The Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame has named its latest honorees, a 12-person group, to be inducted as the Class of 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Pascagoula Athletic Foundation was unable to host an induction ceremony last year. Now, however, the time has come to roll the class out, which will take place at a gala ceremony to be held on July 31, starting at 6:00 p.m., at the new Pascagoula High School Performing Arts Center.
The Hall of Fame, originated in 2015 by the Pascagoula Athletic Foundation, will now have honored a total of four classes of individuals who have exhibited exemplary performances at Pascagoula High School and Carver High School over the years as players or coaches.
“Our Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame continues to grow in excellence and stature,” Richard Lucas, who along with Gary Stevens co-chairs the selection committee, said. “We already have numerous state champions, Super Bowl winners, Heisman Trophy finalists, and other superb players and coaches. This class is very exciting, and will only add to our well-earned tradition.”
Following agreed-upon criteria, the classes are selected by a committee of local experts and sports enthusiasts, separated into specific time frames. Here is the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2020:
M.R. “MONTIE” RICHARDS (PHS 1949)
Richards was the starting fullback on the PHS Big Eight State Championship team of 1947. He received a scholarship to Ole Miss but transferred to play at Pearl River Junior College. Richards eventually returned to Pascagoula, where he operated Montie’s Sporting Goods for many years. In 2001, he was selected as the recipient of the Distinguished American Award by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to his community and his service to enhance local athletes. He still makes Pascagoula home.
BOBBY JOE LOPEZ (PHS 1956)
Lopez was the first four-sport letterman at PHS (1953-56), as he excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He was selected first-team All-Big Eight in football as a lineman in 1955 while leading the Panthers to a 7-3 record and a top ten state ranking. He was the catcher in baseball, second-leading scorer in basketball, threw the shot put in a track, and was also a member of the PHS marching band. He currently resides in the Florida panhandle.
BOBBY PIERCE (CHS 1954)
Pierce was a four-year starter at Carver in football as the fullback. He went on to Alcorn State, where he was named a small college All-American. Pierce turned down an opportunity to play with the Pittsburg Steelers to enter the high school coaching ranks in Connecticut, where he had an outstanding career as a football and track coach at Plainville High School while also playing semi-pro football. Pierce passed away in 2019.
ERNIE SCHROEDER (PHS 1956)
Schroeder played basketball and baseball at PHS from 1953-56. He led the basketball team in scoring his senior year and made All-Big Eight. He started at shortstop and pitched in baseball. Schroeder then went on to Perkinston Junior College, where he starred in basketball and tennis. He was named Outstanding Basketball Player in 1958, and was undefeated in tennis, winning state championships in both singles and doubles. He later graduated from Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi School of Law, returning to Pascagoula for a successful career as an attorney until his death in 2018.
ALAN “COWBOY” BUSH (PHS 1964)
Bush was a football and track force for PHS from 1961-64. As a two-way lineman, he was named first-team All Big-Eight in football as a senior. In track, he was a multiple meet winner in both the shot and discus. Bush went on to a decorated football career at Ole Miss, making All-SEC his senior year and being drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears. He later returned to Pascagoula to run the family business, Bush Office Supply, and passed away in 2017.
JIMMY FARMER (PHS 1964)
Farmer was a rare breed at PHS as he started all three years as center on the basketball team, started two years in football, making All-Big Eight his senior year, and being all-purpose in track all three years (shot discus, high jump), highlighted by winning the Big Eight and State high jump championships plus several shot and discus championships. Farmer went on to letter as a lineman at Ole Miss and obtained a degree in microbiology there, eventually obtaining a Ph.D. He currently serves on the faculty at Jefferson Davis Community College.
ROBERT “COOL” MARTIN (CHS, 1964)
Martin was an outstanding football player at Carver from 1961-63. He started at quarterback for two seasons and was All Gulf Coast Conference both years. He then went on to Alcorn State, where he started at quarterback for three years and still remains in the top ten for school passing records. After graduating, Martin embarked on a long, distinguished career coaching high school football in Mississippi and also officiated basketball for much of that time. He passed away in 1994.
CHUCK COMMISKEY (PHS,1976)
Commiskey starred in football at PHS from 1973-75. Playing center, he helped lead the Panthers to an 8-2 season in 1974 and earned both All-District and All Big-Eight honors as a senior. He went on to Ole Miss, where he lettered from 1977-1980, starting the last three years. He was selected to play in the 1981 Senior Bowl, then enjoyed an eight-year pro career, which included suiting up for the New Orleans Saints from 1986-88. Commiskey has since operated several Gulf Coast businesses and now lives in New Orleans.
TERRY “TEE” McCOVEY
McCovey was an accomplished basketball player at PHS from 1976-79. As a senior, he averaged over 20 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, and led the Panthers to a 20-win season, making All-District and All Big Eight. McCovey then played at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, averaging a double/double and leading the Bulldogs to the state championship in 1981. He then started two years at Arkansas College. McCovey is presently Chief Executive Officer for The United Way for Jackson and George Counties.
BEVERLY BROWN DEES (PHS 1988)
Dees was a varsity tennis star at PHS from seventh grade through graduation. Along the way, she attained many honors, including being ranked #1 in the state in her age group, runner-up in the state championship, and top 50 in the South. She has continued an exceptional tennis run in later life, once ranking #1 in the state in doubles. After graduating from Ole Miss, Dees returned to the Gulf Coast and now has successful graphic art and advertising career.
MIKE MORELAND (PHS 1985)
Moreland was a three-year starter in baseball (center field) at PHS, helping lead the Panthers to the 1983 state championship, the 1984 South Mississippi championship, and the 1985 Big Eight championship. He made All-State and All-American, and set several batting records at PHS. Moreland then went on to a successful career at both Tulane and Southern Miss, where he made All-Metro Conference. He is back in Pascagoula now and has been a teacher/coach in local school systems for 27 years.
BILL MATTHEWS (PHS)
Matthews was the head football coach at PHS from 1986-1996 (and athletic director through 2000). He is the winningest coach in Pascagoula history with a 75-51 record. His 1987 Panthers went 14-0, won the state championship, finished ranked #12 in the USA Today national poll, and are generally considered to be one of the best high school teams in the history of Mississippi. Previously, Matthews was an outstanding wide receiver at his alma mater, Ole Miss. His son, Shane, was inducted into the inaugural Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame Class in 2015. Matthews continued to live in Pascagoula after retirement before passing away in May of 2020.
So now, after a bit of a wait due to unforeseen circumstances, the Pascagoula Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be celebrated at the state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center on July 31. A reception will be held in the lobby starting at 6:00, with the ceremony to follow in the auditorium at 7:00. Tickets, which are $25, may be obtained online at 2021pascagoulahof.eventbrite.com or by sending checks made out to Pascagoula Athletic Foundation to Joe Davis at P.O Box 272, Pascagoula, MS 39568.
“We appreciate the work of Gary, Richard, and the entire selection committee, plus all the efforts put in by event chairman Joe Davis and his committee,” Jerry Jackson, President of the Pascagoula Athletic Foundation, said. “We have an outstanding class coming in, and we look forward to honoring them and their families.”