Gators’ Cooksey, Stamps share top honor

Published 2:30 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peas and carrots. Peanut butter and jelly. Cameron Cooksey and A.J. Stamps.

Some things just go perfect together, and make each other better.

Cooksey, Vicksburg High’s quarterback, and his favorite receiver Stamps set every Warren County passing record there was to set this season. Cooksey was third in Mississippi in passing yards and Stamps was third in receiving yards — despite playing several fewer games than the leaders.

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The Gators’ dynamic duo are now capping off their incredible senior season by sharing the Vicksburg Post’s Offensive Player of the Year award.

It’s the third time the award has been given to two players. In 1993, running backs Brian Darden of Warren Central and Jamaal Williams of St. Aloysius shared it. In 2001, it went to Vicksburg’s running back tandem of J.J. Brown and Phelan Gray.

Like those other co-players of the year, there was no way to separate the achievements of Cooksey and Stamps. Without Cooksey’s strong, accurate throws, Stamps wouldn’t have come close to catching the 77 passes that he did. And without Stamps’ ability to make plays both on short routes and down the field, Cooksey wouldn’t have thrown for 3,245 yards and 38 touchdowns.

“We definitely fed off each other,” Cooksey said. “When the game is on the line, I felt like I could just put it up and he was going to come down with it.”

Stamps said Cooksey made his job easier, too.

“I didn’t have to make any outstanding catches. He put it right on the numbers,” Stamps said.

Cooksey came into this season needing 1,229 yards to break Ernest Moore’s 28-year-old Warren County record for career passing yardage. Cooksey got it in the fourth game of the season.

There have been 18 300-yard passing games by a Warren County quarterback since 1923. Cooksey has seven of them.

Cooksey pushed the career yardage record to 6,352, more than 2,000 yards better than Moore’s mark. He finished with 62 career touchdown passes to leave Moore, the former North Vicksburg and Vicksburg High star from the early 1970s, a dozen behind.

“It definitely added to the uniqueness. When you shatter it like that, it makes it special,” Cooksey said.

During Cooksey’s pursuit of the passing record, Stamps’ rise up the receiving charts went relatively unnoticed.

Stamps played only defense during his sophomore season in 2009, then switched to receiver in 2010. He finished with 1,021 yards and followed it up with 1,289 this year.

Stamps also caught 19 TD passes this season to finish with 29 for his career and shatter the mark set by Porters Chapel’s Cole Smith from 2004-06. Smith caught 24 TD passes in his career, including 15 in 2006 — a single-season record that Stamps broke this year.

“As the season went along and I approached it, we talked about it,” Stamps said of the records. “Before the season it wasn’t something I even thought about.”