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Teammates are priceless

Yes, teammates are important. Yes, they’remore important than winning and more important than playingtime.

    Alan Williams, the ultimate benchwarmer, spoke to a few hundredstudent athletes and their coaches Tuesday night at the LincolnCounty Civic Center. A standout high school basketball player inMemphis, Williams was relegated to the walk-on role at Wake Forest.He spent four seasons with the ACC school and played a total of 59minutes.

    Williams chronicled his collegiate career in his book, “TeammatesMatter.” He shared his inner feelings about being left out when itcame time to receive new gear and uniforms for the approachingseason. At times he was smacked with the cruel reality of being anoverachieving but overlooked member of the squad.

    However, there were some bright spots and many fond memories thatlast a lifetime. A few teammates embraced him like a brother andwent out of their way to help Williams survive the injustices thattest the courage and endurance of walk-ons.

    Williams held the rapt attention of the crowd as he discussed hisyears playing for and watching the Demon Deacons make the Sweet 16.He began a sports ministry that flourishes today. He has spoken toover 500,000 people.

    “The problem in sports today is individualism,” said Williams.”Teammates are the most important thing and you should care aboutthem. When you look at those faces in your huddle, remember theyare your teammates.”

    Farm Bureau Insurance and Bank of Brookhaven provided the mainsponsorship for the event. Three years ago Farm Bureau mailed out100,000 “Teammates Matter” books to coaches across the southeasternstates.

    Williams and his wife, the former Amanda Lynch of Brookhaven, livein Nashville and they have a 1-year-old son. In his free time, hecoaches an AAU basketball team during the summer.

    

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Professor Hoopla B.S. was busyworking with his favorite horse, a dapper-colored, 4-year-oldgelding named Smokey. Naturally, the horse has more sense thanHoopla.

    However, the grizzled prognosticator does know how to predict thewinners of football games. Of course, he’s been doing it for over40 years so experience is a plus in this case.

    Hoopla predicted the winners of 23 games last week, stubbed his toeon a few and posted a 19-4-0 record. Regrets go to the BrookhavenPanthers and Bogue Chitto Bobcats who saw their perfect recordstarnished.

    However, one loss does not determine a season’s outcome. There arestate playoff games just around the corner if the Panthers andBobcats return to their winning ways. Speaking of state playoffs,several other area teams are in the playoff picture, among them theBrookhaven Academy Cougars, the Wesson Cobras, the HazlehurstIndians, the Franklin County Bulldogs, the Lawrence County Cougarsand the North Pike Jaguars. McComb and South Pike are on thebubble.

    Back to business, Hoopla begins this weekend’s predictions with atrio of Thursday night specials.

    Lawrence County at Columbia:  Cougars are counting on a victory overthe winless Wildcats to keep their Class 4A state playoff dreamsalive. Lawrence County 29-6.

    Co-Lin at East Central:  Wolves snap a 3-game losing streak infrosty Decatur tonight. Co-Lin 20-13.

    Southwest at Jones County:  If the surging Bears can keep theiract together, they should author a rare win in Ellisville.Southwest 17-14.

    Stone County at Brookhaven:  Panthers bounce back from their firstloss and enjoy Senior Night. Brookhaven 21-10.

    ACCS at Brookhaven Academy:  In another farewell to seniors night,the Cougars warm up their fans with a blazing offensive show.Brookhaven Academy 40-12.

    Loyd Star at Enterprise:  Some sarcastic fans wanted to changethe name of this rivalry from the Sting Bowl to another ……bowl.Hornets end their tailspin with a win over the Yellow Jackets. LoydStar 28-12.

    Bogue Chitto at Stringer:  Bobcats must be fired up and focusedfor this Region 4-1A showdown with the Red Devils. Bogue Chitto26-18.

    Madison St. Joe at Wesson:  After a rocky start, the Cobras haveserious designs on a Region 6-2A championship. It all starts Fridaynight in Stone Stadium against the Bruins. Wesson 27-20.

    Franklin County at Prentiss:  Meadville-based Bulldogs have a lotmore bite than the canines from Jefferson Davis County. FranklinCounty 36-6.

    Jefferson County at Hazlehurst:  Indians move one victory closer tosecuring the Region 7-3A crown. Hazlehurst 37-14.

    In other area games,  Parklane over Copiah Academy 26-14,Tylertown over North Pike 39-19, McComb over Wingfield 44-6, Purvisover South Pike 31-18 and Wilkinson County over Crystal Springs34-24.

    After feasting on a shrimp fajita, Hoopla scans Saturday’scollegiate scene. Mississippi State, Jackson State and Millsapshave open dates to re-evaluate their situations.

    Arkansas at Ole Miss:  Razorbacks are ready to run roughshodover their former coach, Houston Nutt. Rebel fans are trying toremember when they last failed to win an SEC game. Arkansas35-17.

    SMU at Southern Miss:  It’sa happy homecoming in Hattiesburg as the Golden Eagles light up thescoreboard Saturday night. Southern Miss 39-20.

    In other college games,  Alcorn State over Concordia 28-14,Grambling over Valley State 41-12, Mississippi College over HowardPayne 17-14, Delta State over Valdosta State 38-17 and Belhavenover Union 22-7.

    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email:tgoetz@dailyleader.com