WC’s Wilson honors injured teammate by swapping jerseys

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ever since he joined Warren Central’s varsity roster as a sophomore in 2014, quarterback Jesse Wilson has worn the number 9 on his jersey — until last Friday.

Wilson, now a senior, switched to No. 83 for the Vikings’ home opener against Natchez as a tribute to injured teammate Nathan Hearn. Hearn, a senior tight end and long snapper, is out for the season with a knee injury suffered during preseason practice.

“I swapped with him because he was a big loss to our team. I’ve been supporting him. Since it’s our first home game, it shows true respect to your teammates,” Wilson said. “Once he went down, everybody was down. But by me wearing this jersey it shows him that we still love him and he’s still part of our team.”

Nathan Hearn

Nathan Hearn

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Hearn was on the sideline Friday night, limping around on crutches and wearing Wilson’s No. 9 jersey. He said Wilson approached him before the game about the plan.

“He just walked up to me in the fieldhouse and said ‘I’m going to wear your jersey this game.’ I said all right, that’s fine. I guess he wanted to support me,” Hearn said. “It means a lot, because he’s one of my brothers.”

This is the second week in a row a couple of Vikings have done a jersey swap. The previous week, defensive lineman James Archer borrowed Jeremy Miller’s No. 59 jersey.

Wilson said the swap was a one-time thing, though, which is probably a good idea. Hearn is a lean 6-foot-5, and Wilson is a short, muscular 5-foot-9. Any longer, and their respective jerseys might get stretched out of shape.

“I’m stretching his out. I guess he’s trying to shrink mine up a little bit,” Hearn said with a laugh.

Some other notes from around Warren County in Week 4 of the high school football season:

• Both Vicksburg High and St. Aloysius’ special teams turned in big plays that led to points. Vicksburg blocked a punt for the second time in three games, leading to a short touchdown run by Mike Sims in a 45-0 win over Yazoo City.

St. Aloysius, meanwhile, recovered an onsides kick after scoring against Washington. The Flashes turned the extra possession into a 3-yard touchdown run by Jamar Williams that tied the game at 13 in the third quarter. Washington went on to win 20-13.

St. Al senior wide receiver Brandon Teller said the Flashes had been working on the onsides kick all week.

“We didn’t know when we were going to incorporate it, but that was a good time to do it and we made it happen,” Teller said. “(Kicker Channing Curtis) put the ball where it needed to be.”

• Vicksburg’s running game did OK without leading rusher Marlon Hodge, who is expected to miss several games with a sprained knee.

Sims had 85 yards and two touchdowns on only seven carries, and the Gators totaled 260 yards on the ground. Coach Marcus Rogers was especially pleased with sophomore Tacari Stewart, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound speedster.

Stewart had 59 yards on only three carries.

“I got my sophomore running back in there and he showed some quickness. I really liked what I saw out of him,” Rogers said.

• Porters Chapel Academy lost 38-0 to Hillcrest Christian, but did have one of its best offensive games of the season. The Eagles rushed for a season-high 115 yards — nearly as many as they’d had in their first three games combined. Carter White ran for 81 yards on 23 carries.

PCA coach Blake Purvis had to shuffle the lineup when four starters were involved in a car wreck in the second week of preseason practice. One of them, Leon Simms, was slated to be the team’s starting running back.

After four games in which they’ve been outscored 115-6, Purvis feels like he might have finally found a lineup capable of moving the football.

“With having to shuffle some guys early, we’re a little behind on who fits where. I think we had our best combination tonight that we’ve had all year,” Purvis said. “Hopefully now we can fine tune some things and make some progress.”

• Warren Central continued its trend of explosive plays on offense, and finally managed to get some secondary targets involved in the passing game in its 34-18 win over Natchez.

Wilson threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Shonterrance Walton in the first quarter, then hit Terrell Roby for a 55-yard gain in the second to set up another score.

Roby’s catch was the first this season by a player other than Walton or running back Demarcus Jones. The Vikings had five receivers catch passes on Friday.

In the running game, meanwhile, they had six runs of longer than 10 yards. In four games, they’ve now had 37 such running plays.

WC has an open date this week, and then hosts Northwest Rankin in its Region 2-6A opener on Sept. 23.

Vicksburg Post sports writer Alana Norris contributed to this report.

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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