Senior athletes awarded $11K in scholarships during annual scholastic banquet

Published 11:54 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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NATCHEZ — A total of 12 Miss-Lou athletes were honored and $11,000 in scholarships were awarded Tuesday night during the 41st annual Scholastic Awards Banquet sponsored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Miss-Lou Chapter.

The banquet was held at the Father David O’Connor Family Life Center, where Jones College Head Coach and South Natchez graduate Steve Buckley was the featured speaker.  He motivated students to chase their dreams, but also be prepared to bloom wherever they’re planted even though it may not be where they want to be.

“Success in life is not what happens to you,” he said. “It’s how you handle it. So handle it.”

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Braeden Jarrod Gregg of Cathedral High School is the recipient of the top scholarship award of $3,000. Gregg is the son of Jarrod and Melissa Gregg.

He played outside linebacker on defense and fullback or tight end on offense for the Cathedral Green Wave. He was selected to the All-Metro Defensive Team in 2023, to the second team All-District 3-5A and was awarded the 2023 “Golden Helmet” Award for Cathedral football.

Gregg was the recipient of the Betsy James Memorial Scholarship for the highest biology and chemistry average and, was accepted into the Sally Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi. Gregg also has the highest average of his class in Religion, Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Graphic Design, and AP English Composition.

He has made the Principal’s List throughout his high school career and is a member of the National Honor Society and a Key Club senior representative. He volunteers at the Natchez Stewpot, Cathedral’s Fall Festival, and is a Peer Ministry member and a junior varsity football worker. His grade point average is 4.3019. He also scored a 30 on his ACT and is ranked first in his class of 36 students.

A committee from Copiah-Lincoln Community College ranks the scholarship recipients from a list of worthy scholars and athletes, one from each public and private high school in Natchez and Concordia Parish.

Two students tied for the next highest award of $2,000 — Davis Maxim Cooper of Delta Charter School and Kabari Jakel Davis of Vidalia High School — and two more tied for third highest award of $1,500 — Kaleb Bailey of Adams County Christian School and Troy Jones of Natchez Early College.

“We had some good choices here and it was difficult,” said Walt Brown, emcee of the scholastic awards banquet on Tuesday evening. “We added $1,000 to kick it up a bit. We raised all of the (scholarship) money with donations and with our annual golf tournament, the Joe Fortunato – Allen Brown Memorial Golf Classic.”

Cooper is the son of Chad and Leslie Cooper. He played middle linebacker on defense and fullback on offense for the Delta Charter Storm.

In 2021, as a sophomore, he made “All-Parish” on defense and was voted “Most Improved.” Also in 2021, he made Second Team All-District linebacker. In 2022, Cooper was the “Defensive Most Valuable Player” having made All-Metro, All-Parish, and First Team All-District. In 2023, Cooper was the District Defensive “Most Valuable Player” and made First Team All-District Linebacker. In baseball in 2023, he was “Defensive MVP” and made Second Team All-District.

Cooper has consistently been on the Delta Charter’s Honor Roll, a member of the Beta Club, and won the “Honesty and Integrity” award. His community service includes four years each with Breakfast with Santa, helping paint the Delta Storm’s football field, and participation in fundraisers for St. Jude. For one year, Cooper participated in Operation G.R.I.T.S. (Gifts Raised in the South) supporting U.S. soldiers overseas and a fundraiser supporting a family in need.

His grade point average is 3.8 and he scored a 25 on his ACT and is ranked 10th in his class of 31.

Kalbari Davis is the son of Kale and LaDonna Davis.

He played running back on offense and linebacker on defense for the Vidalia High School Vikings. Davis is a three-year varsity starter for the Vikings and made All-District for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 football seasons.

In 2022, he was selected by the LSWA as an All-State Class 2A team member and was an All-CenLa selection as a linebacker. In 2023, he was selected First Team All-District as a linebacker and was selected All-State Class 2A by the LSWA.

Academically, Davis is a two-time Sidney A. Murray Jr. Citizenship Award recipient and a Concordia Parish Honors Banquet Member.

Davis is on the Superintendent’s List and an LHSAA All-Academic (Division IIl) Football Team Selection. He is a member of Beta, the Student Council, and DECA where he serves as Vice President of Protocol and Conduct in the DECA Club. Davis is also on the VHS basketball team.

A playoff game Tuesday evening against the Rayville Hornets prevented Davis from attending Tuesday night’s scholastic awards banquet.

Davis volunteers with the Salvation Army as a bell ringer during the holiday season and is a member of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. He has a 3.79 grade point average, scored 24 on his ACT, and is ranked 9th in his class of 82.

The $1,500 scholarship winner, Bailey is the son of Hendra Bailey.
He played guard or tackle on offense and tackle on defense for the ACCS Rebels.

Academically, Bailey had the highest average in math, science, and English throughout his high school career. He also was the recipient of the Bronze Award.

For two consecutive years, he was selected to the Second Team All-MATS, and, was selected Second Team Clarion Ledger All-State. Bailey is a member of the National Honor Society, BETA Club, and Key Club. He is a Junior Deacon at Macedonia Baptist Church.

His GPA is 3.78, he scored 20 on the ACT and is ranked 10th in his class of 44.

The second $1,500 scholarship winner, Jones is the son of Troylynn Thomas.

He played running back on offense, and linebacker or safety on defense for the Natchez High School Bulldogs.

Jones was awarded the “Captain’s Award” and the “Academic Award” for the Bulldogs.

Academically, he is a member of the National Honor Society and a member of the Beta Club. He is an active member of the Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ.

His grade point average is 3.78 and he scored 23 on his ACT.

Aiden Demarion Turner of Ferriday High School is the recipient of the $1,000 scholarship award.

He is the son of Kimberly Turner.

Turner played wide running back on offense and linebacker on defense for the Ferriday High Trojans and was named player of the week.

Turner’s academic honors include the honor roll and being a consistent member of the Principal’s List. He is a member of the Full Body Apostolic Church where he helps feed the elderly once a month and visits nursing home patients regularly.

Turner maintains a 2.70 grade point average and scored 18 on his ACT.

He is ranked 19th in his class of 52.

A plaque was given to each of the six middle school honorees, including Murphy Allen Roche’ of Adams County Christian School, Robert Douglas Smith of Cathedral Middle School, Andrew Keith of Delta Charter School, Zy’lon Alexander of Ferriday Junior High School, Terrence Logan of Natchez Middle School, and Ace Maddix Brixey of Vidalia Junior High School.

Additionally, the late Newt Willis was honored posthumously with the Contributions to Amateur Football Award and Johnny Junkin with the Distinguished American Award, both of which are voted on by the chapter.