Ferriday’s Cummings channels inner lion as head coach

Published 12:02 am Sunday, September 7, 2014


Cummings, a former Ferriday Trojan football player, let’s the player in him dictate his actions sometimes.

Rather than standing by and watching his first-team defense practice against a simulated Natchez offense, Cummings took the ball and ran with it, literally.

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Under center, Cummings took the snap and choreographed the Bulldogs’ offense against the Trojans’ starting defense, talking trash and firing up his players while he does it.

“They respond to that intensity,” Cummings would say later.

The extra coaching effort took its toll on the head coach, who sat in his living room with his family after another long day of work. CleOnia and Cloi had Lifetime reality dance series “Bring it!” on the television, and Cummings admitted that he enjoys watching it with them.

“I like that girl there,” said Cummings, petting a small pit bull named “Money” in his lap. “She pushes them like a football coach.”

Like football dominates the life of their father, dance mandates the lives of Cloi, 12, and Cle’Onia, 14. Cle’Onia is a member of the Ferriday Trojan dance team, and Cloi hopes to join her sister when she’s old enough.

“They need a record deal,” said Cummings, looking back at his two daughters on the couch. “If they’re not dancing, they’re singing.”

Ferriday High School head football coach Cleothis Cummings plays with one of the family’s puppies, Money, at home with his family Wednesday.  (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Ferriday High School head football coach Cleothis Cummings plays with one of the family’s puppies, Money, at home with his family Wednesday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

As Cummings laughed with his family and reminisced about all of the great athletes that came through Ferriday’s football program, he acknowledged the significance of the program. It’s a program that children who are raised in Ferriday look up to and anticipate contributing to. If not for its existence, Cummings believed some players would travel down the wrong road in life, himself included.

“Ferriday football saved so many of their lives,” said Cummings, who graduated from Ferriday in 1999. “It saved mine before. I can’t explain how important it is to our community.”


Hype was at a fever pitch Thursday afternoon.

As the players came out for walkthroughs on the eve of the Trojans’ season opener, Cummings and his coaching staff did their best to fire up the group. They didn’t have to try hard. After all, the players have been itching to play Natchez again since falling to the Bulldogs 36-22 a year ago.

The players went home to rest, while Cummings revisited his Facebook page, adding another lion to his “wall” before he went to bed.


Ferriday’s speed and athleticism created gasps from Natchez fans in the first quarter.

Cummings’ bunch came out swinging, taking a 12-6 lead off of two Dontrell Domino rushing touchdowns.

The celebration from Cummings and his sideline would be eradicated by a resilient Natchez bunch that tied the game and took a 28-12 lead into halftime.

Cummings and his players gathered around before the start of the second half. Like a father to his sons, or in this case, like a respected coach to his gutsy, fatigued players, Cummings delivered a heartfelt speech.

“If you want to be victorious, you have to let everything go right now,” said Cummings in a light tone. “Let’s go get this win, man. This is what it’s all about, right?”