Mitchell County assistant coach Jermaine King, left, gives instruction to linebacker Tremel Emanuel during Monday’s practice. Emanuel is one the Eagles’ quiet leaders. (Staff photo: Tim Morse)
CAMILLA — Tremel Emanuel burst through the makeshift offensive line in practice and tackled Mitchell County quarterback Bruce Bryant, throwing him to the ground.
Before Emanuel could get back to his linebacker position, he already was hearing it from Mitchell coach Larry Cornelius.
“Why do you want to do that when you know he’s the starting quarterback and you’re going to need him?,” Cornelius yelled.
Emanuel’s play on the field can be compared to a Mustang car engine — quick, fast and when revved up, it can leave you behind in a cloud of dust. This is the way he plays.
“Most of the time, you practice like you play,” he said. “When you practice hard, you’re going to play hard.”
He may draw highlights when he’s on the field. Away from the game, he’s mild-mannered and quiet. Cornelius said Emanuel was one of the first players who garnered his attention when he took the Mitchell County job two years ago.
“He came right up to me, shook my hand and told me his name was Tremel,” Cornelius said. “He still does that every morning. He sets the tone for our younger kids.”
The reason Emanuel has become such a special player for the Eagles is not because of his athletic talents. He does play on both sides on Friday nights, as well as on the baseball team. Cornelius said he’s special because he believes in respect.
The Mitchell coach said you won’t find many who dislike being around the 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior.
“He’s respectful to all of his teachers and that carries over into the classroom,” Cornelius said. “Now, is he going to be an irregular student and cut up sometimes? Yes. But he’s polite and respectful. I don’t know of a student or a teacher in the community who doesn’t speak highly of him.”
Emanuel said his demeanor comes from his family. He said they taught him that no matter how difficult things got in life, he could always be respectful. And if he didn’t, he paid for it when he got home.
“Mama always taught me to respect my elders,” Emanuel said. “I just want to be a good role model for all these young guys, so they can become good leaders, too.”
The senior has also become an excellent role model on the field. He’s a key reason the Eagles have won four straight and are unbeaten in Region 1-A play. Mitchell has won five of its last six, and if they keep winning could have a chance to win the region title.
Most folks around town don’t know the senior as Tremel Emanuel. They refer to him as “Bobcat,” a nickname given to him by his father. Emanuel doesn’t mind.
He relishes it.
“It motivates me,” he said. “I’ve done some research, and I know a bobcat is one of the wildest animals around. I want to be like that on the field — making plays.”
Emanuel’s passion has gotten him in trouble a few times this season. One game he was flagged for a personal foul when he delivered a helmet-to-helmet blow. Emanuel said he never intended for it to happen.
“I told the player and the referee I was sorry,” he said. “Then I told the official I appreciated him throwing the flag on me to keep us all safe.”
Cornelius said it will be hard to replace “Bobcat” after the season, not only his football skills but his leadership by example.
“It’s good to stay humble,” Emanuel said. “When you get the big-head, you’re not going to play like you are supposed to. I just want to do my assignment and let the rest take care of itself.”
NOTES: Mitchell had 11 different players account for scoring in last Saturday’s 80-0 rout of Stewart County. Emanuel had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown, Vernon Johnson and Matthew Lawrence recovered fumbles for scores. Lawrence’s was a 70-yard return.
Anfreenee Williams finished with 141 yards rushing on six carries, scoring two touchdowns and adding a 2-point conversion run. Bruce Bryant scored three touchdowns and added three 2-point conversions, while Timothy Williams added two touchdown runs and a 2-point conversion.
Roderick Williams added a touchdown, while McKinley West, Troy Chester, Eddie Brown and Laupheal Johnson added 2-point conversion scores.