NFFHF banquet always a crowd pleaser

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2000

When I think National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame I think Miss-Lou Scholar-Athlete scholarships awarded by the Miss-Lou NFFHF Chapter each year.

It’s really a fine idea that the National Football Foundation fosters for seven area scholar-athletes selected by the Foundation’s Board for scholarships. And area interest is high for this year’s Miss-Lou banquet that historically draws a huge crowd.

Joe Fortunato is big in this venue, as you would expect. Joe is pro-young football players, and particularly those who excel on the football field (as he did) and in the classroom (as he did).

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Senior football players from Natchez High, Cathedral, Adams Christian, Trinity, Vidalia, Ferriday and Huntington will win scholarship awards during the NFFHF Banquet scheduled Friday night, Feb. 24 at the Radisson Eola Hotel. That’s a week from this Friday.

The top scholar-athlete scholarship will be $1,500, which went to Cathedral’s Barr Biglane in ’99, followed by Hicks Winters of Trinity, whose scholarship was $750. Others are for $350.

At any rate, Fortunato was the No. 1 organizer of the Miss-Lou National Football Foundation Chapter here a few years ago, and his interest in helping young scholars who play athletics is still high.

Featured speaker for the Feb. 25 NFFHF banquet will be Louisiana Tech’s head football coach Jack Bicknell III, and everything starts with a 7 p.m. meal.

HURRIED HASH…Jim Carlisle bumped into a few old Natchez Democrat sports stories recently, and he let see ’em…An old Natchez Babe Ruth League Baseball park-dedication story – dated March 20, 1962 – caught my eye right away, as it would anyone’s … The Babe Ruth Park was dedicated to the memory of W. H. Parker and named in his honor. The season opened in ’62 on May 28. Rex Sporting Goods faced Natchez Electric in the opener, and Dorris Ballew battled Bluff City Motors in the nightcap … There were several more interesting old sports items in Jim’s findings, and I appreciate his allowing me to check ’em out.

… Dr. Howard Kisner Sr. was always a great sports conversationalist, and I’ll certainly never forget him. He played football at Natchez High way back in the mid-to-late 20s. He once sent my a copy of the 1928 (Natchez) High School Echoes, and boy did I enjoy going over it. He sent me a two-page letter as well, but I couldn’t read it (he was a doctor, remember) … Actually, I could read a little of it. Kisner – called &uot;Doc&uot; even then – was team captain in ’28, and there was a game story in his paper that followed between NHS and McComb, won by McComb 25-0 … Players mentioned besides the &uot;Captain&uot; included Julius Cloy, Bob Darling, Everette Easley, Bill Henderson, Elmer &uot;Rabbit&uot; Farr, Big Bob Whitney, Lee Chisolm and Aaron Tyre … NHS&160;played teams like Centreville (which took the &uot;Scorpions&uot; 18-0) and Crystal Springs (a 6-6 tie), Port Gibson, Brookhaven, Fayette and Woodville … Date of the Echoes was November, 1928.

… Gene McGehee and I talked about former Catholic High basketball star Vaughn Jones on several occasions. Vaughn, you see, attended Delta State part of the time Gene was playing basketball for the Statesmen … &uot;Vaughn could jump and rebound with the best,&uot; Gene told me, and, of course I remembered that he could when he starred with the Greenies … What I remember best about Jones, though, was his smooth strides on a basketball court. Smooth as glass he was. And that he caught Gene slipping in as the sixth man one Christmas Holidays season when NHS grads were playing CHS grads at the City Auditorium.