Breland’s firing about more than just football

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sometimes life gives you lemons and they go sour before you can turn them into lemonade. Such appears to be the case with Lorenzo Breland, who was recently relieved of his duties as Vicksburg High’s football coach.

Breland was put into a difficult situation. He inherited a program in a time of turmoil following the sudden resignation of Marcus Rogers in April. The eight months since then have been rough, with the community’s support of Breland split. Some folks seemed to like him, others wanted nothing to do with him. A few key players left and attendance this season was lackluster.

Breland did a few things to hurt his cause. An 0-5 start, for one. The Gators were also undisciplined on the field. They racked up hundreds of yards in penalties and finished the season by starting a fight in the final moments of a playoff game at Olive Branch.

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Those are things that reflect directly and poorly on the coach and his staff. You would also hope that they are things everyone can learn from. Breland won’t get the chance to do that, not here at least.

Maybe it was a miscalculation to hire Breland. Vicksburg Warren School District athletic director Preston Nailor likes to give first-time coaches an opportunity, but this would have been a tough situation for even an experienced leader to sort out.

More than that, maybe it was a bad fit. Breland, who was an assistant on Rogers’ staff for three seasons, was hired to maintain stability within the program. Instead he inadvertently drove a deeper wedge into it because he wasn’t someone else.

One of the other finalists was Stacy Sizemore, a Vicksburg native and former VHS assistant who has had success coaching in Florida and wanted to return to his hometown. Sizemore would have been a great hire and there are plenty of people in and around the VHS program who still would like to see him return.

It isn’t Breland’s fault he got the job back in the spring, but the feeling that he wasn’t the first or best choice followed him all year. From the outside looking in, it appears to have been a major factor — perhaps the biggest factor — in his dismissal. When the Gators didn’t live up to their potential this season, it bred contempt and turned into a toxic stew for everyone.

There’s a lesson to be learned from that. Whoever Vicksburg’s next football coach is, it better be one that everybody can agree on. Otherwise, history seems destined to repeat itself.

• Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached 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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