You Are Here: Panther Stadium
Every Place Has a Story
The sun sets on a crisp autumn evening as students gather around to tailgate and prepare for a night full of fun. The smell of barbeque and jambalaya fills the air. While this is happening, football players are beginning to walk to their locker room to get ready for battle on a gridiron that has seen numerous warriors battle on its surface. As the music plays loudly in the background, players begin to get taped by the athletic trainers in preparation for the physical beating their bodies are about to endure. As game time draws near, there is a feeling of anxiety in the air. Some members of the team go out early onto the field to stretch and warm up. The loud chants of the opposing team send a rush of adrenaline through each player’s body as he goes back into the locker room. As they enter the locker room, no one speaks and tension is very high. Someone turns out the lights and turns the music back on. Each player sits in his locker listening quietly and prepares psychologically for battle. As the head coach enters, the music is turned off and everyone kneels together to pray and final words of encouragement are exchanged. The team runs out behind the home end zone as a crowded Panther Stadium waits. The drum corps begins to play and the wait is finally over. “Here come the Panthers!” says the public address announcer. This is Panther Stadium, home of the mighty panthers. This is CHS.
CHS football has come a long way since its origin at St. Peter’s College on a small field behind the school on Main Street. Mr. Smitty Landry remembers the days of football at SPC: “We played six-man football and were very successful at it, losing only one game my junior and senior years (1941 and 1942) and competing even more successfully in each of the previous two years. In 1939. the team was undefeated, but there was no State Championship, although the team was declared a National All-American Team. We practiced after school every day for football in season and for basketball in season, first taking exercise and then practicing plays and catching passes. We had no paid coaches, no strength or weight training, and one of the Brothers was designated as the coach. In some cases the players knew more about the sport than the Brother designated as coach and would design their own plays. We played with soft leather helmets but without face masks. We were rather small; the heaviest man on our 1941 and 1942 teams topped the scales at 180 pounds. I weighed about 135 or 140, so we were not big or strong enough to cause serious injuries to ourselves and others unless we were unfortunate enough to have a freak accident, which never happened.”
Panther Stadium at Catholic High School come from this rich history that extends beyond itself and combines the richness of a football program that has a storied tradition. Since its inception in the early 1960s, the current stadium has seen numerous big games, future collegiate athletes, and many well-respected coaches. Some of the players that have played on this hallowed ground include Michael Desormeaux (University of Louisiana-Lafayette Fullback), Matthew Desormeaux (ULL Quarterback), Josh Dworacyzyk (Louisiana State University offensive lineman), Gabe Fuselier (ULL wide receiver), and Jason Pellerin (University of Mississippi Quarterback) among a host of others. Panther Stadium has seen the Panthers win more than ten district championships and even one state championship. Presently, Panther Stadium is the home of not only the Catholic High football team, but is also the home of the girls’ and boys’ soccer programs, both of which have seen just as much success in recent years. The boys’ soccer team has won more than two district championships and the girls have won more three. The Head Coach of the football team is Brent Indest. He brought the 2015 team to the State Championship final, but they fell short. Assistant Coaches are Justin Sonnier, Josh Deworcyzyk, David Jordan, Randy Johnson and a few others.
Panther Stadium has recently seen a number of renovations and upgrades. New visitors’ bleachers were added for the 2011 football season. A brand new LED scoreboard and new play clocks have also been installed. The student section has been moved from behind the home end zone to the right side of the home bleachers. The old wooden light poles were removed due to rotting and view obstruction. New metal lights were placed behind the stadiums to avoid getting in the way of the main events. More work is being planned in the ongoing renovation of the stadium.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
The new student section
The entrance of Panther Stadium including the accolades of the Football Program
Home bleachers and a ground view of the press box
View of the home bleachers from the visitors’ bleachers
Voices from the Past and Present
Interview with Matthew Desormeaux (CHS class of 2006)
Q.) When did you play football for Catholic High and who was the head coach?
A.) 2002-2005 seasons. Graduated in 2006. David Comeaux was the head coach my entire career.
Q.) What was the team’s typical routine on game day leading up to a home game?
A.) Right after school at 3:00 pm we would have chapel in the old chapel (the current art studio). Father Steve would do our chapel. After that at 3:30 pm we would have our pre-game meal. We were then free to leave campus and return by 4:30 pm. We would go out and stretch around 6:00 pm and then return to the locker room. At about 6:45 or 6:50 we would go back out , say our prayer and run through the student section to the sidelines for the game.
Q.) List some of the biggest games you remember playing in at Panther Stadium.
A.) A few games I remember playing in Panther Stadium are the Independence game in 2003, the North Vermillion game in 2005, and the West St. Mary game in 2005. The Independence game was my sophomore year and we were the 16 seed and they were the 17 seed. Everyone had picked them to win the game, and we went out to beat them 61-13. The next game I remember was the North Vermillion game of my senior year. It was the our last regular season game and we were playing for the district championship. We were coming into the game 7-1 and ranked 9th in state and North Vermillion was 9-0 ranked 3rd in state. We beat North Vermillion, I believe it was 14-10. My final game I really remember was West St. Mary my senior year. This turned out to be my final game in a Catholic High uniform. We were the #3 seed playing the #30 seed and we lost 17-7.
Q.) What is different about Panther Stadium now compared to when you played there?
A.) There are two major differences. The first is that the student section is no longer behind the home end zone. The second is the visitors’ bleachers. When I was there, they did not have the visiting bleachers that we now have.
Q.) What are some of your favorite memories playing at Panther Stadium?
A.) My favorite memory was after scoring the winning touchdown against North Vermillion my senior year. I remember after I scored everyone was going insane all over the stadium.
Q.) How large were the crowds?
A.) When we played, the stands were packed. For some games there were rows of people standing surrounding the entire track.
Q.) Do you know who called the games in the press box?
A.) Mike Parish.
Q.) How large was the team at the time you played?
A.) My senior year I believe we had over 100 people on the team.
Interview with Mr. Ray Simon, current CHS principal (CHS class of 1965)
Q.) What years did you attend CHS?
A.) (1958- 1965). Grades 6 through 12. Graduated on May 26, 1965.
Q. Do you remember the year CHS won the state football championship? If so, please elaborate as much as you can.
A.) Yes! Fall (of) 1962 (with) a 13-0 record. Dominant class A team with depth – yet won consecutive one point games during the seasons (over good AA teams). (They won) 14-13 over Abbeville High School and 7-6 over Morgan City High School. No real close games in the playoffs. (They) won the championship game by a score of 13-0 over Ferriday High School on their field on a very cold, clear night. The starting Quarterback (Bill Bayard, who played for the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now Louisiana-Lafayette) missed most of the regular season with an injury.
Q.) What are the differences between Panther Stadium now and when you were at CHS?
A.) Panther Stadium did not exist then. The main practice field with a grass track was at that site. CHS played at Lloyd G. Porter stadium. We had to play on Thursday if New Iberia Senior High (then just called New Iberia High School) had a home game on Friday. The New Iberia High School were very weak at that time.
Q.) Describe the atmosphere of a typical home football game. Were the stands usually packed?
A.) Good crowds and good spirit, much like today. We had a pep squad some years. Cheerleaders were from Mount Carmel Academy. CHS was an all-boys school at that time.
Q.) What was it like having a brother who was the starting Quarterback?
A.) I was married and teaching at the time. He graduated in 1972. I went to most of the games. He started his junior and senior years. The teams were very good. They beat Notre Dame High School his junior year. Their teams went 8-2 and 7-3, but did not win district championships. He was outstanding in four sports and lettered four years in baseball at McNeese State University.
Q.) What are the biggest games you remember watching at Panther Stadium?
A.) The time my brother’s team beat Notre Dame High School 6-0 in the fall of 1970. I do not remember any games that surpassed the atmosphere of this past year (the 2011 football season).
Q.) What are your favorite memories of Catholic High football?
A.) Winning the state championship! A one point loss to class AAA Redemptorist in City Park Stadium in New Orleans (1962-63 season). The first district championship when I was in ninth grade with a last-minute win over Breaux Bridge High School 19-14. Coaches Blanco, Banna, and Caldwell – you had to see them to believe them! The many friends who played and supported the team, especially the late George Gros, but also many others.
Q.) Any final thoughts?
A.) Great experience! I have always valued my Catholic High education.
Berry, Anthony. Panther Stadium Photos Volume 1. 2012. Photographs. Private Collection
Desormeaux, Matthew. Personal Interview. 7 May 2012.
Landry, Alfred “Smitty.” Personal Interview. 20 March 2012.
Nelson-Hebert, Jamie. Personal Interview. 18 Jan. 2012.
Simon, Ray. Personal Interview. 18 May 2012.