CoachSpeak: Denton on his prospects

Twenty-one years ago Walter Denton accepted the head coaching position at Tylertown High School. In just over two decades of football, the Chiefs have become one of South Mississippi's top football programs. With a state championship to his credit and countless college prospects over the years, Coach Denton knows a thing or two about talent. Scout stopped by Tylertown to talk football yesterday.

Tylertown is about halfway between the Magnolia metropolises of McComb and Columbia.

Nestled away in the pine trees of U.S. Highway 98, Tylertown has a unique niche in the southern Mississippi sports culture.

As Coach Denton was quick to point out, there are no shopping malls, swimming pools or for that matter recreation of any kind in the city limits of Tylertown.

The young men of Walthall County grow up playing sports and during the course of that up bringing, players learn what it means to represent their community.

The Chiefs' offensive system is built on execution, misdirection and speed. They learn the system coming up through the ranks of the Tylertown football program.

"I guess we are always looking for that speed," said Denton. "Our track program has produced some kids that can really run.

"We love for our kids to participate in as many sports as possible.

"We have quite a few kids who do that. It's one of those things that is just bred into them in Tylertown.

"We are fortunate as a coaching staff to have some guys who know how to put them in the right place to let them run with the football."

Perhaps the top college prospect from Tylertown for the 2011 signing class is All-Star offensive lineman Oliver Bates.

"Oliver Bates is a good football player," said Denton. "He is one of those tweener guys. He's not 6-5 and he's not 6-2.

"He is sort of in between with his weight too. He's about 185 and he's a good student.

"Southern Miss likes him and if things work out, he may have the opportunity to go and play there.

"I haven't heard back from Mississippi State, but I believe they think he's too small.

"I haven't heard back from Ole Miss, but I know everybody is out recruiting this time of year.

"Southeast Louisiana called me yesterday. It's not over for Oliver. We think the good stuff is fixing to happen for him."

The trigger man for the Tylertown offense is junior Tyre'oune Holmes. Homes is affectionately known in the program as "T-Man."

"First of all T-Man has to get on his books," said Denton. "He is going to be okay with his ACT, but he needs to buckle down and get his core.

"As fat as his athletic ability, he is one of the fastest kids we have ever coached. He runs track and he plays football. He is a good kid too.

"We look for him to play corner or wide receiver in college. I don't think he has the tools to be a quarterback in a D1 or D2 program."

Perhaps the jewel of the 2012 prospect grouping is LaDarrius Slocum.

"Debo is a D1," said Denton. "As a defensive back, he just has a nose for the football.

"Everybody we have talked tos as far as coaches we have played, really respect him a lot. He is a great one.

"He has his grades. He can run and he is just hard nosed. The bottom line is that he is a D1 football player."

Running back Chris Jones made the move back to Walthall County after some time on the west coast.

"We recruited him back from USC," said Denton with a laugh. "It took us some time, but we got him back over here.

"He is family is originally from here and they moved back here to give him an opportunity to play.

"Chris is a straight A student. He is a great kid and a powerful runner. I just wish he was a little bit taller.

"We feel like he will find somewhere to go next year also."

With an 11-2 record in 2011 and a talented crop returning in 2012, the Chiefs should prove to be a very tough opponent for schools looking to get to Jackson and play for a state championship.

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