Wildcats’ Anderson picked to wear special number 18

Published 4:53 pm Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pearl River sophomore defensive back Gene Anderson of Columbia, an NJCAA preseason All-American, has been selected by the Wildcat coaching staff to wear a special jersey during the 2006 football season.

Juan Mariner’s No. 18 will be worn by Anderson in honor of the late Wildcat tight end who was tragically killed in an automobile accident Sept. 13, 1997. Mariner, the son of Charles and Joyce Mariner of Oakvale, was signed by the late Wildcat head coach Keith Daniels as a tight end-linebacker after his graduation from Prentiss High in 1996. Mariner lettered his freshman season with the Wildcats and started at tight end his sophomore season in 1997.

Daniels, who died of a brain hemorrhage in October 2000 three games into his sixth season with PRCC, initiated the honor prior to the 1998 season as a tribute to Mariner.

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Current head coach Tim Hatten has carried on the tradition since he arrived at Pearl River in 2002.

“Juan Mariner was a Wildcat five or six years before I got here, but obviously he was a very special person and football player that was extremely well liked and respected by his  teammates, coaches, and teachers,” Hatten said. “I feel Gene is also that kind of person. He takes care of his business in the classroom and on the football field and is a very coachable young man.”

Hatten said Anderson’s selection was based on leadership skills, excellent attitude, hard work habits, and commitment to the team.

Mariner died in a one-car accident near Lumberton just two days after PRCC’s second game of the 1997 season. Another Wildcat standout, linebacker Freddie White of Lumberton, was critically injured in the crash and saw his football career come to an end. Pearl River student Jerry Williams of Hattiesburg, also died in the tragic accident.

Anderson, the son of Tommie Anderson of Columbia, is a 2005 graduate of East Marion High School.

PRCC kicks its 2006 season off Thursday night at Mississippi Delta.