The unofficial founding father of the LHSAA Prep Classic is scheduled to be honored Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
Bill Curl died at age 77 on June 15, but not before he changed the world of Louisiana schoolboy football forever in 1980 with the brainstorm of an idea of staging all of the then four state championships indoors inside of one of the sports world’s great Meccas.
“Bill Curl really was the daddy of the Superdome Classic,’’ former LHSAA commissioner Tommy Henry said. “It was his event.’’
Henry is scheduled to present a plaque on behalf of the LHSAA to Curl’s wife Carolyn and family during halftime of Saturday’s noon opener that pairs John Curtis and Catholic High of Baton Rouge in the Division I championship game.
“Bill loved this event,’’ said Henry, who as a then assistant commissioner twice watched Curl unsuccessfully pitch the Classic concept to the LHSAA executive committee before the association ratified creation of the now three-day event in 1981. “And his wife Carol was right in the middle of it. He was so proud of it.’’
Curl at the time was serving as spokesman for the Superdome and had watched Jesuit and St. Augustine attract a crowd of 43,000 to the Dome for their Class 4A state championship game in 1978.
It took Curl two years to convince LHSAA officials into embracing what now appears to have been a no-brainer concept. But Curl didn’t stop there.
Teaming with Henry and others, Curl helped the LHSAA land Domino’s as the Classic’s first major sponsor. Henry then used that $50,000 seed money to market the Classic into an iconic event that attracted other sponsors such as Gatorade and Coca-Cola.
Curl also first proposed the idea of televising the Classic in order to show high school sports fans what they were missing. Walk-up tickets sales subsequently took off.
“Bill was so professional and that was another great thing about him,’’ said Henry, who retired as LHSAA commissioner following the 2006 Classic. “I’d get mad about something. He never bad-mouthed anybody. He was always professional and loyal. That shut me up and meant a lot to me.
“Several times I was ready to throw up my hands. It didn’t look like it was going to draw well or it didn’t look like it was going to last. It didn’t look like what I thought it could be. I just loved having it in (the Dome). And I’d be very discouraged. Bill was always there to pick me up and push me forward.
“Bill is so deserving of this recognition as far as this event is concerned. It’s his event. He is the daddy of this Superdome event, I can promise you.’’
By the numbers
124 – Combined points scored in Zachary’s 67-57 Class 5A football semifinals victory at Destrehan Friday night. 1,106 – Combined yards by Zachary (596) and Destrehan (510). 42: First downs recorded by Zachary (18) and Destrehan (24). 18: Touchdowns scored by the teams. The victorious Broncos had 10 touchdowns and the Wildcats 8.
Morgan named CYO MVP
Jesuit guard Elijah Morgan was named the 65th Most Valuable Player of the CYO boys basketball tournament on Saturday after averaging 17.5 points to help the undefeated Blue Jays extend their tournament record for team championships to 12.
A 5-foot-11 senior, Morgan scored 16 points in Jesuit’s 64-54 victory against Catholic League rival Holy Cross in Saturday’s championship game played at Jesuit.
Joining Morgan on the five-member all-tournament team were Holy Cross senior forward Kalil Thomas, sophomore point guard Javon Ruffin of Newman, Slidell senior forward Kolby Warren and junior guard Abiram Frye of De La Salle.
Ruffin, 6-4, was the tournament’s top scorer with an average of 24.3 points.
St. Augustine and De La Salle are tied for second in CYO team championships with 10 apiece.