Red Bay’s Belue signs with reigning 2013 NJCAA championship teamPublished 6:53pm Sunday, February 16, 2014
By Keith Ledbetter
For the FCT
Hard work and a strong dedication to the Tiger football program paid off this past Wednesday for Red Bay senior Austin Belue.
Belue, who has been a Red Bay defensive starter for several years, signed a scholarship to play this fall for head football coach Buddy Stephens and the East Mississippi Lions.
East Mississippi Community College is the reigning NJCAA Champions after wrapping up a perfect season by winning a national championship – topping Georgia Military College 52-32 in the 2013 Mississippi Bowl.
This is the second championship for East Mississippi in the past three years.
“I’m excited about being able to play at the next level and keep the dream alive,” Belue said before he signed his scholarship this past Wednesday.
“It’s not often that a kid from Red Bay gets to go play football at the next level.”
Belue’s last time to wear a Tiger uniform was in Red Bay’s first round state play-off loss to Walter Wellborn.
“My last game was hard, knowing it was my last at Red Bay,” Belue said.
“There’s nothing like high school football, but playing college football has been a dream and I’m excited about playing for a winning program like East Mississippi. I like everything about their program.”
East Mississippi Community College continues to provide a pipeline for football talent moving on to the next level and this year is no different, as several players from the Lions’ 2013 NJCAA National Championship team signed National Letters of Intent with four-year universities during the NCAA’s mid-year signing period for junior college transfers.
Two of those signees elected to play for the University of Alabama, one went to the University of Mississippi, others have chosen to play for Texas A&M, and for the University of Kentucky.
“Austin has brought a sense of intensity and a very hard work ethic to our team,” Tiger head football coach John Ritter stated.
“He has been a leader on the field, off the field and in the weight room. His effort and work has been rewarded with his signing today.
“Austin is a winner. I expect him to be very successful at East for the next two years, and I expect to see him play on Saturdays for the following two years. I think he has a bright future.”
With two sons playing football at two different schools, Scottie and Melanie Belue have traveled in all directions in support of their children this past year.
This fall they will still be traveling, but it will be in different directions.
During last fall football season, Scottie and Melanie Belue, of Red Bay, spent their Friday and Saturday nights attending games in support of their sons Matt and Austin, and their daughter, Courtney, who is color guard member with the Red Bay band.
Matt, who graduated from Red Bay in 2012, played for Northeast Mississippi during the 2013 season and will return as a sophomore this fall. Austin played his senior year at Red Bay High School.
This fall the Belue family will have to split their time between supporting Matt’s and Austin’s games on Thursday nights and their daughter during her halftime shows on Friday.
“This is a huge accomplishment and we look forward to going to watch [Austin] play,” Scottie Belue.
“I am very proud of him and how hard he has worked to get this far.”
“I’m very, very excited,” Melanie Belue said about Austin’s recent scholarship signing.
“He’s worked very hard and it’s going be exciting to see what he can do at East and even further on. His dream is to play at the Division I level.”
After playing together on the same team since they were old enough to put on helmets, the two Belue brothers will be competing against each other when Northeast Mississippi hosts East Mississippi during the fall season.
“Matt and Austin are very competitive, so I’m pretty sure the game will be interesting,” Melanie Belue said.
“They are both going to be playing on the offensive teams so hopefully they will not be on the field at the same time.”
Austin Belue has been selected as the Most Valuable Defensive Lineman for two years in a row at Red Bay, and he has been selected for the All-County defensive team every year since the ninth grade.
“He has been the heart of that defensive line and any of the boys will tell you that,” Melanie Belue said.
“He’s just one of those players – if he’s not on the field you can tell a difference.
“He just loves being out there and we love watching and supporting him. It’s been seven years since they started playing and it’s just going to be odd not having a Belue out on the field at Red Bay this year.”