Jackson County

Sarah Thomas, James Marsalis among Pascagoula HOF's talented class of '16

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 Sarah Thomas jokes with Councilman Burt Hill after he read a proclamation in her honor during the Sarah Bailey Thomas Gymnasium dedication, Thursday, March 3, 2016.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Sarah Thomas jokes with Councilman Burt Hill after he read a proclamation in her honor during the Sarah Bailey Thomas Gymnasium dedication, Thursday, March 3, 2016.

PASCAGOULA -- After putting together a stellar first class in 2015, the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame announced a 2016 group Thursday that may be just as impressive.

The Pascagoula Athletic Foundation announced a class of 15 new members for the Hall on Thursday at the Aaron Jones Family Interactive Center.

Former NFL standouts, championship coaches and outstanding all-around athletes are included on this year's list, but one name continues to make headlines to this day -- the NFL's first female official, Sarah Thomas.

She was a two-sport athlete at Pascagoula High School, graduating in 1991. After a standout basketball career, she joined the team at the University of Mobile.

She decided to pick up football officiating in 1996 at the high school level, moved up to the college ranks in Conference USA in 1997 and became the NFL's first female official in 2015.

Co-chairman of the Hall selection committee Gary Stevens noted Thursday that it's a tough responsibility to pick out each year's class, but "It's an enjoyable job because of the great athletes this city has produced."

Former athletes of Carver High School, a black school that shut down in 1970 during integration, are also included in the Pascagoula Hall.

One of the most accomplished men to be announced Thursday was a Carver product -- former Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints defensive back James Marsalis, who had a nine-year career in the NFL.

Marsalis played at Carver from 1960-63 before moving onto Tennessee State. He was twice named All-SWAC and won the American Football League Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1969, the same year the Chiefs won the Super Bowl over the Minnesota Vikings.

There were a handful of new inductees in attendance Thursday at the announcement, including Clyde Bosarge, an offensive and defensive lineman at Pascagoula from 1950-54. He received a scholarship to Oklahoma and transferred back to closer to home at Perkinston Junior College after his freshman season in Norman, Okla.

"It means something that's been bestowed on me that I never dreamed of," Bosarge said. "It's an honor and privilege. It means the world to me."

Also in attendance Thursday was former Pascagoula running back Tregnel Thomas, who rushed for 3,520 yards and 29 touchdowns for the Panthers from 1993-95. At Delta State in 1996, he became the first winner of the Conerly Trophy, which goes to the state's top college football player. He also finished fourth that year in the vote for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which goes to the nation's top Division II player thanks to 1,609 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Statesmen that season.

"I sat in the chair back there during the press conference, I asked myself what am I doing here," Tregnel Thomas said. "That is amazing to hear the NFL participants and the accomplishments other guys have had. To have my name mentioned besides theirs, what am I doing here? This is awesome so I greatly appreciate it."

Other former NFL players announced for the Pascagoula Hall on Thursday were:

-- Steve Bowman, who graduated from Pascagoula in 1962. He helped lead the Panthers to the Shrimp Bowl in 1961, played running back at Alabama and helped lead the Crimson Tide to national titles in 1964 and 1965. He was All-SEC in 1964 and 1965 and was drafted by the New York Giants.

-- Richard Harvey, who graduated from Pascagoula in 1985. He was a two-sport standout in basketball anf football for the Panthers before playing linebacker from 1985-88 at Tulane. He played for the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New England Patrots, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers in his 11-year NFL career.

-- Kez McCorvey, who graduated from Pascagoula in 1990. The former all-state receiver at Pascagoula was a four-year starter at Florida State from 1990-93. He helped lead FSU to three ACC titles and a national championship. He was selected All-American in 1993 and was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame. He played for the Detroit Lions, the Rheine Fire of NFL Europe and the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. McCorvey is now the receivers coach at Middle Tennessee.

-- Norris Thomas, who graduated from Pascagoula in 1972. He played defensive back for the Panthers and at Southern Miss. He played for the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is a member of the USM Hall of Fame.

-- Johnny Woitt, who graduated in 1964. He was a four-sport star at Pascagoula, played defensive back at Mississippi State and spent two years with the San Francisco 49ers. He returned to be head football coach at PHS and led the team to a 12-0 season and Big 8 championship in 1976.

Also included in the 2016 class are:

-- Barry Barganier, who graduated from Pascagoula in 1977. He was a three-year starter in basketball, averaging over 20 points in his final two seasons. He played college basketball at Southern Arkansas.

-- Donnie Davis, who graduated from PHS in 1967. He was a three-sport letterman for the Panthers and played baseball at Mississippi State in 1969-71. He returned to coach baseball at PHS in 1978 and led the 1983 team to the 5A state title.

-- Edward King, who graduated from Carver in 1953. He was a three-sport star in basketball, football and track.

-- Mike Noblitt, who graduated from Pascagoula in 1963. He was a basketball standout for the Panthers and Mississippi College. He served as head coach at multiple Mississippi high schools.

-- Johnny Olsen, who graduated from PHS in 1977. He layed baseball for the Panthers and at Tulane, where was an All-Metro Conference selection. He served as the Pascagoula baseball coach for 27 years and had 500 career wins, taking the 1996 5A state title.

-- Earneice Price Sylvester, who graduated from Carver in 1954. She led the basketball team in scoring in her junior senior years. She taught for over 20 years in the Moss Point School District.

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