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Copiah LB wrestles steers, O-backs

GALLMAN — For Copiah Academy linebacker Danny Pyles, wrestlingsteers and football players produce similar results. The objects ofhis assault are supposed to wind up on the ground.

Pyles accounted for 14 tackles and an interception in CopiahAcademy’s latest outing, a 10-0 victory over Central Hinds Academy.For his performance, Pyles has been selected The DAILY LEADER’sDefensive Player of the Week.

Pyles (6-1, 195) said football and rodeo are similar. Both arefast-paced, complete with lots of contact.

“Steers weigh from 550 to 700 pounds,” said Pyles. “You justgrab ahold, hang on and wrestle him until he’s down.”

He also competes in team roping and calf roping. “I like teamroping best,” said Pyles. “Since I was five years old, I’ve been inrodeo. I started steer wrestling when I was in seventh grade.”

According to Pyles, team roping is most popular because morecompetitors are involved. That means more prize money.

In state-wide competition, Pyles was third in team roping thisseason and third last year in steer wrestling. He qualified to goto the nationals in both events. This past July, in the nationalsheld at Gillette, Wy., he placed third in the first go-around withteammate David Bufkin of Wesson.

According to Copiah Academy head coach Mitch Mitchell, Pyles isa rugged player who likes contact. “Danny is a tough kid. He rodeosall summer. He has that cowboy demeanor.

“Danny has spent a lot of time in the weight room,” continuedMitchell. “He has become bigger, stronger and faster.”

Mitchell said Pyles runs the 300-meter hurdles in track.”Danny’s speed was a big factor against Central Hinds. He madeseveral plays in their backfield. I know he had at least threetackles for losses.”

Pyles accounted for 6 solo tackles, 8 assists and 1interception.

“Our defense played great,” said Mitchell. “We had a goal linestand early in the game.”

Pyles said the Central Hinds contest was special. “It was mybest game. We were up 3-0 at halftime. Coach Mitchell said if wewon 3-0, he would be plenty happy with the win.”

In the third quarter, sophomore linebacker Ben Stevensintercepted a Central Hinds pass and returned it to the Cougars’1-yard line, setting up an insurance touchdown.

“It was a real good defensive game,” Pyles pointed out. “Bothteams were very well prepared.

“They are the defending district champs and that’s what we wantto be.”

The Colonels have shown exceptional strength this season.”Defense is one of our strong points,” said Pyles. “Three of thefour linebackers are returning. Our two inside tackles (Cody Wrightand Preston Berry), they make it easy for me because they getdouble-teamed.”

The Colonels are preparing for Amite School Center in Libertythis week. They also have District 3-AA games left with AdamsCounty Christian School, Prairie View and Riverfield.

Scott Cline is Copiah’s defensive coordinator. “He works withthe linebackers a lot,” said Pyles. “One night a week we will gettogether and watch films.”

Cline is in his second year at Copiah. The CA alumnus helped wina national championship at Delta State University his freshman yearwhere he starred at linebacker.

This season, Pyles is wearing jersey No. 58. He wore No. 8 lastyear but was moved to guard on offense last summer to shore up thefront line. “I took 58 so I could keep an 8 in it.”

Asked about a position preference, Pyles said, “I’d rather playdefense.”

Looking to the future, Pyles said he likes math and willprobably go to an engineering school. “I’d like to get a rodeoscholarship. East Central Community College gives scholarships,plus a couple of schools in Louisiana and Alabama.”

Pyles said he pulls for Louisiana Tech University but he alsofollows Ole Miss. “My uncle (Scott Pyles) played football atLouisiana Tech and my dad (Johnny Pyles) played baseball. Mygrandmother (Sue Pyles) was a nursing professor there. They have agood engineering program, too.”

In the NFL, Pyles said, “I like the Baltimore Ravens because of(linebacker) Ray Lewis.”

Presently, Pyles and the Colonels are aiming for the districtchampionship. Then there’s a state championship goal inNovember.