On most Saturday nights in the 1960s, many of us would have our radio tuned to WWL, the giant radio station out of New Orleans. Few college football games were broadcast on television, so on those cool crisp nights everyone in DeRidder would be glued to the radio, listening for the exciting voice of John Ferguson saying, "Trigger Allen up the middle for 15 yards!”
In high school “Trigger," whose real name was Tommy Allen, was a three-time all-district and all-state tailback for the DeRidder Dragons. During Tommy's senior year, he led the Dragons to the state semi-finals. That season ended with a loss to Minden who won the state championship in1963. Tommy said of all the games he played, the game against Jennings was the most exciting for him. With the Dragons trailing 13-0 at half-time, Tommy led the DeRidder comeback with two touchdown runs gaining 176 yards. The 14-13 win was most satisfying for Tommy. Charlie Trent, one of Tommy's teammates and long time friend, agreed that this was Tommy's greatest game. He said, "In the second half we went Tommy left and Tommy right almost every play. They absolutely could not stop him. Jennings had a great team and he completely dominated them in the second half.”
In addition to being a star on the football field, Tommy was also a four-year letterman for the DeRidder track team, running the 100 yard dash, the 220 yard run, the 440 yard relay and the mile relay. It is said that he still holds the track record in the 220 yard dash with a time of 21.1.
Tommy was heavily recruited by Coach Darrell Royal of the University of Texas and by Coach Charlie McClendon of LSU. Tommy chose LSU where they had recruited a star studded backfield. Tommy was red-shirted as a tailback his freshman season and beginning his sophomore year he was listed third on the depth chart behind Jim Dousay and Maurice LeBlanc. Dousay and LeBlanc both suffered pulled muscles going into the 1966 season opener against the South Carolina Gamecocks. "It was one of those deals where you just have to keep on working," Tommy said about getting the starting nod. "I did---one fell and I moved up a notch and the other one got hurt so I was moved up again. I was excited about it.”
He was such a humble guy! Tommy always got a kick out of telling this story to his buddies at the Red Lick Hunting Club: "Coach McClendon sent me in on the opening kickoff return, my first attempt at it. The ball was kicked toward the north end zone near the sideline. I looked up and all I could see were the lights of Tiger Stadium with a ball somewhere in the haze. I could feel people running toward me as I approached the sidelines to catch the ball. As I reached to catch the ball, it hit my helmet and ricocheted out of bounds on the 10 yard line. Charley Mac would not even look at me when I came to the bench. I never returned a kickoff the rest of my LSU career.”
Tommy's ability to laugh at himself was another reason he was so well-loved. Tommy said the name "Trigger" came by mistake. "When I graduated from high school there was a guy from Plain Dealing, I think, named Trigger Allen. He was 5-10 and175 pounds, an all-stater. I didn't know where he went to college, but one day in the paper I showed up as "Trigger Allen." I don't know if somebody had gotten us confused. We were both running backs, both the same size, both all-state in high school. The name just stuck, and a lot of my teammates started calling me ‘Trigger,' but it was his name, not mine.”
While at LSU, Tommy was the starting tailback from 1965 until 1968. He played in the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, and the first annual Peach Bowl. Tommy was one of the nicest men to come from DeRidder. He was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. By any standard, Tommy was one of the greatest athletes to ever play for the DeRidder Dragons and the LSU "Fighting Tigers." When the list of LSU's greatest running backs come out, it will have little meaning to us here in DeRidder if Tommy's name is not among those listed. He is a true LSU legend!
Tommy's death on September 25, 2012 was met with widespread sadness. DeRidder had lost one of it's sons who was a great champion, but the memory of the kindness and humility that he was blessed with will live on forever.
Longville High School, 1957 - 1961
Hazel Walker's Arkansas Travelers, 1962-1965
Inducted into Louisiana Hall of Fame, 1993
"Everyone has a gift. I worked hard to fulfill the gift God gave me and the ability to reach the goal that I had set out to accomplish as a child. What counts is not the number of hours you put in, but how much you put in the hours."
No one has broken the basketball scoring records set by Doris Coleman at Longville High (1957-1961). A three-time Class C all-stater, Coleman earned 4,147 career points and 1,636 in one season. Her efforts rank second overall and fourth for a single season nationwide.
Coleman holds numerous national prep free-throw records - most made in a career, 1,147; most made in a season, 391; and most made per game in a season, 10.6.
She went on to play professionally with Hazel Walker's Arkansas Travelers.
Doris Coleman, far left, and Hazel Walker's Arkansas Travelers.
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