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Miss-Lou Chapter National Football Foundation hosts Scholastic Awards Thursday

NATCHEZ — The Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame will hold its 39th Scholastic Awards Banquet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hotel Vue.

Six local high school seniors will be awarded $10,000 in scholarships. The senior scholar-athletes represent Adams County Christian School, Cathedral High, Delta Charter School, Ferriday High, Natchez High and Vidalia High School. One senior athlete who wins the first-place scholastic award will receive $3,000. A second-place scholarship of $2,250 and a third-place scholarship of $1,750 will also be awarded.

The remaining scholar athletes receive a $1,000 scholarship each.

The seniors receiving the scholarships are selected by their head coach and the academic counselor at their school for the scholarship. This year’s seniors are Cooper Williams, Adams County Christian School; Christopher L. Johnson, Cathedral High School; Ny’Kell Brooks, Delta Charter; Kobe Dillon, Ferriday High School; Desnick Bolden, Natchez High; and Roderick Ray Ransom Jr., Vidalia High School.

Freddie Sandel, president of the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation, said the seniors selected for the scholarships are an outstanding group.

“We have a good group of kids this year,” Sandel said. “They have high standards, they have done a lot for their community and school.”

Six scholar athletes from the local junior high middle schools also will be recognized along with their coaches. The local junior high and middle school scholar athletes will receive certificates.

This year’s junior high and middle school athletes are Samuel Merriett, Adams County Christian School; Robert ‘Noah’ Russ, Cathedral Middle School; Ethan Keith, Delta Charter School; Aiden Tuern, Ferriday Junior High; Justin Dunbar, Robert Lewis Magnet; and Ashton Cupstid, Vidalia Junior High.

The banquet will also include the presentation of two awards to local supporters. Catherine Fortunato and Nancy Keuhnle will receive ‘The Contributions to Amateur Football’ award. Clarence Bowlin will be presented ‘The Distinguished American Award.’

Walt Brown, who was presented the Contributions to Amateur Football Award in 2019, said receiving the award was pretty cool.

“I missed the meeting when the Miss-Lou Chapter nominated me, so I couldn’t turn it down,” Brown said. “It was very nice and I was surprised.”

Thursday’s event will include a keynote speech by John Cohen, Athletic Director at Mississippi State University. Coach Cohen is the only coach in the SEC history to win an SEC Championship and advance to the College World Series, both as a player and as a head coach. He is also one of two head baseball coaches in SEC history to lead multiple schools to SEC titles.

Before speaking at the Scholastic Awards Banquet on Thursday night, Cohen will speak at a winter luncheon for the Adams-Franklin-Wilkinson Chapter of the Mississippi State Alumni Association from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Grand Hotel.

Sandel said Miss-Lou Chapter selected Cohen as this year’s speaker because of the way he captures the crowd.

“He is an outstanding speaker and he will captivate the crowd,” Sandel said. “I was totally taken by surprise when he talked with the Natchez Chamber of Commerce. That was the best motivational speech I have heard.”

Tickets to the banquet cost $25 at the door and purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased from local members of the Miss Lou Chapter of the NFF, by calling Sandel at 601-442-9246 or by going to Terry Estes’ State Farm Insurance at 35 Sergeant Prentiss Dr. in Natchez.