Small quarterbacks can compete

Published 1:09 am Thursday, December 31, 2009

I guess Santa Claus and his reindeer gave coal to the Southern Mississippi football team in the form of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

The Blue Raiders quarterback, Dwight Dasher, is only 5’10” tall and 190 pounds and he gives lie to the necessity of a major college quarterback having to be at least 6’2” tall to see over the defensive line.

Those guys are all now 6’6” at least, and no quarterback sees over them. They all see around the linemen.

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Recently, I watched the Mississippi North vs. South All-Star Game in Gulfport. The South’s quarterback was Dylan Favre, nephew of Brett Favre.

Standing only 5’10” tall, the young Favre easily picked apart the North defense, leading his team to a 24-17 victory that wasn’t that close until the final minutes.

Though there were no players from Natchez in the game, Bobby O’Quinn from Franklin County did play for the South team.

Step-grandson DeFoe West played every offensive snap for the North.

In stark contrast from an earlier North semifinal game in Batesville, the All-Star game saw only four or five penalties.

Most of those were for illegal formation, meaning that a linebacker had rushed the passer without first being in a down position on the line of scrimmage, which was one of the special rules for that game.

In the mentioned playoff game, the officiating crew called 34 penalties (plus another 10 that were not enforced). That is awfully hard to imagine in a 48-minute game.

I did not know any of the officials in either that playoff game or the All-Star game, but did see Natchez’s Merriel McCelleis officiate an earlier playoff game among 6A teams, and he did a very good job.

I have been unable to access the Web site I previously used to get up-to-date Southeastern Conference officiating news, so I do not know how many SEC football officials have been assigned to work bowl games this season.

The SEC did send a nation-leading 10 teams to bowl games, and that should translate into five full crews of seven officials each getting bowl assignments, but that has not worked out quite that well in recent years.

As I wrote several years ago, in the earlier years, officials were picked by opposing coaches.

That usually meant that an official who had played for or with a head coach, though that official could not officiate a regular season game for that school, was not subject to that restriction in a bowl game. An official could still not officiate for his alma mater.

Speaking of officiating, I noticed that Sarah Thomas, about whom I wrote a couple of years ago, worked the Little Caesar’s Bowl between Ohio and Marshall.

I believe I read that Ms. Thomas now lives on the coast, but lived in Brandon or Pearl when I met her.

I wrote then that she did a very good job officiating a tough high school game, and I felt she could officiate at a higher level.

My heartiest congratulations to Sarah Thomas, and I hope she enjoyed her bowl experience.

Maybe by the time my January column rolls around, I will have found my way back onto the proper Web page to get information about the SEC football officials, and can bring readers up to date.

Until then, that’s official.

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