ND Green Wave football

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 2, 2007

Two district champs to meet on Green Wave field

By Angie Ledbetter

The North Delta Green Wave was enjoying the week as District 1-1A champions, but had to put down the trophy to get ready for another big game to end the regular season.

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The Green Wave will host another district championship team in the last regular game of the 2007 football season when the Winona Christian Stars, district 3A champions, come to town.

The Green Wave (7-3, 4-1) ended district play last Friday night with a defeat over West Memphis 19-14 for the district trophy.

Winona Christian (9-1, 5-0) defeated Hebron Christian 48-0 in a district showdown for the district championship trophy.

Tonight’s game will not have any affect on the playoffs, but pride is on the line in the senior football players’ hearts. The seniors want to finish their 2007 football regular season with a win before their home crowd.

It is expected to be an emotional night with the football players, cheerleaders, parents and fans as everyone will watch as these six football players play their last home regular season football game on Green Wave field and the four senior cheerleaders will cheer their team on for one last time for the regular season.

The senior football players are J.T. Dalrymple, Josh Garrott, Seth Barnett, Michael Johnson, Don Phelps and Andy Barns. The senior cheerleaders are Abby Burnett, Austin Jenkins, Kenlea Blann and Lacy White.

Head Green Wave Coach Richard Russo talked about the senior football players.

“I told them from day one on the first day that I met them that we were going to change the way that we worked, and the way that we played,” Russo said. “I hope that they sincerely bought into the program because it would pay dividends. I really felt that the five guys that we had both years really did. Some of them like Andy and Don found themselves buying in so much that this was the first time in their life that they found themselves playing. I was really excited for them. J.T. was excited to have the opportunity to play quarterback and positions that he didn’t in the past. Even Michael coming in from a total different program and a total different way of doing things, he had to buy in at a quick pace at the beginning of the season. I am very proud of them.”

How will it feel to lose these seniors?

“It will be painful,” Russo said. “It is going to be weird. This spring, when we suit up for spring training, there is not going to be a J.T., or a Andy, or a Don, or a Seth, or a Josh or a Michael. They are not going to be there and it’s very sad. They will always be a part of this team, but it’s very sad that they physically will not be.”

Losing seniors is very hard on a coach, according to Russo, especially those who  have been with him the two years he had been here.

“I am looking forward to seeing great things that they accomplish in life,” he said. “For instance, Britton (Crawford) from last year is being very successful in the navy. That gives me a sense of pride. Hopefully I had a small part to do with that.”

This group of seniors all talked about being a close knit family when they were all interviewed for a senior article in August.

Russo agreed they really are close.

“They hang out together,” he said. “They have embraced Michael and they hang out together on the weekends. It is really neat.”

Russo said the coaching staff has preached brotherhood and family.

“The coaches see these kids a lot of times more than their families do throughout the course of a week,” Russo said. “We have got to interact together. We have got to eat together at lunch. We have got to watch film together. We have got to practice together, and we have to be on the same page for it to work.”

When they leave his directions, Russo wants the players to realize life is not easy and a bed of roses.

“You have got to scratch and claw every day,” he said. “You have got to have mental toughness when you wake up in the morning to say that I am going to get some things accomplished today.”

The Green Wave are expecting to have a very tough battle on their hands tonight with the Stars.

The Stars have a 9-1 overall record and won their district hands down going undefeated. The Stars’ only defeat was to Benton Academy on August 31, when they shut out the Stars 20-0 in the second game of the season.

The Stars have shut out six teams this season. They shut out Macon Central 42-0 on September 14, Tunica Institute 28-0 on September 21, Calhoun Academy 35-0 on September 28, Tupelo Christian 46-0 on October 5, Immanuel Christian 49-0 on October 12, and Hebron Christian 48-0 on October 26. The opponents that have had to go up against the Stars have only been able to score 40 points and the Stars have scored 322 points.

Head Coach Greg Watkins will bring his royal blue and gold team of 29 players to Green Wave field. He has nine seniors, 12 juniors, and eight sophomores. Leading the team will be No. 5 Chase Amason, a 6-1 senior weighing 165.

He is very fast when he runs with the ball and he can throw the ball, according to Russo.

Other key players are No. 22 Kyle Mills, a 5-8 running back weighing 160; No. 6 Matt Conner, a 5-9 senior running back weighing 155; No. 7 Ryan Smith, a 5-8 senior running back weighing 160; No. 25 Jeremy Boyette, a 5-9 junior wide receiver; and No. 33 Marcus Alexander, a 5-11 junior wide receiver.

The defense is very strong and has only allowed a few points this season.

Players to watch on the defense will be No. 52 Rex Bingham, a 5-11 sophomore linebacker weighing 185; and no. 1 Will Watkins, a 5-9 junior weighing 150.

Ten of 29 players, weigh at least 200, six weigh at least 225, and four weigh at least 245. Average weight for the team is 181 pounds.

“I am excited about this game,” Russo said. “They are the District Champions from District 3A and the coaching staff wants to see our players want to win this game for the sake of gaining another victory that has nothing to do with the playoff picture.

Watkins has the team playing very physical football, according to Russo. He had to merge two schools, Winona Christian and East Holmes, last season.

“He has done a terrific job bringing them together as one unit,” Russo said. “They only run four formations, which is the least we have seen all season, but they run them extremely well.”

Winona runs a 5-3 on defense which the Green Wave has seen three other times this season.

“I want our boys to play hard for our six seniors,” Russo said.

The pep rally for the team will be at 2:20 in the school gym. The seniors will be honored at 7:10 p.m. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.