Five selected for induction into JCJC Sports Hall of Fame

Written By: Shawn Wansley
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Date Submitted: 2011-08-20 13:03:09

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – Five men associated with Jones County Junior College football have been selected for induction into the school’s 2011 Sports Hall of Fame Class.

Dale Crowder, who played at JCJC in 1957-58; Verl Parker Dykes Sr., who played in 1961-62 and served as head coach from 1992-2005; Elmer Higginbotham, who was head coach from 1988-91 and assistant coach from 1971-88; Kenneth Schulte Jr., who played quarterback in 1954-55; and Wilmer Dennis, who played on the first JCJC football team in 1929, are the newest members of the school’s Hall of Fame.

They will be honored on Sept. 24 during Hall of Fame Weekend when the Bobcats host Copiah-Lincoln Community College at 7:30 p.m. There will be an induction banquet at 5 p.m. in A.B. Howard Gymnasium that day and the inductees will be recognized at halftime of that night’s football game.

Dale Crowder

Crowder is from Richton and was invited to tryout at JCJC by Coach Jim Clark. He became a starter for two years, playing guard and tackle under Coach Milton White and Coach A.B. Howard.

In 1959, he was voted Team Captain, named Junior College All-American and selected to play in the National Junior College All-Star Game in Albuquerque, N.M.

He transferred to Louisiana College in Pineville, La., where he played for two years and helped coach one year under head coach Harold Knight. In 1960, he was an Honorable Mention selection for the Small College All-American team.

Crowder worked at Ingalls Shipyard from 1964-72 and for Sanderson Farms from 1973-2003.

In 1978, Crowder helped organize and promote the first-ever, Little Britches Rodeo in the Tuckers Crossing community. He was involved in the Mississippi High School Rodeo Association for 14 years. He has been a Master Mason for the past 40 years and has been involved in high school booster clubs for as long as his children were in high school.

He has been a member of the JCJC Alumni Association since 1994 and a member of the Bobcat Club since 1996. He also donates to the Coaches Scholarship Fund.

In 1960, he married the former Fay Robinson, a JCJC classmate. They have four children – David, Stacy, Jerry and Grant – 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Parker Dykes

Dykes is from Bay Springs and played offensive guard and defensive tackle for head coach Sim Cooley’s first team at JCJC in 1961. He was Honorable Mention All-State in 1962 and selected to play in the Junior College East/West All-Star Game.

He attended Mississippi College after graduating from JCJC. He received the Dana X. Bible Outstanding Blocker Award and was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at MC.

He began his coaching career as an assistant at Forest High School from 1965-67. He was head football coach, head track coach and athletic director at Ackerman High School from 1968-69 and at Monticello High School from 1970-71.

Dykes served as a graduate assistant with the offensive line at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1972 and was the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach at Arkansas State University from 1973-79. ASU won the Southland Conference in 1975 and 1978, posting a 12-0 record and No. 18 final national ranking in 1975.

Dykes then became the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach at the University of Richmond from 1980-81.

He worked in private business from 1982-86 before returning to the sidelines as defensive coordinator at Hinds Community College from 1987-91. While at Hinds, Dykes helped coach five South Division and one state championship team.

He returned to JCJC in 1992, where his teams posted a 92-50-1 record over his 14 years as head coach. In 1998, the Bobcats went 12-0 and were named national champions by Mike Gottfried’s Gridiron Magazine. They won state titles in 1998 and 2002 and appeared in four bowl games. In 1998, he was named Coach of the Year by the Mississippi Association of Coaches, the MACJC and the All-American Football Foundation.

After leaving JCJC following the 2005 season, Dykes went to Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., as Director of Football Operations and defensive line coach in 2006-07. In 2007-08, he was part-time Associate Director of the Football Coaches Ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was a part-time scout for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

He became defensive coordinator at Sylva-Bay Academy in Bay Springs in 2008 and became defensive coordinator at Jefferson County High School in Tennessee in 2009.

He was elected to the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2005, served as president of the National Junior College Football Coaches Association from 2001-03 and the American Community Colleges Football Coaches Association in 2004. He received the FCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

He began the annual reunion of the 1961-63 Bobcat football teams, sponsors a scholarship in the honor Freydis Thigpen Dykes and is a member of the JCJC Alumni Association and Bobcat Club.

Dykes and his wife, Jane, have three children and six grandchildren.

Elmer Higginbotham

Higginbotham coached at Jones County Junior College from 1971-92.

He was an assistant football coach from 1971-1987 and head football coach from 1988-91. He was also head baseball coach from 1971-88.

While serving as an assistant coach to Sim Cooley, the Bobcats won three state football championships and participated in the playoffs 12 times. He also helped the Bobcats go to the Junior Rose Bowl in 1977.

Higginbotham has coached in numerous postseason bowl games and coached several All-Star teams in football and baseball. The Macon native was a three-sport letterman at high school, participating in football, baseball and basketball.

He earned a football scholarship to East Mississippi Junior College where he became an All-State player. He received his BS degree at Livingston University in Alabama and his ME at the University of Southern Mississippi.

He served as an assistant coach at East Mississippi and was the head coach at Leakesville High School, posting a 13-7 record in 1969-70. He then became offensive line coach at JCJC in 1971, where he served until becoming head coach in 1988.

Higginbotham was an active supporter of JCJC athletics, attending numerous sports events, including several road games. He supported the football team through advertisements and also donated two bricks to the brick walk at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.

He was an active member and deacon at Ellisville’s First Baptist Church. He was a member of the Ellisville Lions Club and was named Lion of the Year. He was named a Melvin Jones Fellow by Lions Club International. He was a lifetime member of Masonic Lodge #161 and was an active member of the Gideons.

Higginbotham passed away on July 26, 2011, after a brief illness at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg.

His wife, Sandra, was an instructor at JCJC and retired in 1995. Both of their daughters, Michele Whittle (Tim) of West Point and Mary Boleware (Garland) of Hattiesburg, are JCJC graduates. Whittle is an RN and Boleware is a physics instructor at JCJC. His grandchildren are Tanner Boleware, Hunter Boleware and Brock Walley.

Kenneth Schulte

Ken Schulte was an All-American football player at JCJC in 1954-55.

He led the Bobcats to an 8-1 record in 1954 and a 9-1 mark, including a state championship, in 1955. The Bobcats played for the national championship in the 1955 Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., where they lost to Compton College (Calif.), 22-13.

During the nine-game 1955 season, JCJC scored 326 points and allowed just 110.

Schulte participated in the 1955 Mississippi Junior College All-Star Game and was named the state’s Most Outstanding Back.

He then headed to the University of Georgia, where he played for legendary head coach Wally Butts. Schulte broke his wrist in the spring of his senior season and assisted the UGA freshmen quarterbacks, one of whom was future NFL great Fran Tarkenton.

He graduated from Georgia with a degree in geology and would obtain his master’s degree from Tulane University. Upon recommendation from his professor at Tulane, Schulte was hired and employed by Schlumberger Oil Services for 30 years. He was a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Schulte was a true outdoorsman and conservationist, working with Ducks Unlimited and other outdoor groups until his death in 1995.

Schulte graduated from Holy Cross High School in New Orleans before coming to JCJC.

He and his wife, Mary, have three children and eight grandchildren.

Wilmer Dennis

Dennis was born in Ellisville on Aug. 17, 1909. He now resides in New Augusta.

He graduated from Ellisville Agricultural High School in 1927 and then attended JCJC. He was a member of both the first Bobcat football and baseball teams and graduated from Jones in 1929.

He remains a loyal Bobcat to this day.

After leaving JCJC, Dennis went to Southern College in Hattiesburg, now known as the University of Southern Mississippi. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1931 and then obtained his master’s degree from the University of Alabama.

He was a teacher and coach in Covington County and later held jobs as a teacher, principal and coach in Jefferson Davis County, Georgia and Florida. His last job was as a principal and coach in Sumrall in 1975.

Dennis moved back to Perry County and became mayor of New Augusta in 1985.

He married his wife, Lucille, in 1933. She passed away in 1998. They had three children: Beth, Cynthia and Murray.


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