Pearl River’s Class of 2021 decorated with championship hardware
Published 10:43 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2021 certainly has a championship pedigree. PRCC announced Monday the four newest Wildcats to be enshrined among the best to suit up in maroon and gold are football kicker Randy Boyette, women’s soccer goalkeeper Hannah McCarty, baseball second baseman Jake Smith and men’s basketball forward Darral Willis Jr.
The Hall of Fame ceremony is July 30 at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis. The day will start with a 10 a.m. four-person scramble at The Bridges Golf Club. That evening, PRCC is hosting a Hall of Fame cocktail hour at Hollywood Casino, starting at 5 p.m. The induction ceremony will start at 7 p.m. The golf tournament and banquet are both open to the public. To register, visit PRCCAthletics.com/HOF.
“The Pearl River Community College Athletics Hall of Fame, established in 1988, recognizes the elite individuals who have made a lasting impact on our campus, community, and their respective sports while wearing the maroon and gold proudly,” Pearl River Athletics Director Scotty Fletcher said. “Jerry Rice once said ‘Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.’ This quote is a direct reflection of this year’s inductees to our Athletics Hall of Fame. This elite group displayed grit, passion, determination, self-discipline and personal accountability while facing adversity square on.
“Their names are already embodied in our rich and storied history of athletics, now they are etched in a place that is desperately deserving in the Pearl River Community College Athletics Hall of Fame.”
Boyette was a standout kicker on Pearl River’s 1975 and ’76 teams before moving on to Southern Miss, where he was a two-year starter. Originally born in Philadelphia, Miss., Boyette moved to Amite, La., and later Loranger, La., as his prep athletics career was blooming. Playing for Coach J.C. Arban, Boyette dabbled as a tight end and linebacker but made a name for himself as a kicker. Boyette played a big role in PRCC’s 8-2 State Championship team in 1976 and was named All-State. In fact, in Boyette scored the only points in a 3-0 victory over East Central that season to help secure the South State title.
Boyette’s 33-for-35 performance on PATs in 1976 still decorate PRCC’s record book.
At USM, Boyette converted 23 of 25 PATs each season and was successful on 10 field goals combined during the ’77 and ’78 seasons.
“This honor is very humbling. I’m honored,” Boyette said. “Coach Arban was a smart coach — very smart. He was very analytical in his thinking. His staff worked well with him. They did a phenomenal job.”
McCarty left a legacy at Pearl River as an integral part of the Wildcats’ 2011 and 2012 squads. After helping lead PRCC to the South Division title as a freshman, McCarty put together a memorable 2012 campaign to help the Wildcats earn the MACJC Championship. Following the season, McCarty was named to the All-MACJC and All-Region 23 teams.
The Tupelo native, who played for Jack Byrd, is considered one of the top goalkeepers in program history.
She finished her PRCC career with 34 wins.
“It’s one of the greatest honors that I’ve ever had, being able to experience this,” McCarty said. “I was so excited when I got the phone call the other day. I can’t even say how much it means to me. It’s great to be able to come back and reminisce on all the good memories and our state championship.”
McCarty transferred to the University of Montevallo following the 2012 campaign.
Smith was a two-year starter for PRCC’s baseball program in 2001 and 2002, bridging the coaching tenures of Jim Nightengale and Jay Artigues. As a sophomore, Smith hit .337, led the team in runs scored with 44, was second on the team in on-base percentage (.421) and was a crucial heart-and-soul player for the Wildcats as they won the program’s first Region 23 Championship, the Central District Super Regional and marched on to the College World Series in Millington, Tenn., for their first time. The Wildcats finished the season 42-13 and Smith was named an All-American.
“I’m getting emotional thinking about it,” Smith said after learning he’s a member of the Class of 2021. “My dad passed away about a year-and-a-half ago and it’s probably his proudest moment of me — when I handed him the All-American certificate. That’s probably the second or third time I ever saw him cry. I’m about to cry right now.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the class. This is the greatest college in the state.”
A Picayune native, Smith transferred to William Carey following his Wildcat career.
DARRAL WILLIS JR.
Willis made an immediate impact in Poplarville and by the time he finished playing for Coach Chris Oney he had four-year programs from across the country courting him.
A native of Madison, Wisc., Willis said having family in Mississippi — in addition to Oney’s positive recruitment — made choosing PRCC an obvious choice.
As a freshman in 2014-15, Willis averaged 13.8 points per game and 7.1 rebounds on a 25-5 squad that won the MACJC (now MACCC). He was named to the All-MACJC and All-Region 23 teams.
Willis really flourished as a sophomore in 2015-16, averaging 18.4 ppg and 10.8 rpg with 15 double-doubles. That squad won its second consecutive MACJC South Division title. Following the season, Willis was a NJCAA Third-Team All-America selection.
“It’s wonderful,” Willis said. “I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into this game. To be inducted into the Hall of Fame is a huge accomplishment. I’m really proud of that. I didn’t do it by myself. I had some wonderful teammates and a really good coach in Coach Oney who helped me out.”
Willis went on to have a standout career at Wichita State and now plays professionally in Europe.
PRCC will release in-depth profiles on its inductees in the coming weeks.
The golf tournament is a four-person scramble format and will be at 10 a.m. July 30. Each team is $600. The fee includes green fees, golf cart rental, food, beverages and a gift bag courtesy of BankPlus.
Anyone who wishes to participate is encouraged to register quickly as the amount of teams is limited at The Bridges. To register to play, or to become a sponsor, visit PRCCAthletics.com/HOF.
The banquet will include a Hall of Fame cocktail hour from 5-6 p.m., followed by a general admission cocktail hour from 6-7 p.m. The ceremony will start at 7 p.m.
Families can purchase individual dinner tickets for only $100. Sponsorship packages are also available for the banquet, beginning at $2,500. More information on sponsorship opportunities is available at PRCCAthletics.com/HOF.
ABOUT THE HALL OF FAME
The Pearl River Athletics Hall of Fame currently houses 134 of the greatest student athletes and coaches to represent The River. The Hall of Fame was established in 1988 with an eight-person class and has been an annual staple at PRCC with the exception of 2020; the ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOW TO NOMINATE
For a full list of PRCC Hall of Famers, visit PRCCAthletics.com/HOF/
Know someone who’s deserving of being enshrined? You can visit PRCCAthletics.com/HOF/