For the second straight day, we didn’t have any sunshine on our Sea to Shining Sea Tour. We traveled 486 miles from Shreveport, Louisiana to Birmingham, Alabama. The good news was we didn’t any rain like yesterday’s drive.
Pulling out of Shreveport, I knew my goal was to drive nearly 100 miles to get photos at West Monroe High School‘s Rebel Stadium that was built in 1953. Nearly everyone that ranks the best high school football stadiums in the country, agrees that West Monroe’s is one of those can miss stadiums. Since it’s Wednesday, the only disappointment was that we wouldn’t be two of 10,000 fans that fill that stands for a home game. I can definitely tell you that West Monroe is now on the Bucket List for watching a game.
As we drove to stadium, the first thing that caught my eye was the eight state championships and two “mythical” national championships that are saluted on the outside of the main home grandstands. You also can’t miss the fact that it’s Don Shows Field at Rebel Stadium. Shows is the Rebels’ legendary head coach who passed away earlier this year.
Shows is the man that led the Rebels to its eight state titles and five runner-up finishes after taking over the program in 1989. Before Shows became the school’s head football coach, the West Monroe was described as a “struggling” program. Under Shows, the Rebels amassed a record of 273-48.
Shows, who attended Louisiana’s Ruston High, coached at four Louisiana high schools – West Monroe, Jonesboro-Hodge, Pineville and Farmerville. His lifetime record is 345-78, which places him fourth on the state’s all-time wins list.
West Monroe had one of its best runs from 1996 to 2004 when the Rebels appeared in seven consecutive state championship games.
One of the things I liked about Rebel Stadium is it has kept its old school charm while keeping-up with the times. Case-in-point is the $742,000 scoreboard that went operational in October. When school officials plugged it in, it became the largest high school football video scoreboard in America at 48.5 feet wide by 27 feet tall. It surpassed Texas’ Carthage High School‘s scoreboard that is 26 feet tall by 44 feet high.
In all, the Sea to Shining Sea journey chugged through three states today – Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Tomorrow we’ll head to Hoover High School, outside of Birmingham, Alabama, which will become our sixth state where we’ve snapped photos of high school football stadiums.
Since we are on a deadline to get to Atlanta by Thursday, we needed to stick close to Interstate 20 for our Mississippi photo today. We found Forest High School, just north of the highway.
Forest has won four Mississippi state football championships – 1992, 1993, 1999 and 2010, all in Class 3A. That fact is proudly celebrated on the Thomas D. Lee press box above the home grandstands.