Former basketball star Todd Daniels of Bentonville, Ark., who was an all-state basketball player at PRCC from 1996-98, headlines the group that also includes former football stars Fred Runte (1960-62) of Lake Charles, La., Alvin Doyle (1959-61) of Poplarville and Fred Henley (1950-52) of Picayune.
Runte and Doyle played under legendary coach Dobie Holden. Henley played football at PRCC and coached for two seasons with Holden.
Induction ceremonies for the Sports Hall of Fame members will be held at 8:30 a.m. at Dobie Holden Stadium, where a life-size bronze statue of Holden will be unveiled.
All four, along with Mary Lynn Smith, the 2008 Alumnus of the Year, and Leo Seal Jr., the 2008 Distinguished Service Award recipent, will be recognized during the alumni luncheon set for 11:30 a.m. in the Crosby Hall Cafeteria and during halftime of the PRCC-Co-Lin football game at Dobie Holden Stadium.
Alvin Cyril Doyle Alvin Doyle came to PRCC from New Orleans. He was an all-state center on the 1961 team that won the State Championship and was later voted the No. 1 Junior College team in the nation. He was one of several out-of-state players who came to PRCC to try out for the team. Coach Holden liked the way he snapped the ball on special teams, so he received a scholarship.
"It was great playing for Coach Holden and Coach (John) Russell," said Doyle, "because it wasn’t if we were going to win the game, but by how many points."
Indeed, the 1961 Wildcat team finished 10-0, outscoring their opponents 446-47. Only one team scored in double figures against them.
"When we were winning by such large scores, the starters only played the first half and the second and third string would play the last half," said Doyle. "Of the 22 starters we had, 21 received letters of intent to play the next two years from either a major college or university."
Doyle himself played at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he was captain of the football team his second year.
"Coach Holden took a young man, who thought he was tough already, and groomed him by encouragement, persistence and mentorship - and true grit," said Doyle, "to become the football player I wanted to be and the coach I would later become."
Doyle would go on to serve two years (1967-69) as an assistant coach at Pearl River before embarking on a successful career at Poplarville High School as athletic director and head football coach. His 1972 Hornets won the state championship (11-0).
Life changed for Alvin and Mary Doyle in 1981 following the death of his son, David Christian. They were called in the ministry and became foreign missionaries. They currently are serving in Hungary.
Doyle remains grateful for the opportunities that Coach Holden gave him.
"Coach Holden gave me a chance to play and that was really all I ever wanted," said Doyle. "Many senior colleges said I was too small to play, but Coach Holden saw beyond my size to the passion I had for the game. Without that chance to play at PRC, I really don’t know what I would have done.
"Coach Holden and his wife (Earlora) and children gave up much in the area of family time because of his commitment to the game. Because of his love for football, he lived it and breathed it and sometimes his family had to take a back seat to the goings on at PRC."
Fred Runte A Pearl River College connection led running back Fred Runte from his high school in Lake Charles, La., to Poplarville. His backfield coach was Robert "Arab" Morris, a former PRC star and member of the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
"He suggested that Pearl River might fit in my style of football," said Runte. "I had respect for Coach Morris and looked up to him. When he said that, my family drove over here, looked the place over, and I was accepted. I kind of wanted to get away from home anyway. Turned out to be the best two years of my life. I will never forget it."
Runte was an all-state halfback on the 1961 national champion Wildcats. He ran back punts and played cornerback on defense. He was a two-year starter and possessed "pretty good hands" for a 145-pound player.
Players for Coach Holden say he was a sticker for details, something Runte can attest.
"When Coach Holden devised a game plan, always if we performed it like he expected, there would be no problem," said Runte. "But when Coach threw up both his hands, somebody did not run that play right. We had to keep running the play over and over until Coach Holden would not throw both hands up in the air."
During his stay at PRC, the Wildcats were 19-1 over two years. He went on to play at Southeastern Louisiana.
Today, Runte is retired from the U.S. Department of the Interior where he worked mostly in the oil and gas industry. Golf occupies the bulk of his free time.
Fred E. Henley Fred Henley, a Picayune native, had two stops at Pearl River College. In high school, he played three years for Holden when Holden was the Picayune High School coach. He was drafted on Oct. 7, 1943, and joined the Marine Corps.
The draft board, by request of Coach Holden and others, granted him a draft extension to remain in Picayune to play in the state championship game against Philadelphia High. Two days after the championship game, he was on a train to San Diego to enter boot camp.
From 1946-48, he played halfback at PRCC under Coach James Wade.
"I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the time," said Henley. "Calvin Triplett and I got out of service in December 1945. We both went to USM together, went out for spring practice. During the summer they were starting two-a-days. On the way, Calvin said let’s stop off at Pearl River. They were working out there, too. Next thing I knew I was in uniform working out for them. When Coach (Pie) Vann called from USM, I told him I had made up my mind to stay at Pearl River."
As a Wildcat, Henley played halfback on offense and defense. In 1948, he was named "Most Outstanding Athlete at Pearl River Junior College." He also met his wife, Velma Evonne, a Poplarville native, at PRC.
"We had some material on those teams you would not believe," he said. "They were all service men coming back. They had a lot of ability."
After transferring to USM and getting his degree, he returned to Pearl River as Holden’s assistant coach for two years.
"It was just Dobie and me," said Henley. "He was something else to work for. He was one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever seen. He could have gone anywhere. LSU wanted him to go there as an assistant, but he didn’t want to be an assistant. He wanted the head job.
"He had a great attitude working with players on and off the field. He talked football all the time. When we weren’t in class, we watched films, talked football, sometimes till 1-2 o’clock in the morning. I learned thing from him as a high school player (at Picayune) that college coaches did not know."
Henley went on to serve as athletic director and head football coach at Forrest County AHS from 1952-63. The football field at Brooklyn is named "The Fred E. Henley Field." He returned to Picayune as head football coach. He later got into administration and served as superintendent of the Picayune School District for 10 years before retiring.
In the words of basketball coach Richard Mathis, Todd Daniels was one of the most dedicated players he’s ever coached.
"On defense, he was a really good on-the-ball defender. When he made a mistake on offense, he went into super high gear to get that ball back," said Mathis.
Daniels, who played at West Marion High School in Foxworth, was a two-year starter at point guard for the Wildcats. He stood 5-foot-9. Mathis says he was a good ball handler, really good 3-point shooter and 90 per cent free-throw shooter.
"Todd was a high school qualifier with some Division I offers," said Mathis. "He could have gone to a lot of other places. But he wanted to come here to play and play himself up."
Daniels played at PRCC from 1996-98.
The 1996-97 Wildcats got off to a 7-3 start, then lost three in a row, before beginning a wild run for the next year and a half going 40-11 and winning the state championship in 1997-98. That team would finish 27-5, the most wins in school history.
Daniels’ freshman year the Wildcats were 20-10 and lost the state finals to Northwest. He averaged 16.4 points as a freshman. The next season, he averaged 15 points and nine assists. In the state championship victory over Northwest, he scored 29 points.
"Todd’s numbers dropped off a little his sophomore year because teams were guarding him a lot harder," said Mathis. "Despite that, he continued to distribute the ball better and that resulted in wins."
Daniels was named both all-state and all-region during his time at PRCC.
He went on to play at Louisiana Monroe for two years. He would later earn a master’s degree from Webster University. Today, he is a strategy manager for Wal-Mart in the Bentonville, Ark. office.