• 70°

Tom Goetz: BA’s 4 state titles something special

Ten years from now, when you huddle around the fireplace androast marshmallows above the glowing buffalo chips on a cold winternight, nostalgia will fill your mind. It’s nice to reminisce andrecall the good, old days of 2010.

“Yup. I remember when Brookhaven Academy won four statechampionships in one year.”

Children and grandchildren will look at their paternal leaderwith admiration and exclaim, “Really?! Please tell us about it!Please!”

Staring into the orange embers, Pop smiles and wistfully recallsthat special school year at Brookhaven Academy. “School started inearly August and the lads had been practicing all summer in theheat. Coach Herbert Davis wanted to have them in tip-top shape forthe football season.”

A curious look fills the face of a 5-year-old prodigy. “Did theyreally practice outside when it was so hot?”

Pop nodded his head and answered. “Yes, they did. That wasbefore that indoor, air-conditioned practice facility wasconstructed. It also was before the season opener was pushed backto the first Friday in September.”

Pop described the awe-inspiring aerial attack the Cougarsunleashed. He talked about quarterback Chandler Rogers and therecord-setting offensive campaign. He also described the mean andlean defense, led by end Will Gatlin and a hard-nosed group ofoverachievers.

“Would you believe those lads finished 15-0?”

The response was loaded with o-o-o-s and ahhhs.

“It was the day after Thanksgiving when they whipped LamarSchool for the championship. They played that game on the MillsapsCollege field and the stands were packed.”

“What about the other state championships?” asked agranddaughter, her blue eyes filled with wonderment.

“I’m telling the honest truth, kids. The Cougars won a sixthstraight state championships in boys basketball. That Dale Wattswas quite a coach. He knew his basketball from top to bottom. Ithink he played for Coach James Naismith.”

Golly, gee. Six in a row is unprecedented in the MississippiAssociation of Independent Schools.

Pop recalled the hardwood exploits of seniors Jake Reed andJamison Powell. There were more wide-eyed looks from theyoungsters.

“Tell us more. Please tell us more.”

Pop recalled how cold and wet the spring of 2010 had been.Baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track teams battled the chillyelements, starting in January. Practice conditions werehorrible.

The BA boys tennis team, coached by David Misner, made anotherimpressive run through the playoffs and claimed the statechampionship. The Cougars were directed by Will Hickman and AlexGray in No. 1 and No. 2 boys singles.

Baseball season began in the chilly evenings of late Februaryand marched into the sweat-soaked days of May. The BA Cougars,under the direction of first-year coach Casey Edwards, made aremarkable run through the playoffs.

“I remember when they beat Hillcrest 1-0 and 4-1 in thechampionship,” said Pop as he nibbled on a marshmallow and lickedthe sticky syrup off his right index finger. “There must have beenabout a thousand folks there that night.”

“Tripp Jolly outfoxed him with that curveball of his,” said Pop.”He beat Austin Hartzog who played for Ole Miss.”

Pop scratched his left ear, trying to remember more details.”Brent Henderson hit a two-run homer that clinched it.”

The playoffs were tough. Tyler Parvin pitched back-to-back gamesin the South State AA finals and won both of them for BA. “ThatParvin had a heckuva arm.”

BA’s golf team won the South State AA championship and finishedone stroke behind Lamar in the state tournament, losing a playofffor first place. It could have easily been five state championshipsfor the boys.

Yup, it was a heckuva year.

Speaking of success, congratulations to Bogue Chitto’s Lady Catson winning their first Class 1A state fastpitch softballchampionship. In fact, it was a super recovery for the Cats who hadlost last Friday’s opener 10-0 to North state championSmithville.

The Cats, coached by Scott and Denise Leggett, realized theywere a much better team than what they had shown. They respondedSaturday morning with a slim 1-0 win over Smithville at FreedomRidge Park in Ridgeland to tie the series. They took Game 3 by a6-2 margin.

To their credit, the Cats are recognized as whizkittens. Thereare no seniors on the squad and only four juniors in pitcher ToySmith, catcher Darcy Miller, second baseman Bradi Davis andshortstop Josie Porter. Freshman Rheagan Welch pitched both of lastSaturday’s victories.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com