Tuesday, December 07, 2010

SPORTS >> Red Devils get credit where due

Leader sports editor

The postseason spotlight hasn’t quite shifted from the Jacksonville Red Devils just yet.

After returning to the playoffs under first-year coach Rick Russell and beating Sheridan in the first round before bowing out, Jacksonville had three Class 6A all-state selections heading its list of postseason honorees this week.

Senior defensive lineman Rhakeem James, junior wide receiver D’Vone McClure and senior quarterback Logan Perry got the all-state nods to go with their first-team, 7A/6A-East all-conference awards.

Russell said the talented nucleus, which included 10 who earned postseason honors, was instrumental in the Red Devils’ playoff push after they won two games the previous season.

“The kids, through their effort made a name for our school in the 2010 season, and the postseason accomplishments speak for that,” Russell said.

McClure, who will return to bedevil defenses next year, led the Jacksonville receiving corps with 58 receptions for 944 yards and nine touchdowns.

Perry was 150 of 233 passing for 2,052 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His fellow senior James had 59 tackles, 32 unassisted, with fives sacks and 11 tackles for 40 yards in losses.

“Logan Perry, a three-year starter,” Russell said. “What has he done for the program in three years? It’s unmentionable the amount of things he’s done over the last three years.

“Rhakeem James is the same way. He’s been a three-year starter and just an outstanding character kid and a Red Devil through and through. We’re proud of what they’ve done and what they’ve done for our program.”

Senior running back Antwone Mosby and senior cornerbacks Tyler Crook and Kenny Cummings round out the Red Devils’ all-conference, first-team choices.

Mosby carried 69 times for 519 yards and had five interceptions. Crook had 48 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery and Cummings had 43 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

“Tyler Crook has worked extremely hard in the weight room, from a sophomore in there about 130 pounds to a 170-pound, all-conference cornerback,” Russell said.

“Kenny Cummings is the same way. He developed and did what the coaches asked him to do and was just a joy to coach and we’re proud of their accomplishments.

“They put the work in to achieve those things.”

Jacksonville’s second-team, all-conference selections were junior offensive/defensive lineman James Reddick, senior linebacker Justin Kirk, sophomore safety Kevin Richardson and junior safety Cari Jordan.

That gives Russell a good pool of talent from which to work next year, but for now he is pleased to send his seniors out with some accolades ringing in their ears.

In fact, Russell said, the all-conference honors don’t begin to describe the players’ contribution. The all-conference list doesn’t measure conduct, Russell pointed out.

“From their leadership to their performance on the football field and their work ethic on the practice field they’ve set a very good example for the younger kids to follow and we’re going to miss them,” Russell said.