2021 Vicksburg Post All-County Football: PCA’s Washington finishes strong

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 24, 2021

A few weeks into his senior season, Tyler Washington was not a happy camper.

“I was mad,” he said with a laugh.

The reason for the senior running back’s discontent was a lack of carries. He’d led Porter’s Chapel Academy in rushing in 2020, but through five games of the 2021 season had a grand total of 35 carries. Even though PCA was winning and Washington was contributing in a number of different ways, he wanted to do more.

Eventually, he had a sit-down with head coach Blake Purvis, who told him to be patient.

“We got back (from Manchester Academy) and we talked for about 30 minutes, because I was frustrated about my yards and stuff,” Washington said. “He said, ‘I promise you, you’re going to have your yards by the end of the season.’ He gave it to me more often.”

Did he ever.

Washington carried the ball nearly 100 times in PCA’s last six games. He wound up leading Warren County in rushing yardage and touchdowns, and earned a place in the county’s record books and football pantheon as the 2021 Vicksburg Post Offensive Player of the Year.

“I’m proud of everything I did here,” Washington said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my offensive line. And Coach Purvis was the one who pushed me. At one time, I wanted to go to a different school. He made me stay here. He said, ‘You’ve got to trust me.’ It worked out.”

Washington has been a part of PCA’s football program since he was in seventh grade, although not always as a running back. He was a bit heavier when he was younger and started out as a defensive lineman.

“I told Purvis I wanted to play running back, and he told me I had to lose a couple of pounds. I came back that summer and had lost 20 or 30 pounds and finally got my chance at running back in JV, then they moved me up to varsity,” Washington said. “I told my parents I was going to be Offensive Player of the Year and they said, ‘You can do it.’ But I knew it was pressure on me, because the more I was saying it the more I had to get it. I’m happy I got this.”

It took a while for Washington to raise his game to that level. He rushed for 347 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman and led the team in rushing in 2019 and 2020. PCA moved to the MAIS’ 8-man division this season and, Washington laughed, he thought it would automatically mean a breakthrough season.

“I thought 8-man was going to be easy. I thought, ‘I could have 300 yards a game,’” he said, smiling and shaking his head. “Eight-man is just like 11-man. It’s not easy. Of course there’s going to be teams you can run all over, but there’s teams like that in 11-man. You go against these teams and they’ve got eight, but it feels like they’ve got 60 on the field. They’re everywhere.”

Washington was also held back at the beginning of the season, both as a conscious decision by Purvis and because of his own success. The coach wanted to split the workload and keep him fresh for later in the year. At the same time, Washington averaged more than 10 yards per carry in the first five games and all of them were blowouts one way or the other.

“There were some games where he could have racked up 400 or 500 yards. But knowing what we had coming down the stretch, and later in the year, preserving him helped us,” Purvis said. “His unselfish attitude early on, and knowing it was coming and he didn’t have to get it all in one game, I thought that was good. It helped him sustain success all year long.”

The turning point came in Week 6 against Wilkinson County Christian. Washington carried the ball 28 times for a career-high 250 yards and four touchdowns in a 52-27 victory.

It was the kind of performance, Purvis said, that was needed and expected from a star the caliber of Washington.

“He ran the same play 28 times. We played well up front that game and Willie (Rogers) did a good job leading for him. But there was no doubt after about the eighth or 10th time that we lined up to run it, what was coming,” Purvis said. “There were times they’d hit him in the backfield and he refused to give up. The effort and the power he was running with, it made it easy. It didn’t matter what the play was. Everybody in the stadium knew it was coming, but he was going to make yards and more times than not he was going to make an average play into a great play.”

It was the first of six consecutive 100-yard rushing games by Washington to finish the season. Porter’s Chapel won four of those to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014, and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2008.

Washington finished the season with 1,346 yards and 21 touchdowns — his first 1,000-yard season — and caught nine passes for 162 yards and three TDs. He was selected to play in the MAIS All-Star Game as well, and is the first PCA player to be selected as the Post’s Offensive Player of the Year since 2012.

His statistical totals also pushed Washington onto the list of Warren County’s all-time greats. He became the 11th player with more than 3,000 career rushing yards and the eighth to run for 38 touchdowns or more.

Washington finished with 3,066 yards and 38 TDs, both of which rank second in PCA’s school record book. Earl Johnson ran for 4,079 yards and 39 touchdowns from 1974-76.

“I’m pretty proud of my season,” Washington said. “I was No. 2 in Porter’s Chapel in rushing and I wanted to hit No. 1. But I still think No. 2 is big progress from what Porter’s Chapel had been. I’m proud that I can be one of those people they’ll remember.”

Vicksburg Post Offensive Players of the Year
2021 – Tyler Washington, RB, Porter’s Chapel
2020 – Sha’kori Regan, RB, Vicksburg
2019 – Cedric Phillips, RB, Vicksburg
2018 – Tacarie Stewart, RB, Vicksburg
2017 – Fred Barnum, Jr., QB, Warren Central
2016 – Raheem Moore, WR, Vicksburg
2015 – DeMichael Harris, RB, St. Aloysius
2014 – Connor Smith, QB, St. Aloysius and DeMichael Harris, RB, St. Aloysius
2013 – Connor Smith, QB, St. Aloysius
2012 – Peter Harris, RB, Porters Chapel
2011 – Cameron Cooksey, QB, Vicksburg and A.J. Stamps, WR, Vicksburg
2010 – Chris Marshall, WR, Porters Chapel
2009 – Tim Jones, RB, Warren Central
2008 – Clayton Holmes, QB, Porters Chapel
2007 – Austin Barber, RB, Porters Chapel
2006 – Hayden Hales, QB, Porters Chapel
2005 – Chris Mixon, RB, Porters Chapel
2004 – Larry Warner, RB, Warren Central
2003 – Larry Warner, RB, Warren Central
2002 – Richmond Fields, RB, Warren Central
2001 – J.J. Brown, RB, Vicksburg, and Phelan Gray, RB, Vicksburg
2000 – J.J. Brown, RB, Vicksburg
1999 – Caris London, RB, Vicksburg
1998 – Thomas McKnight, RB, Vicksburg
1997 – Josh Morgan, QB, Warren Central
1996 – Ben Jernigan, QB, Porters Chapel
1995 – Stacy Williams, RB, St. Aloysius
1994 – Brian Darden, RB, Warren Central
1993 – Brian Darden, RB, Warren Central and Jamaal Williams, RB, St. Aloysius
1992 – Brian Darden, RB, Warren Central
1991 – Alfred Daniels, RB, Vicksburg
1990 – Damian McClelland, RB, Vicksburg
1989 – Larry Carter, RB, Warren Central
1988 – Kenny Johnson, RB, Warren Central
1987 – John Kavanaugh, RB, St. Aloysius

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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