When Jonesboro-Hodge invades Stokes-Walker Stadium to play Winnfield High School this Friday at 7:00pm for the 2021 regular season opener the contest will be filled with historic nostalgia. It will also mark a unique first in the series, that has been played even longer than the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA), which is entering it’s 100th year as the governing body of prep athletics in the state, is old.
You can count on the fingers of one hand a rivalry in the state as old as the one between the two schools that are separated by just 24 miles along Hwy 167. This year’s matchup will be the 94th time the teams have played against each other in the series that began in 1919 and finds Winnfield holding a 49-42-2 all-time advantage after their 28-25 victory in 2019. No game was played last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which ended a LHSAA state record run of consecutive games played against each other at 75 straight years.
This will be the 46th time that JHHS will play at Winnfield, with the home team holding at 27-17-1 advantage. JHHS holds a 26-21-1 advantage in 48 games played in Jonesboro. It will also be the 30th time that the two Tigers will open the season against each other with Winnfield winning 19 prior compared to 10 for JHHS.
Thanks to the incredible documentation done by Mr. Eddie Jenkins of Winnfield, who has authored one of the best websites you will ever find about a Louisiana high school football team, you can learn more interesting information about the series by clicking here: winnfieldtigerfootball.com and then go to the sidebar prompt: Jonesboro series.
The records that have been accumulated only tell part of the tale of these two Tigers though. Remembered also to the generations of Tiger fans from both schools is the checkered past of the “blood hate” rivalry. The history between the two is fraught with upsets, comebacks, decisive wins for district titles, countless fights over the years on the field and in the stands, a “skunking” of a team bus and even a bounty put on a player.
That was during the 1978-79 season when JHHS came to Winnfield having won 7-0 the year before in the first overtime game ever played in the two schools history. It was JHHS junior quarterback, Michael “The Magician” Malone, who scored the winning points leading Winnfield Larry Dauterieve head coach to announce in the newspapers before the game that the JHHS star would not beat them again in this game.
What was found out later was that Dauterieve had not only predicted this but had actually taken measures to make sure of the outcome by offering a bounty to the player that knocked Malone out of the game. It didn’t take long for the coach to have to pay up either. Early in the first quarter Malone, who did virtually everything for J-H that season, punted the ball to Winnfield. As the ball was in the air, Winnfield All-Stater Ricky Chatman circled around behind Malone and blindsided him in the back of the head with a vicious blow that knocked him unconscious. Ironically it will be Malone’s grandson, Tydre Malone, that will be quarterbacking JHHS on Friday.
With that kind of a background it is hard to believe that there could actually be a “friendly” side to the series, yet there have been occasions when the two squared off there were good tidings felt between fans of both. Coming to mind is former head coach Joey Pender, who got his start at JHHS, being the all-time career victory record holder at both schools.
There has also been several times when cousins and even brothers have played against each other and graduates of one school coaching at the other, including this year with Winnfield graduate Justin Durbin being the offensive coordinator at Jonesboro-Hodge.
A new standard of “friendly” competition will take place this year. For the first time ever, JHHS head coach Terrance Blankenship and Jay Watson of Winfield will share the unique honor of being the first pair of classmates to coach against each other, both having graduated from JHHS in 1990.
“I am really looking forward to getting together with Jay before the game,” reflected Blankenship. “We go back to grade school and he is one of my oldest friends. Growing up we even used to celebrate our birthdays together as they are only five days apart.”
Does the fact they will now be on opposing sides take anything away from the “kinship”?
“We share a lot of memories as we played alongside each other from junior high through the state championship “three peat’ years,” laughed Blankenship. “I will always pull for him to be successful in every game he coaches – except for this one.”
Both come into the matchup on the heels of thrilling victories in jamborees played in Ouachita parish last week. Jonesboro-Hodge beat St. Frederick of Monroe 14-13 at the Bayou Jamb that was played on the campus of ULM this past Saturday when a last second Warrior field goal went wide. The night before Winnfield slipped past home-standing West Ouachita 10-6 by batting down a pass in the end zone as time ran out.