Hurst: Coach of the Year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 8, 1999

One for the thumb was extra special for Centreville Academy head football coach Bill Hurst.

Hurst led the Tigers to the state championship this year, as 14-0 Centreville captured the MPSA Class AAA&160;state title with a 41-7 win over Carroll.

Hurst’s latest accomplishment earns him The Natchez Democrat Coach of the Year award.

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&uot;This one was mighty special,&uot;

Hurst said. &uot;We had a tough schedule. God blessed us in that we stayed healthy. There were a couple of times we got down in the fourth quarter, but we came came and won those games.&uot;

The biggest comeback came in the state semifinals, against the team the Tigers lost to in last year’s semifinals.

Centreville trailed Simpson 16-0 in the fourth quarter before winning 23-19 in overtime.

&uot;It takes a special team to come back like that,&uot; Hurst said. &uot;That takes a lot of character.&uot;

Perhaps the Tigers’ most impressive win of the season was a 21-14 upset of eventual AAAA&160;champion Jackson Prep on the Patriots’ home turf.

&uot;That win gave us the confidence we really needed to go as far as we did,&uot; Hurst said. &uot;Anytime you can beat Prep, you know you can beat the best.&uot;

Hurst, 49, began coaching as an assistant at Centreville in 1973. Two years later, he replaced Mike Mullins as head coach of the Tigers.

&uot;I just love football,&uot; said Hurst, who played football at Clinton High. &uot;All I knew was hard work when I was growing up in Clinton. And football was a lot better than working on the farm.&uot;

Hurst, who is also headmaster at Centreville, got out of coaching in 1995 and ’96 to watch his son Brian play ball at Southwest Community College.

He returned to coaching last year. Brian, who is studying forestry at LSU, assists with the team.

&uot;I missed it a tremendous amount,&uot; Hurst said. &uot;But I was real involved with my son. And the headmaster job alone is a fulltime job. I stayed occupied. It’s kind of like you have to cut yourself in half during the football season. There’s a lot of stress.&uot;

So what made Hurst get back into coaching?

&uot;I just wasn’t satisfied with how it all ended,&uot; he said.

Hurst, who has more than 200 wins, said he doesn’t know when he will get out of coaching, but said the game has changed.

&uot;The kids are bigger and faster,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;And they are just as tough. You can’t push a team as a whole the way you could back when, but there are certain kids who still push hard.

&uot;You have to let the kids know you care for them,&uot;&160;Hurst said. &uot;They want love and discipline. If they know you care for them, they’ll do anything in their power to play for you.&uot;

And what makes Centreville a football power year in and year out?

&uot;It’s the kids,&uot; Hurst said. &uot;They just love to play football. They expect to win and the community expects them to win.&uot;

Hurst said he has had opportunities to coach at the collegiate level, but isn’t interested.

&uot;I’ve just never been interested,&uot; he said. &uot;Coaches have a lot of pressure, if they don’t win, then they better find a place to go.&uot;