Eight of the elite Class of 2021 high school football scholar-athletes in north Louisiana were spotlighted earlier last week in Shreveport, including St. Mary’s Patrick Vienne.
Also honored was former Northwestern State quarterback and alumnus Bo Meeks, the head coach at Airline High in Bossier City.
The setting was the pandemic-delayed National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame’s S.M. McNaughton Chapter Scholar-Awards dinner at East Ridge Country Club.
Vienne will use his NFF scholarship award while enrolling at LSU-Eunice, where he will pitch for the national junior college champion baseball team. He graduated from St. Mary’s in May with a 3.45 GPA and scored 30 on the ACT.
Vienne was a two-time All-District offensive tackle in football, and also played defensive end, punted and played some linebacker. He was a two-year All-District pitcher and first baseman in baseball, where he won district MVP honors and was All-State this spring for the Tigers’ state quarterfinal team.
Vienne, the son of Dr. Mike and Dr. Marti Vienne, was a member of BETA Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Business Leaders of America, the LEA Club and the National Honor Society.
A crowd of more than 200 attended the event, typically hosted at the end of winter. Because of the pandemic, it had not been hosted since 2019. The McNaughton Chapter board of directors, led by president Leo Sanford (who is in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame) and including former NSU sports information director Doug Ireland, had held the event annually for five decades until last year.
Meeks was one of three coaches honored, sharing Coach of the Year honors for 2019 with Haughton’s Jason Brotherton. West Monroe coach Jerry Arledge (the former NSU defensive coordinator under A.L. Williams) was the winner of the “Contributions to Amateur Football” award for 2020.
The event was rescheduled after the end of the school year. NSU head football coach Brad Laird and several members of his staff attended, as they have in past years.
Along with Vienne, three more of the eight recent high school graduates honored were in attendance, including West Monroe quarterback Lane Little, Winnfield linebacker Micah Griffin and Shreveport-Byrd safety Brayden Hermes.
Winners unable to attend were Haughton linebacker Jake St. Andre, Captain Shreve kicker Alexander Auer, Cedar Creek lineman Trace Barnett and Oak Grove offensive lineman William Klink.
Griffin will attend NSU, but does not plan to compete collegiately. Recent Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee Tim Brando of Fox Sports presented the eight scholar-athletes and interviewed the four attending.
The NFF was established in 1947 with the mission to promote the power of amateur football to develop leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence. Archie Manning is the NFF chairman.
The McNaughton Chapter began awarding scholarships in 1980 and has provided over $75,000 to top performers in north Louisiana, receiving several dozen nominees annually before narrowing the field to the final recipients.