It’s rare that amazing is ever used about me but...

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,

I’ve had several people stop and tell me they enjoyed my column last week about Newton County’s Gene Mitchell, who stepped down as head football coach to concentrate on his battle with cancer.

I appreciate the comments and even got an “amazing” from Circuit Clerk Mike Butler. I thought “amazing” was a strong word for something I wrote but Mr. Butler is a lot smarter than me so I’ll take it.

But here’s the thing. Mitchell is the one who deserves the praise. I just told the story. The thing I didn’t write that I wished I would have is how much time and effort Mitchell has spent trying to influence the young men of our county. Mitchell may not have left a lasting influence on the football field but he’ll never know the kind of

 influence he has had on the young men he’s come in contact with.

Hooping it up

Don’t look now but high school basketball is getting going and there is plenty of basketball to watch.

After Thanksgiving, East Central will host its annual tournament. Take time to go watch the Newton County boys this season. The Cougars have eight seniors, including ECCC signee Jaylin Nicholson. I watched the Cougars play on Friday night and Nicholson looks every bit of a Division I guard. He is deadly from behind the arc and can jump out of the gym. I promise you that he will be Newton County’s leading rebounder this year. He’s a special talent.

In Newton, the Lady Tigers are off to a 3-0 start under first-year coach Perry Fletcher. Fletcher, who has a couple years at the Class 5A and 6A level, brings back a hos

t of starters and has the Lady Tigers off to a good start. I suspect the Lady Tigers are back to where Newton is used to being and that’s one of the top teams in Class 2A.

Parting ways

This past week, three former Newton County players signed with four-year schools.

Jacob Edwards signed with Southern Miss to play for coach Scott Berry, whom I have a ton of respect for. I first saw Edwards play baseball as a 7-year-old on the youth fields of Decatur. Along with Cain Cleveland and Tanner Elders, they were on the same 8-year-old all-star team as my son Jacob. Even from age 8, it was fairly obvious that Edwards was something special in baseball. And even as he aged, he maintained that level of excellence. I was surprised that he didn’t get a Division I offer out of high school, but now he’ll get his opportunity with the Eagles. And here’s the thing, once you get there, Berry can get you where ever you need to go. I’ll be looking forward to see how Edwards does at USM.

Two others off that 8-year-old team also signed as Elders signed with West Alabama and Cleveland with Alabama-Huntsville. The one common theme about all of these young men is they are excellent people from good families. Good luck guys.

On a side note of interest to me, one other from East Central that signed was Peyton Griffin, who prepped at Hebron. My son Jacob also played with Griffin at Hebron. Add in Clay Hillhouse and Denver McQuarry from Mississippi State and that makes six college players that my son has taken the field with.