As August approaches, Miss-Lou football hype heightens
Sometimes our paths toward our destiny are inescapable.
For me, I guess my fate began writing itself when I was 7 years old walking the sidelines of local ballgames with a pen and pad in hand, shadowing my father Joey Martin.
I made a habit of making $5 every Friday night for “taking stats,” so it’s only natural I would follow in my father’s footsteps and take up sports writing as a career, right? A slam dunk, no doubt, but I never realized the path would be so identical.
At 22 years old, a year removed from college, I’m covering the same teams I “covered” when I was 7. Furthermore, I find myself sitting in the same newsroom as my father did for 25 years.
Don’t worry, though, I’ve learned from his mistakes. You won’t catch me betting my hair that no team in the area will go undefeated. Yeah, ask Dad about that next time you see him at a ballgame, or better yet, ask my mom if you can see the wedding photo where the damage of his shaved head still remained.
Safe to say I won’t be making any outrageous wagers before the season. And I guess that’s partly because I’ve spent the majority of my summer getting to know the local talent.
Players like Trey Fleming, Lester Wells, Torrey Smith and Parker Rymer from Adams County Christian School have me believing in a possible undefeated season in the area.
Cathedral’s bulky, agile offensive line, one that offensive line coach Kurt Russ has repeatedly told me is the best line he’s ever had, has me thinking positively about the Green Wave’s playoff aspirations.
Not every team will be a contender unfortunately. Because Natchez High School found a new coach in Melvin Pete one month before their season, anything above .500 will be a win for the Bulldogs. Though I’m not exactly high on the Bulldogs’ chances given the circumstances, I’m still anxious to see how Pete can use versatile playmakers like Sidney Davis in open space.
While Zach Rogel experienced the lowest of lows with players transferring and leaving his program in the summer, the first year head coach at Trinity impressed me with his fortitude and ability to fill the vacancies with other athletic players. If the team embodies Rogel’s resiliency, talks of repeating as state champs should surface.
Don’t sleep on our neighboring Louisiana schools either. If one were to cast a vote for coach of the year before the season, Vidalia’s Jeff Hancock would get my vote hands down with the job he’s done with the Vikings. He sought the help of a local legend in Dee Faircloth, while making the program his by regenerating excitement back into a program that desperately needed it. The Vikings may fall short of the playoffs in 2014, but I expect this tenacious, aggressive bunch to pull off an upset or two.
As for Cleothis Cummings in Ferriday, well, he might have the best set of skill players he’s had with the Trojans. Be on the lookout for names Ronald Davis, Shannon Morales and J’Shon Foster this fall. Health permitting, Ferriday’s breakout season could come in 2014.
You won’t have to wait long to see the results these teams provide either. Football season is approaching quickly, which means life in general is about to get a lot more exciting. The sound of high school bands, the sight of amateur athletes pouring their hearts out on the gridiron and those bright high beams that light up the sky every Friday night will generate a collective rush for the great sports fans in the Miss-Lou.
Like a moth to a flame, or more fittingly, like a mosquito to a person’s uncovered skin, I, like many of you, draw toward the Friday night lights.
I suppose being the son of a sports writer played a part in it.
JAKE MARTIN is a sports writer of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or email@example.com.