Coaches, athletes have character

Published 2:56 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saturday’s Georgia-Florida Border Wars Senior Bowl All-Star football game at Thomas County Central’s Jackets’ Nest Stadium was a good stepping stone for seniors wishing to play at the next level.

Offensive guard Ben Reynolds, linebacker Eric Henry and defensive back Brian Hughes turned in impressive performances in the game.

Reynolds started at right guard and played almost the entire game, and Henry and Hughes were part of a strong Southwest Georgia All-Star defense that held the Big Bend of Florida senior All-Stars to just three points in a 35-3 Southwest Georgia victory.

Email newsletter signup

The effort earned the entire Southwest Georgia defense defensive players of the game honors.

While we all have our favorite college and professional teams, high school sports is really where it’s at as far as I am concerned.

Players like Ben, Eric and Brian, who played Saturday, and senior wide receiver Melzie Johnson, who played for the South team that defeated the North team 17-0 in the North Georgia vs South Georgia Senior All-Star game in Columbus, bring a lot of positive publicity to their school, their city and their county.

I believe players like the ones who represented us so well in the two Senior All-Star games are the first of many who will come through coach Ed Pilcher’s Bearcats football program.

In the short time I have been covering coach Pilcher, I have been impressed by the way he conducts his practices and truly cares about the young men who play for him.

His practices are as intense as any I have been around in my many years of covering high school football, but it is obvious how much respect the players have for him. He teaches character, sportsmanship and hard play. His goal, as I have heard him say many times, is to build good athletes and good citizens.

Monday I was talking with former Bearcats quarterback and defensive back Nick Williams who played on special teams as a University of Georgia Bulldogs freshman last fall.

He told me how much his Bearcats coaches, particularly former head coach Ricky Woods, helped him along the way.

He said Woods, who resigned December 18, 2007 to accept the head coaching position at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Miss., reminded him a lot of Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt.

Practices are hard, but if you were having a tough time you could always go in and talk to coach Woods and coach Richt,” Williams said.

Some players will be involved in sports beyond high school and some others will not, but with coaches like coach Pilcher and coach Woods, all will be guided in the right direction.