Natchitoches kicks off Christmas with “Turn on the Holidays”

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Natchitoches kicked off its Christmas season Saturday night, Nov. 18. Visitors and locals filled the new amphitheater and the renovated Rue Beauport Riverbank. The feature of the project is the new deluxe stage. Miss Merry Christmas and the Christmas Belles flipped the switch as the audience cheered down to zero and lit up Cane River with a myriad of lights. Then fireworks lit up the night sky. Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, featuring James Burton and Joe Stampley, played the night away.

Holiday Trail of Lights event precedes “Turn on the Holidays” in Natchitoches

Holiday Trail 2017

The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights held a media event at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum Nov. 18. Arlene Gould, executive director of the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, welcomed guests and fellow CVBs to Natchitoches’ “Turn on the Holidays” event.

The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights formed in 1992 to enhance the holiday experiences for locals, visitors and group tours. The trail runs along I-20 and I-49 in north Louisiana and incorporates Shreveport and Bossier, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, and Alexandria/Pineville.

Northwestern State sends Thomas, seniors out as winners by toppling Stephen F. Austin

NSU v SFA 2017 (3)


When Chief Caddo has entered Turpin Stadium with coach Jay Thomas on Northwestern State’s sideline, the largest trophy in college football hasn’t left.

For the third time in Thomas’ five-year NSU tenure, the Demons flexed its muscle against Stephen F. Austin, sending Thomas off a winner Saturday with a 38-21 win against the Lumberjacks.

After dousing Thomas with an ice bath, the Demons (4-7, 4-5 Southland Conference) swarmed Chief Caddo, who was waiting patiently in Jack Clayton Plaza.

“I sprinted to Chief Caddo, and I wanted to lift it, but this thing is heavy,” said senior running back Chris Jones, who rushed for a season-high 158 yards on 25 carries, his fifth career 100-yard game and fourth this season. “I had to let the big boys come get it for me.

“Our offensive line came out aggressively, and we saw on film that (SFA) wanted to make you run the ball instead of pass. We rose to the test, and we ran a lot of counters and powers that popped.”

NSU’s “Purple Swarm” defense jumpstarted the offense, helping NSU build a 21-0 lead as the home team never trailed against SFA (4-7, 4-5).

The Demons hadn’t amassed that margin against an NCAA Division I opponent in 25 games (since Oct. 31, 2015, at Nicholls).

Senior Peyton Guidry intercepted SFA quarterback Jake Blumrick on the game’s first play, setting up a Marquisian Chapman 15-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Clay Holgorsen for a quick 7-0 lead.

Guidry sabotaged SFA’s offense all night, tallying a career-high 18 tackles with three for loss.

“We came out on a mission to bounce back from last week’s game against McNeese,” said Guidry, one of 17 seniors to celebrate a win in their final collegiate contest. “This defense and this team wanted show who we really were, and we did that tonight.

“Our defensive line forced a lot of cutbacks, and things fell right in my hands. Credit those guys for keeping things in the box and allowing us to make tackles.”

Other than an SFA missed field goal that spoiled a 64-yard drive, the Lumberjacks didn’t get an offensive first down in four of their first five drives.

NSU scored on consecutive possessions in the second quarter, a 29-yard Jared West touchdown run and a 9-yard Jaylen Watson scoring catch from Holgorsen on third down as the Demons led 21-0.

West ran for 45 yards on just six carries. NSU amassed 258 rushing yards with the help of six runs of 15 yards or more.

The Demons answered a Lumberjack touchdown with a 22-yard Eric Piccione field goal to go up 24-7.

SFA didn’t go away, marching 90 yards capped by a Blumrick 20-yard touchdown pass to Tamrick Pace to cut NSU’s edge to 24-14.

But the Demons sprinted 75 yards in just 1:15 as Holgorsen found senior Cameron Lazare on a 9-yard fade route, giving NSU a 31-14 halftime lead.

Holgorsen finished with 123 yards on 9-of-14 passing and three first-half passing touchdowns.

“It’s not about me, it was about the focus of these seniors and the desire to send them out the right way,” said Thomas, who finishes his NSU career 21-37 and boosted the Demons from last to sixth place in the SLC this season. “The guys had great passion tonight, fighting for Chief Caddo.

“These seniors have been through thick and thin, and they’ve been committed to getting the job done. We could of easily had six or seven wins this year. My dad (Larry Thomas, a longtime coach at Baker High near Baton Rouge) always told me to leave things better that you found it, and we’ve done that here.”

In the second half, NSU faltered early with fumbles on the first two possessions, both deep in Demon territory.

SFA took advantage of the first fumble (Holgorsen), cashing in for a 27-yard touchdown from Blumrick to Trae Hart, slicing the deficit to 31-21.

But Guidry and fellow senior Lyn Clark stuffed a shuffle pass on fourth-and-two from the Lumberjack 3-yard line, preserving a stop that included a missed SFA field goal wiped out by an NSU offsides.

“This is a reflection of our seniors,” said Clark, who had five tackles, two for loss including a sack. “

Senior quarterback J.D. Almond entered the game, leading NSU 89 yards culminated by a 23-yard Jared West touchdown run for a 38-21 lead. Almond found Watson for a 36-yard connection in the drive.

Almond, a Haughton native, threw for 58 yards on 3-of-6 passing, kneeling for the win in the final seconds.

“It’s very exciting to get to do that, and it was a good effort on both sides of the ball tonight,” said Almond, who sparked the offense after early second-half struggles. “It’s satisfying to go out the way we did.

“Running over to Chief Caddo is a feeling I won’t forget.”

Guidry, who totaled a team-high 76 tackles, blew up another fourth-down try from SFA with fellow senior Austin Balthazor midway through the third quarter.

NSU’s defense corralled SFA from there, stopping the Lumberjacks from gaining a first down on four of their final six possessions.

SFA gained 324 yards and just 74 yards on the ground.


NSU Debate Hosts The Festival Of Lights Invitational Debate Tournament


Kevin’s Gallery

The Northwestern State University Debate team hosted the 2017 Festival of Lights Debate Tournament this weekend, November 17-19th. The competition, now in its 2nd year, attracted 117 debaters from 14 schools and 5 states. The NSU Debate team got into the holiday spirit, doing their hosting duties in Christmas themed outfits. First year NSU Debater Jeffrey Swift turned in a phenomenal performance representing the Demons in the Competition.

The tournament also featured “Emilie’s Cafe” in which the donations for concessions were given to research on childhood cancers in memory of Emilie Gibson. Emilie was the daughter of the LSU Shreveport debate team coach Trey Gibson. She passed away from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma in October 2017. The Natchitoches Parish Journal is donating the event’s photography. If you download a photo, please consider a donation to fighting this insidious childhood cancer.


NSU’s Radio Station KNWD 91.7 The Demon Presents “Neon Inferno”


NSU’s Normal Hill around the old columns was transformed into a stage with shimmering lights Nov. 17, as the Neon Inferno started its second year of bringing live concerts to campus. The evening was sponsored by Campus Media’s KNWD The Demon radio station.

The free concert featured a variety of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and Hip-Hop acts. St Branham, JNABS Beats, The Streetcorner and BEXRDWN warmed up the audience before headliner DJENKO took the stage. DJENKO, a St Louis native who makes his home in New Orleans, gave his signature high energy performance before an enthusiastic crowd of students.

NSU students holding fundraiser to aid Puerto Rico’s recovery

puerto rico

For some Northwestern State University students, the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria was personal. They decided to do what they could to aid the island’s recovery efforts.

A fundraiser, Demons Dance for Puerto Rico, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Alumni Plaza. The event will feature live music, salsa dancing lessons and food. Various groups will perform in a dance showcase that will include salsa, tap and stepping.

Student organizers of the event are Elisabeth Perez of Sulphur, Laura Guzman of Cartagena, Colombia, and Emily Bencosme of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“After the hurricane hit the island and videos started coming up about the aftermath, I had a lot of anxiety and could not stop thinking about how I could possibly help my family and the rest of Puerto Rico,” said Bencosme, a biology major. “It has been truly heartwarming to see how many people have offered to help.”

Those who would like to support the event by making a donation can go to and click on Give, then Give Now. Gifts can be made to the Columns Fund and designated for Demons Dance for Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico’s devastating circumstances were evident in the articles, photos, and videos in the media following the hurricane,” said Perez, a secondary education major. “After talking with Emily and family members of mine from Puerto Rico, the pain caused by the hurricane became more personal. I knew wanted to do something to help, and so Emily, Laura and I began to brainstorm.”

All proceeds will go to, a fund created after Hurricane Maria by ConPRmetidos and Foundations for Puerto Rico, two non-profit organizations based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

For more information, please contact Perez at

LSMSA to host informational meeting for prospective students in Natchitoches


Natchitoches, LA – Prospective students and their parents will have an opportunity to attend an informational meeting in Natchitoches to learn more about the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, in the Jimmy Long Sr. Boardroom located on the LSMSA campus.

LSMSA is the only state-funded residential high school for high achieving and highly motivated sophomores, juniors and seniors. Each year students from all across the state seek admission. Students from public, private and parochial schools, as well as those who are home schooled, are encouraged to apply. Admission is highly competitive. The school offers college level classes in a disciplined, nurturing environment. Students are exposed to rich opportunities through an extensive curriculum in all subject areas.

Named a Blue Ribbon High School by the U.S. Department of Education, LSMSA has articulation agreements with all schools in the University of Louisiana system, which award up to 74 hours of college credit for LSMSA courses. The scope of the courses and the number of semester hours of credit vary from institution to institution.

Articulation agreements are above and beyond the typical dual enrollment program, but LSMSA students also have access to more than 30 dual enrollment courses through a local university. These courses are part of the regular LSMSA curriculum and taught by LSMSA faculty. Additionally, LSMSA students are highly recruited by colleges all over the country.

For more information about LSMSA, call 1-800-259-3173, visit or the school’s Facebook page at