Barbe quarterback Doug Quienalty runs against DeRidder on Oct. 18 1980. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, December 06, 2012 11:44 PM
Doug Quienalty was expecting the phone call.
“What took you so long?” he answered.
Not really dreading it. Not now.
Some 32 years after the fact, Quienalty has gone on to live a rich, fruitful life. You don’t want to tangle with him on the golf course.
But he still thinks about it occasionally. Like, oh, every day or so, maybe every hour or two during football season, almost minute by minute when the Barbe Bucs are on a playoff run.
While it’s true that Barbe will be making its first trip to the Superdome Classic on Saturday, the Bucs have been to the state championship game before.
And it won’t technically be the school’s first game in the Superdome.
In last Friday’s dramatic 49-48 comeback victory over West Monroe, it was Barbe winning in Lake Charles to get to the Superdome.
In 1980, ironically, the Bucs won a game in the Superdome to get back to Lake Charles for what was then the Class AAAA state championship game.
It was the last year that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association played the state championship games at home sites before moving to the Superdome for all classes.
It would be decades before Barbe had a stadium of its own, so the Bucs almost sold out McNeese State’s Cowboy Stadium for the title game against East St. John.
The Bucs — Quienalty, actually — came up one measly yard short on a fourth-and-goal play from the 7-yard line and East St. John, led by quarterback Timmy Byrd, escaped with a dramatic 15-8 victory.
In Barbe lore, it’s still known as The Longest Yard.
Time, of course, heals all wounds, can blur the memory.
“It was fourth-and-goal from the 7, there were 18 seconds left on the clock,” Quienalty remembered with no hesitation. “We took our last timeout. Coach (Jimmy) Shaver was the quarterback coach and I went over to the sidelines.
“It was 34 H pass. Fake (the fullback) up the middle, drop back three steps and hit (tight end) Randy (Edwards) over the middle — he was going to block and release.
“Gutsy call. Came out of the huddle, great fake. Felt like we pulled the inside (line)backer in. Our stud, Scott Ayres, was going that way and drew them. Then they clogged Randy up the middle, took him out.
“That was the bad part. It was a one-shot deal. I looked to the right, Scott had attracted them all from that side and they were coming in from there.
“I went back to the left, tried to take it all the way to the sidelines, Steve Hawkins came across, I thought he was going to take out the cornerback.
“I got to the sidelines, got an opening and took off. Crossing the five, I saw I guy coming at me low. I figured up-and-over would give me chance. The only thing that stopped me was the linebacker coming from the side that I didn’t see.
“Down at the 1. One yard short.”
Other than that, it’s all just a long-ago blur. He doesn’t remember a thing. Over and done with.
It wasn’t like he was the goat. He didn’t fumble, didn’t throw an interception.
The late Charles Vicknair, then Barbe’s head coach, said after the game he thought Quienalty had a good shot to make something out of nothing on a play that East St. John basically blew up from the beginning.
“If he’d gone low, he’d have been short,” Vicknair said in the next day’s American Press story. “He did the only thing he could. It looked like he could get in there.”
In fact, Quienalty had rallied the Bucs to that dramatic ending after ESJ stymied their offense most of the night. His 29-yard scramble set up the first touchdown, a 7-yard pass to Edwards with 4:35 remaining.
Little consolation. That was one, long yard.
“I do have happy memories of playing in the Superdome,” he said.
Yes, there is that.
It wasn’t unusual at the time for New Orleans high schools to play big games in the big dome. John Ehret’s semifinal playoff game against the Bucs certainly qualified.
“They were a beast of a team.,” Quienalty remembered. “They outweighed us about 30 pounds a man and we weren’t a small team.”
The Bucs worked out in the dome the day before the game. Vicknair did the “Hoosiers” routine with them, pointing out that, despite the trappings, the field was still 100 yards long.
“I just remember the artificial turf they used then was hard as concrete,” Quienalty said.
It worked against what was, probably, the best, certainly the most talented, team in the state that year.
But Quienalty, in this happier game, finished off a comeback, scoring a touchdown on an option-keeper when John Ehret smothered Ayres, then recreated the very same play for a 2-point conversion and a 15-14 victory.
“Nobody ever asks me about that game,” Quienalty laughed. “They want to know about that longest yard.”
So, not surprisingly, he will be heading to New Orleans for Saturday’s game with Archbishop Rummel
“Oh, I wouldn’t miss this,” he said. “I’ll be there. I will definitely be cheering my heart out for the Bucs. Nobody wants them to win this thing more than I do.”
• • •
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org