2023 All-County Football: PCA’s Massey is Post’s Player of the Year after record-setting season

Published 4:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2023

For one brief, frightening moment, John Wyatt Massey felt the worst pain any football player can feel — nothing.

The Porter’s Chapel Academy quarterback was violently bent backward while being tackled by two Sharkey-Issaquena Academy defenders. He landed on the facemask of one of them, the impact knocking the SI joint in his back out of place and leaving his legs numb.

“When it happened, my legs were a little numb. It was a little bit of fear right there, and obviously the pain goes along with it,” Massey said.

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Fortunately, the joint quickly popped back into place and Massey walked off the field. Much to the astonishment of everyone, a few series later he walked back on. He even threw a touchdown pass that helped the Eagles remain undefeated with a 44-42 victory over the eventual MAIS Class 1A champions.

“Once it got popped back where it was right, the feeling came back and we worked it out and was able to work through it,” Massey said.

Massey’s comeback against SIA added a big layer of depth to an already impressive resumé. The senior quarterback set a Warren County single-season record with 40 touchdown passes, and broke several other school and county records along the way.

Most of all, though, it was his grit and leadership in guiding PCA to its best season in 15 years that pushed him to the top as the 2023 Vicksburg Post Offensive Player of the Year for Warren County.

As deftly as he distributed the football, Massey passed out the credit for his success.

“It means a lot. It really shows the work that was put in. The long work, the hard hours that everybody was up here putting in. It’s a team effort,” Massey said. “It wasn’t that I was doing it all myself. The receivers were getting open, they were making plays, the line was giving me time, Jase (Jung) was running the ball hard keeping the defense on their toes.

I’m not going to sit here and take all the credit for it. It was a team effort.”

Porter’s Chapel did indeed have a balanced offense with loads of playmakers.

Thomas Azlin set a school record with 16 touchdown receptions and Ty Mack was right behind with 14. Running back Jase Jung scored 25 touchdowns and piled up 1,974 yards rushing.

“It’s a big credit to the line. The line gave me time, made holes for (Jung),” Massey said. “Our line was one of the main reasons all of us were able to be so successful, was because they gave us time. Sometimes they don’t get the credit they deserve.”

Massey got his own records, too. He tied a Warren County single-game record with six touchdown passes against Wilkinson County Christian on Oct. 13, then broke it three weeks later with seven vs. Deer Creek.

Massey finished his high school career with 53 touchdown passes, the third-highest total in county history, and became one of only 14 quarterbacks with at least 3,000 career yards.

PCA coach Blake Purvis said Massey matured and developed patience during the offseason that helped him succeed.

“This year, staying in there and trusting the guys in front of him, waiting on the routes to develop, getting the ball out on time, finding the right windows, it was fun to watch,” Purvis said. “It was a full circle from where we started with him and showed he really did buy into the process and improve like you want a quarterback to do from year to year.”

PCA plays 8-man football, rather than the traditional 11-man version, and both Massey and Purvis were quick to shove aside any suggestion that there was a fundamental difference between the two.

Purvis noted that opponents often sent a free blitzer at Massey on passing plays, which forced him to make quick decisions and accurate throws against man-to-man coverage.

A whopping 40.8 percent of Massey’s 98 completions, and 28 percent of his 143 attempts resulted in touchdowns. He only threw five interceptions and completed 68.5 percent of his passes.

“You’ve still got to make the throws either way, 11 or 8. It’s the same size football,” Massey said.

PCA’s success also meant that Massey didn’t have a lot of chances to pad his stats against even a relatively weak schedule.

While rolling to a 12-1 record that included the MAIS District 3-2A championship and a trip to the Class 2A semifinals — both feats that were last accomplished by the program in 2008 — the team had eight games in which it led by at least 35 points at some point to trigger a running clock.

“There were some games where we only had one possession in the second half,” Purvis said.

Besides his physical skills, Massey has spent years cultivating perhaps his best trait as a quarterback. Ever since he started getting varsity snaps as a freshman, Massey showcased a knowledge of the game and a calm demeanor that made him a natural leader on the field.

Whatever defenses threw at him, he handled it. Whenever he was banged up, like in the SIA game, he shook it off and came back to the huddle.

He played defense as well as offense — a necessity on an 8-man football team that only had 13 varsity players — and excelled on both sides. In addition to his passing stats, Massey had 38 tackles, six sacks and one forced fumble as a linebacker.

Leading by example and having an “It” factor is a vital attribute for a quarterback that Massey said he was keenly aware of.

“Ever since I was in junior high I was always the one they could look to when they had a question about something. It just kind of grew, and then as we got into this if they had a question — linemen, skill, running backs — they just ask me and I can answer it in-game or in practice,” he said. “Obviously, sometimes they would help me out and settle me down if I got rattled a little bit, which everybody does. They would help me and I would help them. We meshed good.”

Meshed to the point that Massey almost refused to talk about his own contributions to PCA’s success. He steadily deflected questions about it to include his teammates such as linemen Hunter Simms, Conley Johnston and Jackson Blackmon, in addition to the skill players like Jung, Mack, Azlin and Taylor Labarre who caught his passes.

“It’s a big accomplishment. I’m honestly grateful. But I don’t get here without the linemen doing their job and the skill (players) doing their job,” Massey said. “All I did was really deliver the football. It’s more of a team award.”

Vicksburg Post Offensive Players of the Year
2023 – John Wyatt Massey, QB, Porters Chapel
2022 – Trey Hall, RB, Warren Central
2021 – Tyler Washington, RB, Porters Chapel
2020 – Sha’kori Regan, RB, Vicksburg
2019 – Cedric Phillips, RB, Vicksburg
2018 – Tacarie Stewart, RB, Vicksburg
2017 – Fred Barnum, Jr., QB, Warren Central
2016 – Raheem Moore, WR, Vicksburg
2015 – DeMichael Harris, RB, St. Aloysius
2014 – Connor Smith, QB, St. Aloysius
and DeMichael Harris, RB, St. Aloysius
2013 – Connor Smith, QB, St. Aloysius
2012 – Peter Harris, RB, Porters Chapel
2011 – Cameron Cooksey, QB, Vicksburg and A.J. Stamps, WR, Vicksburg
2010 – Chris Marshall, WR, Porters Chapel
2009 – Tim Jones, RB, Warren Central
2008 – Clayton Holmes, QB, Porters Chapel
2007 – Austin Barber, RB, Porters Chapel
2006 – Hayden Hales, QB, Porters Chapel
2005 – Chris Mixon, RB, Porters Chapel
2004 – Larry Warner, RB, Warren Central
2003 – Larry Warner, RB, Warren Central
2002 – Richmond Fields, RB, Warren Central
2001 – J.J. Brown, RB, Vicksburg and Phelan Gray, RB, Vicksburg
2000 – J.J. Brown, RB, Vicksburg
1999 – Caris London, RB, Vicksburg
1998 – Thomas McKnight, RB, Vicksburg
1997 – Josh Morgan, QB, Warren Central
1996 – Ben Jernigan, QB, Porters Chapel
1995 – Stacy Williams, RB, St. Aloysius
1994 – Brian Darden, RB, Warren Central
1993 – Brian Darden, RB, Warren Central and Jamaal Williams, RB, St. Aloysius
1992 – Brian Darden, RB, Warren Central
1991 – Alfred Daniels, RB, Vicksburg
1990 – Damian McClelland, RB, Vicksburg
1989 – Larry Carter, RB, Warren Central
1988 – Kenny Johnson, RB, Warren Central
1987 – John Kavanaugh, RB, St. Aloysius

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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