It’s difficult to pick just one exemplary DeAndre “D.J.” Smith highlight this season — just ask the six Greenwood-area transfers who followed the star quarterback to Greenville Christian back in September.
“Last week, boom, (Smith) ran for a 90-yard touchdown,” said senior receiver Daylin Metcalf, who’s averaging nearly 50 yards per catch since arriving from Greenwood High. “I ain’t never seen him do that before. I feel like he got faster, he got stronger. He’s better than he was at Greenwood. I don’t know, it’s just something about that kid.”
“But check this out: that ball he threw to you last week,” Leflore transfer Kerrick Ross said to Metcalf, reenacting his new teammate’s 85-yard touchdown catch to make his case. “The accuracy on that, where it fell at?”
Fellow senior wideout Davaris “Mook” Pilcher interrupted with a fair point. “He does that every game!”
“He’s used to being wide open every game, though,” Ross responded. “That boy was right up on him with his hand up and the ball fell right in there.”
The lively debate could last hours considering all the jaw-dropping plays Smith and the Saints (10-1) have delivered during their 10-game winning streak. In just eight games, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound dual threat has already surpassed the 3,000 yard mark, with 28 touchdowns through the air and another nine scores on the ground. Smith can add to those numbers Friday night at 7 p.m. when No. 2 Greenville Christian takes on top-ranked Carroll Academy in the MAIS Class 3A championship at Jackson Academy.
“We’ve matured a lot since the first week we came in,” said Smith, who led Greenwood High to a runner-up finish in the Mississippi North State finals last year. “Coming from a winning program, we brought winning over here. I like to win, they like to win, and we got everybody to buy into what we’re doing.”
The spotlight is usually on Smith, but what makes the Saints so dangerous is his supporting cast. In addition to the explosive receiving trio of Metcalf, Ross and Pilcher, Greenville Christian has benefited from a pair of Division I defensive recruits, Greenwood High transfers William “D.J.” Stewart and Jaterrious “Byrd’ Elam.
Stewart, a junior linebacker/defensive end with an offer from Mississippi State, has totaled 113 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown this season. Elam, a junior cornerback with an offer from defending national champion LSU, hasn’t produced huge stat lines because opponents have avoided throwing in his direction.
While the stacked roster has lived up to the hype, not everyone has embraced the transfers. After last week’s loss to Greenville Christian, Winona Christian head coach Junior Graham complained that “the formula for winning a championship has changed in my career,” calling the Saints “an elite travel ball team” on Twitter.
Even some in Greenwood are unhappy about local talent leaving, despite the decision coming after the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District canceled fall sports in August. In other words, out of necessity rather than by choice.
“A lot of close people, people who I never thought would, hate on us,” Ross said.
Fortunately, the transfers didn’t go to Greenville Christian to make friends — they went to win football games. And so far, the star-studded Saints haven’t failed.
• Contact Riley Overend at 581-7237 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @OverendOut on Twitter.