Friday Night Lights graduate to college

Published 12:04am Friday, February 21, 2014

NATCHEZ — It was National Signing Day all over again in Southwest Mississippi as three local athletes signed to play collegiate football within the last week.

Cathedral High School’s Josh Wilkerson and Adams County Christian School’s Matt Rymer signed Thursday, while Franklin County High School’s Chris Robinson signed last week.

Reina Kempt / The Natchez Democrat —  Cathedral High School Senior Josh Wilkerson signed Thursday with Millsaps College to play college football.
Reina Kempt / The Natchez Democrat —
Cathedral High School Senior Josh Wilkerson signed Thursday with Millsaps College to play college football.

Wilkerson chose Millsaps College for its education first, but its football program assured him he made the right choice as the Majors went 9-1 last season and were ranked 23rd in Division 3 football.

Wilkerson came to Cathedral with little football experience, and he said head coach Ron Rushing has taken him a long way in a short amount of time.

“Rushing (has helped me) a countless number of times,” Wilkerson said. “I started from the bottom. I had no idea how to play football when I started.”

Wilkerson had 34 tackles and one interception in his senor year for the Green Wave. He was also named to the MHSAA Division 4-1A All-Division Second Team.

Rushing said he is proud of the player Wilkerson has become, and he expects him to excel at Millsaps on the field and in the classroom.

“He’s come a long way since his sophomore year,” Rushing said. “He’s got a lot of potential to get better. He was the leader on the defensive side of the ball, so I think his career looks good. We’re going to miss him, but I’m glad he has the opportunity to continue his career.”

Wilkerson said he could major in pre-med as he aspires to be an doctor.

At ACCS, Rymer sat in front of he football team and his family as he inked a scholarship with Belhaven University in the school’s library.

Reina Kempt / The Natchez Democrat — Adams County Christian School Senior Matthew Rymer signs Thursday to play football with Belhaven University.
Reina Kempt / The Natchez Democrat —
Adams County Christian School Senior Matthew Rymer signs Thursday to play football with Belhaven University.

“It’s a good school,” Rymer said. “It has great academics, and the football there is really good. The program is on the rise. It’s also just two hours away from home.”

Rymer just came off one of the most productive seasons in ACCS football history in 2013 as a linebacker, leading the Rebels to the second round of MAIS Class AA playoffs.

ACCS head football coach David King said Rymer is a class athlete who works hard no matter what.

“He loves all the aspects of the game,” King said. “I am very proud to have coached him. He’s one of the most physical players I’ve been around, and that’s what will get him over the hump.

“He did a lot to revive our program to where we’re going to be going, and it started with this senior class. I have no doubt in my mind he’ll go up there to Belhaven and make us proud.”

Rymer recorded 150 total tackles, four sacks, four interceptions and one fumble recovery in his senior year as he earned an MAIS South All-Star selection, All-MAIS Football Team second team linebacker and MAIS District 5-AA All-District Co-Defensive MVP.

Rymer said he would be focusing his time and energy in the weight room and extra workouts to get ready for his freshman year as a Blazer before graduating in the spring.

He said he plans to major in education.

“I want to be a headmaster at a school somewhere,” Rymer said.

Franklin County Bulldogs running back Chris Robinson signed a scholarship with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College last week, and athletic director Chris Calcote said Robinson has the abilities to showcase his talents at MGCCC and take himself to the next level.

“He’s got a lot of heart and he has natural instincts,” Calcote said. “He’s got the tools, but he has to show he can move on to a four-year university.”

Robinson was named All-Metro second team as he tallied 179 carries for 906 yards and 17 touchdowns.

He was also named to the MHSAA Division 7-3A All-Division first team.