By David Howell
As the 2008-2009 school year came to a close, the althletic programs in the Water Valley School District could boast of one of the strongest years during the last two and a half decades.
“Every sport that Water Valley competed in made it to the playoffs this year,” outgoing Athletic Director Chick Drewery told atheletes during a atheltic award’s ceremony held at the close of the school year. “That’s a tribute to you, the coaches, and Dr. Kitchens,” Drewery added, noting that these successes came during a tough year when several sports were scheduled to be eliminated due to financial cuts.
Drewery, who said he was retiring after this year, said this was the first time during his 25 years at the school that every athletic team made it to the playoffs. His comments followed the May 9 state track meet in which V.V. Woodard made school history, becoming the first girl to win the state’s shot put title.
Woodard wasn’t alone in her accomplishments during that state track meet, J.J. Woodard won second in the state for his performance in the shot put. Cortellis McGee won third in the state in pole vaulting.
Just two days after the track meet, on Tuesday, May 12, the Blue Devils baseball program had a bitter end to an extremely successful season when they lost the second game of their Mississippi High School Athletic Association (M.H.S.A.A.) Class 2A North Half title series to the Ackerman Indians.
“The M.H.S.A.A. recognized our school, honoring our outstanding performance and dedication to good sportsmanship,” Drewery said, before handing the microphone to coaches to award players in each sport.
“We went the whole year without an ejection,” Drewery added.
Volleyball coach Shane Linzy was the first in the coaches’ lineup. Linzy told the crowd that he was appreciative that volleyball would be offered in the coming year.
“We had 55 kids show up for volleyball tryouts, that tells me the ladies want the sport,” said Linzy, who awarded three team members for their effort this season.
Following Linzy was Football Coach Brad Embry, who recognized a number of players on his squad including: Lifetime Captains, J.J. Woodard, Nick Robinson, Tyler Jones and Ryan Bain; M.A.C.
Embry recognized Josh Johson, who was selected as the M.A.C.’s All State Second Team as a punter.
Embry recognized team members who earned a spot on the Region 2-2A Super 22 Team including D.C. Logan as the offensive M.V.P., J.J. Woodard at defensive tackle, outside linebacker J.D. Fondon, and Josh Johnson as punter.
Embry also recognized team members who were selected as Region 2-2A first team, All Region, including: Tank Hervey at wide receiver, Tommy Lipscomb at center, Zach Caulder at defensive tackle, Tommy St. Romain at strong safety; and Eric Buckley at free safety.
Team members recognized as the Region 2-2A Honorable Mention Team include Fred McGee at snapper, Tyler Jones at guard and Josh Johnson as quarterback.
Embry also recognized Iron Devel Level weight lifting champions including Keldrick Hooper with a 450-pound squat and a 250-pound power clean, Josh Terrell and Keldrick Hooper for a 500-pound dead lift and Ryan Bain and Zack Caulder for bench pressing 300 pounds.
The lift-a-thon grand champions include Zack Caulder, D.C. Logan, Ranaldo Clinton and Keldrick Hooper.
The Larry Harris Leadership Award went to Josh Johnson and the E.J. Mayes Determination Award went to J.D. Fondon.
Next to dole out awards was girls basketball coach Shane Linzy. Alexis Martin was honored as the most improved player. Haley Vance receive the rookie of the year. The defensive M.V.P. was C.C. Phillips, who averaged 10 rebounds per game. The offensive M.V.P. was Ashley Phillips, who averaged 15-plus points per game.
Coach Linzy awarded the Lady Devil Award to Lakeisha Holmes.
Next was Basketball Coach John Sherman, who awarded Eric Buckley as his most improved player. Kendrick Bounds was given the hustle award. The best defensive player went to Tavi Towles and the best all-around player went to Benny Weekly.
Softball Coach Shane Brown took the podium following the basketball awards. Brown selected Brianna Thompson as the rookie-of-the-year. The Lady Blue Devil Award went to Mallory Washington.
Chancie Joyner was selected as the best defensive player for her role as starting pitcher. Ashley Phillips was selected as the best offensive player. Phillips had a .569 batting average and scored 29 points during the year.
Baseball Coach Doug Robbins was the next to honor outstanding players on his team. The Mr. Hustle Award went to Drew Pratt. Shonquayle Jenkins was awarded as the best offensive player, Taylor King was most improved and J.D. Fondon was selected as the best defensive player. Coach Robbins also recognized four pitchers, Shonquayle Jenkins, Drew Pratt, Tank Hervey and Josh Johnson.
“This is a strong pitching staff, they did a great job,” Robbins said. “Each one of them stepped up at some time during our season.”
From baseball the ceremony then moved to cheerleading with Traci Varner handing out awards. Marli Craven was awarded for having the highest academic average, Jazzmine Alford received the best-all-around-award, Craven also received the leadership award, Lizzie Shawk was most improved and Terri Lyn Harris was named the most valuable players.
Seniors Craven, India Pritchard, Jennifer Rogers and Harris were also recognized.
The ceremony culminated with Coach Murray Dixon handing out awards for boys and girls track. These awards include: Most Valuable Player, LaQuinton Horton and J.J. Woodard; Best Sprinter, Corey Carr; Most improved, Eric Buckley and Drew McGee; Most Dedicated, Laquinton Hort; Best Distance, Tevon Coleman; Best Field Event, J.J. Woodard and Cortellis McGee; Best All-Around, D.C. Logan; and the Blue Devil Award went to Benny Weekly.
Coach Dixon selected Ashley Phillips as the best sprinter on the girls’ track team. V.V. Woodard was selected as best field event, and the Lady Devil Award went to Lakesha Holmes.