Upstart program goes back to basics

NEW ALBANY – East Union Attendance Center principal Tim Carter is a veteran football coach.
This week, however, he has to go back to the basics.
The former Oxford High and Columbus area coach will be teaming with coaches from other Union County schools to direct the first co-op high school football program in the state of Mississippi.
Since East Union, Ingomar, Myrtle and West Union are rather small schools to begin with, the only way they could afford to offer a football program is if they were to combine forces.
On Monday, 82 seventh, eighth and ninth graders were bused to the New Albany Sportsplex to take part in the program’s first practice. On Sept. 15, this junior high team will play Wheeler in its first game.
Next year, the Union County program plans to play more of a junior varsity schedule, as sophomores are allowed to play. The program hopes to have a full-fledged varsity program by 2012.
For now, Carter and Co. had to instruct the kids on how to stretch and warm up properly, what each position is and what base offense and defense the Union County team will be using in its first season.
TCPS opener
– Tupelo Christian Prep kicks off its membership in the MHSAA Friday night with a road game against Mantachie.
Are the Eagles ready?
“I don’t know if you’re ever ready for Game 1,” coach Aubrey Boren said. “As a coach, if I had one more week, I’d want one more.”
In last week’s jamboree at Thrasher, quarterback Will Crockrell threw for two touchdowns, one each to Zack Tucker and Brian Yim.
“He made some good decisions,” Boren said. “He’s got to learn to throw the ball away and protect the ball.”
Braxton Melancon, Dallas Finley and Ron Lavigne had TD runs for the Eagles in the scrimmages.
Rutledge college bound
– The deadline for 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft selections to sign with the clubs that drafted them was Monday at midnight.
Lex Rutledge, a 26th-round pick out of Tupelo High by the Milwaukee Brewers, decided not to sign with the Brewers and instead pursue a college baseball career for the time being.
The left-handed pitcher will move in at Samford University in Birmingham on Thursday, and he expects play at least the next three seasons for the Bulldogs. After his junior season, Rutledge can enter the MLB draft again.
The tipping point to enroll in college and not go pro? An invitation to the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, a league where the best college players play during the summertime.
“I always wanted to play in that league,” said Rutledge, who will be playing there next summer.

John Wilbert and Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal