Southside’s Century Man

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 30, 2003

Southside linebacker Gerarde Shanks plays the position like a shark in the water. When an opponent has the ball, he’s a predator.

The Panthers’ defensive leader is at the top of his form again this year.

For the fourth-straight season, Shanks has amassed over 100 tackles, an amazing streak that started his freshman year.

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Now, Shanks does the hitting.

Southside coach Chris Raymond began working with Shanks when the linebacker was in middle school.

He says the senior is reaping the benefits of years of hard work.

This point in his life is pretty good.

Shanks is on a 7-2 Southside team that will host the school’s first playoff game in 13 years next week.

He leads a defense that is one of the hardest in the state, one that allows him to maximize his ability.

Plus, his mailbox is crammed full of letters from college coaches that want him to visit their school once the season is over.

When the playoffs start in two weeks, Shanks knows the pressure will be turned up, but he expects the Panthers to be ready.

Shanks will be one of the reasons it sticks together.

With five years in Raymond’s system under his belt, Shanks is almost like another coach on the field for the Panthers.

Shanks is a student in the classroom as well.

He hopes to study sports medicine or physical education in college.

While it’s too early to focus on what the future holds, the daily barrage of letters keeps his college prospects in mind.

Shanks said the chance to play in college would be a dream come true and that playing with his Panther teammates will help get him to that goal.

He isn’t alone.

Southside teammate Darryl Watts is also being recruited by some of the same schools.

Some lucky school could get a pair of Panthers for next fall.

The duo has planned trips to Iowa after the season and to

both of the Mississippi schools in the SEC.

Raymond added that he expects several to sign from this group of players.

While Shanks is already an imposing force that can bench 300-pounds, squat 500-pounds and run a 4.6 40-time, the scary thought is how much better he can be in a big-time training program.

But all that’s in the future.

Right now Shanks and his team close out the regular season Friday night facing the Keith High Bears.

Then they’ll begin their second season together, the playoffs.

After that, who knows what will happen.