Vicksburg High trio, Warren Central’s Davis set for Mississippi All-Star Game
Published 2:31 pm Friday, December 8, 2023
Tyler Carter, Demarcus Johnson and Tyler Henderson joined Vicksburg High’s varsity football team at various times over the past few years.
Together, they helped transform a struggling program into one of the best in Mississippi and now they’re ready to ride off into the sunset as a group.
Carter, Johnson and Henderson will represent the Gators in the Mississippi Association of Coaches Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game on Saturday. Kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. at Gulfport High School.
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“We really have one more game left, so for it to be an all-star game is an honor,” Carter said. “We got noticed, so that’s a good thing too. We get to put on for the city of Vicksburg, all three of us. It’s a big honor.”
The three seniors were part of an undefeated eighth-grade team that won the Little Six conference championship in 2019, then filtered up to the varsity level at different times.
Johnson was first. The defensive lineman became a starter as a freshman in 2020 and never left the lineup. He totaled 30 sacks and 51 tackles for loss in his four seasons, was the 2022 Vicksburg Post Defensive Player of the Year for Warren County, and earned the MHSAA Region 2-6A Defensive MVP award this season.
Henderson came next. The talented receiver moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore in 2021 and had flashes of greatness, but was often underutilized in a run-heavy offense. He still finished his high school career with 74 receptions for 1,838 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Henderson’s yardage total ranks second all-time in Warren County history, and he is one of only four players with at least 20 career receiving touchdowns.
He had 32 catches for 852 yards and 12 TDs this season.
“It was a breakout season for me that I really needed for my recruiting. I’m very thankful,” said Henderson, who also plays for Vicksburg’s basketball team and won the Class 5A triple jump championship in track last season.
Carter didn’t break out until his junior season in 2022. He did not play in ninth grade, quit football in 2021, then returned in 2022 and became a standout defensive end. The Mississippi State commit had 11.5 sacks the past two years, and 51 total tackles in 2023.
Although their paths were a bit different, Carter said the strong bond of the Gators’ senior Class of 2024 helped them excel. Vicksburg has won 28 games since 2020, reached the playoffs all four years, and won a region title and got to the Class 5A semifinals in 2022.
“The main thing is we stuck together from junior high. Some people left, but it wasn’t the big majority. We all stuck together and that’s what really helped us. It really made it special,” Carter said. “The Class of ‘23 and the Class of ‘24 all stuck together, so that’s what really helped us get to where we are now as a school.”
Johnson said the current group of Gators, which also includes several other three- and four-year starters like quarterback Ronnie Alexander and running back Malik Montgomery, had a plan from the start to put the program back on the map.
“That was the plan, coming in from high school to junior high. We already knew we wanted to be one of the best. If we wanted to be really known for it, we had to change it,” Johnson said. “We kept coming back every day, working hard, off-camera stuff. We dug deep and helped each other.”
The reward at the end is an all-star appearance and, hopefully, more football at the college level.
Carter has committed to Mississippi State. Johnson and Henderson are still sifting through several offers and weren’t sure yet where they’ll end up — other than on the field together, one last time, Saturday in Gulfport.
“I wish it was more of us, but it was still good,” Carter said.
All three players said getting recognized as an all-star, and one of the best in a state rich with football talent, was a big honor.
“It felt great to get recognized for what I’ve been doing on the field,” Henderson said.
The three Vicksburg High players are not the only ones from Warren County who will be on the field in Gulfport. Warren Central offensive lineman Beau Davis was also picked after two outstanding seasons as a starter.
Davis was a second-team Class 6A All-State selection, and also on the All-Region 2-6A team.
“It’s very nice. It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Davis, who plays center. “When I found out it definitely did give me a lot of confidence that not just my coaches, but a lot of other coaches thought I was pretty good.”
Davis isn’t yet sure if Saturday will be his last football game. He has a walk-on offer at Mississippi Valley State and another from Division III Millsaps. The latter does not offer athletic scholarships, but Davis has a 4.0 GPA and a 25 ACT score and has academic offers from Millsaps and other schools.
Davis said he is weighing both his academic and athletic options, and might attend either Ole Miss or Troy if he does not pursue football. That means he’s also taking the time to savor the Mississippi all-star game as potentially his last, and will savor every second of the experience.
“It’s definitely fun. I left the Grenada game knowing it’s probably my last time playing at Warren Central, but it’s not my last time playing this season. So it’s kind of good that you’re not done this season,” Davis said. “And it’s going to be fun playing with different guys from a whole bunch of different schools. I’m looking forward to meeting those guys.”
BERNARD BLACKWELL MISSISSIPPI ALL-STAR GAME
• Saturday, 11 a.m.
• At Gulfport High School
• The game will be livestreamed through FNUTL.com. It will also be available through the MAC Network, Roku, AppleTV and Firestick.