Members of the two most successful football teams in modern-day Northwestern State history, the Southland Conference champion 1988 and 1998 squads, are reuniting at their alma mater this weekend during Homecoming festivities.
Both teams were coached by Sam Goodwin, who will join the celebration Saturday. Dozens of team members and staff are expected to participate, said Mike Jaworski, NSU Athletics director of development and engagement.
The 1988 Demons (10-3) won NSU’s first Southland football title, upsetting two No. 1-ranked opponents, North Texas and Stephen F. Austin, on the road to finish unbeaten (6-0) in the league. Nicknamed “The Road Warriors,” the Demons won a first-round playoff game 22-13 at Boise State and fell 38-30 in the FCS quarterfinals a week later at Idaho.
That NSU team finished with a No. 8 national ranking and set school single-season records for points, touchdowns and rushing yards.
The 1998 team (11-3) matched the most wins in school history (also in 1939) and reached the FCS semifinals, hosting three playoff games in Turpin Stadium with a No. 2 ranking and finishing at No. 3 That squad set or tied 20 school records, including breaking the 1988 single-season scoring record.
The Demons swept in-state rivals Southern, UL Lafayette, McNeese and Nicholls, knocking the Cowboys from their No. 1 national ranking in a mid-season thriller at Turpin Stadium before beating Illinois State (48-28) and Appalachian State (31-20) in the playoffs before eventual national champion Massachusetts rallied for a 41-31 semifinal win.
Reunion festivities begin with check in at 4:30 Friday afternoon at the Collins Family Pavilion at the south end of the football practice field south of Turpin Stadium in the Donald’s Demon Alley tailgating area. The Demon alumni will join members of this year’s NSU team and head coach Brad Laird riding in the homecoming parade, which will wind up at the downtown riverbank stage for a pep rally, where the 1988 and 1998 teams will be spotlighted.
A reunion party, catered by The Landing Restaurant, will be held at the Chateau St. Denis Hotel beginning at 7 Friday evening.
Team members will be honored guests Saturday afternoon beginning at 2 o’clock at the N-Club tents in Donald’s Demon Alley. The squads will be recognized on the field at Turpin Stadium Saturday evening before kickoff of the 6 p.m. game between NSU and Houston Baptist.
Among Saturday’s highlights will be the N-Club Hall of Fame induction ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in Prather Coliseum, when stars from both teams will be enshrined.
Mansfield native Floyd Turner, who played with the Saints (1989-93), Colts (1994-95) and Ravens (1996, 1998) during a nine-year NFL career, was one of only two first-team All-Southland selections on the 1988 team. He set the Demons’ career receptions record (105) and finished second all-time in career receiving yards (1,810) in an option-based offense, then caught 281 passes for 3,805 yards and 31 touchdowns in a 114-game NFL career.
Morgan City-Central Catholic product Jermaine Jones, the Southland Player of the Year and All-Louisiana Defensive Player of the Year as a cornerback, will represent the 1998 club. Jones was runner up for the Buck Buchanan Award voted to the top defensive player in the FCS after setting the school record for career (44) and single-season (21) pass breakups and scoring five touchdowns on returns (two interceptions, two punts and a fumble return) as a senior in 1998.
Turner and Jones were both All-America selections and NFL Draft picks, Turner going in the sixth round to the Saints in 1989 and Jones getting picked by the Jets in the fifth round in 1999.
Also earning All-America honors in 1998 was another senior, cornerback Kevin Lewis, who went on to play in the NFL and was inducted in the N-Club Hall of Fame in 2014.
The 1998 team also featured All-America defensive end Robert Daniel, who played in the East-West Shrine Game and in the NFL with Carolina.
Also enshrined in the N-Club Hall of Fame Saturday will be Ed Evans, who was NSU’s head athletic trainer for the 1998 team.
Any team member not already registered for the weekend’s events can visit NSUDemons.com/footballreunion to sign up, said Jaworski.