Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rebirth: Greenville Christian School enjoying success on the gridiron

GREENVILLE — During last year’s boys basketball season at Greenville Christian School, several opposing teams went to extreme measures to stay within reach of the Saints — several teams went as far as holding the ball an entire quarter to have a chance at defeating GCS.
Now it looks as if GCS’s success on the hardcourt has trickled down to the gridiron.
The Saints (6-4-1, 2-1 District) defeated Deer Creek last Friday night 49-21 en route to a district title and a spot in the MAIS playoffs. And it’s been a long time coming for a team who finished 1-10 last year.
The last time the Saints made an appearance in the playoffs was in 2001. And their last state title was in 1982.
GCS coach Jimmy Jennings said he told his team at the beginning of the season that if they followed instructions, good things will come.
“We told them if they worked hard and did what we asked them to do, they had a good shot at having a successful season,” said Jennings, a longtime coach who is in his his first year as head coach after working as an assistant last season.
This year’s Saints team seems to have had a rebirth. Their offense is clicking thanks to quarterback Justin Leavy, who rushed for 316 yards and two touchdowns last week over Deer Creek. He also had 112 passing yards, including a touchdown pass to Michael Hardy for the first score of the game. For his performance, Leavy was named one of two Southern Sports and Travel Players of the Week.
The Saints have scored over 20 points in all but three games, including shutout wins over Strider Academy and Byers.
Jennings said his team set their goals high before the season began.
“Before the season, our goals were to have a winning season, get to the playoffs and win the district — and from there we have one goal left: a state title,” he said. “We’ve accomplished three of our four goals. You can’t ask for anything else.”
This Friday the No.1 seeded Saints will take on Tunica Institute at 7 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs. The last time the two teams played, the game was called off because of lighting issues at Tunica’s stadium.
The two teams didn’t make up the game, but Jennings said he knew they would have meet again.
“We had a feeling that might happen,” said Jennings. “We talked about it after the game and said we may end up seeing each other again anyway.”
It’s been 28 years since GCS has held up the state title trophy.
Coach Jennings, what would it mean to bring that streak to an end?
“It would be something else,” he said. “If they do that, they would have really accomplished a lot.....It would be the greatest thing in the world if that happened to those kids.”

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