Pelham celebrates 2011 football season

Pelham High School senior J.T. Ross took home the team's academic award during the football team's annual awards banquet on Dec. 11. Ross currently has a 4.2 GPA. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham High School head football coach Brett Burnett praised his players for their accomplishments this season, and said he was looking forward to improving in 2012 during the school’s annual football banquet Dec. 11.

During the banquet, which was held at the Pelham Civic Complex for all of the school’s varsity and junior varsity football players and cheerleaders, Burnett and other PHS coaches said they were proud of the outgoing seniors’ hard work this year.

“It seems like just yesterday that you were coming in here as eighth graders,” Burnett said. “We wish you nothing but the best in the future.”

The banquet marked the Panthers’ first end-of-the-year banquet held at the Civic Complex in a few years.

“It’s good to have you all back here,” Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said to the packed banquet room.

Murphy praised the seniors for helping to win the coveted Game Ball trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the Pelham-Thompson game each year, for the entirety of Murphy’s first term as mayor.

“To the seniors, thank you. I haven’t had to give that trophy back, and I’ve been in office for four years,” Murphy said, noting PHS will move to a new football region next year. “We’ve got a new division next year, and we are going to whip all of them.”

This year’s seniors were D.J. Johnson, Sam Mburu, Daniel O’Hara, Josh Verner, Stephen Mbote, J.T. Ross, Will Kennedy, Trevin Green, Alex Madison, Trey Cranford, Wes Bentley, Tre Maynard, Michael Wright, Justin Forehand, Justin Sanders, Jordan Ward, Cameron Foss, Justin Nolen, Brodie Granger and Drew Jackson.

The 2011 academic award, which goes to the team senior with the highest grade-point average, was awarded to Ross, who has a 4.2 GPA.

Burnett also awarded Leslie Cranford, mother of Trey Canford, with the Jane Bishop Service Award, which was established this year in Bishop’s memory. Bishop served as the school’s athletic secretary for several years before she passed away suddenly in early 2011.

“(Leslie Cranford) was someone Mrs. Bishop could count on,” Burnett said. “She exemplifies everything Jane was about.”

PHS freshman football coach Sean Anderson said the program has a strong future, and praised the next generation of PHS varsity players.

“We were 5-3 this year, but the record doesn’t tell about these kids. We didn’t have a single kid quit, and nobody got in trouble and had to be kicked off the team,” Anderson said. “I am looking for this to be one of the biggest senior classes we’ve ever had.”