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Sartin, Bogue Chitto savor special season

BOGUE CHITTO – Back in early  August, Coach Gareth Sartin knew his Bogue Chitto Bobcats had the potential to achieve a great football season. Injuries, rather the lack of them, would be a key to the team’s success.

     Sartin’s Bobcats managed to stay healthy through a long regular season, which saw them going unbeaten in 11 games and winning their first-ever Region 4-1A championship. The Class 1A state playoff began a new chapter for the Bobcats,  who were suddenly  hit by a rash of key injuries. They reached the South State title game before losing 21-7 to the Stringer Red Devils. Stringer won the state title the next week, beating French Camp.

     Bogue Chitto finished with a 13-1 record. That mark has earned Sartin Co-Coach of the Year honors on The DAILY LEADER’s 2012 All-Lincoln County Football Team. He’s in his 10th year at the school.

     “You have to be lucky and good in the playoffs,” Sartin mused. “We got injuries at the worst time.”

     A knee injury to leading rusher Brandon Wells, a shoulder injury for leading receiver Germie Martin, a sprained ankle for fullback Robert Bonds, a leg injury for left tackle Damien Terrell and a knee injury for defensive lineman Zeek Perkins put the Bobcats in a serious bind at the end of the season. Some of them played but they weren’t at full speed.

     “We are proud of the season that we had,” said Sartin, 37. “Obviously, we wish we could have gone 15-0 and won a state championship.”

     Prospects are bright for next season. Wells, Martin, Bonds, running back James Blackwell and cornerback Jimmy McNulty are the five senior starters Sartin loses to graduation.

     Most of the offensive line, along with standout quarterback Brock Roberts, will be returning for another run at a state title. Region 4-1A will be tougher , with the addition of Lumberton to the region.

     Sartin, a Walthall County native, grew up in the Dexter community and played for the Bulldogs. His father served as a volunteer assistant this season, giving the Bobcats another perspective from the press box.

     “He (Bill Sartin, Sr.) gave  us a set of eyes on top,” said Sartin. “He could see much better than us. That was a big difference.”

     His father had coaching experience at Dexter and Franklinton, La.

     “I couldn’t do without either one of my assistant coaches,” said Sartin, referring to Chad Norton and Adam Moak. Norton coordinates the Bobcat defense and coaches the offensive line. Moak works with defensive backs and receivers.

     Sartin and his older brother, Bill, Jr., both graduated from Mississippi State University. His brother coached at Brookhaven and was head coach at Meridian before entering private business.

     Coach Sartin wears many hats at Bogue Chitto. He serves as athletic director and boys basketball coach. He is married to the former Jessica Wallace of Bogue Chitto and they have two sons: Felder, 8, and Easton, 6.

     In his spare time, Sartin enjoys spending time with his family and deer hunting.