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|NFFHF banquet always entertaining|
As usual, the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Miss-Lou Chapter banquet was a big hit.
The class organization held its 32nd banquet Thursday in Natchez, and once again it was a memorable night starting with guest speaker Hugh Freeze up to the distribution of awards.
Freeze lived up to his billing and hype with an entertaining and motivational speech before having to board his flight back to Oxford.
Freeze talked about realizing your purpose.
"No one has your vision," he said. "No one is like you. You are not going to bump into yourself on the sidewalk."
He asked the young junior high and high school student-athletes what they were preparing for.
"You have to have a foundation and you have to want to be efficient," he said. "Our offensive coaches want to have our team becoming a scoring machine. Our defensive coaches want our players to be relentless, pursue the football and everybody knock the snot out of somebody.. Our recruiters want to pursue the best student-athletes."
Freeze coached Michael Oher in high school and was featured in the movie, "The Blind Side."
"On day one, Michael did not know how to say what he wanted, but he knew he did not want to end up like his brothers and he understood football was his way out," Freeze said.
Freeze talked about attitude and having the change the attitude of players when he got to Ole Miss.
"How will I define who I am and what I become," Freeze related his speech to the players. "You have to condition your mind and talk to yourself like that. You have to have the ability to focus through adversity, the vision to maintain it, listen to others and have the ability to be kind. There are way too many people checking out mentally from this game of life."
Dakota Vaughn of Cathedral won the top scholarship of $3,000.
Garrett Rhemes of Vidalia won the second top prize of $2,250.
Natchez High's Gregory Jackson took home the $1,750 scholarship, while Jarvis Brooks of Ferriday, Peyton Young of Trinity and Tyler Buckles of ACCS were awarded $1,000 scholarships.
Freddie Sandel had to do some last-minute juggling after Freeze's flight plans were altered. But Sandel and company pulled it off.
I would have to put Freeze in my top three of speakers. Houston Nutt was very dynamic.
My third spot would be between Sylvester Croom, Daryl Daye and Ed Orgeron.
I'm not counting the few I missed, so Archie Manning is not eligible.
Because Freeze's pilot was closing in on his max 12 hours in the air, Freeze had to give his speech before the dinner portion of the banquet.
Nutt had to cut out early four years ago because of a team meeting.
It was disappointing Freeze had to cut out early, but he did it with a lot more class than Nutt, who would have put up a great time at the NFL Combine leaving the room after his speech.
Freeze took the time to take a group photo with the junior high and high school student-athletes, mingled a bit and signed some autographs before heading for the Natchez airport.
I had the honor of introducing former South Natchez athlete and coach Joey Porter, who received the Contributor to Amateur Football award.
I had to share a story about how each spring I would receive the National Federation of State High School Associations record book. I would turn straight to baseball and sure enough, at the top of most shutouts in consecutive games and most consecutive shutout innings was Joey Porter. And every year I would call Joey and ask him about that streak and he would have to give the same humble and modest answer. I think he was hoping somebody would break it so I would stop bugging him. So after Joey called me to introduce him I went straight to the NFHS Web Site and sure enough, Joey Porter is still No. 1 in both categories.
In 1973, Porter pitched 11 consecutive shutout games and 80 consecutive shutout innings.
Three other names among the top 11 were David Wells, David Clyde and Scott McGregor. That's quite an accomplishment and really amazing.
In 2000, I did a poll asking Miss-Lou residents to vote for the top athlete in the Miss-Lou for the 1900s.
Porter finished second to Tony Byrne as Athlete of the Century. Perry Lee Dunn placed third.
Porter went on to successful coaching stints at South Natchez and Columbia High in Mississippi.
Former Mississippi State Senator Bob M. Dearing received the Distinguised American Award for the second time.
Dearing was introduced by Byrne.
It was another eventful and entertaining night presented by the Miss-Lou Chapter.
I'm already looking forward to next year.
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