3 Bulldogs selected as All-State

Published 12:01am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NATCHEZ — Charles Bates was surprised by the text he received over the weekend. The aunt that sent it to him, meanwhile, wasn’t quite sure what it meant.

The Mississippi Association of Coaches recently named Bates, a senior outside linebacker for the Natchez High School football team, as first-team All-State. He joins teammates Derrian Johnson and Kris Weatherspoon, all seniors, on the All-State team.

“My aunt, Simone James, texted me, because (head) coach (Lance) Reed texted her that I had made All-State,” Bates said.

“She was surprised because she didn’t know what it was. I was surprised because I had never made All-State before.”

But after it sunk in for Bates, he said he couldn’t contain his excitement.

“I was really happy about it,” Bates said. “I couldn’t explain how happy I was.”

Bates wasn’t the only one who was surprised by the news. Weatherspoon, who made second-team as a free safety, didn’t find out until Monday.

Natchez High School’s Kris Weatherspoon grabs an interception intended for Oak Grove High School’s Johnathan McNair during NHS’s 41-40 win over Oak Grove Nov. 2. Weatherspoon was one of three players named to the All-State team by the Mississippi Association of Coaches. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

“It feels good to finally get recognized,” Weatherspoon said. “I didn’t think I would get it. I wasn’t shooting for it.”

But Weatherpoon’s eight interceptions as a defensive back led MHSAA Class 6A, so it’s not a surprise that he was selected.

“I just try to read the quarterback and watch his eyes, and wherever he goes, I go,” Weatherspoon said of his picks.

Johnson, who was named first-team running back, received an extra accolade. He was selected to play in the Bernard Blackwell North-South All-Star game Dec. 22 at Gulfport High School.

“It’s a great honor,” Johnson said. “It’s been one of my goals ever since I’ve been here. I’ve been aiming for it since before this season.”

With so many top-tier players at the game, Johnson said his expectations going into it are high.

“I expect to see a high energy level and not many mistakes,” Johnson said. “It should be a pretty close game.”

There’s also a sense of pride playing for the South roster as it squares off against the North, Johnson said.

“I think the South is better than the North,” he said. “I’m a big fan of the South.”

And being selected All-State was a nice cherry on top of the All-Star cake, Johnson said.

“It was a goal of mine, but it came unexpected (when I found out),” Johnson said. “I didn’t know they did it that early.”

With three players being named All-State from NHS, Bates said it’s a reflection of the dedication the team showed this year.

“We worked hard together, and we played hard together,” Bates said. “I thought we’d go farther in the playoffs and make it all the way to state.”