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Iron Bobcats get attention for BC

BOGUE CHITTO – Welcome to Steel Town.

The small Bogue Chitto community boasts a truck stop, a post office, several churches and an outstanding powerlifting team. Those iron Bobcats are in a class by themselves when it comes to moving iron weights around the school’s field house.

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, a gray cloud of disappointment still was evident, even two weeks after the MHSAA Class 1A State Powerlifting competition. The Bobcats, 2012 state champions, were dethroned by the Pelahatchie Chiefs on a tie-breaker playoff. Both teams had amassed 39 points but Pelahatchie had one more first place weight division champion than the Bobcats.

They were forced to wait until next year for another shot at the title. The lifters promised to bring the state championship trophy home in 2014. All but one of them will be returning.

Weight machines clanked and clunked. Players grunted, huffed and puffed as they took turns on the leg press machine. Others used padded benches to press weights.

Wednesday was supposed to be the third day of spring football practice but the wet weather kept them indoors. Powerlifting coach Chad Norton watched the players go through their routines. Head football coach Gareth Sartin barked orders and kept their attention on the task at hand.

“We should have a good shot at winning it next year,” said Norton, overseeing the weight training room. “We only lost one senior in Robert Bonds.”

Norton said his team was motivated. They won region and South Mississippi championships.

“These kids work hard,” said Norton. “They were willing to come in and lift during Spring Break and Easter Break.”

The Blackwell Twins, Jeremy and Jermaine, lead a powerful group of returnees. They both won state titles in their respective weight divisions.

To no one’s surprise, they have an intense sibling rivalry. Their older brother, James, has signed a football scholarship with Southwest Mississippi Community College. He was a defensive end and running back on BC’s 2012 South State runner-up team that finished 13-1, losing to eventual state champion Stringer.

Jermaine, at 5-foot-11 and 240 pounds, is the smaller of the twins. He won the 242-pound division, lifting 385 in the squat, 230 in the bench press and 500 in the deadlift.

“I like to beat my brother but he outweighs me,” said Jermaine. The deadlift is his favorite.

A linebacker and running back, Jermaine and his brother have a solid allegiance to the LSU Tigers. They both work for their grandfather, James Blackwell Sr., who is a logger. That means they are well-versed in demanding, heavy work.

Jermaine said powerlifting makes him a better football player. “You can manhandle everybody you play.”

Jeremy, a powerful 6-foot-3, 308-pounder, is a gifted athlete with quick feet. He plays middle linebacker for the Bobcats and has earned All-State credentials. He speaks softer than his brother.

At the state meet, Jeremy received a loud round of applause from the crowd when he achieved a state-record 600 pounds in the deadlift. He also had a 560 squat and a 270 bench.

“I’ve done more (weight) before,” said Jeremy referring to his state record. He has achieved a personal best of 635 in the weight room.

Jeremy said he likes the squat best. “My max is 590.”

Asked about motivation, he said, “Coach Norton works me hard.”

Does he eat a lot of spinach to make him stronger?

Nope.

“My favorite food is red beans and rice.”

Jeremy laughed and invited the coaches to his house for a meal.

Last football season, Jeremy accounted for what is considered a school-record 209 tackles, including 40 solo stops. His size and strength have attracted recruiting letters from several colleges, including Mississippi State. BC senior wide receiver Brandon Wells signed with the Bulldogs in early February.

Jeremy said his LSU roots run deep. “I’m from Jeanerette, La.”

He and his brother will have several college coaches watching them when they host Dexter’s Bulldogs for a May 10 jamboree game on Troy Smith Field.

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