La. Sports Hall of Fame: These legends from Acadiana Selected for 2018 Class - Stokley video
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Sept. 6, 7017
Click here and scroll down to hear Peyton Manning congratulate Brandon Stokley.
Cook will join former Comeaux High and UL standout Brandon Stokley, former UL and LSU tennis coach Jerry Simmons and Rayne native and accomplished bass fisherman Jack Hains as a huge chunk of the induction class, officially announced Wednesday afternoon.
The induction class also includes former LSU pitcher Russ Springer; New Orleans native and NFL star receiver Reggie Wayne; former NBA standout Larry Wright of Monroe; and drag racer Paul Candies.
The Class of 2018 will be enshrined Saturday, June 30, in Natchitoches to culminate the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 28-30.
“Who would have thought this was even possible?” Cook said of his relationship with Hains.
On Wednesday, Hains was reminiscing about neighborhood football games in Rayne back in the 1960s. Hains, who graduated two years ahead of Cook’s 1969 class, said Cook was the leader even back then.
“I was told that Lewie and most of the other guys were too, but Lewie was the captain,” Hains said. “He was that guy even back then.”
Although most sports fans in the Acadiana area know Cook and Stokley, Hains may only be known in specific outdoors and recreation circles.
The former crop-duster from Rayne won the fifth annual BassMaster Classic in 1975, catching 18 bass weighing 45 pounds and 4 ounces. He would later qualify to compete in six other BassMaster Classics in his career.
“I texted Lewie earlier today, ‘Who would have thought that two of those kids who played football against each other in Sweeney’s pasture growing up would be inducted into the Hall of Fame together? There are no words for that.”
About the same time Hains started making his mark in fishing, Cook began his coaching career that’s established him as the top high school football coach in the history of the Acadiana area.In 32 years as a head coach, Cook’s teams only had one losing season and have made the playoffs 30 straight seasons now. He’s won four state championships and played in the state finals 11 times. That doesn’t count one as an assistant at Rayne High in 1975.
“Lewie’s also had that ability to make teams the best they can possibly be,” said Hains, who is currently the recreation director in Broussard and lives in Crowley.
“Going in with a class like this where you know three of them is really nice,” said Cook, who has a career record of 333-81.
When Cook left Rayne High to begin his first assistant coaching stint at UL, the tennis coach at the time was Simmons.
When he took over the Cajuns’ program in the mid-1970s, it was 0-11 the previous season. In 11 years as UL’s head coach, he achieve a record of 214-92-2. He later took over LSU’s program, putting together a record of 278-105 in 15 years including the national title match in 1988.
“This is a big deal,” Simmons said. “It’s very nice to be appreciated. I appreciate all the people that got me this and I appreciate all the players who played for me. You can’t do it without players, you can’t do it without boosters and you can’t do it without the media.”
In fact, one of Simmons’ biggest claims to fame was incorporating a sponsorship to college tennis with the USL Rolex Tournament in 1977 and later organized ESPN’s first televised tennis match in 1979.
“Lafayette is an incredible community,” Simmons said. “With the oil people there at that time, I told them we’re going to play Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M and they were like: 'Bring it on.' That should have been the motto of the athletic department.
“We had a sports writer (Bruce Brown of The Daily Advertiser) who covered us like he did the football program. It was amazing. Lafayette is the best.”
Former Comeaux High and UL standout receiver Brandon Stokley (80) - pictured here catching a 38-yard TD reception in the Super Bowl - will be part of the 2018 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction class, announced Wednesday. (Photo: AP File Photo)
About a decade later, Cook headed to UL for his second stint as an assistant as the offensive coordinator for an offense that included Stokley and quarterback Jake Delhomme.
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“Even as a red-shirt freshman, Brandon had a feel for the game,” Cook said. “He just knew how to get separation. He never had wasted steps.”
Cook said he remembers more seasoned defensive backs trying to make sure they weren’t matched up with Stokley in coverage drills..
Stokley didn’t play football until his senior season at Comeaux High, where he quickly earned All-State recognition after leading the state in receptions.
At UL, he had 241 catches for 3,702 yards and 25 touchdowns. When his career ended, Stokley ranked ninth all-time in Division I yardage and 10th in receptions.
The 5-11 receiver then went on to play 15 years in the NFL with 397 career catches for 5,339 yards and 39 touchdowns. His best season was with Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2004 with 68 catches for 1,077 yards and 10 scores.
He also had seven catches for 91 yards in helping Baltimore win the Super Bowl over the New York Giants.
“You never really know if a guy is going to go on to the NFL and have that kind of success,” Cook said. “But we all knew that Brandon was going to be very successful.”