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|Sebren upset with Franklin Academy|
You can rest assured the welcome wagon parked at the home of Franklin Academy first-year head football coach Keith Thincknell did not include Franklin Parish head football coach Barry Sebren.
Actually, Sebren and Thicknell's paths will probably rarely cross. And that may be a good thing for the city of Winnsboro after Sebren went off on the Franklin Academy football program after two of his offensive linemen transferred from the Class 4A public school to the smaller school which competes in the Mississippi Private School Association as a Class A team.
Sebren told a state newspaper last week, "Somebody came to (the players), flashed something in their faces, and they don't realize how bad MPSA football is. They don't have a clue about how bad it is. We're playing in the best league in the state. I don't even consider (MPSA) real football."
The story lit up local chat boards. Even those supporting Sebren felt he may have gone a bit overboard.
Then again, when you compete in a district with the likes of Bastrop, Neville, West Ouachita and Carroll, fielding a winning football team is tough enough.
But making a blanket statement saying MPSA is not real football was a bit over the line.
No, Franklin Academy, Huntington School or other schools that size are not in the league with most of your public school football teams.
It's still football, these guys work out hard during the spring and summer, and there's even a deeper commitment in some cases.
I understand Sebren's frustration just like I understand Dee Faircloth of Vidalia's frustration when he loses a kid to a private school in the Miss-Lou - especially after that kid has spent time in the program where a coach has worked with him along with others to make him a better player.
Not long after a standout player transferred (OK, you can say was heavily persuaded) from Vidalia High to Adams County Christan School in the mid-80s, Faircloth made the comment that cattle rustlers were hung for such actions back during the Tombstone age.
Sebren may need to follow the example of Faircloth, who now takes the attitude of, "I don't want a player here who doesn't want to be heres."
You can't blame students and parents for looking for other options, whether you think that's the better option or not.
Small private schools are battling tough times, even harder than most public schools. A lot of people connected with the schools realize success in sports helps draw more students.
Life goes on. Someone will have to step in and pick up the slack.
Meantime, you don't have to like it, but move ahead. Show the kids on the team that the team is still in good shape and that everyone remaining must come together and work harder.
And while you don't have to wish some good luck to Franklin Academy, learn to live together in your small world. No, it's not Class 4A football. But it's still playing to get to the Super Bowl for those young men who sweat just the same across the highway.
There are enough obstacles surrounding the area without creating more.
Looking back, Sebren said he wants it understood that he was in no way saying anything against the young men who are transferring.
"I think a lot of people thought I was talking bad about the kids, but my whole thing was them playing in the MPSA," he said. "Playing in the LHSAA and playing in the MPSA is a different set of rules and guidelines. They are actively after my kids and targeting my players by flashing scholarships in front of them. At least when you are dealing with LHSAA schools they have a guideline and they supposedly are not supposed to cross that line. It's not like the Cenla (Christian) situation where they took some kids from Caldwell last year."
Sebren said he has never gone after a player from Franklin Academy.
"We have had some of their kids come over here for workouts and look around, but I never went up to them and asked them to play for us," he said
Sebren said he knew it was a touchy situation when he began talking about it.
"I hate to get into those types of situations, but they are doing what they think they have to do and I did what I had to do - I fired back," he said. "Whenever you talk about something controversial you have to either apologize for what you said or be willing to stick by it. I'm sticking by it."
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