Rebels are contenders, not pretenders

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

Peanut Boyd, here we come! That reference would have to be to Gary “Peanut” Boyd, former Natchez athlete now of Rogersville, just out of Springfield, Mo. And what famous little city is just coincidentally close? Why that would have to be Branson, of course.

My bride of 62 years, Lorene, and I plan to be there to dine at Peanut and Debbie’s truly outstanding Hungry Fisherman Restaurant along about this time next week. Oh, but first let’s get this sports column written for this week.

And what better quickie comment than Vidalia coach Dee Faircloth’s notching career victory No. 200 against McCall last Friday night! A wily football coach if I ever saw one, Dee gets the maximum out of his troops, and he’s “maximum great guy.” Atta way, coach. Now for 300 at Vidalia High.

Email newsletter signup

Tell me it ain’t so … MISSISSIPPI STATE “didn’t” lose to Troy State! Stranger things have happened in college football, but it has been a while. Troy State will soon be Division I, I understand, so maybe their program’s already there. Still, I feel for coach Jackie Sherrill and his Bulldogs. Don’t sell the ‘Dawgs short, though.

Just the opposite happened for the Ole Miss Rebels, who took Alabama in a big SEC game at Oxford. In this game young Eli Manning truly showed signs of Manning-style (ol’ dad Archie and brother Peyton) clutch quarterbacking.

Eli, in fact, made believers of any possible skeptics that he can operate under the gun, for if there’s ever to be an under-the-gun situation it was last Saturday in Oxford against big, bad, favored Alabama – 27-24, Rebels! Alabama safety Waine Bacon praised Manning, subsequently named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.

Ole Miss is a “suspect” in the SEC&160;Western Division this year. A serious contender, I mean. Oxford’s the Rebs’ home, Atlanta their avowed destination. Don’t accuse me of guessing a division title for Ole Miss. Not unequivocally.

Someone mentioned 1950 Natchez High football the other day and, guess what, I just happened to have a little composition book detailing quite a bit about the Rebels of way back then. I merely rushed back to my writing room and checked it out.

Bill Zimmerman, a fine tackle who later shone at Mississippi State, led all tackles nominated in the vote-getting for All Big Eight. He was a senior, and although he wasn’t as big as some (Bill was a little over six-feet and weighed about 195) he played plenty big. He was kinda special to NHS coach A. I. Rexinger.

Any of you ’50 Rebels remember Chris Andrews of Greenwood or Tommy Lee of Jackson? Well, ol’ Bill gave them a run for their money in the balloting for Most Valuable Player that year. Lee won out. Laurel’s Arthur Van Tone was named the league’s Most Outstanding Coach.

Natchez’s own Charles Gilbert caught 16 passes in ’50. Vernon Ventress was the Natchez quarterback, and the three top receivers that fall were Johnny Smith with 20 receptions, Gilbert with 16 and Benny Jack Wilson with nine.

Topping off this little history lesson, I should tell you that coach Rexinger’s Rebels were only 5-4-1 on the year, but they were special to fans. For good reason.

Look for me to be right back here Just Talkin’ again three weeks from today.