NOTE: Jonesboro-Hodge High School is one of the most storied football programs in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA). To honor the families who are in part responsible for the Tigers great legacy the Jackson Parish Journal is proud to sponsor a new program called “First Families of JHHS Football.” Beginning with the JHHS vs Logansport game this Friday night, September 24th and continuing at each home game hereafter, one or more “First Families” will be recognized.
The inaugural “First Family of JHHS Football” to be honored are: Lowell, Leslie and Rodney Mize. From 1963- 1968 these three brothers, who were all decorated running backs and multi-sport athletes, left a legacy at JHHS by setting new school records and helping lead the Tigers to certain heights, never before been achieved in school history.
Lowell Mize: (1963-64, 1964-65) – Some would say that perhaps what Lowell should be most known for was being the player to beat out legendary JHHS, LSU and NFL great, Johnny Garlington for a position. Entering the 1963-64 season, Garlington was slated to be the Tigers main threat at running back but it didn’t take long for first year coach, Henry “Bobby” Stone, to recognize that the team would be best served by having Mize manning the backfield and keeping Garlington primarily on defense. Stone’s decision paved the way for the Tigers first district championship season in 13 seasons. It must be remembered that at that time JHHS competed in Class AA, the top classification in the state and the district comprised of Ruston, Neville, JHHS and Haynesville – all powers in schoolboy football. Mize and quarterback Robert Marrus became the first pair of backfield mates in school history to both gain over 900 yards in a season. In the contest against Neville, Mize was instrumental in helping the Tigers set a new school record of a 22-play scoring drive (all rushes) by carrying the ball for over half of the rushing attempts. In the 1964-65 season Mize was instrumental in leading the Tigers to a second straight district championship for the first time since 1930-31 and the first berth in the state semi-final’s since the 1945-46 state championship season. Mize ended the year with 1198 yards to become the first running back in JHHS history to rush for over 1000 yards in one season. He also was the first two accumulate over 2000 yards career rushing that resulted in him being named first team all-district for two years and signing a scholarship to play football for Louisiana Tech University.
Leslie Mize: (1965-66) Although only getting the opportunity to start at tailback for one year, Leslie quickly made a name for himself. While his rushing yardage numbers weren’t as illustrious as his older brother’s his contributions to the offense helped the Tigers became the first team in school history to make the state playoffs and go undefeated in district play for three consecutive years. It was a 14-14 tie against Ruston that relegated the Tigers to a 2nd place finish after Ruston was declared the winner of the game by virtue of more first downs. This marked the first time the LHSAA used that format to break ties. The “middle” Mize would end up making 2nd team all-district after finished 2nd in scoring totals among district competitors, trialing only fellow teammate James Early, who would go on to star at LSU, by a 60-54 margin.
Rodney Mize (1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68) In another unique oddity of the 1965-66 season, during the playoff game against Jesuit, there were four sets of brothers on the field for what is believed to be the only time in LHSAA history. Jesuit had a pair of brothers and JHHS had the Williams brothers as well as Leslie and Rodney Mize. The “baby” brother played on defense that season before moving over to the offense to continue the “family tradition” of running the ball for his junior and senior season. In 1966-67 the Tigers would finish with a 3-3 district slate and miss the playoff’s but Rodney would make 1st team All-District after his fine season of 786 yards rushing on 118 attempts and scoring 60 points on the year. In his senior season Mize never hardly came off the field as he played both ways and was instrumental in leading the Tigers to their fifth consecutive non-losing season for the first time in school history.
When he rushed for 127 yards against North Caddo, it marked the only time in school history that three separate family members had rushed for over 100 yards in a contest in five straight seasons. The youngest Mize concluded his JHHS career with being recognized as the JHHS Best Back and Athlete his Junior and Senior Year as well as leading the district in scoring and making first team All-District his Junior and Senior seasons.
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