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A Christmas wish list for area coaches

By Staff
Dec. 22, 2000
Words of wisdom on a Friday while on vacation and watching PBS with my 3-year-old.
As thoughts of Christmas stir through our heads, it's time to give out my annual Christmas "presents" and wish list for area coaches.
Without a doubt, the top of my list would be instant replay for Jeff Breland and his Newton County Cougars.
The Cougars lost a heartbreaker to Magee in the Class 3A South State championship game on a controversial two-point play. A replay by WTOK cameraman Brett Newtson showed the ball was intentionally thrown into the end zone. Magee recovered, won the game and eventually the state championship.
Next on the list is a state championship for Donald Shirley and the Meridian High Lady Wildcats. It's obvious this is Meridian's year to win it all in Jackson. They are currently No. 1 in the state and ranked by USA Today. Shirley has had plenty of good teams but this could be his best and on a year when Class 5A may be down. Shirley is one of the hardest workers around and deserves to get at least one championship ring.
How about a 6-foot-4 post player for Hilary Allen's Meridian Community College Lady Eagles?
The Lady Eagles have one of the most athletic women's basketball teams I have ever seen. But they lack size inside and it has hurt them in the early part of the season.
I believe if you add a big post player to the Lady Eagles squad and they are national title contenders.
The right football coaches at Northeast and Lamar. Both schools have opening and with the right hire could have winning seasons next year.
Northeast has one of the best groups of sophomores in the area, with the exception of Newton County. The right coach and the Trojans are in the playoffs next year.
With good young talent on the way and an increased emphasis in building a successful athletic program, the right coach could turn around the Lamar football programs among area private schools.
How about a four or five all-state football players and a group of seniors willing to stick it out for Dwane Taylor at Southeast.
I've always believed Taylor and Larry Ethridge are two of the better coaches in the area. And with the right group of kids, the Tigers could be in the playoffs next year. But I would like to see Taylor coach with a group of all-staters.
How about memory loss for Neshoba Central fans and football coach Pat Davis.
I've heard more than one time "this is how Chuck (Friend) would have done it or this is how Chuck did it."
This isn't fair for Davis. He can't do the same things that Friend did. He doesn't have the players Friend had.
Davis deserves better than to live with the ghost of Chuck Friend.
For Enterprise football coach Jud Gartman, he's already gotten his Christmas present but one or two years too late, an expanded playoff system. For the last two years, Enterprise has been one of the better teams in Class 2A, despite being one of the smallest schools. But division foes Taylorsville and Bay Springs have left Gartman sitting at home the last two years. I'd love to see how those teams would have done in the expanded playoff format.
For all the coaches who call in their games, I hope for plenty of post-Christmas wins. For those who don't, it's coal and switches.
Robbie Robertson is sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at