Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Naming Tony Lamarr as head b-ball coach at CAU a wise choice
Provided the decision-makers at Clark-Atlanta University never make another wise choice, their decision to take the interim off basketball coach Tony Lamarr was worthly of applause. I was convinced that the Stone Mountain Georgia native was the Panthers’ next head coach when he and the fives went on a 9-1 winning frenzy between January 11 and February 6 of this year. Now that Tony has been given the mantle to lead, let’s see what heights he can take the school to…..
Some of you readers, me notwithstanding, have wondered why the honchos at the SIAC decided to take their championship grid match to Montgomery, Alabama, which for years was referred to as the “cradle of the confederacy” and hosted the annual Blue-Gray College All –Star game from 1939 to 2001. For many of those years black faces were absent because that’s the way the games’ principle organizer, the Lions Club, wanted it. What’s the connection to the SIAC and the ‘Bama capital aside from its close proximity to the hallowed halls of Tuskegee University about 30 miles to the south and perhaps the fact that Alabama State was once a member of the SIAC until it left in 1982 when it elevated its program to Division I and joined the SWAC?
Here’s my thinking about the move.
Montgomery and Birmingham to its northwest have been clamoring to attract more sporting events to their towns. They, no doubt, were aware that the SIAC was disappointed with the lack of support the city of Atlanta offered both their basketball tourney and their football championship which accounts for why they pulled up stakes, returned the hoop tourney to the “Ham” and then floated rumors that the grid game would soon grow wings as well. I’m still not sure if the move will mean more fans to the three year old contest, but with three of the conference’s eleven football playing schools domiciled in the banjo state (Miles, Tuskegee, Stillman), they have as much of a chance as they did in Atlanta. So, you and I may ask why but perhaps SIAC Commish Greg Moore and his staff responded with, why not?
INSIDE offers belated condolences to the family of Dr. Frank Merchant. Although he was on the staff at Fayetteville State University when he succumbed last year, he spent many years as the defensive coordinator and physical education teacher at Morehouse College in the mid to late 1960s and early 70s. For a season, he served as head football coach. Many of his former defensive players at Morehouse were discussing him a few weeks ago. I had learned through the street committee that the hard nosed coach and former pro football player (the New York Titans of the American Football League) had died but didn’t confirm it myself until several weeks later thanks to the sports information staff at Fayetteville. Frank, you were sandpaper tough on your players and your students in PE (I know, I was one of them in 1968) but the guys loved you for it. RIP.
Benedict College, under James Woody, will open the 101st football season of the SIAC Saturday, August 30th at home against Buddy Pough’s big “Dawgs” of South Carolina State. The Palmetto Classic kicks off at 5pm. I am excited about the 2014 slate and have several players I want to watch closely. One is Clark-AU running back Montavious Taylor. In his freshman season last year, the Atlanta native was the SIAC’s second leading rusher with with 681 yards and seven touchdowns. I will also keep a close watch on Albany State quarterback Frank Rivers, the former Grambling passer, who last year finished second in conference passing with 1898 yards and 18 touchdowns. Another CAU panther I will be putting the binos on is senior linebacker Bre’Nard Williams. Last year, Williams broke into the top 25 national NCAA Division II rankings with 105 tackles but finished atop the conference stats with 93 total tackles, 60 of them solo shots…
…Meanwhile Morehouse senior running back Shelton Hamilton says he would love to see the Marooners represent the conference’s eastern division at this year’s SIAC championship in Montgomery because, among other things, he is a native of Montgomery. Plagued with injuries the first three years of his college career, he says he is reporting to camp this season 100%..........
XTRA POINTS: An Atlanta group calling themselves the Atlanta Retired Athletes recently honored the city’s first six African American high school athletic directors . The six, who piloted the ATL’s six black high schools during the period of segregation , were Raymond “Tweet”Williams (Clark-AU), LC Baker (Clark-AU), Alexander Shepherd (Morris Brown), John Merkerson (Morris Brown), Raymond Wainwright (Clark-AU), and T. Herman Graves (Morehouse). Baker, considered the “granddaddy” of them all, coached at Atlanta’s Booker T Washington High from 1931 to 1967 and wound up coaching two of the six honorees. A video was also produced of the athletic exploits of the honorees which brought the more than 400 family and friends attending the luncheon August 9th to their feet with shouts, claps and tears of joy. A plaque honoring the sextet will soon grace the walls of the Atlanta school board and the Atlanta City Council’s chambers…..
There are two new sports information directors within the bosom of the conference. Former Grambling assistant LaMonica Scott is now SID at Tuskegee . Zena Lewis, a former assistant at Clark-AU is now running the media show for the SIAC………
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net