Valdosta Daily Times

December 27, 2012

No. 6: A tragic offseason for the Vikings

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The 2012 calendar year was not a good one for Lowndes High School, especially for its football family.

Regardless of the on-the-field product, which included a first round home playoff loss to Marietta, the Viking football team was able to persevere through more than enough adversity and sorrow in 2012.

The Vikings lost three members of their football family this year, when a team manager, a former player and a current player all died during the offseason.

The offseason of gloom at Lowndes started in February, when Dominique Crenshaw, a manager for the football team, died after a long fight with cancer.

Crenshaw’s death hit Lowndes High School hard, as moments of silence were taken prior to several sporting events throughout the spring semester.

Then in June, former Lowndes football standout Ed Christian, 20, was fatally shot in Auburn, Ala. The former Viking offensive lineman was simply a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While attending a pool party, Christian attempted to break up a fight between two men, which is when 22-year-old Desmonte Leonard drew a gun and allegedly shot and killed Christian and two others.

The news of Christian’s death rocked the Lowndes community. A former All-State tackle that led Lowndes to the promised land of high school football in 2007 as a member of the offensive line that earned the nickname “The Mayflower Movers,” Christian was gone far too early.  

“I was shocked about it,” said Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson, the day after Christian’s death. “As one of the coaches said this morning, he hadn’t even really started to live his life yet. It is a sad deal. He was just getting started.”

After accepting an athletic scholarship to Auburn in 2008, Christian was plagued by a back injury that cut his career short. After giving up football, he stayed at Auburn to attend the university and pursue his college degree.

Less than a week after his death, many of the same people that posted their memories of Christian on the popular social media website Twitter packed into Mathis City Auditorium for Christian’s funeral, prior to him being laid in his final resting place in Thomas County.

The charges against Leonard are still pending, and he is due to appear in court within the coming months, facing all three counts of felony murder.

Less than a month after Christian’s shooting death, the Lowndes football program lost a player that would have been a member of the 2012 team.

Offensive lineman Jacob McCook, a rising senior, was pronounced dead five days after falling from the bed of a pick-up truck while helping family friends move from one home to another.

McCook fell from the truck bed while attempting to hold down a mattress, which got airborne, knocking him from the truck. He landed on his head, causing severe swelling.

The Lowndes County native was taken to South Georgia Medical Center and later was flown to Tallahassee Medical Center, where he was placed on life support. After five days, McCook was pronounced dead.

“(Jacob) was a great kid, with a great heart. He worked hard on and off the field,” offensive line coach Bubba Brown said following McCook’s death. “His most outstanding contribution to the team would be his will to win. He would do whatever he could or whatever we asked of him in order to win.”

Lowndes played the 2012 football season in memory of the three Vikings that lost their lives during the offseason.

While speaking with The Valdosta Daily Times this season, McPherson said, “The three kids that we lost, there is not a day that goes by where that doesn’t come up. We miss them, and we are not going to forget those kids. They are still a big part of this year.

“The kids talk about them. It came up before the game in the locker room. The kids brought it up. We don’t need to forget those boys.”

The Vikings finished the season with a 9-2 record, losing to Marietta in the first round of the playoffs.