Hopes of tiny Louisiana town rest with top receiver Randle
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By Glenn Guilbeau Gannett News Service
BASTROP, La. — The Bastrop area has had its share of athletes such as Bob Love and Calvin Natt in the NBA and New York Yankee catcher Bill Dickey, but it has never had a football player with as much promise as Rueben Randle.
This friendly paper mill town made national news in December of 2005 when five displaced Hurricane Katrina victims helped lead Bastrop High to its first football state title since 1927 — the same year Bastrop’s elevation saved it from a previous worst natural disaster known as the great Mississippi River flood.
In August 2006, this one-school, one-mill town of 12,000 made national news again. Those five displaced players, including star quarterback Randall Mackey, from Port Sulphur High on the Louisiana coast were improperly recruited and transported to Bastrop near the Arkansas border. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association stripped the town of its title.
Bastrop went on to win 4A state titles in 2006 and 2007. The Rams’ chance for four consecutive titles on the field ended in the semifinals in December. Two weeks later, International Paper permanently closed the towering mill that had looked after and over the town, filling it with smoke and smell since it opened in 1929. IP stripped the town of 550 jobs.