St. Mary’s Fidalek, NSU’s Goodwin set for Thursday NFF honors

Nine North Louisiana senior scholar-athletes, including Graeme Fidalek of St. Mary’s, along with legendary retired Northwestern State football coach Sam Goodwin will be honored Thursday night at the annual National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet in Shreveport.

Receiving NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards and scholarship grants along with Fidalek will be Caleb Aillet of Byrd, West Monroe’s Tag Banks, Tonzaiha Bland of Logansport, Luke Gibson of Mangham, Connor Heard from Minden, Benton’s R.J. Moore and Jed Worthey III of Cedar Creek.

Evan Howe of North DeSoto is the first recipient of the KTBS/Johnny’s Pizza Bob Griffin Scholarship, named in tribute of the iconic local TV sportscaster who covered area high school football and other sports for over a half-century. Griffin was also on the local NFF chapter’s board of directors.

Head football coaches around north Louisiana nominated senior players who carry at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average, have earned all-district honors and are involved in extracurricular activities.

The event hosted by the NFF’s S.M. McNaughton Chapter of North Louisiana begins with a social hour at 6 at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport. Tickets ($40 individual, $320 for a table of eight) are available by calling McNaughton Chapter secretary Toni Goodin at 318-347-4453.

Goodwin will receive the McNaughton chapter’s Contributions to Amateur Football Award. He is the winningest football coach in Northwestern history with 102 wins from 1983-99. His Demons won conference championships in 1984, 1988, 1997 and 1998, making FCS playoff appearances in the latter three seasons and reaching the national semifinals in 1998.

Thirty-eight of his players reached the NFL, and 22 won All-American honors, including College Football Hall of Fame member Gary Reasons. Goodwin also coached 1998 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete winner Dr. William Broussard and two other Academic All-Americans, along with 42 all-conference selections. After ending his collegiate coaching and administrative career, his love for coaching the game returned him to prep football sidelines in Arkansas and then back in Louisiana at Pineville, Alexandria Senior High, Natchitoches Central, Lakeview and St. Mary’s.

The Pineville native is in the Southland Conference Hall of Honor, NSU’s N-Club Hall of Fame, and the hall of fame at his alma mater (Henderson State) and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame for his playing career at Henderson and his high school coaching accomplishments in the 1970s at Little Rock-Parkview, where his teams won five state championships in the nine seasons he started the program and coached there.

The winner of the McNaughton Chapter’s Distinguished American Award is KTBS-TV general manager George Sirven, who has led KTBS as the station emerged as a significant community partner with its sponsorship of major events such as the Freedom Fest Fourth of July celebration, and promotion of many civic causes including St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Last fall, KTBS celebrated the 25th anniversary of its popular Friday Football Fever scoreboard show, which was just named Best Sports Show by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. The native Cuban is a naturalized American citizen who early in his television career shot high school football footage for Griffin when both worked for KSLA-TV.

Past winners of the Contribution to Amateur Football awards given by the McNaughton Chapter since 1981 include Eddie Robinson, John David Crow, Dub and Bert Jones, Joe Ferguson, Doug Williams, Jerry Byrd, Chick Childress, Red Franklin, Tommy Henry, and Griffin. Along with Byrd and Henry, Northwestern alumni Jack Clayton and Charlie Hennigan won the award, while former NSU athletic director Greg Burke was the 2012 winner and former Demon assistant coaches Don Shows (2011), Broderick Fobbs (2016), Joe Raymond Peace (2017) and Jerry Arledge (2019) were also recipients.

Among the former Distinguished American Award winners are Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, Orvis Sigler, Dr. William Bundrick, Tim Brando, James Davison, John McConathy, Billy Montgomery and Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Robinson. McConathy and Montgomery are NSU alumni, along with prior winners Tynes Hildebrand (1997), Walter Ledet (1999), Harry Turpin (2001), and Doug Ireland (2008).