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One moment defines our football Players of the Year

As any given sports season unfolds, candidates for The Vicksburg Post’s postseason awards come and go.

Players dominate in some stretches and slump during others. Someone who looks like a lock for player of the year in the first month of the season might become very average by the end. Another who got off to a slow start could well become a clear-cut MVP of a playoff team.

During that process, there are certain moments that stand out to separate the contenders from the also-rans. It might be a big-time performance in a key game. More often it’s a single play, often an understated one at that, that shows just how far ahead of the field someone is.

Our all-county football team will be unveiled beginning this weekend — the offense in the weekend edition, defense on Christmas Eve, and the Coach of the Year on Dec. 26 — and all of our individual award winners had that one singular moment of brilliance.

For Offensive Player of the Year Cedric Phillips, it was refusing to take the easy way out when he broke the index finger on his left hand in Week 4.

The injury forced Vicksburg High’s senior running back to change how he carried and caught the ball. He could have, and maybe should have, taken a couple of weeks off to heal. Instead he gritted through it and rushed for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns, showing a level of perseverance that was hard to match.

Defensive Player of the Year Malik Sims, a senior linebacker at Warren Central, was the one inflicting pain, not pushing through it. A fearsome hitter, Sims always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to make a play. He’s the kind of player you can’t help but notice.

A similar note of quiet brilliance has marked the tenure of Coach of the Year Josh Morgan. He has led Warren Central to eight consecutive playoff appearances, the fourth-longest active streak in Class 6A, and has not had a losing season since 2011.

That number is even more impressive considering Warren Central resides in the toughest neighborhood in Class 6A.

Congratulations to our winners, and to those who made the all-county team. The players of the year might have had that little something extra to separate themselves from the pack, but all of the players featured in the coming days had their own special moments as well that put them among the area’s elite.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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