Delta State’s sweep was team effort

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Man, did Delta State run the table or what! You know where I’m coming from, you know the Statesmen have gone from a maybe team to THE team in NCAA Division II football. Coach Steve Campbell’s superbly balanced team didn’t exactly make it look easy, but the truth is the Gulf State Conference champions are heads and shoulders above all GSC teams.

The team also stands 14-1 in the Division II throne room, and I have to wonder how Arkansas Tech this year managed to beat the Statesmen. But that’s just football.

DSU dazzled Bloomsburg (Pa.) 63-34 in last Saturday’s national championship clash in Florence, Ala. So much of the time the play in that contest looked Division I instead of Division II. Honest, the caliber was outstanding. Nine Division II championship game records were tied or broken.

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I’m proud of Delta State. I guess you can tell. And not just proud of the Statesmen’s great quarterback Josh Bright, but all those fine blockers and tacklers coach Campbell has assembled in Cleveland. It takes a village all right, but it required picture blocking and tackling in Delta State’s case.

Quarterbacking? Josh Bright was simply outstanding in his quarterbacking role; the football star properly judged by the prestigious Conerly Trophy voters as Mississippi’s best college football player was just too much for a good Bloomsburg ball club.

And wasn’t Bright versatile! Execution was the key, that is if you don’t tarry in the pure athleticism department. Big Josh, at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, would pump and Bloomsburg defenders would panic. He would keep and they’d panic again. He ran like a fullback and passed like a quarterback. Both good guns.

Fact is, Delta State rushed for 524 yards (649 running and passing), and big Josh Bright himself gained 175 yards on the ground, and scored three touchdowns. What can you do about that kind of performance from the quarterback? You’d think defenders would break a big, tall guy like that in two. Not big Bright.

The real good news is that Bright has another year to go at DSU. Can you imagine what they’ll be like a year from now? Hey, the Batesville junior kept 22 times and hit six of his 11 passes. What could Bloomsburg do? Josh passed for 1,428 yards and 14 TDs on the year! But that could have been easy, judging by his rushing (1,495 yards and 21 TDs) capabilities.

Delta State’s 2000 football Statesmen are the talk of Mississippi. And I’m not just talkin’. Just braggin’ is more like it.

HURRIED&160;HASH – Harry Hall, Natchez High Rebel tailback-quarterback, told me once that in 1942 (or was it ’43?) a Vicksburg High player stepped up just before NHS ran a play and asked kinda smart alec-like: &uot;Where’s the ‘big’ guy, when are you gonna let us see the ‘big’ guy?&uot; Harry said on the next play the ‘big’ guy ran through the Greenies’ defense like it wasn’t there! The big guy? Why who else but fullback Ray Wise, who was indeed big, but not slow by any stretch. In case you might not remember, Ray was great, that’s what he was.

CHRIS SHIVERS, reigning world champion in Professional Bullriding, doesn’t go much for the hero status that’s his around his hometown of Jonesville, La. In fact, the 22-year-old master of the bullride is shy. But if by chance you have turned in to the fast-paced PBR televised show when Chris is riding you’ve gotten an eye-full. He’s something; he is in fact the leading money winner on the circuit, as you would expect. And last Friday in his hometown Chris was Christmas Parade grand marshal. Atta way, Chris.

Glenvall Estes is a long time sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.