Through tragedy, Kendyl Terrell makes state title history

Through tragedy, Kendyl Terrell makes state title history

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - In a season-opening rivalry game at Petal, Kendyl Terrell made history by becoming the first female in Hattiesburg High history to kick an extra point in win one of the Tigers' undefeated run to the class 5A state title.

"I've always talked about it with my dad," said Kendyl following the Petal contest on August 19. "Being the only one in my family – and my brother doesn't play – it's just interesting because I love doing this. I love the guys and it's just very fun."

It's no wonder Kendyl wanted to play football. Her father, Clemon, was a standout at Hattiesburg before going on to play four seasons at Southern Miss in the early 1980's, rushing for over 1,500 career yards in 44 games.

At fullback, Clemon was often the lead blocker and decoy for quarterback Reggie Collier.

"Stud," said Mitch Williams, former WDAM sports anchor and longtime friend of Clemon. "He had like 4.4, 4.5 [second] speed in the 40 [yard dash], playing at like 230 [pounds]."

Dr. Clemon Terrell would go on to serve as Hattiesburg's Parks and Recreation Director for the last 16 years and, on Friday nights, watch his daughter kick 60 extra points for the Tigers this season. However, he wouldn't get the chance to see Kendyl's 61st kick.

On Thursday, November 30, Dr. Clemon passed away at the age of 54.

"[Clemon] would meet people with a smile," Williams said. "You meet his children, you see his folks around, they're a lot like him. Just loved people. He was touchable, he was available. If we had more men like him, we might have a different world."

Dr. Clemon's death came just two days before Hattiesburg was set to play in the state championship for the first time since 1998.

His daughter Kendyl decided to play. Despite the Tigers' loss to West Point, Kendyl became the first female in Mississippi to kick an extra point in a state title game. Through tragedy, the Terrell's remained strong.

"We're not surprised with anything that Kendyl's doing, not surprised by anything that Taytum's doing, not surprised by anything that Laykin's doing," Williams said. "And Clemon III, Lord have mercy, he's so smart he could probably do anything he wants to. Not surprised by any of those children. [Clemon] and Rosalind raised a beautiful family."

"Honestly, this is one of the best things to ever happen to me in life," said Kendyl, following Saturday's state title. "It was a great opportunity to play with the people I love and the people that I see every single day. I'm glad I got to experience this opportunity with each and every one of them. My dad would be proud of me right now if he was here."