led by many great coaches.

Lambert took over as play-caller in 1981. He led the Spartans to two district titles and their first ever undefeated season in 1982.

Hall of Famer Larry Dauterive led East Ascension after Lambert. Dauterive finished his career with 228 career victories.

Along with the coaches, there have been some great players wearing the royal blue and yellow over the years.

Two of the greats were tight ends Shawn Nelson and Andrew Glover.

Nelson went on to be an all-conference player at Southern Miss that was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Glover played his college ball at Grambling State before being drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991.

He had his best year in 1998 when he played on a Vikings team that went 15-1 and set a record for most points in a season. He finished with 35 catches for 522 yards and five touchdowns.

Glover ended his career with the home-state Saints in 2000.

Glenn Dorsey is the most notable Spartan hero.

Dorsey helped lead LSU to the 2007-08 national championship and won a plethora of awards in doing so.

He was the sixth overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2008 NFL Draft. He currently plays for the San Francisco 49ers.

This great tradition and success all began with the 1966 team. That's why McCorkle said it was so special to see them at Spartan Stadium last Friday night.

"It's such a great honor to have them back. They always try to stay in touch with the school, and they were so excited to come back for this celebration," McCorkle said. "Almost all of the members of the team that are still alive today showed up. It's so important to us to honor our past athletes and coaches."

Even though Bourgeois was disappointed his team couldn't have finished off the evening with a victory, he said he was proud to be a part of the celebration.

"It was really emotional with everything that took place tonight," Bourgeois said. "It started today and went on from there. It's a great feeling to know my school has the pride to do that and to take the opportunity to recognize all of those former players."