HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Former Southmont football players remember coach Ken Coudret, unbeaten 1971 season

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NEW MARKET — It’s been 50 years, and the 1971 Southmont football team is still one of the most talked about high school sports teams in Montgomery County since consolidation.

A fall of many firsts for the Mounties and a team that accomplished things that no other Southmont football team likely will again.

A perfect 10-0 record — Southmont scored 402 points and held opponents to just 12 — including a 80-0 beatdown of Turkey Run in the season finale.

The years leading up to Ladoga, New Market, New Ross and Waveland consolidating to form Southmont didn’t offer much success in football. Ladoga and New Market were the only schools with football, and in 1970 New Market defeated Ladoga and Coal Creek — ending the state’s longest losing streak at 40 games.

Winning every game in 1971 was the last thing people expected.

“I was afraid that we weren’t going to be any good, and I think game-by-game we built confidence, because we were winning good, scoring touchdowns, and the defense only had two touchdowns scored against us the whole year,” Dan Wilson, who had seven interceptions in 1971, said. “It was a progressive thing and I think we were pretty naive on how good we were.”

Nearly 100 guys went out for football that first fall. Many with experience from Ladoga and New Market, some new faces from Crawfordsville after the school boundaries shifted, and several new players from New Ross and Waveland.

That number quickly dwindled to 50 after a week — a testament to how tough the new coaches were.

“They were touted as being good coaches coming from Evansville,” senior lineman Kurtis Long said. “It was like ‘what can they teach us that we didn’t already know?’ And turns out they could teach us a lot and that was the great thing about coach Coudret and coach Hess was they taught us how to body build as well as all the fundamentals of football.”

Ken Coudret, who passed away in 2007, landed at Southmont as the first football coach, and he brought Ron Hess with him from Evansville after Coudret had led Evansville Rex Mundi to an undefeated season in 1970.

Without a doubt, the inaugural Southmont team had the talent to succeed, but the pedigree and winning mentality Coudret brought to the program laid the groundwork for decades of success to come.

“Practice was rough, but I guess it paid off,” senior Tom Lauy said. “One thing about Ken Coudret — he could turn mud into gold. And everybody appreciated that coach.”

Southmont won its first three games — outscoring its opponents 116-0, but Hess says he remembers the team coming together before the first snap of the season even took place.

The Mounties didn’t have a new field and the options were limited. Play all their games on the road or bring bleachers to the existing field at New Market.

Instead, folks from all over the southern part of the county showed up on a hot Saturday in the summer of 1971 to sod a field on the site of the new school.

“They showed up with trucks, plows, discs, and every piece of farm equipment,” Hess said. “I’m a city guy coming from Evansville — I didn’t know there was that many pieces of farm equipment anywhere.”

The field was finished in a day. And an indication of the hard work that the Mounties would be willing to put in throughout the next few months of the upcoming season.

“I can remember 30 or 35 guys standing down in that corner over there, looking at their work and really proud,” Hess added. “And Coudret said ‘this is your field, defend it.’ And they did. Eight shutouts and gave up 12 points the whole year.”

And so the players — from all over — got to work.

“One thing that can be said about that team was coach Coudret trained us harder than we had ever been trained,” senior wing-back Ernie Houser said. “We were all focused. Learned to hit hard, run hard, and play hard. He saw that we had a really capable running game and decided to focus on that.

“Coach Coudret had a really clear attitude that you play like you train and train like you play. We ran, we hit, we drove sleds, and did all the things we had never even dreamed of doing before.”

Coudret and Hess had success passing while coaching in Evansville, but it was clear out of the gate that the Mounties would be successful by running the ball in 1971.

John Roberts totaled 1,248 rushing yards from the tailback position, while Houser and junior Marvin Walters had the speed to get outside.

“Back then, we had the speed to get outside,” Walters said. “We had the speed and the blockers out front. It was a machine.”

The 9-0 start led to a match-up with undefeated Turkey Run, who was ranked in the state.

At this point the Mounties and Warriors had both gained a following that has very seldom been matched in small-town Indiana high school football since.

“One thing I remembered about that game was they had these fences all the way around the track, and it was elbow-to-elbow all the way around that fence,” Lauy said. “It was amazing how many people came out to see that game. It was two really good schools.”

And nobody gave Southmont a chance — but the Mountie players were determined.

“I think we were pretty determined,” Wilson said. “We had a chip on our shoulder, you know they were ranked in the state. We were after these guys.

“I remember the bus ride down there and it was dead silent. I think guys had a game face all the way down there, and the game started and we just rolled from the opening snap.”

With no trip to the postseason, the 1971 Southmont football team will forever go down as one of the biggest ‘what if’ seasons in the history of Mountie sports.

But one thing is certain.

It set the tone for the next 50 years of Southmont athletics.

“It’s amazing the people who followed that team, and it’s what brought the Southmont school district together,” sophomore back-up quarterback Terry Barker said. “If you look back, there’s a lot of people who didn’t want it to happen. But pretty soon everybody figured that we had to come together as a team. We all smelled terrible the same. When we got hurt and bled, it was all red. And we became a team, and that’s what really pulled that first year together.

“Of course winning is a good thing. It’s a good remedy for anything that ails you, and it set the tone. And that was Coudret. He was the father-figure. You wanted to give your all, because you didn’t want to disappoint him.”

 

Alumni of the 1971 Southmont football team include:

• Seniors — Ernie Hauser, Terry Hockersmith, Doug Hunt, Tom Lauy, Kurtis Long, John Morgan, Jack O’Neal, Mike Paddack, John Roberts, Thom Terry, Bob Vaught, Dan Wilson and Steve Woodrow.

• Juniors — Dan Booth, Randy Busenbark, Jeff Davidson, Jeff Francis, Jerry Gilliland, William Hawley, Tony Johnson, David Kelly, Ron Mendenhall, Don Mills, Tim Priebe, Gene Sayler, Rob Sheets, Mike Teague, Marvin Walters and Gary Wehr.

• Sophomores — Terry Barker, John Bronaugh, Larry Canada, Darrell Day, Bill Fitzwater, Dan Froedge, David Miller, Jerry Mitchell, Rick Myers, Jim Roberts, Randy Surface, Jim Wright and Joe Woodrow.

• Coaching staff — Ken Coudret, head coach; and assistants Mike Hallas, Ron Hess and Dave Scott.

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