Local players taking part in NEMFCA game
For eight area football players, their high school careers are not yet complete. They still have one more game to play.
The Northeast Mississippi Football Coaches Association All-Star game is tonight on the campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. Oxford, Lafayette and Water Valley all have representatives that will play on the West team.
The East and West teams are determined by using Highway 45 as a dividing line in north Mississippi.
Oxford is represented by defensive back Tias Hillard, linebacker Jack Turner and defensive lineman Jacquez Neilson. The Charger trio will not be alone as new head coach Chris Cutcliffe is on the West’s coaching staff, working with the wideouts.
“For some of them, it’s a last opportunity to be seen by some of the junior colleges,” Cutcliffe said. “For other guys that play, it’s just another chance to get to play before they are done.”
For Turner, this is his last chance to play football as he passed over a football scholarship at Belhaven University in Jackson and will instead enroll at Ole Miss this fall.
“For Jack, it’s one last go-around,” Cutcliffe said. “He was such a great high school football player and he plays hard, and for him, it’s one more opportunity to put on the pads. It’s been a lot of fun for him.”
Lafayette had Jordan Jamison and Keontre Toles selected to play in the game and are joined by defensive coach Stan Robertson.
Water Valley will have Kirkland Horton, Mark Gooch and Jarius Gooch play in the game. Horton has already committed to play football at Itawamba Community College, which makes tonight’s game more of a chance to keep in game shape before heading off to Fulton this fall.
Jarius Gooch has also committed to Holmes Community College.
“It’s different for our three,” Water Valley coach Brad Embry said. “Kirkland’s already said he’s going to Itawamba. Every year in this game, we’ve had kids get scholarships out of it.”
Mark Gooch is undecided on where he wants to play at the next level and is using the game as an audition of sorts for any other suitors that might not have reached out to him thus far.
Horton was a key cog for the Blue Devils on both sides of the football as a quarterback as well as one of the top players on the defensive side at the linebacker position. He is listed as both on the roster for tonight’s game, which means he may see a lot of action.
“I told them it’s just life experience,” Embry said. “Getting to meet some news guys, and it’ll be something that they cherish for a long time.”
The game can be seen on nemcctv.com for those who are unable to attend in person at Tiger Stadium with kickoff set for 6 p.m.