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Story Archives: NFFHF class event once again
|NFFHF class event once again|
Never mind the Oscars, Grammys or TVLand Awards, I'll take the carpet leading up to the second floor of the Eola Hotel for the annual National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Inc., Miss-Lou Chapter banquet any night of the week.
The class organization held its 31st banquet Thursday in Natchez, and once again it was a memorable night starting with guest speaker Ron Roberts to the distribution of awards.
Kevin Campbell of Adams Christian earned the top prize of $3,000. Joseph McClatchy of Trinity won the second place scholarship worth $2,250.
Cathedral's Caleb Upton won the third-place scholarship for $1,750. Vidalia's Thao Nguyen, Natchez High's Levarious Dorsey and Ferriday High's Richard Jefferson each received scholarships of $1,000.
Ferriday High head football coach Richard Oliver was one of the most entertaining school representatives introducing their nominee.
Oliver introduced Ferriday senior Richard Jefferson, saying his Louisiana College signee was playing quarterback for the first time this year, a position that Oliver said is the toughest to learn.
Oliver talked about Jefferson's play in Ferriday's 30-28 overtime win over district champion Lake Providence last October.
With the game tied and Ferriday with no time outs remaining, Jefferson ran to the 1-yard line. Jefferson then kept the ball up the middle and the line judge ruled touchdown.
But while Oliver was talking with his extra-point team, the head referee patted his hand on the 1-yard line, saying Jefferson's knee hit. By the time the Trojans became aware of the reversal, the clock began moving. Unsure of what to do, the players looked around as Oliver was waving them to run a play. By the time they got lined up, one second remained and the clock ran out, leading to overtime.
"I told Richard I've had three SEC players (Brandon Bolden of Scotlandville and Ole Miss, Herman Lathers of Scotlandville and Tennessee and Dallas Thomas of Scotlandville and Tennessee), but I'm 0-3 in overtime. He was going to be the first one to get me that overtime win," Oliver said.
The Panthers scored, but Ferriday stopped them on the conversion.
Jefferson then flew around the right side on Ferriday's first play of overtime and scored.
"I yelled out, 'He's going the wrong way.' And one of my coaches yelled, 'Yeah, but he's going to score,'" Oliver said.
On the conversion, Jefferson rolled out to his left, looking as if he would run. He then shot-putted the ball to Derius Jolla alone in the end zone to give Ferriday the win.
The highlight of the night for me was seeing former South Natchez head football coach Ed Reed receive the Contribution to Amateur Athletics award.
Reed graduated from Delta State in 1952. He coached two years at West Point city schools, three years at Rolling Fork, eight years at Lumberton High, three years at Jackson Provine, two years at Picayune High and 12 years at South Natchez High School before taking the head coaching job at Tuscaloosa Central for 10 years.
Prior to 1981, Reed's teams achieved conference, district or regional championships. In 1980, Reed won Big EIght Coach of the Year and, in 1981, the state Coach of the Year award.
Reed's South Natchez team won the Big Eight Conference championship in 1980 and won Mississippi's first Class 5A championship by a playoff system in 1981.
"Those youngsters we had at Natchez had a lot of character," Reed said.
Reed was selected to the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Delta State Alumni Coaches Hall of Fame in 2007.
"When we were driving into Natchez, I told my wife it was like coming home," Reed said. "Our three kids went to school here and we have some great friends here."
I actually had to ask Reed about another possible state record.
In a contest against North Natchez in 1980, South Natchez, which would go on to win the Big Eight title which represented the state championship, lost to North Natchez 8-3.
Reed was highly incensed about a call not made on a fourth-down play when the Colonel players and coaches felt SN receiver Dean Brown was interfered with near the Ram 10-yard line. Elton Ford hit Brown and immediately the Colonel coaches and players charged the official near the play who threw no flag.
Three flags were thrown on the Colonels on that play. The result was 45 years in penalties, moving the Colonels back from the Ram 29-yard line to the North Natchez 24-yard line where North Natchez ran out the clock.
"The officiating was simply lovely if you were for North Natchez," Reed said after the game. "That pass interference call was the ball game. In the position he was in, I think some of those calls were utterly ridiculous."
Twenty-two years later, Reed can laugh about that night.
"I think they would have marked it all the way into the other end zone if it would have been legal," Reed said. "I was saying a few things you would not be able to print."
Reed was still humbled days after receiving his NFFHF award.
"We had a tremendous time," he said. "The honor was all ours.
Reed ran the Notre Dame Box throughout his career, even teaching his coaches at the junior high level at McLaurin, Morgantown and Martin the offense so those youngsters would be able to step right in and run the offense.
"When we went to Alabama a coach at the University of Tennessee called and said he had been looking at some of our films and was amazed by it," Reed said. "He told me, 'I believe that offense could work in college today.'"
Reed said he did have some doubters when he arrived at Tuscaloosa Central.
"They were familiar with the Notre Dame Box because of Harry Gilmer," Reed said of the former Alabama All-American who went into coaching after playing in the NFL. "I was told that offense was not going to go over here because people caught up to it years ago. They told me I was going to find myself hanging from a goal post. In my final year in the state championship game at Legion Field, the association president came in and said, 'Coach, you guys are averaging 42 points a game.' I was thinking, 'Yeah, they haven't caught up to it yet.'"
But for all his stops, Reed said nothing compares to playing in the pit behind the former Martin Junior High.
"That was unique," he said.
And so were the games against North Natchez and his former assistant coach Tom Williams.
Williams was known for his defense, as well as his elaborate suits he wore during games, sometimes changing from the pre-game warm-ups to the start of the game.
"Tom was something else," Reed said. "We were the best of friends. When we went to football camp at Co-Lin, Tom and I would room together. But one year he sent someone to spy on one of our closed practices on our practice field at South Natchez. I found out about it and called him up and said, 'Coach Tom, you send anybody back over here I am going to come after you."
Roberts followed in a long line of past speakers. He guided Delta State University to four Gulf South Conference championships and four appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs before taking the job as Southeastern Louisiana head football coach at the end of last season.
What made it even more special was that Micah Davis, who quarterbacked Delta State the past three years, introduced Roberts.
Micah's father, Glen Davis, is the head football coach at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and also coached with Reed at South Natchez.
Micah Davis, who played one year for his dad at Co-Lin, broke several passing records at Delta State and also carries a perfect record in the classroom. He becomes Delta State's second NFF National Scholar-Athlete after Michael Eubanks received the honor in 2007.
Davis was also a Connerly Award finalist, Harlon Hill finalist and Campbell's Trophy finalist
Davis graduated summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA in 2010 and is currently enrolled in Delta State's MBA program. An NCAA Elite 88 Award winner, he is a two-time member of the Academic All-Gulf South Honor Roll and the Athletic Director's Academic Hall of Fame.
A recipient of the Ben Branch Scholarship, Davis attended the New England Science Symposium at Harvard University. The President's List honoree is also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Theta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.
Micah did a great job of introducing his coach.
Roberts talked about lessons learned playing the game of football.
"On the big stage you can pay the ultimate price when you fail," Roberts said. "There are so many lessons young men learn in football and don't even realize it. The most important lesson is attitude. In most cases, young men take the same attitude they have playing the game of football into life. I want someone with a lot of zest and passion for the game of football."
Roberts told the crowd that the three most important things are winning, graduating and having fun.
"Some may ask why I don't have graduating first," Roberts said. "Well, if I don't win, I don't see them graduate."
Roberts is a winner. He will make Southeastern a winner. He certainly made the latest NFFHF banquet in Natchez a night to remember. But, then again, they all are.
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