By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
JACKSON – Bet you can’t name a Booneville Blue Devil … and that’s how they like it.
Going back to Jackson for the first time in 11 years, Booneville players are refusing to talk with media about it.
It’s been like that since late January – and before any feathers get ruffled, it’s by no means anything personal, hateful or conceited.
Sixth-year Blue Devils coach Michael Smith says this group is so enamored with team chemistry, not one player wants the individual attention that comes from speaking up.
It’s tough to ignore the buzzer-beater Darius Leach hit to win the North 3A title against Corinth last week and just as tough to look over Tre Welch’s senior leadership at guard, guard Keldrick Lesley’s emergence as a scorer and Kenny Paul Geno’s growing presence in the post.
But don’t expect any of those guys or any teammates to do anything to draw individual attention.
“‘We’re not going to do any interviews unless they interview every one of us,’” Smith said, speaking of his players’ decision. “‘We don’t want anything to cause tension or animosity between us. We are a family and it’s all of us or none of us.’ They don’t want to have any distinction.
“They just want it to be ‘every man’s the same.’ That says a lot about those kids.”
Booneville’s next task will be against defending champ Forest (21-10) at 10:30 a.m. today at Mississippi Coliseum, an early game by most standards. But these nameless Blue Devils would play at 6 a.m.
Booneville (26-7) fought through a gauntlet of 3A powers to capture the North title, beating Cleveland East Side, Marshall and Corinth in Corinth. The win against Division 1-3A rival Corinth was the first in four tries this season.
“A lot of people complain about having to play at 10:30. We’re just proud to play,” said Smith. “Our kids have not mentioned that one time.”
Booneville is indeed proud to be here, but don’t expect any of the players, if they would talk, to say they’re satisfied with just being there.
Forest “is very athletic, quick at every spot,” Smith said. “We’re proud to be there but at the same time we’re not just wanting to go. We want to go down there and compete for it.”