Monday, January 31, 2011

MDCC's Moten commits to Louisana-Lafayette

LELAND – The big football programs weren’t around when Jemarlous Moten graduated from Leland High in 2009.

But after two successful seasons at Mississippi Delta Community College, the 5-foot-10, 165 pound cornerback was a hot commodity this go around.

And last weekend, the Leland native made up his mind on where he will take his talents for his two remaining years of eligibility.

Moten verbally committed to Louisiana-Lafayette and will sign with the Ragin Cajuns on National Signing Day Feb. 2.

“I chose them because I always wanted to play D-1 football and it was a good opportunity there,” said Moten, who added that Mississippi Valley State, Jackson State, Tennesee-Martin, Alabama A&M and others all offered him scholarships as well.

“I like what coach (Mark) Hudspeth is doing over there,” he added. “He’s building a great program.”

Moten, who was tabbed second-team All-MACJC North Division, finished the 2010 season with 37 tackles, 12 pass breakups and three interceptions – returning two picks for touchdowns.

Leland went 9-3 in Moten’s senior season at Leland, before falling to Walnut 21-18 in the second round of the playoffs.

Moten said the Louisiana-Lafayette coaching staff informed him that he has a starting spot at cornerback waiting on him.

“I just try to be a role model,” said Moten. “I know kids look up to me. They come up and ask me about football when I come home. I’m just trying to set a positive example.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Former 4-star prospect enrolls at Valley

ITTA BENA – Last year, there wasn’t much news to report about Mississippi Valley’s State’s football recruiting. In the midst of a coaching transition from Willie Totten to Karl Morgan, National Signing Day came and went without a single signee.  

This time around, however, Morgan brought in 10 mid-year recruits – including his largest catch to date: University of South Carolina transfer defensive lineman Ronald Byrd.

The Hogansville, Ga. native, who was rated a four-star prospect out of high school by, has enrolled at Valley and will suit up for the Delta Devils this upcoming season. The 6-foot-5, 280 pound lineman was considered the 15th best prospect in the nation in 2008.

Morgan said he’s grateful to have the highly touted recruit on campus, but he doesn’t pay much attention to the ratings attributed by Internet sites.

“I don’t put much stock in those stars,” said Morgan. “Some of those stars pan out, and some of those stars don’t pan out.

“It’s nice to have somebody who’s well thought of. He has the ability to be as good as they thought he was.”

Byrd’s trek to the Delta began in August 2009 when he tore his ACL while at South Carolina, sidelining him for nine months. Byrd’s lengthy recovery, coupled with stiff competition, caused him to look elsewhere to offer his services.

Bryd said he visited South Carolina State, Western Kentucky and Valley. His trip to Greenville to watch the Delta Devils back in November in their season-ending game against Alabama A&M sealed the deal. MVSU lost that game  and finished the season 0-10, but that didn’t deter the former Gamecock.

“Every team hits a rut,” said Byrd, who took a medical redshirt last season. “I want to be a part of what they’re building up right now.”

Unlike at South Carolina, where he never got a chance to suit up, Byrd likely will be a key component for a Delta Devils team that ranked last in the SWAC in total defense.

“This is a place where I’ll get to play, get a lot more playing time,” said the redshirt sophomore. “(And) this is a place where I can help build up for the next 2-3 years.”

Another reason the Georgia native ended up in this small Mississippi town was former MVSU offensive line coach Cedric Williams, who Byrd said he has known since high school. Williams, however, recently left for a position at Newberry College, a Division 2 school in South Carolina. Williams’ departure didn’t blow it for Valley, though, said Byrd.

“I told Valley,” said Byrd, “I didn’t choose coach Williams. If that was the case, I would have followed him. When he left it wasn’t a big trip to me.”

Byrd, who added that he had heard of Valley before his visit “but never researched them, said he has now settled in at his new home and is ready to get to work. And when his time is over at Valley, he said he hopes he has lived up to those high expectations.

Said Byrd, “I want them to remember me as somebody who didn’t quit, worked hard, was a leader who led by example and a winner.” 

Monday, January 24, 2011

This week's hoops schedule

Today's basketball games
4 p.m.
Bayou Aca. at Washington School
6 p.m.
Canton Aca. at Greenville Christian

Tuesday's basketball games
4 p.m.
Carroll Aca. at Deer Creek
5 p.m.
Bailey at Riverside
6 p.m.
Leflore Co. at Leland
Drew at St. Joseph

Friday's basketball games
4 p.m. (Senior Night)
Warren Central at Greenville-Weston
MRA at Washington School
5 p.m.
South Delta at Riverside
Marshall at Leland
Deer Creek at Desoto Aca.
6 p.m.
O'Bannon at William-Sullivan
Coldwater at St. Joseph

Saturday's basketball games
2 p.m.
Washington School at Jackson Aca.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today's Tiny Tidbits: Brozovich, Chase to play in all-star classic

Washington School quarterback Eric Brozovich and Simmons linebacker Lazarius Chase highlight a list 50 Mississippi players set to play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the inaugural Who’s the Mann High School Classic on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
The Mississippi squad, who have been practicing recently at Mississippi College, will play against a team of Louisiana players. The game gives high school athletes the chance to impress college scouts.
Brozovich, a Delta State baseball signee, was named the Delta Democrat Times’ Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Chase, who suffered a season-ending injury early in the season, was tabbed the Delta Democrat Times’ Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Other area players selected to the team include: Indianola Academy’s Cody Reynolds and Cody Maxey; Cleveland’s Jahmel McIntosh; Pillow Academy's Brandon Milner; Charleston’s Quinton Harris; South Panola’s Marcus Henry and William Hentz; and Calhoun City quarterback J.R. Jennings.

2 MDCC players decide on future
Mississippi Delta Community College defensive lineman Tevin Wells has signed with Troy University, according to reports.
Wells —a 6-2, 275 pound lineman from Rolling Fork — also had interest from UAB and Murray State. He also played in the MACJC All-Star football game.
“I had a nice time hanging with the coaches, and the facilities were really nice,” Wells told the local media. “Plus, they’re a winning school.”
MDCC linebacker Blake Comminie also recently committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. The 6-2, 235 pound Edgard, La. native also considered several schools including Mississippi Valley State, Eastern Kentucky and North Alabama.
Comminie racked up 30 tackles and 11 sacks last season.

Right Direction: Young Greenwave squad out to prove themselves

PHOTO: O'Bannon freshman guard Erin Holmes brings the ball up the court.

GREENVILLE — There’s been a passing of the torch for the O’Bannon boys basketball team.
Gone are the days of Lekendrick Evans and Cadarrius Nelson manning the pant. No more Lawson Harris and Quadriguez Carter draining jumpshots. And Roderick Johnson isn’t on the floor to cleanup misses.
Those days are no more. Evans now suits up for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Nelson is at Mississippi Delta Community College, and the rest graduated.
In all, the Greenwaves lost eight seniors from last year’s 19-win team.
This year’s roster includes names like Traydavies Williams, Lavell Booker and Brandon Andrews — players who didn’t see much action last season.
After Thursday night’s 71-26 blowout victory over district foe Ackerman, it looks like the unheralded heroes have made a name for themselves.
“They’ve really surprised me with the way they’ve played,” said OBHS coach George Christian, whose team is now 12-7 and 2-1 in district play this season. “Most of these players didn’t play many minutes last year — if any.”
The Greenwaves have been scoring collectively for the most part, but senior Brandon Andrews has been the most consistent scorer. He led OBHS with 21 points Thursday against the Indians.
Andrews, who is one of only two seniors on the team, averages about 17 points per game.
“He’s real strong, a team leader and he plays hard every night,” said Christian.
While Andrews has put in work from long range, sophomore Traydavies Williams and junior Lavell Booker have replaced Nelson and Evans as the Greenwaves inside presence.
They average around 21 points per game combined.
“He’s small but he’s tough,” Christian said of Booker, a 6-foot-4, 150 pound center. “And his shot has come around now. He wasn’t shooting well at the beginning of the season, but his shot has come around now. And he’s on the boards and playing tough defense.”
And as the regular season nears its end, the Greenwaves seem to be “gelling at the right time,” said Christian. OBHS has won six out of their last eight games, with their two losses coming against county rivals Simmons and Greenville-Weston.
They have two district games remaining — they travel to Williams-Sullivan next Friday and host J.Z. George in a home finalĂ© Feb. 4. They’ll also get another shot at Simmons on Feb. 1.
So how optimistic is coach Christian about his young team, which includes eight sophomores? And do they have a chance at making a run for a district title — or more?
“Yep,” said Christian. “We have as good of a shot as anybody else.”
Lady Waves
The Lady Waves defeated Ackerman Thursday night 44-28 behind 12 points apiece from Myiesha Stewart and Josette Richardson.
OBHS limited Ackerman to just two first quarter points and led 23-9 at halftime.
Kiara Bryant and Keyondria Williams chipped in seven points each while Jasmine Burns added five.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's linkage

Football season is over, but football chatter is still in full force. Today, we bring you a few links pertaining to Delta area sports. First up, here's a profile on Delta State defensive line coach E.K. Franks, written by his hometown Kansas paper:

Then we have the commitment list to SWAC football teams here:
And we're working on getting a profile together on Ronald Byrd — the MVSU transfer from the South Carolina Gamecocks, who was listed as a four-star recruit out of high school in Georgia.

In other news at MVSU, Mississippi Delta Community College's all-state defensive end
Blake Comminie recently committed to Louisiana Lafayette after having offers from Valley and other schools. Here's the link -

And over at Delta State, Eli Whiteside — the DSU alum who won the World Series last year with the San Francisco Giants — will be honored Thursday at halftime of the Lady Statesmen's game against Ouachita Baptist, which tips off at 6 p.m.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Volunteers step up to keep athletics alive at Greenville-Weston

CUTLINE: Greenville-Weston boys soccer coach Thomas Giardino has a talk with his team during a recent practice. Giardino, a Seattle native, volunteered to coach the squad after $163,000 was cut from the athletic budget last summer.

Thomas Giardino is more than 2,400 miles away from home. And even if he could, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The Mississippi Delta was my first choice,” said the Seattle, Wash., native who is in his first year with the Teach for America program. He teaches English and theater at Greenville-Weston High School.
“Culturally, it’s about as far from Washington as you can get,” added Giardino. “But also the need is great here….And (Seattle) will be okay without me. They have plenty of people to teach English there.”
But what began as a plan to reach students inside the classroom has now stretched beyond his room’s four walls and onto the patch of grassy land behind the school’s football stadium where his boys soccer team practices after school.
Giardino, along with several other Greenville School District employees, have volunteered their time and effort to coach non-revenue producing sports at the school.
Six sports – baseball, slow-pitch softball, power-lifting, soccer, tennis and golf – were all suspended by the district this summer due to a $163,000 cut to the athletic budget.
The six sports have since been re-instated after the school’s newly constructed booster club raised over $70,000 to sustain them. The money, however, does not cover coaching supplements – only team expenses like equipment, uniforms and bus rides to away games.
So far, district volunteers have been approved for slow-pitch softball, boys and girls soccer, and baseball, according to Athletic Director David Barrow. The school plans to have volunteers in place for tennis, golf and power-lifting soon, he added.
Giardino, who played soccer for a club team at the University of Washington and also coached high school-level soccer in his hometown, said once he heard about the school’s financial dilemma, he jumped at the idea to volunteer coach.
But Giardino’s sacrifice comes at price – which he’s willing to pay. He estimates that he coaching duties account for nearly 18 hours weekly.
“I have to work long weekends to stay caught up,” said Giardino.
When most teachers are leaving the building, Giardino’s day is far from over. The team practices a couple hours Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. After a recent weekday practice, he even volunteered more of his time to take four players home.
Superintendent Dr. Harvey Franklin said Giardino and the other volunteers are a vital asset to the district and the community.
“It shows you that we have a committed staff. They don’t want the students to lose out on what they enjoy,” said Franklin. “In the long run, everyone will benefit.”
David Barrow, the district’s athletic director, echoed Franklin’s statements.
“Without their volunteering, we wouldn’t have the sports happening right now,” he said. “And it’s even better that we have people who actually know about the sports instead of a warm body.”
Currently, Raymond Russell, Juliet Thomas and Lynette have volunteered to coach the slow-pitch softball team; Giardino and Marvin Griffin take care of boys soccer; Laura Jones leads the girls soccer team; and Kiever Campbell and Jeff Jones are volunteer assistants under baseball coach Charles Love, according to Barrow. Others have contacted Barrow about coaching the remaining sports, but the plans have not been finalized yet.
Russell, who volunteered to coach slow-pitch softball, said he signed up for the betterment of the community.
“I decided to do it because the community needed it,” said Russell, whose team has already wrapped up their 2010 season. “They needed all the help they could get – and I’m just trying to do my part.”
Giardino said his team consists of 22 players – some lack experience, but he’s there to show them the ropes.
“It’s an interesting process to teach them the game for the very first time,” said Giardino.
Griffin, who assists Giardino with the boys soccer program, has volunteered his services to GWHS for the last five years. He said Barrow approached him about volunteering for the district one Sunday while the two were playing recreational soccer at the Greenville Youth Soccer Association field.
"I do it because I really enjoy the sport and want to help the kids advance in the sport," said Griffin.
GWHS players aren’t the only ones thankful that the sport was saved from extension.
“It’s fun for me;” said Giardino. “It’s the best part of my day.”

UPDATE: Delta Devils to welcome 10 signees this week

ITTA BENA — Karl Morgan’s first year at Mississippi Valley State was one that he likely wants to forget. And the first step to getting beyond an 0-10 season is to start on the next one.
And that’s exactly what Morgan and his staff are doing.
MVSU will welcome 10 mid-year transfer signees when school starts Thursday. Eight of the 10 transfer signees come from Mississippi junior colleges while one hails from California and another transferred from the University of South Carolina.
The signing class includes one quarterback, Percy Turner — a 6-foot, 200 pound Fayette native who comes from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Turner threw for 1,747 yards and 18 TDs to go with nine picks this season for the Co-Lin Wolves. He rushed for another 350 yards and three scores.
Ronald Byrd — a 6-foot-5, 280 pound defensive lineman — will transfer from South Carolina. The Hogansivlle, Ga. native, who was considered the 15th best prep prospect in the country in 2008, was listed as a four-star athlete (on a five-star scale) by both Rivals and
Byrd, however, never saw the field as a Gamecock after suffering a torn ACL in August 2009.
Another area Valley hopes to make improvement in is their running game with the signing of Southwest Mississippi Community College running back Ratheal Bateaste. The Gloster native rushed for 525 yards and six TDs last year for Southwest.
Other changes to the MVSU roster include sophomore offensive lineman Jamell House, who Morgan said has plans to transfer. It is unknown where the Little Rock native will land.
  • Ratheal Bateaste (RB) - Southwest CC
    Dytanyl (FB) - Hinds CC
    J.J. Thurman (TE) - Holmes CC
    Percy Turner (QB) - Co-Lin CC
    Napoleon Brewer (DB) - Coahoma CC
    Alex Brown (DB) - Pasadena CC
    Ronald Byrd (DL) - South Carolina
    Lakendrick Carter (DB) - East Miss. CC
    Rico Mazique (LB) - Holmes CC
    Shelby Waddell (K/P) - Itawamba CC

Friday, January 7, 2011

Morgan: MVSU signs six JUCO players; DSU's success trickles down to recruiting

Karl Morgan's first year at Mississippi Valley State was one that he likely wants to forget. And the first step to getting beyond an 0-11 season is to start on the next one. And that's what Morgan and his staff are doing.
MVSU will welcome six JUCO signees in the spring when school starts next Thursday, Jan. 13, according to Morgan. Five of the six players are from Mississippi, he added.
The names will be released "soon," said the school's sports information director.
Morgan added that he hopes to sign "two or three more" JUCO players before the signing period ends.
Morgan also added that sophomore offensive lineman Jamell House will transfer. Morgan said he is unsure where the Little Rock, Ark. native will land.

As for the Delta State Statesmen, a nationally televised game can help in a lot of ways — especially recruiting.
DSU coach Ron Roberts said three Mississippi high school players have verbally committed, while they have offered scholarships to 19 other players from the state. To keep other schools from pouncing on prospects, he said the their names will remain in-house for now.
Roberts added that he and his staff are "a little behind" on recruiting JUCO players but he hopes to catch up soon.
"We'll get out and find out who's available," said Roberts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

'The Biggest Loser' to speak at YMCA Banquet

GREENVILLE — Back in December, Patrick House was more than 1,400 miles away from his home. But even outside U.S. soil, the Vicksburg native, former Delta State offensive lineman and winner of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” was picked out of the crowd.
“I was in the Cayman Islands and people knew who I was,” said House, who last month won the weight loss competition along with $250,000 after dropping 181 pounds, a 45.5 percent dropoff from his initial weight of 400.
House, who played at DSU from 2001-04, has since accepted a mentor position in South Carolina at MindStream Academy, which encourages a healthy lifestyle for teenagers.
But before he settles in at his new home, House will be the guest speaker next Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. at the seventh Annual YMCA Banquet.
With House’s success on the show, his life has turned around drastically in the last year. Put it this way: this time last year House got laid off from his sales rep job with a Jackson-based company. Now the 28-year-old father of two is a recognized face around the globe.
Now with a slimmer physique and a new leash on life, House said the new Patrick House is around to stay.
“My goal is stay below 250 (pounds),” he said Tuesday night by phone from South Carolina.
House advanced to the final show in part because of his alliance with Frado Dinten, a 43-year-old New York native.
Dinten, who finished second on the show, said he was shocked by their transformations. The weight looks good now – but in the long run is when it will really pay off, he added.
“I don’t have Type II Diabetes anymore because of ‘The Biggest Loser,” said Dinton Tuesday by phone from South Carolina. “I don’t take one pill or have to use an IV; I’m cured.”
Now that House is a household name, he plans to use his newfound stardom for good causes like his new youth mentor job at MindStream and his speaking engagement next Tuesday at the Greenville YMCA
And knowing that people look up to him will help keep him on his toes, said House.
“I can’t be 400 pounds and be a mentor,” he said. “It’s more than just a job now. It keeps me on track with my lifestyle.”
Safe to say, it was a good year in 2010 for the former DSU Statesmen House and the current Statesmen team, who played in the Division II National Championship on ESPN2 last month against Minnesota-Duluth.
“It says a lot when I can be in the Camen Islands and still be able to watch my Fighting Okra play.”
The YMCA Banquet is scheduled to start Jan. 11 at 5:30 p.m., with dinner before the program kicking off at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased by Friday at 1688 Fairground Road. For more information, contact the YMCA at 335-7258.