Faircloth has most successful season

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 24, 1999

Vidalia High’s Dee Faircloth is a rarity among coaches. This year Faircloth began his 32nd year as head coach at Vidalia High, after spending one year as an assistant coach.

&uot;It’s a good program and we have good kids,&uot; said Faircloth, who has turned down several offers from other high schools and colleges.

So how does Faircloth get motivated each year?

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&uot;Right about this time you don’t know if you can go again or not,&uot; he said. &uot;But as soon as the new kids come in, some kids who didn’t play the year before want to play and the kids from the year before come back, it makes you fired up and ready to go again.&uot;

And the fact that each team is different keeps the job interesting.

&uot;Each year it’s like a father getting a new baby,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;It’s really going to be interesting next year because we’re losing so many kids. You start thinking, ‘What are we going to do about this position or that position?’ It’s not like college or pro where you go out looking for players.&uot;

Faircloth’s 32nd year happened to be one of his most successful, as the Vikings finished 10-2, defeating East Beauregard 47-14 in the first round of the playoffs before losing 31-20 to Christian Life in the second round on the road.

For their accompishments, Faircloth is the 1999 Natchez Democrat Coach of the Year.

&uot;We had a great bunch of kids,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;They did a great job all year long. This was probably one of the most enjoyable groups I’ve had to work with in 32 years and may have been the best ball club overall as far as offense and defense.&uot;

Vidalia finished its regular season at 9-1, defeating Ferriday 16-0 in its final game to go a perfect 4-0 in District 3-2A.

&uot;I didn’t figure we would finish with that kind of record with the schedule we had,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;But our kids met the challenge.&uot;

Christian Life, a bigger team than Vidalia, watered down its field prior to the contest.

&uot;I thought we were playing gumbo,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;I kept looking for an alligator to walk out. But that’s part of the game.&uot;

While Vidalia’s offense set several school records, the Viking defense proved to be even more formidable by the end of the year.

Vidalia’s 1999 team rushed for 3,412 yards yards and passed for 1,422 yards, both records. The 4,834 total yards is also a record.

Vidalia scored a school record 432 points. Individually, senior running back Dariel Mays set the single season rushing record at 2,264 and scored the most points in a season (236).

Junior quarterback Jarrett Hoffpauir broke his brother Josh’s records for yards (1,422), high percentage completions (63 percent) and most completions (63) and attempts (142). He also tied Josh with 11 touchdown passes.

Hoffpauir needs 601 yards next season to break Josh’s career mark.

Senior Chris Kennedy tied the record for catches in a season with 28.

Vidalia averaged 35.2 points a game, while allowing 15 points a game, even though Winnsboro and Ouachita Christian scored 48 and 37 points, respectively early in the year.

&uot;Our defense made a 180 degree turn after the Winnsboro game,&uot; Faircloth said. &uot;We gave up 48 points and I remember telling my wife (Dot) that we made a lot of changes on defense. Then we gave up 37 points to Ouachita Christian and I told her, ‘See, we got better.’ But from then on we didn’t give up many points at all. Anytime you can shut out Loyola and Ferriday, that’s doing something.&uot; And while next year Faircloth and his coaching staff appear to have their hands full, he’s remaining optimistic.

&uot;We had some talented guys who didn’t get a chance to play much last year, but now it’s time for them to step it up,&uot; he said.