Coach Bo Meeks’ Airline Vikings carry a 9-2 record into tonight’s second-round Class 5A state playoff football game with Jesuit of New Orleans.
Airline has won seven or more games in three of its last four seasons. But a win over the Blue Jays would make this the first Viking team to win 10 games since the 1998 team was 10-0 in regular-season play but fell in the first round of state playoffs.
The first Airline team to win 10 games was the 1967 Class 3A state champs, who won the title in the fourth year of the school’s existence with a 20-7 victory over Holy Cross (New Orleans) at Shreveport’s State Fair Stadium (now Independence Stadium).
That team, led by All-State halfback Eric Kilpatrick, was ranked No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll at the end of regular-season play, with losses to district champion Woodlawn and city rival Bossier High. The 1967 Vikings went to Lake Charles High, seeded No. 1, in their opening playoff game, and played the favored Wildcats to a 7-7 tie, moving on to the second round with an 11-9 advantage in first downs.
Two weeks later, they beat No. 2-seeded Holy Cross in the championship game.
Quarterback Johnny Piazza set a school record for the 1967 Vikings by passing for 1,308 yards and 13 touchdowns, but Kilpatrick — who ran the 100-yard dash in 9.8 seconds — was the primary offensive weapon with 1,187 yards rushing. In 1972, Steve Haynes broke Piazza’s record, passing for 2,238 yards as Coach Jack Gray’s Vikings reached the state finals before falling to Neville, 6-0.
Last year, quarterback Hayden Hildebrand shattered the Airline single season passing record, completing 204 of 358 passes (57 percent) for 2,707 yards and 20 touchdowns. This year, Hildebrand is only 114 yards away from breaking his own record, passing for 2,593 yards and 25 touchdowns.
You have to go back to 1977 to find the last Bossier Parish team that won a state football title.
“It’s been a long time coming,” the late Bobby Ray McHalffey said after his Bucs beat Vandebilt Catholic 21-0 at Houma for Haughton’s first state championship.
The next one would be a long time coming, too. They’re still waiting for that one. But Airline has had a longer wait (since 1967) for its second state championship.
Of course, many high schools in the state (including most of the Bossier Parish schools) are still waiting for their first state championship.
Other than Haughton in 1977 and Airline in 1967, the only state titles for any Bossier Parish schools were in Class A (then the second highest class) by Bossier High in 1942 and 1948.
The 1942 Bearkats, led by All-State Eugene “Red” Knight, had the only perfect record in Bossier Parish history, wrapping up a 12-0 season with a 27-12 victory over DeQuincy at DeQuincy. Knight later starred for LSU teams coached by Bernie Moore.
The first North Louisiana player to pass for more than 1,000 yards in a season was Bain Slack of Springhill, who passed for 1,484 yards and 15 touchdowns in 1958. The first local player to do it was Fair Park’s Donnie Carroll, who passed for 1,002 yards in 1959, his junior season. He completed 67 of 174 passes that year, and threw about half as many passes in his senior season, for 937 yards.
Woodlawn’s Joe Ferguson set state and national records in the late 1960s, passing for 3,293 yards and 40 touchdowns in 1968 and posting career totals of 6,710 yards and 86 touchdown passes. Evangel quarterbacks moved to the top of the state lists in both categories in the 1990s, starting with Josh Booty ((3,057 yards passing and 43 touchdown passes in one season, 1993, and career totals of 11,700 yards passing and 126 touchdown passes). Later, Evangel’s Brock Berlin moved to the top of the state lists in both categories with 4,834 yards passing and 54 TD passes in one season (1998) and career totals of 13,902 yards passing and 145 TD passes.