Dantzler made mark at Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 23, 1999

When you talk about Ferriday High football, the names Jerry Baldwin and Cordell Bailey will always come up. But it was a guy named Larry Dantzler who took the Trojans to their only appearance in the Louisiana Superdome.

Dantzler stayed at Ferriday two years before getting into administraton, moving to north Mississippi.

I only got to know Dantzler for two years, but they were two years that were very memorable.

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So it was with great shock when former Ferriday High assistant coach Arijo Green called to say that Dantzler died of heart attack last week. He was 47.

Dantzler will be buried in Okolona this week. Funeral arrangements were not complete on Monday.

Dantzler had the respect of players and coaches, and not just the ones on his team.

&uot;He was a class act and a class individual,&uot; said Vidalia head coach Dee Faircloth.

Dantzler was attending a seminar in Denver, Colo., at the time of his death.

Needless to say it didn’t hurt following the likes of Baldwin, who had Bailey as an assistant coach.

Baldwin and Bailey experienced tremendous success at Ferriday High as head coaches and are back together again in Lafayette, La.

Baldwin was named head football coach at Southwestern Louisiana and named Bailey as an assistant.

Despite their successes, neither coach was able to reach the Louisiana Superdome for a state championship game, although both came as close as you can get.

Baldwin’s 1982 team lost to John Curtis in the state semifinals, while Bailey’s ’92 squad was beaten by Amite High in the state semifinals.

Ferriday High did make it to the Superdome in 1984 under Dantzler, who you never would have known was a football coach unless you saw him on the sidelines.

Danztler was as impressive in the classroom as an administrator as he was a coach. The former Ole Miss linebacker was a bundle of energy.

He always took the time to think about what he was going to say and emphasized every word. And he was that way on the football field, covering every little detail.

Dantzler was also a great people-person, always smiling and making sure to shake every hand he could after a ball game.

Ferriday principal Tony Moore was a player on the 1984 team. And not just any player. Moore carried a defense that lived up to the billing &uot;Junkyard Dogs.&uot;

&uot;Coach Dantzler was a sort of soft-spoken person,&uot; Moore said. &uot;You would never hear him raise his voice. He was a real likeable guy. He didn’t let a lot of things bother him.&uot;

Moore said Dantzler loved being in the middle of everything.

&uot;He loved the hands-on approach,&uot; Moore said. &uot;It was almost as if he wanted to be a position coach. He really wanted to get in there and play a big role coordinating everything.&uot;

To play John Curtis as tough as they did was a tribute to Dantzler.

The contest was tied 7-7 at halftime and 15-7 in the third quarter, but John Curtis’ depth from a 74-man roster was too much for Ferriday in the end.

Ferriday may have lost that game, but they learned quite a lot under Dantzler, not just about the game of football, but the game of life.

Unfortunately, Dantzler’s has been cut too short.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat.

He can be reached at 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.