FHS seniors’ legacies secured in Friday win

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 2, 2014

The story Melz Field repeats time and time again is an ageless one.

The latest characters to perform on this grand local stage was a special group of seniors.

As Ferriday alumni, like former New Orleans Saints player Kerwin Cook, gathered at the homecoming game, four Ferriday seniors repeated a story familiar to hardcore football fans in the Miss-Lou — a comeback win at home with the band willing the team down the field in the closing minutes..

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Senior wide receiver Allen Cummings started the climax of this 15-14 win against Jonesboro-Hodge, cuing the band to play that comeback tune after a remarkable catch on 4th-and-10 from the Trojans’ 7-yard line. After Cummings made the play, I looked at my father, Joey Martin, on the sidelines and told him I’m talking to Cummings after the game no matter what, because quite frankly, the kid doesn’t get enough press. Cummings, who is arguably the most underrated player in the area because he isn’t targeted enough, did what he always seemingly does —made a play in a clutch situation. But again, his statline (two catches for 27 yards) doesn’t express a player that’s deserving of All-Metro status. Perfect reason why you have to take statistics with a grain of salt, as Cummings is certainly All-Metro material.

Following the incredible reception, it was senior quarterback Shannon Morales’ turn to further spark an energetic crowd. Morales, who hit J’Shon Foster for a 40-yard gain to put the Trojans in the Tigers’ territory, used his arm and feet to move the Trojans down for the score. Morales’ play of the game surprisingly didn’t come on the last-minute drive, though. Morales, who is pretty much a bulky linebacker playing quarterback, mishandled a punt, picked up the loose ball and hurdled a defender to make a first down on the Trojans’ first scoring drive in the second quarter. I’ve talked to many coaches in the area about Morales this year, and Vidalia coach Jeff Hancock, who has nearly 20 years of college coaching experience, said he would be recruiting Morales right now if he was still coaching at that level.

Of course, Ferriday’s defense deserves a lot of credit for limiting Jonesboro-Hodge to 234 yards of total offense. Senior cornerback J’Veion Hardaway had another shut-down performance, and Hardaway even made a sensational leaping reception to contrbiute to the Trojans’ offense in the game, as well. Hardaway is an all-business type of guy, refusing to crack a smile during the halftime homecoming festivities.

Back to the last-minute drive, you knew Ferriday head coach Cleothis Cummings was going to dial up All-Metro Player of the Year contender Dontrell Domino’s number on the drive. Cleothis called for screens and flares, including a 9-yard touchdown pass from Morales to Domino to bring the Trojans within one. Domino finished the game with 107 total yards, which is almost considered a bad night for a player that has averaged nearly 200 rushing yards per game this season.

Following the game, I talked with an emotional Cleothis Cummings about this senior class, and their ability to make plays and come through in the clutch. Cleothis, like his nephew Allen after the game, choked on his words a little bit when I talked about this remarkable group.

“This was my first group as a head coach going back to middle school,” Cleothis said. “I’m just glad they got an opportunity to win their first homecoming in a long time, man.”

Shannon, Allen, J’Veion and Dontrell are the definition of what Ferriday football means to this area. As Allen wept after making the game-winning 2-point conversion, he looked at me and said, “Look at my eyes. This feels so good.”

It’s easy to root for kids who play for the love of the game, who put everything they have on the field until it leaves them in tears following the game’s outcome. That’s what this beautiful game is all about — changing boys into men, who fight for each other like brothers.

This senior group is going to be missed by Cleothis, Ferriday football fans and, admittedly, yours truly.


JAKE MARTIN is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or jake.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.