James Jones column: We enjoyed working on Gridiron 2023

Published 5:49 am Friday, September 8, 2023

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The 2023 version of Gridiron was published in last weekend’s edition of The Selma Times-Journal.

We previewed all six high school teams in Dallas County: Selma, Southside, Keith, Morgan Academy, Meadowview Christian School (MCS) and Dallas County in the magazine.

Preparation for the magazine began in late July with our annual cover contest featuring a football player and cheerleader from each school.

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The year, we made a change that involved the cover contest. We abandoned the focus mixing players from different team and replaced it with a same-school approach. We did that to cultivate a stronger competition and more school spirit.

The formula worked and Omari Smith and LaKira Martin of Selma High won the contest over MCS.

The total number of votes was 4,821, with Selma getting 2,125 of the votes and MCS receiving over 1,100.

While Selma finished first, all of the participating football players and cheerleaders were winners.  We included ran examples from the other five schools in the magazine, to highlight their alternate Gridiron covers.

We appreciate all six schools for participating and we thank the football and cheerleading coaches, plus the parents who work with us, especially under hot weather, to make the magazine.

We also thank the City of Selma Parks and Recreation Director Dr. Denisha Hendricks for allowing us to take photos of the contest winners at Memorial Stadium. Hendricks could have easily said, “No,” especially with the ongoing efforts around getting the stadium ready in time for the Queen City Classic battle between crosstown rivals Selma and Southside on Sept. 1. We were grateful for her cooperation.

We appreciate Doug Horton and West Media Group for their timely contribution of photos.

Gridiron provides what many football fans love reading at this time of year – a recruiting section. Readers always want to know who’s the top college prospects in the state. We provided that with the Top 10 most wanted prospects.

At this time next year, we expect to see Southside wide receiver Derick Smith on this list.

In a few years, Selma wide receiver Omari Smith has the talent to make the list too.

We’ve always viewed Gridiron as a keepsake for football players and their parents, not just a seasonal thing, but a lifetime one as well.

One day, players will become parents. Then, they can sit down and show their children and other family members what they did in high school.

We hang on to each special section we publish and see what we can do better the next year.

Again, we thank the schools and coaches for their cooperation. Good luck on the season.