Vidalia's Michael Whitley has fond memories of Wisconsin.
He's hoping to make some more.
Whitley was recently named quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wi.
Whitley joins newly-named Wisconsin Lutheran head coach Eric Treske who helped develop Whitley into a three-time Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
"There's a connection," Whtiley said.
Treske coordinated Muskies' offenses that ranked either first or second in the NACC four times, as his teams averaged 34.8 points per game over his five seasons at Lakeland. In 2017, Lakeland ranked second in NCAA Division III in total offense (552.9 yards per game) and eighth in scoring offense (42.3 points per game).
Whitley was a graduate assistant coach at Fort Valley State in Georgia last year, working with receivers. He will be in his first season as a graduate assistant coach for the Wisconsin Lutheran College football team.
Whitley is excited about working with the Warrior quarterbacks.
"That's a position I'm passionate about," he said. "I am appreciative of Coach Treske trusting me in this position. It's great working with somebody you know. And he developed me into what I am."
Treske, a former player and assistant coach at Wisconsin Lutheran, is the third head coach in the program's 20-year history, succeeding outgoing head coach Dr. Dennis Miller, who recently retired.
Whitley was a four-year letterwinner (2014-2017) and a three-year starter at quarterback for fellow NACC member Lakeland University. He helped lead the Muskies to four straight NACC championships and was named a Second Team All-American by the AFCA and Third Team All-American by D3football.com his senior year. The Vidalia native was also named Wisconsin Private College Player of the Year in 2015 and 2017. A three-time team captain and First Team All-NACC selection, Whitley closed out his Lakeland career second all-time in total offense (10,915), passing yards (9,225), passing touchdowns (91), and completions (731). Following his collegiate career, Whitley played professionally for the Bremenhaven Seahawks in Germany and the Sioux Falls Storm and the Muskegon Ironmen of the Arena League.
A four-time NACC Scholar-Athlete, Whitley graduated from Lakeland in 2018 with a degree in accounting. He spent one season as a graduate assistant wide receivers coach at NCAA Division II Fort Valley State University (Ga.).
"I learned quite a lot at Fort Valley," Whitley said. "We ran the run-and-shoot offense, so I learned a lot of variations of it. It was a valuable experience going through team meetings and everything that goes on off the field."
Whitley is pursuing a Master of Arts specializing in Leadership and Innovation from WLC.
Whitley said he reports on August 10, when school is scheduled to open.
"The coronavirus is not bad in Wisconsin, but it is in Chicago and we play a lot of Illinois teams," he said. "So everything is up in the air right now. "The most important thing is everybody staying healthy and safe. It's tough because sports has always been a big part of my culture. But right I am just going to continue to soak up everything I can to become better at what I am doing."
Even as the coronavirus appears to be growing faster than Joe Burrow’s trophy case, the Vidalia High Jamoboree and other jamborees and scrimmages are still slated to go on.
They just may not return under normal circumstances.
Ferriday High is slated to compete in the Menard/Bolton Jamboree in Alexandria on August 28.
Ferriday will scrimmage Bastrop the week before going to Alexandria.
Delta Charter is slated to host River Oaks and Beekman on August 28. River Oaks is in its first year in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
Vidalia High will hopefully host its annual jamboree on August 29 after scrimmaging Bucke and LaSalle the week before.
Vidalia hosted its first jamboree in 1972 with Sicily Island facing Newellton and Vidaila taking on Block.
The Vidalia Jamboree was once one of the biggest in north Louisiana. That was when Faircloth had Ferriday, Sicily Island, Cathedral, Block, Jena, LaSalle, Newellton and other teams involved.
The Block-Cathedral matchup came close to matching Vidalia-Ferriday for intensity. Those two teams had an immediate hate for each other.
Even Hurricane Andrew could not deter the jamboree,
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew soaked Vidalia's field, forcing Faircloth to move the jamboree back a day.
That allowed other schools' fans who normally would be attending their own game to attend the jamboree.
A standing room only crowd that night convinced Faircloth to keep it on Saturday.
But Cathedral had to pull out when their football season was moved up a week.
The Eddie Robinson Memorial Jamboree at Grambling invited Ferriday High back for its jamboree this year, but that has already been cancelled because of the coronavirus.
The virus is like Clyde Edwards-Helaire catching a pass out of the backfield - picking up more steam.
Ruston High became the latest school this week to shut down football workouts after a player tested positive.
Ruston High head football coach Jerrod Baugh told Aaron Dietrich and Jake Martin on Sports Talk 97.7 Morning Drive Tuesday morning that it's always been about competing against schools down the road. He has never had to compete against something he can't control.
But that's where we are now.
If we fail to make it by the end of July to Phase 3 (Vidalia principal Bernie Cooley predicted back in March that wasn't going to happen), then football scrimmages and jamborees will most assuredly be scrapped.
And we lose if that's the case. Tradition or no tradition.