Sunday, October 16, 2011

JSU escapes with 17-16 win over Delta Devils

ITTA BENA — Rick Comegy didn't expect it to be a close game.
And most likely, many here at Rice-Totten Stadium on Saturday likely felt the same.

But Mississippi Valley State gave fans a reason to stick around for the entire 48 minutes, as the Delta Devils played rival Jackson State to the wire before suffering a 17-16 loss, their 18th straight.
It's the closest the Delta Devils (0-7, 0-6 SWAC) have a come to a victory all season.
It was a surprise for Jackson State coach Comegy, whose Tigers (6-1, 4-1 SWAC) squad came in as one of top-ranked HBCU's in the nation.
"No I wasn't," Comegy said when asked if he thought his team would win by such a narrow margin, "but I knew that they would come on an emotional high. I was hoping that we would get a lead, but it didn't happen that way. They played football."
For over three quarters, the Delta Devils didn't look like a team whose last win came nearly two years ago. MVSU led 10-6 at halftime and held JSU's heralded quarterback Casey Therriault to just 51 passing yards and an interception in the first half.
"We had a good feel for them," said MVSU coach Karl Morgan. "We had a good feel for what they were doing."
The Delta Devils took the lead for the final time with over 11 minutes left in the third quarter, when reserve quarterback Marvin Pittman scored on a 45-yard option run on his first play of the game.
But just 30 seconds later, the Tigers struck back with a 75-yard strike to Tommy Gooden from Therriault that gave JSU a 17-13 advantage.
Valley had a chance to snatch the lead and the momentum when marched to JSU's 1, but were forced to boot their second field of the game after two failed runs and a incomplete pass. Carlos Sanchez' 26-yard field goal tightened the lead to just one point, 17-16, but it would be the last time either team put any points on the scoreboard.
JSU moved deep in Valley territory with less than than a minute left, but kneeled down to end the game.
The one-point win for JSU was unexpected for Therriault, but a win always feel good, he said.
"We don't expect any of our games to be close, but this one was," said Therriault, who finished 22-of-40 for 254 yards with a TD and an interception. "And as long as we can fight through and win it, I don't care if its by a 1/2 point. As long as we win the game. It might be ugly but that gives us something to work for next week."
MVSU receiver Paul Cox had two big catches — both over 40 yards — in the first half, but was held to just one reception in second half. He finished with three catches for 94 yards.
"The last four weeks we need to just throw it up (to Cox)," said Morgan. "Throw it up and make it a jump ball.....We probably don't do that enough."
Valley outgained JSU on the ground — 226 to 172 — and was led by Pittman who had 79 on seven carries. Brandon Stansell added 69 yards on 18 attempts.
Pittman and starting quarterback Garrick Jones shared duties for most of the second half after Jones re-injured his sore ankle. Jones completed 9-of-17 passes for 111 yards and a TD.
"We just have to come back Monday and be ready to fight," said Jones. "We have a don't quit give attitude....We're going to get that one (win) and when we do it's going to be fun."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MVSU coach: Game against MSU 'in the works'

Mississippi State's football team has scheduled — and defeated — both Jackson State and Alcorn State. The only Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) team not to get a shot at the Bulldogs is Mississippi Valley State.
But the Delta Devils may soon get their chance to face the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Bulldogs, says MVSU coach Karl Morgan.
MVSU, who currently holds an 0-3 record and has dropped their last 14 games, may have MSU on their 2012 schedule, Morgan told WXVT on Monday.
"The last I heard we had a deal to play season," Morgan told the TV station Monday afternoon. "And I just got a note across my desk -- Oklahoma State just called. I don't know what that is all about. I don't know if they're looking for a game, but the Mississippi State game is in the works."
If the game is scheduled, it will mark the first time the two in-state schools have met on the gridiron.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Around the world: MVSU's basketball slate includes trip to North Carolina, Las Vegas and Florida

ITTA BENA — Like in years past, the Mississippi Valley State men’s basketball team will spend the first two months of the season on the road.

In their recently released schedule, the Delta Devils will host two exhibition games here at the R.W. Harrison Complex — against Victory University (Nov.3) and Delta State (Nov. 8) — before hitting the road for the following two months.

Following their two home preseason games, MVSU will hit the road to face Notre Dame, Depaul, North Carolina and South Carolina. Then the Delta Devils are scheduled to compete in the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 25-26 where they will play three teams: Morgan State, Tennessee State and Cal-Poly.

Afterwards, the Delta Devils will travel to Arkansas, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Florida, Wisconsin and Iowa State before beginning conference play Jan. 3.

Valley’s home conference games include: Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Alcorn State, Southern, Jackson State, Grambling, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Texas Southern and Prarie View A&M.

The SWAC Basketball Tournament will be held in Garland, Texas at the Special Events Center March 7-10.

Exhibition games

(in Itta Bena)

Nov. 3 Victory University

Nov. 8 Delta State

Non-conference schedule

Nov. 12 at Notre Dame

Nov. 14 at DePaul

Nov. 20 at North Carolina

Nov. 22 at South Carolina

Nov. 25-26 Morgan St./Tenn. St./Cal-Poly (in Las Vegas)

Nov. 30 at Arkansas

Dec. 2 at Northwestern

Dec. 10 at Ole Miss

Dec. 19 at Florida

Dec. 23 at Wisconsin

Dec. 31 at Iowa State

Home conference games

Jan. 3 Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Jan. 14 Alcorn State

Jan. 16 Southern

Jan. 28 Jackson State

Jan. 30 Grambling State

Feb. 4 Alabama State

Feb. 6 Alabama A&M

Feb. 18 Texas Southern

Feb. 20 Prairie View A&M

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MVSU depth chart for Saturday's game vs. Alabama State

OT Martin Davis
Trevin Wallace

OG Antonio Griggs
Kevin James

OC Wesley Steele
Eddie Wright

OG Kevin James
Anthony Banks

OT Nicholas Sherman
Jestin Williamson

TE Jonathon Henderson
James Payne

WR Paul Cox
Julian Stafford

WR Alex Thornton
Dontae Reed

TB Rapheal Bateaste
Brandon Stansell

FB Dytanyl Greer
Jonathon Davis

QB Garrick Jones
Carl Davis


DE Javaoris Fritz
Christian Hawkins

DT Robert Simpson
Avon Waters

DT Rico Shaw
Chmarko Goldsberry

DE Leployer Franklin
Kwaku Boah

OLB Terrell Johnson
Antonio Benson

MLB Keven Woods
Rico Mazique

OLB Desmond Spivey
Marcus Thompson

C Michael Boykins
DeAndre Johnson

S Carlos Hollis
Napoleon Brewer

S Jeremy Langston
Armon Williams

C Marquis McFadden
Marquez Floyd

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eighth grade girl gives football a shot

GREENVILLE — Lauren Tice isn’t your typical eighth-grade girl.
She hunts, fishes, and even volunteers for the Animal Welfare League in her spare time.
But that doesn't begin to measure up to her new hobby: football.
The eighth-grade Riverside student played her first junior high football game Monday in a 28-12 loss at county rival St. Joseph.
The petite, brown-haired junior high student survived weeks of practice and became what is believed to be the first female to ever suit up for the Bulldogs.
But why did a young girl, who has dabbled in everything from choir to being a homecoming maid, take up a sport dominated by guys?
“I didn't make softball. I'm not good at basketball. And I did choir last year,” she explained Monday night following her football debut.
Tice, who plays mostly on special teams during kickoff returns, told her mother, Debbie Tice, last spring about her aspirations. The elder Tice said she tried to talk her out of it, but her daughter's mind was made up.
“When she gets her head stuck on something,” said Debbie Tice, “she does it.”
Riverside junior high football coach Brad Andrews said she approached him around the same time. Tice, who said she starting training last summer, came out for practice this year and has been keeping pace with her teammates ever since.
“She goes out there and does everything the boys do,” he said. “She doesn't hold back.”
And neither did one of St. Joseph's players Monday night during a kickoff return. The Fighting Irish lineman leveled Tice and sent her spiraling to the ground.
She said that served as her “welcome to football” moment.
So what does the aspiring veterinarian think of her debut?
“I sucked,” she said, “because that (St. Joe) guy knocked me down.”
But don't anticipate Tice from giving up anytime soon. She says she's in it for the long haul, especially if she can bulk up a bit.
“I just need to get a little taller,” said Lauren Tice,” and gain some weight.”
Lauren Tice said she heard the naysayers before and after she made her decision. But that never deterred her.
“I was just thinking everyone's telling me I can't,” she said, “so I did it anyway.”
Andrews, the Riverside coach, said he stands behind Tice, and the rest of the team does as well.
“I wouldn't against it (when she came out for the team),” he said. “Though it would be interesting, I didn't have a probelm with it.
“(The Bulldog squad) is fine with it,” he added. “She a part of the team.”
Lauren Tice has made a name for herself in the classroom by being named to the Superintendent's List numerous times. And she was one of four Mississippi student ambassadors during her fifth grade year when she traveled to Scotland and London for 19 days.
Now, she wants to make her mark on the football field. And if not with a touchdown, then at least with her fashion.
She donned pink shoestrings in her Monday night debut.
"They wouldn't let me wear pink shoes or pink socks," Lauren Tice explained.
But Lauren Tice isn't the first girl to give football a shot at Riverside. Another female previously came out for the team, but only lasted one week of practice, said Debbie Tice.
"She's the first one to actually stick through it, I think," she said.
Debbie Tice also brought up a recent encounter her daughter had with Dr. Michael Mansour, an area St. Joseph supporter.
After Mansour told Lauren Tice about his allegiance to St. Joseph, she refused to give him any information about what position she would play for Riverside.
" 'You may be a spy, I can't tell you,'" Debbie Tice said her daughter told Mansour. "'If I tell you where I'm at, they'll come after me because I'm a girl.'
"He was killing himself laughing," said Debbie Tice.
Lauren Tice's football knowledge has increased drastically from when she first began down this path, said her mother.
"She didn't know to play....She didn't know positions. She was amazed at all the pads and things they have to wear," her mother said.
Lauren's parents, Debbie and Mark, both took off work Monday to watch their daughter. Some of Debbie's co-workers at the Delta Regional Medical Center showed up as well.
"When I told some of my co-workers at the hospital that my daughter was on the team, they said, 'I'm coming to the game,' " said Debbie Tice.
Next up for Tice and the Riverside Jr. High Bulldogs is another rival — O'Bannon on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.
At that game, she hopes to line up at her favorite position, safety, and not just on special teams duty.
"...When you think of kick return, the first thing that comes to mind is lame," said the 13-year-old Tice. "When you say first-string defense, everyone's like 'oh, really.' "

Monday, August 29, 2011

JUCO transfer named Valley's starting QB

Karl Morgan has found his man.
The Mississippi Valley State coach said today on a SWAC teleconference that Garrick Jones, a junior college transfer, will start at quarterback Saturday when the Delta Devils host Alabama State.
Jones, who played the last two years at Coahoma Community College, beat out seven other vying for the position, said Morgan. He beat out sophomore Carl Davis, who started last year before suffering a season-ending leg injury.
"(Offensive Coordinator Ramon Flanigan) had a better feel for (Jones)," said Morgan. "Carl is not as athletic as the other quarterbacks.....(Jones) can move a little bit and get away from stuff..."
As for running back Cedric Blue, the Delta Devils are still waiting for the former Coahoma Agricultural standout to cleared academically by the NCAA.
"It's some missing information," said Morgan. ".....He thought he had everything sent, but obviously it hasn't been."
Meanwhile, Brandon Stansell will be the team's starting running back, said Morgan. The JUCO transfer will split time with several other guys including Ratheal Bateaste, a Southwest Miss. Community College transfer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DSU freshman cleared to play despite armed robbery charges

CLEVELAND — Charles Tigue, the Delta State freshman football player who was indicted for a February 2009 armed robbery of four people in a Belleville, Ill. park, has been cleared to play for the Statesmen.
The freshman defensive lineman was cleared by a St. Clair County (Ill.) judge Wednesday with several stipulations: DSU head coach Ron Roberts must write two letters per week to the judge regarding Tigue's academic and athletic status; and Tigue must call the St. Clair County Probation Department weekly. He also must stay in his dormitory or at the library except when he attends class, football-related activities or eating meals.
Tigue's trial date has been set for Jan. 9.
DSU Sports Information Director Matt Jones said in a text message this morning that Tigue remains on the football team.
Messages were left for Tigue's attorney, Thomas Daley, and St. Clair State Attorney Brendan Kelly.
According to a story published on the Belleville News-Democrat website, Tigue's parents drove to Cleveland Tuesday to bring him to Wednesday's bond modification hearing in Illinois.
At the hearing, Circuit Court Judge Michael Cook told Tigue that he was given a "break" after he left the state without permission of the court. Kelly, the state attorney, and Tigue's lawyer, Daley, also said Wednesday, according to the report, that they were unaware that Tigue had left Illinois.
"You are going to be right back here and your bond is going to revoked" (if Tigue violates his new bond conditions)," Cook said, according to the newspaper.
Tigue was arrested in March 2009 for allegedly taking part in an armed robbery at a park in his hometown of Belleville, Ill. His cousin, Marnez Crawford, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years.
Tigue has admitted in letters written to two judges that he took "a small part" in the crime. DSU coach Roberts previously stated that he was unaware of Tigue's background before signing him in January.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DSU freshman facing armed robbery charges in Ill.

CLEVELAND — Charles Tigue may have a bright future ahead at Delta State.
But first the freshman defensive lineman will have to clear some things up in his hometown of Belleville, Ill.
Tigue, who is currently in camp with the Statesmen, is facing two counts of armed robbery charges for his part in a March 22, 2009 crime at a Belleville, Ill. park. Both charges are Class X felonies punishable by six to 30 years in prison.
According to court documents, Tigue and his cousin, Marnez Crawford, are accused of holding up a group of teenagers at East End Park. Last September, Crawford pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years.
Tigue, who verbally committed to Eastern Illinois while at East St. Louis Senior High School, is free on $50,000 bond and has a court date set for Sept. 19.
St. Clair County State Attorney Brendan Kelly said his office was unaware that Tigue had left the state.
“There’s nothing in the record, no court order which permits him to deviate from his condition of bond,” Kelly said in a phone interview. “And those conditions require him to remain in (Illinois). We were not aware that he had left the state, and we are investigating.”
When reached last week by the Delta Democrat Times, DSU head football coach Ron Roberts said he was unaware of Tigue’s legal troubles.
“This is my first time hearing about this,” Roberts said.
Messages left for Tigue’s attorney, Thomas Daley, went unreturned. But Daley told the Belleville News-Democrat Tuesday that he obtained permission from a judge to join the Statesmen, but would not give a name as to who the judge was.
“We just allowed him to go,” he told the newspaper. “We probably did it orally. As long as they show up at the docket calls, no one pays much attention where they are.”
Kelly, the state attorney, said plea negotiations are underway between Tigue and the prosecution. Neither Tigue nor Crawford had prior criminal records and were 16 at the time of the crime.
The case has been continued since April 9, 2009, mainly due to the switch of judges assigned to the case. Also, the case originated under the watch of Kelly’s predecessor.
In a April 21, 2009 letter written by Tigue to Circuit Court Judge John Baricevic, who no longer resides over the case, Tigue admitted to taking a “small part” in the crime.
“Even though I honestly didn’t fully participate, I still feel remorseful,” the then-high school sophomore wrote. “I do because I should’ve stopped my cousin and I also understand how traumatic such an experience must be to the victims.”
Several of the victims recounted the robbery in a story published by the Belleville News-Democrat.
“He was there when it happened and he went in one of the kids’ pockets and took money,” Meghan McKenzie, one of the four victims, told the newspaper. “Just because he didn’t have the gun didn’t mean he didn’t do anything.”
The mother of Tigue’s alleged accomplice, Linda Crawford, has also spoken out on the issue.
“They’re letting (Tigue) play football somewhere in Mississippi, and my son is sitting in prison,” she told the Belleville newspaper. “They were both at the robbery. It’s not fair.”
Meanwhile, DSU issued a statement Wednesday morning stating that they were unaware of Tigue’s legal troubles during his recruitment.
“Coach Roberts and the (Athletic) Department are in contact with Mr. Tigue’s family and attorney. We are monitoring the situation until the judicial process has had the time to work. At that time, Jeremy McClain, director of athletics, and coach Roberts will reassess the situation. No further comment will be made until that time.”
Tigue, who has since been released from ankle monitoring, was one of numerous announced DSU signees in January. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound defensive lineman continued to play for East St. Louis even after his arrest. However, during Tigue’s senior season, the school was forced to forfeit five games and a spot in the playoffs after it was revealed that Tigue lived outside the school district.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Report: Valley to receive $778k for guarantee games

Another year, another round-the-world trip for the Mississippi Valley State men's basketball team.
According to, the Delta Devils non-conference schedule for this upcoming season includes: North Carolina, Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Arkansas, Northwestern, Iowa State, Ole Miss, DePaul, and a Las Vegas tournament.
But like years past, the Delta Devils will get a nice sum of money for their travels. MVSU will take in $778,000 for 10 guarantee games, according to the report published Friday on The Delta Devils men's basketball team will see 40 percent of that total.
Valley's road trip paychecks have increased each year under coach Sean Woods. In his first year in 2008, MVSU received $513,000 before taking in nearly $600,000 in 2009. Last season, the Delta Devils racked up $680,000.

Seau headlines group not on 2011 DSU roster

Delta State recently updated its 2011 football roster on its website. Here's a glimpse of some players you may know that won't be playing for the Statesmen this season:

1. Tyler Seau: the reserve linebacker and son of former NFL standout Junior Seau has left the team due to the birth of his child. I'm hearing he may return next season. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

2. Darius Johnson: the 6-foot-5 Kanas State transfer receiver was pushed down the depth chart and eventually moved to tight end. The fact that the Statesmen brought in seven receivers this offseason probably affected his decision, too.

Others not on the roster include: receiver Blake Swain, cornerback Jared Turner, defensive end Jeremy Henderson, defensive tackles David Williams and Alex Herndon, and defensive end Cameron Murray.

The Statesmen picked up seven receivers, including Justin Feagin, who played his freshman year at Michigan before transferring to Texas Southern.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Source: 2 former SEC players will not play at DSU

Two former SEC football players are looking for a place to play football, most likely in Division II.
But despite recent reports, they won’t be at Delta State, said a source close to the school’s athletic department.
Former Tennessee receiver Nu’Keese Richardson and Florida defensive back Jamar Hornsby will not play for the Statesmen, said the source.
Both players ran into trouble during days their SEC and were searching for an opportunity to continue their career. Richardson was dismissed from Tennessee in 2009 after being charged with armed robbery. He eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and was given three years probation. After his stint at Tennessee, he transferred to Hampton University and then to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.
DSU had planned to take the troubled athlete in, but after another arrest last month for failing to appear in criminal traffic court, the school rejected their offer.
“After that,” said the source, “coach (Ron) Roberts just wiped his hands with him.”
Former Florida safety Jamar Hornsby, whose history includes two jail stints, will also not be in Cleveland. He played at East Mississippi Community College in 2008 before signing with Ole Miss. But he never suited up for the Rebels after being involved in a fight in a McDonald’s parking lot in Starkville. Ole Miss cut ties with Hornsby and he was sentenced to six months in Oktibbeha County Jail.
It's unclear whether the two players will land. Richardson's probation requires him to be either enrolled in school or employed full-time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Greenville native Calvin signs with Eagles

A second former Washington County athlete has gone pro.
Former Greenville-Weston standout Cordario Calvin is now in camp with the Philadelphia Eagles, said his mother, Sonya Lewis.
The 6-foot-4, 220 pound receiver had 57 catches, 805 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for Belhaven.
He arrived in Philadelphia this morning and recently passed his physical, said Lewis. He will wear No. 86.
The former basketball and football star chose the Eagles over "eight or nine" other offers, said Lewis.
Former Leland High standout Jalil Johnson is currently in camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Without Trevar Deed, who picks up the load for Statesmen?

Delta State enters the 2011 season without arguably one of its most gifted players in history, Trevar Deed.
Without the Arizona native, who holds the schools records in career total and rushing touchdowns, the Statesmen's rushing attack will likely be led by sophomore Brandon Lucas, who will be wearing Deed's old number, 1.
But he won't have to carry the load alone.
DSU picked up two experienced transfer running backs this offseason: sophomore Richard Freelon (Jacksonville State) and junior Avery Horn (Reedley College/University of Michigan).
Freelon (6-0, 205) was lightly recruited out of Bruce High School even though he rushed for 5,581 yards, 55 touchdowns and broke the school's rushing record his junior year. He redshirted during his freshman season and saw limited action last year.
Meanwhile, Horn's trek to Cleveland started under the big lights at "The Big House." A transfer from Michigan, the former three-star athlete Horn comes to DSU after spending time at Reedely College, a JUCO school in California. The Hansford, Calif. native redshirted during his freshman season at Michigan in 2007 before deciding to transfer in 2008.
Also, senior Jamarcus Jackson, who mostly lined up at fullback last season, will also see some carries.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Valley wants to play Delta State.....just not right now

Karl Morgan wants it to happen.
Just not now.
The second-year Mississippi Valley State football coach said today that he wants to play against Delta State, but has to get his Delta Devil team playing at a higher level first.
DSU Athletic Director Jeremy McClain actually contacted MVSU last year, said Morgan, following their Division-II national championship loss to Minnesota-Duluth. But the offer was turned down.
"I'm open to the possibility, but we just have to get our house in order first," Morgan said of the playing against a DSU team located just 40 miles away from Itta Bena.
DSU has a 3-0 record against the Delta Devils, including a 45-0 victory the last time the two met in 2003. In the three meetings combined, the Statesmen have outscored Valley 105-26.
"I'm all for playing Delta State....," Morgan said. "It will be a moneymaker for everybody. Once we get a little bit better, I'm open to the possibility."

Players to report Thursday

Valley players are scheduled to report for a conditioning test Thursday at 6:30 a.m. for the start of practice. The players will go through meetings the rest of the day before beginning their first practice at 5:45 p.m.
On Friday and Saturday, the team will begin practice at 6:30 a.m.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Conversation with.....Ole Miss DE Carlos Thompson

GREENVILLE — Get your popcorn ready.

If the Grove Bowl was any indication of what’s in store for Carlos Thompson, Ole Miss fans are in for a treat this season.

Back in April, the former Hollandale Simmons standout tallied seven tackles (including two tackles for loss) and a sack in the Grove Bowl, the school’s annual scrimmage game.

After playing in a reserve role during his freshman year, the former top recruit is hoping to hear his name on the loudspeaker more frequently this season.

“I’m expecting much more playing time,” said the defensive end, who played in seven games last season and recorded his first sack of his college career during a Nov. 6 game against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Thompson said he came to Oxford thinking he would redshirt, because “I was undersized.” But he got his first taste of college football against Tulane on Sept. 11, 2010.

He also saw action against SEC opponents Arkansas and Alabama. That experience was something players can’t grasp by just practicing, Thompson said.

“I’m glad I played,” said Thompson. “At first my play wasn’t so good. But once I started playing (more), it got better. I caught up with the tempo.”

Thompson not only grew up on the field. He grew up physically.

Thompson, or “Pooh” as his family refers to him, says he’s put on about 35 pounds since last season. The 6-foot-5 Thompson says he now weighing around 250 pounds.

“I’ve just been eating,” said Thompson, who added that Oxford’s new IHOP restaurant has been a welcomed treat.

Recently, Ole Miss has produced some of the SEC’s best defensive lineman (think Greg Hardy, Peria Jerry and Jerrell Powe, to name a few). This year’s defensive linemen will be lead by senior Kentrell Lockett, who was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility. Thompson said he’s learned a lot from Lockett and other veteran linemen on the team.

“I look up to (Lockett) like a mentor,” Thompson said. “When I need help he’s there to help me. He knows the game and he knows what needs to be done.”

Currently, Thompson says he’s just staying in shape until two-a-days start in August. Hopefully, he says, the Rebels will improve on their 4-8 (1-7 SEC) record in 2010. Last year, Ole Miss’ defensive unit gave up nearly 400 yards per game — last in the SEC. Plus, opponents averaged over 35 points per game against the Rebels.

“I feel like this year, we have more committed players,” said Thompson. “We’ll be better defensively and offensively.”

One change — other than more playing time — he can expect to see this season is a familiar face in the stands at Ole Miss road games. His father, Carlos Thompson Sr., who coached him at Hollandale Simmons High, recently resigned from his position. He made most of last year’s games in Oxford, but wasn’t able to travel to away games. Now with a more flexible schedule, the elder Thompson will be everywhere the Rebels are, said the younger Thompson.

“I know,” said the 2009 Holladanle Simmons alum, “he’s going to be in the stands a lot more this year.”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Family ties: New MVSU hoops coach has new leash on life after final year at DSU

CLEVELAND — Brian Ellis only planned to be gone for a few minutes.
The then-Delta State assistant basketball coach left his six-month pregnant wife, Courtney, at home while he went to let Phil Turner inside the gym.
“I came home and my wife was in labor,” recollected Ellis, who was recently named an assistant coach at Mississippi Valley State.
Ellis then drove his wife 35 miles to Clarksdale, where her doctor was on call.
“I drove 115 (mph) the whole way there,” remembered Ellis.
They originally thought it was just a false alarm, but it turned out, Courtney was in full-blown labor on only the first day of her third trimester.
The doctor didn’t know why Courtney, who was projected to give birth Dec. 15, was in labor three months early. She was taken to a hospital in Jackson by ambulance while coach Ellis followed suit.
The former West Florida standout, now known for his recruiting skills, couldn’t fix this situation with words.
“At that point,” said coach Ellis, “there’s nothing you can say. You can’t talk good enough (to fix the situation).”
An emergency C-section was performed, and 2-pound, 4-ounce Payton Ellis entered the world on Sept. 22, 2010.
The Ellis’ lives changed dramatically afterwards. But not just because it was their first child.
Payton was forced to stay hospitalized in Jackson while doctors monitored her improvement. And what began as a short route to let a player in the gym, resulted in a three-month stint over two hours away from home.
“We had to move to Jackson,” said coach Ellis. “It was extremely tough for my wife.....having a baby, and her not being there.
“There’d be moments where I’d wake up at 2:30 in the morning in a panic just to make sure she was ok.”
Newborn Payton was on a feeding tube surrounded by hundreds of other babies. Brian Ellis said he got a chance to know one family, whose child sat next to Payton in the neonatal intensive care unit. But just hours after speaking with them, he realized just how lucky he was.
“I was talking with them,” he remembered, “and came back four hours later and their baby had died right next to (Payton).”
To make matters worse, DSU’s season-opening basketball game was just over a month away. Ellis was committed to his family, but said he had a job to be done in Cleveland as well.
“I would drive from Jackson to Cleveland about four times a week and for every game,” reminisced Ellis, who added that he met the team in Cleveland for road games.
“It seemed like the first semester took five years.”
But those in and around the DSU athletic department, Ellis said, were right by his side. Several players along with Athletic Director Jeremy McClain made trips to Jackson to check on them.
“That’s the kind of thing that really makes it a family,” Ellis said. “It never felt like we were fighting it by ourselves.”
Some made trips to Jackson, others made phone calls. The entire time Payton was in the hospital, the DSU family stayed in contact, Ellis said.
“We wanted to be able to support them,” said McClain. “....Let them see some familiar faces.”
Ellis remembers the time he drove back to Cleveland for Alumni Day, a week after Payton’s birth. When he walked in the building, everyone stopped what they were doing and embraced him.
“It’s something strong here, and not just in the Athletic Department, but on campus,” said McClain. “And I think that’s the way it should be.”
Said DSU head basketball coach Jason Conner, “When the Lord puts us through things, there’s a reason behind it.”
Three months after entering the world three months early, Payton Ellis came home completely healthy. The family moved back to Cleveland.
“She’s now above the weight of a normal six-month-old,” Ellis said of the nine-month-old child. “She has a big time personality. The only reason I have to be scared now is because she hadn’t met a person she hasn’t liked yet.”
Now seven months after coming home, the Ellis family is making another move. This time to Greenwood for Ellis’ new job at MVSU, where he’ll get a chance to work with former DSU assistant coach Chico Potts. Ellis took over for Dylan Howard, who was named the head coach at North Park University, a Division-III school in Illinois.
“(Division-I) has been his dream,” said Conner. “I’m happy for him that he got that opportunity. I told (MVSU coach Sean) Woods that he would do a fine job there.”
Elllis’ final year at DSU allowed him to put a lot of things in perspective, he said.
“Basketball is important,” said Ellis, “but nothing can replace family.
“I can’t relate to a lot of things, but I can relate to on the verge of losing your child.”
Courtney, a massage therapist who played volleyball at West Florida, will drive back to Cleveland three times a week for work. Other than that, everything is back to normal.
After officially starting his new position July 1, Ellis is back doing what he does best: recruiting.
So how does the Crestview, Fla. native like his new stumping grounds? Well, that answer will have to wait.
“(I’m) on the road already,” Ellis wrote in a text message. “I’ll let you know in August.”

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sunday Conversation with...Indianola native Sam Lacey, No. 5 pick in 1970 NBA draft

GREENVILLE — Of the thousands of players to come through the NBA, only roughly 80 of them were born in Mississippi. Sort that list by those born in the Delta and it becomes miniscule.

But despite the odds, Sam Lacey won the game. And he won big.
The Indianola native, who was the No. 5 draft pick by the Cincinnati Royals in 1970, averaged 10.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in his 13-year career — most notably with the Kansas City Kings.
But before he went on to play with the likes of Tiny Archibald and Oscar Robertson, he faced local legends like Sammy Steen (Coleman High; Greenville) and Freddie Robinson (Rosa Fort High; Tunica) while at Gentry High School. Over 45 years later, the 63-year-old still vividly remembers those days.
“I remember playing against (Greenwood native) Leroy Jones,” recollected the 6-foot-10 Lacey, “and I used to see him when he came through town (Kansas City) when he played for the San Diego Chargers in football.”
Coming to Greenville to play Coleman High was always a tough game, he continued.
“Coleman just had more talent than we did,” Lacey remembered. “At that time, you were jumping the ball every quarter. There used to be a quarter where I didn't even see the ball. They pressed the whole game.
“And then we played teams like Shaw and Ruleville — those were our cupcakes. And Drew. At the time, we were in the Delta Conference and (Coleman) was in the Big Eight — the monster conference in terms of high schools. Another team that had good players was McNair High in Belzoni. Back then they had old men on the team....One of my friends told me, some of the guys you played against were 10 to 12 years older than you were. And that's a big difference when you're like 15 or 16 years old.”
Rewind back to Lacey's early years at Gentry and becoming a lottery pick in the NBA draft would have made some folks chuckle. The NBA all-star remembers the moment that changed his life forever.
His shot clanked off the backboard during a game against Hollandale Simmons — a shot his teammates and classmates didn't let him forget about.
“Back then it was wooden backboards. I thought I had broken the backboard. From then on, I said I will never get caught in that situation again.”
But not only did Lacey's skills heighten over time, so did, well, his height.
“When I graduated from grade school, I was 5-11,” he remembered. “At the end of my freshman year, I was 6-feet tall. At the end of my sophomore year, I was 6-1. But from like June to about mid-August, I grew seven inches.
“At the time a lot of kids would go to Chicago, St. Louis or Detroit for the summer. And when they came back, they said, 'I didn't know Sam had an older brother.' And I said, I'm Sam.”
Lacey went on to play for New Mexico State, where he finished with a 75-13 record over three seasons. (At that time, freshman weren't allowed to play on the varsity team.)
But how did the kid from a small Mississippi Delta town end up in New Mexico?
Lacey said a recruiter, who's name he couldn't remember, was in the area to recruit Richard Collins (Starkville) and William Ford (Greenville O'Bannon). The recruiter saw Lacey play and told then-New Mexico State head coach Lou Henson about what he saw.
“He (told Henson), if you're up here recruiting guys, there's a kid in Indianola named Sam Lacey. You need to get him,” remember Lacey, who had originally committed to Jackson State.
Lacey's most productive NBA season came in 1973-74 when he averaged 14.2 points and 13.4 rebounds. He was named an all-star in 1975 after averaging 11.5 points and 14.2 rebounds.
His jersey was retired by the Kings franchise.
“My jersey is retired everywhere but Gentry,” he said.
Nowadays, Lacey is still surrounded by the game of basketball. He has recently did TV and radio work. And he's currently part of an exploratory group to try to bring an NBA team to Kansas City.
And now the game he loves so much is at the start of an anticipated long and brutal lockout, which became official Friday. Former NBA player Charles Barkley recently said he thinks the NBA may not have a 2011-12 season.
It all boils down to money, said Lacey, who added that the only players who made over a $1 million per season during his time was those with endorsement deals.
“ I think a lot of things are going to be rearranged because of the way the economy is,” he said. “You can't continue to pay that kind of money. Everybody on the team is virtually a millionaire. I think you're going to have a salary structure like 1-12. Lebron James and Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe (Bryant), (Amare) Stoudemire, they're going to get paid.
“But it's the guys that came in in this world-wind of money — they're not going get those kind of contracts anymore. Look at Rashard Lewis. It's not the fact that you're making that kind of money; it's the fact that you're making that kind of money and not producing.”
Indianola, a town now of over 10,000 people helped mold him into one of the most consistent centers in NBA history, he said. Lacey, the lone NBA player ever born in Indianola who broke numerous records at Gentry, knows all about producing — even when the odds are stacked against him.
"They say you have a better chance of getting hit by lightening than becoming a pro player," said Lacey.
Safe to say, Lacey gave those odds a beating.

Friday, July 1, 2011

NBA lockout forces Turner to look at other options

Former Delta State guard Phil Turner has hit a speed bump on his journey to the NBA.
The Grenada native, who spent four years at Mississippi State before transferring to DSU for his redshirt senior season, has to wait until the NBA lockout ends before he can sign with a team.
“I had a workout with the Hawks about a week ago, and I was set to be on a summer league team with the Bucks,” said Turner, who averaged 18.6 points last season and was named the Gulf South Conference West Division Player of the Year.
“But it's pretty tough with the lockout. It put handcuffs on a lot of guys,” continued Turner, who added that his former MSU teammate Ben Hansbrough was also at the workout with the Hawks.
But professional basketball is in his near future. Turner said if the NBA doesn't solve their problems soon, he'll most likely head overseas. Several teams had shown interest, he said.
“China. I would love an opportunity to go there,” said Turner.
The former Statesmen guard also said that the Utah Jazz flew to Georgia Wednesday to work him out and recently attended a combine in Chicago.
“Right now,” said Turner, “I'm just looking at getting a contract overseas until things clear up in the NBA.”

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sunday Conversation with....Trevar Deed

All Trevar Deed can do is sit and wait.
After the former Delta State record-setting running back went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, he has waited patiently for the NFL Lockout to end to hopefully sign a free agent contract. The Phoenix, Ariz. native, who became the only player in Gulf South Conference history to rush and receiver for over 2,000 yards, recently caught up with Sports Editor Kenneth Mister.

What have you been doing since leaving DSU?
I've just been working out everyday, Monday through Friday and sometime on Sunday — back home in Arizona.

Do you still hope to sign a free agent deal? 
Yeah, I think I have a chance. The teams I’ve talked told me they want to wake till the lockout is over (to discuss anything).

Is it frustrating?
Super frustrating. Because I have my life on hold to to see what's going to happen.

If not, what about CFL or Arena League?
Naw, I'm staying with my dream to play in the NFL. That's my dream and I'm sticking with it. If I fail, i have to open my door to other options.

What’s your prediction for the Statesmen this season without you, ‘Scooter’ Williams and L.J. Castile?
I think they'll still do good, because coach (Ron) Roberts is a good head coach and he's going to find the players to fill our shoes. That's no doubt. My first year at Delta State in 2007, they had the best defense in the nation and they lost them all, but they bounced right back. He recruited his butt off like a good coach does. So, I think he’s going to find some key players to fill those positions. They have a lot of kids that were younger than us so I think they’ll be more hungrier this year.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself when the Lockout is over? 
I’ve been working on my cardio a whole lot. I trimmed up nice. I’m weighing about 210 right now. I think I look pretty good. Been doing a lot of aerobic workouts (and) getting my resistance right. Because I don’t know what I’m going to go in there and play. I’ve heard from a couple teams that don’t know what they’re going to put me as — a slot receiver or as a running back.

What are your plans if football doesn’t work out?
I’ll just finish off my degree in physical education and business and just see where it takes me. I think I’ve got a couple more years in me, for instance, if I don’t get picked up this year. If it doesn’t go like I hoped it would go, I’d just finish off my degree and relax.

Any plans on coming back?
I got to come back to visit coach Roberts, a couple players, a couple friends. I’m coming back in December to watch my boy, Rafael Mitchell, graduate. That’s my best friend and I’m the Godfather of his daughter. So I’m going to come back and watch him graduate, walk the stage.

If you could do it over would you still attend DSU?
I really would. No matter what. It’s a little town and I’m from a big city, but I had a lot of fun being out there, like learning how to hunt. Just the country-ness, I like it.

Where do you rank amongst the best to come out of DSU?
I can’t really say where I’m ranked, but I’m up there with those guys, because it’s been some good athletes to come through there. Michael Eubanks, that’s one that comes to mind. I think I’m up there with them, but it’s been some good boys to come through there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morgan gives updates on Valley projects at local club meeting

GREENVILLE — Karl Morgan wants to get the word out.
“I want to make a difference here at the Valley,” the second-year Mississippi Valley State head football coach said Tuesday at a Kiwanis Club meeting.
Morgan’s stop in town was his latest of the offseason, which has included trips to Clarksdale, Vicksburg and Grenada, to rally supporters around the program.
He spoke for nearly 30 minutes — mostly about his professional football experience in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the NFL in the 1980s. The 50-year-old former UCLA standout, who was cut several times by the Tampa Buccaneers in his three-year stint with the team from 1984-86, recollected on what it felt like to lose a job in the NFL — drawing a load of laughter from the crowd.
“When you get cut, you get a big garbage bag,” he said. “You take everything out your locker and stuff it in there. You look like Santa Claus walking across the parking lot.”
Morgan’s speaking engagement is one of several ways MVSU officials have promoted their program for the upcoming season. Morgan keeps fans involved with his newly created Twitter account along with frequent updates on Facebook.
MVSU also hosted its first-ever 7-on-7 tournament last Saturday, which gave coaches a chance to evaluate possible recruits. All of the changes under Morgan’s watch, hopefully will result in a turnaround for a program that finished 0-10 last season, he said.
“If it crashes and burns,” said Morgan, “it won’t be because of lack of effort.”
Morgan also gave updates on recent projects at Valley, including a new football-only weight room. Previously, the players were only allowed to use the school’s fitness center — which was open to the entire student body — for eight hours per week.
The school, however, raised $60,000 to build a new weight room, which was recently completed.
“We had donations from $5 to $5,000,” said Morgan, who added that the renovations at Rice-Totten Stadium is still on schedule.
Next up for the Delta Devils is a new locker room, said Morgan.
“The building we operate in was built in 1980 (and) it’s very, very dilapidated, but we’re trying to fix it up,” he said.
But “the No. 1 project is players,” Morgan continued.
“We’ve got to get better guys,” he said. “And I think we’ve done that with (junior college players) and plus recruiting in February.”
Recently, MVSU announced three new signees: linebackers Keven Woods (Grossmont Community College) and Jamarius Smith (College of the Sequoias) and Karl David Birkenfield, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback from Yuba Community College.
“As far as how we’ll be this year — we’ll be better,” Morgan predicted. “I’m not big on records and guarantees, (but) we’ll be better.”

UNO joins GSC; DSU's Roberts thinks Statesmen will stick with hard-hit conference

GREENVILLE — The Gulf South Conference may not have stopped the bleeding, but they slowed it down some after Tuesday’s announcement.
The conference, which recently witnessed the loss of seven schools including powerhouse North Alabama, officially welcomed the University of New Orleans to the fold.
The Board of GSC Presidents unanimously approved the Privateers’ membership request Tuesday during the conference’s annual summer meetings in Birmingham, Ala.
“This is something we’ve worked on for a long time....,” GSC Commissioner Nate Salant said in a released statement. “UNO brings outstanding facilities, a commitment to growth that includes football by 2015 and a great city for future events.”
While UNO will not be official members of the GSC until 2012-13, the Privateers will be added to the league schedule for 2011-12 in volleyball, baseball and men’s and women’s tennis — but will not be eligible for post-season play. UNO will also compete in the 2011 GSC men’s and women’s cross country championship and the 2012 GSC men’s and women’s golf tournaments.
UNO’s marks the GSC’s first footprint in Louisiana since 1979 when Southeastern Louisiana moved to Division I.
North Alabama’s recent departure for Division I leaves the conference with just four football-playing schools (DSU, Valdosta State, West Alabama and West Georgia) in its immediate future.
“The next couple years are going to be a little change of face...,” said DSU football coach Ron Roberts, whose team advanced to the Division II championship game last season. “There’s obviously going to be a little bit of difficulty in scheduling and stuff, but ....I think (we’ll get through it).”
DSU Athletic Director Jeremy McClain recently told WABG that a jump to Division I is not in the school’s immediate plans.
But with the loss of the six Arkansas schools and UNA’s departure, the GSC has taken a hard blow. But, so far, the conference is still standing, said Roberts.
“I think the general feeling,” he said, “is the GSC is going to remain.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mullen says student-athletes need spending money

Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen wants his players to get a piece of the pie.
He said it recently during the SEC spring meetings, and stood by his stance today while participating in the 30th annual Jesse Brent-Merrick Jones Memorial Golf Tournament in Greenville.
".... I think they should get some spending money in their pocket," said Mullen, who was one of seven SEC coaches to sign South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's proposal to pay 70 players $300 each per game.
"And I know there's all other kinds of complications that come along with it. But our guys are so committed and put in so much time year around in the game of football.
"It'd be great to give them some spending money. They don't need major money; they just need enough to go out with the other college kids and get themselves a pizza on a Friday night."
Spurrier's proposal is far-fetched, but it does starts the conversation: should universities -- who bring in millions of dollars -- pay student-athletes? Although Mullen thinks players deserve more than just a scholarship, he doesn't see things changing anytime soon.
"I think it's a lot trickier than just football players getting paid," he said. "So (if players do get paid), it'll be a long time from now."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sunday Conversation with....Quentin Groves

Former Greenville-Weston standout Quentin Groves has made a name for himself since leaving the Delta. The former Auburn linebacker now plays for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders after spending his first two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While waiting on the NFL lockout to end, the 26-year-old took time out to chat with Sports Editor Kenneth Mister.

What are you doing with all your free time?
Groves: Working out (with old Jaguars teammates), staying in shape and watching old games.

How optimistic are you that we'll have a full 16-game season?
I think we’ll have one. You gotta look at the revenue. It’s too much revenue to take any games out.....They may shorten up training camp, but not the preaseason....This whole big fight is over revenue.

Will you still hold your Quest 4 Greatness Football Camp in Greenville? 
No, because we didn’t know what (will happen with the lockout). Didn’t want to plan it and have to be at a OCA or training camp.

How often do you come home? 
About once a year to come see mom.

What’s one of your best memoris from GWHS?
Just playing with the guys...Kevin Sanders, Michael Watson, Micheal Henry....We still keep in contact till this day.

Who’s the hardest guy to bring down in the NFL?
Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings). He just runs so tough.
What’s your take on college players. Should they get paid or is a scholarship enough? 

I think they should get paid. For the simple fact, (schools) would be nothing without the students. It’s true they get an education. But let’s be real. A lot of people don’t just come to big-time colleges for the education. They’re coming for the (sports). If you take away those (sports), I bet the attendance drops 30-40 percent.

How was your college experience. Did you feel like you were being cheated?
I’ll say this: you could go in the bookstore and see my jersey on sale for $30 to $40 and I see kids with my jersey on in the stands — and I’m not getting nothing? Then they get mad when a kid takes $300 to $400 from a booster.....
I look in the stands and everyone has on a (No. 54) jersey and I go back to my dorm room and I’m like ‘damn.’

Why don’t college athletes just stand up and revolt? 
The day you get (to college), they say (the media) is going to ask these questions. Don’t answer it. (Tell the media) I’d rather not speak on it. You’re pretty much programmed.

You have a son and a daughter on the way. How’s life as a father? 
My son is 14 months. And my daughter will be here Oct. 22....My little boy is a little me. That’s the biggest thing. Everything you used to do, he tries to get away with it.

Where do you think you rank amongst other greats to come out the Delta?
I don’t like to speak on it. But I don’t know. Wherever the people will put me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Super Delta Jamboree schedule

Super Delta Jamboree
Saturday, May 21, 2011
@ Eastside High School

10:00-11:30 Shaw vs. Simmons
11:30-1:00 Forest Hill vs. West Bolivar
1:00-2:30 Leland vs. South Delta
2:30-4:00 Drew vs. Amanda Elzy
4:00-5:30 Gentry vs. Eastside

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Delta baseball teams struggle in MHSAA playoffs, hold 1-27 record

Two games into this year’s baseball season, Louis James’ best pitcher at Humphreys County High came to him with troubling news.
“He just said I don’t like (baseball),” remembered the veteran coach and former Jackson State baseball player.
Decisions like his, coupled with other factors, coaches say, have led to a baseball drought in the Mississippi Delta.
When the St. Joseph baseball team defeated Smithville 9-7 Saturday, it was a win not only for the Fighting Irish — but for the entire Delta.
It marked the first victory for a Delta team throughout the entire Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) playoffs.
Through two rounds of playoff baseball, Delta teams have amassed a 1-27 record and have been outscored 313-30 by their opponents. Thirteen of the 28 games ended in shutouts.
St. Joe’s nine runs Saturday were the most scored all postseason.
Student-athletes don’t want to be associated with a losing program, said Hollandale Simmons baseball coach Cortez Johnson. With winning comes interest from quality athletes, he said.
“Now that we’re winning in football,” said Johnson, “kids are more interested in that. Football and basketball — kids flock to those sports. The interest level (in baseball) has gone down a little bit.”
O’Bannon coach Torrione Carter agreed.
“The majority flock to basketball and football,” he said. “But it’s going to come back around sooner or later.”
Recently, Delta area teams have found it hard to compete against teams throughout other parts of the state. In this year’s playoffs, four teams failed to score a run throughout their respective series — including Ruleville who lost by a combined score of 36-0 in two games against Alcorn Central.
Most coaches surveyed say that a lack of resources for Delta teams play a part in the lopsided scores.
“We don’t have a batting cage or pitching machine, and my field is not in good shape,” said Johnson whose Hollandale Simmons fell to East Webster in the 2A playoffs. “I’m not trying to make excuses...but if you have 16-20 guys at batting practice (with no pitching machine) it’s going to take a long time, maybe 2 1/2 or three hours.”
Carter agrees that facilities play a major role, but the lack of feeder programs for older athletes also hurts.
“Feeder programs are the key to baseball,” he said. “When they come to high school, they know the game. All you have to do is polish it.”
The last team from the Delta to win a MHSAA baseball title was Cleveland in 2000.
Over at Drew High School, getting quality players isn’t the problem; it’s finding a coach. Last year, Eagles coach Lacy Wilson was the head coach for the football, boys basketball, baseball, track and junior high boys basketball teams.
This year, the school didn’t field a track or baseball team. Wilson said he just couldn’t handle the load.
“It got to a point,” said Wilson, “where the basketball season ran long. So when basketball ended, I was behind on baseball. I just feel sorry for the kids. They’re the ones that get hurt.”
Wilson also teaches seven physical education classes and is a bus driver for the school.
The 31-year veteran coach echoed other coaches’ statements that without a quality little league program, high school teams will continue to suffer.
“You have to start from scratch,” said Wilson. “And by the time you get them going, they’re seniors.”
And it’s not just the players who are unfamiliar with the game, said James. Little league coaches have a hard time teaching the ins and outs of baseball, he said.
“All they do is argue balls and strikes,” he said.
Added Johnson, “We don’t have enough adults interested in volunteering in coaching...If (coaches) don’t have interest to push kids, they’ll go off and do their own thing...”
Another reason Delta teams suffer, some say, is that most Delta schools who compete in the MHSAA are predominately black. And according to recent reports, African-Americans are leaving baseball at record rates.
According to ESPN, the percentage of black players in Major League Baseball dropped from 9.1 percent in 2010 to 8.5 in 2011 — the lowest level since 2007 when it stood at 8.2 percent.
“(Black) kids have to have some kind of sense that baseball is relevant,” said James. “They don’t see young black men playing baseball outside of high school.”
As a result, four-year college baseball programs seem to have gone outside the area to find players. This year, Mississippi Valley State is without any players with a Delta hometown. Freshman pitcher Cody Simpson, a Tunica Academy product, is the closest Delta Devil to fit the description. Over at Delta State, Leland’s Hunter Palasini is the lone Statesmen from the Delta.
“They go everywhere except the Delta,” said James.
St. Joseph, Riverside and Cleveland all had first-round bye’s in the playoffs this season. St. Joseph is the lone team remaining and will have to win one game Monday in Greenville to advance to the next round.
Those three teams, along with Simmons, are several Delta programs who consistently field winning teams. This year, Riverside won 20 games for the fourth straight season. But the Bulldogs were bounced from the playoffs after losing to Ripley 9-4 in game one and 9-0 Saturday in game two.
Despite all the problems surrounding baseball in the Delta, a brighter day may be ahead, said James.
“Winning cures all,” he said. “It opens a lot of eyes.”
As for Drew, Wilson said their baseball program's future is still up in the air.
Said Wilson, "I'm not sure yet about next year..... But I do know we need some help here."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hollandale native forced to regroup after college closes its doors

GREENVILLE — Just over two months ago, Jamarius Lyons talked about his excitement of joining the Lambuth University football team.
“It puts me closer to my father (who lives in Memphis),” the Hollandale native and former Mississippi Delta Community College defensive back said in February.
On Thursday evening, Lyons’ excitement was replaced with a mix of anger, reflection and confusion.
Lambuth, who he signed with after spending two years at MDCC, told its students Thursday it will shut down June 30 due to financial strains — leaving students dazed and “confused,” said Lyons.
The school, which is located in Jackson, Tenn., has also been in a legal battle over accreditation.
“I never knew they were having problems with accreditation,” Lyons said by phone after hearing the news of the school’s pending closure. “The coach (Ron Dickerson) never brought that up to me (during the recruitment process).”
The football team, Lyons said, will meet with coaches today to discuss transfer options for players. Amongst those interested in Lyons before he signed with Lambuth were North Carolina at Pembroke and Henderson State.
Lyons said he hopes something something comes through despite it being late in recruiting season.
“The coaches that offered me at first probably think I let them down,” he said. “....Now I have to start all over, and prove to coaches that I can play.”
School officials are currently searching for a school to take over the campus, according to Jackson Sun newspaper. However, athletics will most likely not return to Lambuth. All of the school’s spring sports, excluding softball, will finish off their 2011 schedule.
Meanwhile, Lyons is back on the recruiting board for potential schools.
Said Lyons, “I just hope it all works out.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Once-suspended sport golf makes return to GWHS; obstacles still remain

GREENVILLE — On this windy Wednesday afternoon at the Greenville Municipal Golf Course, Claude Courtney approaches one of his team’s 11 golfers.

“You know the hole isn’t that way, right,” the longtime Greenville-Weston golf coached joked, pointing in the opposite direction of where the ball landed.

In a way, that golf ball’s landing was a good thing. It’s a sign that the school still has a golf program.

Last summer, golf, along with five other sports, were suspended by the Greenville School District due to an $163,000 cut to the athletic budget. The sports, however, were saved after community volunteers raised $71,000.

Courtney, a retired teacher who started coaching the program over two decades ago at T.L. Weston, said his team took it hard when they first heard the news. He, however, stayed positive.

“It doesn’t take that much to keep golf going,” said Courtney. “I told them we’re going to play. I’ll just volunteer my time.” Courtney had to do exactly that until coaching supplements were recently approved.

But, with Greenville-Weston over one hurdle, another one stands in their way. This year, GWHS has just three matches — all at home, and all against St. Joseph. It would’ve been four against the same opponent, but their season-opening match on March 23 was cancelled due to rain.

“This is going to be a short season,” Courtney said.

Other programs in the area, including Indianola Gentry and Cleveland East Side, have dissolved — while smaller public schools don’t field golf teams. In recent years, Courtney said, the school has been unable to schedule a match with Cleveland High.

Their annual GWHS Invitational once included four or five teams. It, however, slowly declined, said Courtney. This year, most likely, it’ll just be two teams.

“Unless somebody else calls, it’ll be us and St. Joe,” he said.

Greenville-Weston’s golf team didn’t travel last year, and due to shaky finances, will play all their matches at the Greenville Municipal Golf Course again this season.

But it has been the Greenville community’s courtesy that has made sure the school still has a golf program. Recently, the team received new golf shirts from a local store, Sport Speciality, free of charge.

“We ordered the shirts two years ago, but didn’t have the money to get them,” said Courtney. “They called me and told me to come and pick them up.”

While Sport Speciality made sure the team had matching shirts, the community has donated golf clubs. The school last purchased clubs about four or five years ago, Courtney estimated, and his team still uses them today.

Diamond in the rough

Most of Greenville-Weston’s golfers, Courtney said, have never stepped foot on a golf course. But what they lack in talent, they make up with desire, he added.

“Once you put a club in their hands, show them how to grip it, and let them swing the club, they want to go further,” said Courtney. “They’re going to want to improve.”

While most of Greenville-Weston’s golfers participate to learn more about the sport, Jeron Collins is on a path that could one day lead him to a professional golfing career. The 15-year-old Solomon Middle School eighth grader has stood above the pack since he joined the team a couple years ago.

The news of the sport’s suspension last summer devastated the youngster, said his father, Curt Collins. But when the sports were re-instated it was a joyous occasion, he added.

“He was very excited,” said Collins. “He said, ‘Daddy, I have a chance to do what I wanna do now.’ “

The father and son picked up the sport four years ago after the elder Collins retired. Since then, Collins said he has taken his son to tournaments in Florida, Texas and Louisiana, among other places. The two even got a chance to play at the facility of Tiger Woods’ former coach, Hank Haney.

But it was a trip to a tournament in Jackson that opened Jeron’s eyes to what his future could hold, his father remembered.

“The first place check was for $658,000. That’s when he knew it was serious,” Curt Collins recollected.

Over the hump

Courtney remembers a time — in the 90s, he estimates — when the school once hosted district tournaments.

“We had teams out here from all over,” he remembered.

But with the decline of the sport in Delta public schools, scheduling has become difficult — and players remain scarce.

Like Greenville-Weston, St. Joseph will play just three matches this season — all against GWHS.  St. Joseph is a private school, but competes against public institutions in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA).

“We used to play against Winona and in a Catholic school tournament in Vicksburg,” St. Joe golf coach Brian McGaugh recollected. “We don’t do that anymore.” There was a time when the Class 1A school played as many as 10 matches in a season, he said.

And finding athletes to play golf over other spring sports is difficult, added McGaugh, especially at a school of just 208 students.

“Everybody’s playing baseball,” said McGaugh, who also said that the economy and loss of area residents has also played a part.

According to the most recent numbers, Washington County lost 18.8 percent of its population in the last decade, from 62,977 residents in 2000 to 51,137 people in 2010.

Compared to teams in larger cities like Jackson, Delta golf squads are at a disadvantage, said Courtney.

“The golf course here is outside the city,” he said. “The courses in Jackson are in their backyard. All they have to do is jump the fence.”

Money is also an issue here in Washington County, where 48 percent of those under 18 live below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau.

“And if dad can’t afford to play,” said McGaugh, “the kid won’t be playing either.”

But golf is a sport, said Collins, for those who usually don’t play baseball, basketball or football. For other sports, he said, you need more players. For golf, the only requirements are only golf clubs, a location — and, of course, cash.

“It’s the only sport where you can play like they do it on TV,” said Collins.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Burton takes over Simmons football program

HOLLANDALE — Roger Burton knows all about winning football programs.
The Columbus native spent the last three years as the offensive line coach at West Point High, where the Green Waves have won back-to-back Class 5A state titles.
Now, Burton hopes he can carry over the success at one of the state's most successful 5A programs to Class 2A Simmons.
Burton, who was an assistant at Oxford before going to West Point, was named Simmons' head football coach Monday night. This is will be Burton's first head coaching opportunity.
"This is a blessing from God to be a head football coach," said Burton. "I'm thankful for everyone involved in the hiring process."
Burton takes over for Carlos Thompson, who recently resigned after posting a 45-15 record. Thompson said he will, however, stay on as an administrator and athletic director.
For the last three seasons, Burton has helped develop one of the state's most successful rushing attacks. Last year, West Point rushed for nearly 4,000 yards and finished the season 14-1.
West Point went 36-5 while Burton was on staff.
His time under Chris Chambless at West Point, along with his tenure at Oxford, has prepared him for his new responsibility, said Burton.
"I'm thankful for all the coaches I worked for in the past at West Point and Oxford," he said. "Without them, I wouldn't have felt like I learned what I needed to know."
Burton said he's aware of the success Thompson has accomplished — and he wants to continue where he left off.
"All I want to do is continue on with the success that Simmons has had and continue to build on that," said Burton. "And help them reach their goals — and that's to be the best team that Simmons can be."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MVSU releases 2011 football schedule

Mississippi Valley State released their 2011 football schedule today. The most intriguing match includes a Thursday night game at FCS school South Alabama. The Delta Devils open their season at home Sept. 3 against Alabama State. For Homecoming, MVSU will host Texas  Southern on Oct. 29. Enough of that, here’s the full schedule:

Sept. 3 vs. Alabama State

Sept. 10 OPEN

Sept. 17 at Alcorn State

Sept. 24 at Prairie View

Oct. 1 vs. Southern

Oct. 8 at Alabama A&M

Oct. 15 vs. Jackson State

Oct. 22 at Grambling State

Oct. 29 vs. Texas Southern (HC)

Nov. 3 at South Alabama (Thursday)

Nov. 12 vs. Pine-Bluff

Nov. 19 OPEN

MACJC Commissioner responds to the MDCC debacle

After a story book run into the MACJC State Tournament, the book has closed on the Mississippi Delta Community College men's basketball team.
The Trojans were removed from the tournament after a MACJC school notified Commissioner Jim Southward of an eligible player — Glenn Ford — on the Trojans squad.
MDCC was notified of the decision Wednesday during warm-ups prior to their semifinals game against No. 1 seed Gulf Coast.
"To the best that we know," said Southward, "I received a phone call (Wednesday) from one of our other schools stating that they suspected that (MDCC) had an ineligible player who did not have a transfer waiver form."
Southward, who said he did not want to reveal the name of the school that brought the situation to the forefront, added that he called MDCC Athletic Director Domino Bellipani who notified MDCC coach Derrick Fears of the issue. An investigation concluded that a transfer waiver form had not been submitted on Ford's behalf.
Southward said he then contacted the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for "advisement since we were in the middle of the state tournament."
The game was eventually called off and considered a "non-contest," not a forfeit, said Southward. The decision eliminated MDCC and gave new life to Itawamba, who replaced the Trojans in the tournament.
"If (an athlete) has been at another school within one calendar year, they have to have a transfer waiver," he said. Ford, a Greenville-Weston graduate who played at Copiah-Lincoln during the 2009-10 season, filled out a release form, but not a transfer waiver form, said Fears.
Southward said no decision has been made whether MDCC will have to forfeit their regular season games that Ford played in. That decision, he says, will come from the NJCAA.
Fears said this morning that he hopes to meet with other MACJC coaches Friday about the situation. The coach also said that he has considered taking legal action regarding the situation.
MDCC advanced to the tournament after winning their final five regular season games, and defeated Jones County in the quarterfinals on a Jestonia Kimber buzzer beater.
"It's happened before where teams have to forfeit games," commissioner Southward said, " but nothing quite like this one."

Rice-Totten renovation on schedule; arrive early to Saturday's JSU/Valley game

The renovation of the visitors side of Mississippi Valley State's Rice-Totten Stadium is underway.
So far, the bleachers have been removed and all "hazardous materials have been abated" from the East Grandstand, a MVSU spokesperson confirmed. Also, the demolition contract was awarded to Bayou Pipeline of Cleveland for $180,000, said Public Relations Director Debbie Montgomery.
The visitors side will be demolished by crane. The actual date the demolition will begin is unknown.
The bid to replace the stadium will begin March 3. As of now, the project is still on schedule, said Montgomery. The Delta Devils are still scheduled to open their 2011 season in Itta Bena, after be forced to play three home games at Greenville-Weston High in 2010.

JSU/Valley game
The Jackson State and MVSU basketball game Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Itta Bena has a lot on the line, as the Delta Devils (11-17, 10-5 SWAC) remain a half game out of second place in the SWAC behind the Tigers (14-12, 10-4).
And with MVSU expecting their largest home crowd of the season, Valley officials have advised fans to get to the game early due to limited parking because of the renovation of Rice-Totten Stadium.
"Folks are going to have to do some walking," said Montgomery, who added that the school will open all exits after the game to help the flow of traffic.
The women tip off at 2 p.m. and the men follow around 4:30.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MDCC forced to forfeit tournament game; coach says he may take legal action

The Mississippi Delta Community College Trojans’ magical run has come to an end. But not because the Trojans lost a game on the court, but based on what MDCC coach Derrick Fears calls a big misunderstanding.
MDCC was forced to forfeit their semifinal state tournament game Wednesday against No. 1 seed Gulf Coast due to the ineligibility of a walk-on backup point guard.
MDCC sophomore Glenn Ford, a Greenville native who played at Cophiah-Lincoln last season, was ruled ineligible due to “incomplete paperwork filed with the national office of the National Junior College Athletic Association,” MDCC Sports Information Director Joe Wilson said in an e-mail.
In a phone interview, Fears said a transfer waiver was not filed on Ford’s behalf. However, a release was submitted, and “it’s the same thing,” said Fears.
Ford, who played at Greenville-Weston and spent one season at Co-Lin with MDCC teammate Anthony Evans, joined the squad in January after spending his first semester in Moorhead as just a student. Fears said he needed a backup point guard, so Ford joined the team this year, playing only “a few minutes here and there.”
Fears also added Wednesday night that every game Ford has played in will be forfeited. Fears, however said this morning that he is unsure if they will force the Trojans to forfeit regular season games as well.
Fears said his team was notified of the issue during warm-ups prior to Wednesday’s game.
“The floor was soaking wet (from the players’ tears),” said Fears. “These young guys were crying because old guys can’t take losing.”
Gulf Coast was reportedly awarded a 7-0 victory over MDCC in Wednesday’s game.
Fears said he plans to seek legal counsel regarding the matter.
“I’m going to sue because that’s something we can’t get back,” he said. “…I’m not going to give up on it.”
Efforts to reach MACJC Commissioner Jim Southward were unsuccessful by press time. MDCC defeated Jones County Junior College 73-72 Tuesday night on a 3-point buzzer beater from Jestonia Kimber.
Pearl River will now face Gulf Coast today in the championshp game. And MDCC will be replaced in the regional tournament by Itawamba, who Delta defeated last week in their regular season finalè to advance to the tournament.
“It’s one thing if you beat me on the court. I can walk off with my head held high,” said Fears. “But to do what they did, that’s wrong.”
Fears added this morning that he will meet with other community college coaches Friday regarding the issue.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pete has big plans for Gentry football

PHOTO courtesy of the Birmingham News

INDIANOLA — Melvin Pete Jr. knows all about disappointment. He's familiar with it all too well.
"When I played at Jackson State, we lost to Mississippi Valley State two years in a row," said Pete, whose father, Melvin Pete Sr., coached at JSU for 25 years before retiring in the mid 90s. "That's something you just don't do."
The younger Pete also knows what it's like to get to the top of the mountain. The upfront — and often entertaining — coach won the Class 4A state title at Alabama's Central High in 2007.
Now he has plans to duplicate that success in Mississippi after being named the head football coach at Gentry High School.
"I don't know if it's been done before," said Pete, "but I want to be the first coach to win a state title in two states."
The Meridian native, who was raised in Jackson, takes over a program that has now hired its fourth football coach in four years. And that doesn't bother Pete one bit, he said.
"I'm not nervous about that," Pete said. "I'm going to try to bring this community together....(and) get them to rally around their football team."
Pete said he doesn't have any family in the area, but has a history with Gentry High Principal Ricky Taylor. Pete's father coached Taylor during his time at JSU. Plus, principal Taylor, who coached Steve McNair at Alcorn State, was his first quarterbacks coach at Jackson State.
Pete will take over the reigns of a Rams team that finished 3-8 last season and will lose about 20 seniors, including Mississippi State signee Rufus Warren. But, despite those losses, Pete envisions a successful Gentry program.
"The sky is the limit," he said. "I like to dream big.....We're going to start with getting (grades) up and graduating all the players. If I do that, I know we have a better product."
Pete, who said he'll commute from Canton occasionally until he officially takes over the program, got a chance to meet his new players Friday afternoon. He chatted with MSU signee Warren earlier that day.
"I had to see where he was (mentally)," said Pete. "And that way I know where all the rest of the guys are."
Gentry's returning players will immediately join the extensive list of Pete's former players who he refers to as his "kids." Although Pete doesn't have any children of his own, he says his "kids" always keep in touch.
"I have kids all across the country. They call on Christmas and other holidays," Pete said. "One of my oldest kids was 28 when I coached him at Spelman (College)."
Why'd he leave Spelman? "I got fired for scoring too many points," Pete said jokingly.
He said his current task is evaluating players and searching for assistant coaches. So who does the veteran coach have in mind to help him out at Gentry?
"No one's safe but the guy running the pee-wee league," Pete said, followed by his signature laugh.
But there is one person he wish he could get on the sidelines.
Said Pete: "Sometimes I wish I could get my father to come up here and run around the sidelines and tell me what I'm doing wrong,"
That's probably a long shot, but Pete still expects to make a splash at Gentry. Asked what he wants people to remember about him when his time is done: "They'll put a statue of me out there by the stadium," he joked.
"But seriously," he continued," when I leave I want people to say he was a good guy and got the best out of the players."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

No sports media relations = a lack of coverage

A friend of mine recently asked, “Why doesn’t the Clarion Ledger ever pick anyone from the Delta for their awards? It’s always someone from North Mississippi or Jackson.”
Some might call the Ledger — and other newspapers, including the DDT — biased based on their selections. Others might believe that’s where the best players in the state come from. The rest probably couldn’t care less.
But the truth is, the C-L, the DDT and other newspapers can’t recognize an athlete it knows nothing about. Without stats, scores and updates from a coach, statistician or concerned parent, we are left completely in the dark — and so are our readers.
Unfortunately, the athletes are the ones who suffer in the end. When Player of the Year awards and All-Area teams are selected, we have to go off of the material we have. But, after each game, our fax machine is quiet, phones are silent and e-mail inbox empty.
Area schools and supporters, your athletes won’t see their name on that prized Dandy Dozen list or the All-DDT team if the first time we hear from you is after the selections have been made. And keeping a kids name out of print can equal keeping a kid away from a scholarship. College coaches can’t recruit players they’ve never heard of.
In an one-man sports department, covering nine high schools, there’s no way to can devote equal newsprint without help from the community. So help me — help you — help your student-athlete.
If you’re at a basketball game and have a camera on hand, snap a picture. We’ll be glad to print it. Know the final score and who scored the goals at a Greenville-Weston soccer match? Send it over.
We want to capture every aspect of Washington County sports, whether it’s at Deer Creek or Parks and Recreation basketball games. Have a feature idea? Tell me about it.
A column in this newspaper, written more than five years ago by Troy Treasure, documented these same issues. He wrote about the 72 Mississippi schools, including eight in the Delta, that names were printed in the Clarion Ledger for not submitting statistics throughout the entire year. Greenville-Weston, which was one of the eight schools named back in 2005, now submits scores, stats and updates like clockwork. And we thank you for that.
In today’s technology-driven world, there are ample ways to keep area student-athletes at the forefront. My e-mail is, my office number is 378-0722, and my Twitter account is @kennymr.
After only a year and a half at this occupation, I’ve even been told “you like ‘this’ school over ‘that’ one.” And “that school gets more coverage than our school.” And my all-time favorite: “I stopped buying the paper because our school’s never in there.”
My point is, this is a community newspaper. And it takes the entire community to get everyone their justified coverage. Soon we will be releasing the All-DDT Basketball teams — and as of now there are only four out of nine high schools who have regularly sent in statistics. The rest have sent them in sporadically, others not at all.
We’ll also be naming the Basketball Player of the Year. Don’t be surprised if it’s a player from one of those four schools.

Kenneth Mister is the sports editor of the Delta Democrat Times. He can be reached at 378-0722 or

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Future of the SWAC" - Local alums take on topic

GREENVILLE – Davis Weathersby remembers SWAC sports at the height of its popularity.

“When Steve McNair played at Alcorn (State), we left Greenville at 4:30 in the morning for a 1 o’clock game,” said Weathersby, who head coached Mississippi Valley State football from 1970-77.

Corey Holmes, MVSU’s all-time leading rusher, has his own fond memories of his days playing in the SWAC.

“We might not have been the best team,” said Holmes, who is now the mayor of Metcalfe, “but people wanted to come see the SWAC’s leading rushing attack….They wanted to come see us run for 200 yards.”

Those recollections are a far cry from the current state of an athletic conference that has been hit hard due to school integration and a financial downturn. And for those reasons, an open dialogue – “The Future of the SWAC” – will be held today at 6:30 p.m. at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum in Jackson.

MVSU Athletic Director Donald Ray Sims and former Valley AD Lonza Hardy are among those who will be in attendance.

A press release posted on the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum’s website announcing the event addressed the current state of the SWAC: “Amidst dwindling budgets, shrinking attendance, crumbling facilities and talk of school closure and consolidation, the future of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has rarely been more uncertain.”

That uncertainty can be traced back to black players choosing more prestigious universities and a lack of financial support, which have caused a downturn in interest, say many SWAC alums.

To get an attention hungry 17-year-old to sign with a SWAC school is a tough task, said Alcorn State Hall of Famer Elijah Moore.

“I don’t care what you do in high school, if you select Alcorn you won’t be on ESPN,” said Moore. “And that’s another reason for a kid to select a larger school.”

Attendance at SWAC sporting events has also been a problem. Last season, Valley averaged just 2,600 fans while playing three home football games 45 miles away at Greenville-Weston High School. Their highest attended game – 3,197 – was in October against Grambling.

The poorly attended games ending up costing the cash-strapped Greenville School District nearly $6,000. Large crowds could be seen outside the stadium, but only a select few paid admission.

“Only the people that really love you are going to come see you play,” said Moore.

“A typical SWAC day – come see the band….don’t worry about the team,” said Holmes, the record-setting running back turned mayor.

For several decades, highly sought after athletes have bolted for schools where they can get their names in headlines in hopes of a professional career.

Take basketball for example, the latest player from MVSU to get drafted was Marcus Mann, who was selected in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, Michael Phelps was the last Alcornite to hear his name called when the Seattle Supersonics selected him in the seventh round of the 1985 Draft.

Weathersby, who went 33-45 during his tenure at MVSU, cited a lack of resources as one primary reason for the lack of support for SWAC schools.

“During my time, we were the youngest school and we had to compete against Jackson State and Alcorn, plus the smaller schools that made it difficult with limited resources,” said Weathersby. “We had a small staff that was coaching, teaching and taking care of training programs….So you’re at a disadvantage.”

Currently, there are no NFL players from MVSU. Alcorn State, meanwhile, has two former players in the NFL ranks – Jacksonville Jaguars’ Nate Hughes and Super Bowl champion Donald Driver.

Moore remembers a completely different time period. “I remember when you couldn’t turn on the TV without running across a few SWAC players,” he said.

All of those interviewed agree on one aspect: nobody wants to pay to watch a losing team.

“The generation that you’re dealing with now – they’re more of a show me generation,” said Holmes. “If they’re not seeing progress, we have a (tendency) of pulling ourselves away.

“The past generation was about school spirit and bleeding green,” added Holmes. “But if you’re not winning nowadays, people won’t follow you.”

MVSU’s football games in Greenville were attended mostly by older alumni, not current students. And those that did attend tailgated instead of watching the game.

“You can’t exist without moral and financial support,” Weathersby said.

Holmes said he hopes something good comes out of today’s discussion. As for MVSU, he’s said will do whatever he can to help boost support.

“We have to get the older guys back into the program (and) get the Valley pride back,” he said. “It’s definitely needed right now.”