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November 3, 2006: West Jones at Picayune
Dear Maroon Tide Nation,
No more two minute hot dog runs for me. There won't be any more hot dogs, ketchup, no bread, or even a run; period.
As most of you know by now, I had triple bypass heart surgery on Friday Oct 27th . I went a couple of days before with chest
pains; I knew something was wrong, however, I didn't know how serious this had become. Facing open heart surgery is one thing,
but having to look into the eyes of all your family and friends is really hard.
Everybody asked me “Barry, what did it feel like?”. Let me explain it to you in a Maroon Tide Nation fashion. Imagine Big Jon
Billups' (6-1, 335) forearm hitting you square in your chest and never pulling it out. That's what it felt like. Big Jon, no offense,
seriously, no offense.
Since I brought up Mr Billups, let me go ahead and talk about him a little bit and the kind of year he has had thus far. He has not
had a typical sophomore season, but he has definitely a senior-like season. We got a glimpse of Jon late last year and could not
believe he was just a freshman and this year it is hard to believe he is just a sophomore. I think the other region 8-4a teams don't
believe it either. This is one big youngun who has excellent feet and excellent hands. Yes, you do need both to be a good offensive
or defensive lineman. There is no doubt that Jon has to be ranked as the top sophomore lineman in the state of Mississippi .
If anyone tells you there is a better sophomore lineman, tell them I want to see him play. Not only do I think he is one the top
lineman in the state, he may one of the top lineman in the southeastern part of the United States .
We've talked all year about the senior leadership of this club and it has been outstanding. Big Jon is a sophomore that is going to
have to play like a senior for the rest of the season. Another big youngun that has played great this year is James Brady (6-3, 265).
With Brady and Billups, the Maroon Tide offensive line is well anchored. Brady will likely play D-I ball next year and Billups will
do the same in two years. These guys are only two of the players on this well balanced squad. When you pick up Saturday's
newspaper, you won't find their names in the box score, but these two guys are the muscle and sweat of the offensive line. If they
can show up with a little attitude, just a little, it could be a good night for the Maroon Tide.
Let's talk about West Jones. I mentioned earlier in the year about how strong their Region (5-4A) was. Their number 4 seed,
West Jones, could have played for a Region championship in most other regions around the state. They've got a couple of
play makers that we really have to contain. Jerrell Knight (5-8, 165, Sr), Marcus Pierce (5-11, 180, Jr), and Justin Brown
(6-2, 155, Sr) can take it the distance in the blink of an eye. We can't allow them to bust a couple of long ones on us.
Now, let me address the home team crowd. This Picayune team needs every citizen of Picayune and the surrounding county
area to get to the game, find a seat, and most importantly, make it a point to be loud. (By the way, the seats at Tide Stadium
are much more accommodating than what Mr. Meitzler encountered in the Loge section of the Superdome. I still can't believe
he actually fit into that seat, but he says he did.)
This bunch has earned the right to ask you to be there supporting them throughout the playoffs by going undefeated in the
regular season and playing 110% on every play.
If Dr. Cindy (my wife) releases me, I'll be there. Well, it ain't gonna happen this week, but I will have that radio dial tuned to
WRJW 1320 AM come Friday night. I've talked about hot dogs, I've talked about big forearms, and I've talked about two
Big Dawgs, and here is my prediction. Big Dawgs 35 West Jones 7, without the mustard of course.
P.S. I want to thank my family for being with me last week. Family never fails.
I want to say a special thanks to Dr Riser and Carey for being with us before, during, and after. Friends never fail.
I want to thank everyone for all of their prayers.
God Bless you all.
High fives and cudos to the Boys Swim Team. State Champs!!!! A first is a FIRST.
I am excited for a lot of people, especially my longtime friend Dr. Ludwick Lohnes, his wife Donna, and their son Andrew
who had a big role in capturing the title. Between Dr. Riser and Ludwick, I have been able to stay off the injured list or
physically unable to perform list each week for many years. This week, I'm listed as probable, and will be able to sit with
the Gator (Jason Pigott) thanks to both of them. I value the friendships and the medical expertise they provide.
Also, a special thanks to Bill Hillery for his support last week during some phone calls, visits, the valuable research he
did to ensure we would have the playoff matchups finalized for the Morning After and for sitting in for Barry Harper.
This past week was one of the most stressful I've been through. I don't think I can convey to you how important Barry, Cindy,
and their family are to us in the Meitzler household. I was shaken last week when Cindy called me to tell me that they were at
Forrest General Hospital (FGH). I had spoken to Blue Boy on Monday night via phone just as I was getting to Tide Stadium
to film the freshmen team's game. He said he didn't feel real well and was going to get checked out the next day. I thought all
was well until I spoke with Cindy the next day only to realize that they had been at FGH since the night before.
I was in Lafayette on business when Cindy called me to tell me that Barry was going to have the surgery. It was like a bad dream
as I drove toward Hattiesburg for those four hours. Once I got to Hattiesburg , I was certain God was going to look out for my
brother. My thoughts immediately turned to Cindy and the family. Barry once told me “God does things in His time; we can't
rush it. We just have to pray, be faithful, and trust Him.” That thought kept running through my mind leading up to the surgery.
Not long after Barry was in surgery, I was speaking with Dan Young, one of his pastors, and it was such a blessing to have
Dan there. God delivers.
I've known Barry since 1983 when we used to play softball together. A lot of good people were on that team including Coach
Dodd Lee and a cast of many others. After moving away to Huntsville, AL for about five years, my young family came back to
Picayune in 1992. My friendship with Barry was rekindled at that point. We started doing radio together during the '94 season
and had a lot of fun until he stepped aside after the 2000 season. Barry has continued to do the Morning After (Saturday
show), which he suggested the name be changed after the death of our dear friend and mentor, Sam Adkins, to the Sam Adkins
Morning After. During football season, the Ol' Wedgebuster sitting to my right during the early Saturday mornings after in
the production room has become so much of a habit, that I now realize that I took it for granted. Never again. Like I say
at the end of every game broadcast, "give that special person around you a hug and tell 'em how much you love and appreciate
them." That's what is important.
Barry, even during the past few days when I know he has not felt his best, has not lost his sense of humor. I visited with him
earlier this afternoon to get his commentary and he still made me laugh so hard with his whit in spite of his discomfort.
That ol' grin is still there and soon he'll back doing a lot of the same things he did before except for the two minute half time run
and I would guess wedge busting is out of the question. Then again, wedge busting was not an option before the surgery.
I agree with Barry's assessment of Billups and Brady. They are key to the success of the Maroon Tide, and with the supporting
cast of Justin Flowers, Huey Stockstill, Thor Newbold, and Tommy Dillard, they can keep the chains moving up and down the
sideline and put some wear on an opposing defense. I know these guys and Levi Slaydon's crew on the other side of the ball
will be ready to go this Friday.
While Barry was in ICU resting, I went to watch Petal and West Jones play with Bill Hillery. We both came away with the same
thought: There are no easy games in this year's 4-A playoffs. West Jones was their own worst enemy against Petal and just
never could get untracked. Bill said it during the show on Saturday and I agree: we'll see West Jones' “A” game this week.
Scott Pierson, their head coach, has had them in the hunt for a South State title for at least the past five to six years and I am
sure he relishes his situation coming down here this week to play the Maroon Tide in the first round.
Barry mentioned Jerrell Knight above. He plays both ways and returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown. He weaved
in and out and finally out ran everyone the final 50 yards. We have to keep him and the others contained. They are all very good.
When he is on defense, Pierce will try to time the snap count and rush from the outside. He's pretty good at it. Their offensive
lineman are all around 6 feet plus and average around 240 lbs. They will run out of the shotgun and put a lot of pressure on our
guys to stay at home on fakes by the quarterback, Chase Headrick (5-11, 170, Jr.) This is a good football team and as Barry
stated, a tough draw in round one.
I'll repeat the same thing I have said many times this year; Coach Lee and the staff will have a good game plan and have our
guys ready to go. I'm just hoping for another Ground Hog Friday. Remember it is a 7:00pm kickoff. See you there.
Keep my ol' buddy in your thoughts and prayers. He's special.
Roll Tide Roll.