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Coleman’s TD passes light up scoreboard for Indians

HAZLEHURST – Quarterback Kenneth Coleman lit up the scoreboard for the Hazlehurst Indians Friday night. The senior signal caller threw three touchdown passes in sparking the Indians to a  32-16 victory against the South Pike Eagles.

     That performance has earned Coleman The DAILY LEADER’s Offensive Player of the Week award. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 280 yards.

     Hazlehurst head coach Randal Montgomery praised Coleman’s contributions to the team.  “Kenny is a senior leader for us. This is his second year to run our offense. He has grown as a quarterback. You have  seen him improve every week.”

     On the season, Coleman (6-1, 150)has accounted for 10 touchdowns. He’s thrown only one interception.

     “Kenny’s an athletic guy who can scramble to avoid the rush,” said Montgomery. “He has a strong arm and he is accurate with his passes.”

     Coleman said Hazlehurst’s turnaround against South Pike was a matter of concentration. The Indians were down 8-6 at halftime.

     “We got our mind focused on the game,” said Coleman. “Coach told us to calm down and just throw the ball.”

     There’s no shortage of talent on this year’s Hazlehurst squad. 

     Coleman said, “All of our receivers can catch the ball. I have multiple people I can throw it to.”

     Catching touchdown passes against South Pike were Dycelious Reese for 30 yards, Xavion Thedford for 31 yards and Dedric Reese for 51 yards.

     “I felt comfortable the second half,” said Coleman. He has been playing quarterback since the seventh grade.

     “I always get the ball second after the center,” said Coleman. “The ball is always in my hands. That’s my job to be a leader.”

     Hazlehurst marched to an 11-2 record last season. The Indians lost to Charleston in the Class 3A state championship game. They have dedicated themselves to making a return trip to Jackson for a title game victory.

     “We are much better than last year,” said Coleman. “We put in a lot more hard work this summer. We want to win a state championship. We are good right now but we want to be great.”

     How would Coleman describe the 2012 Hazlehurst team to a total stranger?

     “Tell them to pay their dollars for a ticket and come see for themselves,” said Coleman. “You can’t describe our team.”

     An honor roll student, Coleman wears jersey No. 7. After the football season, he plans to play basketball for the Indians. In the spring, he’s a versatile baseball player, working at shortstop, pitcher and center field. He runs a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash.

     He is the 17-year-old son  of Kenneth and Angelia Coleman. He has four older sisters.

     He hopes to play college football and eventually pursue a career in physical therapy. “I was always taught to have a Plan B.”

      Hazlehurst’s hard-working offensive line includes center Torian Samuels, left guard Terry Baker, right guard Joe Nelson, left tackle Ivan Mazie and right tackle  Darius Washington.

     “My offensive line is valuable,” said Coleman. “They are blocking well right now.”

     Hazlehurst running backs Demetrius Cain and Aaron Larry are excellent receivers. They also provide some pass blocking.

     Cain and Coleman collected numerous honors as juniors. Cain was recognized as The DAILY LEADER’s Most Valuable Player on the 2011 All-Area Team and Coleman was named Offensive MVP.

     When Montgomery was hired in the spring of 2011, he brought the spread offense with him from Velma Jackson. “It really opened up our talent when we went from the Wing-T to the spread,” said Coleman. “Everybody is contributing to the offense.”

     He said he enjoys playing for Coach Montgomery. “He’s a nice guy to be around, on and off the field. We can joke around but when it’s time for football, he’s serious.”

     Hazlehurst’s battle cry this season is “212 Degrees.”

     There’s state championship fever running rampant in Hazlehurst and it’s boiling over in the community and only a state title will satisfy them.