King was ‘catalyst’ that pushed Vikings to a Top 10 ranking

Published 10:00 am Sunday, April 4, 2021

When it comes to soccer, Tony King always has one eye on the goal and the other looking over his shoulder.

He’s not only scanning for any opponents that might try to catch him from behind, but competitive teammates trying to take his spot as Warren Central’s top goal-scorer.

“I know everybody out here is practicing and working, and working hard to come for my spot and go past it. So I’ve got to keep getting better to stay ahead,” King said.

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So far, he’s managed to stay at least a couple steps in front of the pack.

King, a junior striker, totaled 23 goals and five assists to lead the Vikings. Coach Greg Head called him “a catalyst” for the team’s offense, and now he can also be called The Vicksburg Post’s boys’ soccer Player of the Year.

“It’s a big deal, but you can’t let it go to your head,” King said of winning the award. “You’ve got to take it and keep moving forward, and just know that at any time anybody can take that spot from you. You’ve got to keep working and maintain.”

King had his best season so far in his third as a starter for the Vikings. He surpassed the 20-goal mark for the second year in a row, and has 49 goal for his high school career.

“I think I want to pass 60. Maybe 70,” King said of his ambitions for next season. “It’s hard, because 60 goals is a lot in three years.”

Getting nearly 50 is a lot, too, and he and Head said it’s the product of natural ability enhanced by hard work and hours upon hours of practice.

King is constantly working to improve his craft and adds to it a drive that allows him to play at a high level against some of the toughest competition in Mississippi. Warren Central finished with a 14-5-1 record this season, in a region that included both MHSAA Class 6A North State finalists.

“There’s a saying that great players are not born on the field, they’re born in the backyard. Well, obviously this kid works when he’s not at practice because his skills are just way above everybody else’s,” Head said. “And he pushes everybody. When he steps on the field, whether it’s a practice or a game, he’s giving it 110 percent.
“It’s all-out for him, and that’s why he’s so good,” Head continued. “When he gets in a game, he’s so used to playing at that intensity level that it’s not a big deal for him. He plays 110 percent and he makes everybody better because the defense has to work so hard to contain him.”

Heading into this season, King said he worked to improve his foot skills and finishing. His leg strength also got better, which gives him more velocity and range on his shots.

Most of all, however, he said he’s constantly honing his ability to outwork every opponent he comes across.

“The main thing I’ve gotten better at is practices and endurance, and being able to play the whole game without coming out,” King said. “Another thing is confidence. When you’re out here practicing every day and getting your skills better, you take it into the game. Since you’re doing it in practice 24-7 it just feels natural. You don’t have to think about it. It just happens.”

King is beginning to sort through a number of college options. It’s too early to say for sure where he’ll wind up after his high school career is over, but it seems certain he will play somewhere at the next level.

“He’s probably been one of the better players to come through here in a long time,” Head said. “There’s no telling what he can do next year or where he wants to go. He’s had coaches looking at him since he was in ninth or 10th grade.”

Vicksburg Post boys soccer Players of the Year
2021 – Tony King, Warren Central
2020 – Kieran Theriot, St. Aloysius
2019 – Ryan Theriot, St. Aloysius
2018 – Braylen Greer, Warren Central
2017 – Braylen Greer, Warren Central
2016 – John Austin Burris, Warren Central
2015 – Nick Wright, Warren Central
2014 – Chris Kurtz, Warren Central
2013 – Garrett Watson, Vicksburg
2012 – Chandler Bounds, Warren Central
2011 – Erik Chappell, Warren Central
2010 – Tim Hoeptner, Warren Central
2009 – Erik Chappell, Warren Central
2008 – Bowen Woodson, Vicksburg
2007 – Cameron Curtis, Vicksburg
2006 – Michael Cooper, Vicksburg
2005 – Michael Cooper, Vicksburg
2004 – Luke Sellers, Warren Central
2003 – Michael Head, St. Aloysius
2002 – Michael Head, St. Aloysius
2001 – Andy Gough, St. Aloysius
2000 – Chad Henley, Warren Central
1999 – Mark Titre, Vicksburg

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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