1972 W.O. Boston Panthers football team remembered for their greatness

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 8:12 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Louisiana high school football championships are set for this week, and 50 years ago marks the last time a Lake Charles high school won a state title.

In 1972, the W.O. Boston Panthers etched their name in high school football history, but getting there was no easy task.

The year prior, the panthers went undefeated but were disqualified before playoffs due to an ineligible player, and that just added fuel to the fire.

“That next year it was the torpedoes full speed ahead,” assistant coach Herman Weston said.

In ‘72 there was no doubt the panthers had talent, but wide receiver Greg Gauthier said it was the bond players and coaches shared that set them apart.

“It’s a chemistry that they put together that made us want to work. They had a way of getting things out of us that we as children didn’t know we were capable of,” Gauthier said.

The late Wiley Stewart coached the team to championship status.

“He instilled in those boys how to become winners, not just on the football field but also in the classroom and also taught them how to be men,” Weston said about Stewart.

“We were like a family, we worked together, we supported one another together, we laughed when they laughed, and we cried when they cried,” he said.

That winning mentality led the panthers to the State Championship, where they took on Haynesville in a game that came down to the wire.

“I remember we almost lost it in that last minute up 11 to 6,” Weston said.

Weston said their defense stopped Haynesville at the one-yard line to end the game, and from there it was time to celebrate.

“We had fans that were at the game but also fans that weren’t at the game and they opened the gym and we had a big celebration in the gym,” Gauthier said.

Several Lake Charles teams have played in the title game since then, but none have brought the hardware home.