Hurst’s 300th win top sports story in Miss-Lou

Published 12:10 am Friday, January 2, 2009

NATCHEZ — Miss-Lou sports saw a little bit of everything in 2008.

Teams won region and state championships, coaches came and went, and some historic achievements were recorded.

One of those historic achievements is The Natchez Democrat’s top sports story of the year.

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With a 35-14 victory over Oak Forest on Oct. 17, Centreville Academy head football coach Bill Hurst became only the third coach in Mississippi high school football history with 300 career wins.

Hurst has been head coach at the school for 32 years and has won 76 percent of his games.

But Hurst and the Tigers didn’t stop with 300 wins. Hurst racked up six more victories en route to Centreville’s second consecutive Class AA state championship and Hurst’s eighth overall at the school.

The Tigers accomplished that feat with a 28-10 victory over Kirk Academy in the state championship game on Nov. 28.

While Centreville won the state championship, another local football team had a great accomplishment of their own.

The Natchez High Bulldogs reached the Class 5A playoffs for the first time since 1997 and didn’t just stop there. They defeated Petal 25-21 in the first round to record their first playoff victory since the ’97 season as well.

The Bulldogs started the season off 2-0 but then endured a three-game losing streak that meant they needed to win four consecutive region games to make the playoffs.

They did just that, defeating Brandon, Jim Hill, Terry and Wingfield to advance to the postseason.

It was a topsy turvy year for Franklin County.

The Bulldogs saw their coach, Grady McCluskey, leave in January to become an assistant at Columbus High School, but new coach Trent Hammond guided Franklin County back to the South State title game, before falling to Tylertown 26-0.

On the college football side of things, it was a good start to the year for LSU fans and one local player.

The Tigers won the 2007 BCS National Championship by defeating Ohio State 38-24 in the championship game on Jan. 7, and Trinity graduate Stevan Ridley earned a championship ring as a member of the team, even though he was a redshirt.

Ridley, a running back, did play in every game during the 2008 regular season, mostly on special teams, but he did run for 92 yards on 12 carries and scored his first career touchdown against Tulane.

He also had three solo tackles and 12 assists on special teams.

But while the going was good for LSU fans, it was a rocky year for fans of Alcorn State football.

The Braves struggled through a 2-10 season with new coach Ernest Jones, but that was nothing compared to the drama the offseason brought.

Alcorn State athletic director Darren Hamilton first fired seven of the nine assistant coaches without notifying Jones.

The coaches were rehired by ASU president George Ross a week later but then Jones himself was let go a few days after that.

Jones has hired two lawyers and announced a lawsuit against the university to get his job back.

He is still out recruiting while his appeal is being heard.


Several local teams had good years in basketball, but it was a coaching change that perhaps was the biggest story of all.

Trinity girls basketball coach Melanie Hall went across the city to become the head coach of the Adams County Christian Lady Rebels.

Hall enjoyed great success at Trinity and was one of the coaches at the 2008 MPSA All-Star Game.

Hall’s first team at ACCS is improved over last year, but still is suffering some growing pains.

Former Bowling Green High School coach Richy Spears was hired to take over the Trinity girls program, and the Lady Saints have performed well against a difficult schedule thus far.

On the boys side, it was a great year for several local schools.

Ferriday advanced to the LHSAA Class 2A state title game while Trinity advanced the MPSA Overall Tournament and Cathedral advanced to the MHSAA Class 1A South State tournament for the first time in memory.

Jefferson County also advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals in Jackson.


Cathedral continued its success on the baseball diamond, as the Green Wave made a run through the playoffs all the way to the South State championship series.

Cathedral came within one run of making it to the state finals in Pearl, but fell to East Webster by a 3-2 score in the third and deciding game in the South State series.

It was a disappointing end to the season for the Green Wave, who had won several close games in the playoffs to advance as far as they did.

Trinity also had a successful season, winning their district while ACCS, Natchez High and Franklin County also made the state playoffs.

Track and Field

It was a great year for Trinity distance runner Jheri Ogden.

The sophomore won the state championship in the 3,200 meter, 1,600 meter and 800 meter runs, and shattered a state record in the 3,200 meters.

Ogden shattered the old record, which was held by current Ole Miss track star Julie Little, by 14 seconds.

It was also a good year for Natchez High School.

The Bulldogs’ boys 200 meter relay team won the state championship as well.