Ruston’s Williams, Tech’s Allen set for LSHOF spotlight

One was born and raised in Ruston, and is rooted here.

The other just seems that way.

Kyle Williams and Teddy Allen, two widely admired locals, will share the state’s sports spotlight beginning Thursday when the 2022 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration kicks off in Natchitoches.

Williams has come full circle.

He was a stalwart for the Ruston Bearcats, a rugged running back as a freshman for the 1998 state finalists who became the state Class 5A Defensive MVP and a national recruit. He broke into the LSU starting lineup at defensive tackle in his sophomore season and helped Nick Saban’s Tigers to the 2003 national championship. An All-American as a senior in 2005, Williams immediately became a starter for the Buffalo Bills, and a star, earning six Pro Bowl appearances and becoming one of the most respected and beloved figures in franchise history before retiring after 13 years following the 2018 season.

Now, he’s been back at RHS and is a veteran member of the Bearcats football and athletic administrative staff, for the love of the game and for service to others, and his beloved alma mater. It’s a pretty safe bet that nobody knows more football than the RHS defensive coordinator.

Allen grew up around here, in Claiborne Parish and West Monroe, but since the early 1980s he’s been tethered to Louisiana Tech, setting his roots as a football manager who stumbled into being a journalism major under Wiley Hilburn. Working for Keith Prince in the Tech sports information office, it was Allen who thought a sophomore basketball standout could really get some traction on the national scene with a neat nickname – so Karl Malone became “The Mailman,” because he always delivered.

Teddy – it’s almost impossible to call him by his surname, considering his folksy, funny personality – went into sportswriting and quickly became one of the state’s best. He branched outside the realm of sports and became one of the best writers, period, in the deep South.  In 2008, he returned to Tech and ever since has found an ever-expanding range of pathways to promote his school while spreading smiles and goodwill as a writer, broadcaster, master of ceremonies and more.

The Hall’s Class of 2022 comprises a dozen men and women whose accomplishments have indelibly altered the state’s sports landscape – and in the case of the nine athletes and coaches being inducted, they have made waves on the national and even in some cases, world sports circles.

WORLD?  Dr. Eddie Flynn, from Loyola University in New Orleans, won an Olympic gold medal in boxing. Opelousas native Steve Duhon stopped playing football, quite well, at LSU to start a career that landed him in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

On the national stage, the Class of 2022 has a pair of NFL stars who both played in six Pro Bowls — New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans, a key in the Black and Gold’s Super Bowl triumph, and Williams. Another former Tiger great, the late Eric Andolsek, was emerging as one of the NFL’s top offensive linemen before his untimely loss in a 1992 accident.

In the 50th anniversary year of Title IX, the LSHOF celebrates two of LSU’s best female student-athletes:  three-time NCAA gymnastics champion and SEC women’s Athlete of the Year Susan Jackson, and two-time All-America softball pitcher Britni Sneed Williams.

There are fabulous coaches, too. Only one coach in the history of high school sports in America has won more state championships than Claney Duplechin’s 65 titles in cross country and track at Episcopal High in Baton Rouge. The late Tony Robichaux is the only college baseball coach in the country to be the all-time winningest coach at two different programs (McNeese, UL Lafayette) in the same state.

Allen and another peerless state sports journalist, Garland Forman, are still producing spellbinding stories, while Shreveport native Jay Cicero continues to stage world-class sports events in New Orleans. He started with the 1992 USA Olympic Trials and since has been a guiding force behind the scenes in Super Bowls, Final Fours and national championship games.

It’s a dynamic dozen comprising the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022, and their Induction Celebration is open to everyone.

The Class of 2022 will enter the Hall officially Saturday evening at a ceremony in the Natchitoches Events Center to culminate the weekend. 

There is no cost to attend several of the events, beginning Thursday evening with the La Capitol Welcome Reception from 5-7 at the $23 million, nine-year-old LSHOF Museum.

The three-day festivities include two receptions, a free youth clinic, a bowling party, and a free Friday night riverbank concert in Natchitoches with fireworks and hot music.

Opening the show at 6 will be rising country and rock musician M.J. DarDar of Lafayette, followed by headliner Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, who lit up the Rue Beauport stage at the 2019 River Fest and have played the White House, Wheel of Fortune and been on stage with musicians as diverse as James Brown, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and Britney Spears.

The full schedule of events and purchases for ticketed events culminating with the Induction Ceremony are available through the website or by calling 318-238-4255.

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