Lacey hired as Vicksburg High’s football head coach

Published 6:51 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

Christopher Lacey left home to become a head football coach. He quickly came back to do it where he always wanted to.

Lacey, Vicksburg High’s defensive coordinator since 2020, was hired Thursday as the school’s next head coach. He was approved by the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees at its monthly meeting.

“It was a dream of mine to coach in my hometown,” said Lacey, a Vicksburg native and graduate of Warren Central. “It’s crazy that it’s the crosstown school that’s the rivals to when I was in high school playing, but it’s an honor to be able to do it. At the end of the day, it’s still my hometown, it’s still Vicksburg, it’s still about the kids, so that’s why I’m excited about it.”

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Lacey was also hired as the head coach at Forest High School in February. He met their players, but never signed a contract.

In March, when Todd McDaniel left Vicksburg after three seasons to become the head coach and athletic director at Ridgeland, Lacey elected to give up his position at Forest and return to Vicksburg.

In addition to being hired as Vicksburg’s football coach at Thursday’s school board meeting, Lacey was also officially reinstated as a teacher for the rest of this school year.

He said Forest’s administration was supportive of his decision.

“After praying, and talking to my family, and the administration up there, it ended up being a mutual thing, to where it was an opportunity I know you can’t pass up and wouldn’t want to,” Lacey said. “You have to do what’s best for you, and that’s ultimately what it came down to. They were very supportive.”

The 34-year-old Lacey was among a number of candidates who interviewed last week. He has been on Vicksburg’s staff since 2017 and the defensive coordinator the past three seasons.

Vicksburg’s defense allowed 11.8 points per game in 2021, and 10.8 points per game in 2022 with him calling the plays. The Gatorsd the Class 5A North State championship game in 2022, their deepest postseason run since 2001.

In addition to a good on-field resume, VWSD athletic director James Lewis said Lacey had a number of other attributes that made him the frontrunner for the job.

“Youthful energy. Just a vigor for wanting to lead young men in the sport of football. He really had an intensity for the job,” Lewis said. “You could tell through his interview he was really intense about his job, about school, about the student-athletes he was going to lead. And being qualified as well. He was all those things wrapped up in one. He led the charge as being a viable candidate.”

This will be Lacey’s first head coaching job. He acknowledged his young age has been cited as a detriment, but both he and Lewis said it was actually a positive.

Lacey will be Vicksburg’s seventh coach in the past 13 years. Lewis said having a young coach with deep ties to both the city and the VHS program will hopefully bring stability to a job that has seen plenty of turnover.

“With him being a young guy, energetic, loving what he does, wanting to be at Vicksburg High long-term, we really believe that he’s going to bring that stability that we are looking for, that the community is looking for, that the school is looking for. That’s a big piece of it,” Lewis said.

Lacey shrugged off any suggestion that he was too young or inexperienced for the job.

“People always say, ‘You think you’re old enough to be a head coach?’ I don’t think it has anything to anything with age. Shoot, Zach Arnett at Mississippi State is 36,” Lacey said. “It’s moreso who’s the perfect fit for that particular situation, and it seems like I was.”

Lacey added that, over the years, he has made a concerted effort to learn how to run a program as much as he has the X’s and O’s of football.

He’s well aware of the extra responsibilities that suddenly become part of the job description of a head coach. From observing how meetings are run to picking the brains of coaches at all levels, he feels he’s well-prepared for them.

“I’m a person that likes to take initiative, so I’ve already been preparing for this since I was 16 years old by observing other coaches,” Lacey said. “Even my coaches out at Warren Central, I would always want to sit in on certain things that they did. I would reach out to other coaches, college coaches, even people in the pros that I would reach out to to get a sense of how to handle a program.

“In the interview I told them I already had my program that I would have one day as a head coach in a notebook. I’ve been working on this for a long time.”

Lacey will make his unofficial debut as head coach on May 12, when Vicksburg plays its Green and White spring game at Memorial Stadium. The team has been going through spring practice with its current staff teaming up to lead the workouts.

Lacey expects most of the coaching staff to remain intact.

“All the coaches have been working together to get it done,” Lacey said. “They’ve been putting in their different things to make it work the same way. We already had a plan because we have the same coaches, so we’ve been continuing to do that.”

The Gators should have a chance to make another deep postseason run in 2023. Although they’ll be in a Class 6A district that includes perennial power Warren Central, the Gators have plenty of talent coming back from the 2022 roster that finished with a 10-3 record.

Lacey is ready to lead the charge.

“That’s the plan, to keep rolling. We’ve got the talent. You’ve got to have talent, you’ve got to have culture, you’ve got to have coaches who are willing to work and players who are willing to work. We’ve already got that,” Lacey said. “This thing has already been established. The good thing is I’ve already been here, so a lot of things don’t change.”

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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