Vicksburg High success highlights 2008|Year in review 2008

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 28, 2008

From the pitch to the gridiron, and the hardwood to the diamond, Vicksburg High’s athletic success highlighted the year in sports in Warren County.

Vicksburg reached the Class 4A semifinals in boys’ soccer and the finals in baseball, went to the state tournament in boys’ basketball, and won a football playoff game for the first time since 2001.

The Gators’ basketball team won the regular-season Division 3-4A title, beating longtime state power Lanier twice in the process.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Individually, the Gators also had a ton of success. Senior pitcher Stanton Price earned The Vicksburg Post’s baseball player of the year award, and guard Jonathan Phelps got the same honor in basketball. Phelps’ teammate, sophomore Mychal Ammons, was invited to the elite Nike Camp in St. Louis this summer.

Goal keeper Bowen Woodson, whose strong play was a big part of Vicksburg’s surge to the soccer semis despite an overall losing record, was named The Post’s boys’ soccer player of the year.

At the MHSAA state track and field meet in May, Vicksburg took home home gold medals in three events. Briana Jones won the girls’ long jump and teamed with Kamiko Martin, Kina Hasain and Jazmine Walker to win the 800 meter relay. On the boys’ side, Carlos Williams easily won the shot put title.

And Delmon Robinson, who finished off a record-setting football career in the 2007 season, signed with Mississippi State in February.

Baseball leagues combine; Bazinsky takes damage

After years of rivalry, the Vicksburg Baseball Association and Culkin Athletic Association merged into the new Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association. The new youth baseball league served more than 700 Warren County children in its first season.

On April 4, a severe thunderstorm damaged Bazinsky Field and Halls Ferry Park. High winds snapped a support pole, causing the backstop at Bazinsky to collapse. The winds also tore down part of an outfield fence on Halls Ferry’s Babe Ruth Field, and damaged the outfield fence and a foul pole at Bazinsky.

The damage to Bazinsky forced Vicksburg High and St. Aloysius to play their last month of home games at Warren Central’s Viking Field, but it hardly seemed to affect them. St. Al reached the third round of the Class 1A playoffs, and Vicksburg made it to the 4A finals.

Henry, Warner shine on collegiate level

A slew of Vicksburg athletes accepted scholarship offers from four-year colleges this year.

In addition to Robinson, Warren Central basketball star Sha’Kayla Caples signed with Louisiana Tech; VHS’ Woodson accepted a baseball offer from Tulane; former WC and Hinds Community College football star Otis Stamps went to Louisiana-Monroe; and another former WC and Hinds football standout, Jesse Pedyfoot, signed with Delta State.

Other Warren County athletes already in college had strong seasons in their respective sports.

Ole Miss outfielder and former Vicksburg High star Jordan Henry suffered through a sophomore slump. He endured a 4-for-33 stretch in March and April that cost him his starting job in right field.

Henry pulled out of it in a big way, though, and at the best possible time. He hit .550 with four runs scored and two RBIs in the SEC Tournament and earned All-Tournament team honors as the Rebels reached the championship game and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

A football player, Larry Warner, had no such slump in his second season at Southern Illinois. The 5-foot-5, 160-pound senior running back from Warren Central rushed for 1,265 yards and 10 touchdowns while helping the Salukis reach the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) playoffs.

Warner also returned kicks, and amassed 2,249 all-purpose yards and scored 13 total touchdowns. He was named an FCS first-team All-American as an all-purpose player by The Associated Press.

Coaches come and coaches go

Larry Smith, a Rolling Fork native who coached briefly at St. Al in the 2007-08 season, was hired as Alcorn State’s men’s basketball coach. Alcorn also hired former Tennessee star Tonya Edwards as its women’s coach, but not all of the coaching-related news from the school was as joyous.

On Thanksgiving, seven assistant football coaches were fired following a 2-10 season and then reinstated a few days later. The following week, first-year head coach Ernest Jones was fired, but sued the school for breach of contract. Jones remains Alcorn’s coach while the situation works its way through the legal process.

Other coaches left their jobs on much better terms.

Hinds CC football coach J. Mike Smith retired on Dec. 5, after 22 years at the school including five as head coach. He was replaced by Hinds athletic director and former football coach Gene Murphy.

Jay Hopson, a former WC football star, left his defensive coordinator job at Southern Miss for the same position at Michigan in January.

Trina Frierson, an ex-VHS girls basketball star, was promoted to associate head coach at Northwestern State in May.

In the high school ranks, Warren Central alum B.J. Smithhart was hired as to replace Jim Taylor as St. Aloysius’ football coach, and WC baseball coach Randy Broome resigned after seven seasons. Taylor remained at St. Al as the school’s athletic director.

Broome, who had a 113-103 record, stepped down to take an assistant principal’s job at Vicksburg High. He was replaced by Tupelo assistant Josh Abraham.

Flashes, Smith shine again on golf course

St. Aloysius won its second consecutive Class 1A golf championship in May. Three players — John Lindigrin, Alex Lanier and Charles Marsalis — finished among the top four in the individual competition, an the Flashes carded a 50-stroke victory over Thrasher.

A former St. Al golfer, Chase Smith, earned All-Gulf South Conference honors in his first season at Delta State.

County football teams have strong seasons

Vicksburg High took its shot at ending South Panola’s state record football winning streak in the season-opening Red Carpet Bowl, but came up short in a 27-6 loss.

The following week, the Gators used a strong defensive effort to beat archrival Warren Central 7-0. Vicksburg secured the victory with a late goal-line stand. WC sought to capitalize on a late fumble by the Gators, but tailback Joel Forbes was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 35 seconds left.

The win sparked the Gators to wins in nine of their next 10 games, the last of which was a 30-21 triumph over Pontotoc in the first round of the playoffs. That victory was the first for VHS in the postseason since 2001.

St. Aloysius, meanwhile, used its offense to earn a string of thrilling wins on the gridiron.

The Flashes beat Cathedral and Pelahatchie with long drives late in the fourth quarter, held off a Pisgah rally for another win, and beat Madison-St. Joe in double overtime.

The close victories helped St. Al reverse 2007’s 4-7 record and challenge for a playoff berth up until the last week of the season.

Porters Chapel averaged 38 points a game while winning its first 13 games, helping it become the top-ranked Class A team in The Associated Press’ private schools poll for most of the season.

PCA won its third district championship since 2004, and reached the state semifinals for the third time in the same span.


Contact Ernest Bowker at