Sports column: Suggestions for Warren County’s private school sports HOF

Published 8:00 am Sunday, April 12, 2020

Last week I suggested some nominees for the next class of the Vicksburg Warren School District’s Athletic Hall of Fame — nominations can be submitted online at vwsd.org — and after that started thinking about Warren County’s two private schools.

There’s not an all-encompassing Warren County sports hall of fame, but if there were both St. Aloysius and Porter’s Chapel Academy could certainly contribute their share of athletes and coaches to it. So I figured it might be fun to throw out a few worthy names from those schools.

We’ll follow some common hall of fame rules — players must be 10 years removed from high school and coaches must have spent at least five years in the job, to give a good scope of their accomplishments and impact. Since St. Al is one of the oldest high schools in the state, though, we’ll take players and coaches from as far back as we can find them.

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Let me know what you think, and keep in mind this is only a brief and partial list. Feel free to offer some suggestions of your own in our Facebook comments section:

• Joe Balzli – St. Aloysius’ football field is named for the legendary coach, who had a 115-52-4 record in two separate stints between 1936 and 1960. He took a four-year break from 1942-45 to serve in the Marines during World War II. A great coach and an American hero, he would deserve to be the first inductee.

• E.J. Creel – One of the best girls’ basketball players in Warren County history later became a championship-winning coach. Creel scored 3,222 points during her playing days at Porter’s Chapel from 1997-2001. About 10 years later she became coach of the school’s girls’ and boys’ teams, and guided PCA to the 2013 MAIS Class A championship. She is the only person to win both The Vicksburg Post’s basketball Player and Coach of the Year award, and won both twice each.

• Eddie Ray – Often considered the best football player — and perhaps the best athlete — in St. Aloysius history, Ray went on to play at LSU and then for six seasons in the NFL from 1970-76.

• Michael Busby – Busby might be the best baseball player in Porter’s Chapel history. An outstanding pitcher and shortstop for the 2006 MAIS Class A championship team, Busby went on to win the 2012 Conference USA tournament MVP while playing for UAB.

• Randy Wright – Wright was an excellent baseball and football coach at PCA from 1995-2009. He won three MAIS Class A championships in baseball, in 2003, 2006 and 2009, and then posted a 52-13 record as the football head coach from 2004-08.
His .800 winning percentage in football ranks second among all Warren County coaches who coached in at least 50 games.

• Stacy Williams – A great all-around athlete at St. Aloysius in the 1990s, Williams was the Vicksburg Post’s baseball Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996 and the football Player of the Year in 1995. He is the only player to win the award in both sports.

• Earl Johnson – Only four running backs in Warren County history have rushed for at least 4,000 yards in their high school careers. Johnson, who played at Porter’s Chapel from 1974-76, was the first. He finished with 4,079 yards and 39 touchdowns, and also ran for 2,037 yards in 1975.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor at 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 reporters in the paper's 139-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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