Franklin County, Port Gibson share top in Division 6-3A
If predictions are anywhere close to what the Division 6-3Acoaches are thinking, then the 2000 Division 6-3A season should bea real horse race.
If predictions are anywhere close to what the Division 6-3Acoaches are thinking, then the 2000 Division 6-3A season should bea real horse race. For the first time ever during The DailyLeader’s annual preseason poll rankings, a deadlock for firstplace occurred between the Bulldogs of Franklin County and the BlueWaves of Port Gibson. Both teams received 30 overall votes and twofirst place votes.
Defending Division 6-3A champion Wilkinson County placed a closethird with 29 overall points and two first place votes. Divisionrunner-up Amite County placed fourth with 25 votes and one firstplace vote. Rounding out the rest of the Division 6-3A poll wasHazlehurst at fifth with 14 votes, Jefferson County sixth with 13votes, and North Pike receiving the divisional doormat with justsix overall votes.
Asked about his Bulldogs and their first place selection,Franklin County coach Michael Goff said, “It’s nice to beconsidered for it. It (preseason rankings) doesn’t mean much. It’swhat we do on the field, that will determine our success.”
Most Division 6-3A coaches expect the Bulldogs’ 15 hungryseniors to carry the load this upcoming season.
“They’re a lot like we were last year,” said Wilkinson CountyWildcat coach John Moore. “They return a lot of seniors. They alsobring back three fast and powerful running backs in Hickingbottom,McNair, and Woodcock.”
The Bulldogs return most of their 1999 starters, except forquarterback, where Alcorn State signee Marcus Briggs graduated.Bulldog senior Walt Davis held those duties during the spring.
Port Gibson coach Gary Wright understands his team’s highexpectations also. The Blue Waves return 18 seniors and highlyrecruited running back Mason Denham. Denham is considered one ofthe state’s top running backs with a blazing 4.4 forty yard dashspeed.
Wright expects a lot of attention to be focused on his team andhis 18 returning seniors.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors, so everybody thinks that shouldcarry us into the playoffs,” said Wright. “We’ve got to stayfocused. We didn’t stay focused at times last year. That hurt us atthe end of games,” added Wright.
When Wright was asked about the preseason predictions he wasstunned to hear that most coaches expect his team to do thatwell.
“We’re honored to be picked that high,” said Wright. “We knowour division is always a rough one. If we play the entire game likewe played the first half of our games last season we should be inpretty good shape.”
Coach Wright also expects Denham, to be a marked man for thisfall. “Mason’s going to get a lot of heat during the season,” saidWright. “He’s going to be a target for most teams we play. We mayhave to open up our offense some, to take the pressure offhim.”
Franklin County finished third in the Division 6-3A standingslast year. Port Gibson finished fourth. They will meet Oct. 20 atPort Gibson in what promises to be a showdown.
As for defending Division 6-3A champion Wilkinson County, CoachJohn Moore expects his Wildcats to endure a physical, rebuildingseason.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Moore. “We’ve got a lot ofsophomores and juniors coming up. The way our younger guys playwill determine what way our season goes.”
The Wildcats return four starters all on offense in seniorquarterback William Tolliver, highly recruited fullback MarkFredrick, lightning quick wideout DeMario Russ, and offensivelineman Charles Brown.
“We’ve got a few on defense with experience, but none with morethan two quarters of action,” said Moore. “When you lose 18 trueseniors and five on eligibility. You know the odds are againstyou.”
As for 1999 divisional runner-up Amite County, the Trojans arein a reloading year as formerly retired head coach Charles Jacksoncalls it.
“We lost a pretty good bit,” said Jackson. “I still feel thatwe’ve got what it takes to stay in the thick of things in thedivision. Our speed and quickness should carry us.”
The Trojans key graduate was quarterback/widereceiver/cornerback Chris (Leon) Collins, The Daily Leader’sSuper Duper 25 top player and 1999 Division 6-3A defensiveMVP. Collins signed with Ole Miss and expects to compete forimmediate time at wide receiver as a freshman this fall.
As for other Division 6-3A teams, Jefferson County returns avery solid junior class highlighted by junior quarterback LonellEanoch and junior fullback Lee Morgan.
At Hazlehurst, Coach Willie Brown shoots for a better seasonthan last as the Indians hope to return to their 1997-98 glorydays. This is Brown’s second year at the helm.
Finally at North Pike, newly hired head coach Adam Barron takesover a fresh-faced Jaguar team. The Jaguars return only threeseniors as they bring in a young and hungry sophomore class.
All Division 6-3A schools kick off their respective seasonsAugust 25.
@Bbstandings:Division 6-3A Poll
Franklin County (2) 30
Port Gibson (2) 30
Wilkinson County (2) 29
Amite County 25
Jefferson County 13
North Pike 6