CAROLA LILLIE HARTLEY
Publisher and Contributing Writer
Featured photograph: Opelousas High School football players were in uniforms for this photograph taken at the school in 1922. Identified by Mrs. Martin Roy, Jr., team members are, left to right, front row, Lee Garland, Earl Guedry, Lloyd Reynolds, Noah Guedry, Sidney Bertheaud; second row, Lee Robin, Edmond Pavy, Coach Sam Moncla, Havlin Haw, Elden Voorhies; third row, Arthur Sanders, Creighton Shute, Ivan Holman, Henry Pitre and Victor Andrepont. (Photograph: Carola Lillie Hartley collection.)
Sports became an activity for schools in the area after baseball, football and basketball came to Opelousas at the turn of the 20th century. St. Landry High School in Opelousas had a football team by 1900. In the 1920s, football, baseball, track and basketball were popular at public and private schools. When St. Landry High School became Opelousas High School, A. A. Mendoza was its first football coach. In 1922, Mendoza became the Athletic Director at the school, with Sam Moncla hired to coach football and other school sports.
The first thing that needed to be done at the start of the 1922 football season was to get proper uniforms for the OHS team. At the beginning of July, Athletic Director Mendoza reached out to St. Charles College in Grand Coteau to solve that problem. He went to the college and purchased the uniforms used by that team during the previous season. They were in first-class condition, and with the bargain price, the school could afford a uniform for each player.
The premiere game for the 1922 Opelousas High School football team was played on Sunday, September 24th at the Opelousas Elementary School campus. Many fans watched the squad coached by Sam Moncla play against the military team coached by Athletic Director A. A. Mendoza. Although neither team scored points, the game was reported to be a great success as it created support for the sport of football in Opelousas and the St. Landry Parish area.
Seventeen members of the OHS football team traveled to Port Arthur, Texas on Friday, September 27th for the first out of town game, played on Saturday, September 30th. Students who made the trip with Coach Moncla included Richard Mornhinveg, Henry Pitre, Ben Pressburg, Ivan Holman, Arthur Sanders, Noah Guedry, Edmond Pavy, Lee Robin, Lee Garland, Jr., Henry Freed, Creighton Shute, Eldon Voorhies, Ben Andrepont, Victor Andrepont, Seth Lewis, Lloyd Reynolds and Marshall Prescott. Although the team was excited about the game, unfortunately they lost by a score of 54-0. Following that loss, the coach stated the players learned a lesson by participating in that game, and that would help to make them a better team.
On Saturday, October 21st, the OHS team played Crowley High School in Opelousas for what was advertised as “the biggest game of the season for Opelousas.” That game drew a large attendance of fans from both schools. Opelousas and Crowley battled hard in the game that ended in a 12-12 tie.
On Wednesday, October 25, 1922, the OHS football team played the Eunice High School eleven as part of the first Cotton Carnival festival held that year. The locals gave the large crowd of Opelousas fans in attendance something to cheer about when they beat the Eunice team by a score of 50-6. The best play of that contest was when Ivan Holman, the OHS star of the game, intercepted a forward pass from the Eunice team and made a 65-yard touchdown run.
The OHS team traveled to Abbeville High School to play that team on November 4th. Abbeville won that game by a score of 12-0. The team met St. Martinville at Opelousas on November 11th. That was a hard-fought match-up with St. Martinville getting the win by a score of 8-0. On Saturday, November 18th, the team played Marksville in Avoyelles Parish, with many Opelousas fans in attendance. With all the support from the Opelousas fans that attended the away game, OHS defeated Marksville. The team was disappointed the following week when their game against Bunkie, scheduled for November 25th at Opelousas, had to be cancelled since many of the Bunkie players were ill.
When the 1922 Opelousas High School football season ended, Coach Moncla said he was proud of his team. Even if his boys did not win every game, he felt they were all winners since they excelled in whatever they did that year, on and off the field. Football continued at Opelousas High School after that 1922 season, and the game is still played by the school today.