Several months ago, West Baton Rouge resident and sports enthusiast L.J. Dupuy received a phone call that would send him on a long, tedious and rewarding journey into the past.
When Dupuy picked up his phone, an unfamiliar voice on the other line garnered his attention. Barrett Murphy, a coach with more than 40 years experience and a sports radio host, called Dupuy to inquire about his time at Brusly High School in the 1950s, particularly the school’s six-man football program.
“(Murphy) was putting together a book,” said Dupuy. “He’d been to every school in Louisiana that had played six-man football, and that was a total of 75 schools.”
Murphy told Dupuy that he had visited Brusly High, along with many other high schools throughout the state and spoken with members of the staffs and faculties about the history of their football programs.
“He had been talking to the principal, (Walt) Lemoine, and he suggested he talk to me. I could tell him a lot about my time at Brusly, but I didn’t know about the other times,” said Dupuy, who is 70. “Going back and trying to find information, it was very little.”
The conversation Dupuy had ignited in him a passion and sent him on a quest to find the history of Brusly six-man football.
“His book is going to be really nice,” Dupuy said. “But what about the everyday Brusly High School football?”
The question burned; so the research began.
Dupuy scoured old school yearbooks, finding pieces of information about past teams. He went to friends and neighbors, acquiring photos and old school newspapers articles.
The project soon became one that began to interest many others around the community.
On November 21, Dupuy held a meeting in the Addis Civic Center to begin creating a database of former players, coaches, cheerleaders, homecoming queens, etc., and also to speak with individuals about their experiences while in school.
“Establishing a base for us to develop the history of Brusly High School football was the purpose of the meeting,” Dupuy explained. “We got pictures and write-ups, some old school papers. Enough to where you could put together a plan to attack this thing. It’s not going to be an easy project – it’s going to take time.”
Dupuy said he has spoken to officials in Addis and Brusly, as well as the WBR Museum, and has arranged for his findings to be housed at the Addis Town Hall and the Brusly Town Hall. He also said that once the research is complete and items are collected, the museum will have it on display as an exhibit.
“We should be able to get a really nice history of the program,” Dupuy said.
L.J. Dupuy, whose full name is Lynn Joseph Dupuy Jr., said that his interest in the history of Brusly High’s six-man football really came from his being a part of that history - “Lightning Joe” Dupuy played from 1958-1961, and was a freshman on BHS’s state champion team.
He said that he found the basics of the football program, and far beyond, in his research so far, but will continue to procure more information and paraphernalia as it becomes available.
Brusly’s football program began in 1949 as a six-man team until 1964 when they moved to an eight-man team for a year before becoming an 11-man team in 1965.
“In 1949 when it did start, they went 1-8. Not too many people know that,” Dupuy said. “Their second year, they went 8-1 and ended up in the Buras, La., Orange Bowl – which at that time was a prestigious event. That kind of got me excited, and from there I started trying to find each player so I could have some people to go to.”
The meeting Dupuy held in Addis last month helped him come in contact with others who could provide more history on the program, the school and the era.
“Roy Mouch, former Police Juror, and Rod Prejean, former mayor of Brusly, both played on the ’49 team – that’s how I found out when it really started,” Dupuy said.
He said that he spoke with Rosemary Sarradet Babin, the first BHS Homecoming Queen, and was able to hear about her perspective of the community at the time.
“It was a big thing to be the homecoming queen at Brusly High School,” Dupuy said. “It was the biggest thing in the community.”
He said that much of the credit for the football program belongs to James Campbell, who coached the team in its first two seasons, in ’49-’50.
“He was able to get the whole community behind the team,” he said. “Think back to those days, you didn’t have anything: you didn’t have a movie theater, didn’t have a bridge… you develop a program in a small town like Brusly and all of a sudden it is what the town is – everybody’s going to support it.”
Now-Parish President Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot played on the 6-, 8- and 11-man teams during his tenure with the BHS football program from ‘64-’66.
The end of the six-man football era at BHS into the current 11-man, Dupuy claims, can be directly attributed to the construction of the Dow Chemical plant.
“Dow Chemical had a huge impact on it going to 11-man football. They brought a lot of people in,” Dupuy said. “It was a huge jump in the attendance at Brusly High School and that’s attributed directly to the industry that moved to the westbank.”
Dupuy said that he is simply collecting all the information he can right now – a process that he will continue for a while.
“I’m still looking for all the angles, but the main thing is to get the history,” he said.