Teams Compete in Natchitoches for World’s Largest Sports Trophy
They're Texas and Louisiana's twin cities. They lie just 110 miles apart in a straight line that bisects the two states' borders through Toledo Bend Lake. The spelling of their unusual names is very similar, but the pronunciations couldn't be more different. They are both members of the Southland Conference. Neither are football powerhouses, though both have alumni that made it big in the NFL. And tomorrow they compete for the biggest sports trophy in the world.
Northwestern State University (NSU) and Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) play Saturday at 3:00pm at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches which is prounounced nack' uh tish. SFA will make the hour-and-a-half drive east from Nacogdoches which is pronounced nack' uh doach uss, (or as we alumni affectionately call it: Naca-nowhere.) The NSU Demons and the SFA Lumberjacks will be playing for pride this Saturday as neither team is in the hunt for the conference championship. They'll play for pride and the world's largest sports trophy--Chief Caddo.
The concept of "The Battle For Chief Caddo" as the game has become known, began in 1960. According to the Natchitoches Parish Journal, the longtime rivals decided they would award a trophy to the winner of the annual interstate matchup. Because timber plays a major role in the economies of both cities, it was determined that the loser of the game would chop down a tree from its forests and send it to the winning school. The winners would then commission an artist to carve a statue out of the tree. The schools agreed that the resulting sculpture would be of the "legendary Indian chief whose tribe was responsible for settling in the locations that became the English-speaking towns of Natchitoches and Nacogdoches."
The Demons won that first game in 1961, and SFA delivered a one-ton black gum log to NSU. Northwestern then commissioned Harold Green of Logansport to carve the trophy. After 230 hours of work, "Chief Caddo" stood a towering 7-foot-6 and weighed over 400 pounds. After more than 50 years, Chief Caddo has dried out a little and weighs in at around 320 pounds, but hasn't lost an inch in height.
You can hear Saturday's "Battle For Chief Caddo" at 3:00 on 101.7 and 710 KEEL. NSU owns a 30-20-1 advantage in the trophy game. SFA won last year's game by the score of 45-31, but the Demons hope to bring Chief Caddo home this Saturday. Because, as the story in the Natchitoches Parish Journal says, "If you were a wooden statue, would you want to spend a lot of time around a bunch of Lumberjacks?"