West Monroe High School’s Rebel Stadium has held its share of memorable moments.
Whether it be Senior Night, players’ final games on Don Shows Field or semifinal games to determine in the Rebels would reach another state title game, there have been plenty of beating hearts and lumps in the throat.
On Friday night, as Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” played and more than 500 former players and spirit group members filed in for Don Shows’ Memorial Service, those hearts pounded a little more and those tears flowed more freely.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Friday night, you’re in Rebel Stadium,” public announcer Mark Fenn echoed through the stadium. “We are not here for a game, but we are here for a celebration.”
Shows died Monday after a yearlong battle with health problems, and it was his wish to have a game-like event in Rebel Stadium to honor his life. His wife, Daune, pulled the event together in just four days, along with the help of their four kids and several members of the community.
“He loved you so much,” longtime booster and fan Randall McDonald said to Daune as the family sat in chairs lined in front of the track. “One night, we lost a close game at Ouachita and we got back to the field house and the phone rang. Don answered it and said, ‘Yes, I called that play and I’ll call it again.'”
When asked who was on the phone, Shows said, “My biggest critic, Daune.”
Shows was a critic of his own, as LSU head coach Les Miles pointed out as he spoke during the memorial service.
Miles talked about several West Monroe players who came to play for him at LSU and pointed out Shows always knew where every player should play. Miles used former West Monroe linebacker Barkevious Mingo, Class of ’09 at defensive end. Mingo is now in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, playing linebacker, and Shows called Miles and said, “I told ya.”
Miles was one of 13 speakers to share stories about Shows. Others included team doctors Tommy Lolley, Chico Rosales, Webber, McDonald, school board member Jerry Hicks, state representative Frank Hoffmann, attorney general Buddy Caldwell, West Monroe mayor Dave Norris, former offensive coordinator Scott Stone, former quarterback Connor Osborne, former player at Pineville and Northwestern State Robbie Martin, police juror and former player Scotty Robinson and oldest daughter Stephanie.
Shows would not have much criticism of Friday’s event.
“His reply would be, The Don saying that is familiar to all us, ‘Well it ain’t bad,'” Shows’ oldest daughter Stephanie said. “Dad, if you are here tonight we love you and we will miss you, but we know the sun will come up tomorrow.”
Players from Shows’ first West Monroe team in 1989 to current players lined the walls of the West Monroe field house and took pictures, reminisced and laughed at old pictures of themselves hung on the wall.
Some of the first players under Shows stepped foot in the field house for the first time Friday night. When they came to West Monroe High School, they did not have the best of the best, like the current players from facilities to uniforms, but they were all able to relish in what they help build.
“Being in this weight room, just the facilities, we all had a part in that,” said Brian West, linebacker, Class of ’99. “We can see and touch and feel what we helped build.”
“In The Air Tonight” played through three times for all the players to file into Rebel Stadium from the weight room.
“It amazed me every year at the football banquet, there would be 35 to 40 seniors,” Ouachita Parish School Board Superintendent Bob Webber said. “With that many seniors, it meant a lot of them didn’t play a lot, but they wanted to play for West Monroe and wanted to go to the Superdome. People all over this country are proud to say they graduated from West Monroe High School.”
The former and current players sat in the reserved Section B of Rebel Stadium as alumni, fans, boosters and parents of players surrounded Section B and spilled over into the side sections that were installed after West Monroe became a football powerhouse.
The Rebels won eight state titles under Shows and a total of 13 appearances in the state championship. The words National Champions plastered across the field on the visitor’s side with 1998 and 2000 on each side, while former band members played the familiar, “Go Rebels Go,” “Dixie” and they finished with the school alma mater.
“I can tell you he loved West Monroe and this is not common,” Miles said as he gestured to the full stands. “What you are experiencing tonight, the view, this is what is right with football, high school, college football, right here tonight.”