Sports column: Diving into how the All-County soup is made

Published 8:00 am Sunday, December 18, 2022

Football season never really ends. Not any more.

This season is over or in its later stages, depending on whether you’re talking about high school, college or the NFL, but there are already wheels in motion for the next one.

High school teams have started offseason workouts. College programs are changing coaches and signing recruits, while players plot their futures in the transfer portal.

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Before we move on to 2023, however, there is one last bit of business to clean up in 2022 by rolling out The Vicksburg Post’s annual all-county team.

A common question over the years has been who picks the all-county team, and how?

“Who” is, and always will be, The Vicksburg Post’s sports staff. We take input from a variety of sources, but the final judgment is ours and ours alone. So if you don’t like a selection, fire off an email to the address at the bottom of this column and not your school’s coach.

How we pick them is a bit more complex.

Input from around the community and state — things like all-state and all-region selections — as well as good old-fashioned stats and our own observations all play a part.

There are 30 spots for the all-county team, 15 on offense and special teams and 15 on defense. The number stems from the amount of photos we can fit on the printed page. We could probably expand it to infinity in the internet age, but even if it means leaving a couple of outstanding players off the list 30 feels like it’s the right number to maintain an aura of exclusivity.

Because of the size of our schools, we also have to take into account what players meant to their team as much as — or more than — talent alone.

Just because someone thinks a linebacker with 100 tackles at St. Aloysius or Porter’s Chapel wouldn’t start at Vicksburg or Warren Central doesn’t diminish their accomplishments and importance to their team. We try to recognize that and make sure every school has some representation.

And then there are the players and coach of the year. The best of the best in Warren County. We pick those using the same guidelines as the rest, first narrowing it down to a handful of candidates and then deciding who had the biggest impact on their team’s success.

This year, more than most, those selections came easy.

The 2022 Vicksburg Post Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively, are Demarcus Johnson and Todd McDaniel of Vicksburg High. The Offensive Player of the Year is Warren Central running back Trey Hall.

There were a number of top candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year, but Johnson was the best. The junior defensive tackle led one of the best defenses in the state in tackles (85) and sacks (10), and tied for the team lead with 24 tackles for loss. He also played on the Gators’ offensive line, which was another credit in his favor.

McDaniel’s plan to transform Vicksburg into a powerhouse started when he was hired in 2020 and bore fruit this year. He took Vicksburg to its first region title since 1990; its first 10-win season and the MHSAA Class 5A semifinals for the first time since 2001; and its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2007-08.

Hall, meanwhile, was one of a number of talented playmakers on Warren Central’s offense but the one coach Josh Morgan called “our guy.”

Hall had 1,424 total yards — 1,009 rushing and 415 receiving — and scored 19 touchdowns. He set Warren Central’s career record for receptions and showed the ability to both power through a defense on fourth-and-1 and break a big play for a first down on third-and-20.

The Coach of the Year will be featured in the Wednesday, Dec. 21 edition. Hall and the All-County offensive team will appear Friday, Dec. 23, and Johnson and the All-County defense in the Dec. 24-25 weekend edition.

Congratulations to all of the talented players who were selected to the All-County team, and the individual award winners. It’s not an easy feat to earn this honor, so cherish it — and then get back to work on doing it again next year.

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 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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