Former Huntington players find new homes at area schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2010

NATCHEZ — Senior athlete Kevin Brown had a de facto period of free agency for a short time this year — but not by choice.

Brown played running back at Huntington, but was left without a team when the school closed its doors in May. Now, Brown and several other Hounds teammates have made their way to another local private school.

Trinity Episcopal picked up Brown, senior defensive end Hunter Knapp, sophomore defensive end Jared Hedrick and sophomore athlete Garrett Vinson. Together, the four said they’re hoping to help bring a state title back to the Saints faithful.

“We chose to come to Trinity because they have a winning tradition, and we want to be a part of a winning program,” Brown said.

“Coming in to replace key players such as R.J. (Fleming), Deacon Newman and a lot of others, that’s a tough job to come into. But I feel like we have to stay humble as a team to achieve our goals, which is a state championship. So we have some big shoes to fill.”

And Hedrick said the coaching staff at Trinity has made it very clear what’s expected of them.

“They expect us to try hard and give 100 percent, and to always show up to practice. As long as we try to get better, we’ll get bigger over the summer,” Hedrick said.

Trinity head coach David King said fitting in hasn’t been a problem for the transfers.

“One of our strengths has always been how our kids accept new teammates, and this time has been no exception,” King said.

“They’ve fallen right in, and they all have a lot of enthusiasm and want to work hard. They registered early and have been with us for two months, so they know there are great expectations here and that they have to work hard.”

Knapp confirmed the accepting attitude of the veteran Trinity players.

“When I got here, I was accepted pretty well, and it was easy fitting in. I’m definitely hungry to win a state championship,” Knapp said.

Even though he’s a converted Saint, Vinson said it was still weird for him to not be attending Huntington anymore.

“I live by the school and see it a lot, and it doesn’t seem like it’s closed down. It’s as though it’s just sitting there and I’m going to a different school,” Vinson said.

And that’s something King said he’s sympathetic toward his new players about.

“These kids didn’t have a choice (in transferring), so we understand how tough that is,” King said.

Other former Huntington athletes that have since moved on to other schools are hard to come by. Catherdral head coach Ron Rushing and ACCS head coach Paul Hayles both said none of the Huntington athletes transferred to their schools.

Vidalia High School got one transfer in sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Jones, Vikings head coach Gary Parnham Jr. said.

“He was here part of his freshman year, then transferred over to Huntington, and came back when they closed,” Parnham said.

Jones said having been at Vidalia before made the adjustment easier for him.

“I live here, so it’s not hard for me to adjust. The team’s good and will probably get better, and I’ve pretty much converted to being a Vidalia Viking,” Jones said.

It’s possible some athletes from Huntington followed former Hounds head coach Chad Harkins to Ferriday High School when he was hired there. Harkins could not be reached for comment.