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Win Eight, Eat Steak – Gridiron Standouts Awarded At Banquet

Farm Bureau agents Donald Gray and Chuck Upchurch were the chief cooks preparing 140 steaks for the banquet. Posing for a quick picture prior to the meal are (bottom row, from left) Terry Allen, Gray, Upchurch and Tommy White; (back row) Anna Claire Upchurch, Betsy Upchurch and Hunter Smith. . – Photo by Linda White

By David Howell

Editor


WATER VALLEY – Although the final whistle sounded months ago, the 2017 Blue Devil football season is now officially in the books following a round of athletic awards during a banquet last Thursday. It was a fitting tribute to hard work after the team battled to win eight games, bouncing back from a two-win season in 2016. The eight-win achievement is also the difference between eating steaks and hamburgers at the annual banquet.

“Win eight, eat steak,” is the longtime motto for the sponsors which include C.W. White, Inc., Mechanics Bank and Larson’s Cash Saver. Other contributors include Farm Bureau, the Water Valley cheerleaders and First Baptist Church, who hosts the event each year.

The eight-win season also notched another important milestone for the team as Brad Embry became the winningest coach in Blue Devil history, notching his 79th win with the 50-22 victory over South Pontotoc in the first round of the playoffs. Although an important achievement, the banquet honored the players, the team that cinched a successful season. 

“My dad, Bill White, started this a long time ago,” Tommy White recalled during opening comments, a date that was identified later as 1962. “You just don’t know how much fun we have to be a part of what you do for our school, our city and the people around here,” White added.

White and Bobby Murphree introduced the speaker for the night, former Blue Devil coach Terry Allen, who also cited strong community support as a big factor in the resilient Water Valley team each year. 

“Water Valley is one of those places that a football coach really likes to be, you have all of the ingredients to have a good football team,” Allen said, pointing to community support, strong coaches and talented athletes. 

Allen shared memories from his nine-year tenure as the Blue Devil head coach,1985 – 1993, including his inaugural two-win season in 1985 and the 15-0 season in 1990 that ended with a state championship.

Allen credited community support during his time in Water Valley, support that was essential during the successful seasons and during the lean years.  Examples included encouragement from former Blue Devil and SEC coach Bob Tyler, who told him to continue battling after his slow start with the two-win season in 1985.

Allen also pointed to one of his former players, Bryant Mix, who was a leader on the 1990 championship team. Mix, who is an assistant Blue Devil coach and former NFL player, played a crucial role in helping his team win a critical game against Bruce during the 1990 championship season. 

“We won by about five touchdowns, I don’t know how many helmets he knocked off that night, but it was a bunch of them,” Allen recalled about Mix, explaining that the defensive standout’s weekly effort was judged by the number of helmets that he knocked off each week.  

In an interesting twist, Embry added that he could attest to Mix’s performance during that 1990 game, as he was playing as a sophomore Trojan facing Coach Allen’s tough team.

“By half-time the Water Valley defense had knocked our quarterback out of the game,” Embry recalled. 

Before presenting the awards, Embry stressed that the most important award for the athletes is being part of the team. 

“You guys are here because you are a major part of this football program,” Embry added. 

Embry added that all of the awards are based on evaluations from the players’ peers, coaches or based on the numbers they achieve. The only exceptions are two awards selected by the coaches:  the E.J. Mayes Determination Award and the Larry Harris Leadership Award.

Embry presented Jeremy Jenkins the coveted Larry Harris Leadership Award.

“He did as much for this football program, to turn us around, as any one man, coach or player or anybody,” Embry said about Jenkins’ leadership to help propel the Blue Devils from two wins in 2016 to eight wins in 2017.

Embry next presented Joseph Washington with the E.J. Mayes Determination Award.

“I gave him fits every day in practice about kicking, I said we have to find a kicker,” Embry said about Washington. “After practice, he stayed. I was getting ready to go home and he was still kicking. He made himself a player,” Embry said about Washington’s determination. 

Other awards presented at the banquet included:


All State Honors 

Jeremy Jenkins – Second team 3A offensive line,

Bud Tolbert- Second team 3A All-State wide receiver.


Region 2-3A, 

Super 22 Team

Ty Varner – quarterback and punter,

Bud Tolbert – wide receiver

Martavious Rockett – wide receiver,

Marley Cook – offensive line,

Joseph Washington – kicker,

Jeremiah Ray, defensive end,

Emmanuel Judson – defensive lineman, 

Javarius Benson – linebacker,

Jayvon Morgan – defensive back,

Tay Rucker – athlete,


Region 2-3A First Team,

All Region

Jeremy Jenkins – offensive lineman,

Devontrae Bailey –  running back,

Grant Burress – linebacker,

Paris Adams – defensive line,

Nate Murphey – defensive end,

Jacob Truss – athlete.


Region 2-3A, 

Honorable Mention

Dalton Higdon – long snapper,

Jamie Owens, defensive back.


Lifetime Team Captains

Jayvon Morgan, Jeremy Jenkins, Jeremiah Ray and Emanuel Judson.


Oxford Eagle 

All Area Team


Emanuel Judson – defensive line,

Ty Varner- quarterback,

Tay Rucker – running back,

Jeremy Jenkins – offensive line,

Marley Cook -offensive line,

Jeremiah Ray – defensive end.


Weight Room Awards

Javarius Benson – Quad Club,

Paris Adams – power clean, dead lift and squat,

Emanuel Judson – squat,

Matthew Childress – squat,

Nate Murphy – power clean.


Lift-A-Thon Winners

Damicah Hervey – Junior Varsity, skill division,

Matthew Childress – Junior Varsity, line division,

Marley Cook – varsity, line division,

Javarius Benson, varsity, skill division.


Summer Workout

Perfect Attendance Awards

Tay Rucker, Martavious Rockett, Jacorie Woodard, Xavier Hairston, Matthew Childress, Joseph Witt and Marley Cook.

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