Buccaneers set the bar for success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Coach Clarence Dunmore calls plays in the huddle. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/28/03]As Marion “Pee Wee” Green looks out at his players on Warren Central Junior High’s field, a smile breaks across his face.

Green, 52, has seen his son and two of his grandchildren pass through his program and he’s not stopping anytime soon. It has been 16 years since Green, along with his friend Tim Young, started the Buccaneers youth football league team as an alternative to YMCA football. Young has since retired from coaching the youngsters, but Green continues to give them guidance and teach them fundamentals.

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“We’re teaching children and we’re helping to get them ready for the high schools,” Green said. “That way when they get to the seventh grade, they don’t have to try to learn all that.”

The Buccaneers originally began in the YMCA league, but left because of its 130-pound weight limit. Parents of children over the limit wanted them to play somewhere, so Green and Young broke away.

“In the third- and fourth-grade is where you really get your start on learning how to really play,” he said. “If you weigh 160 pounds and you’ve got to wait until the seventh grade to do anything, you’ve either lost interest or decided you don’t have the technique.”

Since leaving the YMCA nine years ago, the two teams a 9-11-year-olds’ group and an 11-13-year-olds’ team have joined the Mississippi Youth Sports Association, based in Jackson.

The teams in MYSA take on the names of NFL teams, and Green and Young chose the Buccaneers to honor the former all-black Rosa A. Temple High. Green was a member of Temple’s 1969 state championship team.

While the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached their first Super Bowl last season, Green’s teams have gone to MYSA’s Super Bowl each of the past nine seasons.

Several notable high school players from the area have passed through the program, including Vicksburg High’s A.J. Hicks, James Jackson, Rory Johnson and Ray Kline; and Warren Central’s Otis Stamps, Chico Hunter and Amos Chase.

Les Lemons may be the next of many in the long line of productive players from the program.

Lemons, nicknamed “Showtime” by his brother, has been on the team for three years and plays quarterback for the Buccaneers and Vicksburg Junior. And at 12, he’s already got his motivation.

“I like making people look foolish,” Lemons said with a smile.

Tevin Nickson, 11, still plays with the “B” team because he’s not old enough to run with the “A” squad. In his first year with the team, Nickson is already beginning to learn the basics, such as blocking.

“If you hit your hole, you’ll get more yards instead of just doing what you want to,” he said. “You listen to the coaches instead of doing it how you want to do it.”

Teaching these kids is what has kept Green around for so long. And he’s learned that the team is about more than just football.

“It helps keep them out of trouble,” he said. “They would be somewhere else not doing nothing. The mind would be wondering and there’s no telling what they’d be doing.

“When they get done here, they’ve gotten a lot of exercise, and they’re too tired to do anything.”

Clarence Dunmore, who played for VHS and Jackson State, joined Green as co-head coach this season after joining the Buccaneers 10 years ago. Dunmore, 35, said he just likes working with kids.

“I wanted to give something back,” he said. “Someone took time out with me when I was a youngster, so the least I could do is to come out and give time out for the kids here.”

The ultimate prize for Green and Dunmore is to see the look on the players’ faces when they grasp a lesson or a technique.

“You’d be surprised that a lot of these kids don’t know what offense is or what defense is,” Green said. “They don’t know what guard is, what outside linebacker is, what kickoff team is.

“By the time they get through this program, they can go to a football game, and they can sit in the stands now because they know what they’re doing.”