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|NFFHF banquet a quality event|
If you have never attended a National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Miss-Lou Chapter banquet, you have missed a treat.
The 27th annual banquet was held Thursday at the Natchez Eola Hotel and it was another quality event.
Of course, the banquet centers around the awarding of scholarships to football players from the seven Miss-Lou high schools.
Trinity's Parker Brumfield won the top prize of $2,250, while Jesse Morrison of Cathedral won a $2,000 and Kendall Logan of Natchez was awarded a $1,750 scholarship.
Ferriday's Kendrick Harris, Vidalia's Jeremy Washington, Huntington's Seth Swilley and ACCS's Lee Guedon each won $1,000 scholarships.
As each of their coaches attested to, these young men are certainly an asset to their schools and are great examples for underclassmen.
Newly-named Alcorn State head football coach Ernest Jones was the guest speaker and challenged the young men, telling them to "Just Do It" like Nike, like GE and bring good things to life and be all you can be" like the U.S. Army."
But the one statement Jones made that really struck me was when he told the young men to "treat women with respect."
Wow, such a simple statement, but such a true statement nowadays. That may be a given to a lot of folks, but believe me, walking around some of the high school campuses the past few years, that's a statement that needs to be made. Especially with some of the stories you hear about college athletes at parties and in bars too frequently.
Jones played football at Alcorn with Steve "Air" McNair. I had to admit to him I didn't remember seeing him play too much, but then again he was behind guys likeTorrance Small, Marcus Hinton and Cedric Tillman, who all went on to play professional ball.
Jones is a just what Alcorn needs. He brings great energy and character to the university and should bring some excitement back to the Reservation.
Two other highlights of the night involved two other awards.
Vidalia head coach Dee Faircloth introduced the Contributor to Amateur Football Award, which went to Jerry Roberts, who died in a plane crash with Barr Brown in December of 2006.
Faircloth told of how Jerry pushed for the Vidalia Fieldhouse and also had some amusing stories of how Roberts, a former MPSA offical who was also a volunteer coach at Vidalia his last couple of years, would yell at the offcials during games and then hide behind assistant coaches.
Faircloth choked up a bit when he began talking about Jerry's son, Graham, who played football under Faircloth and received the award from his father.
Cathedral High Athletic Director Roy Garcia, who is leaving the school after 40 years, introduced the Distinguished American Award, which went to Brown, who played under Garcia at Cathedral in the early 1970s.
Garcia actually surprised me a bit by bringing out an article from The Wave, the former school paper at Cathedral, where I did an interview with Brown in 1973. Boy, that brought back memories. It was a question and answer article because after I asked Barr the questions I came down with the flu before I was able to make it into a story. Sr. Mary Junkin, the journalism teacher who would become principal later, ran the article as a question and answer. I remember thinking, "Wow, I sure would have loved to have made that a story, but you know it's a school paper article and not many people will see or remember it." Thanks, Coach Garcia.
Funny how I can remember something like that so clearly but can't remember where I put my keys half the time.
But it was certainly a joy watching Barr Brown play football and Garcia did a great job talking about him. And, yes, Beth – Barr's wife who accepted the award – you are exactly right, Barr loved Coach Garcia.
Faircloth and Garcia handled those two awards like no other two guys could have, and they certainly added a lot to the presentation.
I can't let the banquet go without mentioning how much I enjoyed re-aquainting with an old friend.
Former Alcorn State men's basketball coach Lonnie Walker came along with Jones to the banquet, and after I got over the shock of seeing Walker with a clean-shaven head, we sat at a table eating our lunch together and talking about the old days.
Walker did a great job in the difficult position of following Dave Whitney Jr. while coaching at ASU. His wife, Shirley, is still the women's coach at Alcorn.
And while I remember watching Lindsey Hunter filling up the baskets against Alcorn State while playing for Jackson State one January night ling ago, I never knew that Hunter actually started his collegiate career at Alcorn.
Walker said Hunter played prep ball at Jackson Murrah with James Robinson, who many may remember as an outstanding collegie player at Alabama. Hunter is now a Detroit Piston..
"The Murrah coach was a good friend of mine and told me he knew I wouldn't be able to get James, but he had another guy for me to look at," said Walker, who was an assistant under Whitney at the time.
Walker said not too many people were looking at Hunter at the time because of a few personal issues.
Hunter did sign with Alcorn, but some off the court incidents and not getting his work done in the classroom did not sit well with Whitney, and Hunter transferred to Jackson State.
"Lindsey and Dave are good friends now," Walker said.
By the way, Lonnie and Shirley's oldest son, Lonnie Jr., is in Washington D.C. where he does counseling work.
Their youngest son, Marino, who was named after former Alcorn coach Marino Casem, now lives in Atlanta, Ga.
It was a great night for catching up with old friends, supporting some outstanding young men, and paying tribute to a couple of close friends who are tragically no longer with us.
As always, the NFFHF Miss-Lou Chapter banquet was a quality event.
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