This was when Christian Keener Cagle, one of the most remarkable athletes ever to set foot on the local gridiron, was making national headlines. Even the New York sportswriters took notice in 1924, when Cagle, a kid from the little town of Merryville in Beauregard Parish, helped Southwestern claim the record.
The forward pass was still a relatively new idea in football in 1924, when Southwestern completed 67 of 125 passes -- 53.5 percent, That's not exactly Drew Brees marksmanship, but according to John B. Foster of the New York Sun, "The students and coaches of the institute are quite sure that they made a world's record when they did it. Anyhow, they have claimed the record for proficiency ... and if there is any other college in the United States which can produce better figures the Southwestern Boys would like to see them.
"In making these plays some good work was done by the Louisiana boys who have never seen any Northern football in their lives," Foster continued. "Cagle was their best passer. Look at this for an individual record made by him: Against Louisiana Poly he passed 50 yards to Wagner Ruger for a touchdown, no run being necessary. Against Jefferson College, 35 yards passed to Alton Bujard, who ran 45 yards for a touchdown. Against the Pensacola Aviators, 30 yards to Alton Bujard, who ran 10 yards for a touchdown. Against Sam Houston Normal, passed 25 yards to Wagner Ruger, who ran 16 yards for a touchdown.
"Against Pensacola Aviators, passed 29 yards to Clifton Theriot for a touchdown without run. Against South Park College, passed 10 yards to Alton Bujard, who ran three yards for a touchdown. Against South Park College, passed 10 yards to Alton Bujard, who made a touchdown without running.
"All told, Cagle passed 199 yards in seven plays, which made as many touchdowns, and that is surely football of a high degree of skill, even if the Louisiana boys did not play against big elevens. They surely had all they could do in their own class and proved their fitness against teams which they were qualified to meet."
In that 1924 season, SLI lost to Tulane (14-0) and LSU (31-7), tied Pensacola Navy (21-21), and beat Jefferson (66-0), Sam Houston State (28-7), Louisiana College (32-7), Lamar (20-8), Louisiana Tech (22-13) and Louisiana State Normal (24-7).
In only 61 carries that year, Cagle rushed for 752 yards. He hit 20 of 25 drop-kick field goals, and, as claimed, led the nation and world in passing percentage.
Cagle went on to further fame as an All-American halfback and Player of the Year at Army, making the cover of Time magazine. Then, as a player for the New York football Giants and as part owner of the Brooklyn (football) Dodgers, he became the toast of New York alongside Babe Ruth and other huge heroes of the day.
But then, on a bitter December day in 1942, Cagle slipped on icy subway steps in New York, fell down a full flight of stairs and fractured his skull. He contracted pneumonia while he was recuperating from that injury.
He was only 37 years old when he died two days before Christmas.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.