ECHS celebrates success

Published 11:26 pm Monday, April 23, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
The accomplishments of the Lady Blue Devils of Escambia County High School were celebrated Tuesday night in the old gym of ECHS. As ECHS assistant principal David McKinley acted as master of ceremonies for the second straight year, all the families and guests of the record breaking 2006-07 Lady Devils witnessed again how special this past year was.
And to the surprise of no one in the gym, Jasmine Sanders was named the 2007 Team MVP for this past season. Sanders and ECHS head coach Todd Reynolds shared an emotional moment when Reynolds handed Sanders a plaque he made of various newspaper clippings of Sanders and the Lady Devils.
All this emotion began when Reynolds explained to the crowd that all four of the seniors on the team had signed college scholarships. This was the first breakdown for the man who looked like a volcano ready to erupt running up and down the sidelines.
The second came when he handed Sanders the plaque and described how she is the first athlete he has coached who signed a scholarship with a NCAA Division IA school. But Reynolds was most emotional about all of his seniors signing scholarships.
"Coaching is not about the wins, it is not about the playoffs, it is about knowing you have four players going on to the next level," he said.
And the Lady Devils did get the wins and the success in the playoffs. They won a school record 27 games and had seven losses. Until the area tournament final they had not lost to an AHSAA Class 4A team.
Reynolds handed out a team picture, a certificate of participation and a championship watch to each player. And to the seniors, in addition to all of the above, he gave them an action photo for them to remember their high school playing days.
Before presenting the Lady Blue Devils, Reynolds presented the "B" team boys' team. He said the team fought hard all season and it was a joy to coach them.
Before the varsity boys' team could be announced there was another announcement made that made the crowd go absolutely silent. McKinley announced that boys' head coach Jerome Antone would not be back next year at ECHS.
Antone gave a speech about what he thought of his two years in Atmore and he led right into presenting awards to his players and the various individuals who helped the team throughout the year.
The Hustle Award went to Derrick Riley.
"He was a workhorse out there this year," Antone said.
The leading scorer was Frank Taylor, dropping in 696 points.
"You just can't say enough about this guy," Antone said. "I told him this past summer that I was going to leave and he said 'Go ahead coach, whatever you have to do.' But I stayed just so I could see him through to college."
Earl Purifoy grabbed the Coaches' Award.
Skyler Lindsey brought down the Banger Award for his play in the low post.
"I remember against T.R. Miller this guy had 20 rebounds," Antone said. "That was amazing. He will be a great player in the future."
The Academic Award went to Brandon Marshall.
"This guy was the brain trust of the team," Antone said.
And the 2007 Team MVP was none other than the leading scorer of the team, Frank Taylor.
Antone also had something special in place for his seniors. All six of them, including team manager Kenny Richardson, received a letterman's jacket.
And before the banquet was concluded, Kelby Amos was honored for his work and dedication to the ECHS basketball program.

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