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Blackwell a winner in first start at QB

BOGUE CHITTO – Michael Blackwell, Bogue Chitto’s juniorquarterback, made his first starting assignment something specialto remember. Working the controls of the Bogue Chitto attack,Blackwell orchestrated a thrilling, 28-21 comeback victory over theStringer Red Devils at Stringer.

Blackwell rushed 12 times for 111 yards and completed 5 passesfor 56 yards, scoring touchdowns on runs of 32 and 53 yards. Forhis performance, Blackwell has been selected The DailyLeader’s Offensive Player of the Week for the first week ofthe 2002 campaign.

Gareth Sartin, Bogue Chitto’s new head coach, made a successfuldebut as the Bobcats cleared their first hurdle in a massiverebuilding year. He recognizes Blackwell’s multiple talents.

“Michael is a very athletic player,” said Sartin. “He’s capableof making a big play at anytime in a ballgame. The more experiencehe gains, the better he is going to be.”

Blackwell (5-11, 180) is swift, running a 4.6 in the 40-yarddash. “He’s just elusive when people get around him,” saidSartin.

The Bobcats provided Blackwell and the offensive backfield withsome good blocks Friday night at Stringer. Starting in BC’soffensive line are Caleb McCaffrey at left tackle, Chancey Wallaceat left guard, Robert Bullock at center, Anthony Stevenson at rightguard, Lee Clark at right tackle and Cody Dye at tight end.Stevenson returned an interception for the game-winning TD as theBobcats overcame a 21-7 halftime deficit.

“Our offensive line did a good job the other night for us,” saidBlackwell. He recalled his team’s sputtering, first-half start

“In the first half we were kind of down and we weren’t playingwith heart,” said Blackwell. “In the second half we came togetheras a team and played with a lot of heart and won the game.”

Blackwell said Sartin provided the team with an inspirationalhalftime sermon. “Coach told us that we were playing like kids athalftime. We stepped up and played like men in the secondhalf.”

According to Blackwell, the midline option play was working wellfor him. “We fake to the fullback and read the defensive tackle. Ifthey take the dive, I’ll keep the ball and run it.”

With just three seniors on the squad, Bogue Chitto was expectedto struggle through a rebuilding season after finishing 11-2 lastyear and advancing to the second round of the Class 1A stateplayoffs.

“At first everybody thought we weren’t capable of winning,” saidBlackwell. “But we came together and played as a team and we wonit.

“Our offensive line had a good surge,” Blackwell continued.”After the second quarter they came together and decided they wouldwin it for us.”

Asked about Friday night’s road game against Franklin County inMeadville, Blackwell said the Bobcats face a strong challenge froma Class 3A opponent. Franklin County has a “very talentedquarterback” in Colby Beach. “They have a good flanker and a goodrunning back. If we stick together, we can win it.”

His mother, Karen Blackwell, was an outstanding basketballplayer at Bogue Chitto several years ago. “She comes to see mygames. She’s the coach at home.”

Off the field, Blackwell said he likes to watch the FloridaGators. “I like their offense and their quarterback (Rex Grossman).He seems to be in perfect condition. I try to pick up pointers fromthem.”

In the NFL, Blackwell said he enjoys following the TennesseeTitans. “I like Steve McNair and Eddie George. Football saved(George’s) life. He was a street person. If it wasn’t for football,he might have got killed out there on the streets.”