Vicksburg’s Lacey hired as head football coach at Forest

Published 1:21 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2023

For years, Christopher Lacey has been a student of the game of football.

He’s studied countless hours of film, read books and attended coaching clinics to pick the brains of some of the sport’s best minds. All of it was preparation for the opportunity that’s now in front of him.

Lacey, who has been Vicksburg High’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, will get the chance to lead a program of his own after being hired as the head coach at Forest High School.

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“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid, since I was at Warren Central playing ball,” said Lacey, a Vicksburg native. “I knew I wanted to be a head coach then. My life has been dedicated to getting to that point. There’s been some ups and downs, but football prepared me to go through some of that adversity to be in that position to have my first head coaching job.”

Lacey spent one year at Clinton Christian Academy and then was hired at Vicksburg in 2017. He spent the past five years working with the middle school and then high school programs, and helped turn the Gators into a championship contender.

Vicksburg allowed 11.8 points per game in 2021, and 10.8 points per game in 2022. It reached the Class 5A North State championship game in 2022, its deepest postseason run since 2001.

The success the past two years, as well as seeing his first class of players about to graduate and getting college offers, allowed Lacey to feel like he’s leaving Vicksburg High in a good place.

“It was the right time. Back when I first started at Vicksburg as the defensive coordinator at the middle school, I started off with the kids that are now our graduating seniors and rising seniors,” Lacey said. “We made a five-year plan back then to do certain things and had certain goals. We accomplished all of them except for one, and that was winning a state championship.”

Even though he’s grown as a coach and achieved a lot at Vicksburg, Lacey said making the decision to leave home still was not easy.

“This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, being from Vicksburg and I’ve been at Vicksburg a long time. It’s hard to leave that,” Lacey said. “My players told me. I had a conversation with (defensive end) Caleb Bryant. He told me you got us where we needed to be and the people under us where they needed to be. It’s time for you to go somewhere else and do that, too.”

“Somewhere else” will be a Forest program that has a rich tradition and four state championships in its trophy case.

The Bearcats’ last state title was in 2010 and they won a region championship as recently as 2019, but have an 11-20 record over the past three seasons. Lacey said he sees Forest as a similar situation to Vicksburg — a sleeping giant of a program that needs “refurbishment” rather than a total rebuild.

“It’s full of tradition. When you walk in the fieldhouse you see the state championships, the posters, you feel a part of it. It’s moreso getting the kids down there to buy in to the tradition and know where they’re coming from and who’s been there before them,” Lacey said. “I looked at the roster now and feel like it’s a winnable roster. It was the perfect job at the perfect time. It’s really a blessing.”

Lacey will leave his job at Vicksburg at spring break and start at Forest immediately afterward so he can get his offseason program started.

Although he’s sad to leave home and fly out on his own, he’s also excited to see years of hard work pay off.

“I told them in the interview that this was my Super Bowl,” he said. “I was in tears knowing I had an opportunity to do that. Just a dream come true, knowing what a vision and hard work can do.”

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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