• John Macon Gillespie

Strong To Represent Clarksdale At Fortius Project

Clarksdale has a history of producing high quality football. The Wildcats were among the most recognizable brands in the state in the ‘90s and early ‘00s with a 115-28 record from 1994-2004. They boast three state championships in eight appearances. A few players even went on to make a good fortune in the NFL like Terrance Metcalf, Trumaine McBride, and Mario Haggan.

Although current players were either too young to remember or were not even born to experience the team’s glory days, they still carry high expectations with them on the field. Players like 2019 defensive back Demetric Strong does just that.

“It feels great to be able to put on a CHS uniform, knowing that NFL players came through here. It is a great feeling knowing that you are able to have the same opportunity like they had,” Strong told SES Mississippi. “We are just trying to keep the tradition going.”

One thing that some may not know about Strong is that he is a dual sport athlete, playing shortstop and pitcher for Clarksdale’s baseball team as well. Both sports have contributed to the other to make Strong the athlete that he is.

“Baseball benefits me in a way of thinking and having the ability of knowing what to do before the play starts. Football helps me with speed which contributes to running the bases in baseball,” Strong said.

When Strong is not on the diamond, throwing strikes and throwing people out at first base, he is with a defense that is highly aggressive and has a knack for attacking the line of scrimmage.

“We were very strong up front and our linebackers were very solid. We played relentless every game. We felt like we had the best defense in 4A,” Strong said. “We will be returning all of our linebackers and a couple of our defensive lineman returning. We have some shoes to fill in the secondary, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get the job done.”

Last season, Strong finished with 12 tackles and will look to move into a bigger role to help fill the holes left in the secondary. He will use the Fortius Project at Northeast Mississippi Community College as a stage to prove what he is capable of doing this season.

“I️ can say that I️ have been pretty good tackling wise and breaking on the ball. Going into the Fortius Project, I’m looking forward to increasing my ball skills,” Strong said.

After dropping down to class 4A this past season, the Wildcats had their worst record in the Henry Johnson era despite making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. They faced off against one of the state’s toughest non region schedules with opponents like Tupelo, South Panola, Warren Central, and Cleveland Central. The team returns a bulk of talent from this past season and are looking to make some noise in 2018.

“Our season ended a little too early for us. We didn’t really execute on offense that well, but we made things happen,” Strong said. “I’m a junior and almost everybody that was on the field were juniors. Most of my class will be returning. We just have to do our jobs and play with a chip on our shoulder.”

Clarksdale will open up 2018 in Vicksburg as a part of the annual Red Carpet Bowl Classic. There, the Wildcats will take on the Vicksburg Gators.

**Photo Courtesy of Charles Jones

#FortiusProject #JaredRedding #Clarksdale

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