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Sixty ago the Water Valley Blue Devils were about to open their season against Houston High. The team would have to substitute desire for experience with the return of only three lettermen.
Most of the prospective starters were, according to Coach Charles Peets, “ready for action.” The exception was end Joe Holt, whose infected leg would prevent him from playing.
The previous year’s team came through with an upset of Lambert and North Panola to gain a fourth place tie with Holly Springs in the Chickasaw Conference. But, fellow coaches picked the Devils to place no higher than fifth in 1962.
There was little hope of another winning season in this rebuilding phase, but – as the Herald writer noted – the pigskin takes funny bounces.
Peets was expected to name Freddie Benz and Ronnie Morris at ends; Mickey Pierce and Tommy White at tackles; F. A. Jenkins and Joe Thomas at guards and Warren Sager at center. The starting backfield would have Gary Cox at quarterback; Andy Myrick and Bill Camp at halfbacks and Harry Neal at fullback. Joel Clements, 210-pound sophomore might replace Neal if necessary.
Peets predicted that Blue Devils “will be a team that the football fans of this area will enjoy watching.” That’s what a coach is expected to say. But, the pigskin took that funny bounce and the 1962 Blue Devils went on to win eight straight before dropping to powerhouse Tunica.
They gathered their strength for the final game and defeated Holly Springs to take second place in the conference.
Through The Years From The Herald
• 15 years ago, Sept. 6, 2007 – A petition signed by 2800 Yalobushians in favor of having a county-wide vote on beer was presented to supervisors.
Illegal narcotics were seized from a residence on Walnut Street as the result of a raid by police, deputies, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents and the Oxford Police Strategic Response Team. Police sought Raynard Turner in connection with the seizure.
A federal lawsuit against Yalobusha County and former Sheriff Steve Shuffield brought on by the suicide of a prisoner at the jail was dropped.
The Blue Devils defeated cross-county rival Coffeeville, 36-16.
Jack Gurner joined the Herald staff.
Realtor Rex Howell received the Community Blogger Award for his Deer Camp Blog from Skinny Moose Media, a hunting, fishing and outdoor blog network.
In the want ads a set of “bottom” dentures were found on Clay Street and could be claimed at the Herald.
• 20 years ago, Sept. 5, 2002 – The Blue Devils opened their season with a win over the Itawamba Agricultural High School Indians, 21-10.
The WVHS humanities class was beginning a four-year project to interview local veterans as part of the Veterans History Project being done by the Library of Congress.
Students and teachers at Davidson School were planning a Salute to American Character, a program honoring local policemen, firemen, Sheriff’s deputies, emergency medical personnel and the National Guard.
The Sheriff’s Department reported receiving 498 complaints in August.
Honor Roll students at Ole Miss for the summer session included Mary Angela Jackson, Michael Lynn Taylor, Twinkle M. VanWinkle and Kevin William Baggett of Water Valley. From Coffeeville were Linda Diane Fuller and Marcus Allen Johnson. From Oakland, Rita D. Hardy.
• 30 years ago, Sept. 10, 1992 – The Presbyterian Church was pictured receiving a new steeple. It was the first time in more than 70 years that the church had one after the original was removed in the 1920s when it was found to be unsound.
The Hwy. 7 bypass around Coffeeville was opened with a ribbon cutting Aug. 27. The approximately 6.3 miles of road cost more than $5 million.
Mike Joyner got zapped by his sister, Beverly, and brother, Joey, in one of those goofy – but fun – look who’s forty ads. “You’re really grand and really sporty. But you’re over the hill ‘cause you just turned forty.”
The 29 local residents who joined the mission trip to Honduras were saluted in a story about the adventure. Among those pictured were Binnie Turnage, Kathy Pullen, Clara Spence, Rev. Roger Baker, Rev. Jerry Beam, Paul Pullen, Mike Whitehead and Dr. Paul Odom.
• 40 years ago, Sept. 9, 1982 – Yvonne Vance was named to the board of directors of the Mississippi Economic Council.
The Blue Devils dropped their season opener, 14-0, to Charleston. Pictured cheering were Margie Ford and Carla Phillips.
Yalobusha County Bank employees moved into their new building at Central and North Court Streets.
The Water Valley Pilot Club received a national award for having the largest club (66 members) ever chartered in the history of Pilot International.
Debbie Person was a member of the Northwest Mississippi Junior College Rangerettes dance and drill team.
• 50 years ago, Sept. 7, 1972 – The prettiest nine-hole golf course in Mississippi, is the way Ed Meeks of Greenwood, former Mississippi Amateur golf champion, described the Yalobusha Country Club Golf Course. Meeks and Paul Hughes had just won a tournament at the club.
Pvt. Danny Dickey graduated from basic training at Fort Polk, La. and Danny Shoemake graduated from Senior Platoon Leader Class at Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Va.
Members of the WVHS Flag Team were Holly Hart, Jeanenne Marchbanks, Lori Crawford, Mary Reese, Jane Gray Treloar and Margaret Phillips. Rifle Team members were Kathy Chandler, Barbara Herod, Charmie Lassen and Mary Anne Fair.
• 60 years ago, Sept. 6, 1962 – The Herald praised county supervisors for making a cooperative purchase of equipment with which to blacktop county roads. Supervisor Tommy Swearengen pointed out that blacktopping makes a road more pleasant and safer to travel and cuts down on maintenance.
School opened Monday, Sept. 3 with 925 students enrolled in the system, according to Superintendent Clovis Steele. That figure showed an increase of 38 over the first week enrollment of the past year. In a speech before classes began, Steele urged students to develop a wholesome social perspective.
James Hamilton Caldwell, prominent Charleston lawyer, drowned Sept. 3 at Enid Lake, a short distance from the Long Branch boat landing. A rescue attempt by a boating party of local youths, Eddie Ray, Linda Edwards, Mary Jo Crawford and Hugh Wright, was unsuccessful. The body of Caldwell, 64, was recovered that night in about 15 to 25 feet of water.
• 70 years ago, Sept. 4, 1952 – City school opened with 684 students enrolled, including 39 seniors.
Some of the young students commenting on their first day included Jackie Ray who said, “Aw, there’s nothing to it, they didn’t even serve refreshments.” And, Ronnie Scarbrough added, “I sure will be glad when someone starts teaching me something.”
The Blue Devils were facing the Oakland Hornets for their first game of the season. Starters were Bobby McCullar and Jim Langford, ends; Billy Samuels and John Crumby, tackles; Leo Reed, Luke Nolen or Don Brown, guards; Bill Larson, center; Joe Pegram, quarterback; J. C. Anthony, fullback; Bobby Bell, right half and Gaylon Booker, left half.
• 70 years ago, Sept. 3, 1942 – The first local death of the war is First Lieutenant Paul Edwin Perkins of the Army Air Corps. Perkins was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vann Perkins.
The bond issue to build a new Otuckalofa school was defeated because not enough qualified electors came out to vote. By law, a bond issue must have a majority of the qualified electors in the district and only 24 of the 66 voted for it.