Thursday, May 11, 2006
By CLAUDE VINSON
The coaches of the Northwest Community College football Rangers relinquished the reins of the team to a group of celebrity coaches last Thursday night to culminate “spring football week” at the campus in Senatobia.
Representatives from the media from across north Mississippi and south Tennessee were invited to be “coaches for a day” and guide the Rangers in their intra-squad scrimmage to end the spring practice session.
The Rangers had about 44 regulars taking part in the game along with a dozen or so “walk ons,” all hopeful of being a part of the Rangers’ roster in the fall.
The team was subdivided into a Blue squad and a Red squad. The former’s head coach was Mike Ceide, sportscaster for WREG-TV and the latter’s mentor was Eli Savoie of WHBQ. Assisting Ceide were Grant Gannon, offensive coordinator, Claude Vinson (The South Reporter), offensive line coach, Myra Bean (The Panolian), defense and linebackers, Robert Green, defensive coordinator and defensive line.
Backing up Savoie on the sidelines were James Bryant, offensive coordinator, John Davis, offensive line, Yancy Porter, defensive coordinator, Brad Kennedy, defensive line and backs and Jamie Mercer, receivers.
The Rangers head coach, Randy Pippin (going into his second year), briefed all celebrity coaches on the scheme of the game. It would be a regular game with a full complement of officials with a running clock.
The players performed as if they were playing for a prized standing. The hitting was fierce and resounding.
Larry Henderson led the Red team as quarterback and Robert Glover ran the Blue.
Tramaine Williams covered a fumble for the Blue team at the 30 yard line. Then Blue went for it on a fourth and one, picking up a first down at the 6. Glover tossed a touchdown strike to Eric Nicks and then converted for two to give the Blue an 8-0 lead.
Blue had an opportunity to score again but missed a field goal attempt. Aaron Purnell set up Blue again at the 22 but again the field goal try failed.
The Red team didn’t just fade; Henderson hit Jeremy Pierce with a scoring strike and then came back with a sweep of right end and a tie.
The score stood until the waning minutes of the game. Glover threw a button-hook to Gary Dancer, who made the catch under full pressure at the 18. Then coaches Ceide and Gannon called a fake delay and Glover found a wide open receiver to move the lead to 14-8. Billy Bishop then booted the extra to give the Blue squad the 15-8 victory.
The game was played in front of a large crowd of Ranger fans and taped in its entirety by Channel 3. All of the coaches remarked how thrilling it was to take part in such an event. The Ranger staff treated the “coaches for a day” with a delicious catfish dinner after the game.
(Sports Editor’s Notes: This writer was simply delighted to take part and must conclude with they treated us, well, like celebrities.)
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