I’ve covered some good ones

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2011

During my 41 years as sports editor of this fine newspaper, I have covered sports at many different levels.
I’ve been to Yankee Stadium in New York to cover Ernie Riles, when the former Bainbridge High School and Middle Georgia College infielder and member of the first Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame class, was a rookie with the Milwaukee Brewers.
I’ve also been to old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to do a feature on Ernie when he was with the San Francisco Giants.
I covered former Bainbridge High School Region 1-AAAA defensive player of the year and current University of Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, following his senior season when he played in the Georgia-Florida senior All-Star game in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Kirby, son of former Bearcats and Rabun County High School head coach Sonny and Sharon Smart, was Region 1-AAAA defensive player of the year during his senior season, with his dad’s Bearcats in 2003. He went on to earn All-Southeastern Conference honors as a defensive back with the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
In 2009 at Alabama, Kirby won the Frank Broyles Award, named for the former University of Arkansas head football coach and athletic director. The award is given annually to the top college football assistant coach in the country.
I’ve also covered and followed the career of former Bainbridge High School defensive back James Butler, an All-Region 1-AAAA performer with the Bearcats and an All-Atlantic Coast Conference player with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Butler was a member of the New York Giants team that defeated the previously-undefeated New England Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XlII on Feb. 3, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz., and is now with the St. Louis Rams.
Covering Ernie, Kirby James, and numerous other fine young Bainbridge and Decatur County athletes through the years, and seeing them go on and be successful in life makes my job very enjoyable.
I appreciated the opportunity I had to cover a small portion of their very successful sports careers and I’m looking forward to covering current local athletes as they go on to bigger and better things.
We all have our favorite college and professional teams, but high school sports are the ones I enjoy most.
The young athletes are not playing on college scholarships or earning millions of dollars as professional athletes. They are just playing to uphold the honor and glory of their alma mater. That is sports at its very best.
In conclusion, I would just like to congratulate coach Ed Pilcher’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team, who improved their overall record to 5-1 and their Region 1-AAAA mark to 2-1 with their 30-7 victory over Northside-Columbus on Friday night at Centennial Field.
Pilcher, his fine staff and the Bearcats players are doing an outstanding job. I urge Bearcats fans to make the trip to Warner Robins on Saturday night and cheer the Bearcats on to another Region 1-AAAA victory, as they take on the Houston County High School Bears. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.

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