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Patriots celebrate signing day

Pike Liberal Arts celebrated National Signing Day with five signings inside the school gymnasium on Wednesday morning.

Jay Taylor, Elijah Caldwell, Caleb Guice, Derrius Northcutt and Ryan Barnes all signed scholarships in front of family, friends, coaches and teachers.

Senior Peyton Dicks announced on Wednesday that he will be staying home and will play at Troy as a preferred walk-on.

“Most people would think my first objective as a football coach is to win,” head coach Mario White said. “There’s no doubt we like to win but more importantly, my goal is to make sure our players are successful men. I strive to put together a program that develops these guys into the best they can be and that means developing their athletic abilities, their character,

their work ethic and their academic success.

“The scholarships these young men sign today are a reflection of what they’ve accomplished in the weight room and on the field, but also in their classroom and in their community. It’s an exciting day and I can’t wait to see how these Patriots play at the next level. I know they will represent us well.”

Caldwell and Northcutt will stay close to home and play at Faulkner University in Montgomery. Wednesday’s signing was a dream come true for both players.

“It’s a great experience to be able to play at the next level,” Caldwell said. “Faulkner is the best choice for me because it’s close to home. I didn’t want to leave my family.”

“It’s a dream come true,” Northcutt said. “I never thought that I would be able to sign. Being able to play football and chase after my dream is all that I really want to do.”

Caldwell finished the 2020 season with 695 yards and had nine touchdowns. He was named second team All-State.

“Elijah is one of the most dynamic players in the state with the ball in his hands,” White said. “He always shows up for the big games. It’s going to be fun to watch him play at the next level!”

Northcutt finished the 2020 season with 51 tackles, nine tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.

“Derrius is the guy that changed everything,” White said. “He is truly a special young man that goes beyond the playing field. He is a perfect fit for Coach Wasden and his program.”

The Patriots will have two players travel and attend school in Kansas. Both Taylor and Barnes will play at Fort Scott Community College.

“My dad and me used to watch ESPN and watch everybody commit and sign (scholarships),” Taylor said. “We always talked about this day and now that it is finally here, I’m excited. This is the day I have been waiting for since I was a child.”

“It’s exciting,” Barnes said. “This is a huge accomplishment. I have been working since rec. league to get to where I’m out now.”

Barnes was named Second Team All-State at the conclusion of 2020.

“Ryan came to us down and out,” White said. “He was coming off a knee injury and had lost his light, but he believed in what we are doing. He worked hard, lost a lot of weight, lifted a lot of weight and fell in love with the school. I’ve seen Ryan transform from a kid that was unsure about his place in the world to becoming our Homecoming King, an All-State football player and now he’s got the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Taylor had one of the more prolific seasons in AISA history in 2020. The future greyhound had 1,185 yards in 2020 with 18 touchdowns. On defense, Taylor had 39 tackles and four interceptions.

“Jay Taylor is an outstanding athlete and awesome young man,” White said. “He was an instrumental part of rebuilding our sports program. We are excited for he and his family about his future!”

Guice will be attending Independence Community College in Independence, Kan. in the fall. Guice finished the 2020 season with 39 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

“Caleb Guice has been a blessing to coach and to have at our school,” White said. “We are going to miss him dominating Friday nights but also his presence inside the school building. The sky is the limit for this young man.”

Guice credits his family and coaches for helping to get him an opportunity to play college football.

“My parents made it easy for me to go onto the field and do it everyday and every Friday night,” Guice said. “I was looking at colleges hoping that they would come get me and they have. Im thankful and I thank God for it.”

Dicks, originally committed to Fort Scott, decided to stay home and play for the hometown Trojans as a walk-on.

“It’s exciting,” Dicks said. “I think it’s going to be fun. It’s close to home and my family. I feel like I’m going to enjoy it.

Dicks finished the 2020 season with 85 tackles and nine tackles for loss.