Photos from the Opelousas Clarion Herald
(Note: Former St. Landry Parish football and baseball coach Billy Myers has spent part of a lifetime researching Opelousas sports and social histories. Here is his story edited by St.LandryNow.com contributing writer Bobby Ardoin about the 1938 Opelousas High championship football season.)
The Opelousas High 1938 high school football season still remains as probably one of the most discussed in the city’s history.
Possibly that’s because it was the first time a city high school team played for a state football title.
During that year that the Class 1A Tigers, playing without facemasks and wearing flimsy leather helmets, were coached by Curry Couvillion, the winningest coach in school history.
Opelousas finished 9-1 under Couvillion, fulfilling the team’s preseason expectations.
Promoted as the Championship Football Game under the Floodlights, Opelousas lost to Minden 34-6 in the Dec. 13 championship contest – the only defeat the Class 1A Tigers experienced that season.
For those who paid less than a dollar to see it, the game was discussed for almost 20 years until 1956 when Opelousas again played Minden and lost in another attempt at capturing a state title.
The 1938 championship game was played at Athletic Park, the football and baseball facility located now behind Opelousas Junior High School. Before that, OHS played two postseason games against Amite and Vinton in order to qualify for the Class 1A final against Minden.
Opelousas, which had limited seven regular season teams to 32 points, defeated Amite 6-0 at a South Louisiana semifinal championship game played at Athletic Park.
Apparently Amite was somehow convinced to play the game in Opelousas, as the town’s businessmen collected $700 to host the game at Athletic Park, according to stories obtained from the Opelousas Clarion Herald newspaper.
The South Louisiana championship game also played in Opelousas, ended 7-7. The Tigers however won the game after recording more first downs (11-9).
That season was the tenth for Couvillion at Opelousas High and 1938 was his final year as the school football coach. Couvillion later transitioned into administration in 1939 following his 66-21-3 overall record at OHS.
Couvillion’s Tigers were expected to be dominant in 1938, since the previous year, Opelousas finished 8-1-1.
In 1938 the key addition to the team was halfback Bob Voitier, who later played baseball at (SLI, now UL-Lafayette) and was selected to the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Voitier later played successfully in minor league baseball and he later owned the Schlitz beer distributorship in Opelousas for many years.
OHS defeated the first four teams on the 1938 schedule (Abbeville, Cathedral-Lafayette, Eunice and Oakdale) by a combined 144-6 to start the season. After that Opelousas defeated New Iberia (32-20), Morgan City (13-0) and Crowley (39-6).
Using summaries from Opelousas Clarion stories, here is how the 1938 season unfolded in reverse chronological order, recounting the postseason games first:
Minden 34, Opelousas High 6
The passing and running of Minden’s Bert Lee was the difference in the championship game. Lee scored all five touchdowns in a Minden team coached by Alvin “Cracker” Brown. Voitier completed 20 of 32 passes. The only OHS touchdown came on a 27-yard completion to Kate Lalonde.
Vinton 7, Opelousas 7 (Opelousas wins on first downs 11-9)
Lalonde scored the game’s final touchdown and Bud Ducharme, the team captain who later coached the OHS football team, kicked the extra point that tied the game.
Opelousas’ touchdown drive included backfield starters Voitier, Earl Perkins, quarterback Robert Pavy and halfback Alden Vige, who became a school district principal and central office administrator.
Opelousas 6, Amite 0
Lalonde scored the game’s only touchdown, giving him all three of the Opelousas TD’s during the three postseason contests. Lalonde, who weighed 180, used an end around to score the Tigers’ touchdown.
Opelousas 39, Crowley 6
Voitier was the star of this game, leading the team in offensive yardage and providing a couple of key defensive plays. Also providing touchdowns and key offensive and defensive plays were Rayford LeBlanc, “Rock” Balsamo, Dudley Guilbeau, Marshall Sandoz, Vige, Pavy and fullback Earl Perkins.
Opelousas 13, Morgan City 0
Perkins and Lalonde scored the two Opelousas touchdowns. The first TD was set up by a long pass interception return by Voitier. The Clarion credits defensive efforts by Moise Lafleur, Vernon Huckaby, Balsamo, Vige and others as decisive.
Opelousas 32, New Iberia 20
Jack Voitier, brother of Bob Voitier, was injured during his first game appearance of the season. Bob Voitier was again the catalyst, who scored on 16 and 22-yard runs, while throwing to Lalonde for another. Huckaby also caught a scoring pass and Vige reached the end zone on a short run.
Opelousas 20, Oakdale 0
Touchdown passes from Voitier to Pavy and Lalonde gave Opelousas a two-touchdown lead at halftime. Pavy scored again in the second half. According to a Clarion article, Balsamo, Guilbeau, Preston Richard and Lafleur were the defensive stars.
Opelousas 21, Eunice 0
Pavy, Huckaby and Lalonde scored the touchdown on Voitier passes. Vige however kept the clock moving with long runs.
Opelousas 56, Cathedral 0
This was the second game of the year played at Athletic Park. Perkins scored five rushing touchdowns and Vige provide two others. Voitier also threw a touchdown pass to Huckaby.
Opelousas 47, Abbeville 6
Voitier, who had transferred across town from AIC, made his debut for Opelousas by throwing three touchdown passes. Huckaby, who became his favorite passing target, caught two TD passes, while Ed Culbertson grabbed another scoring throw.
The Single Wing backfield which carried the Tigers to the championship game was also unveiled. Pavy played quarterback. Vige and Voitier were the halfbacks. Perkins was aligned at fullback.