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High School Notebook: Yellow Jackets to recognize two late supporters

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

When the James Monroe football team hosts Tabb on Friday at 7 p.m., it will be the first opportunity for the Yellow Jackets to honor two of their biggest supporters since they died last spring.

Andre Catlett was a starting lineman on the Yellow Jackets’ 1996 Group AA, Division 3 state championship team. He died in March at age 32 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Tony Franzello was known as JM’s No. 1 fan. Franzello, 35, was handicapped, but attended every JM home game. He died in May.

Franzello was presented a state championship ring after the Yellow Jackets won their fourth title in 2008. Yellow Jackets veteran coach Rich Serbay spoke at Catlett’s memorial service, which was held in JM’s auditorium. He was a pallbearer at Franzello’s funeral.

In the game against Tabb, the James Monroe coaching staff will wear wrist bands in memory of Catlett and Franzello. The Yellow Jackets also plan to honor them on Alumni Night, Oct. 5 against Caroline.

“Tony was the type of fan every team wishes they had,” Serbay said. “He was very dedicated, very loyal and he really knew the game. Andre did everything he could to beat that cancer. He never let it get him down. I give him a lot of credit for that.”

FIGUEROA CHANGES PLANS

Former Brooke Point football standout Alex Figueroa isn’t enrolled in Fork Union Military Academy.

Figueroa suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder in the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star game in July. So he’s taking SAT preparatory classes and rehabilitating the injury this fall, with the goal of enrolling in FUMA in January.

Figueroa is still receiving interest from several major college programs, including the University of Miami, Black–Hawks coach Jeff Berry said.

Figueroa was a two-time All-Area selection. He played defensive end, linebacker and wide receiver at Brooke Point. He earned West team defensive most valuable player honors in the all-star game, but later learned of his injury.

Figueroa signed with Division II Shepherd (W.Va.) University in March because he wasn’t able to qualify academically for a Division I scholarship offer.

However, Figueroa made a comeback in the classroom late in the school year, and realized he could still reach the Division I level after a stint with FUMA’s postgraduate team.

HORNETS TO FACE LCA

The Orange football team doesn’t open its regular-season schedule until Aug. 31, when it hosts archrival Louisa.

But the Hornets will get a stern test on Friday when they visit Lynchburg Christian Academy for a benefit game.

The Hornets finished 1–9 last season. LCA captured the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 1 state championship.

Orange was originally supposed to play Fork Union’s high school team on Friday. But FUMA backed out of the game because it was asked to play Hermitage (Richmond) on Saturday at 3 p.m. in a contest that will be televised by ESPNU.

“We jumped from the frying pan into the fire,” Orange coach John Kayajanian said of the change of plans.

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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