Above is the picture that tells the story of what the Tee Cotton Bowl is all about, as Ville Platte High’s Micah Chatman (78) consoles Sacred Heart’s Stuart Schexnayder (14) in the ninth edition of the iconic high school football game. Ville Platte defeated Sacred Heart 34-20 in one of the top five Tee Cotton Bowls of all time. (Gazette file photo )
The best of Tee Cotton
There is no doubt that the Tee Cotton Bowl has become one of the premier events in high school football in Louisiana.
But, what is even more powerful is the international attention the game has gotten. Through the promotion of co-founders “Doctor” Tim Fontenot and his son Jacob, the Tee Cotton Bowl has been immortalized through NFL Films, a book titled Sharpened Iron by Mel Lecompte and blessed by Saint Pope John Paul II.
“The attention we have received starts with the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films”, stated Fontenot. “Without their love of what they saw in the game every other piece of attention would have neve happened. It is a unique gift from God. It brings together people from totally different backgrounds in a way that only Christ can.”
Since its inception in 2000, the Sacred Heart Trojans and the Ville Platte High Bulldogs have dedicated themselves to giving their best efforts on the battlefield that is the gridiron on fifteen different occasions.
With so much football played between the two schools, including the city championships of the 70’s and 80’s, there would be difficulty in picking the Top 5 Tee Cotton Bowl games of all time.
Recently Fontenot sat down with the Gazette to rank those Top 5 games. So without further adieu here they are.
1. Tee Cotton Bowl I
The original game of the series came to fruition from the contest between the two schools the year before.
Sacred Heart and Ville Platte were brought back together in the same district the previous season and it was then that Jacob told his dad about how special the game was. So Tim and Jacob went about bringing the Tee Cotton Bowl to fruition.
In this game, Ville Platte held a 21-10 lead at the half. However, two touchdowns later, including one in the deep part of the fourth quarter, allowed Sacred Heart to come away with a 24-21 win.
“It had everything you wanted in a first Tee Cotton Bowl game,” said Fontenot. “It had the excitement, the drama on the field and in the Trojan locker room where a speech from Any Given Sunday was made. It was the game that set the tone for the entire series. On a personal note it is my favorite because my son played in it.”
2. Tee Cotton Bowl XIII
This was one of two overtime games in the history of the Tee Cotton Bowl.
The Bulldogs found themselves behind 22-7 midway through the quarter, but tied the game up right before the end of the first half.
The game wound up tied 28-28 at the end of regulation. Getting the ball first in the extra frame, Ville Platte scored the go ahead touchdown and the two-point conversion. The conversion, a pass from Isaiah Thomas to Kendall Ardoin, came off of a botched extra point kick.
The Bulldogs held Sacred Heart out of the end zone on their possession of the extra period and earned a hard fought 34-28 win.
“The most complete game of the series,” commented Fontenot. “Great crowd, great game. It was an explosive game offensively, with two players (Jamarcus Jones and Drew David) scoring nine touchdowns between them. It’s ironic that in a game with that much offensive fireworks, the MVP’s wound up being defensive players.”
3. Tee Cotton Bowl VI
The other overtime game between the two schools was the longest in Tee Cotton Bowl history needing three extra periods to declare a winner.
The two teams actually failed to score in the first half of the game. Nevertheless, the second half produced plenty of offensive fireworks.
The teams finished regulation in a 14-14 tie. In the first overtime, both clubs settled for field goals.
The second overtime saw both teams score and fail on the extra point attempts. Finally in the third and final extra frame, Sacred Heart scored to put the game at 30-29 and sealed the 31-30 win with a two point run by Nick Colligan.
“The offenses took until five minutes left in the game, but once they got going they scored in bunches,” stated Fontenot. “To quote KVPI, ‘There were no stars in the sky that night, they were on the field.’ There were no more fans in the stands toward the end of the game, they were all on the sidelines, nervously awaiting the outcome.”
4. Tee Cotton Bowl XII
The Trojans came into this contest with a 2-0 record, while the Bulldogs were 0-2.
The first half was very competitive as the two teams headed into locker room with Ville Platte leading 14-12.
Ville Platte took a commanding 34-12 lead with three unanswered touchdowns. However, Sacred Heart fought their way back to make it a 34-26 game late in the final period.
With seconds left on the clock and the Trojans at the Ville Platte 18-yard line, Deandre Doucet sacked Nick Firmin to end the game.
Ville Platte High’s Darius Poullard ended the night with 248 yards on the ground, while Sacred Heart’s Drew David finished with 218 yards rushing.
“This was the Darius and Drew show,” said Fontenot. “Both Darius Poullard and Drew David had over 200 yards rushing. The pass was an after thought in this game. To me it brought the game back to caveman football, which is characteristic of all the Tee Cotton Bowl games.’
5. Tee Cotton Bowl IX
This game went back and forth the entire way.
Sacred Heart took the early 7-0 lead. Ville Platte made it 7-6, but the Trojans scored once again in the first quarter to take a 14-6 advantage.
The Bulldogs managed two more scores in the second quarter to take a 20-14 lead at the half.
Sacred Heart tied the game at 20-20 early in the third quarter, but Ville Platte was able to stretch the lead to 34-20. The Trojans notched their final touchdown late in the fourth quarter, however it was not enough to overcome the deficit.
“This game was the most physical game in the series history,” stated Fontenot. “I call it the body bag game, because of all the injuries. But, as physical as it was, it was by no means a dirty game. It just showed the effort the kids put forth. The most iconic picture of the Tee Cotton Bowl came out of the game.”
Two games were also mentioned because of their importance to the growth of the series.
Tee Cotton Bowl III (2002), which was known as the Hurricane Lily game, had NFL Films on hand to record the event.
Tee Cotton Bowl XIV (2017), the re-birth game, came after a four-year absence and paved the path for many more games to come.