Eight NE Miss players nab post-season honors

BOONEVILLE, Miss. – Northeast Mississippi Community College football team had one of its most successful seasons in school history.

Northeast (6-4) captured a share of the North Division runner-up spot and took South Division champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to overtime in the semifinals of the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) state football playoffs.

Now, eight members of the 2011 Tiger football team are being honored for their dedication to the cause after coaches met following the regular season.

Northeast head football coach Ricky Smither has announced that three Tigers have made the All-North Division first team while five Tigers were granted second-team selections.

Sophomore defensive back Deion Belue of Tuscumbia, Ala., led the way for the Tigers. Belue garnered a quartet of honors including being selected to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) RegionXXIII team, was named the Most Valuable Defensive Back for the All-North squad, a first-team selection as a defensive back and a second-team selection as a returner.

Freshman linebacker Eli Canton of Hernando and sophomoreoffensive lineman Antonio Foster of Valdosta, Ga., were also selected as first-team honorees.

Freshman wide receiver Tres Houston of Atlanta, sophomore defensive lineman Anthony Brown of Cairo, Ga., sophomore defensive lineman Jeremiah Booth of Kingsland, Ga., sophomore defensive back Frankie Lee of Charleston and sophomore defensive back Devin Lindsey of Baldwyn all garnersecond-team nominations as well as Belue for the returner spot.

For the season, Belue had one catch for nine yards, 15 tackles, a sack, one interceptions for 58 yards and a score, eight pass breakups and 33 returns for 691 yards and two scores.

In the Tigers season opener against East Central, Belue opened up his second season with the Tigers on all three sides of the ball.

Not only did the Tiger sophomore have five returns for 121 yards but he also hauled in his only catch of the year on offense – a nine-yard gain. Belue also had two total tackles and four pass break-ups for the Tigers in the season-opening win.

Belue got hot during the middle section of the season as he scored three times in as many games against some of the division's top opposition.

Belue had a 58-yard interception return for a score against Northwest, brought back an 80-yard kickoff return against MACJC State Champion East Mississippi andthen turned the trick a week later with a 90-yard return against Coahoma.

Belue averaged 28.9 yards per kick return on the season and 10.1 yards per return on his 14 punt returns during the 2011 season.

During his sophomore campaign, Belue broke the 100-yard plateau in kick returns twice – 127 versus East Mississippi and 105 against Copiah-Lincoln and registered 90-yard games against East Central and Coahoma.

Canton, a 6-2 240-pound linebacker, helped lead one of the most tenacious defenses in the state. The freshman finished the year with 50 tackles and helped spearhead an effort early in the year that saw the Tigerdefense not surrender a touchdown in over 193 minutes. Canton also led the Tigers in tackles for loss with 11 on the year.

After giving up a touchdown with 11:29 left in the season opener against East Central, the Northeast defense went until the fifth game of the season before surrendering another touchdown.

In the almost 200-minute run, the Tiger defense has put the clamps on the opposition holding Southwest, Mississippi Delta and Holmes tojust 12 points with six of that dozen coming via a 101-yard interception return by Southwest's Brennan Dunklin with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

Foster, a 2010 honorable mention All-American, helped tobolster an offensive line that saw the Tiger offense become one of the mostprolific in school history.

Northeast tallied the fifth highest point production in school history with its 254 points during the 2011 season. Northeast's 254 points only trails the 1980, 2005, 1949 and 1956 teams in point production with the 10-1 1956 team setting the school benchmark with 291.

Houston, a 6-3 200-pound wide receiver, led the Tigers in non-kicking scoring with eight touchdowns and 48 points on the season. Houston was also the Tigers leading wide receiver hauling in 45 catches for 669 yards and averaged 14.9 yards per catch with a long of 66. During the year, Houston hauled in over 50-percent of the passes thrown to him coming away with 45 catches in 79 attempts to the freshman.

Brown, a 6-4 270-pound defensive lineman, finished the season with over 20 tackles and was tied for second on the team in tackles for loss. Brown came away with six tackles for loss that drove the opposing offense back 18 yards. The sophomore also was able to defend a pass during his second-season in Booneville as well as come away with an 11-yard quarterback sack during the 2011 season.

Booth, a 6-2 320-pound defensive lineman, helped to anchor the Northeast defensive line and lead the Tigers to one of the best defensive showings in the league. Booth came away with nearly 20 tackles on the season and had a pair of tackles for loss for six yards and finished the year with an 11-yard quarterback sack.

Lee, a 5-10, 175-pound defensive back, led the Tigers with seven interceptions on the season and his seven picks were good enough for fifth in the nation and second in the MACJC. Lee made a name for himself when the Charleston native helped propel the Tigers to a 34-28 win over the Northwest Rangers during the fifth week of the season.

Against the Rangers, Lee was a one-man turnover machine coming away with four turnovers of his own and leading the Tiger defense to a seven-turnover night against the Rangers earning the Northeast sophomore national Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Lee hauled in two interceptions during the first half and came away with a fumble recovery as the Tigers raced out to a 34-7 halftime advantage in Senatobia. However, it was Lee's third interception of the night that helped seal the deal for the Tigers in the fourth quarter. Lee also had 12 tackles and three pass break-ups in the upset win against the tenth-ranked Rangers including six solo stops and a pair oftackles for losses.

Lindsey, a 6-2 190-pound defensive back, set the defensive tone early for the Tigers when the Northeast sophomore came away with a pair of interceptions in Northeast's season-opening win against East Central on September 1. During the year, Lindsey had nearly 30stops and came away with a pair of tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and defended three passes during the 10-game season.

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