What was the New Albany football team’s reward for beating Ripley?
A police escort from Ripley to downtown New Albany on Friday night, where 300-to-400 New Albany fans gathered to cheer their winners.
“They’re dying for success, and they were proud to welcome us in town Friday night,” New Albany head football coach Ron Price said about his team’s fans.
“It was neat for the coaches and the players. It was a special night for us.”
For a team that had lost its last two meetings and 16 of the last 22 against its rival, last Friday’s 33-28 win was the product of rigorous workouts and overall hard work, Price said.
“Our kids have worked extremely hard the past year and a half,” said Price, who is in his second season at the helm. “Our kids were committed to the weight room.
“We went through a very tough preseason practice to get ready for the first game against Booneville. We really pushed our kids. They’re fighters and aren’t going to quit.”
The win was also very special for three of the Bulldogs’ coaches, who happen to be Ripley High graduates: Shane Sanderson, Josh Davis and Rolandus Cox.
“Just getting over that hump with Ripley was huge for us,” said Sanderson, the Bulldogs’ secondary coach. “I grew up in Ripley and I grew up hating New Albany.”
Lindsey makes impact
– Linebacker Devin Lindsey is the staple of Baldwyn’s defense, and opposing offensive players really don’t wish to be hit by him.
The senior made 13 tackles in last Friday’s 13-6 loss to Booneville. Also, he intercepted a pass and ran it back 86 yards for his team’s lone touchdown.
“He is the leader of our defense,” said Bearcats head football coach Michael Gray. “He’s always around the football. He’s got great speed.
“Once he gets there, he’s going to bring the punch.”
Colleges have begun to take notice of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker, who could possibly be a strong safety type at the college level. According to Gray, Lindsey runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.6-4.7 range.
“He’s been getting some calls over this past summer,” Gray said. “I’m hoping once they (college recruiters) see him on film and see him play this season, it will pick back up.”
So far, Lindsey has received letters and significant interest from Southern Miss, as well as some interest from Ole Miss, and has been visited Mississippi State, says Gray.
“He will qualify (academically),” Gray said. “He’s a pretty sharp kid.”
– Usually it’s the players showing the most intensity during a football game played between two rivals.
However, during Friday’s Itawamba AHS-Amory game, IAHS assistant coach Bobby Hill was perhaps the one showing the most intensity on the field.
“I think when they (the players) see me that way, they’re very emotional themselves,” the 34-year-old explained.
“The game of football can’t be played without emotion. You can’t go out there flat.”
And Hill would know just that, after having played indoor professional football for the Tupelo FireAnts and Tupelo MudCats.
“Bobby’s an excitable guy,” said Indians head coach Jamie Mitchell. “He’s a young coach that is full of energy. He still could probably play a little bit if he had to.
“He’s just one of those young guys who can relate to our players and help our football team in so many areas.”
Last Friday, Hill was seen on the field before the game with his hat turned backwards, doing all he could to get his players fired up. He was also jumping up and down with the players, behind the Itawamba Indians banner that the team would run through, prior to the opening kickoff.
“On Friday night, I was in game mode,” Hill said. “That was a big game: When you open up a new stadium and you got your rival coming in from 20 miles down the road, you got to be.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal