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Youth football team hosts awards banquet

Natchez Falcons A team player Jaylin Pollard, 13, hugs coach Ernest Wood Sr. as he accepts his MVP award Saturday night at the Falcons Youth Club sports banquet at the Steckler Building. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — After signing up for the Natchez Falcons youth football team for the first time, Chris Scott said he never imagined he would still be playing five years later.

But Scott, who played quarterback for the Falcons’ A team this past fall, was one of several players honored for being one of the teams’ original players when it was formed Saturday night at the team’s banquet at Natchez High School’s Steckler Multipurpose Building.

“It’s been fun,” said Scott, who was also recognized as the A team’s offensive MVP. “I loved the traveling, the physical play, getting better, playing with friends and staying out of trouble.”

Shavoke Herrington, 13, grins as the coaches describe his improvement over the season and award him with Most Improved Player on the Natchez Falcons A team Saturday night during the league's banquet. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

The Natchez Falcons consist of the A, B and C teams that are divided by age groups. Each team competed against others in Mississippi Youth Sports Association this past fall. Players for the three teams, along with the team’s cheerleading squad, were honored at the banquet Saturday.

League director Darryl Smith said the banquet was meant to recognize players for their hard work throughout the season.

“They came out during the summer when it was hot and worked hard, and they didn’t complain,” Smith said. “They go on road trips and do everything the team asks them to do. We wanted to show our appreciation.”

Morgantown Middle School football coach Henry Garner was the guest speaker Saturday night, and he talked to the local youth about the importance of paying the price and setting goals in life.

“You have to set goals and have a plan and determination to reach those goals,” Garner said. “If kids can learn it at a young age, that’s a life-long education.”

Scott, whose team made it to the Mississippi Youth Sports Association championship game before falling to the Jackson Redskins, said his team learned the importance of paying the price during the season.

“It was pretty rough (in 2011),” Scott said. “We weren’t big or strong enough, and we didn’t have the physical workouts we needed. This past year, we had more training time.”

Teammate Ernest Woods Jr., who was also one of the team’s first players to sign up five years ago, said he was glad he kept playing during the last five years.

“It feels good, because most people couldn’t stay in that long because the practices were too hard,” he said.

DeKalah Jackson, 7, is all smiles after being awarded "Best Smile" for the Natchez Falcons cheerleaders Saturday night during the league's banquet at the Steckler Building. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

Garner said several members of the Falcons played for Morgantown last season, and he’s looking forward to getting a few more as they move up to middle school.

“The ones I had on my team gave me everything they had,” Garner said. “They worked hard and are fundamentally sound. I couldn’t ask for more, and for the ones coming up, I expect the same thing.”

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