2010 Sports Year in Review St. Al’s baseball repeat, new coaches highlight year

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The 2009 sports year ended with Warren Central searching for a head football coach for just the fourth time in 40 years.

Turns out it was just the start of a trend.

In 2010, nine coaching positions changed hands at Warren County’s four high schools. From soccer to football, lowly programs to championship winners, the turnover was constant and a theme throughout the year.

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The changes started late in 2009, when Curtis Brewer retired after six seasons as Warren Central’s head football coach and nearly 40 years total at the school. The search for his replacement ended at a contentious school board meeting in late March, when Josh Morgan was hired by a 3-2 vote and one person stormed out of the room in protest.

Warren Central’s coaching shakeup continued. Following a 2-9 season, the school’s worst since a winless campaign in 1966, an advertisement was posted for all of the assistant coaching positions.

Although Morgan said some of the current staff will be retained, the search to fill those jobs will continue into 2011.

Other coaching changes went a lot smoother:

• Jerry Bourne made a seamless transition from assistant to head baseball coach at Porters Chapel when Doug Branning resigned to focus on his duties as headmaster. Bourne led the Eagles, who won the 2009 MAIS Class A championship, back to the semifinals before they lost to Riverfield in three games.

• St. Aloysius baseball coach Clint Wilkerson went out on top, resigning to pursue other opportunities after leading the Flashes to their second consecutive MHSAA Class 1A championship.

The Flashes finished the 2010 season with a 22-8 record and survived a pair of elimination games in the playoffs — including Game 3 of the championship series against Myrtle, which St. Al won 18-1.

Wilkerson, who guided St. Al to 125 wins in six seasons, has since taken a job as an assistant coach at Hinds Community College. Chris Wright, a former New Hope assistant, was hired in July to replace Wilkerson at St. Al.

• Longtime Vicksburg High baseball coach Jamie Creel resigned in June to take an assistant principal’s job. He was replaced by Clinton assistant Cody Zumbro.

• Keiko Booth led St. Aloysius to the MHSAA Class 1A-2A-3A girls soccer semifinals before stepping down over the summer. She was replaced by Suzie Channell, who has the Lady Flashes off to a 4-3 start this season.

The Booth-Channell switch was one of three among Warren County’s girls soccer programs. Trey Banks replaced Janet McMaster at Warren Central, while Kori Babb took over for David Case — himself a replacement, after Kevin Manton abruptly retired in Dec. 2009 — at Vicksburg High.

• John Weaver was hired in April to replace Bill Fleming as Porters Chapel’s football coach. Weaver led the Eagles to a 5-6 record in his first season, but had a pair of players — freshman quarterback Jonah Masterson and Chris Marshall — put up record-setting numbers.

Masterson passed for more than 2,000 yards, a Warren County record for a freshman. Marshall caught 50 passes, the second-most in county history, and became the first wide receiver selected as The Vicksburg Post’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Masterson and Marshall’s success marked another trend this football season. Although, for the first time, none of the county’s four high schools advanced to the postseason, a number of offensive players enjoyed individual success.

At Warren Central, receiver Malcolm Grant had the second-most receptions in school history with 40.

Vicksburg quarterback Cameron Cooksey threw for 2,352 yards — the third-best single-season total in county history — and became the first junior to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark for a career. He needs 1,229 yards in 2011 to become the county’s career passing leader.

Meanwhile, at St. Al, offensive lineman Matt Wooten was selected first-team all-state by the Mississippi Coaches Association and earned the Region 4-1A Lineman of the Year award.

Vicksburg natives Jordan and Justin Henry continued their rise toward the major leagues last summer. Jordan Henry was called up to Double-A by the Cleveland Indians after less than two seasons of minor league baseball, while his brother Justin was promoted several times to the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

Justin Henry’s multiple call-ups were the result of several injuries in the Tigers’ farm system. He ended the season at Triple-A Toledo, but before he did he got to play against his brother for the first time. The Henrys matched up in a Double-A series between Erie and Akron in mid-July.

Vicksburg resident Nathan Davis shined on a local and world stage. He won Vicksburg’s running triple crown by sweeping the Chill in the Hills 10K in January, the Run Thru History 10K in March, and the 5-mile Over the River Run in October. In between, he found time to go to Scotland for the International Triathlon Union’s World duathlon championship.