By Greg Sullivan
Although it's not as much about bragging rights as it is about giving players some motivation throughout their two week spring season, there were still more than a few hard hits to go around Friday night in Madison.
The two teams looked about as evenly matched as any two teams could, these two versions of the Morgan County Bulldogs, the Red team and their alter-ego the White team. To add to their evenness, both teams shared the same quarterback, J.D. Hawkins, who was forced to don a black shirt as all-time quarterback, with scheduled Red team quarterback Terence Harper being sidelined with a separated shoulder.
Friday's game was competitive. For the record, the White team took the win holding on to a 6-0 decision in the short scrimmage.
"I thought both teams got after each other pretty good," said Bulldogs Defensive Coordinator and White team coach Clint Jenkins. "It was fun."
Offensive Coordinator and Red team coach John Robbins said he thought both halves of the squad got a lot out of the scrimmage.
"It turned out to be a high energy game with a lot of good football--just what we needed to bring spring practice to a close and leave a positive thought on our players' minds heading into summer workouts," Robbins said.
The game's only score came when J.D. Hawkins launched a fourth down pass into the corner of the endzone to Caleb Duvall for a touchdown to put the White team ahead.
The Red team nearly even things up later driving down near the goal line only to have their drive thwarted by a Desmond Williams interception in the end zone.
Bulldogs Head Coach Bill Malone watched Friday's scrimmage perched atop the press box clinging to a video camera.
By Greg Sullivan
Four Morgan County Diamond Dogs were selected for this year's Region 8-AA All-Region Team as chosen by coaches throughout the region, and two Dogs were picked as first team members.
Local players selected as first team all-region members were pitcher Caleb Duvall and first baseman Bobby Patrick. Shortstop Clay Duvall was named second team all-region and catcher and outfielder Tyler Ward was named honorable mention all-region.
"I'm extremely proud of them," said Diamond Dogs Head Coach Brandon Patch of his honored players. "Their hard work has really paid off."
Sophomore Caleb Duvall was one of just five pitchers selected to the first team all-region team. He finished the year with a 5-1 record, a 2.56 ERA and 43 strike outs.
"With Caleb being a sophomore, I was impressed with that," Patch said.
Patrick had a homer and 25 RBI on the year posting a .403 batting average to cap off a solid senior season.
"He was one of our hottest hitters," Patch said. "He hit well over .500 the last half of the season. He was outstanding on defense and was a steady batter."
Patrick will continue his career at Andrew College next season.
Clay Duvall had a big junior season, leading the Dogs in several offensive categories. Duvall led the team with a .424 average, 36 hits, 26 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
"Clay was probably our most consistent hitter," Patch said. "We'll look forward to having him and Caleb back next year."
Patch called Tyler Ward one of his team's senior leaders.
"He does things that don't typically show up in the box score," Patch said.
Ward played through injuries, bunted and ran the bases well.
By Greg Sullivan
Several Mat Dogs were awarded at Monday night’s year end awards banquet at Tequila Express in Madison.
Team captain Austin Sharp was presented the Outstanding Wrestler Award, the Coach’s Award went to fellow captain Kody Vaughters, state runner-up Nick Childers was recognized as 2008 MVP, the Academic Award was presented to Tyler Jensen and Jacon Akins and Wes East received the award for most falls with 40 on the season.
“This is the most talented team I’ve ever coached,” said Robbins, who handed out Monday’s awards.
Receiving senior plaques were Nick Childers who went 46-6 on the year, Vaughters who was 42-9, Sharp at 45-3, East at 45-5 and Jensen who had six varsity wins in his first season with the team.
Third year lettermen received letterman jackets. Those lettermen included Zach Yost who went 40-17 this past season, wrestling assistant Ashley Palmer and wrestling assistant Arianne Gautier.
Second year letterment were Ryan Childers who went 20-16 for the season, Kyle Palmer who had 16 varsity wins and Stiara Mathis who picked up four wins.
First year participants were also recognized at the banquet.
Those wrestlers included Jacob Akins, Dusty Mines, Mack McKenzie, Jared Rector, Chris Hunsucker, Brandon Rivers, Howard Childers and Robert Hutchison.
By Greg Sullivan
After the first couple of days of practice last week, any novelty factor of playing football again in the spring should have been absent for the Morgan County players.
The fact that it wasn't the case is what has Bulldogs' Head Coach Bill Malone this year's team.
"We were real concerned that the newness would be worn off," said Malone. "All week long our guys have practiced with enthusiasm."
The players, particularly on defense, know what's on the line this spring with a few key holes to fill left by graduation from some of last year's team members.
"There's a lot of competition on that side of the ball for positions," Malone said. "Our kids are really battling each other for playing time.
Entering their second week of spring practice, Malone said his team has lots of positives to look back on from week one and the team is also starting to identify potential leaders and starters for the new edition of the Bulldogs.
"I've been really excited about Coach [Clint] Jenkins' defense and their intensity."
Malone said he also believes some players may be stepping up to fill key positions for his team.
Zach Sheppard is playing well at tight end, Malone said. Brandon Horton, Asie Tolbert and Clarence White rotating to fill the two defensive tackle spots also seems to be working, he said. Dexter Cooper has been playing well at the quick tackle spot on offense.
Returning full back Ryan Glosson, a rising senior, is far and away the leader in the offensive backfield, Malone said.
Also, he said he's been pleased thus far with the play of his quarterbacks. Rising junior Terence Harper, who had a big year last year in his first full season as a starter, appears to be even faster than a season ago.
By Greg Sullivan
This Friday the Morgan County High School football program will renew what had once been a long-standing tradition when they kick things off in their spring Red vs. White game at 6 p.m. at Bill Corry Stadium.
Bulldogs Head Coach Bill Malone doesn't know if the last spring game in Morgan County was in 1995 or 1996, but either way it's been a long time coming.
As many surrounding schools take part in similar events throughout the region, Morgan County will soon take their turn and get in on the act.
"Kids will wear their jerseys to school," said Malone. "That ought to make it interesting."
Some Bulldogs will don the red home jersey. Some will wear the white road jerseys. For the rest of this week these teammates will look at each other as opponents
"I'm hoping to create a little Friday night atmosphere the week before graduation and I'm trying to give anybody in town a chance to see what we've been doing down here."
The event is free and open to the public. The game will start with the two squads, set up to be evenly matched, having a chance to take on each other head to head. Malone said the plan is for each squad to have about five or six possessions against each other.
Coaches plan to film the game and work out any problems they can spot in future practices this fall.
Following the game, ninth graders will line up against each other. That portion of the event will be similar to a b-team spring game, the only difference being coaches will likely be on the field to help instruct them on plays.
By Greg Sullivan
You would think Morgan County High School junior Andrea Ross has to warrant being called "a natural." And that would at least be partly right.
Having played softball for years, one of Ross' former softball coaches had always tried to convince her to take up a new sport to supplement her time on the diamond.
Then last season the Lady Dogs' shortstop finally succumbed to her former coach's urgings, joining the Morgan County track team for the 2007 season.
The result was startling; a state discus championship in her first year competing in the sport. On top of that, Ross was only a sophomore at the time. The title, she said, caught her by surprise.
Ross finished second in region last year, but surprised, not only herself, but everyone at the state meet in Albany. This year, although she didn't place at a very competitive state meet, she added a region discus title to her list of accomplishments, the only Lady Dog to do so.
Now with state and region titles under her belt, the Lady Dogs are hoping that Ross' leadership will serve them well as the program moves up to compete in Class AAA next season. But it's Ross' hard work, not her natural abilities, that her coaches want younger players to learn from the rising senior.
"She works extremely hard, she's a good student and a good softball player," said Morgan County track coach Charlemagne Gibbons. "I hope she can serve as a model for hard work for our team."
"And hopefully," Gibbons added, "she'll have the opportunity to win another state championship."
This year, Ross said, she was somewhat disappointed by not placing at the state meet on May 5 coming off her strong showing the year before. Ross finished just short of qualifying for the second round of competition at the Albany event.