Nettles relieved of duties as St. Al football coach

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

St. Aloysius is making a change at the top of its football program.

Bubba Nettles, who has been the school’s head coach the past three seasons, said Tuesday that he has been relieved of his duties. He will remain in his role as athletics director through at least the end of the school year.

“I would like to thank Vicksburg Catholic Schools for giving me my first job as a head coach,” Nettles said. “I wish nothing but success for all of my kids that I’m leaving. I hope they win every ballgame next year.”

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Nettles joined St. Al’s coaching staff in 2020 as an assistant to then-head coach Stacy Sizemore. When Sizemore left after one season, Nettles was promoted to head coach and athletics director.

Nettles had just a 3-27 record in his three seasons. His tenure included an 0-10 mark in 2023 that was the program’s first winless season since 1913. The Flashes ended the season on a 19-game losing streak.

Injuries, a lack of depth, and a difficult schedule contributed heavily to the Flashes’ struggles. There were only 22 varsity players and four seniors on this year’s roster. Several starters suffered season-ending injuries as well.

The depth issues forced Nettles to play a half-dozen freshmen and sophomores on both offense and defense against one of the most difficult schedules in MAIS Class 4A. Four opponents, including district rivals Tri-County and Winston Academy, reached the semifinals in their respective classifications.

“We can speculate and guess why, but I didn’t get the job done,” Nettles said. “I wish the best of luck to the new guy.”

St. Al principal Dawn Meeks said the program’s slump led to the decision to make the coaching change.

“Bubba is a very valuable member of the faculty and a personal friend,” Meeks said. “Based off the seasons we had the last few years we felt like a fresh approach was needed. When you’re at 0-19 you have to look at doing some things differently.”

Meeks said there is no firm timeline for finding Nettles’ successor. A number of coaches are on the move now that football season is over, which she said should offer a healthy pool of candidates and allow Nettles to hunt for another coaching position if he desires.

“I want to take our time with this and get the right person for our school,” Meeks said.

Nettles thanked his coaching staff — assistants Kacy Presley, Derrick Watson, Jared Bell, Keith Phillips and Matt Mallard — for their help over the past three seasons, and his players for their effort and support.

Nettles said he talked to the team on Monday and afterward his phone exploded with text messages from them thanking him for being their coach. The support, Nettles said, turned a difficult and emotional day into something better.

“My talk with them yesterday was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Nettles said. “They were angry at the world and expressing their love and appreciation for me, which was complete wonderfulness. Yesterday afternoon was a great day. But for 30 minutes or an hour before that, it was terrible.”

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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