Spring football ends with more Q’s than A’s

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 31, 2015

People watching can always serve as a great form of entertainment. Throw some watermelons into the mix and humor is almost guaranteed.

At various markets, I’ve watched people test how heavy melons were, pluck it with their finger to make sure it wasn’t hollow and even pass on a few because they saw scratches on the outside. No joke, some people are convinced they can find the perfect watermelon. The funny thing about those delicious melons, though, is you can observe them, pluck them and weigh them all you want, but as local farmer Buddy Miller would always say, “Only God knows what’s inside a watermelon.”

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Miller’s classic phrase on our 2015 Spring Football tour. On the outside — against no opposition — Vidalia, Delta Charter and Trinity Episcopal Day School exhibited what looked to be a fruitful spring. Heck, it’s not every day you see young talent like ninth grade quarterbacks Tristan Weatherly, of Vidalia, and Trey Poole, of Delta Charter, run a spread offense with such ease.

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But how would they fare in live situations?

I felt like an old man thumping on the outside of a watermelon, watching Vidalia take on Wilkinson County in a spring exhibition. The hollowness of a 48-10 first half beating resonated with everyone in attendance. All heard one woman in the crowd’s pain, as she screamed at the Vikings defense, “Remember your training! Come on Vikings!”

The thing is most of the Vikings defense haven’t had the training of Wilkinson County’s elusive athletes, and that’s a factor of age. The Vidalia coaching staff was very high on the group of freshmen coming from junior high, and in the spring game, a multitude of freshmen were starting on defense. It obviously showed, but better to baptize the young’uns into fire this spring rather than the fall. Weatherly struggled, completing only 10 percent of his passes, but drops by wide receivers combined with the adjustment to the speed of the high school game had a lot to do with that.

While the score looked bleak, there were bright spots in the scrimmage. Julian Wilson will be a playmaker for the Vikings this season, and Jordan Mayes, a junior quarterback who has been somewhat overlooked because of Weatherly’s hype, made some nice plays in the second half, using his feet to get first downs and connecting on some nice throws. If I were to judge this Vidalia watermelon at first glance, I’d say the Vikings will make strides in 2015, scoring a few wins, however, fans should anticipate more struggles with the amount of young players taking starting positions.

As for Delta Charter, the Storm’s story is a lot the same. Storm quarterback Poole is kind of like a seedless yellow-meat. Just by looking at him, one might assume his size, or lack thereof, wouldn’t equate to a great talent at quarterback. But like that yellow-meat melon, Poole’s surprising athleticism and arm strength is pretty sweet.

Of course, the Storm are naturally young, with juniors being the oldest members on the team. But players like Lee Lancaster, Freddie Mango and Larry Scott are athletic enough to shoulder the weight this season. If the Storm’s offensive line holds up and Poole gets time to throw to these weapons, I like Delta Charter’s chances of making noise in LHSAA Class A.

Undoubtedly, though, the Trinity Saints are in the most enviable position of any team in the area. The Saints mostly sophomore squad last season made the semifinals, so when I saw the juniors this spring, state championship was immediately on my mind.

The Saints return Kevontaye Caston at quarterback, Cade Wells at virtually every position but offensive line, Demond Fleming and David Jackson at wide receiver and Ernest Chatman and Cortez Adams in the backfield.

Speed kills in now MAIS Class AA, because of the bump up to make 8-man football MAIS Class A. And you better believe Trinity has plenty of weapons to scorch its opponents in the fall.

The seeds have been planted around the area this spring. Will we receive ripe watermelons or will we reap a hollow harvest?


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