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Wallace, Bogue Chitto Bobcats overcome adversity

BOGUE CHITTO – Linebacker John Wallace and his Bogue Chittoteammates could write a book on dealing with adversity.

BOGUE CHITTO – Linebacker John Wallace and his Bogue Chittoteammates could write a book on dealing with adversity. The Bobcatshave endured more than their share of hardships this season butthey have managed to overcome the obstacles.

Wallace sustained a pinched nerve in his neck during the secondgame of the season when the Bobcats hosted North Pike. Onephysician informed him that his football career was finished.Another neuro surgeon advised him to sit out the remainder of theseason and give the injury time to heal.

Not to be discouraged, Wallace sought more medical opinions. “Mymom and dad took me to the Sports Medicine Clinic,” in Jackson. Hewas fitted with a Cowboy Collar which helps absorb most of the joltwhen his shoulder hits an opponent.

The new equipment helped Wallace make 11 tackles in Fridaynight’s 20-13 win over the Wesson Cobras. He has been rewarded withThe Daily Leader’s Defensive Player of the Week award forthe seventh week of the 2000 campaign.

Bogue Chitto coach Carl Cole has high praise for Wallace and hiswork ethic. “John is one of the hardest working players that I’veever coached. He is a great leader on and off the field.”

Wallace, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior, obviously loves to playfootball. He said the chance for him to come back from that injurywas was Heaven-sent.

“Football is the love of my life,” said Wallace. “It was a lotof prayers which brought me through.”

Besides the pain, a pinched nerve at the base of his neck causedmajor problems. “When I tackled somebody, my arm would go numb. Icouldn’t wrap up on the tackles. I wasn’t helping my team.”

Wallace played briefly against West Lincoln the week after NorthPike and in the road game at Puckett. The decision was made for himto sit out the Loyd Star game. He volunteered to give the pregamedevotion before the Loyd Star game.

“I told our players how much I loved playing football,” saidWallace. ‘God has given you the ability to play football. Play eachplay like it’s your last one. You never know what mighthappen.”

Cole said he realizes the impact Wallace has on the Bobcats.”When he was out with that injury, we learned what he meant to ourteam. He is the heart and soul of our team. He’s the kind of playeryou love to coach.”

Wallace bench presses 240 pounds and squats with 450. He runs a4.8 in the 40-yard dash. He will continue to improve because of hiswork ethic.

“Our first report was that John was through playing footballforever,” Cole remembered. “It was devastating news.”

After the Puckett game, Wallace’s parents took him to the sportsmedicine clinic.

“The Mississippi Sports Medicine people said he could play withthat collar,” said Cole. “It gives him a little twinge once in awhile but it doesn’t stop him from playing. It’s a miracle for us.We were prayerful about that.

“We hope this thing gets well,” Cole continued. “Johnunderstands that it’s just a game and he loves it. That might notbe what God has in store for him.”

Wallace said he moved from middle linebacker to outsidelinebacker after last season. “Working outside is good. You get alot of quick reads. I look through the guards and watch the runningbacks.”

Working along side Wallace at linebacker are Ace Wallace in themiddle and Dominique Addison on the other side. Bogue Chitto’sdefensive line includes Ernie Johston and Casey McCaffery at tackleand Paul Martin and younger brother Barrett Wallace at defensiveend.

“Our line firing off gives us some good reads,” said JohnWallace. “Our team has come together and is working hard. We havean excellent chance of winning district and making the stateplayoffs.”

Tragedy struck the Bogue Chitto community the Wednesday beforethe season opener. Two football players, Chuck Ingles and ZachDunaway, plus cheerleader Traci Sasser; were killed in an autoaccident after leaving an evening service at Arlington BaptistChurch.

“God got us through that,” said Wallace. “I felt terrible aboutmissing football for a year. But it doesn’t compare to losing a sonor daughter.”

More adversity has shadowed the Bobcats. Prior to the Loyd Stargame, Coach Cole’s father developed heart trouble and wastransported to Houston, Texas, for treatment. Cole missed the weekof practice to be with his father.

Assistant coach Donnie Stuart directed the Bobcats throughpractice that week. Wallace and several of his teammates took onnew responsibilities, helping prepare for Loyd Star.

“We are blessed with two great Christian coaches,” said Wallace.”We can come and talk to them anytime about anything.”

Looking to the future, Wallace said he wants to play football atOle Miss and pursue a career in sports medicine. Science is hisfavorite subject.

“I attended the Ole Miss football camp last summer,” saidWallace. “I loved the campus and I really liked the coaches.”

On Sunday, Wallace enjoys watching quarterback Peyton Manningand the Indianapolis Colts. His parents, Loyd and Donna Wallace,are Bogue Chitto graduates. They have four sons and are members ofFirst Baptist Church in Summit.

“I’ve been on the field with more talented athletes,” said Cole.”John has a work ethic and character that doesn’t get anybetter.”