Shows leaves legacy with football, friends

LSU Football’s Director of High School Relations Charles Baglio didn’t hesitate when asked what he’ll miss most about legendary West Monroe coach Don Shows.

“Whenever he (Shows) came to town, we’d always go eat lunch at Mike Anderson’s,” Baglio said. “He’d sit there and tell silly jokes. It was the way he had of telling them that made it funny … good times.”

Shows, 75, died early Monday morning at Ochsner Hospital-New Orleans. Shows compiled a career record if 345-78 in 32 years as a head high school coach, including 24 seasons at WMHS where he won eight Class 5A state titles.

Reports by The (Monroe) News-Star stated that Shows was transported to New Orleans for additional tests last week after being hospitalized in the Monroe area. Shows did not coach last fall and suffered two strokes in 2013 but had hoped to return for 2014, which would have been his 50th year in coaching.

For friends like Baglio, a long-time head football coach at Independence High, word of Shows’ death came as a shock. The two coaches had bonded years earlier over two common loves, football and golf. They typically spoke once a month.

What was certainly no joke was the way Shows fashioned West Monroe into a state power. Plans for a memorial service at the West Monroe stadium on Friday night are in the works, evidence of Shows’ influence. Appropriately, the service is set to start at the same time a game would begin.

East Ascension High coach Paul Bourgeois and Northeast High coach David Masterson watched Shows build the West Monroe program in 1989. Both were graduate assistant coaches at Northeast Louisiana University, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe, at the time.

Shows offered jobs to both, but only Bourgeois accepted, spending five years as West Monroe’s quarterbacks coach. WMHS won its first state title in 1993.

“I guess the thing I’ll always remember about coach Shows is he always had something going,” Bourgeois said. “His mind was always working, trying to come up with some way to make the program better.

“When he got there, West Monroe’s facilities were probably among the worst for a big school, and now they’re the best in Louisiana. He had a belief in hard work and getting things done.”

Masterson called Shows, who spent time in the college ranks at Northwestern State, the “perfect fit” for West Monroe. Shows also had high school head coaching stints at Jonesboro-Hodge and Pineville.

“Everybody thinks about West Monroe now and what a power it is,” Masterson said. “When (Shows) took the job in 1989, nobody wanted it. I’m not sure his approach would have worked everywhere.

“He did a great job of bringing in younger guys who had gone to the college level and had a taste of that with him. He surrounded himself with good people and built the program from the ground up. The facilities were built with donations.”

Masterson also correctly noted that Shows built the Rebels program within the LHSAA rules, a statement that will likely generate some giggles or a wink and nudge.

Masterson pointed out that after WMHS had a number of eighth-grade holdback students on its first successful teams, the LHSAA changed its rules to prohibit eight-grade holdbacks. A series of high-profile transfers also made their way to WMHS as the Rebels became successful and garnered eligibility. Again, within the rules.

Shows’ wins total ranks fourth all time in Louisiana behind John Curtis’ J.T. Curtis, St. Thomas More’s Jim Hightower and Haynesville’s Alton “Red” Franklin.

“He loved golf and football,” Baglio said. “He couldn’t play golf 24 hours a day, so there was football.”

Baglio offers three words of advice for those planning to make the trek to West Monroe for Friday’s service.

“Get there early,” Baglio said. “It’s going to fill up fast.”