NCHS versus NSU football: who runs Natchitoches?


Matt Danna, Chris Reich; edited by Colin Vedros

Two schools in particular, Northwestern State University of Louisiana and Natchitoches Central High School, stand in the heart of Natchitoches and provide modern tourists a portion of what the city of Natchitoches holds.

Some of Natchitoches’ most important traditions are rooted in the southern atmosphere of professional and amateur football.

Two schools in particular, Northwestern State University of Louisiana and Natchitoches Central High School, stand in the heart of Natchitoches and provide modern tourists with a portion of what the city holds.

Northwestern State Demon football notched their first win of the season against Southland Conference foe Houston Baptist in a 21-17 victory on Sat., Oct. 9. The day before, Natchitoches Central varsity football captured a win over Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 5A District 1 opponent Southwood, leaving the NCHS Chiefs undefeated and placing ninth in Class 5A rankings from week six of the high school season.

Being the top school in Natchitoches means more than having a higher level educational program. With one school climbing to the top and the other just barely staying above water, does a high school like NCHS carry more weight in Natchitoches football than NSU?

“I feel the environment at NCHS football games were very exciting,” said Gracie Borders, sophomore social work major and Natchitoches Central alum. “I loved cheering on our football team even on games we didn’t win. It was always very fun to be at the games with family, on sidelines or in the student section.”

Borders said at Northwestern State games, she doesn’t have the same excitement she does at NCHS games. To Borders, NCHS has had more support from students at the actual games.

At NCHS, the atmosphere comes in part from new football head coach James Wilkerson, who just a year ago was looking at an 0-8 finish to the 2020 season. Now, with a lively community in Natchitoches, the strive to excel has become a much-needed foundation for the Chiefs.

“The support of the Natchitoches community has been awesome,” Wilkerson said. “The team and coaches love seeing the stands full on game nights and seeing that is what I envisioned when I took over the program.”

Wilkerson said the Natchitoches community is rallying together for the young men who put the effort and work day in and day out, something that gives the undefeated Chiefs a boost on game night.

On the NSU side, Northwestern State is still searching for their first winning football season since 2008. While other sports such as soccer and baseball continue to excel in their own aspects, fans aren’t seeing the highly marketed Demon football team manage to win many games.

“With NSU it’s all about the town and alumni coming together to cheer on the Demons,” said David Antilley, manager and executive director of NSU TV and a professor of the Department of New Media, Journalism, and Communication Arts at NSU. “You have some people who have sat next to the same people for 20 plus years. They have tailgated together for years.”

Antilley said for Natchitoches Central, the Chiefs represent Natchitoches and the pride that goes with that. After graduation, Antilley said those alumni still come back to cheer on the Chiefs.

“The Chiefs have had some lean years in the past, but new traditions are being made for future Chiefs,” said Antilley.

The push for the Natchitoches community to continue their presence on both sides of the town is easily seen, especially since the schools are right next to each other.

“NSU will always be special in Natchitoches as well as NCHS, but I feel they both have different titles and reputations as football goes,” Gracie Borders said. “NSU is the college of Natchitoches with a football team that just got their first win and NCHS is a high school in Natchitoches that is undefeated. I am proud to live in Natchitoches where both teams have a big title in this town and can represent Natchitoches.”