By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
The Booneville Blue Devils haven’t lost in two months. The Daily Journal’s top-ranked team is riding a 17-game streak and looking for a third straight state trip to the MHSAA state tournament.
“We’re taking one game at a time, trying to get better every day. They’ve stayed very humble and hungry,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said.
Booneville will recognize part of its successful past on Saturday against Olive Branch. The 1963 team under coach Ken Lindsey went 42-0 and won the Grand Slam and will be honored between games on the 50th anniversary.
All but one player is expected to be there, with one coming from as far as Dallas. One player has passed away, but his family is expected.
“You see banners on the wall of state championships and grand slams. Most of these guys still come back and have been important in the community and educational leaders around here,” Smith said.
One of those is Larry Morgan, Booneville’s former superintendent.
“It’s going to be real special. Some of us haven’t gotten together for many years,” Morgan said. “It’s going to be great to talk old times.”
Morgan transferred from Burnsville and remembers a lot of moments from that season, his junior year, particularly a 16-15 win over New Site and a dominating Grand Slam win over Loyd Star at Mississippi Coliseum.
He well remembers the starting five. Mackie Don Smith played at Memphis State, Buddy Walden at Mississippi State and H.L Richie, David Bolen and Fred Stennet and Northeast CC.
This Booneville team would love to finish that strong.
The Blue Devils’ loss against No. 5 Mooreville, a 3A contender as well, was the last game before the Booneville had a full healthy roster.
“Every day we try to learn something but we were very humbled by Mooreville,” Smith said. “We played a bad game and they had everything to do with that.”
Booneville didn’t panic early. An extended football season limited practice and then the Blue Devils started out 0-2.
Balance has been the key, Smith says. His team gets a double-digit scoring average from Kenny Paul Geno, Jack Nichols, Jordan Miller and Antonio Crump.
“Our shot selection has been better. We’re sharing the ball better,” Smith said. “That has helped on the defensive end.”