The All-County football team is on the horizon

Published 10:30 am Thursday, December 18, 2014

This was a memorable season for Warren County’s high school football teams.

They competed for a state championship for the first time in 20 years, individual players broke longstanding records, and two great senior classes at Warren Central and St. Aloysius finished off remarkable three-year turnarounds.

Next week we’ll celebrate it by rolling out the always-anticipated Vicksburg Post All-County team and awards. The Offensive Player of the Year and All-County Offense is up first on Dec. 24, followed by the Defensive Player of the Year and All-County Defense on Christmas Day, and then the Coach of the Year to finish it all off on Dec. 26.

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Who will win? Who made All-County? You’ll have to pick up a paper to find out, but I will tell you that this was actually one of the easier selection processes that we’ve had.

The hardest All-County teams to pick are when the local teams don’t do well. Trying to gather up more than two dozen players from one- and two-win teams is not an easy task at all. Similarly, when every team does extremely well picking between some players comes down to splitting hairs.

This year, we had a mix of team and individual success that allowed us to fit in nearly every deserving player. We also did some finagling, as we do every year, to move people around to secondary positions and allow for someone else to make it.

A player like St. Al’s Connor Smith is our dream when it comes to picking an All-County team. He’s as deserving a quarterback as you’ll ever find — he ran and threw for more than 1,000 yards as both a junior and senior — but also led Warren County in punting average and in interceptions as a safety. We could move him to any of those positions and give the quarterback slot to someone like Vicksburg’s Marquez Pickett (1,885 yards and 18 touchdowns) or Warren Central’s Alex Stevens (1,540 yards and 17 TDs), who didn’t play anywhere else.

While we try to stick to a traditional football formation, we also play with the makeup of the roster to squeeze a few more folks in under the All-County tent. In this age of spread offenses, we went with three wide receivers and no tight ends. On defense, we picked 13 players — four linemen, four linebackers and five defensive backs — because of a wealth of deserving players in the secondary.

No matter what we do, though, there are always going to be a few snubs, and that’s always a point of contention. I’ll offer an apology in advance to any player or their family members who feel like their guy got left out, but unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast.

We can’t pick everybody, nor should we. Making All-County should mean something, and handing it out like a doting grandparent passing out Christmas candy cheapens it.

An honorable mention list becomes unwieldy and overly selective without an even number at each position. Do we take three quarterbacks and no linemen? Three defensive backs and one linebacker? What’s the rhyme or reason to it? Before long, we might as well just reprint each team’s roster instead of awarding excellence. It’s kind of like the NCAA basketball tournament, where no matter where you set the bar the person just below it will complain.

So, prepare to be thrilled — or outraged — when the All-County team arrives under your Christmas tree. Whichever way you feel about it, drop me a line and let me know.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120 or by email at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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