The highest honor: WC coach Robert Morgan earns induction into state coaches hall of fame

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2003

Warren Central coach Robert Morgan, center, is congratulated by players and fans after the Vikings won the 1994 Class 5A state championship. Morgan, in his 36th year with the school, earned a spot in the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame on Thursday. (FileThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/12/03]Thirty-six years, two state championships and a laundry list of accolades led Warren Central coach Robert Morgan to his most meaningful on-field coaching honor: an induction into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame.

Morgan earned induction at a hall-of-fame committee meeting on Wednesday. He’ll join five other members in the MAC coaches hall. It was his second year on the ballot.

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Induction ceremonies are scheduled for July 9, 2004 at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson.

Morgan, who learned of the induction from a Wednesday phone call from the MAC, said he was stunned at the news.

“I really don’t know what to say, it’s a great honor,” Morgan said. “There are so many people I want to thank, I guess I should just thank everybody.”

The veteran coach has been with the Vikings’ program since the school opened, and became the head coach in 1985.

“He’s been very successful and won a couple state championships, but the thing that stands out most is how he deals with the kids,” said current St. Andrew’s football coach and former Morgan assistant David Bradberry.

Bradberry coached with Morgan in the 1980s and lost the 1988 state championship game to the Vikings while he was a coach at Greenwood.

“One daddy said to me once they wish everyone’s son could play for Robert Morgan,” Bradberry said.

Morgan, as is his custom, shifted the praise to his assistant coaches and former players.

“We’ve had some really good coaches and very good players,” Morgan said. “They deserve a lot of the credit for this honor.”

Although he has enough years to retire, Morgan has said he has no clue as to when he will hang up his whistle.

Many coaches at WC hope that day never comes.

“The one thing that scares me the most is that he has spent 35 years in this thing and I’m afraid one day he’ll leave and the rest of us coaches will still be here,” said WC girls basketball coach Donny Fuller, a past president of the MAC and voting member.

Each year, five new members are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Once they are nominated, they stay on the list forever, or until they are inducted.

All past presidents of the MAC get to vote on nominees.

To earn induction, a coach has to have a minimum of 25 years in Mississippi athletics and at least 15 years in the MAC.

“I have been blessed to spend my whole career at Warren Central,” Morgan said. “It’s the best job there can be.”

On the field, Morgan may best be known for his state-record playoff appearance streak. This season marked the 19th straight season the Vikings have reached the state playoffs. Morgan, as head coach, has never missed the playoffs.

“I think (the playoff streak) is fantastic and is the thing people look at statewide who don’t know him,” said Bradberry, who battled Morgan on the sidelines for years as head coach at Clinton. “But I still say the way he deals with kids and his ability to get everything out of his players is what separates him.

“When those kids leave Warren Central, they will always be a Viking. They will always be part of that program.”

Over the years, Morgan has had all three of his sons start on the team, and countless WC graduates have gone on to success in the coaching and playing ranks.

Morgan has yet to start crafting his speech even asking an assistant coach how long it should be. He recalled an induction speech given by former Southern Miss football coach “Bear” Underwood.

“He went through the whole thing, then sat down,” Morgan said. “Then he shot back up and said, um sorry, I forgot to thank my wife.'”

He doesn’t see himself having such a problem.

“I won’t forget to thank my wife, Cathy,” he said with a chuckle. “You can bet your boots on that.”