Former Trojan football coach reflects on last time Ferriday reached semifinals in 1995

Published 12:37 am Sunday, November 26, 2017

Former Ferriday High School football coach Cordell Bailey knows a thing or two about how the Trojans feel after Friday night’s quarterfinal playoff win. Then again, he’s been there.

Having coached Ferriday in 1995 to the last time it made a semifinal appearance, Bailey said the third-round 52-0 shutout over Red River was far from coincidence.

“To be honest, it starts in the offseason — all across the summer,” he said. “When it comes to be the fall, it’s about being committed and together as one.”

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Bailey served as Ferriday’s head coach from 1987-1998, and Friday marked the first time he had returned to Melz Field for a game since his departure from the school.

Reflecting on his time and success with the Trojans, Bailey said he could see endless connections between this year’s team and his from more than 20 years ago.

“I’m having all kinds of flashbacks,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. I will always have a special place in my heart for Ferriday.

“This team has a lot of potential. They are playing with a lot of enthusiasm. I think the head coach will do a lot to get them prepared to do what they have to do.”

Bailey knows a thing or two about current Trojan coach Stanley Smith, too.

Smith was a sophomore in 1998 when Bailey left Ferriday for a coaching position at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He then held multiple other high school coaching jobs until retiring in Lafayette in 2014.

“I’m like a proud papa. That’s one of yours, and coming back to his high school of all places. It makes you proud,” Bailey said. “Nobody wants to go home and look bad, so I know it’s tough.”

Friday’s win means Ferriday — ranked No. 2 in LHSAA Class 2A — will host No. 6 St. Helena at 7 p.m. this coming Friday for a chance at a trip to the state title game.

Smith said Friday while he wasn’t sure how long it would take to realize his team is now one of four remaining, he agreed it didn’t happen overnight.

“It’s a privilege to be playing right now,” he said. “I just want to know they are in position and prepared to play every Friday night. We do that every day. It’s not just Xs and Os.”

Smith added the support from the community was priceless, including from Bailey.

“He was a big part of me getting to where I am. I haven’t seen him in a long time. It’s been a really long time,” Smith said.

“All the old guys and my mentors that I look up to came out to support. A lot of them I call for advice when I’m having a bad day. It’s huge because they are always there to guide me through it.”

Moving forward, Smith’s focus is now on the next game.

To top his former coach with a win in the semifinals, Smith said it will take a great deal of concentration.

“It’s going to take excellent focus, consistency and playing for our community,” he said. “It’s all about the attitude and how we practice.”

Thinking back on the semifinal loss in 1995, former Ferriday wide receiver Kerwin Cook can also relate to the Trojans’ current situation. A junior that year, Cook caught three passes for 68 yards in the loss to Karr, 34-14.

After watching the Trojans compete this year at their homecoming game on Oct. 27, Cook said he thinks Ferriday has a good chance to make it all the way.

“If they play like they did Friday, they can,” he said. “To get this far, you have to really be focused and put behind everything listen to what coaches have to say every day.

“Its something you can’t really imagine. By this time of year, nobody is playing but them. It’s all eyes on Ferriday.”

Bailey added his thoughts on advancing to the state championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and said he doesn’t think it seems farfetched, either.

“It has to be a well-oiled machine, and you have to be clicking, but I don’t think they should change what they have been doing,” he said. “You have to take it one game at a time, but this is Trojan Nation and I think they can do it.”