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Mr. Edward Pratt
404 Live Oak Drive
Lafayette, LA 70503
|Ed's Living Memorial for the Coach Russ Faulkinberry Tribute is followed by a story posted in The Advertiser about the 1962 Football season at Catholic High of New Iberia and other information provided by Ed. His LM was submitted on 7/14/2017 as posted by Dr. Ed Dugas that day.
Russ Faulkinberry's Living Memorial, Edward Pratt, Football 1964-67 & University Staff 1969-2011
Coach Russ Faulkinberry was the Head Coach when I began playing football at USL in the Spring of 1964.
I had played high school football at Catholic High in New Iberia where Coach Raymond Blanco was the head coach and Coach Bobby Banna was my position coach.
For those who know these two coaches, they know how hard nose and demanding they were on the football field. Consequently, I never thought I would or could be challenged any more than I was during my four years at Catholic High.
Then came the Spring of 1964 where I experienced being a football player for Coach Russ Faulkinberry. I was stunned by the challenging and forceful personality of Coach Faulkinberry. At times he would scare me. But the effect was that it made me play even harder.
The players respected Coach Faulkinberry including me, regardless of the times he made me shake a little bit.
There was this overriding feeling that we all knew that Coach Faulkinberry really cared for us, he respected his players and wanted each and every player to play their best for their own sake and for the team.
He spoke in a very direct and blunt manner, but we all knew he respected and like us and wanted us to be our best and win.
Coach Faulkinberry's determination, personality and attitude produced three Gulf States Conference Championships. USL won the GSC in 1965, 1968 and 1970.
He was the leader and the reason we were champions. This is an accomplishment that has not been matched since. USL has Coach Faulkinberry to thank for those years of success.
I am proud and most grateful to have played for Coach Faulkinberry for those years. I not only was a member of winning a GSC Championship, but he taught me how to be a winner in many ways. Thank you Coach Faulkinberry.
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Posted Aug. 26, 2002
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Football: The One and Only - Recap of Catholic High (NI) 1962 season and more
Daily Advertiser December 4, 2009
Ed Pratt remembers the first time he ever saw Raymond Blanco.
About to begin his freshman year at Catholic High of New Iberia in 1959, Pratt and four other students were working out during the summer when Blanco walked up to the group and introduced himself as the school's new head football coach.
"We were scared," Pratt remembered.
Once Blanco fully implemented his rigid football ideas on Pratt and his teammates, they learned how legitimate their initial fears were and also how shortsighted they would end up being.
At the time, Pratt had no way of knowing how much Blanco would impact his life. Not only did he play four years of high school football under him, he played and coached under him for eight years for the then-USL football team, and then Blanco was his boss for 40 years at UL.
Naturally, other teammates have crossed paths periodically with Blanco over the years. And all of them experienced something during Blanco's four years that they're still talking about almost 50 years later.
Catholic High enjoyed back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, highlighted by the lifetime memory of winning the Class 1A state championship at Ferriday High in 1962. And even more than that, the Panthers' championship team of '62 will forever be known as the first from the Acadiana area to win a state title in football.
Not since that season has a Catholic High football team reached the state semifinal level. That drought ends tonight when the No. 20-seeded Panthers travel to meet the No. 1 Notre Dame Pioneers at Rayne High with a Superdome appearance on the line.
Those two teams, separated by 47 years, met Thursday night when a group of players from that 1962 team still living in the area gathered at the Catholic High cafeteria to address this year's football team.
"A bunch of them are going to be there," Blanco said on Tuesday. "I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to tell them. I just know that we played a real good Notre Dame (then St. Michael's) team that year in the regular season and beat them."
The list of players on that 1962 title team reads like a who's who, ranging from current Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom, UL Dean of Students Pratt, District Judge John Conery, Chester Gosnell, future LSU lineman Allen LeBlanc, future Tulane Green Wave player Nat Toulon, Tommy Hayes, Kenny Greig, John Howard and the late Bill Bayard.
The coaching staff also included a familiar name in eventual Comeaux High coach Bobby Banna, who later was Ron Guidry's baseball coach at UL.
"We had a group of guys who were dedicated," Banna said. "It was really a great group of young men. We had some talent, but their character was a big part of their success. It was just a great group to be around."
Banna said he regularly talks about the memories of that state title run with members of the team around the community. Blanco said he routinely plays cards with a group of players from that team.
Pratt said the special feeling from that team's accomplishment has never left him.
"It still means a great deal," said Pratt, who said he remains a fan of Catholic High's program. "It's something you never forget. There's just a little sense of pride in you because of what you were able to accomplish as a team. It's a team thing. We were a team. It's such a special feeling when you do something like that as a team."
The secret to Catholic's success was simple in Pratt's mind. It was coaches Blanco, Banna, Tom Colwell and Cam DeGravelle.
"At the time, we were just doing everything like they wanted," Pratt said. "Now looking back, they were clearly ahead of their time. They were great tacticians. They taught us technique. They looked at film. They would prepare us to the point where we'd know exactly what the other team was going to do.
"They were very demanding. As part of being demanding, though, they got us to produce on every play."
In Blanco's first season, the Panthers were 7-3. Then came a season they all wanted to forget at 2-8 in 1960.
Pratt cringed when remembering how tough it was to get through that losing season as a sophomore and how determined they were to reverse their fortunes the next year. In fact, after an early-season win the following season, Blanco got on the team bus after the game and noticed how reserved all the players were.
"He walked on the bus and looked at us and said, 'What's the matter?'" Pratt said. "'You just won a football game and you're not cheering. You're acting like you lost.' We were just so determined that we weren't going to go through another 2-8 season again."
The Panthers won every game in the regular season that year, but then lost to Amite in the first round of the state playoffs.
Then came the magical 1962 season with a 13-0 win over Ferriday, which had won three state titles in the previous decade. Pratt and Gosnell scored the two touchdowns in the state title win.
"We'd like to think that we had our kids more prepared, but I don't know," Banna said. "More than just the knowledge of the game, we instilled discipline in them. It got to the point where we didn't have to correct the players. They corrected themselves."
There wasn't much complicated about Catholic High's approach in that era.
"Other coaches would make fun of us that we weren't going to do anything different," Blanco said. "If it was third down, we were still going off tackle. We were just very fortunate that we had some good kids. We had some good running backs and Bayard (at quarterback)."
Blanco and Banna grew up near each other in Birmingham, Ala. After spending a year at Kirwin High in Galveston, Texas, Blanco got a call from Colwell ï¿½ï¿½" who was the basketball coach at Catholic High ï¿½ï¿½" about the football opening at the school. Blanco and Colwell were college friends at St. Benedict's in Kansas.
When Blanco got the job, he called Banna to join him on the staff. Neither have left the area since.
"I hated Texas," Blanco said. "My mother's family was from New Orleans, so I wanted to come to Louisiana. When I got down here, though, everybody was talking about boxing, not football. They were tough, but they weren't football players. We just brought a little bit of that Alabama brand of football down here."
While Blanco's aggressive personality caught many at Catholic High by storm 50 years ago, Banna said it's not hard for those who weren't around then to imagine what he was like.
"He (Blanco) hasn't really changed a bit," Banna laughed. "What you see now is what he was when he was 4 years old."
Posted Dec. 4, 2009
Served in the Student Personnel area from 1969-2011. Was Vice President of Student Affairs at retirement.
|Football:|| 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967|
|University Faculty/Staff (current & former):|| 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011|
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