What’s a little rain when it comes to playing football? Apparently the day-long drizzle was not a factor in making the fourth annual Joe Watkins Memorial Scholarship Flag Football Tournament a success.
Fourteen teams braved the melancholy weather as they honored a former classmate, teammate and friend, Joe Watkins, who died in a car accident in November 2011.
Watkins’ former Liberty County High School baseball teammates came up with the idea of the tournament a month after the Georgia Southern University pitcher’s death. His family used proceeds to establish a scholarship fund in his name.
The tournament raises most of the money for scholarships to high-school graduates in Liberty County, who played baseball or softball during their prep careers. This year’s recipients were Jeremy Scott and Meagan Folker, who graduated from LCHS.
For the past three years the Kalamazoo Conquistadors, a team named after Watkins’ fantasy football team, had taken home the first-place trophy. The Conquistadors included many of Watkins’ former high school teammates and main organizers of the yearly tournament.
This year, Team Elite, made up of current and former LCHS Panther football players and coaching staff took home first place.
“The tournament was a great success,” Watkins’ friend, Levi Deese said. “We had 14 teams and raised over $1,600. Although we didn’t win this year, we want to congratulate Elite for winning the tournament.”
Deese said Team Elite player, Ryan Glazer won the tournament MVP.
Deese and Mystery Ellert were the original creators of the tournament. He and friends Brandon Whitmore, Trey Sikes, Cameron Harris, Javaughn Shuman and Austin Schultz are credited for organizing and running the event the past four years.
The timing of the tournament is meant to coincide with college holiday breaks making the annual competition a reunion of sorts, bringing together former high school friends and family.
“The tournament was a success again,” Whitmore said, adding that many people came out to help with concessions, serve as referees and contribute time and money. “The volunteers were a huge help. Without them the tournament would be impossible so we want to thank them.”