Williamson leaving VHS to become head coach at Terry

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 17, 2002

[05/17/02]Vicksburg High’s Cadillac will need a new chauffeur.

Thursday, Jackie Williamson, the architect of the Gators’ high-powered offense, accepted the head coaching job at Terry High, a team that was slapped on probation after using an ineligible player last season.

He was expected to be approved by the board this morning.

The move will allow Williamson, in his fifth year as a VHS assistant, to lead his first varsity program.

“I think the situation is one that I can basically build with,” Williamson said. “But it’s going to take some time.”

In Williamson’s first season as Vicksburg’s offensive coordinator under first-year coach Alonzo Stevens, the Gators finished second in the state with nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. They finished behind state champion Starkville, which had one extra game.

“I am happy for him and his wife (Lee Ann),” Stevens said. “I wish him nothing but the best. He’s going to make a great head coach.”

“A coach once told me that if no one is looking at taking your assistants then you probably shouldn’t keep them,” Stevens added.

Stevens said that he will most likely take on the role of offensive coordinator for the upcoming season. He said he will be seeking a quarterbacks coach to replace Williamson, but none has been named.

“I’m looking for someone to coach our quarterbacks because it takes a special person to coach that position,” he said.

Williamson’s departure is just one of several at Vicksburg High this year. Softball coach Jennifer Wilkerson left VHS for the newly formed Ridgeland High after one season with the Missy Gators. Eric Solis, the former girls track coach, will be track coach at Ridgeland.

The biggest loss, though, could be Williamson. The 29-year-old Benoit native helped transform the Gators’ offense into a high-octane attack.

Quarterback Justin Henry threw for more than 1,600 yards and the Gators sported a pair of 1,000 rushers in J.J. Brown and Phelan Gray.

Henry and Gray will be back next season. Henry said that he is sad, but happy for his coach.

“He was always enthusiastic and a very good teacher of the system,” said Henry, who will be highly recruited as a senior this fall. “I’m glad for him because it is a good opportunity.”

“Coach Stevens was the offensive coordinator my sophomore year. So, we’ll be OK,” he said.

Nicknamed “Little Spurrier,” Williamson inherits a program that has not had a winning record in several seasons. Terry plays in Class 4A along with teams such as Raymond and Pearl.

Williamson said the challenge of having a program of his own, as well as family considerations, swayed his decision. His wife, Lee Ann, will teach Math at the school.

“This gives me a chance to see if I can organize and run a program,” he said. “Coach Stevens showed me the ropes as far as being a head coach. I was involved with the game-planning and all. I really appreciate him for that.”

However, Williamson does know a little bit about the program the Gators played the Bulldogs in a spring scrimmage last year.

“I saw a good looking group of kids size-wise,” he said. “However, they seemed unsure about what they wanted to do on offense. They seemed to lack a solid foundation on offense and defense.”

Stevens said the offense they’ve built at VHS, which uses multiple formations and lots of movement, will carry on.

“The offensive system is here and Jackie embraced it,” he said. “Jackie and I worked well together playing with this offense, moving stuff around.”

Spring practice ended on May 11 and the Gators will play in several summer camps and leagues during the summer. Vicksburg is set to open the season on Aug. 30 against Wayne County in the Red Carpet Bowl Classic at Memorial Stadium.

“Jackie will be missed,” Stevens said. “His personality, work ethic and the way he gets along with the kids will all be missed.”

In another coaching move, Drew Kennedy will coach the Vicksburg boys soccer team after Josh Harper left earlier in the year to coach in Alabama.

Kennedy, son of Cannon soccer founder Bob Kennedy, was an assistant coach at Warren Central last year under Warren Central coach Jay Harrison.