2011 Vicksburg Post Coach of the YearOverdue recognition Vicksburg coach Alonzo Stevens’ record goes beyond wins and losses

Published 11:42 am Friday, December 23, 2011

Vicksburg football coach Alonzo Stevens has turned in his keys to the fieldhouse, cleaned out his office and turned out the lights.

Not just on the building, but on his coaching career.

A new coach, Tavares Johnson, has been hired, but Stevens can still bask in his accomplishments through a coaching career spanning almost 40 years after retiring at the end of the season.

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This the first year for Stevens to win the Vicksburg Post Coach of the Year honor. Even though it was more for Stevens’ positive role in the community than wins and losses, the Gators were still in the playoff chase until late in the season.

Vicksburg won four games in 2011, two more than in 2010. Stevens readily admits there should have been more wins. The Gators let Northwest Rankin get away in the season’s most memorable game. There was also a 35-28 double overtime loss at Murrah.

The highlight was the Gators’ 28-23 win over archrival Warren Central. It was Stevens’ fifth-straight victory in the series, a distinction no other Vicksburg High football coach can claim.

For Stevens, there were many more victories when no score was kept. His most important wins were in life.

“Everything I’ve done has been about those kids,” Stevens said. “I would say about 80 percent of them don’t have fathers.”

The Vicksburg players had one in Stevens. It’s a recurrent theme from both players and coaches on Stevens’ staff.

Wide receiver A.J. Stamps had a terrific career at Vicksburg and one that will likely land him a spot on a college football field next year. He said it would not have been possible without Stevens.

“He’s meant everything to me,” Stamps said. “He taught my mom, my dad, and he’s been in my life for a long time. I remember meeting him for the first time in seventh grade. I knew he was special. Then when I moved up to play on the varsity, he rounded me into shape. He’s not one to baby you. He showed me no mercy, which is something I needed.”

Vicksburg assistant coach Shaun Archer was Vicksburg’s defensive coordinator and said Stevens had a big impact, even on his coaching staff.

“What can I say, he is like a father figure. Not only to the boys, but to us coaches, too,” Archer said. “I’ve learned almost all of my football knowledge from him. He’s a special person to me. It’s going to be a big loss not having him around here. He had such an impact on these kids’ lives. He never stopped. It went beyond football. He taught them life skills. Most importantly, he taught them how to be a man.”

Stevens was always there for his players.

“I guess my best save was Robert Green,” Stevens said. “When he was in junior high, his house burned down. He was left without a father. I took him in. I took him to church and eventually, he became my godson. Robert has now gone on to become a minister of his own church.”

Another, more recent victory was Casey Younger. The former Gator had a standout collegiate football career at Millsaps and was named to the D3football.com Division III All-America team.

“We got Casey when he was in the ninth grade and he needed some structure. I really think the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) gave that to him,” Stevens said.