March 2, 2013 10:34:22 PM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
CRAWFORD -- East Oktibbeha County High School hasn't had many things to be happy about on or off the athletic fields in the 2012-13 school year.
The decisions of Steven Bell and Eddie Young to sign football scholarships to Holmes Community College gave the community something to celebrate Friday.
In a year East Oktibbeha isn't sure it will have a school beyond this season due to the district possibly consolidating the Oktibbeha County high schools, the decisions of Bell and Young to sign to play college football is a major accomplishment for the two players and coach Randy Brooks.
"This is a proud day for East Oktibbeha," Brooks said. "We had a lot of negativity and uncertainty surrounding our school district and our school, so this is a very positive thing."
Bell, who will compete for playing time at linebacker at HCC, had 68 solo tackles, 53 assists and a team-high seven sacks for the Titans (2-9).
"I know that the next level is not going to be like the level we just left," Bell said. "It is going to be a little more complicated, but we should be able to handle it."
HCC is coming off a 5-4 season led by coach Jeff Koonz. The East Oktibbeha duo will join a 31-member recruiting class the Bulldogs wrapped up two weeks ago.
"These two were leaders on our football team," Brooks said. "They are big kids, and with the right weightlifting program they can do some special things at the next level. There have been times this year when you can see it in them. They can really be an asset to Holmes Community College."
Young, who played tight end and defensive end for the Titans, had 56 solo tackles, 27 assists, and four sacks.
"It's a good opportunity," Young said. "I just like the college. I like the campus, (and) everything looks great to me. I like the football program. I always wanted to go to the next level (and) see if I can improve my game a little bit."
Young and Bell said the uncertainty surrounding East Oktibbeha County High didn't affect their motivation.
"Coach Brooks never let us worry about the future of East Oktibbeha, and he was telling us we could make it at the next level," Bell said. "I'm excited to see what that will be like now."