Scores from Tuesday, Aug. 18

Softball
Falkner 2, West Union 1
Booneville 19, Biggersville 3
Smithville 7, New Hope 0
Pine Grove 6, Ingomar 5
Hatley 16, Itawamba AHS 6
Mooreville 6, Hamilton 1
Jumpertown 9-5, Hickory Flat 3-4
Myrtle 11, Corinth 4
Amory 12, Caledonia 1
East Union 24, Shannon 0
Mantachie 5, New Site 3
Baldwyn 9, Wheeler 6

Volleyball
Tupelo 3, New Albany 0

Posted in Sports

(Video) Alcorn Central seniors want to end playoff drought

@brandonspeck

GLEN – Alcorn Central coach Jeff Boren was 6 years old the last time the Bears made the playoffs. Or maybe he was 9. It has been nearly three decades. That’s close enough and it has been long enough.

“It was the 80s and I’m just 36,” Boren said.

Their coach was in elementary school. Needless to say, seniors Trey White and Ethan Carmichiel weren’t born.

Needless to say, that’s the goal.

Here is the story from today’s Journal.

And here is senior lineman Trey White and senior ATH Ethan Carmichiel.

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Posted in Football

(Video) Itawamba AHS’ Brian Dozier has made his MLB name

@brandonspeck

(Brace Hemmelgarn/ Minnesota Twins)

Brian Dozier has become a face of Major League Baseball for the Twins. (Brace Hemmelgarn/ Minnesota Twins)

(@brandonspeck)

Mitch Moreland played with and against Brian Dozier in high school. The two grew up some 20 miles apart. (@brandonspeck)

Spent Tuesday in Minneapolis talking with locals about Brian Dozier. The former Itawamba AHS and Southern Miss star has become a face of the Twins franchise.

Talked also with Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland, who played with and against Dozier for years. (Here is that story).

Friday, I talked to Fulton mayor Lynette Weatherford and park director Mickey Russell, who got to watch every Dozier development.

Here are the links to five stories in today’s Daily Journal, as well as some video.

Dozier earns Hall of Famers’ praise

Twin Cities embrace Fulton native as their own

Dozier still ‘everybody’s BD’ in Fulton

New face arrives at perfect time for Twins

Tupelo’s McCarty helps keep Twins healthy (from @parrishalford)

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Posted in Baseball, Sports

(Video) Brian Dozier can play. Torii Hunter says he can dance, too.

I was talking Tuesday night with Minnesota Twins OF Torii Hunter about former Itawamba AHS and Southern Miss star Brian Dozier.

Dozier has made his mark with the Twins, now a star in his fourth year with the team. Dozier scored two more runs in Wednesday’s 11-1 win against the Rangers, giving him 80, four behind Toronto’s Josh Donaldson.

“Scoring runs is tough these days. We’re down compared to a lot of seasons and generations of baseball,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

Yet Dozier continues to do it. He is also hitting .247 with 24 home runs and 59 RBI, hitting Wednesday from the two-spot.

But Hunter, who sits beside Dozier in the clubhouse, said there is more to Dozier than we know.

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Posted in Baseball

Dozier talks Twins win over Rangers

@brandonspeck

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Brian Dozier and the Twins took a half-game lead on Mitch Moreland’s Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card with Tuesday’s 3-2 walkoff win. Both still trail Toronto, LA, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

In the tying eighth inning at Target Field, Dozier, a former Itawamba AHS and Southern Miss star, missed by only a few feet a missile two-run home run. Both he and Amory’s Mitch Moreland went 0-for-4, but their teams are neck and neck in the postseason hunt.

It was a much-needed win for the Twins, coming off a 1-6 road trip. The Twins are now 56-56, the Rangers 55-56. The series continues today and Thursday.

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Posted in Baseball

Houston embraces midnight workout

@brandonspeck

I don’t usually look forward to driving the Natchez Trace after midnight, but once per year, it’s a treat to drive it to Houston to watch the Toppers midnight practice.

Here is my story from Sunday and some video with coach William Cook.

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Posted in Football

Denver McQuary talks Mississippi State commitment

@brandonspeck

HOUSTON – Houston P/INF Denver McQuary has committed to Mississippi State. The 2016 prospect and Journal all-area selection said after Saturday morning’s midnight football practice he told the Bulldogs Thursday he was coming.

The two-sport star is also three interceptions away from breaking Steve McNair’s state record for interceptions. McQuary currently has 25.

The fluid SS batted .405 with 14 RBI, 14 doubles and four triples. He stole a state-best 39 of 40 bases and scored a 4A-best 43 runs.

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Posted in Baseball, Recruiting

Young Lions looking to change culture

@brandonspeck

Bigg Practice

Biggersville hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 and the playoff drought is longer, but 13th year coach Ronnie Lawson says the new group of freshmen have had success in junior high he hopes will rub off.

“The younger ones have won, just trying to build on that,” Lawson said. “It’s still a process as young as we are,” going out and expecting to win instead of hoping to win.”

The Lions have three seniors, with freshmen in key spots, including Noah Lawson at QB at least until senior Derrick Gunn returns from a torn ACL, and Quay Davis at RB. They’ll be running behind a line with maybe four freshmen.

 

Posted in Football

Oxford top 2016 baseball team to watch

@brandonspeck

MaxPreps released today its 2016 Top 10 baseball teams to watch. Guess who is No. 1 nationally.

Oxford (Miss.), 35-1
Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), 34-2
JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), 27-5-1
Saint Francis (Mountain View, Calif.), 29-5
Venice (Fla.), 29-3
Huntington Beach (Calif.), 25-8
Greenbrier (Evans, Ga.), 29-4
Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), 29-4
Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.). 26-7
Coppell (Texas), 25-6

Posted in Baseball

Gwyn, Warriors playing with a chip

@brandonspeck

CORINTH – I rose way earlier than I’d rather this morning to go to Corinth for the Warriors first official practice of 2015.

Somewhere around 5:30 a.m., I talked with senior QB Antares Gwyn. He didn’t outright say so, but it’s pretty clear the talented prospect (has an offer from Alcorn State) is playing with an under-appreciated chip on his shoulder.

And so is Corinth, tired of being bounced in the first round of the 4A playoffs – that’s happened three straight years. Here is a short video with Gwyn and a link to the story.

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Head here to djournal.com for the story and a slideshow.

Posted in Football, Recruiting

Journal area honors the life of T.J. Hamblin

@brandonspeck

The funeral for East Union junior lineman T.J. Hamblin was Monday morning. Sunday night, EU coach Josh Blythe emailed me this in appreciation for the support the school has received.

“TJ Hamblin, often referred to as “the gentle giant” was taken from us all to early. A common fixture of the East Union family where students loved being around him because of his gentle nature was taken far to early from his EU family.

The amount of respect and support that has been shown to the Hamblin family and East Union during this tragic time has been overwhelming. As news began to travel of the tragic drowning of East Union football player TJ Hamblin on Friday afternoon tweets, literally hundreds of tweets from nearby rival schools coaches, students, and parents began to pour in.

They offered support and vowed to pray continually for TJ’s family, East Union players, and Coaches.  Soon thereafter a gofundme account was created to help offset the cost of the funeral. Local schools within Union County and nearby counties contributed monetary gifts from booster clubs to help alleviate the funeral costs.

Coaches and parents from nearby schools made donations also.  Mantachie, a rival team within the same football division as East Union even came on a Saturday night to a prayer vigil dressed in their football jerseys to offer support to a hurting team and community.

As visitation began at Tutors Funeral Home in Pontotoc on Sunday, the Tishomingo County football team showed up dressed in uniform as well to offer support to the team, families, coaches and students. Normally, these football teams might fight it out on the gridiron but for this moment, a moment when football stopped and life stood still, they stood arm and arm, not as opponents trying to win a game but as fellow members of a game that goes beyond wins and losses. They stood with East Union because football is more than a game, it’s a brotherhood, it’s a fraternity!

There is a newfound respect we at East Union have for these communities and coaches. Often in our world we are reminded of how bad things are, but how awesome is it that we have coaches at local schools that are teaching our young men not just about football, but about LIFE. They are modeling how boys become men and that life is not always fair and often way to short. These coaches are being role models on how sportsmanship and love for one another is bigger than winning or losing games.

We have never witnessed the death of one beloved young man transpire into such an overwhelming response of support and unity from communities and schools across North Mississippi. We will never know exactly why TJ was taken at such a young age, but in the midst of this horrible tragedy God has inspired individuals from across the area to rise above and set examples of how we are to treat others. Rest in Peace TJ! #99 will forever be in our hearts!”

Here are a couple of links to today’s story and column from Saturday’s vigil to honor Hamblin.

#PrayForEastUnion: Rival schools show support

‘Gentle Giant’ looms tall in death

EU head coach Kevin Walton speaks at Saturday’s vigil.

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Posted in Football

East Union coach on TJ Hamblin: ‘Just a great kid’

TJ Hamblin

@brandonspeck

The anticipation of football season took a tragic turn Friday for the East Union Urchins.

Junior lineman TJ Hamblin, 17, drowned on a team trip to Iuka’s J.P. Coleman State Park.

“He was a wonderful kid, gentle giant,” East Union coach Kevin Walton said. “I’ve just never dealt with anything like this. Me and him were so, I don’t even know, I was like a dad to him. We were just close.”

Hamblin drowned around 6 p.m. His body was recovered approximately three hours later. The team had taken the swimming/fishing trip as a reward for hard work leading to the season. Practice is scheduled to begin Monday. The Urchins are scheduled to open the season on Aug. 21 at home vs. Falkner.

“We’re a family. We had a bond,” said teammate Chase Hall. “We still have a bond, but with TJ, it’s going to leave a place in our heart. It’s going to be hard to get through. But maybe it will give us motivation to keep working hard.”

Walton said Hamblin’s love for the school was immeasurable. He didn’t miss a workout and worked on the field for Walton, picking up rocks, spraying, weed-eating, whatever needed to be done.

“He would find ways to come up here and try to, I mean in the mornings I get to school at 8 o’clock and he would text me,” Walton said, “which I bawled all night long reading those texts, ‘Coach, I’m coming.’”

Now Hamblin won’t be coming out for Monday practice. Late Friday, family, friends, teammates and the Ellistown community rocked by the news gathered at the field house to console one another over a teenager who they say never had anything bad to say and never had anything bad said about him.

Hamblin, who stood 6-foot-2 and had worked to knock some 20 pounds off to get to 230, was part of East Union’s back-to-back state powerlifting championships. Walton said he was in the best shape he’d ever been in.

It happened quickly. Walton said the players were gathered together in one area and noticed he was missing in the maybe 15-20-feet deep water.

“I ran over there and they said, ‘We think he went under, coach.’ I dove over and over and over trying to find him but I couldn’t,” Walton said. “it was, I just couldn’t find him.

“I guarantee you couldn’t find anything bad to say against the boy, just a great kid. (The team) loved him very much.”

A funeral fund has been set up to help with expenses. Please donate at http://www.gofundme.com/2jd5scv6w.

brandon.speck@journalinc.com

Posted in Football


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