Congrats to Green for induction

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I want to offer my belated congratulations to Hugh Green for his induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. It is a well-deserved honor for Green.

I have written about this before, but repeating it now is timely considering Green’s honor.

Way back yonder, I was assigned to officiate the Tennessee vs. Pitt game in Knoxville, Tenn.

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One of the Tennessee captains was James Berry, then Tennessee’s premier running back.

A captain for visiting Pitt was Hugh Green, then a sophomore defensive end. Green was on his way to a second All-American season, and that would be followed by two more season as an All-American.

He would, as all fans know, go on to be second in the Heisman voting, the highest finish ever for a purely defensive player.

There was a uniqueness in that Tennessee vs. Pitt game in that all three of us were from Natchez, though neither Berry nor Green had any idea who I was. If memory serves me correctly, Berry and Green were cousins.

Most fans know that James Berry’s son, Eric, is a preseason All-America pick from Tennessee. He will anchor Tennessee’s defense this season, and will add to his record for return yardage from interceptions.

After watching tape of young Berry during his senior high school year in Fairburn, Ga., I am a little surprised that Tennessee has not seen fit to use him under center on some occasions.

Natchezian Greg Iles has written another best-seller. The Devil’s Punchbowl is based in Natchez, but, except for street and place names, it is a Natchez I don’t recall.

I am glad that stuff did not go on during my 24 years as an alderman. If it did, nobody knew about it.

Everybody knew where the Devil’s Punchbowl is, out Cemetery Road. A deep and dark hole, it has threatened to wash out Cemetery Road for many years.

I remember many years ago when an Air Force jet crashed into the bowl, killing the pilot. It seems that I remember the pilot attempted to bail out, but was either too late or his ejection seat did not work properly.

The plane, a T-33, and the pilot were not found for a number of days, which gives some indication of how dense the Devil’s Punchbowl is.

To keep this column on the sports page, I will mention that Greg Iles was a lineman on some of Trinity’s very good football teams several years ago.

That was probably during the coaching reign of Clyde Adams. Because Greg Iles went to Trinity and my kids all went to Cathedral, I mostly remember Greg as a musician.

High school football season opened last Friday night (actually Thursday night) when St. Andrew’s played Canton Academy.

Natchez High had little trouble with Jefferson County, as did Trinity against Prairie View.

Last year I mentioned I did not think ACCS had enough athletes to compete. The ones they had seem to have gotten ability and become competitive since last season, as they handled CENLA Christian with little trouble.

Huntington had problems against always-powerful Central Private. I noticed that Cathedral’s opening opponent this week, Loyd Star, upset Franklin County 12-0.

The bad weather that passed through south central Mississippi Friday caused Oak Grove to postpone its opener against Bassfield until Saturday night. Madison Central vs. Hattiesburg also started 2 1/2 hours late because of severe lighting.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a monthly column for The Democrat. Contact him at