NOTEBOOK: Freshman lineman reaches end zone – but not his team’s

Thomas Wells | Buy at Calhoun City quarterback Chakel Gates, seen watching a Bassfield defender run his fumble back for a touchdown, credited Bassfield's speed for the lopsided score.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
Calhoun City quarterback Chakel Gates, seen watching a Bassfield defender run his fumble back for a touchdown, credited Bassfield’s speed for the lopsided score.

By Gene Phelps and Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

JACKSON – Smithville freshman lineman Caleb Cox had a memorable moment in the loss.

On a Smithville punt in the third quarter, Cox thought French Camp touched the ball and he picked it up and ran to the end zone, the wrong end zone.

“When I saw him touch the ball, I thought it was live,” Cox said. “I don’t know. I just …”

Cox hasn’t been in on a punt since the second game of the season and was called in for Austin Craig.

Upset about the loss, he was already able to laugh about his memorable moment.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Cox said.

Smithville coaches in the pressbox yelled, “You’re going the wrong way.” The officials were more confused. One raised his hands for a safety, then touchdown, a YMCA-type dance, then decided he didn’t know.

Eventually officials conferred and decided it was a dead ball.

Too much speed

Calhoun City junior quarterback Chakel Gates knows one of the reasons for Bassfield’s 41-point win against the Wildcats in the Class 2A state championship game – speed.

“They played faster than us; they were a great team,” Gates said.

Calhoun City’s offense rushed for 120 yards and had just 16 passing.

“We were hoping to pass more, but the rain messed that up,” said Gates, who was 1-of-6 for 16 yards and had two passes intercepted.

From Manhattan

The Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium pressbox had company from out-of-state. Jenny Vrentas came from New York – on orders from her boss – for the Sports Illustrated site Monday Morning Quarterback to do a story on Oak Grove’s offensive coordinator, Brett Favre.

“He thought it was an interesting story, future Hall of Famer coaching his home state, state championship game,” Vrentas said. “Glad I wore winter boots.”

Fair or not?

French Camp led 7-0 in the second quarter of the Class 1A championship when Hagan Box fielded a Smithville punt and ran it 73 yards for a touchdown.

Before the return, it appeared that Box waved his hand for a fair catch.

“I think it’s really irrelevant at this point. I really do,” Smithville coach Bubba Tacker said. “I’ve got to say, that’s a momentum changer.”

Jersey change

Calhoun City, the game’s visiting team, started out wearing white jerseys, but change to orange jerseys at halftime.

“We changed them because it was raining and they were wet,” Liles said.

Three years removed

Football took a back seat in Smithville nearly three years ago after a deadly EF-5 tornado also destroyed the football field, baseball field and gym.

The football field was one of the first things rebuilt and Smithville has gone 28-10 since.

“It shows the dedication and hard work Smithville puts into things like rebuilding the school and the town,” Tacker said. “It shows the backbone and will of Smithville.”

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